Q: What is stevia?
A: Stevia, or Stevia rebaudiana specifically, is an herb in the sunflower family. Stevia extracts are known to be incredibly sweet, having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar. So, it’s no surprise that it’s commonly referred to as the “sweet leaf” or “sugar leaf.”
Q: What’s the difference between stevia and other sweeteners?
Sugar: The biggest difference between stevia and sugar is that stevia contains zero sugar and zero calories! Unlike sugar, stevia has no affect on blood glucose levels, and does not promote fat storage within the body.
Sucralose: Sucralose (you might know it as Splenda) is made from sugar molecules, but it’s chemically modified to prevent your body from metabolizing the substance, which in turn keeps the calorie content at zero. The primary difference between stevia and sucralose is that stevia does not undergo any chemical modifications. It is simply extracted from its plant source.
Xylitol: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that provides a taste and texture similar to sugar but has approximately 40 percent fewer calories than sugar. Even at that, it can’t compete with zero-calorie stevia.
Q: How can I use Stevia?
A: Stevia comes in a variety of forms, but it’s most commonly used in liquid form. You’ll even find liquid stevia in flavors from sweet vanilla and chocolate to the more tart lemon and orange. Stevia powder is also quite popular, which comes in packets that are small and convenient for those who are always on the go.
Stevia can be used every day to replace sugar in your diet. Start by replacing the sugar in your morning tea or coffee with a few drops of stevia. Start off with just a drop or two and sweeten to taste. Keep in mind that stevia is incredibly sweet and potent. It can also be used to sweeten cold drinks such as lemonade or your favorite smoothies.
Stevia is also used in protein powders of all kinds, including whey, rice, pea, hemp and vegetarian. With so many great options out there, it may be time to kick the artificial sugars to the curb — once and for all!
This simple and delicious recipe below may help get your creative juices flowing and give you that one good excuse to make a change to your diet. Even better, you can whip this up in less than a minute!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding
Directions: In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together until thoroughly blended. Add more stevia to achieve desired sweetness.