Replacing sugar in your diet doesn't always taste good. Many calorie-free sweeteners have a bitter aftertaste and are artificially synthesized chemicals. The leaves of the herb stevia contain highly sweet and calorie-free compounds called steviosides. In contrast to the highly refined, white stevia extracts available commercially, you can make your own green stevia powder from home-grown stevia leaves and use it to sweeten many foods and beverages naturally.
Use green stevia powder sparingly, as it is many times sweeter than table sugar. Highly refined white stevia extracts have 81 to 91 percent stevioside content and are 200 times sweeter than table sugar, according to the Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness. Dried stevia leaves have a stevioside content of around 12 percent, and will thus be approximately 20 times sweeter than sugar, according to Stevia.net.
Add a pinch of green stevia powder to warm beverages such as coffee or tea. Whole stevia leaves may be added to tea during steeping to add sweetness.
Dissolve green stevia powder in a small amount of water and add to recipes in place of sugar. Note that the green stevia powder may contribute a green color in addition to sweetness. Replace lost sugar bulk with shredded apples or carrots to maintain recipe consistency. Stevia is heat resistant and will not denature during cooking.
Sprinkle a small amount of stevia on fruit salad for a healthier alternative to regular sugar.
- Note that green stevia powder is not approved for commercial food use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only approved highly refined stevia extracts for food use due to unresolved concerns over the health effects of other constituents of the stevia leaf.
Chris Daniels covers advances in nutrition and fitness online. Daniels has numerous certifications and degrees covering human health, nutritional requirements and sports performance. An avid cyclist, weightlifter and swimmer, Daniels has experienced the journey of fitness in the role of both an athlete and coach.