Baking with Stevia

Baking with Stevia

 Satisfy your sweet tooth without sugar. Make space for stevia in your kitchen cabinet. Though it can be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, stevia is a healthy alternative with zero calories or carbohydrates. Stevia is safe for fructose malabsorption patients. Additionally, it is a good alternative sweetener for diabetics and those cutting sugar intake.

Stevia is available in powder or liquid form in most supermarkets. Look for it in the health foods or baked goods sections. It is also used in some commercially flavored drinks and soft drinks. Stevia is derived from the stevia plant, native to Paraguay and Brazil. It has been added to sweet teas and used for medicine for over a thousand years.

Try replacing the sugar with stevia when baking desserts. Each stevia brand defines its sugar to stevia ratio. Check the label when measuring the sweetener at the time of baking.  Noteworthy tip, you cannot do a direct substitution with sugar and stevia.

Let’s get started:

Substitute every teaspoon of sugar with :

  • A pinch to 1/16 tsp of stevia powdered extract
  • 2-4 drops of stevia liquid

Substitute every cup of sugar required with :

  • 1/3-1/2 teaspoon of stevia powdered extract
  • 1 tbsp of  stevia liquid
  • 18-24 single serving packets of stevia

Substitute every tablespoon of sugar with :

  • 1/4 tsp of stevia powdered extract
  • 6-9 drops of stevia liquid

Replace the bulk of sugar you have lost with a bulking agent such as egg whites, yogurt or fruit/veggie puree. Water may also serve as a bulking agent, depending on the dessert being made. Increase the quantity of the particular ingredient, if using one of these bulking agents in your recipe. Add small quantities bit by bit to get a good consistency and a smooth batter.

Be cautious at first, stevia can have a bitter aftertaste. Sample the taste first before incorporating it generously in your batter. Start by substituting half or quarter the amount of sugar with stevia. Increase it or continue adding in moderate quantities based on your preference.

I made a delicious pumpkin bread using the stevia packets. It will be the topic of my next post. In the meantime, I have some more experimenting to do. I hope you try it and let me know how it works out!

Gluten free lasagna part 2 with meaty bolognese

Okay, I know I just wrote about gluten free lasagna. But, we’re obsessed! Anyone who knows me well, will tell you my favorite food on the planet is lasagna. I love the layers of cheese, pasta, veggies…. did I mention cheese….  Yum! Well, I can’t be more excited that TQ is loving lasagna as much as me! The handy ready made gluten free lasagna sheets are super convenient to have on hand. Amazingly, a gluten free lasagna can be made super fast – even on a weekday!

The skinny:

This week, I made a rich bolognese style sauce in the crock pot. I used my summer tomato sauce that was in the freezer as the base. A pound of lean (90/10) ground beef was added and a leftover bone from a steak the night before. My not so secret ingredient, is a rind of some really good Parmesan (lactose free, of course) dropped in to permeate the sauce and add depth. The crock pot is a wonderful thing when time is short! The sauce cooked all day until it became a bubbly cauldron of luscious meat sauce. By the end of the work day, it had become rich and thick – so good!

The luscious layers:

Spoon a ladle full of sauce on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. First layer of pasta goes down and begin adding toppings. I used shredded spinach, mozzarella and meat sauce in between every pasta layer. Finish the whole dish with more sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes – it might depend a bit on how big you made the lasagna. Look for the sauce to be bubbling and the top nice and golden brown. Sprinkle with some fresh parsley.

I think this one was better than the previous chicken lasagna. I guess it tasted more “traditional.” Now, if I could find a lactose free ricotta then I really could make a traditional style lasagna. In the meantime, this fits the bill!

Inspire me to try a new version! What are your favorite lasagna ideas?

Loaded Layered Fries

Hi everyone!  Confession: My kids won’t eat leftovers. Anyone else feel my pain? Life would be a lot easier if I could make one big batch of something and we would have dinner for at least a few nights. Right? But no, that’s not how we roll. Alrighty then, time to think outside the box. TQ: “Mom!” “What’s for dinner?” My reply: “Loaded layered fries”  TQ: “Great!” (even though he had no idea what that meant and quite frankly neither did I) It sounds good doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want a plate of fries for dinner.

Interestingly, I had planned leftover sloppy joes for dinner that evening. The oven baked fries were supposed to make the meal more exciting in the hopes they wouldn’t notice it was the second night of sloppy joe in a week. I admit, I panicked when I heard “Mom, what’s for dinner.” I knew leftover sloppy joe was going yield groans.

Time for a pep talk

Com’on, I’m creative, figure something out…. Heck, I stuff potatoes with my sloppy joe, why not top some french fries. Yes, something they have never seen before,  possible winner idea. Seriously, this is a great leftover meal idea! I pulled out the leftover sloppy joe meat, some leftover corn. Grate some fresh cheddar and  a quick and easy meal is all ready to go.

This couldn’t be easier

Purchase freezer fries and have them ready to go in the freezer for quick sides. Look for fries that have no additives or spices that may not agree with sensitive systems. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown – usually about 20 minutes. Heat up the leftover  ground meat, and veggies. I used corn, but this would be good with beans, cauliflower, eggplant or any shredded green (which I add to every meal). And my sloppy joe meat usually has some finely shredded greens (like spinach) and red pepper to the mix. Kids have to eat their veggies! Grate up some cheddar cheese or cheese of choice.

Ready, set, layer!

Once the fries are browned nicely in the oven you are ready to assemble. Start with a layer of the fries on the plate. Next, top the fries with some sloppy joe meat or ground meat. Follow that with some veggie. Pile on some cheese to melt.  That becomes gooey and yummy in between the fries and toppings. To be honest, my photos would look better if I had fresh herbs chopped on top. I would recommend topping with a little fresh parsley, but it wasn’t in my fridge tonight. Woohoo – dinner served! The kids were dazzled!

What do you think?  What will you layer? I would love some new ideas! Let me know!