Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stevia Experiments

Stevia is a South American herb with a sweetness that’s 300 times greater than sugar. Since Boris is from South America, it was no surprise to me that stevia comes from his homeland—being the sweet guy that he is and all! He’s waaay more than 300 times sugar’s sweetness! Anyway, I’ve been intrigued by stevia for some time now because I’ve read that it’s actually good for you. As hard as it is to believe, stevia actually helps stabilize blood sugar levels. This is amazing considering the terrible things sugar does to our blood sugar balance. So I tried a few products (mostly protein powders and drink powders) that were sweetened with stevia and didn’t like the taste. The best way I could describe it was like electric licorice. But, since I don’t give up easily, I thought I’d get my own stevia and see if I could make it work for me.
I bought a bottle of pure stevia extract called SweetLeaf Stevia Extract made by Wisdom Brands, about .9 oz for about $10. After realizing how little you use in recipes, I figure it will last me a couple of years.
There was another brand that looked like it had way more in the bottle (about 4 oz.) and cost about the same, but after looking closer at the ingredients (Boris’ suggestion), I realized that they had used a filler to pump it up. I thought that if I want to investigate this stuff, I need it to be pure.
After a couple of quick experiments, I came to realize that the trick to using it is not to try for an end product that is super sweet. Just use enough to bring out a sweet taste that balances with the other flavors. The usual substitution with sugar is 1 cup of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of stevia, but I would recommend that you use maybe 1/3 or ½ of a teaspoon of stevia per cup of sugar instead. That means that if you’re putting it in your tea or coffee, you would just put the slightest dusting on a spoon.I made a small batch of oatmeal cookies and some coconut tofu pudding and they were great! I tried another thing that was really crazy that I won’t tell you all the details about, but it involved frozen celery and a blender and it was horrible (although Boris claims he liked it)! So here are the two good recipes I’ve made so far:

Sugar Free Oatmeal Cookies 10 cookies
¼ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup barley flour
1 cup rolled oats
Pinch salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup walnuts
1 ½ Tablespoons flax seeds, ground
¼ teaspoon stevia extract
Optional: ½ cup chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons canola oil
½ cup vanilla almond, soy, or rice milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with Pam or other spray oil.
Mix all ingredients except oil and milk. Stir in oil and milk. Spoon onto oiled
cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 18 minutes until lightly browned around edges.

Coconut Tofu Pudding Serves 4
12.3 oz. box Mori-Nu Silken Tofu, Firm
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup unsweetened vanilla almond, soy, or rice milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 teaspoon stevia extract

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Use more or less
almond, soy, or rice milk to get it to the thickness you want. Adjust stevia amount to your
taste. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving. It will thicken a little more in the
refrigerator and the flavors will blend and mellow.
This is great spooned over bananas or other fruit.


  1. Great information, that pudding looks delicious. Thanks, Julie.

  2. I can finally drink sweettea like water!whoo hoo!(well maybe)

  3. Thanks for posting the conversions. I hadn't figured it out yet! And now I have some good cookies to make with it.

  4. That's great! You'll all have to report back and let us know how you like it.

  5. Wow! Thanks so much for the conversion Julie! I think that I'll try to make the oatmeal cookies next time a holiday rolls around. I really want to try it with my chocolate coconut macaroon recipe, because if it works I'll actually have a healthy treat that I can make for my dieting and gluten or dairy intolerant friends! The cookies basically contain shredded coconut, egg whites, a small amount of melted extra dark chocolate (60% or higher-which is somewhat healthy, right?), chocolate and vanilla extract, a pinch salt and cream of tartar...and the one bad ingredient; 1/2 cup sugar for a double recipe. You both have had the cookies and you know thet they aren't supposed to be terribly sweet; do you think 1/4 teaspoon of stevia would be about the right amount? If I can make it work I'll have to send a batch up to you and that super sweet guy of yours! :-)

    I wonder why the herb has never been adopted by the diet food industry in a big way. Maybe it's because it can't be patented?

  6. It's definitely worth a try, Jen! Since the sugar in this recipe probably accounts for a good part of the total volume, you might want to try doing it with just under 1/4 teaspoon. It seems like stevia is a true case of "less is more"--just enough to enhance the other flavors. Let us know how they turn out!

  7. Success! I made a batch of nearly sugar free Chocolate coconut macaroons yesterday for a friend and they were a hit! Here's the recipe for anyone who is interested:


    2 Large egg whites
    1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
    1/4 cup semisweet or extra dark chocolate (60% cocoa or higher)
    1 tablespoon chocolate extract
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    Slighly under 1/4 teaspoon Sweetleaf Stevia extract
    2 1/2 cup flaked coconut (I used the sweetened kind that has 5 grams of sugar. If you use unsweetened you will have to add stevia to taste)
    1/8 teaspoon salt

    Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave oven. Set aside to cool to room temp.Add egg whites and cream of tartar to a mixer bowl and whisk until peaks are formed.Add flavorings, stevia and salt to the meringue, beating at a lower speed. Slowly add the melted chocolate. Remove whisk and add the coconut, mixing it together with a spoon. Drop heaping spoonfulls of the mixure onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with Pam or covered with parchment. Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until macaroons are not quite firm. Store in a looosly covered container at room temperature or freeze until needed. Yeild: 15-20 servings

  8. That sounds so delicious! Thanks for working that out for us, Jen!

  9. Julie,
    Long time fan of your art (Boris too) but this blog is great!

    I have one question...where can you purchase this Stevia you suggest? I can't seem to find it where I live. I have been using Truvia and this sounds so much better than Truvia does.

    Thanks again,