Viroqua Food Co+op Blog

Stevia, an herbal sweetener

Posted by Charlene Elderkin on Mon, Oct 26, 2009 @ 03:48 PM

Written by Zeba Due

Stevia pronounced (steevya) is a genus of about 240 species of herbs and shrubs. The species Stevia rebaudiana commonly known as sweet leaf, sugar leaf, or simply stevia is grown for its sweet leaves in subtropical and tropical South America and Central America. As a sugar substitute, raw stevia’s taste is slower when first ingested, but lingers, and can have a bitter aftertaste at high concentrations. Stevia doesn’t raise blood sugar levels and is safe for diabetics and hypoglycemia.¹


Stevia is an all-natural herbal product with centuries of safe usage. It has been tested in dozens of studies around the world and found to be completely non-toxic. The stevia leaves and herbal green powder are 10-15 times sweeter than table sugar. Refined white powder extracts are 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar and should be used sparingly. Stevia has been available as a dietary supplement in natural food stores for a long time; however it has been slow to catch on partly because of a bitter licorice aftertaste.


In December, 2008 the FDA approved stevia product Rebaudioside-A as a general purpose sweetener. Coca-Cola and Pepsi want to incorporate stevia into new products, however be aware that makers of new sweeteners vary in their processing and purity of products. Some stevia products contain added flavors, bulking agents, or fiber.²


In my experience every brand I buy is different. I bought one brand that added fructose. Be sure to read the labels and in the case of soda companies, call and ask about their processing. When using stevia begin with a very small amount, a pinch to less than 1/8 teaspoon. The same rule applies to the Sweet Leaf liquid stevia. I’ve used stevia in baking, and in both hot and cold foods for several years. It has a distinct different taste and if overused will leave a bitter aftertaste.


You can locate stevia in aisle 2 at theVFC. We handle Sweet leaf liquid in a 2 fl. oz. bottle and the white powder in a 50 packet box, and .9 oz or 4 oz shakers. We also offer the green herbal powder in our bulk department at the back of the store above the bulk nut butters.


Carob Chip Cookies (unsweetened)

¼ cup spelt, rye, or oat flour

¾ cup brown rice flour

½ cup millet flour

2 Tbsp. Amaranth flour

¼ cup oat flakes

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup carob chips

pinch stevia powder

12-15 drops stevia liquid vanilla creme

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 medium egg white

1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium mixing bowl stir together flours, salt, baking powder, walnuts, carob chips, and stevia. In a separate bowl stir together extract, oil, egg, and water. Stir into dry mixture. Drop by heaping tablespoon onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Lightly moisten fingertips with water; flatten and shape into 12- 2” to 3” cookies. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.


¹ Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

² Excerpted from Stevia Rebaudiana: Nature’s Sweet Secret, Vital Health Publishing by David Richard.  


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Tags: Recipes