Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cold Brewed Iced Green Tea

This is my new go-to drink instead of pop. It is surprisingly refreshing and tasty.

  • 2 quarts water
  • 4 tea bags (green tea)
  • 4 slices of lemon
  • 4 scoops of stevia
  1. Pour water into a 2 quart container with a lid (I re-use a Simply Orange OJ bottle)
  2. Add stevia to the water; close and shake to dissolve stevia
  3. Add tea bags and lemon slices
  4. Place container into the fridge 8 hrs or overnight (I have left it a day and a half and it doesn't seem to hurt anything)
Thoughts: I keep this in the fridge at all times by rotating two containers. Sometimes I add a another bag of fruit tea from the Celestial Seasoning Sampler. The raspberry is crazy good. I have managed to give up pop by drinking coffee in the morning, and this tea with lunch and dinner.

My First Experiments - Drinks (Coffee & Lemonade)

Experiment #1: Mocha Coffee
  1. Brewed 12 oz of whatever coffee my mom left in my cabinet (Folger's or Dunkin' Donuts??)
  2. Measured a scoop of Stevia but added just a sprinkle; tasted it and wasn't offended so I added the whole scoop 
  3. Tasted coffee again and it was perfectly sweetened with no bitter aftertaste! Amazon reviewers were right!
  4. Added 1 tsp of Hershey's cocoa powder (unsweetened). Not enough chocolaty taste so added another. Good flavor, but a little bitter
  5. Added 1 T of heavy cream (yeah I should buy something less fattening, but it was what I had); happy with taste so far
  6. Added a hefty dash of cinnamon, a squirt of lowfat Redi Whip and a sprinkle of cinnamon for looks. Lovely.
Thoughts: The label was right; one scoop was perfect for a 12 oz coffee. I am pleased and very happy with Kal Stevia so far. The drink itself was not quite perfect... maybe a tad... chalky? bitter? Whatever it was, it was pretty mild and tolerable. I think it is from the cocoa powder (or the cinnamon since I have noticed that it doesn't dissolve too well). In any case, the Stevia dissolved well and tasted fine, so improvements will focus on the mocha. I don't honestly believe anyone is ever going to read this blog, but if you do and have a tip for making mocha coffee with cocoa powder, I am all ears.

Improvements for next time: Figure out a way to make the cocoa powder blend better. Measure cinnamon so I can figure out if it is responsible for the chalky feel.

Ingedients & Calories:
  • Coffee (12 oz) 8 cal
  • Stevia (1 scoop) 0 cal
  • Hershey Cocoa Powder (2 tsp) 7 cal 
  • Heavy Cream (1 T) 50 cal 
  • Cinnamon (dash) 0 cal 
  • Redi Whip Fat Free (2 T) 5 cal
Total: 70 calories per serving

Experiment #2: Citrus-Aid

I have a good recipe for a lemonade/citrus drink, that uses lemons, limes, and oranges and I wanted to see if Stevia could be used instead of sugar. I started with a mini-batch so as not to give myself carpal tunnel squeezing a million fruits only to screw up batch after batch with wrong amounts of Stevia.
  1. Squeezed 1 lemon, 1 lime, and 1 tangerine (I am out of oranges); resulted in about 1/2 cup juice
  2. Added 3 cups of water (reduced proportions from this Citrus Lemonade recipe from
  3. Added Stevia
  4. After 1 scoop: Drink still very sour, Stevia clumped when I dumped it in. Smashed bits with fingers and then it seemed okay.
  5. After 2 scoops: Tasted better, poured Stevia slowly while stirring and no clumps
  6. After 3 scoops: Much better, might be okay for some
  7. After 4 scoops: Yum. Much better than expected. Probably wouldn't know the difference if I hadn't made it myself.
Calories per 8 oz serving: 10 for Citrus-Aid w/ tangerine, or 12 if made with orange. YAY!

Thoughts: Pleased again. I might have tasted a slight aftertaste, but I think it was in my head because I believe I should with an alternative sweetener and I have a cold. I'll see what my husband, Jeff, thinks. I would make this again with no changes. Maybe increase the proportions to make 2 quarts or a gallon.
PS Jeff liked it. He was impressed. He was NOT impressed with my 1st attempts with other brands of Stevia so that says something.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


This is a simple one, but I finally perfected making Kool-Aid so I thought I would share.

  • 1 packet Kool-Aid (any flavor)
  • 1/4 tsp Kal brand stevia
  • 1 T of sugar
  • 2 quarts water
  1. Dump first 3 ingredients into a 2 qt pitcher
  2. Stir in 2 quarts of water
I know... I know... seems so obvious as to hardly be worth mentioning. BUT if you are like me and tired of measuring out 8 tiny little scoops of the Kal stevia every time and then pouring it in one speck at a time so that it doesn't clump, then you will be happy to know this recipe!

The trick is in the sugar. It only causes the Kool-Aid to be 6 calories per serving but by mixing it with the stevia beforehand, you solve the clumping problem. Also it is nice to know that you can just measure out a 1/4 tsp of stevia from the jar and not mess with the tiny scoop.

Enjoy Kool-Aid once again!

Homemade Crockpot Yogurt

Let me start by saying that the first part of this recipe was taken entirely from Nourishing Days. I have made it several times now and have loved it every time. I am posting my own version because I go on to thicken this yogurt and, of course, flavor it with stevia.

I know homemade yogurt sounds scary, much less a yogurt made in your crockpot. But it is delicious and even the skeptics I know who have tasted it are impressed.

  • 2 quarts milk (I use whole and hope to try raw)
  • 6 oz plain or vanilla yogurt with live active cultures (this is the starter and after you make it once, you can use your own)
  • stevia (to taste)
  • strawberries, blueberries, or vanilla (optional)
  1. Pour milk into your crockpot and turn on low (I have a 4qt crockpot)
  2. Heat for 2 1/2 hrs (I have messed this up two times by heating too long, with no ill effects)
  3. Turn off your crockpot and let it sit with the lid on for about 3 hrs (I fell asleep and let it sit for 4 1/2 hrs last night and my yogurt turned out fine)
  4. After the 3 hrs, remove 1-2 cups of warm milk and pour it into a bowl with the 6oz "starter" yogurt; mix well
  5. Thoroughly whisk the yogurt/milk mixture back into the crockpot
  6. Replace lid and cover entire crockpot with a large thick bath towel (or two)
  7. Let it sit undisturbed to culture 8-12 hours (I have read it will be tangier the longer it sits, I have only let it sit 8 hours both times and it was perfect)
  8. Strain to thicken (optional)*
  9. Sweeten with stevia and fruit or vanilla**
*Straining: I used a tip I found on making cheese to strain my yogurt. Wash and dry a spare pillowcase. Cut out a square that fits into your strainer. Place pillowcase into strainer and strainer into a bowl. I use a square tupperware bowl so the strainer does not fit snugly. You don't want the strainer to sit in the drippings. Place bowl and strainer into the fridge and allow to drain 2-4 hrs or until desired thickness is reached. (The liquid leftover is whey and it is full of protein. I add the whey to recipes in place of water like oatmeal or rice... but only a couple tablespoons because the whey is tangy.)
**Flavor Ideas
Fruit Compote:
--Make a berry compote (you can use the "topping" portion of one of my earlier recipes to do this and substitute any fruit you like). Mix into yogurt and add several more scoops of stevia to taste. (This is the version we made tonight and my boys were licking their bowls. It was super delicious!)
--Add 1 tsp of vanilla and several scoops of stevia to taste. I sometimes add a dash of brown sugar, but the stevia is fine on its own.
I love this yogurt. In fact, I can't get enough of it. I love that I can have an unprocessed whole milk yogurt that tastes good, but is not full of sugar.
I love both the fruit and the vanilla flavored varieties that I have tried. Actually, the more I make it, the more I like even the plain. So far we have made blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, and vanilla, and my boys devoured every kind.
Next time I also want to double the recipe. We eat it way too fast. I am not sure how that affects cook times though, so maybe I will buy a thermometer and use this tip from Shannon when asked about changing quantities:
"Let it heat to 160-180 degrees and then cool to about 110. I usually add about 2 tablespoons of starter to each quart of milk."
My one complaint is the thickness. While straining does work to make a thick yogurt, a lot of volume is lost this way. And although I happily use the whey in other recipes... I always end up feeding a good portion of it to the plants because we go through yogurt faster than whey. I read a tip about using gelatin to thicken on another blog, and I am going to try that next time.
Next Time: I am going to add 1 packet of gelatin to the warm milk left in the crockpot in step 4. I will let it sit a couple minutes while I combine the "starter" yogurt with the 1-2 cups warm milk. I actually want to try this right now....
Nutrition Facts: If you divide this up into 8 servings, each serving will be about 135 calories with 13g of carbs and 9g of protein (although that's without removing the whey). I am having a hard time calculating how much this makes and knowing if 8 servings is reasonable, however, because my boys gobble half of it up before I can really do any figuring. I will try and keep better track next time.

(Yogurt devoured before I could measure it)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Note on my Absence

I had a moment of disillusionment with stevia after reading a few articles about the effects of low-cal and no cal sweeteners on the body.

For awhile I decided that I was through trying to cut corners when it came to food. I was just going to eat real food with normal calories and just watch my intake. Unfortunately, this didn't exactly lead to a healthy diet and after counting calories so many times in the past, I could not muster up the motivation to keep up with it again.

Then I discovered this blog. It opened my eyes. It brought together everything I was learning about eating right. I already wrote about this in my weight loss blog (although it's as poorly kept up as this one) so I won't rehash it here, but suffice it to say, I am now committed to eating real foods as much as possible. By "real" I mean unprocessed and as close to the source as my ability and budget allows.

So anyway... although the author of my inspirational blog, Erika, does not use stevia herself and has mentioned that since it is also processed it is probably a no-no, I am finding that adding stevia back into my diet is helping me give up things that had such a hold on me my whole life.

Like pop. I LOVE pop. Or at least I did. Now that I am eating clean, pop isn't doing it for me anymore. It just doesn't taste as good as it used to. But the absence of pop from my life leaves a gaping hole that water just does not fill. So I brought back stevia. I think it is worth it to be cutting out all that HFCS. And as my taste buds recover from processed food overload, I find I don't need as much stevia to make an enjoyable beverage.

Okay... back to the recipes!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chocolate Pudding

Okay, so I made another stevia concoction yesterday and it was good, but not awesome, so I wasn't overly motivated to write it up like usual. Well today I took it out and tasted it and it was delicious! I am beginning to see a pattern with stevia... desserts MUST sit overnight for best results. Something about all the flavors melding and the aftertaste subsiding I guess.

Anyway... here is the recipe (once again, this was inspired by an submission--Old-Fashioned Vanilla Pudding).

  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups 2% milk, divided
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5-6 scoops of Kal brand stevia
  1. In a small saucepan, slowly stir cocoa powder and salt into 1 cup of milk over medium heat
  2. Whisk cornstarch into the remaining milk until lumps disappear (I did NOT do this for my attempt and my pudding was very lumpy)
  3. Slowly stir cornstarch mixture into saucepan; heat until thickened and bubbly
  4. Reduce heat, cook and stir for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into the egg yolks and then pour everything back in the pan, stirring constantly.
  6. Bring to a gentle boil, cook and stir for 1 more minute. Remove from heat.
  7. Stir in butter, vanilla, and stevia (I added my stevia along with the cocoa powder and my pudding had an aftertaste at first. I think adding the stevia at the end might help).
  8. Cool for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Nutrition Facts: 140 calories per serving (make 4 servings) vs. 190 if made with sugar. Total Fat 7.9g, Saturated Fat 4.4g, Sodium 223mg, Total Carbs 11.3g, Dietary Fiber 0.9g, Protein 6.0g

Thoughts: Right after I made this I tasted it, and was unimpressed. I let it chill for an hour then served it to my sister and my kids with bananas and whipped cream. None of the kids finished it. My sister and I enjoyed it, but it tasted like it had been made with artificial sweetener... you know that unpleasant aftertaste.

So, I took this out today to finish it off (it wasn't that bad, just not great). I tasted it plain and it was great. Tasted just like regular pudding! The theme time and again has been... stevia desserts just have to sit for awhile. I wonder if it is the cooking or what. I don't have this problem with coffee and tea.

Changes for next time (the recipe already reflects these changes): Add stevia in the final step. Whisk cornstarch into 1/2 the milk before adding to saucepan.

Next time I will try making vanilla... the kids just seem to prefer vanilla stuff! Weirdos!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Strawberry Pavlova

Of course, I meant to have fancy chocolate drizzles on the plate, but I was in too big of a hurry to let the sauce thicken!


For the meringue shells:
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 4 scoops stevia (Kal powder)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
For cream center
  • 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
  • 1-2 scoops stevia (optional)
For topping
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1-2 scoops stevia
  • chocolate shavings
For chocolate sauce (optional)
  • 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 scoop stevia
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. Beat room temperature egg whites until the are frothy
  2. Add the cream of tartar and beat until gentle peaks form
  3. Add sugar about 1 T at a time while continuously beating egg whites until stiffer peaks form
  4. Add stevia and beat for another few seconds to blend
  5. Fold in the lemon juice and the cornstarch
  6. Scoop the mixture into a large zipper bag and cut off a corner to form nests on cookie sheets. I used a decorator tip even to make them pretty. (I put parchment paper sprinkled with cornstarch on my cookie sheets and the nests stuck anyway. Next time I will try cooking spray.)
  7. Bake for 25 minutes in a 300 degree oven (tops will be nicely browned, but you can cook them for longer at a lower temp if you prefer them to stay white).
While these are baking you can make the strawberry sauce:

  1. Slice or chop all the strawberries, set aside about 1/3 of them
  2. Heat the remaining 2/3 in skillet on medium heat; sprinkle sugar and stevia onto berries and mix well
  3. Gently mash up berries with a potato masher once they are soft
  4. Cook berries until sauce is desired thickness (4-5 minutes)
  5. Add in the remaining 1/3 of berries and mix well
You can use Redi Whip to reduce calories, but the homemade whipped cream is much more delicious:
  1. Pour whipping cream in a chilled bowl
  2. Beat on lower speed until it starts to thicken (just so it doesn't splash out)
  3. Increase speed and beat until the consistency of whipped cream
  4. Add stevia to taste (authentic pavlova uses unsweetened cream which you could get away with since the meringue and berries are so sweet--my boys like licking the bowl and beaters though, so it had to be a little sweet!
Chocolate Sauce--you can use Hershey's syrup to save time, but this sauce tastes a little bitter to contrast the sweetness and has WAY less calories:
  1. Mix cocoa powder and stevia in a small saucepan
  2. Microwave the water to boiling (about a minute) and then whisk it into the dry mixture
  3. Bring to a boil then gently simmer for 2 minutes
  4. Continue heating and stirring until thickened (the mixture will also thicken as it cools, so you have to experiment to find that balance that results in a pourable sauce--clearly by my picture, I have not found it yet)
Assemble ingredients:
  1. Drizzle chocolate sauce onto serving plate in a decorative fashion
  2. Place meringue nest in center of plate
  3. Add a dollop of cream to the center of the nest
  4. Spoon strawberry topping onto cream
  5. Sprinkle chocolate shavings over berries (I just used a vegetable peeler on a square of almond bark)
Nutrition Facts: 110 calories per serving or 65 per serving with Low Fat Redi Whip or Cool-Whip, Total Fat 7.5g, Saturated Fat 4.6g, Sodium 24mg, Total Carbs 9.6g, Dietary Fiber 0.9g, Protein 1.8g
Is that unbelievable or what?! 110 calories for a dessert you could serve at a fancy dinner party!
I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it can be done in stages. I think I would even make the meringue the night before (do the baking method where you leave it in the oven all night) and then eat this for breakfast! And oh the possibilities for toppings... blueberries, kiwi, banana layered under the cream... anything goes!