I discovered Stevia early last year while partaking in a low carb/Paleo diet. It is widely used by those following that way of eating as it contains zero calories and carbohydrates as well as being a great low GI option for diabetics.
I came across the brand Natvia which has quickly become my go-to sweetener containing Stevia. It is a product that uses 100% natural ingredients and has a unique blend of both Stevia and Ethrithol. This is due to Stevia naturally being 300 times sweeter than sugar. The blend allows for a spoon for spoon substitute making it great for cooking and adding to your morning coffee.
I was also recently gifted this Stevia terrarium last week (see above!) which I'm incredibly excited about. I can't wait for it to grow more so I can get creative in the kitchen and use Stevia Leaf as a natural sweetener in future recipes.
fun facts about stevia
- Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the stevia plant (a herb in the Chrysanthemum family), it's native to Paraguay
- It has no calories, no carbohydrates and a zero glycemic index (making it great for diabetics)
- There is a compound (called Glycosides) in the leaves which accounts for Stevia's incredible sweetness. The crude stevia leaves are reported to be 10-15 times sweeter than table sugar but the refined extract is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar.
- No chemicals, alcohols, solvents or enzymes are used at any stage of the extraction and purification process.
- It has been approved by FSANZ (Food & Safety Australia New Zealand) for use in food and beverage products since 2010.
I've noticed mainstream brands starting to incorporate Stevia into their products, particularly beverages. Here are a select few beverages which contain Stevia as a natural sweetener that I've tried recently.
Pepsi Next is a new soft drink using the natural sweetener, Stevia, to reduce the amount of sugar in the drink. You'll still get the real cola taste with the added benefit of 30% less sugar than regular Pepsi. I was sent a bottle of Pepsi Next in a media kit to try out. I must say, despite the 30% less sugar, it still has the real cola taste. The rest of my family (who drank the bulk of it) didn't recognise the difference in taste to regular Pepsi. It will be available in 600ml, 1.5L and 2L. These are available in New World and Countdown stores across New Zealand.
Red Seal just launched their new Hot Or Cold Range of summer fruit teas late last year with a select few flavours containing stevia. These can be served hot or cold making them ideal for iced teas without the loaded sugar for sweetness. I have one every day - usually in the morning to boost my energy and wake me up. I pop a tea bag in into my water bottle the night before to allow full flavour. They come in boxes with 20 unbleached teabags in multiple flavours including Blood Orange, Strawberry & Rhubarb as well as Peach & Pineapple. These are available at supermarkets across New Zealand.
Just Juice introduced their 50% Less Sugar range back in 2012 making them one of the first to use stevia in fruit drinks in place of fruit sugars. They substitute half of the fruit juice with water and add stevia to naturally sweeten the juice without the additional fruit sugars. These have quickly become a favourite in our house in an effort to make better choices. We were always fans of Just Juice as they don't add refined sugar to their fruit juices. These come in 1L Tetra brix and 2.8L bottles and are available at supermarkets across New Zealand.
Have you or would you try any of these? Let me know any other products that you know of that use Stevia to naturally sweeten their products in the comments below - I'd love to try them out too!
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