Stevia is the common name for the Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni plant which is found throughout South America, Asia and other countries across the globe. Stevia gets its sweetness from harvesting Rebaudioside D., an extract from the Stevia plant leaf.
This stevia extract used in commercially sold products is made by steeping the dried stevia leaves in hot water to obtain the sweet-tasting parts of the leaf. This water is filtered so the remaining material can be isolated and purified; each extracted substance, scientifically referred to as a glycoside, has a unique flavor and level of sweetness.
These different glycosides are “Generally Recognized as Safe” or GRAS, for use in food products by the FDA.
Stevia sweeteners are abundant and are sold by a variety of different companies.
Stevia sweetener blends can be used anywhere sugar would be used-from coffee to cookies. Approximately ½ teaspoon of a sugar/stevia blend (about one packet) contains 10 calories, 2 grams of total carbohydrate and 2 grams of sugar.
Additionally, stevia sweeteners have no added flavors, colors or artificial ingredients. There is a different ratio when cooking, so be sure to read the label for the conversion from regular sugar to a stevia blend product.
Below is a spin on a Thanksgiving dessert using a stevia-based sweetener:
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
3 cups cubed French bread (1-inch cubes)
2/3 cup 1% milk
1 egg + 1 egg white
8 packets stevia sweetener
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray 4 baking cups with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Mix milk, pumpkin, egg/egg white, stevia, spices and vanilla together in a bowl. Add bread cubes and stir until bread is coated and soaks up the mixture.
4. Spoon mixture evenly into baking cups. Place on cookie sheet and cover with foil. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Nutrition information per serving (approx. 4 ounces): 130 calories, 3 gm total fat, 220 mg sodium, 23 gm total carbohydrate, 1 gm fiber, 4 gm sugar, 5 gm protein
Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.