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The Sweet Alternative – Stevia

“Steve who?”

“Not who, but what – Stevia. It is an all-natural, herb that is cropping up all over the place. Originally cultivated in South America, this sweet-leafed herb is the newest craze in dietary supplements. Stevia is authorized to be sold as a dietary supplement and food additive in the form of rebaudioside A. You can thank Paraguay for discovering the benefits of this delicious plant and offering it to the world.”

“Wow. Tell me more!”

WHAT’S THE STORY ABOUT STEVIA?

Stevia can be found in most health food stores across the US and Canada. It is available in liquid or powdered form, and also features as an ingredient in items such as protein drinks, energy bars and a variety of teas. In Japan, where it is has been widely cultivated as a sweetener alternative since the 1970s, you can find it in a wide range of products, including many food products and even Coca Cola! More desirable than the suspected cancer-causing sweeteners like saccharin, stevia would seem to be the number one choice as a sugar substitute. While Japan, China and much of South America widely utilizes this fabulous herb, North America is still tentatively exploring stevia’s benefits.

BENEFITS OF STEVIA

What exactly are the benefits of Stevia then? Well, stevia has no calories or carbohydrates, and has a zero glycemic index. While the leaves of the plant are naturally sweet tasting, when dried and crushed into a powder, they can be used to sweeten coffee, tea or just about anything instead of  sugar or other chemical sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose (in Splenda) or cyclamate (in Sweet ‘n Low). We have all heard of the studies that link these artificial sweeteners to higher cancer risks. Why take the risk, when stevia is an all-natural sugar substitute?

And while obesity levels are on the rise in North America, stevia just might gain in popularity as well. With the ability to sweeten things, without adding calories, stevia is an attractive option for those worried about their weight. Used in moderation, stevia can definitely be part of a healthy weight-loss program.

Another group that should take notice of stevia’s benefits are people that suffer from diabetes, or others that cannot tolerate fluctuating blood sugar levels, like those with hypo/hyperglycemia. As stevia produces virtually zero fluctuations in blood glucose level, this makes it a supplement worth exploring. There are some studies that have even shown that stevia can reduce hypertension, as well as improving insulin sensitivity (in rats).

While numerous studies have shown the safety of stevia, many governments are still not completely convinced. For that reason, we remind you that this article should in no way replace your physician’s care and advice. You should always discuss potential alterations to your diet with your doctor, before making any significant changes. That being said, stevia is well worth discussing!

COMPARISON CHART BETWEEN STEVIA & OTHER SWEETENERS*

Per 2 Teaspoons
of Sugar
Stevia
Sugar
Nutrasweet
(Aspartame)
Splenda
(Sucralose)
Sweet ‘N Low
(Saccharin)
Natural vs. Artificial
Natural Natural Artificial Artificial Artificial
Calories
0 32 0 0 0
Net Carbs
0 8g 1g 1g 1g
Gylcemic Index
0 70 0 0 0

 

RECIPES

Stevia Hot Breakfast Porridge

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa flakes
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
12 drops stevia liquid concentrate
1 Tbs. butter or coconut oil
2 tsp. vanilla flavoring
1 tsp. flax seed oil (optional but very healthy)

DIRECTIONS:
– Bring water to boil in a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.
– Add next five ingredients.
– Cover and reduce heat to very low.
– Simmer for 10 minutes.
– Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before adding vanilla flavoring and flax seed oil.

Couscous and Chick Pea Salad with Stevia

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 Cup Couscous
Water – between 3/4 and 1 cup
pinch of Sea salt
1 cup Cooked chick peas
1 small Carrot, diced
2 stalks Celery, diced
1/2 cup Sweet or red onion, diced
1/4 cup Fresh mint leaves or cilantro, finely chopped
2 TB Roasted black sesame seeds

DRESSING:
2 to 3 TB Pumpkin oil
2 TB Balsamic, brown rice, or apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
2 to 4 drops SteviaClear
Sea salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:
– Boil water.
– Stir in couscous and salt.
– Remove from heat and cover.
– Allow 5 minutes for grains to absorb water.
– Gently fluff with a fork.
– In a small saucepan, blanch carrots in 1/2 cup water for 2 minutes.
– In a large serving bowl, combine all ingredients and gently fold in dressing.
– Adjust seasonings to taste. Allow flavors to meld for 30 minutes.
– Serve at room temperature.

Mustard-based barbecue sauce with Stevia

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups yellow mustard
2/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon tabasco sauce
3/4 teaspoon white stevia powder
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:
– Crush bouillon cube and add dry ingredients.
– Add other spices (for example pepper, rosemary, celery: experiment a little!).
– Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl.
– Then add everything together and stir well.
– Let sit for at least one hour.

Here at Premier Fitness Camp we want to teach you alternatives, healthier alternatives and choices. We are an awesome weight loss retreat that tackles your health from every angle!

SOURCES:
http://www.stevia.net/
http://www.stevia.net/morerecipes2.html
http://www.stevia.com/
http://www.steviainfo.com/
http://www.steviainfo.com/?page=recipe&recipe=couscous_and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia

*Comparison chart – http://www.steviainfo.com/?page=comparing

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