If you are someone who is constantly searching for a replacement for table sugar, I might be of help to put an end to your search. For me, aspartame is usually out as I don't buy artificial product (even my car perfume comprise nutmeg and cinnamon). Moreover, Aspartame is dangerous for people suffering from phenylketonurics; sufferers of this disease cannot digest phenylalanine (a kind of amino acid) because of lacking certain enzyme. Some even rumoured that Aspartame can damage our nerves, though baseless, but I am always sceptical about synthetic products, especially foodstuff.
So what is the natural sweetener you might ask, the answer is easy: Stevia. Some might not even heard of it before, and some might frown, thinking that it is just another over the counter sweetener. Stevia is alright if used in right dosage as any other herbs and according to research (Curi et al., 1986), “water extract of Stevia Leaf caused a decrease in blood sugars and an increase in glucose tolerance,” However, the research was done on healthy individuals (human of course).
Stevia is a plant that comes from the rain forest in Paraguay and Brazil. The purified white extract of the leaves is up to several times as as sugar its weight. However, there is lingering chemical after-taste which is not so detectable and almost negligible if added in coffee or when cooking. Stevia is not toxic in sweetening dosage, which is to taste. Dieting or diabetic patients can often benefit from this sweetener.
For a refreshing fruit flavoured drink, I recommend the following:
Mock Fruit Punch
- St. Dalflour Teabag (Lemon tea, Earl Grey, Black Cherry, etc.)
- Stevia to taste
- a cup of boiling hot water.
- Steep the tea bag in the hot water (preferably spring water boiled in a glass pot or stainless steel kettle) in a cup.
- According to the direction given, one shouldn't steep the tea too long, this is known as 'stewing' and it will result in a bitter after-taste.
- Put Stevia extract to taste. The resulted drink is a refreshing fruit flavoured drink. To make a cool drink, simply pop in a few ice cubes.
You might be wondering the reason I introduced St. Dalflour Tea. The reason is simple; their product is organic and naturally flavoured. I am the biggest fan of their Earl Grey but do remember you are dealing with caffeine drinks here.
How about Stevia? What's the brand I should buy? Well, for Malaysian, I have not much to endorse as we only have one popular Stevia product which sells by the brand GreenliteTM produced by Stevian Biotechnology Corp. Sdn. Bhd. However, I have seen pure dried leaves sachets of the plant sold in a nearby pharmacy. Also, a word of advice from me, if you want to buy GreenliteTM, try their pure leaves extract instead of their pills and sachets. The packing is white while others are green coloured.
Also, try this:
- Two and a half teaspoon of Van Houten Pure Soluble Cocoa Powder
- A dash of ground Cinnamon (optional)
- A dash of ground Nutmeg (optional)
- Honey to taste (optional)
- Stevia to taste
- A cup of hot boiling Soy Milk (can be substituted with a cup of boiling hot water mixed with two tablespoon of Soy Bean Milk Powder)
- Put the Cocoa powder into a cup, put in the Cinnamon and Nutmeg. Mix well with a spoon.
- Then pour in the Soy Milk slowly while mixing.
- Lastly, put in the Honey and Stevia.
This drink is a healthy alternative to conventional hot chocolate which is laden with fat. Opt for organically grown Soy Beans. Cocoa is definitely useful for a little mood elevation.