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!