Monday, January 10, 2011

Sugar free cooking yet deliciously sweet -

Sugar free cooking  is easier than it sounds. The latest discovery that at the same time has been around for centuries is stevia.  A plant based very sweet wonderful substitute for sugar. It is said to have 300 times the sweetness of sugar and falls under the category of low carbohydrate food alternatives. It has almost no effect on blood glucose and some say it even helps lower your blood sugar.

In warmer climates (or if you have a greenhouse) one can grow the stevia plant themselves (which I did this past summer).  The leaves are harvested, dried and ground into a powder in a coffee grinder.
Commercially grown stevia plants are dried and then undergo a water extraction process.

Stevia can be used anywhere instead of regular sugar or honey except that it is much more potent and recipes need a little adjustment in the amount added.

Stevia is a wonderful substitute for everyone, from those who just want to cut back a little in their sugar consumption to someone who is diabetic and has to avoid sugar altogether. For some diabetics even fruit needs to be eliminated so typically there is literally no more sweetness in their lives. Stevia can change that dramatically by allowing to cook, bake, eat almost anything that would require sugar and simply substitute it with stevia.

Here is an example:  I love chocolate. Of course that is a no no for a diabetic but I do not like the candy made for diabetics. My solution: raw cacao powder, a little cinnamon, some sea salt, stevia, all mixed together, maybe some walnuts, then add  coconut oil toss, spread thinly on a Teflon sheet and freeze – the best chocolate/candy you can ever  have; sweet, healthy, full of antioxidants, delicious!!!

Here is another example: If someone has to watch their carbohydrate intake along with the sugar consumption, how about a homemade healthy granola? In a food processor we will chop almonds (fairly coarse), then add stevia, raw cacao nibs, goji berries, a little orange extract, some cinnamon, cardamom and sea salt; water soaked chia seeds and flaxseed will be added last, pulsing the entire mixture until well incorporated; next we spread the “dough” on silicon sheets, as thin as possible, and dehydrate in a dehydrator until dry and crisp (usually about 8-10 hours). This gives you a very healthy, carbohydrate and sugar free yet sweet and flavorful breakfast alternative. Instead of cow’s milk I use almond milk to make it even healthier. As a special treat and if you are allowed add some fresh berries or apples.

Based on my education starting with the Holistic Health Practitioner Certification, moving on to receiving a BS in Holistic Nutrition, then ND degree Doctor of Naturopathy as well as my studies of Ayurvedic medicine have led me on the path to healthy eating. I have been a diabetic for many years but controlling it with diet alone. Through my own personal experiences with sugar free cooking/ eating I have gained valuable insights into this topic.