So you’ve decided it’s time to make some changes in your diet, and the excess calories have got to go. You want to stick to a more natural diet, so you’re ready to give stevia a try. You add it to your tea…and now what? If you are anything like me, aside from using stevia in my coffee and tea, I had no idea how else to use it. Turns out there are endless ways you can include stevia in your diet! The first step is to figure out the stevia equivalent to the amount of sugar you are looking to replace. The manufacturer of the brand of stevia you use should have made conversion charts available on their website. If you are not comfortable replacing all the sugar in your recipe, using a combination of reduced sugar and stevia can still help reduce calories. So now you know how much stevia to use; but where can you use it? The simple answer is anywhere! I’ve found some tasty recipes that are great examples of how you can use stevia in anything from drinks to entrees.

Dips

Dips are a very popular side dish for parties and a kid-friendly favorite, but they can be loaded with calories. Try instead making a lighter dip like this Maple Cream Dip.

Baked Goods

Baked goodies do not have to be off-limits when you are trying to reduce calorie and sugars. Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener that you can cook with as well. Check out these delicious recipes that can allow you to enjoy a treat while staying on track:  Peanut Butter Cookies and Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Breakfast Dishes

You may only think about desserts and candies when it comes to counting the sugar in your diet, but sugar can be found everywhere—even at the breakfast table. Here are some healthy breakfast items that have replaced sugar with stevia:  Whole Wheat Oat and Apple Cranberry Muffin or Fresh Fruit Oatmeal.

Side Dishes

Dress up any meal with easy and light side dishes. Cucumber Salad and Baked Beans are a great place to start.

Condiments, Dressings and Sauces

Sauces, dressings and condiments can be a sneaky source of calories that we tend to overlook. Making them at home allows you to experiment and create tasty new dishes while controlling the ingredients. Green Apple Salad  and Honey Aioli could inspire your palate.

Drinks and Cocktails/Mocktails

Drinks can rack up calories pretty quickly. These refreshing lower-cal options, Strawberry Lemonade and Mocha Soymilk Frappe, are just a couple of ways to kick back and relax after a hard day.

Now that you have an idea on different ways you can use stevia let your imagination run wild! Replacing sugar in the recipes can help you enjoy a variety of foods without the guilt!

 

Carolyn ReynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

What exactly is stevia? Stevia is a South American plant, Stevia rebaudina, native to Paraguay that has been used as a natural sweetener for centuries. In Asia and South America, it has long been a common ingredient in products such as ice cream, breads, beverages and other tabletop products. China and Brazil are the countries where Stevia is primarily grown and harvested.

When shopping, you may see many products labeled “Stevia;” however, the word “stevia” actually refers to the stevia plant. The whole stevia plant is actually not sweet. Rather, it contains sweet components called steviol glycosides, which are extracted to create the Stevia-labeled products that you purchase. Steviol glycosides are approved for use in Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Paraguay and is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) in the US.

The benefit of stevia is that it is a naturally occurring sweetener that is between 250 and 300 times sweeter than sucrose. Since stevia is much sweeter than sugar, it requires a lot less of it to reach the same level of sweetness than sugar. Stevia also contains zero calories, making it a great option to sweeten foods and beverages with fewer calories. Furthermore, research has shown that stevia does not add calories or carbohydrates to the diet, nor does it affect blood glucose or insulin response. This makes it a great natural sugar alternative for diabetics or for those just looking to reduce extra sugar in their diet.

 

Carolyn ReynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

Diet and exercise are important lines of defense when it comes to maintaining good health with diabetes. Making the needed changes to your diet can feel overwhelming when you first receive your diagnosis of diabetes or pre-diabetes, and many people mistakenly believe they have to give up their favorite foods to maintain good blood sugar control. That is not necessarily the case—many can still eat the foods you love by following a balanced, carbohydrate-controlled diet.

I have to avoid sugar to control my diabetes” is a common misunderstanding for many who live with the condition when they begin making necessary changes in their diets. But controlling the total amount of carbohydrates is the truth of the matter. Sugar is just one source of carbohydrates, which are also in starchy foods, dairy, and even fruits. It is actually very important for people with diabetes to consume carbohydrates with every meal, but they need to be cognizant of the amount and control their portions. The doctor or registered dietitian working with a diabetes patient can help create a meal plan to map out the appropriate carbohydrate levels for that specific patient.

How can I eat the foods I love if I can’t have sweets?” is another common question. Luckily there are alternatives to sugar that offer the desired sweetness of certain foods without the excess sugar and calories—one of these being stevia. Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener that is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, which means you have to use very little of the sweetener to create the same level of sweetness.

Also, since stevia does not contain carbohydrates, it does not affect blood sugar or insulin levels, making it a great option for people with diabetes. There are many products available that contain stevia, including soft drinks, teas, yogurts, baked goods, cereals, and many more. You can also buy stevia individually in bags, packets and other forms in your local grocery store.

Want some ideas on how you can use stevia in your diet? Here are some recipes to appease your sweet tooth while taking charge of your health!

 

Carolyn ReynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.

As a registered dietitian, I hear it all the time from clients ….”I was doing great until I went to a BBQ this weekend.” Summer barbecues do not have to mean taking a hiatus from healthy eating. Many of your traditional BBQ foods can be heavy and calorie laden, but with a few tricks and some creativity you can plan a delicious and healthy spread that will please everyone.

Switch Out the Full Fat Meats

Ribs, sausages and burgers are popular stars at any barbeque but are high in fat and calories. Try leaner fare like chicken, fish or turkey sausage. Try these marinades using stevia can help you cook a tender and tasty grilled chicken that everyone will love.

Give Your Side Dishes a Makeover

Simple substitutions can help make side dishes a lot easier on the waistline. Traditional baked beans get made over in this recipe by using stevia to replace the sugar.

Experiment with Veggies and Fruits

Meat is usually what comes to mind when you think BBQ, but veggies and fruit can really shine on the grill. No one can resist colorful veggies fresh off the grill. This delicious grilled veggie recipe will have you looking like a gourmet griller.

Enjoy Getting Creative with Drinks

It can be a nice to enjoy a cold and refreshing margarita or mojitio on a hot day, but these can add up the calories quickly. This margarita using Truvia comes in at only at 105 calories!

Get Moving

We tend to focus on the food when it comes to barbequing, but this is a great time to active with friends and family to burn off some of those calories. Go for a dip in the pool, play some ball, or dance the night away. Calories out for those calories in can help you survive a back yard BBQ with no weight gain.

Now go and enjoy a healthy, BBQ filled summer!

 

 

Carolyn ReynaudCarolyn Reynaud, MS, RD, LD is a licensed registered dietitian. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.