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    Stevia Extract: Learning to Like It

    February 7, 2012 by Brandy Vencel

    Almost two years ago, I “quit” coffee. {I put that in quotes because I am now able to drink it in moderation.} My reasons for doing so were twofold. First, I was completely addicted to caffeine. I couldn’t hardly function without it, and was drinking three very tall cups of it per day. If I skipped it for some reason, I had a horrendous headache. In the afternoons, the only alternative to a cup was a nap.

    In a sentence, I was a slave.

    My second reason was the sugar I was putting in my coffee. Now, I am not anti-sugar by any means. I have a thyroid condition, which means I have trouble maintaining my body temperature. A little sugar or carbs helps keep my body at a temperature that wards off disease {unlike my 97.8 average, at which I catch every bug under the sun}. But a little sugar goes a long ways. I can often get enough from a cup of milk, a smoothie at breakfast, or a piece of fruit. In addition to this, I felt like I couldn’t add social sugar on top of this, so I worried about dessert when we met with friends.

    In quitting coffee, I found freedom from both of these problems.

    So why did I go back? Well, quite frankly, I like the taste. I like the natural break in my day which a cup of coffee affords me {and I just couldn’t get tea to replace it in the mornings}. I can tell my children I’ll be ready to work again when my coffee is gone. It works nicely.

    I was never anti-coffee. I was anti-coffee addiction. I don’t think that addiction has any place in a healthy Christian life. How can I become mature if I am enslaved?

    Abstaining from coffee for over a year was enough to break the addiction. I can now skip my morning cup without a headache or other effect if I need or want to. I can enjoy one cup without “needing” more.

    What remained was what to do about the sugar. I still didn’t like starting my day off with a teaspoon of sugar, even if I was buying sucanat most of the time.

    For a while, I tried xylitol, only to find I am one of the people who cannot use much of it without stomach pain. I tried powdered stevia leaf and all I can say is: yuck! The bitter aftertaste was not for me.

    But then I read about liquid stevia extract by Sweetleaf. Bloggers were claiming that it was the stevia for people who don’t like stevia. I checked the price, and decided I could afford to give it a try.

    The first time I tried it, I went cold turkey: no sugar, all stevia. Big Mistake. Even though the extract is much less bitter than the powder, it is still a different quality of sweetness than sugar. My tastebuds rejected it!

    Now, it is my habit to measure the sugar for my coffee in these little tiny silver spoons which Si inherited. I use four little spoonfulls, which works out to just over a teaspoon. I decided to try easing into it, and for three weeks, I used three little spoons, and three drops of stevia. So far, so good, so I went to two little spoons, and five drops of stevia. After three weeks of that, I went to one little spoon of sugar, and eight drops of stevia.

    And then I stalled. I just wasn’t sure I could do all stevia. So for months, I have been drinking my morning coffee this way.

    I’m writing this because today was the day I finally went all-stevia, with ten drops of stevia {in my 12 oz coffee cup, for those of you who are wondering}. And it was fine.

    In this, I verified something that people will often tell you: tastebuds can be trained. Likewise, tastes can be acquired.

    My children loved stevia from the outset, so in the evenings, when they like to have a bowl of yogurt, I have begun sweetening it with four or five drops of stevia instead of honey, so as to not serve sugar right before bed {even though, in general, I think a little sugar is good for children, too}.

    Now that I know I like stevia, and that it sits well with everyone in our family {except my husband, strangely enough, who chooses xylitol every time he wants a sugar substitute}, I look forward to trying some of the flavors Sweetleaf offers:

    Anyhow, all of this is to say: if you are looking for a sugar substitute, stevia might be the ticket. It is pricey, but since it is measured in drops, it isn’t as expensive as it seems. I found that once I acquired the taste, it is a handy way to manage my sugar intake.

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  • Reply Rahime February 10, 2012 at 7:45 am

    I know, and when I tried to get an inflatable head donut (so, much less obtrusive than a cone, but same result) on Brembo after her spay surgery, she was TERRIFIED of the thing. She stood paralyzed and trembling until I finally took it off her. I tried to slowly get her used to it, but to no avail. In fact, I think I caused her fear of all things balloon-like. She’s still scared of balloons big or small, my big exercise ball, chinese lanterns, inflatable camping mats, etc. Silly dog.

    So, I don’t think I can put her through that. She never did mess with her staples when her incision was healing, so it wasn’t necessary then, but I think honey would be too great a temptation (and to weird to not investigate).

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts February 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Rahime, For YEARS I used raw honey on wounds! Scratches and scrapes, what have you–my family had a history of allergies to Neosporin and I read that this was the perfect natural substitute. I don’t know that it worked in that I never knew if Neosporin worked, but it didn’t *not* work, if that makes sense.

    You would almost have to use one of those head cones for Brembo! πŸ™‚

    I’ll have to google Manuka honey. I read an article on it once, but only once. I am still mostly ignorant. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Rahime February 9, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Yep, I’ve done a lot of reading about raw local honey–especially with Brembo’s environmental allergies (where honey “shines”). I think it’s somewhat helped my allergies (eating a tiny bit–a teaspoon or so a day, raw. It sounds like Manuka honey is also something of a miracle cure for many ailments (it is even purported to help speed healing when used topically…though I have yet to figure out how to spread it over a dog’s legs without her licking it all off).

    Of course, there’s not much point in using raw honey if you’re going to dump it into boiling water, so I just use the cheap stuff for tea because our local honey is ridiculously expensive. I don’t really love it in tea anyways (well, I don’t mind it at all in herbal tea, but 98% of the time I want good traditional cup of English tea complete with milk and sugar.

    Definitely the sugar spikes are to be avoided too–in children and adults, IMO. πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts February 8, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Rahime: I have read a lot about raw honey being wonderful for you, especially if you have allergies. I use it for a lot, but I don’t like it in coffee, nor at night when I’m trying to keep the children from sugar spikes before bed.

    Amy: Cold turkey will definitely make you hate stevia! πŸ™‚

    Jennifer: I’m glad to know Stevita tastes good! I didn’t know anyone I knew had tried it. With that said, I am unsure about it. The owner of Sweetleaf says their company is the only one that uses water rather than chemicals for extraction. I don’t know how much that really matters, but since my children have a history of chemical sensitivities, I try to be careful.

    Jenn: Great idea! I think tomorrow I’ll trying doing one less drop and seeing what I think.

    I have been pondering whether I could make homemade ice cream or frozen yogurt with this stuff–maybe half stevia and half honey would work? Hmmm…

  • Reply Jenn February 8, 2012 at 2:16 am

    You are so right…taste buds CAN be trained. I like how you gradually weaned yourself off sugar onto stevia. Very wise.

    I don’t know if you’ve considered this, but you can also train yourself to be satisfied with less stevia/less sweet taste by slowly lessening the amount of stevia you use.

    Thanks also for the tip on where to find the drops.

  • Reply Jennifer February 8, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Hi brandy… Stevita has a brand for 3.99 on amazon. I like it just as well as the 15$ stuff. I use peppermint and vanilla. It has definitely taken a few years to acquire the taste of stevia, though!

  • Reply ...they call me mommy... February 7, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Huh. Very interesting!! I tried the drops a year or so ago and wasn’t sure I liked them. But I did the cold turkey thing with my coffee.

  • Reply Rahime February 7, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Very interesting. I tried stevia years ago in my search for a good sugar substitute (mostly for my three or four daily cups of English Breakfast tea which I neither confirm nor deny being addicted to). I also tried xylitol, splenda, and agave though each of those comes with it’s own issues.

    I fianlly went back to sugar, just reducing the amount of it and oftentimes substituting honey. Maybe I’ll give the stevia drops a shot.

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