I've been eating stevia for a long time now – ever since I knew that I had candida. I was quite the sugar-aholic but am now reformed from that habit and am glad to know that stevia is one of the more healthy sugar alternatives.
If you don't LOVE stevia (and even if you do), then this is the post for you. Even if you love stevia, the following tips are great ways to love it even more. (Note – this post was written by Candace of Candida Free Candee, but her site is now offline so all links to her site have been removed.)
Are you a stevia lover?
Do you wish you were?
Do you wish you could enjoy all the pros of stevia without the palate-intruding cons?
Well look no further! Today I am going to share with you some tips and tricks that will help you enjoy each and every trip you take to Stevia-land! Read on to learn more.
When I first heard about Stevia, I was ecstatic. I thought it was a godsend to my candida-ridden body.
What is Stevia?
1. Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant and can be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar (the typical range is 200-300). As a result, depending on the recipe, stevia can be either simple, or pretty hard to use in recipes. Check out How to Use Stevia here.}
2. Stevia is a zero calorie sweetener that does not contain any sugar or carbohydrates, nor does it feed candida.
3. Easy on your digestion–stevia lacks the unpleasant tummy-lurching side effects that are a characteristic of some other non-candida feeding sweeteners (think sugar-alcohols, like xylitol).
4. Stevia comes in many forms with varying amounts of processing. Among theses are: homemade extracts, liquid or powder extracts and ground stevia.
– Homemade extracts, also known as “teas”, are made by steeping the leaves of the stevia plant, which can often be found at local greenhouses.
– Liquid or powdered extracts are made by using either water or alcohol to extract two types of glycosides from the leaves of the stevia plant (Stevioside and rebaudioside A). Here's a super simple way to make Homemade Liquid Stevia–on the cheap.
– Ground Leaves – The third process simply involves the grinding of dried stevia leaves into a green powder with no extraction process.
I remember taking that first bite of baking prepared with this new (to me) and exciting sweetener with delicious thoughts dancing through my head of treats that had been off-limits for so long.
Well, was I ever disappointed! My palette was bombarded with a strong, unpleasant flavor and bitter aftertaste. What had I just put in my mouth? I was thoroughly displeased, and quite defeated. Fighting candida exhausted me and ignoring my sweet cravings was getting to me.
Well, I thought, I'll just have to live without sweets for a while longer. That turned out to be waay too tough, so much so that I thought I'd try stevia again, this time a different brand. And again it was gross. The only thing that irritated me more than the awful taste was that it seemed some people couldn't taste it at all! I watched in awe as my father-in-law devoured half a plate of stevia brownies all the while raving about how good they were!
Well, I decided I was going to make myself enjoy stevia if it was the last thing I did. So everyday I ate a piece of the remaining brownies with the hopes that eventually I would not be able to taste it either.
The experiment lasted a couple of weeks in which I saw no improvement. I knew I had to try a different approach if I was going to learn to love it.
I am now a huge stevia fan and you can find it in almost every dessert recipe I make. It took a little time and effort but it was well worth it, as stevia is now my sole sweetener and probably will be (other than fruit) for a long time. Yes, I like it that much. In honor of my affection for stevia, I put together some tips and tricks to help you go from hate to love painlessly, so you too can enjoy a refined, sugar-free lifestyle!
Tips to Love Stevia
1. Don't go cold turkey.
I mean it. It seems like a good idea but it isn't (for most people). This is the one valuable piece of information I gleaned from a desperate google search for which I literally typed “how to make yourself like stevia”.
Don't one day decide to put it in everything, on everything and use only stevia until you love it. In my experience, you'll hate every moment and feel the same way about it as you did at the start. You may be likely give up just like me with a bad taste–literally–in your mouth.
2. Get the good stuff.
Stevia extracts are not created equal. I have purchased my share of brands and while some are palatable, others just don't make the cut. However, as you learn to like stevia you will likely be more tolerant of even the most unpalatable brands. Luckily, some are just delicious and a great place to start.
My personal favorite is new NuNaturals. Sadly, they had to change their formula, but I still enjoy it. I am however, always on the lookout for new options. Having said that, NuNaturals still has a smooth flavour with minimal to no aftertaste. What I do detect in aftertaste in the new formula is also pleasant, and after a few uses went away completely. This stevia has been a godsend to me!
One word of caution when choosing your stevia is to check the ingredients!
Some stevias (especially the baking mixes) have added fillers and ingredients, like maltodextrin, (which is not good for candida). And some, shockingly, even have sugar in them. Yes, straight up refined sugar. My poor mother-in-law slaved away on a birthday cake for me using a stevia baking mix with sugar in it. I felt just awful, but I just couldn't eat it! The mixes with sugar might be an OK short term option if you're learning to like stevia (see tip #4) but I believe there are better options for your overall health.
3. Be patient.
I've mentioned that most people find that stevia has a distinctive taste. Some find it slightly unpleasant, while others are oblivious. Just be aware that it can be an acquired taste, and the more you try it, the less you will taste it.
4. Start gradually and cut it to mask the flavor.
Ok, this is my secret trick. Until you are used to the flavour/aftertaste, depending on the brand you've chosen, cut the stevia.What I mean by this is don't use stevia as the only sweetener in your recipe. Instead, use some stevia along with a bit of another sweetener like honey, maple syrup, fruit juice, coconut sugar, molasses, xylitol (if you have candida), whatever you like, but do try to use your healthiest option available.
The reason being is when stevia is mixed with another sweetener the taste is greatly reduced and often not even noticeable. This is also true when there is fruit in the recipe, like an apple crisp or oatmeal raisin cookies. The stevia is much less, if at all, noticeable.
Slowly, steadily, each subsequent time you prepare something, decrease the other choice sweetener and increase the stevia with the goal of cutting out the other sweetener completely over time. Trust me, you will reach a point where you will be using all stevia but cannot taste it anymore. Seriously.
5. Stay committed.
It may take a little time, a little experimentation and a little searching for the brand that works for you, but let me tell you, it will all be worth it when you pick up a “sugar” cookie, or a bite of ice cream sweetened only with stevia and you enjoy it as much as the “real” thing. So worth it, my friends, so worth it!
6. Freeze it.
If you added too much stevia to a recipe or if the taste is too strong don't throw out your hard work, instead, freeze it for a day or two (letting it sit in the fridge works well too). I don't know the science behind it but for some reason putting it in the freezer dissipates unpleasantness resulting from too much stevia. So glad I discovered this early on in my stevia-loving journey, as I would have wasted a whole lot of money tossing perfectly good food!
There you have it, my tips for teaching yourself to like stevia.
Do you like stevia? Have you tried any of these tips?