Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stevia - Better than the Other Sweeteners?

Is Stevia better than Aspartame and Artificial Sweeteners?

I would recommend it over any of the other sweeteners out there. Agave nectar is good too but it doesn’t have the zero calorie benefit that stevia has. Aspartame is absolutely terrible for you – it is a poison and vast research shows that it should not be consumed by humans. “I drink it all the time and I’m fine” you might be saying. The problem with aspartame or nutrasweet as it is better known is that the effects are based on cumulative intake. That means that you won’t see results at one dose. Aspartame builds up over time and then the results can be seen. Blindness, fatigue, cancers, low immunity are just a few of the reported disorders caused by aspartame. Splenda isn’t much better and I would recommend getting off of both of these.
Splenda and Aspartame are in a lot more foods and drinks than you’d think so be watchful and stay away from them. They are in most chewing gums and in many food items as they are a cheap way to get us craving and buying more food. Another disadvantage with nutrasweet or aspartame that may make sense when you think about your dieting issues is that rather than truly satisfying your sweet craving – it has been proven that it makes you crave more. 

In tests with rats (I know – kind of scary that they are the closest test patients to humans for most lab testing), it showed that those who digested aspartame kept going back for more. They could not be satisfied so they kept eating (or drinking it), past the point of being full – the results were similar to those of drug addicts. They (and we) can’t get enough.

Plus, you may have noticed that you usually eat more to compensate for your “diet soda” or to satisfy that craving for sweet that just isn’t filled when you eat the fake nutrasweetened cookies.

Truvia – another bad fake sweetner. They tell you it’s made of stevia but because they can’t patent stevia, a natural plant – food makers decided to re-engineer stevia so they could patent it. So, truvia is a modified version of stevia. Go for the real thing! Stevia – preferably organic stevia is the best way to go to lose weight and eat healthy.

Okay – so this is really supposed to be about stevia so if you are still reading – good for you. These are just a few really basic ideas for using stevia.

  • Use it on frozen fruit. Although some frozen and most fresh fruit is naturally perfectly sweet on it’s own – if you are one who adds sugar to your blackberries or strawberries – add stevia instead. Trader Joe’s has a nice organic stevia for a good price that doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste. Just sprinkle it on, mix it around and eat- delicious and healthy.
  • Add it to a smoothie or a green shake. If you make smoothies and want to make them sweeter, add stevia.

Here is a recipe for a super easy and incredibly healthy “green” smoothie.
½ c of frozen blueberries
½ c crushed ice
1 lemon (remove the peel and seeds but put the rest in the blender –all of it)
½-1 cup liquid – I usually use ½ water and ½ almond or whole grain milk
Huge handful of greens – spinach or chard work really well. I usually fill the blender up to the top and even add more than that is the taste is pretty mild from these – do it to your own taste.
Stevia – I have found and LOVE these little French vanilla stevia packets. You can buy them in Whole Foods, or online here: NOW Foods French Vanilla Stevia Packets, 100 Count Boxes (Pack of 3)
I usually add 2-3 packets for this smoothie. Alternately, use about ½ tsp of stevia, more if needed.
Turn on the blender and let it go. Add more liquid if needed for desired thickness
You can also add a few strawberries or frozen cherries or other fruits to make it even sweeter but the original version is quite low in calories if you are trying to lose weight.

Oatmeal with Stevia – this is another place I LOVE to use the vanilla stevia packets- 1 is great for a serving of oatmeal – regular stevia can be used as well
Add stevia to your coffee or tea – just a tiny bit goes a long way
If you aren't into the vanilla addition, check out the plain stevia packets above - they are easy to take on the road with you so you don't have to use sugar or the bad fake stuff when you are out and about.

Finally, I want to link you to a genius recipe I found for a pumpkin pie pudding using stevia. It really tastes like pumpkin pie. I was amazed by this one. It can be made dairy free too if you are avoiding dairy. Super healthy with the pumpkin – click the link for the Pumpkin Pie Pudding with Stevia Recipe
I added about ½ tsp of nutmeg or mace and upped the cloves a bit and it was incredible.

If you have any great stevia recipes and tips – we'd love to hear how you use stevia and other natural sweeteners instead of artificial sweeteners.


yodasmith said...

Interesting! I love my SweetLeaf vanilla creme stevia in my fruit smoothies--I also use it baking--it's great to take the place of both sugar and vanilla!

AchieveExcellence said...

Yoda- Cool! Do you use the liquid SweetLeaf vanilla creme stevia for your smoothies or is there a powder as well? What ratios do you use for your baking and in recipes for bulk and to get the right amount of sweetness?

erin said...

I use vanilla creme liquid stevia or the powder both from SweetLeaf in my smoothies. That way either vanilla flavor is added or inulin fiber from the powder. (It's easy for me to get them since I work for SweetLeaf Stevia) I've baked with them, but I like to use a cookbook so it helps with conversions. Conversions may vary according to brand. For SweetLeaf stevia you can go to for a conversion chart.