If you’ve looked through many of my recipes, you may have noticed that I’m kind of in love with stevia. I like stevia because it allows us to enjoy sweet things while minimizing our intake of added sugars. Unfortunately, stevia is a lot more difficult to use than other alternative sweeteners. Stevia’s sweetness is much more concentrated than other sweeteners, and since sweetness also varies between brands, there’s no standard way to convert conventional recipes into stevia recipes. When I first started using stevia, I couldn’t find many stevia recipes or resources so was left to flounder about on my own.
Fortunately, all of that floundering led to a lot of experimentation which eventually taught us how to best use stevia in our kitchen. Today, I want to share our best general tips for using stevia, as well as some specific guidelines for how to reduce the honey in a recipe by substituting my favorite brand of stevia extract.
(As always, I should point that stevia is not technically GAPS-legal. However, many people on GAPS find that they are able to use stevia without issues. If you are interested in including stevia in your GAPS diet, I recommend introducing it slowly to determine whether you are able to tolerate it.)
General Tips for Using Stevia
Most (if not all) stevia extracts contain somewhat of aftertaste. To minimize this aftertaste, never use stevia to on its own; instead, always use stevia in combination with another sweetener. Depending on your taste buds, I recommend using a quarter to a half of the original sweetener and substituting the rest with stevia. When using this technique, Jesse and I rarely notice the stevia aftertaste.
Experiment with different stevia brands to see what you like. From what I’ve read, some have much more noticeable aftertastes than others. I personally have been very pleased with the SweetLeaf brand. (I also like the fact that SweetLeaf stevia is minimally processed—read this post for details.)
Stevia works best in no-bake recipes that you can easily taste before completing, such as homemade chocolates, ice cream, gummy candies, salad dressing, and no-bake cookies. Add a little bit of stevia to replace some of the sweetener, taste, and then add more stevia if necessary.
Stevia is also great for sweetening tea, smoothies and other beverages.
We’ve had some success using stevia in baked goods that are not hugely dependent on the texture properties provided by sugar, such as crustless pumpkin pie. As for other baked goods, I’m sure that there’s an ideal way to use stevia…but we haven’t found it yet. While you can certainly get recipes like muffins and cupcakes sweet enough by using a combination of honey and stevia, losing part of the honey means you also lose a lot of the moisture that the honey provides. Jesse thinks that adding more oil may be the solution, but he hasn’t yet nailed down the right amount to add for the missing honey. (If you have any tips/ideas on this front, please share!)
How to Substitute SweetLeaf Clear Liquid Stevia for Honey
Since stevia sweetness varies between brands, I’m afraid I can’t provide a definite conversion chart for substituting stevia for other sweeteners. I can, however, tell you how to substitute my favorite brand of stevia extract, SweetLeaf clear liquid stevia. These conversions are all for honey since that’s the main sweetener we use on GAPS. Here’s how to substitute:
- If you suspect that the recipe you want to modify is going to be too sweet for your taste buds, use only a quarter of the honey called for in the recipe. Substitute the rest of the honey with five drops of stevia for every missing tablespoon of honey. (After years of eating low-sugar, Jesse and I prefer things to be only mildly sweet—this formula usually does a good job of moderating sweetness.)
- If you think that the recipe you want to modify is already the correct sweetness, use half of honey called for in the recipe. Substitute the rest of the honey with eight drops of stevia for every missing tablespoon of honey.
What the above two guidelines boil down to making sure that your recipe contains enough honey to balance out the stevia content. We’ve found that you shouldn’t use more than 15 drops of stevia for every tablespoon of honey. If you go above that ratio, you’re much more likely to experience an unpleasant stevia aftertaste. You can avoid this just by following the rules above, but remembering this ratio is another way to think about it you’re so inclined.
Where to Buy Stevia
I buy my SweetLeaf stevia from Amazon because the price is the lowest I’ve seen. I’m sure that you can also find it at your natural foods store, or at other online retailers like iHerb or Vitacost. You can also grow stevia and make your own extract—I’ll be giving that a try next year!
This post is shared at Fight Back Friday, Fill Those Jars Friday, Freaky Friday, Monday Mania, Living Green Tuesdays, Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Scratch Cookin’ Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Pennywise Platter and Simple Lives Thursday.
Do you use stevia? What are your best tips?
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