With Michelle Obama’s initiatives to fight childhood obesity, this is the best time to substitute sugar in snacks. One of the newest and most promising healthy sweeteners to arrive in stores is stevia.
Stevia is a naturally sweet herb native to Paraguay that has been consumed for centuries. After tasting stevia leaves given to Jim May by a Peace Corps worker, he made it his mission to bring the extract from the sweet plant to the United States and eventually started the SweetLeaf Stevia company, which allowed him to import stevia to the U.S. in 1982. Stevia has zero calories, zero carbohydrates, and zero glycemic index making it the ideal additive for coffee, tea, and glasses of kool-aid. I recently chatted with the SweetLeaf Stevia company, about their goal to educate mother’s on how to reduce calories while keeping the sweetness in their favorite recipes. Here’s what I learned about substituting Stevia as a sweetener in some of your kids most favorite snacks.
Me:Why do parents need to know about Stevia?
SweetLeaf Stevia: Parents should know about Stevia because our nation’s grocery stores are filled with sugary products that are contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic. Stevia can help children maintain a healthy diet while still allowing a “sweet tooth.” Along with an alarming obesity rate, the number of people faced with type II diabetes is also increasing. Choosing stevia over sugar prevents blood sugar spikes and weight gain. Parents may also be delighted to know stevia eliminates sugar crashes that lead to bad behavior.
Me: What benefits does Stevia offer in a child’s diet?
SweetLeaf Stevia: A touch of natural sweetness without calories or glycemic index.
Me: How can parents make the switch from Sugar to Stevia? What specific characteristics of Stevia need to be kept in mind when using it in recipes?
SweetLeaf Stevia: Stevia is a high-intensity sweetener, so you use much less than sugar. Stevia doesn’t brown the way sugar does in baking.
Me: What are the 10 simplest & tastiest ways for parents to use Stevia in their everyday diets?
SweetLeaf Stevia: There are endless possibilities, but here are our favorites…
- Add award-winning SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia flavored Drops to plain water to get your children to drink more water. (Available in 14 flavors)
- Use stevia to make sweet tea. (Brew black tea and add 2 packets of SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener per pint)
- Use stevia to make lemonade. (Squeeze 6 lemons to yield 1 cup of juice. Add 5 cups of water and 12 packets of SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener)
- Use SweetLeaf™ Liquid Stevia Flavored Drops in unsweetened yogurt to avoid the calories in sweetened yogurt.
- Sprinkle SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener on oatmeal and cereal.
- Add Chocolate SweetLeaf™ Liquid Stevia Flavored Drops to smoothies and avoid the calories of chocolate syrup.
- Add SweetLeaf™ Liquid Stevia Flavored Drops to milk to get your children to drink more milk.
- Add SweetLeaf™ Liquid Stevia Flavored Drops to mineral water or seltzer to keep your children from drinking soft drinks.
- Use SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener in salad dressing recipes in place of sugar.
- Use Chocolate SweetLeaf™ Liquid Stevia Flavored Drops in iced coffee to turn it into a delicious iced mocha.