Traverse City Record-Eagle

Edna Shaffer: Grandma's Kitchen

April 19, 2010

Grandma's Kitchen: Discovering stevia

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Because Molly and I are trying to support each other in sticking to our healthy eating plan, our newest caper involves stevia, an all-natural, non-caloric sweetener produced by a plant of the same name. It also has zero carbs and rates a zero on the glycemic index. There is much information regarding it on the Internet. I also called a dietician at the Munson Diabetic Clinic. She assured me it was perfectly safe as a sugar substitute for calorie control or for diabetics.

Stevia works well in baking and cooking, and withstands freezing.

The ratio of substitution varies according to manufacturer, as all stevia is not processed the same.

If the ratio is not on the package, find the manufacturer's Web site and read that particular information.

We purchased our stevia at Oryana. It is a pure, organic, powdered extract. It is said to be 300 times sweeter than sugar.

Because of this, the ratio of conversion is an amazing: 1/4 teaspoon stevia to replace 1 whole cup of sugar! In other words, 1 cup of stevia would be equivalent to 192 cups of sugar.

When you are buying stevia, be informed that the purer the extract, the less you have to use when substituting.

To date we have prepared apple pies, a cherry pie, banana nut bread, custard and a crockpot cake -- all using no sweetener but stevia.

Everyone, especially diabetics, would benefit from using whole-wheat pie crust and whole-wheat flour in place of white flour.

Some of our recipes are newly designed around stevia as the sweetener, while others are old family favorites modified to include this new wonder.

Molly and I are enjoying our fun times in the kitchen together working on new recipes or trying to find new ways to jazz up some of the old ones. I would be very interested in hearing how your experiments turn out and how you like this new sweetener.

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