This chapter explains the special factors we had to consider when developing recipes. If you want to experiment with your own recipes or understand ours better, this information will help. We also include general cooking tips and a valuable list of substitutions and measurements.
Stevia Products Used in the Recipes
If you can’t find what you want, ask your local natural food store to order it for you. There are multiple wholesale sources for these forms of stevia. Hopefully grocery stores will soon begin to stock them as well.
I recommend using the Dried Stevia Leaves (for tea) or Green Stevia Powder whenever possible, just as I would recommend whole wheat over white flour. These forms provide the full range of nutrients found in stevia plants. For recipes that do not work well with Green Stevia Powder, however, I feel that Stevia Extract Powder is certainly preferable to sugar or artificial sweeteners. Liquid extracts of stevia are available, but we prefer the powders. Following is an overview of the stevia forms used in this book.
Dried Stevia Leaves
These whole, dried leaves of the stevia plant contain 8-12% sweet glycosides and work well for tea. You can purchase leaves or harvest from homegrown stevia plants. Simply pick the leaves before blossoming and dry on screens or in a food dehydrator on low heat.
Green Stevia Powder
We list this as an option in recipes that lend themselves to its use. In other recipes, this form doesn’t work as well. It is a fine, green powder made from dried leaves and green stems of the Stevia plant. No other processing is done. Green Stevia Powder will impart varying shades of green to some recipes, depending on the amount used. This is the least refined product you can use in non-beverage recipes.
Stevia Extract Powder, 85-95% Sweet Glycosides
This is the primary stevia product used in the recipes. Sweet glycosides are extracted through one of several processes, usually water or ethyl alcohol based. The resulting fine, fluffy powder is 200-250 times sweeter than cane sugar and usually off-white. Any extract with glycosides in the range of 85-95% will work in our recipes, and this is the most common type on the market. If you should happen to find a product with a lower glycoside proportion, adjust the amount used accordingly.
I consider any stevia extract far superior to artificial sweeteners or sugar, but I do recommend using one that has not been artificially “bleached.” Unfortunately, it is not always easy to determine if a given product contains bleach.
Stevia cannot simply be inserted where a recipe says “sugar.” Several factors must be considered. Study the following information and you will be prepared to use this sweet herb in your cooking. The guidelines assume that stevia is replacing sugar.
Green Stevia Powder can enhance flavors in some dishes when used in small amounts, while it may not work at all in others. Our recipes are carefully designed to take advantage of this and other aspects of stevia.
Amount of Stevia
By volume, much less stevia than sugar is required. For sweetening purposes, approximately one teaspoon Stevia Extract Powder or three to four teaspoons Green Stevia Powder is used instead of one cup of sugar.
In this book, “sugarfree” ingredients refers to those with no refined sugar.
Stevia keeps quite well, so go ahead and buy it in bulk if you wish. A sealed jar or plastic container is best for long term storage. Do not refrigerate.
Some stevia recipes brown less than similar dishes utilizing sugar or honey. Browning can be improved using other ingredients such as fats or milk.
Dry-Liquid Ingredient ratio
For baking with stevia, use either slightly less liquid or slightly more flour than would be used in recipes with sugar.
Stevia is much fluffier than sugar. It scatters with the slightest disturbance. Recipe directions call for thoroughly mixing stevia with either dry or liquid ingredients. For sweetening raw fruits, first dissolve stevia in a teaspoon or two of lemon juice or water and then stir into the fruit.
Use stainless steel or oven-proof glassware if the food is to be left in the pan after baking.
Preheating the Oven
Observe the time your oven takes to preheat. Turn it on at the appropriate time while mixing ingredients.
Whole grain flours will give the most for your money both in flavor and nutrition, but do be careful in storing them. Refrigerate if you plan to use in a few days. Otherwise, whole grain flours should be kept in the freezer. All of the following flours are whole grain except for the Unbleached White Flour.
Do not sift flour before measuring. Just spoon flour into the measuring cup and level with the flat edge of a knife.
Varieties of Flour
Whole Wheat Flour
Quite versatile, this flour is usually ground from the so-called “hard” wheat berry. All wheat flours are rich in gluten, the substance which holds bread together.
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
This one is produced by grinding “soft” wheat. It is ideal for desserts and general baking, substituting well for unbleached white flour.
Unbleached White Flour
The germ has been removed from the wheat berry to make this flour, but it does not undergo the bleaching process and it will store without refrigeration or freezing.
Almost white in color, Barley Flour has a nutty flavor and a bit of gluten.
In baked products, this flour gives a slightly grainy texture and a nice flavor. It is light in color and gluten-free.
This flour has little gluten, but combines well with wheat flour for breads.
Used in desserts and main dishes, Oat Flour contains very little gluten. It is available at some specialty stores or you can make your own from rolled oats. For one cup oat flour, measure out a cup and one tablespoon rolled oats and grind briefly in a blender or food processor.
Made from seaweed, this vegetable gel serves as a vegetarian substitute for animal derived gelatin. It has been used for centuries to thicken various dishes.
Add almonds to a saucepan with one inch of boiling water. Cover the pan, turn off heat and leave for 30 to 45 seconds. Drain and slip skins off nuts.
For 1 1/4 cups meal process 1 cup raw almonds in a blender bowl. This requires only a few seconds. Store in a freezer or refrigerator.
This starch comes from a tuberous root and looks like cornstarch. It is used in the same way, making it a good choice for those allergic to corn.
Buy medium ripe fruit. Break peeled bananas in half, place in freezer bags, and freeze. These frozen bananas slice easily for recipes or use the chunks as directed.
This sweet brown powder looks like cocoa and some say there is a flavor resemblance. It contains no caffeine.
For one-half cup coconut meal, place one cup of unsulphured flaked coconut in a food processor or blender bowl. Process for a few seconds to the desired texture.
Choose cream cheese with the fat content you need. Neufchatel cheese can substitute for low fat cream cheese. Be sure to read labels.
Slightly more vanilla extract is needed when using stevia. Personal taste varies widely, so experiment and use the amount that tastes best to you.
Non-hydrogenated margarine is a good alternative to butter. It usually contains canola or soy oil. Look for it at health food stores.
Nuts or Coconut, Toasting
Place nuts or coconut in a shallow baking pan and spread to the edges. Cook for five to ten minutes in a 350 degree oven.
This beverage comes in a carton and can replace dairy milk in many recipes.
If preferred, salt can be omitted from most recipes. The flavor will be slightly different in some cases. Also remember that unsalted butter is available.
This liquid product is found in many grocery stores, packaged in cartons on non-refrigerated shelves.
Soy Beverage Powder
Look in a health food store or some grocery stores for this powder.
Substitutions and Measurements
2 tablespoons butter = 1 ounce
1 stick or ¼ pound butter = ½ cup
1 cup butter = 7/8 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk = ¾ cup plain low fat yogurt plus ¼ cup milk
1 cup sour cream = 7/8 cup plain yogurt
1 medium apple = 1 cup chopped apple
1 pound apples = 3 cups sliced apples
1 pound whole dates = 1 ¾ cups chopped dates
1 pound raisins = 2 3/8 cups raisins
1 whole orange = 6 to 8 tablespoons juice
1 medium to large lemon = ¼ cup juice
5-1/3 ounces nutmeats = 1 cup chopped nutmeats
1 pound walnuts in shell = 2 cups shelled walnuts
1 pound almonds in shell = 1 cup shelled almonds
¼ pound chopped walnuts = about 1 cup
1 tablespoon cornstarch for cooking = 2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder for thickening = 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder = ¼ teaspoon baking soda
plus ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
3 ounce package flavored gelatin = 1 envelope unflavored gelatin + 2 cups fruit juice
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
4 tablespoons = ¼ cup
About 5-1/2 tablespoons = 1/3 cup
1 cup = 8 fluid ounces
2 cups = 1 pint
4 cups = 1 quart