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Stevia

Stevia rebaudiana also known as sweet herb or honey leaf is a small perennial shrub that belongs to the chrysanthemum family of plants. Stevia rebaudiana is the only known species at present which possesses an inordinate ability to sweeten.

More About Stevia


Stevia is a small perennial shrub that belongs to the Chrysanthemum family of plants and is native to Paraguay.

Stevia has a inordinate ability to sweeten.  Stevia in it's natural herb form is approximately 10 to 15 times sweeter than common table sugar.  Its common form a white powder extracted from the leaves of the plant is rated at 70 to 400 times sweeter then sugar

Stevia may well be the most remarkable sweetener in the world. The following are some of the characteristics of Stevia:

It is diabetic safe     

calorie free

does not adversely affect blood sugar

is non toxic

inhibits the formation of cavities and plaque

contains no artificial ingredients

can be used for cooking

Stevia has also been known to posses some medicinal properties and was used by Indians for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years.

Here is  a list of some of the possible medicinal uses: Diabetes, Obesity, Hyperactivity, High blood pressure, Carbohydrate cravings, Tobacco and alcohol cravings, Hypoglycemia, Indigestion, Yeast infections, Skin toning and Healing.

Stevia makes up around 40% of Japans sweetener market and consumption. It is also used in many other parts of the world.

? If Stevia is so great why don't more people know about it or, how come it is not used as a sweetener in food products. (Think of how it would revolutionize our national sweetener problems, on health that is.) Good question. During the 80`s Stevia enjoyed popularity as a natural sweetener in a variety of products. In 1986 the FDA(United States Food and Drug Administration) abruptly seized Stevia inventories and in 1991 claimed it was not suitable as a food additive and it was banned. You see Stevia is natural and therefore unpatentable and a major threat to the then monopolizing and controversial ASPARTAME (artificial sweetener) As a result of the 1995 Health Freedom Act Stevia was approved for the use as a supplement and all labeling must state that. This is why if you try to find Stevia in your local health food store it will be in the supplement section not the sweetener section.( that is... if the store carries it.)

Growing Stevia


Growing Stevia from scratch can be difficult (from seeds that is). Even if you could get the seeds to germinate, stevioside levels can vary greatly from plant grown from seeds. You should try to get Stevia plants that have been grown from cuttings of plants that where high in stevioside. Which is to say that it is best to buy "proven-sweet" starter plants. Young Stevia plants are sensitive to low temperatures, so you should wait until any chance of frost has past and soil temperatures are into the 50`s and 60`s before transplanting them into to your garden. Stevia plants should be put in to rows 20 to 24 inches apart, and 18 inches between plants. Your plants will grow a height of around 30 inches with widths of 18 to 24 inches. Stevia Seeds and Plants are available in our secure shopping cart. Stevia plants enjoy a rich loamy soil. Stevia`s feeder roots are near the surface, so it is a good idea to ad compost for extra nutrients if your soil is sandy. Stevia roots are sensitive to excessive moisture. Be careful when watering and make sure their soil drains easily. Frequent light watering is best during the summer months. Add a layer of mulch around each plant to keep the shallow feeder roots from drying out. Stevia plants prefer fertilizers with lower nitrogen content over high Phosphoric acid or potash content. Organic fertilizers like fish emulsion, cow manure, bat guano, etc., are good because they release their nitrogen slowly. Waiting as late as possible to harvest can intensify the sweetness of the plants due to cool autumn temperatures and shorter days while they evolve into their reproductive state. You should cover your plants in the early frost so you can gain a few weeks growing and greater sweetness. When it comes time to harvest, you should prune off the branches before removing the leaves. You can also cut the tips off the stems since they can also be high in stevioside. If you live in a frost free climate you can leave your plants outside but do not cut the branches to short leave around 4 inches of stem. Your second year harvest will then be more successful. You should replace the plants after 2 years with new cuttings. Cuttings must be rooted before planting. You can use commercial rooting hormones or make your own from willow tree tips made liquid in your blender. Dip cuttings in your preparation and plant in a rooting type soil for 2 to 3 weeks. Once the root system has had a chance to form you can plant in a 4.5 inch pots. Place plants in a sunny, non- drafty location until spring. You can grow Stevia indoors. Hydroponics systems work well or a 10 to 12 inch container filled with a light weight growing mix. Again, adding some much around the top for the swallow roots is always a good idea.
How to Use Stevia


There are several ways in which you can use Stevia. The first thing you need to understand is that Stevia is very sweet, especially in it's white powder or liquid extract form. Just one half a teaspoon of white stevia or extract is equal to one cup of white sugar. You can mix white powder stevia with some warm water to make it more workable, or you can buy stevia in its liquid concentrate form. Stevia in powdered leaf form is not as sweet as the concentrated form but still as much as 30 times sweeter then sugar. (stevia in the white powder form does not retain all of the medicinal properties as in leaf form) 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of powdered leaf is equal to 1 cup of sugar. You can make your own liquid extract from the leaves or purchase it that way. Baked goods sweetened with stevia do not brown as much and stevia does not perform as sugar when needed for leavening with yeast (stevia does not act like a food for yeast as sugar does that is why it is good inside your body) Stevia can be added to other sweeteners like honey to increase its sweetening power with less quantities. Stevia is also a "flavor enhancer" and works great on dairy products, fruit dishes and even vegetables and salads. You can use stevia in soft drinks, shakes, pudding, tea, coffee, sorbet. Some stevia powders are cut with other ingredients such as maltodextrin. If you are going to buy stevia cut with something it is best to buy stevia with FOS.(fructooligosaccharides). There are many other ways in which you can use stevia. You can use whole stevia leaf to make tea or add to teas for sweetening. Carry stevia leaves with you and put in your mouth to calm those midday cravings. You can even use the leaves when trying to quit tobacco or alcohol. Try the leaves for an upset stomach. People have also used stevia as a mouth wash as it can help retard plaque. Some people have used stevia for bleeding gums. Stevia also works well topically as a mask ingredient as it can help to tighten the skin.
Stevia Recipes


The following two recipes were Excerpted with permission of Vital Health Publishing, Bloomingdale, IL, from Stevia Sweet Recipes: Sugar-Free - Naturally by Jeffrey Goettemoeller. 1999, Second Edition.

 Pesto Sauce Yields 1cup sauce ...this unique herbal sauce freezes well for later use. I love to use this on sandwiches it is also great on salads and pasta dishes or by itself on bread or crackers. 1/2 cup parsley leaves, stems removed 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped 1/4 cup vegetable oil (olive oil if you prefer) 1/16 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon Green Stevia Powder 1/4 cup chopped walnuts 3 1/2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese or Parmesan style soy cheese Process in a blender the parsley, garlic, oil, salt and stevia. Push down the sauce with a rubber spatula as needed (ALWAYS SWITCH OFF APPLIANCE BEFORE INSERTING A UTENSIL.) Add remaining ingredients and blend. the sauce need not be entirely smooth. Refrigerate in a covered jar.

Wheat Free Barley-Rye Pancakes Yields 12 large pancakes 1/4 teaspoon Stevia Extract Powder 1 1/2 cups barley flour 1/2 cup rye flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1/2 cup soymilk or vanilla flavored soy beverage 1 1/4 cups water Stir together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix all liquids and then combine the two mixtures. Heat the griddle. Ladle about 1/3 cup pancake batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Turn when bubbly on top and underside is browned. Serve hot with Maple Apple Syrup, Pineapple Sauce or Spicy Applesauce

Aspartame


There are many associated risks with the use of Aspartame and much controversy about its approval by the FDA, at present I will not get in to the details since there is a lot of information and I would rather spend my time at this point on positive things such as Stevia. If you do want more information (which I do recommend because it is intriguing) Then order one or both of the books on aspartame I recommend on the Books Page

 

    

 

 

 



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