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We had a great turnout last Monday and received lots of inspiring entries. There are so many smart, creative, industrious homemakers out there and I am honored to have them meet here for the party!
YOURS: As was the case last week, I had a difficult time picking out this week's "YOURS" post, but one entry stayed in my mind all week long. It could be because I am trying to lose one pound each week until next June, so wish me luck on that. Carla's post about a natural sugar substitute intrigued me. I had given up trying to find a sugar substitute as I try to stay away from the synthetic artificial sweeteners because of the associated health risks. Carla, however, has found a natural sugar substitute called Stevia and is cultivating it in her home. She had a little trouble getting her Stevia plant home in top-notch condition...
...but she nursed it back to health and made it look like this...,
...then prepared the dried leaves for use in cooking and baking. See how she did this and learn more about cultivating Stevia @ Carla's "A Mellow Life is a Good Life". This post was truly an inspiration to me and, who knows, it could change my life! I am a sugar addict after all and that needs to change. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you so much for your inspiration, Carla!
MINE: I was so intrigued by Carla's entry that I decided to look into Stevia myself. It turns out it is quite the controversial subject. What I learned is that Stevia is a native herb of Paraguay and has been used by South Americans for hundreds of years as a sweetener in tea and as a medicinal remedy. Today it is not only used in South America, but also in Asia and Europe with no documented ill effects. Stevia was introduced into the U.S. market in the 80's as a food additive during the time aspartame developers were trying to get approval for their synthetic sweetener, but after aggressive lobbying by the sugar industry, the FDA banned food developers from using it in their products. Reasons stated by the FDA included the citation of a study that showed that Stevia given in large doses to rats caused a lower sperm count over time. Critics of this study cite that amounts hundreds of times the normal dosage were given to the test rats and that studies of the effects of aspartame on test rats has also had disturbing results, such as brain tumors. They also remind us that Stevia has been used with no ill effects for hundreds of years throughout the world. Today, Stevia can be sold in health food stores but cannot be touted as a sugar substitute. Instead the packaging must say that it is a "supplement". The concentrated Stevia oil I bought stated that children under 18 should not consume the product. Whether there is a true risk or the companies are abiding by FDA policy but it is completely safe for children, that is for you to decide for yourself.
The good news I learned about Stevia is that this natural herb has been touted as having a number of healing properties. Some of these include:
-lowering of blood sugar levels
-retarding the growth of plaque
-aiding in digestion
-healing of skin wounds
-inhibiting the growth of bacteria
In addition, Stevia has never been associated with the ill-effects linked to the use of aspartame (also known as NutraSweet). There are 92 documented ill effects to be exact. (I avoid aspartame or any other artificial sweetener like the plague. It is one of the five "poisons" my family tries to avoid, along with hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates and MSG.)
In light of all this interesting information I decided that this was something I needed to try. I had John go to the health food store in town, as we are visiting the states this weekend, and had him pick up any form of Stevia they had. He came back with two boxes of powdered Stevia and eight bottles of the concentrated liquid, some in flavors like lemon, cinnamon, and orange. My plan was to make a sugar-free lemonade, as there are diabetics and pre-diabetics in our family. Here's what we mixed up...
Two quarts of water and the juice of six small lemons...
...and 18 packets of Stevia powder (pictured on left)...
The end result was delicious and all of the family and friends gathered for my grandmother's 95th birthday party who tried it enjoyed it very much...
Stevia does not taste exactly like sugar. As with any other sugar substitute, it will take a little getting used to, but I am very excited about trying this healthy alternative in different recipes, like breads and cookies. I will let you know how it turns out. Again, thank you so much, Carla, for your useful tips and information. Armed with this new knowledge, maybe I will attain my goal of being skinny by the time our family reunion commences next summer!
OURS: Okay, now it's your turn! Let's see what tips, ideas, how-to's or any other type of homemaking inspiration you have for us. Remember to leave a comment as it's easier to enter you into the Mexican jewelry drawing that way. Have a happy Homemaker Monday, enjoy these posts, and make sure to leave lots of lovely comments at the places you visit! We hope to see you again next week...same place...same time. Have a great one!
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