Most of my sweet recipes are sweetened with stevia. I chose to live a sugar free lifestyle and it has changed my world for the better. With this change it is so much easier to control weight. Workouts are shorter, which opens up time for more blogging! My moods are better, skin is clearer, I have less bloating and better sleep. My readers ask a lot of questions about why and how I use stevia so here are a few answers to your most asked questions. I have a seperate post on the products I use and when to use them.
Making the Change
New Years Eve 2009 I made one single resolution. I was no longer going to binge on sugar. It had a big grip on my life and I was not comfortable with that. I was on the cusp of 40 (yes I just said FORTY) and I was sick and tired of this ingredient having such power over my moods and over my life. I was over working out extra hard to burn off excess calories. Working out hurts and I wanted to make it as quick and painless as possible. I also do not want my kids to grow up with addictions to sugar. It sounds silly but it is powerful stuff.
I do what works best for myself and my family. I am writing this post to answer the awesome questions I get from my readers whenever I post my sweet recipes. Many of you have added stevia as an ingredient, others have had mixed opinions and many have never tried it at all.
We all have different taste preferences. Some stevia brands taste really bitter. Others taste nothing like sugar. Some I would never get near. I always link to the best products I have found so you can find them easily. If you cannot find them in your local natural foods store then they can be found online. This post will be a resource you can look at whenever you want to find the products that I use in my recipes.
What is Stevia?
Stevia is an all natural sweetener. It is made from a leaf. I hesitate to use the word “unprocessed” as obviously the sweetener has been processed into a powder and liquid. It is very low carb and is often combined with a small amount of erythritol. Since so little stevia is used in recipes I think that freaks people out , it can be 300 time sweeter than sugar. Some stevia has lots of fillers to bulk it up to appear more like sugar for baking. I do not use those.
Stevia is not artificial like aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet N’ Low) and sucralose (Splenda). Our bodies cannot regulate and identify these fake ingredients. There might actually be link to artificial sweeteners and weight gain. Go figure.
What is Sugar?
Sugar comes in many forms. Refined white table sugar is the most common.”Brown” sugar (which is still refined and has molasses added back in for color) is not any healthier, though it is tastier! These simple sugars are quickly digested and then our bodies swiftly turn the excess calories into fat. I am not going to get all scientific that is not my role. Pure maple syrup, honey, sucanat, molasses and agave are sugars too. I like to use those occasionally and sparingly. They offer unique flavors that I love in certain recipes.
I believe in “everything is fine in moderation” but for me the refined stuff is a no go (except in occasional Birthday Cakes.) In the same way that gluten does not agree with some folks, sugar offers me nothing in return. Abstinence is the best policy for me.
Sugars in any form make me feel yucky it is really that simple. Once I start eating something with it I find it very hard to stop (any one else familiar with the feeling?) After I eat sugar my energy spikes and then a little while after that I cannot peel myself off the ground. This might or might not happen to you. I have found it also affects my skin and emotions. About 1 1/2 years ago I said goodbye to it and I have kept away pretty much entirely. Diabetes is a form of sugar intolerance. Staying away from calorie dense ingredients (sugar) and switching to low glycemic virtually carb free stevia has been great for us.
Still Want Sweet?
Of course! I always say that life should be filled with flavorful whole foods. I could never forgo the taste of sweet, that would be no fun at all. That is why I have found the perfect balance.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. I simply share information that works for me and my family. If you have medical related issues please discuss them with your physician.