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Here's a look at some of the health benefits of Stevia, tips on cooking with it, and other fun facts

The stevia plant is a sweet gift from Mother Nature. The indigenous Guarani people of modern-day Paraguay have used leaves of the stevia shrub since ancient times to sweeten bitter tea and for medicinal potions. Stevia is a member of the sunflower (Asteraceae) family in which there are more than 240 species of herbs and shrubs.

These sweet little leaves are from the species Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweet leaf, sugar leaf, honey leaf, or simply stevia. The extracts from the stevia plant can have up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar and are calorie-free.

Growing this waistline-friendly, earth-loving plant is as simple as growing basil or parsley. It loves the garden and the windowsill, and it likes to be harvested.

This article is about the plant, the whole plant and nothing but the plant... we are not talking about the little packets you buy at the store.

Nutritional Noshes

  • The stevia plant contains sterols and antioxidants that offer many potential health benefits, such as reduced risk of cancer, and assistance with control of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
  • Stevia leaves contain potassium, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B3.
  • More than 100 phytochemicals have been discovered in stevia.

Culinary Corner

  • Fresh leaves are best used torn and infused into your favorite hot or cold beverage or dropped into the blender when making smoothies or other frozen drinks.
  • Dried stevia leaf is great in dressings, marinades, sauces, relish, chutney, oatmeal, yogurt, and desserts.
  • There are four ways to dry stevia leaves:
    • Cut a whole branch and hang upside down in cool, dark place until dry enough to crumble.
    • Place in oven set to "warm" until crisp.
    • Place leaves on baking sheet or newspaper in the sun all day, bring inside and set on counter. They will be ready by the morning.
    • Use a dehydrator until crisp.
  • Crumble dried stevia or grind into a powder. Keep in two separate glass jars in a spice cabinet.
  • Dried fresh stevia leaf powder is about 20 times sweeter than the equivalent amount of sugar.
  • Using too much can lead to a bitter-tasting product, so use less than you would think at first then increase to taste.
  • Stevia does not caramelize.
  • It's trial and error to use in baking!

Sweet Facts

  • It was at the turn of the 19th century when Brazilian researchers started studying this plant with leaves that were "so sweet that just one leaf would sweeten a whole gourd full of bitter yerba mate tea."
  • Japan is the largest consumer of stevia leaves and extracts in the world.
  • Stevia leaves can be harvested five to six times per season.
  • The stevia plant has antiseptic qualities.
  • Stevia does not cause cavities.
  • You should not be consuming too many sweet foods and beverages, so use stevia in moderation.

Diane Henderiks is a personal chef and culinary nutritionist on a mission to teach America how to cook and eat well. Follow her on Twitter @dhenderiks, "Like" Diane on Facebook, or visit her website.


Recipe Summary

  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian salad dressing mix (such as Good Seasons®)
  • 1 pound boneless chicken pieces, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (10 ounce) package sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, water, and Italian dressing mix in a bowl. Stir in the chicken allow chicken to marinate while preparing the remaining ingredients.

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and bell pepper cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the the chicken from the marinade using a slotted spoon, and transfer to the skillet reserve the remaining marinade. Cook and stir the chicken until no longer pink in the center, 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the mushrooms cook and stir until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add tomato and reserved marinade, then sprinkle cheese on top. Do not stir. Cover and simmer on low heat until cheese is melted and chicken is tender, about 20 minutes. Allow the dish to rest for a few minutes before serving.


Happy Blogaversary to Me!

12 years ago today, I started Dianne’s Dishes. I had been blogging recipes on my “personal” blog for some time, but I decided to make a blog that was completely dedicated to my love of all things food and thus Dianne’s Dishes was born. Over the years I went from posting a recipe every day, to once a week, to now where my blog is more of a repository to look back on, though I do still blog recipes once in a blue moon. The blog has grown and changed, just as I have grown and changed. It’s been an outlet for me in so many ways and I’ve enjoyed the ride and the people I’ve met along the way. More to come in the future. I’ve been kicking around some ideas. For now, a toast to Dianne’s Dishes…I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey.


Tips for Baking With Stevia

There are a few adjustments that should be made to substitute stevia for sugar. When baking cookies, stevia is best used in recipes for crisp cookie types such as shortbread. If you are making chewy cookie types, it is best to add some bulk and moisture in the form of pumpkin, applesauce, uncooked oatmeal or nut and seed butter. Otherwise, your cookies could end up dry and crumbly.

In the case of cakes, separate the egg whites and whip them to stiff peaks to help maintain the volume of the cake batter. Be sure to invert the cake onto a cooling rack when finished baking in order to maintain volume and avoid the cake collapsing.

Yeast breads need sugar to rise. Replace only half of the sugar and increase the baking soda or baking powder to compensate for the lack of sugars available to feed the yeast. In all cases, preheat the oven to the correct temperature beforehand.

Warning

Although stevia does not contain calories or cause fluctuations in blood sugar, the Mayo Clinic still recommends using it in moderation due to the excess calories in desserts. Other ingredients in the recipe can contribute to spikes in blood sugar.


Bottom Line

Stevia works great in tea, coffee, and other hot and cold drinks cookie and cake recipes and jams and jellies. Sprinkle it on berries, fruit, and cereals at breakfast. Stevia can also be used in breads, although the bread won't rise as much as it will if you use sugar. Using stevia in drinks and recipes - anywhere you would normally use sugar - can help you avoid the health dangers of excess sugar and chemical sweeteners while allowing you to still enjoy your favorite sweet treats. (58)


Guidelines for Using Stevia in Recipes

1). Stevia to Sugar Ratios

1 Tbsp. Sugar : 1/4 tsp. stevia powder

1 Tbsp. Sugar : 2-3 drops liquid stevia (6-9 drops of other liquid, flavored types)

2). Use Liquid Stevia for Best Results

The liquid form is preferred for a couple reasons. The first is because the liquids don’t need other fillers like maltodextrin, but can be made with just stevia leaf and water. The second reason is because when using whole leaf or powdered*, you don’t get an even distribution of sweetness throughout your recipe so you’ll end up with ‘pockets’ or areas of super sweetness and others with none.

*If you only have powdered, you may create your own : mix 1 tsp. of the powder with 3 Tbsp. water in a dropper bottle and keep in the refrigerator.

3). Using as a Sugar Replacement in a Recipe

If we want to reduce the sugar content in a recipe, we add stevia and subtract some of the sugar – but not all. We’ve found when taking a recipe that normally has sugar in it (whether it’s coconut sugar, coconut nectar or maple syrup) and reducing the amount of sugar called-for, while adding in stevia works best. Often times when stevia is used to replace 100% of the sugar there’s an over-powering artificial taste which ruins the recipe.

4). Focus on ‘Supportive Flavors’ in New Recipes

When replacing sugar entirely with stevia in most recipes, you won’t get the same result. However, if you’re creating a new recipe, or heavily modifying an old one, there are a few things you can add that help round out the flavor.

Trying also incorporating supportive flavors such as salt, vanilla, almond, coconut or citrus. These help balance out the sweetness spike in Stevia’s nature.

5). Measure Twice, Cut Once

You only have one shot, add too much and it’s all over. Well not all the time, because sometimes you can add more of all the other ingredients to the recipe and make a double batch!

But seriously, this is the simplest advice we can offer: try a little bit first, taste it, then add more if needed. Some recipes are easy to see if you’ve added enough, such as smoothies. Others are more difficult, like cookies, as you have to wait until they’re done baking.


Related Video

I needed a sauce for the 72 hr Sous Vide short ribs I made, so I decided to go with this Steak Diane sauce. I am so happy I did because it was perfect with my medium rare short ribs. I followed the recipe to a T and it came out perfectly. Will definitely make again!

I just finished prepping, cooking and devouring our steak diane. Iɽ like to have a nap and then do it all again! It tasted fantastic, came out absolutely perfect, and I didn't burn my house down flambeing! I can't cook. But I did everything that my wife told me to do as she read from the recipe and watched the video, and viola! It came.out perfect! We may have a new Sunday tradition on our hands, where we look over recipes durnig the week and then make something extravagant on Sunday.

Have made this a few times now, I very easy to make. Amazing flavour. This is definitely the best Dianne Sauce. Thanks Chef Ramsay.

A Steak flambe classic , simple and flavourful. Thanks to Diane & Chef Ramsey

Great recipe. Straight forward. Just get your bowls of ingredients ready beforehand. Also, the cognac produces an impressive flair, so be careful! I'm definitely making this again.

Just made this for dinner and although somewhat time consuming it was every bit worth the effort. Best steak I have ever eaten. Definitely making this for guests.


Greek Tzatziki Sauce

Greek yogurt, cucumber, dill and seasonings come together in this classic homemade tzatziki sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup seeded, chopped cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Place cucumber and salt in a food processor and pulse until cucumber is finely chopped.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until sauce reaches desired consistency. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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Easy Peanut Chicken Stir Fry

I love recreating Asian take-out dishes at home, and this Easy Peanut Chicken Stir Fry is a favorite with my husband and kids. And a favorite with me because it’s so easy to make!

I also love that this dish is so versatile. You could easily substitute beef, pork or shrimp for the chicken, or leave out the meat and go vegetarian.

And the sky is the limit when it comes to the veggies you could use.

We like to make this with wide rice noodles, but if you’ve got some dried Ramen noodles lying around (I live with teenage boys, so that’s a given), those work well in this recipe too.

And of course you can adjust the heat by using more or less red pepper flakes. This is a great recipe for using up any odd leftover meat or vegetables you might have in the refrigerator.

And of course it goes without saying that making your own take out is always better than ordering it from a restaurant.

And since this stir-fry is on the table in about 30 minutes, you might even save time making it yourself.

My favorite part of this dish is the peanut sauce. My husband isn’t a big fan of peanut butter, but even he doesn’t mind it in this flavorful, hearty noodle recipe.

I like to serve toppings like chopped green onions, fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts on the side, so everyone can garnish their noodles to their liking.

This Easy Peanut Chicken Stir Fry is on the regular menu rotation at our house, and I think it will become a favorite at your house too!


How to Make Lemonade with Stevia

One of my favorite drinks in the summer is lemonade but I don’t want to drink anything that’s loaded with high fructose corn syrup, sugar, or artificial sweeteners. Since I didn’t want to give up my lemonade, I learned how to make lemonade with Stevia packets.

Stevia is an all-natural sweetener that works great in lemonade. It comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant that originated in South America. The purified extract from the leaves has 200 times the sweetness of sugar and doesn’t raise your blood sugar level.

Best of all, there are absolutely NO calories in it. The plant doesn’t grow in Vermont as it’s a tropical plant, and I have had no luck whatsoever in trying to grow one.

I just buy the powdered Stevia from the grocery store and use that. You can also purchase it in liquid form if you prefer.

How do you make lemonade without sugar?

I like my lemonade tart so feel free to adjust the amount of water and the amount of Stevia that you add to your lemonade. If you’re used to sweeter drinks, you might want to add a bit more stevia.

Does stevia dissolve well in lemonade?

Yes, the powdered stevia dissolves well when you make lemonade with stevia. The acidity of the lemons helps break down the stevia powder and the result is absolutely delicious.

Homemade lemonade ingredients

All you need are these simple ingredients to make lemonade with stevia.

  • 3 lemons
  • A few sprigs of peppermint or spearmint
  • 1 quart of water
  • 1 to 2 tsp of powdered Stevia

If you love freshly squeezed lemonade, I really find that a lemon reamer is a huge time saver. I really like this one because it keeps the seeds out of my drink.

Can I put stevia in my lemon water?

Sometimes, instead of making lemonade, I just slice a few slices of lemon and add them to my water. When I do that, I don’t add powdered stevia.

If you’re wondering how to make lemonade with liquid stevia, you can. I add liquid stevia drops at times instead of powder. They dissolve better. This is the brand I use.

Tips for making powdered lemonade with stevia

Just a few things you might want to have on-hand are a good citrus reamer and a glass beverage dispenser. That way, you’ll always have an ice-cold glass of lemonade when you want one.

You can also add a few mint leaves to your lemonade. This year, we added spearmint to our garden so I will have it fresh when I want it.

Is there a Whole30 lemonade?

If you’re wondering if this recipe for making lemonade with stevia is Whole30 compliant, it is not. You cannot have stevia on the Whole30 diet.

You are not allowed to have any type of sweetener. About as close as you are going to get is sliced lemon in water for flavored lemon water.

Want more beverage recipes? Have you ever tried making root beer? Or, learn how to make homemade lilac lemonade. Try this Elderflower lemonade or rosehip and hibiscus iced tea.


Watch the video: Ζάχαρη. Efi Koloverou Dietitian


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