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!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Meringue Cookies

Experiment #8 (part II): Improved Meringue Cookies

Vanilla with sprinkles

So this time I brushed up on my meringue skills using the Joy of Baking website. It's really the little things when making meringue. The cookies came out great this time!

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 6 T sugar (1/4 cup plus 2 T)
  • 1/4 tsp stevia (I meant to use 1/4 tsp anyway... I don't know how much I really used)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. I beat the egg whites until they were frothy, then added the cream of tartar and beat until gentle peaks formed
  2. I gradually beat the sugar into the egg mixture until stiff peaks formed
  3. I would have added just a 1/4 tsp of stevia at this point, but my 18 mos old was sitting next to me and he yanked the lid off the jar spraying stevia everywhere--including into the mixing bowl. I just left it at that
  4. I slowly beat in the vanilla
  5. At this point, I divided the mix in half and piped the plain mixture onto parchment paper and put in the oven for 25 minutes at 300 degrees
  6. I folded the cocoa into the 2nd half and the mixture did start softening up a bit, but not as bad as last time
  7. I also piped the cocoa mixture onto parchment paper and baked for 25 minutes at 300 degrees
Nutrition Facts:

Vanilla Cookies: 45 calories per serving of 5 cookies (40 cookies per batch) vs 150 calories per serving for cookies made with sugar, Total Fat 0.0g, Sodium 21mg, Total Carbs 9.6g, Protein 1.4g

Chocolate Cookies: 60 calories per serving of 5 cookies (30 cookies per batch) vs 200 calories per serving for cookies made with sugar, Total Fat 0.1g, Sodium 28mg, Total Carbs 13g, Protein 1.9g

Chocolate with cocoa dusting

Thoughts: These came out sooooo much better than my first attempt. Oddly, my children preferred the vanilla batch. I think it was because of the sprinkles, but my oldest actually put his chocolate cookie down and said, "Mom, this tastes really bad." My second son finished them off though, so they must have been okay for him at least. I liked them. Oh, I should add that the chocolate cookies do deflate a bit when the cocoa is mixed in. They are softer and more pancake shaped vs. the Hershey Kiss shaped vanilla cookies.
I am going to consider these my "control" batch. For future attempts, I will gradually decrease the sugar until I find the minimum amount I can use and still have nice stiff peaks.
**Note to self: I made a meringue dessert today that used 4 egg whites and 1/3 cup sugar and it came out well. Next time maybe use 4 egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chocolate Meringue Cookies

Experiment #8: Chocolate Meringue Cookies

These are in the oven at the moment and I already know these are going to be a complete and utter failure, but for the sake of journalistic integrity, here's my report!

I got the idea for these from of course, but then found a cool site called GreenLite Bites that specifically used stevia (yay!) in a meringue cookie recipe.

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar (actually I didn't use it all, maybe 1/3 of it was left)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/4 tsp stevia
  • 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  1. I beat the egg whites until they were frothy, then added the cream of tartar and beat until gentle peaks formed (I should have added vanilla at this point, but I forgot)
  2. I combined the sugar, stevia, and salt and slowly beat them into the egg mixture until stiffer peaks formed
  3. I folded in the cocoa, but the mixture got all bubbly and started breaking down. This did not happen last time I made chocolate meringue cookies.
  4. I scooped the mixture into a freezer bag and cut off a corner to squirt dollops onto a cookie sheet. This worked perfect last time, but this time they were runny.
  5. I am now baking these for 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Calories: 8 per cookie (made 25 cookies)
Thoughts: Ugh, I just peeked through the oven door and the cookies have flattened into road kill! There are a couple reasons this recipe may have gone wrong besides the stevia... I forgot the vanilla so added it last, or maybe the peaks weren't quite stiff enough when I folded in the cocoa. Also, I only had two eggs so I scaled the recipe to fit and who knows what happens when you do that!
Update: I took these out of the oven and they are not edible. I can barely scrape them off the cookie sheet and they taste burnt anyway --sigh-- I hate failure.
I am still excited about the possibilities of this recipe! I need more eggs, however, before I try again. Maybe I will make the next batch plain, just to get my technique down. I have made meringue cookies successfully before, but they can be tricky to get right.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

British Style Green Tea

Experiment #7: Green Tea with milk

This is not so much a recipe as a review. I am not a big coffee or tea fan, but I like a warm drink in the winter and I also want to find something to replace pop.

So I made a cup of green tea, added a scoop of Kal stevia, and maybe an ounce of milk and it was delicious. I have made tea with milk and sugar before, but I have to add so much sugar and the last few drinks are a syrupy sugary slop. I would say this is the 1st thing I have made that I prefer to sugar. For the record:

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tea bag
  • 1 scoop Kal stevia
  • 1 oz 2% milk
Nutrition Facts: 15 calories per cup, Total Fat 0.6g, Sodium 19mg, Total Carbs 1.3g, Protein 0.9g (of course everything is zero if you leave out the milk!)

I can't wait to make Iced Tea this summer!

Update (7/27/2011): I have stopped putting milk in my tea. It seems that milk reacts with tea in such a way that it destroys its health benefits. I would recommend using milk if you need it to get used to tea... but then wean yourself off of it.

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Experiment #6: Chocolate Chip Muffins
I used the Fudgy Chocolate Chip Muffins recipe from as the basis for this experiment.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp Kal stevia (use up to 1/2 tsp to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 T ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips (reserve a couple tsp to sprinkle on top)
  1. I combined the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and wheat bran in a large mixing bowl
  2. In another bowl, I used a hand mixer set on medium to combine the butter, egg, stevia, vanilla, and flax seed. I then mixed in the sour cream
  3. I slowly added the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and tried to mix well
  4. At this point, the batter became extremely dry, so I got 1/2 cup of water and slowly added it until the batter had the consistency of fluffy cake batter
  5. I stirred in most of the mini chips by hand
  6. Then I poured the batter into pre-greased muffin tins (I did NOT use paper cups) and popped them into a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Nutrition Facts: 145 calories per serving (12 servings per batch), Total Fat 8.9g, Saturated Fat: 5.4g, Sodium 96mg, Total Carbs 14.6g, Dietary Fiber 1.8g, Protein 3.1g

The whole batch has about 1,750 calories, so if you make bigger muffins, then redo the math. If I had used sugar, these would have been about 210 calories per serving!

Thoughts: These came out great! The texture was fantastic--they were moist and soft. They did come out a little on the small side; even though the muffin cups were over half full, they did not rise up much over the top of the pan. I also thought they were not incredibly sweet. The chocolate chips added enough sweetness for my taste, but I bet Jeff would like the cake part sweeter. I am going to let these sit and try them again later and see if the flavors all mellow out like in the banana bread before I officially decide to add more stevia next time.

I think the wheat bran is what is making my batter dry (the banana bread batter was also dry). I like having that extra bit of health... makes me feel less guilty for giving them to the kids for breakfast! Luckily, adding the water worked out well so I am not going to try and correct for that.
Changes for next time: Definately add more stevia... like a 1/4 tsp more. Also try adding 1 tsp of baking powder like the banana bread has. I could substitute applesauce for sour cream to reduce the calories and I think I would prefer a tad less cinnamon. Maybe try less wheat bran as well.

Update: These were not as good after cooling off and sitting on top of the fridge. Jeff felt that the wheat bran gave it a texture that was a little off... he said he could taste "flakiness". He also thought they were a little dense. I could make them again as is with a little more stevia, but more likely I will experiment some more and try and get them to be a bit fluffier. The kids still loved the muffins when they had them this afternoon... so if all else fails they make a great healthy-ish snack for the monkeys.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Banana Bread

Experiment #5: Banana Bread

I used my favorite recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook as a starter. I had already changed it up to include wheat bran, ground flax seed, and more cinnamon in the past. Tonight I tried it with stevia.


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 lg mashed bananas
  • 1/4 tsp Kal stevia
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • 1 T Ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  1. I combined the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl and then made a well in the center
  2. In another bowl, I mashed the bananas, then added the egg, oil, lemon peel, wheat bran, and flax seed and mixed it well. I added 1/4 tsp stevia and tasted for sweetness. I was planning on adding a whole tsp in 1/4 tsp increments but thought it tasted fine after just 1/4 tsp. This stuff is strong!
  3. I poured the wet mixture onto the dry mixture and stirred just until moistened (that is important to do in any quick bread--don't over stir!)
  4. The batter seemed dry so I added 1/4 cup milk.
  5. I poured batter into a pre-greased loaf pan and popped into a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes.
Nutrition Facts: 130 calories per serving (12 servings per loaf), Total Fat 5.5g, Saturated Fat: 0.6g, Sodium 59mg, Total Carbs 18.8g, Dietary Fiber 1.8g, Protein 2.8g

The whole loaf has about 1,580 calories, so if you cut it up different, then redo the math. I usually cut the loaf into 6 pieces, and then cut each piece in half when serving (I don't like thin slices, they tend to fall apart). If I has used sugar, it would have been about 180 calories per serving. Not bad!
Thoughts: I added the wheat bran to replace some of the bulk that I am losing from the sugar. It is only 30 calories for 1/4 cup so I figured why not? And it's healthy. It probably dried the batter out a bit though so I needed to add some milk to the batter. Next time I think I will add the milk to the wet ingredients right off the bat to minimize stirring in the end.
This is still in the oven as I type, so I will update this after I have tasted it... it sure smells good though!!
Update: I definitely did not add enough stevia. It is pretty good nevertheless. I will probably sprinkle brown sugar on it before serving it to the boys. I can eat it as is. Also the texture is different. The inside is nice and moist, but the outside is much crispier. I am guessing this is due to the wheat bran. I probably could have left that out altogether.... Also it did not come out of the pan nicely; the bottom stuck. I did not wait for it to cool like I usually do though.
For next time:
  1. Add more stevia (1/2 tsp)
  2. Use less wheat bran
  3. Add applesauce instead of milk
  4. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from pan
Morning-after Update: I wrapped the bread in foil and let it sit overnight. It tasted much better today. The crust softened up and it even seemed sweeter. I sprinkled a trace of brown sugar on it and I really enjoyed it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hot Cocoa

Experiment #4: Hot Cocoa

  • 1 T Hershey's Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 scoop stevia
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 T Lowfat Redi Whip
I basically made this according to the directions on the side of the package, but changed the measurements to make one serving. I will spell it out here though in case I ever use a different brand.
  1. Put cocoa powder, salt, and stevia in a small saucepan (I filled the scoop slightly less than full and used the whole thing)
  2. Microwave the 1/4 cup of 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 (mixture became nice and creamy like melted chocolate chips)
  4. Slowly whisk in the milk and heat up to near boiling (do not boil)
  5. Remove from heat and add vanilla
  6. Pour into a mug and squirt Red Whip on top
Nutrition Facts: 145 calories per cup, Total Fat 6.2g, Saturated Fat: 3.9g, Sodium 262mg, Total Carbs 14.8g, Dietary Fiber 1.8g, Protein 9.2g
Thoughts: This was delicious! I was happily surprised once again. I did not need to add more stevia. I would never have known this was not made with sugar or real sweetened chocolate.
Also the calorie savings is significant compared to the original recipe. Since I am using milk, this will never be a 0 calorie beverage; I will admit, however, that I am not going for 0 calorie foods with this project. I am trying to make snacks and drinks that are healthier, natural, and that I don't have to feel deprived when eating. I could try making this with more water and less milk to reduce calories, but it was so delicious that I might not.
One downside: this was time consuming. But I am finding out good, healthy, whole foods are generally more time consuming to prepare but are worth it.
Note to self: Try using this method to make the mocha coffee -- heating the cocoa before adding to the beverage is what makes it smooth and creamy I suppose. Live and learn.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Smoothie and berries

Experiment #3: Tropical Berry Smoothie
I made an awesome Smoothie this afternoon, but I can't really document it properly because I did no measuring. All of the following fruits were leftovers that had already been chopped up for my boys to eat. The strawberries had previously been cooked in a skillet with sugar (before I bought stevia) to make a topping for French toast.
  1. 1/2 large papaya
  2. 1 1/2 cups pineapple chunks
  3. 1 cup strawberries
  4. 1 cup light vanilla yogurt (Meijer brand)
  5. 1/4 cup orange juice
  6. 1 1/2 cups ice, crushed (from the fridge dispenser)
  7. stevia to taste (3 scoops)
After all the ingredients were blended, I would say this made about 5 - 8oz servings. I know the kids drank at least 4 cups and I drank exactly 1 cup and I had a little leftover.
Thoughts: This was delicious. I loved it. I poured out some for my 1st son before adding the pineapple and OJ because he hates pineapple (and I forgot the OJ). So that makes it even harder to guess the proportions in mine, but it was excellent!
Nutrition Facts: 85 (depending on the proportions this will be anywhere from 75-100), Total Fat 1.0g, Saturated Fat: 0.5g, Sodium 38mg, Total Carbs 16.8g, Dietary Fiber 1.9g, Protein 3.3g
Experiment #4: Sweetened Strawberries
This may seem too simple to mention, but I will because I am still amazed how well this sweetens with no aftertaste. This is probably the 1st time I tried stevia without having it masked my some other strong flavor.
  1. strawberries
  2. stevia
I cut 7 medium berries into fourths. I put them in a Glad container with a lid and filled the scoop just over half way with stevia. Then I held it over the berries and just gave it the tiniest of shakes letting some grains fall out. I closed the lid, shook the berries, tasted and they were CRAZY sweet. But not yucky! I gave them to the kids and they gobbled them up and asked for seconds.
So I cut up 5 more berries and shook them in the container without adding any more stevia and they were perfect. The boys asked for thirds and I admit, I told them no and bribed them with a cookie to go away. How backward is that?! I cut up four more and shook them in the container one more time and this time they were a tad tart. But I happily ate them before the boys could catch me and ask for more.
Calories: 25 per 1/2 cup serving
Thoughts: These were great. I didn't miss the sugar at all. Next time cut up a lot more berries and just keep them in the fridge for later so the stevia isn't so strong. or just ditch the scoop and just sprinkle on a tiny pinch. Maybe add a few drops of water to the container, pinch some stevia into that, then add the berries and shake to coat uniformly.
Next I need to figure out how to make the whole strawberry shortcake.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Okay, this is to track my adventures with Stevia. I am addicted to pop and longing for the day when PepsiCo. perfects a Stevia blend cola, but until then, I have the occasional cup of coffee to save on calories and still get a jolt of caffeine. Didn't have too much luck with NOW brand French Vanilla drops, but I read on Amazon that Kal makes a powder that is much better with no aftertaste. And I can do more than put it in my coffee if I ever feel so led. I found this last night at The Fruitful Yield in South Elgin.

First thought... according to the label, a serving is one "scoop" and the included scoop is bizarrely small! The label says this 3.5 oz bottle contains 2,381 servings. Considering I drink 1 cup of coffee every 2-3 months, this should last me 496 years.
There are woefully few recipes out there that utilize Stevia (especially ones that aren't for super health fanatics and vegans). I am just a moderately health conscience slightly overweight, former diabetic (gestational) that doesn't trust artificial sweeteners but LOVES sweets. I am going to document my experiments with Stevia as I go, so I can learn from my mistakes and not forget how I made that amazing 0-cal chocolate cookie. I can dream right?

Update (7/27/2011): I used to have a couple recipes right here, but I moved them to their own posts so I could tag them and search for them more easily.