Stevia and Xylitol

Stevia and Xylitol
Stevia
Stevia Rebaudiana is a natural herb in the Chrysanthemum family which grows in parts of Paraguay
and Brazil. The steviosides (steviol glycosides, or sugar molecules) in its leaves account for its
incredible sweetness, making it unique among the nearly 300 different species of Stevia plants. The
sweet steviosides have been extracted and used as sweetener in South America since 1887, the
earliest time it was recorded. It is becoming more main stream in the U.S., but has seen resistance
from the FDA as they try to protect their money flow coming from artificial sweeteners.
Twenty+ years worth of studies have been done on stevia consumption and stevia has been found
completely non-toxic and safely consumed in massive quantities by many different nations.
Cooking With Stevia
HOW to cook and bake with stevia comes with a learning curve, so be prepared if you're new to
this! Stevia is much sweeter than sugar but has none of sugar's unhealthy drawbacks. The refined
extracts of Stevia (steviosides) are zero calories and 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar. This is
why you use much less volume in a recipe than you would sugar. See conversion chart below. It's
got all your stevia options on there (pure powder, blended powder or liquid).
There are two drawbacks to cooking with stevia. One (and it's a pet peeve of mine) is that it doesn't
caramelize like sugar or honey, so often I'll throw in a teaspoon of honey here and there, like on a
sweet chicken dish or grilled foods to get a rich color and flavor.
The second is the loss of volume, which is extremely important when baking. You'll need to follow
the conversion chart along with one other adjustment. In order to make up for the volume lost
through replacing a cup of sugar with only 1 1/2 teaspoons of Pure Stevia Liquid, you need to add
something to keep the right consistency. I will usually add a bit of honey or unsweetened apple
fiber.
To make unsweetened apple fiber place unsweetened applesauce in a strainer lined with
cheesecloth. Place the strainer in a bowl and let sit overnight in your refrigerator. In the morning
you will have apple fiber in the strainer and apple juice in the bowl. [Make your own raw apple sauce
by pureeing Granny Smith apple chunks until smooth and proceed from there with straining.]
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Replace each cup of sugar in your recipe with 1 cup of apple fiber, as well as 1 1/2 teaspoons of
Stevia Liquid. This will replace both the sweetness and the volume. An additional benefit to using
this method is that you can reduce the oil content in your baking, as the apple fiber will create a
moister finished product.
Stevita brand stevia is a good one. It does not have a bitter after taste! Stevita uses 95% minimum
pure steviosides. Other brands you find at your grocery store aren't as pure (some only use 85% or
even 50% steviosides and the rest is filler) and that is why you get that bitter aftertaste. So make
sure whatever brand you are using is certified pure, and the only ingredient in pure stevia should be
stevia. Watch out for brands that are adding Dextrose (a chemically altered sugar) to the
mix. Using Stevita's "Stevia Supreme" which is a blend of stevia and xylitol is much more user
friendly stevia product, converting becomes quick and easy. The xylitol rounds out the sweetness
as stevia is a bit harsh and upfront sweetness level. But again, no after taste with that product
either.
Bulk Conversions
Sugar
Stevia Blends
(Packets)
Stevia
Blends
(Bulk)
Clear
Stevia
Liquid
Pure
Steviosides
2 tsp.
1 packet
1/2 tsp.
1/4 tsp.
1/16 tsp.
1/4 cup
6 packets
3 tsp.
1/2 tsp.
3/8 tsp.
1/3 cup
8 packets
4 tsp.
3/4 tsp.
1/2 tsp.
1/2 cup
12 packets
6 tsp.
1 1/4 tsp.
3/4 tsp.
3/4 cup
18 packets
9 tsp.
1 3/4 tsp.
1 tsp.
1 cup
24 packets
12 tsp.
2 1/2 tsp.
1 1/2 tsp.
2 cups
48 packets
24 tsp.
5 1/4 tsp.
3 tsp.
Xylitol
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol sweetener used as a sugar substitute. Pure xylitol is a
white crystalline substance that looks and tastes like sugar. It is a naturally occurring 5-carbon
sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is also produced naturally in our bodies
from the foods we eat. Our bodies produce up to 15 grams of xylitol from other food sources using
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established energy pathways. Xylitol is not a strange or artificial substance, but a normal part of
everyday metabolism!
Xylitol was first derived from birch trees in Finland in the late 19th century and was popularized in
Europe as a safe sweetener for people with diabetes that would not impact insulin levels. Since it
has a low Glycemic Index, xylitol is absorbed more slowly than sugar, so it does not contribute to
high blood sugar levels or the resulting hyperglycemia caused by insufficient insulin response. It
can also be extracted from the fibers of many fruits and vegetables (berries, lettuce, corn husks,
oats, and mushrooms) but is most commonly taken from birch here in the U.S.
There are other great oral/dental and sinus/nasal health benefits linked to xylitol, but that's a
complete subject on its own. It's best to find a natural toothpaste that uses xylitol rather than sugar
to sweeten the taste. Also look for mouthwash, gum, mints or candy sweetened with xylitol.
Xylitol has no known toxicity in humans. If it's your first time using xylitol, keep in mind that like
most sugar alcohols, it has a laxative effect because sugar alcohols are not fully broken down during
digestion. Normal symptoms following your first consumption include bloating, diarrhea, and
flatulence, but your body will adapt and learn how to process this more complex form of
sweetener. Moderation is key to avoid these symptoms!
Cooking With Xylitol
You'll be happy to know that xylitol's ratio to sugar is about an equal 1:1 (that ratio may vary slightly
from tasty recipe to tasty recipe). Xylitol is roughly as sweet as sucrose (sugar) with about twothirds the food energy (1 teaspoon contains 9.5 calories vs 15 calories in a tsp of sugar). There are
two points to keep in mind when cooking or baking: 1) xylitol absorbs moisture like you wouldn't
believe, so you may need to adjust recipes accordingly, 2) xylitol cannot be used liked sugar in
fermentation so don’t add Xylitol to yeast to help raise bread, etc. (Xylitol does not feed yeast like
sugar does).
The cost of xylitol (it's about $7.00 for a 1lb bag = 2cups = 3-5 recipes depending). Stevia is
much more affordable as you can buy it in bulk and a little goes a very long way (about $20 for a
1lb blend container = 2cups = 96 tsp = around 35-40 recipes depending). But if you can afford
xylitol, definitely use it as it's so much easier to use ratio wise and has numerous added health
benefits! Also, xylitol has virtually no aftertaste. Overall, xylitol is the easier sweetener choice for
cooking and baking.
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