Baking This Holiday Season? Try Sweetening With Stevia

With all the sugar substitutes on the market, it's easy to be confused and misled by claims of healthfulness, and we found it hard to get our hands on a good green alternative. After all, it's hard to know what to believe about the molecules in those additives. But here's one sweetener that comes right off the plant, and can actually be good for you.

What we're all familiar with comes in pink, blue, and yellow packages, but each of these carries some confusion around their ingredients. Aspartame (that's what makes most diet sodas sweet) has been linked to headaches and dizziness; saccharin, another low-calorie sweetener on the market, has shown cancer-causing properties in labs.

So now there's a new low-calorie sweetener on the market called stevia, which is plant-based. At the farmers' market one day, a farmer plucked a leaf from his stevia plant and asked us to try it. We obliged, and were shocked at the sweetness. Stevia powder is just ground up stevia leaf. It's sugar-free, meaning it's safe for diabetics and won't give kids cavities; but its health benefits extend even to stimulating healthy digesting and, in some studies, lowering blood pressure. And best of all, it's a plant! That you can grow!

It seems that a plant-based sweetener is a much better option than one derived from chemical reactions in a lab.

For more eco-friendly information about stevia, including recipes, check out this article from Mother Earth News.

Have you tried stevia yet?

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(Image: Flickr member wanz 3rd, licensed under Creative Commons.)

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