Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I love the Sweet Leaf: All about Stevia!

I've been using stevia since 2006 and have done a lot of experimenting with it. I get quite a few emails asking me about it, so I figured I'd do a post on it.

First, I want to clarify that I am in no way affiliated with Kal Stevia. I have never received samples or any compensation from this compnay. This is simply the stevia that I like best. I have used other brands and absolutely hated the results. I know other people prefer other brands and that's fine, but I can not guarantee that any of my recipes that use stevia will turn out if you don't use this brand.

Here is a link to information on the history or stevia in case any one is interested: STEVIA.

Stevia is free of calories and carbohydrates, so it's great for dieters, people with diabetes and candida issues and for those who simply want to avoid sugar.

It sounds too good to be true? Well, the downside is the taste. It is downright sickly sweet. It reminds me of saccharin. It is very tricky to find not only the right product, but the right ratio of stevia to replace sugar in your favorite recipes.

Through trial and error I have found what works for me and what doesn't.
Stevia works best when it is combined with strong flavors and textures and with foods that already have some natural sweetness.  The general rule of thumb I've found is that a very scant 1/2 t of stevia = around 1 c of sugar. There is a small scoop in the bottle, which is probably a around 1/16th of a teaspoon. When I want to add more sweetness, I use QUARTER of a scoop at a time which is 1/32 of a TEASPOON!  The conversions generally given with stevia is 1 teapsoon = 1 cup sugar. If you use this amount, you will experience a horrible aftertaste!

When you bake with stevia, it is important to add around 1/4 c more liquid to your recipe per cup of sugar replaced. Also, allowing your baked goods to cool completely is beneficial so the stevia can mellow out.

Pairing stevia with fruit/vegetable that have their own natural sugar equals the best results with baking. I have not had much luck using it in plain vanilla or chocolate cake/cookies and pies. You can cut half the sugar with stevia with decent results though.

Here are some links to my favorite baked goods. I like to keep them really healthy and then dress them up or down with toppings to make them either a mini meal or dessert. Both my carrot/raisin bread and banana cake can be used in sweet desserts by adding a frosting made with sugar, but you can top them with peanut butter for a quick and healthy breakfast. It's a great deal for families because one bread feeds all! Topped with my Chocolate Peanut Butter frosting, it become a decadent dessert.

Here are some of my recipes: Just a note, when I say a pinch of stevia, I mean half of a scoop which is around 1/16th of a teaspoon. You can add more to suit your taste, but do it in very small increments.

Mixing stevia with another sweetener is great too:
Pina Colada Tart
Raw Chocolate Strawberry Pie

Stevia is AWESOME in smoothies and drinks.

  • 1/2 t stevia mixed with unsweetened Kool Aid is an alternative to sugar filled crap. Now it's only colored and flavored crap! ( but my kids loved it when they were little and so did their friends )
  • Banananog 
  • Mango Lassi
  • Oatmeal Shake 
  • 1/2 t stevia + 1/2 c lemon or lime juice +7 c water = lemonade
  • 1/2 t stevia + 7 c strong tea (herbal, green, black ) = iced tea
I'm not a fan of stevia in coffee or hot tea. It's just gross unless it's a very strongly flavored tea. haha. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Stevia is great in a variety of sauces. I created this delicious Ketchup recipe today.

Sugar Free Ketchup

  • 1 c tomato sauce
  • ½ t Tony’s Cajun Spice
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 1/8 t Kal stevia powder
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar

Stir everything together, allow mixture to sit for a couple hours before eating

Making your own condiments is great for your pocketbook and waistline! I made a double batch of this and turned half of it into BBQ sauce by adding chipotle powder, more mustard.

Here's my go to salad dressing:

Almost Fat Free Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1 c chickpea cooking liquid
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1/3 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 t marjoram
  • pinch stevia ( 1/16 t )
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T golden flax meal 
Mix everything together in a mason jar. Allow mixture to sit overnight so it can thicken up.

Ginger Wasabi Dressing
Lowfat Sesame Ginger Dressing

I think I covered most of the questions I got about stevia, but I wanted to address this one:

What causes the difference in flavor/aftertaste in the different brands of stevia on the market? Also, do you recommend growing your own stevia? How would you use it? (in terms of amount, for instance is one teaspoon of the white powder the same as one teaspoon of the green homegrown powder?) thanks!!!

  1. I have no idea what causes the different flavors/aftertastes.. but I KNOW they can be awful! 
  2. I definitely want to grow my own stevia.  I am not sure about the use, but I would dry the leaves and probably use them in tea or puree them with my liquid ingredients in baking. I'll bet you could make a stevia infused vinegar for savory dishes! 
  3. I have used the green powder and don't like it. It's sooo sickly sweet. I would use the same proportions as the KAL if you used it. 
Finally, here is where I buy my stevia. It is around 17 bucks for 3.5 oz. This will last a long time! 

I hope that this post answered was informative! Keep the questions coming and I can add to this post if needed.  


  1. Thanks for this post, it's hard to find out the 'real deal' on this stuff! :)

  2. i like (and agree with) the tip about letting baked goods cool down so the stevia can mellow out. i have thought stuff didnt come out right when i tasted it while it was still(tongue burning) hot.

    i wish i WAS affiliated with stevia, it is so great:) and you beat me too it! i was going to do a post on stevia too! lol but mine was a comparison.

    i used that powdered stuff before, and yes its so easy to go to far! the scoop is like micro sized, you would never thnk it would be so powerful. i think im going to try powder again. thanks for the reminder.

  3. Thanks for the detailed info! I like the liquid stuff the best. I think I want to try making my own ketchup since I LOVE ketchup but not the sugar part of it. Thanks!

  4. One of these days I'll have to give stevia a shot. Thanks for all the info.

  5. I have never used stevia....maybe I should try it out!

  6. This is a great post! I need to go sugar free a lot more often than I do, and I generally don't mind the taste, as long as I don't overdo it (except in coffee, you are so right on that). I use that same little jar, and I think I have had it for at least two years, so it's worth the expense.

  7. wow i love stevia and just ran a give away for it..i totally use it in tons of stuff..and have posted tons about that too.

    great post, melody! :)

  8. Awesome post! Answered all of my questions about Stevia. Now I might actually purchase some.

  9. I'm going to have to look out for this Kal brand, I too hate the aftertaste. The only time I'm OK with stevia is when it's in a protein powder I put in my fruit smoothies. You're definitely right that a little goes a long way! Thanks for all the info!

  10. I adore stevia! Thanks for sharing all of those great recipes!

  11. Thank you for posting this. I am living on a calorie reduced diet to lose weight, but occasionally crave something sweet. I'm going to put some of your recipes in to analyze the calories and other macronutrients. If you like, I will make the analyses 'public' with a reference to your site for the actual recipes.