I had been using honey as my main substitute (in my homemade salad dressing at lunch and in my cup of decaf green tea). Well, I started to wonder about all the extra calories I was taking in because of the honey. One teaspoon has 60 calories and I was easily using that (at least) in the salad dressing - and probably about that much in the tea. That's 120 extra calories/day. 840/week. 3360/month! Doesn't around 3000 calories equal an extra pound on your body?
So I set out to see if there's a natural
I wanted to be sure that the kind you buy at the store (marketed as "zero calories sweeteners") weren't too chemical-ed up. But all the information I could find on the process of extracting and packaging the sweetener seemed pretty natural: they boil a bunch of the stevia leaves in water (extracting the flavor) and then either bottle the extract or dehydrate it so it's in a sugar-like grain.
My first choice was to buy a bottle of extract (which comes with a little medicine dropper for ease of use). But that setup was ~$12 at Whole Foods. So instead I went with a box of "sugar packets" (which were approx. $1.50). Here's a quick little review.
The taste: It's hard to pinpoint what is it, but there's something that tastes a little bit like a plant. Or maybe that's where my mind goes with the flavor since I know where it comes from? It's an aftertaste-type thing, though; if I think "plant" while I'm experiencing it, my mind goes to leaves (spinach/radiccio/cabbage/etc.) and the aftertaste-type thing they sometimes have.
The texture: Pretty identical to Splenda (very finely ground and airy). It maybe takes a few more stirs, though, to completely combine with the liquid.
The amount of sweetness per packet: I was really happy with this, actually. I don't know if anyone's ever tried a packet of aspertame, but that stuff is intense and they put a ton of it in each serving. I found the amount of sweetness per packet of Stevia was about what I was looking for.
Will it get the job done: Most definitely in the tea (it adds a nice sweetness and simultaneously cuts its slightly bitter aspect). Maybe not as well in the salad dressing. So, I make this mix of olive oil, vinegar, spices, and mustard to make a lovely little salad dressing for my daily lunch salads. My reason for making my own is so I can control the calories. To do this, I use more vinegar than oil. I use the sweetener, therefore, to cut some of the acid. Well, Stevia didn't really cut the acid. It was kind of weird, actually. I do think, though I can use a packet of Stevia and then add a tiny drop of honey and that will have the desired effect. Either way, even if I stop using the honey in the daily tea, I'm still shaving off some calories, so I consider it a win.
Have you guys tried Stevia? What are your thoughts? Are you less forgiving about the plant-like aftertaste than I am?