Sweet Raw Stevia
Raw stevia is showing up everywhere, I even noticed it at the hip little coffee shop the other day.
Raw stevia is a natural extract from the sweet leaves of the stevia plant. It is also known as green stevia. It is desirable as it has no calories. It is a natural alternative to sugar and an herbal supplement that is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. When using in recipes be sure to reduce the amount.
Is Stevia safe?
In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted stevia a generally recognized safe status, according to Natural-Remedies-Review.com. Despite its status, there have been some health dangers that are associated with raw stevia.
- A two-year study on pregnant rats and a six-month study on pregnant hamsters using stevia determined that it did not harm the animal's offspring
- Only when the dose was increased to 240 times more than human recommended consumption levels (equivalent to FDA recommended daily sugar intake of no more than 40 grams per day for an adult) were animal offspring impacted. At this high-level, stevia was toxic, and it decreased the total number of offspring and reduced their weight at birth. However, no studies have been conducted on pregnant humans as of 2010. For this reason, pregnant women should refrain from using the supplement
- You can suffer an allergic reaction from eating raw stevia. Symptoms include nausea, dizziness, numbness, headaches and muscle pain. Stop taking stevia if you experience any of these symptoms. If you are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums and daisies avoid stevia
- When eaten in large quantities it can cause your blood sugar to drop. Consult your physician if you suffer from diabetes before using stevia
- It can cause blood pressure to drop in some people, if you suffer from hypertension, check with your physician before using stevia as a sugar-substitute
Uses for Stevia
- Add to smoothies, juices, water, or tea
- Prepare your own tinctures or extracts
- Bake with green stevia powder instead of cane sugar. Four to six teaspoons of stevia powder equals the sweetness of 1 cup of cane sugar
- Mix stevia powder with other liquid ingredients in a recipe. This allows the stevia to mix evenly and you won't end up with overly sweet spots in your cake or cookies
- Choose recipes where the green color from the stevia is appropriate. A white cake, for example, would come out pale green
- Make an infusion: Open a tea ball that is made to hold tea leaves and pack the ball with stevia leaves, close. Place the tea ball in 1 cup of hot water, and let it stand for up to 30 minutes. Remove the tea ball from the cup of water, and add the infusion to any drinks or foods.
Do you want to grow stevia yourself?
- Why buy stevia when you can grow your own in your garden? I saw some at the farmers market for sale this summer. A wonderful way to get your friends and neighbors sweetening their food healthier is to hand them a bag of fresh, green stevia
- Start with transplants rather than seed. Their seeds are difficult to germinate. Plant when soil temperature is consistently in the 60 degree range
- Plant in rich soil amended with ample compost in a sunny location. If you use compost there is no need to add fertilizer. Plants grown up to 2 ½ feet and spread 2 feet, so plant at least 2 feet apart and leave 2 feet between rows
- Water just enough to keep the plants from wilting
- Grow stevia along with your vegetables in your garden. Adding some plants to your garden can repel grasshoppers and aphids
- Harvest as late as possible but before the first frost. If you are lucky enough to be in a frost-free zone, they will grow year around. Watch after a couple years because they can lose their sweetness. Harvest as its white blossoms appear by cutting the plant stem about halfway up from the ground with a pair of gardening shears. Tie the harvested plants together with string. Hang them upside down to dry or dry under 118 degrees in a food dehydrator
The raw stevia plant is an herb like any medicinal plant, so you will want to pay attention to any adverse effects. It is worth checking out as you just might find the stevia as a sugar replacement.
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