[If you're just looking for the stevia recipes, skip straight to them!]

The artificial sweetener referred to as "stevia" is derived from the leaves of the stevia plant, which are then dehydrated and purified. The end result of this process is a compound called rebaudioside A (Reb-A), which has become an increasingly popular sugar substitute.

While Stevia's use is relatively new in the United States, where it only became FDA approved in the early 1990s, it has actually been used in Brazil, Paraguay, and South Africa for hundreds of years!

Stevia has also been associated with some exciting health benefits. It may lower your blood pressure if you have hypertension, or lower your blood sugar if you have diabetes. Large doses of stevia have also been found to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and increase good (HDL) cholesterol. Plus, stevia has been tentatively found to have therapeutic effects on several other diseases and even seems to have cancer-fighting properties!

Experts have started to catch on to these intriguing effects, even naming stevia "a new player in the fight against obesity" and a potential treatment for metabolic syndrome. The industry is catching on as well, so stevia is beginning to replace less healthy versions of artificial sugar used in popular diet products like Vitaminwater Zero and Halo Top.

You should also be aware that many "stevia" products contain mixes of stevia and other sweeteners. For example, popular product Truvia consists of stevia blended with erythritol (Natvia), which is also allowed on the 123Diet and similarly seems to have few negative side effects.

stevia

However, you should do your research on any other ingredients you find in stevia products. This is especially true if you have diabetes, since other common sweeteners like dextrose or maltodextrin are more likely than stevia to raise your blood sugar levels.

These mixed products also usually contain no stevioside, which is the part of the stevia plant that has been associated with most of its health benefits. Unfortunately, research is somewhat lacking on the purer forms of stevia, such as "whole-leaf" stevia, so they are currently considered "less safe" even though they may well be healthier.

Evidence also suggests that stevia may still carry some of the metabolism-disrupting and appetite-increasing risks of traditional artificial sweeteners. It might thus be best to limit stevia to an occasional treat rather than an everyday indulgence. After all, you don't want to make your food taste so good that you end up eating too much of it!

Yet though stevia may not be pitfall free, it is probably the "lesser of two evils" compared to traditional sugar when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth.

Not everyone likes the taste of stevia or finds it comparable to sugar; some notice a "bitter" or "licorice" aftertaste. However, as a packet of stevia comes with a zero-calorie price tag compared to 15 calories in packet of sugar, many dieters find it worth the sacrifice.

You can sprinkle your stevia on your yogurt or fruit, stir in into your coffee or smoothies, and even use it to make low-calorie cocktails! In any situation where sugar is generally used, stevia is probably a better choice!

choices

Stevia also appears in many of our savory recipes, and there are brands of it made specifically for baking. Just don't forget that you won't need to use as much stevia in your recipes as you would use sugar, since stevia is actually 200 times sweeter! There are also an intriguing variety of 123Diet-safe flavored stevia products on the market, with varieties including chocolate, coconut, peppermint, hazelnut, and perfect-for-fall pumpkin spice!

You can give these three desserts a try as a fun breakfast or mid-morning snack during phase 2, and can incorporate them into your after-dinner repertoire in phase 3 and beyond. Pretty soon, they might be your go-to treats!

Caramel Apple Pie

yummy spiced apple pie

This homey recipe gives you all the amazing flavor of apple pie with none of the added sugar! Estimated nutritional value (without modifications) of 122 calories, .6g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 31.3g carbohydrates, 5.5g fiber, .7g protein, and 23.6g sugar.

Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook time
25 minutes
Yield
Makes 1 serving (1 fruit)

Ingredients

  • 1 apple
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 packet powdered stevia
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • English toffee stevia to taste

Directions
Slice apple into very thin slices. Arrange in layers in a round 3-inch crème brûlée dish. For each layer, sprinkle generously with cinnamon, nutmeg, and powdered and English toffee stevia. Continue layering with spices until dish is full. Sprinkle lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and water over the apple slices. Bake at 375 for approximately 20-25 minutes or until apples are cooked and top is slightly crispy. Drizzle with additional English toffee stevia if desired. Serve warm.

Phase 3/Maintenance Modifications
Add a small amount of melted butter to the mixture and top with a tablespoon of chopped walnuts or pecans.

Recipe provided by


Fruit with Warm Vanilla Sauce

yummy fruit in delicious lemon, stevia, and vanilla sauce!

Make your fruit shine with help from some vanilla and some powdered stevia! Estimated nutritional value will vary with type of fruit.

Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook time
3 Minutes
Yield
Makes 1 serving (1 fruit)

Ingredients

  • Your choice of allowed fruit
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla powder
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Powdered stevia to taste

Directions
In a small saucepan or dipping bowl stir stevia and vanilla powder into lemon juice and vinegar. Heat the sauce on the stove or in the microwave. Pour into a dipping bowl. Dip fresh fruit into the warm sauce and enjoy.

Phase 3/Maintenance Modifications
Stir in 1 tablespoon of cold butter, cut into small cubes and whisk quickly until blended. Or add a small amount of cream and omit the lemon juice. Add a little cinammon or rum extract for added flavor.

Recipe provided by

Warm Strawberry Compote

fresh strawberries ready for cooking

Indulge your cocoa cravings and get your fill of strawberries with this healthy dessert! Estimated nutritional value (without modifications) of 35 calories, .6g fat. 0 mg cholesterol, 6.7 g carbohydrates, 1.8g dietary fiber, .8 g protein, and 4.4 g sugar.

Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook time
15 min
Yield
Makes 1 serving (1 fruit)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup fresh sliced strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dash of cayenne
  • Dash of salt
  • Vanilla or dark chocolate stevia to taste

Directions
In a small saucepan, combine ingredients and stir thoroughly. Sauté on medium heat until warm and bubbly and a sauce develops. Serve warm in a bowl. Garnish with mint. If desired, top with cinnamon Melba croutons.

Phase 3/Maintenance Modifications
Omit the lemon juice and stir in 2 tablespoons cream cheese or heavy cream. Top with chopped roasted nuts or phase 3 chocolate crumbles.

Recipe provided by

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