Stevia has an interesting history beginning with its discovery more than 200 years ago.  It is thought that the indigenous people of Paraguay used the leaves of the stevia plant for its sweet taste.  They would also use it in their beverages and some medicines.

Later, Swiss botanist Moises Santiago Bertoni wrotemore formally about the stevia plant and recorded detailed information about the sweet taste.  This was in the late 1800’s, but it would be over 100 years later before French scientists were able to isolate the stevia glycosides.  (The glycosides are the parts of the stevia plant that give it its sweet taste.)

Fast forward another 100 years and we find the Japanese using stevia as an alternative sweetener. Approximately 10 years later, stevia started gaining popularity in the U.S. As companies and manufacturers worked to isolate the best tasting stevia glycosides and provide research and information on stevia’s safe use, the high purity extracts (or glycosides) of the sweetener were finally given Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in the U.S. in 2008 and approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2011.

Today, consumers will find stevia in thousands of products around the world – including baked goods, frozen desserts, dairy products, beverages, sauces and so much more.  While today we use a more refined form of stevia compared with the people in Paraguay hundreds of years ago, the idea remains the same.  No matter where we hail from, people all over enjoy a little sweetness in their life.

With that in mind and especially with the warmer weather months almost upon us, why not try this Acai Berry Lemonade? And as you sip this refreshing beverage think back to those first “stevia users” who may have used stevia to sweeten a similar beverage.  It seems that stevia definitely has a sweet past, present and future.

Watch how to make it below!

Makes 12 Servings

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
112 tsp baking powder
12 tsp salt
12 tsp baking soda
12 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
13 cup Truvía® Baking Blend
1 Tbsp orange zest
12 cup orange juice
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 cup skim milk
12 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen), chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Prepare muffin tin by greasing cups or use paper liners.

In a large bowl, add flour, baking powde

r, salt and baking soda. Mix together with a fork.

In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, Truvía®Baking Blend, orange zest and juice, eggs, vanilla and milk.

Stir the wet mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.

Fold in chopped cranberries.

Fill each muffin cup about 34 full.

Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out clean (20–25 minutes).Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

*This muffin has 190 calories and 4 grams of sugar per serving as compared to the full-sugar version that has 210 calories and 13 grams of sugar per serving. Recipe courtesy of Truvia.com.

Watch how to make it below!

Makes 6 Servings

Ingredients

TRUVÍA® NATURAL SWEETENER SYRUP

1 cup water
7 Tbsp Truvía® Natural Sweetener

COCKTAIL

1.0 oz Tattersall Gin
0.75 oz. lemon juice
0.5 oz. Truvía® Natural Sweetener syrup
3oz sparkling wine
3-5 cubes ice

Directions

TRUVÍA® NATURAL SWEETENER SYRUP
  1. Add Truvía® Natural Sweetener to 1 cup warm-to-hot water
  2. Shake or blend until dissolved completely
  3. Keep the extra simple syrup in a sealed container in the refrigerator for later use
COCKTAIL
  1. Fill drink shaker with ice
  2. Pour Tattersall Gin, lemon juice and 0.5 ounces of Truvía® Natural Sweetener over the ice
  3. Top and shake vigorously about 15 seconds or until drink is chilled
  4. Strain into coup glass with ice cubes, top with 3 ounces of sparkling wine and serve

*This cocktail has 150 calories and 1 grams of sugar per serving compared to the full-sugar version that has 180 calories and 9 grams of sugar per serving. Recipe courtesy of Truvia.com.

One of my favorite things about being a registered dietitian nutritionist is learning about and celebrating food. And there are so many opportunities to do just that with national food days and months popping up all the time!

There is no shortage of food celebrations in May – it’s the month for celebrating asparagus, salsa, salad, and strawberries. Needless to say, this is a dietitian’s dream to celebrate all these nutrient-rich foods. But in addition to all the fruits and vegetables we consume, we need to make room for some special treats in our diet too. After all, moderation is the key and what’s life without the sweet stuff?!

That’s why I’m glad that May is also National Chocolate Custard Month! I’ll take any opportunity to celebrate chocolate, but I was curious to learn the differences between custard, pudding, and mousse – three desserts that bring up visions of creamy, chilled deliciousness. If you have ever wondered what makes these desserts different, I have the answer for you, plus some delicious recipes to try.

All three of these desserts start with a base of milk and sugar. What’s added in is what accounts for the different consistency and textures of the final products.

Pudding is made by cooking the milk and sugar base and adding cornstarch to thicken the mixture. This leads to a semisolid consistency and creamy texture. It is usually served chilled, but it can be served warm or at room temperature.

Mousse is made by folding beaten egg whites or whipped cream into a cold milk and sugar base. Unlike pudding, mousse is not cooked and the addition of air to the mixture leads to a fluffier consistency and lighter texture. Mousse is typically served chilled or frozen.

Custard is made by cooking the milk and sugar base and adding whole eggs to thicken the mixture. When cooled, the mixture solidifies, leaving you with the jiggly consistency and silky texture.

 

Now that you know the basic difference between these delicious desserts, how about making some on your own? Enjoy these versions lightened up with Stevia.

 

Baked Custard with Stevia

Dark Chocolate Pudding

Vegan Dark Night Chocolate Mousse

 

home_boxes_jessicaJessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist and culinary nutrition expert. She has extensive experience as a recipe developer, writer, editor, and speaker. She is the co-author of We Can Cook: Introduce Your Child to the Joy of Cooking with 75 Simple Recipes and Activities (Barron’s, 2011), past columnist for the Culinary Corner column in Today’s Dietitian Magazine, and maintains a popular blog at JessicaLevinson.com. Jessica is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and various Dietetic Practice Groups of the AND, including Nutrition Entrepreneurs, Food and Culinary Professionals, and Dietitians in Business and Communications. Follow her out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.