The Benefits of Naturally Sweet Stevia Sweeteners and How to Use Them

 

Written by Karen Tremaine, Founder of Ketohh, a low carb low sugar lifestyle.

All the sweeteners that you can buy from Naturally Sweet are perfect natural substitutes for sugar. If you are looking for products that have minimal impact on blood sugar levels, Naturally Sweet sweeteners are ideal to use to replace common sugar products as well as the so called healthy ‘natural’ sweeteners, because they can help you stabilise your blood sugar levels. They can also reduce the detrimental impact that sugar can have on your health and lifestyle.

The best thing about the Naturally Sweet sweetener range is that you can still enjoy great tasting food by adding their sweeteners to your food and using them in recipes. The thing that I love is that this can be done without having to compromise at all on the flavour of the food that you eat. I love the fact that I can make a cake and get to eat it as well!

What Does the Term GI mean?

For a benchmark, the GI or Glycemic Index rating of all the products in this article is listed, so that you can compare all the products. The term GI means Glycemic Index, and it is a method of ranking foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Sweeteners, sugars and foods with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised, and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, in insulin levels. For more information on GI rankings and information, have a look at the Glycemic Index Foundation https://www.gisymbol.com/what-is-the-gi/

THE NATURALLY SWEET SWEETENER RANGE

 

100% Stevia Blend

No impact on GI vs Natural Sugar 65

Extremely low in calories

Diabetic Friendly

Stevia is a form of sweetener that is commonly used in low carb and sugar free baking and cooking. It’s a fantastic sweetener to use to replace sugar, especially if you are looking for a product that won’t impact on blood sugar levels, which makes it ideal for diabetics. Stevia comes from the leaf of the Stevia plant, grown in South America where it has been used for about the last 200 years as a sweetener. In its pure form, it is extremely sweet, so it is often mixed with another sweetener purely to make it bulkier. 100 % Well Naturally Stevia blend has been mixed with Erythritol to make it more suitable for using in baking, and recipes where bulk is required.

Well Naturally Stevia Blend measures out at about 1:5 to replace sugar. Many cakes recipes only call for 2-3 tablespoons of a stevia blend, and often that is enough to sweeten a whole cake. The best rule for using sweeteners like this is to vary the amount of sweetener used in a recipe to suit your own tastes. Someone with a sweeter tooth may need to use more than someone who is cutting back on the amount of sweet foods they include in their diet.

If ever you need confectioner’s sweetener and don’t have any on hand, you can always use 100% Natural Stevia Blend to make your own confectioner’s sugar. Simply process it in a food processor until smooth. Use it in recipes such as cream frosting or icing recipes, glazes etc. As confectioner’s sugar is softer and powder like, it can be more suited to certain recipes where granulated stevia blend simply won’t dissolve. Remember though that it is a lot sweeter than regular icing sugar, so you won’t have to use as much in a recipe. It measures out at 1:5 to replace sugar and icing sugar so

While a stevia blend can be great to use in recipes for cakes and muffins where bulk is not required, you may be better off to use Xylitol or Erythritol where more bulk is required. Generally, a recipe will specify whether it requires a blend or a bulkier sweetener, so try to use the recommended sweetener if you can. If you use Stevia in baked goods that you want to crisp up such as cookies, you may not get the crunch you are after. In this situation, you may be better off to use a sweetener such as Erythritol instead. A good recipe will specify what is sweetener is required if a specific one is needed for a particular outcome for a recipe, so try to follow instructions wherever you can.

 

100% Natural Erythritol

Zero GI of vs Table Sugar 75

No impact on blood sugar levels

Low in Calories

Diabetic Friendly

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol sweetener and is very popular for use in low carb and low sugar baking. When used in baking it is probably more like sugar than any other sweetener.100% Natural Erythritol is used as a 1.4 to 1 replacement for sugar. You many have noticed that if you use stevia in baked goods such as cookies, they won’t crisp up. Erythritol on the other hand can crunch up, so it’s a great choice to use when making cookies and biscuits. Sometimes your baked goods will crunch up a few hours after baking, so you might need to be patient with the process as well.

You won’t want to use Erythritol for use in recipes that need freezing such as ice cream, as Erythritol crystallizes when frozen. Xylitol is a much better sweetener to use when you want creamy ice cream as it doesn’t crystallize. Erythritol is non glycemic and doesn’t raise blood sugar levels or insulin. It doesn’t pass through the digestive system but is absorbed and then excreted unchanged from the body.

As Erythritol is used on a ratio of about 1.4 to 1, i.e. 140 gms of sweetener equals 100 gms of sugar,  it can be great for adding bulk to a recipe, such as when you cream butter and sweetener for a cake, or for use in making a cream cheese frosting. Erythritol is in a granulated form, so if you plan on using Erythritol in frosting or icing mixtures, or in specific recipes that call for powdered erythritol or a confectioners sweetener, simply blitz erythritol in a blender or food processor till smooth ( just like you can with Well Naturally Stevia Blend.) This will help prevent a gritty texture that can sometimes occur with granulated forms of sweetener.

 

100% Natural Xylitol

GI of 7 vs Table Sugar 75

Low Calories

Diabetic Friendly

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol. It has been used for a long time in sugar free gum because it actively inhibits the bacteria in the mouth. It is very similar to sugar in terms of taste and is used 1 for 1 as a sugar replacement. Xylitol won’t add crunch to baked goods that you want to crisp up, as it melts in the cooking process.  It might not be suitable for crispy cookies, however it is this quality that makes this perfect to use in things like brownie recipes and cakes, as it adheres together, in a fudgy, chewy kind of way.  Xylitol is also brilliant to use in any products you want to freeze, especially ice cream. It doesn’t form crystals at freezing point which can happen with some of the other sweeteners, such as Erythritol and Stevia/Stevia blends.

Although Xylitol has a GI of 7, it generally doesn’t impact on blood sugar levels for most people. If you are following a strict low carb diet and counting your carbs, you may have noticed that the carbs from Xylitol aren’t included in the carb count because of this reason.

 

100% Natural Xylitol Icing Sugar

GI of 7 vs Table Sugar 75

Low Calories

Diabetic Friendly

This icing sugar version or confectioner’s sugar version of Xylitol is very similar to 100% Natural Xylitol, except the icing sugar is not granulated but is in a much finer powder form. This makes it perfect to use in baking where icing sugar or confectioner’s sugar is asked for. It is perfect for creating frosting, icing and glazes for cakes and treats. It can also be used in baking as well. It also has the same characteristics as Xylitol when baked, so is perfect for using in recipes where you want a fudgy texture, such as brownies. It can also be used in ice cream or recipes that are frozen, as it doesn’t crystallize when frozen.

 

Monk Fruit Blend (coming soon to the Naturally Sweet range)

v  Zero GI vs Table Sugar 75

v  No Impact on Blood Sugar Levels

v  Zero Calories

v  Diabetic Friendly

Monk fruit is a great sweetener to use to replace sugar, as it also has minimal impact on blood sugar levels. Monk fruit in its pure form is extremely sweet, and you would use a miniscule amount to sweeten foods. Therefore, you often find Monk fruit is mixed with Erythritol, as it is then bulkier and is much better suited for many forms of baking, like Stevia.

300 times sweeter than sugar Monk fruit gets its name as it was literally cultivated by Buddhist monks over a thousand years ago, and it’s also a zero glycemic sweetener like stevia. Use it sparingly just like stevia in non-baked goods, as it can be difficult to use pure sweeteners in many recipes.

Monk fruit may also be known as Luo Han Guo, and like stevia, is naturally occurring and 200 times sweeter than table sugar. The monk fruit sweetener is made using the pulp of the fruit which is fermented which removes the sugars but leaves the sweet taste. There is no bitter aftertaste with monk fruit, and it will not raise blood sugar levels. The Naturally Sweet Monk Fruit Blend is easy for converting from sugar as it is an even 1:1.

 

Coconut Sugar

GI of 35 vs Table Sugar 75

Low GI in comparison to regular sugar

Diabetic Friendly

Coconut sugar is also called coconut palm sugar. It’s a natural sugar made from coconut palm sap

Sap is collected form the tree and is then placed under heat until most of the water evaporates. The product is similar in colour to raw sugar and it’s granulated. Coconut sugar does retain quite a bit of the nutrients found in the coconut palm, so offers more nutritionally than regular table sugar. It also contains a fibre called inulin, which may help slow glucose absorption. This also explains why coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than regular table sugar.

Coconut sugar is a little like regular sugar, in that it has the same number of calories. It’s not as processed though and contains more nutrients. Because it has a lower GI, it’s impact on blood sugar levels is a lot lower than regular table sugar. Coconut sugar can be used in recipes wherever regular sugar is asked for and it measures at 1 to 1 for regular sugar.

 

 

 

SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia Drops

Zero Gi vs Table Sugar 75

No impact on blood sugar levels

Zero calories

Diabetic Friendly

These delicious water drops contain no sugar, carbs or calories, no artificial ingredients and they have a glycemic index of zero. Add them to a glass of tap water, soda water, sparkling or mineral water or to coffee to add a little sweetness. Keep some in your bag so you always have a healthy option available when out and about.

It is often impossible to find much variety in low carb or sugar free drinks in bars, cafes and restaurants. Indulging in a sugar free gin and tonic is also generally impossible when out.  Add a few drops of drops to a gin and soda water or vodka and soda water, and it makes a great tasting sugar free drink. I also love to order sugar free cocktails when out and add a couple of drops of liquid stevia to replace the sugar. Wait until you try a sugar free Mojito this way, there is absolutely no compromise on flavours.

Generally, you would use a few of these drops as a substitute for 1 teaspoon of white table sugar. I love to add these drops in drinks, sauces, salad dressings, and soups, as well as for general baking. They have no aftertaste and no impact on blood sugar levels so are great for diabetics and anyone watching their sugar and/or their carb intake. Sweetleaf Liquid Stevia Drops come as just a plain sweetener, as well as Coconut, Vanilla Crème, English Toffee, Peppermint, Chocolate and Lemon Drop flavours.

Indulge by using the Vanilla Crème, Chocolate or English toffee flavour in coffee, for a great tasting alternative. These are perfect to use in smoothies, protein shakes, and for making chia puddings. Add them to cocktails, instead of sugar syrup, although you may need to dilute them in order to water down the alcohol a little to save embarrassing yourself at the end of the evening. If you are out and about, adding a few drops to a sugar free mojito is a great way to enjoy a drink. They come in large and small bottles, so the small one fits conveniently into a handbag for convenience

Remember that these drops are ideal to use in cooking where you don’t need to add any bulk. If you need bulk in your recipe, make sure you use either the 100% stevia blend, Erythritol, Monk Fruit Blend or Xylitol. These drops are great to use in whipping cream, puddings and desserts, and are fabulous in bliss balls and recipes such as a sugar free mint slice. You don’t need to use many drops to sweeten food and drinks, as these are concentrated drops. You only need about 5 drops to sweeten about 250 mls/8 oz.

 

 

SweetLeaf Water Drops

Zero Gi vs Table Sugar 75

No impact on blood sugar levels

Low Calorie

Diabetic Friendly

SweetLeaf Water drops are perfect for enhancing drinks such as water and soda water and come in a handy sized sealed container that is just perfect to keep in a bag or handbag. You generally use about 1 ml (a few drops) per 250 ml or 8 oz of liquid, so they are quite concentrated. When travelling overseas, where often sugar free drinks are unheard of, these can be an absolute lifesaver, especially if you are sick of drinking plain water. I love adding the Lemon Lime flavoured drops to a vodka and soda, for a delicious flavour boost or even just to a plain glass of mineral water if out for lunch.

These fabulous drops come in 6 amazing flavours including Lemon Lime, Strawberry Kiwi, Peach Mango, Raspberry Lemonade, Mixed Berry and Tropical Punch. They are perfect to use in cocktails as well. Try adding some to a home-made Margarita or Daiquiri, for the perfect sugar free cocktail. I also order sugar free cocktails when out, and a few drops of these added can really liven up a drink and add a touch of sweetness. These drops mean I can stick to my low sugar way of eating but don’t have to compromise on flavour and choice.

Another great way to use these drops is to make your own snow cone or slushie out of them. Simply add a few drops to a cup of ice and process in the blender until sludgy.  You can serve it with a couple of additional water drops on top. You could also use these drops to make frozen icy poles or popsicles. Adding some to ice blocks is another great way to add some flavour to a simple glass of water as well.

Using Alternate Sweeteners to What’s Specified in A Recipe

One of the biggest issues people find when following a recipe that specifies a sweetener, is working out how to switch out sweeteners in recipes. It always pays to check to see whether the one that you want to use, has the same ratio to table sugar. If it doesn’t, work out the ratio of the one you want to use and calculate what needs to be added. Adding sweetener that is 1:1 vs 1.4 to table sugar can make a big difference to quantities that you might use in a recipe. Work out the conversion and this could save your recipe from being overly sweet or not sweet enough.

There are many sweeteners out there that are classed as “’natural’ sweeteners which many of you may have used. Just take care with the use of many of these products because although classed as sugar free or free from added sugars, many of these products still contain natural sugars and therefore still impact on blood sugar levels. If you look at the GI index rating of some of these so called ‘healthy sweeteners’, you can see that they are still high GI and will therefore impact on your blood sugar levels. Many of them are also highly calorific. Remember also that just because fruit is a natural sugar, doesn’t mean it is healthy for all of us. Fructose, which is the sugar in fruit, still causes blood sugars to rise.

Table Sugar GI of 75

Brown sugar GI of 64

HFCS (corn syrup) GI of 73

Rice Malt Syrup GI of 98

Maple Syrup GI of 54

Dried Fruit GI from 29 for Dried plums/Apples to 61 for figs

Dates GI of 62

Honey GI of 60

Blackstrap molasses GI of 55-60

Why I Love to Use Naturally Sweet Sweeteners

Looking at the GI of the sweeteners in the list above, and in particular when you compare it to the GI of table sugar, you begin to get an idea of the benefits to be gained by using Naturally Sweet Sweeteners in any foods that you consume. A bonus to using this range of sweeteners is that you don’t have to compromise on the taste of the food that you eat by adding them to your food. Probably the best thing about these sweeteners is that by using them, you don’t have to compromise on your health either. You can choose sweeteners from the range at Naturally Sweet that suit your lifestyle, an area where you really can’t afford to make compromises.

 

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