[No sugar? Who cares! Just look at these fudgy, dense squares–and stevia-sweetened!!]
PLEASE NOTE: THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. But you can still enjoy this review and recipe! 🙂
A while back, I received an email from Ron at NuNaturals offering samples of some of their all-natural stevia products. Now, I had been using stevia for years, of course, and I was rather attached to the brand I’d been using since my first bout with the ACD about a decade ago; trying out a new brand wasn’t something I’d really thought about. Still, flavored stevia remains a relative novelty here in Toronto (at least where I live), so I thought the vanilla flavor would be mildly interesting, and agreed to give their products a try.
A couple of weeks later, I received a massive parcel in the mail (and I do mean massive–this package was practically as big as Kanye West’s ego), brimming with a variety of NuNaturals products, from their pure liquid stevia to a No Carbs stevia blend to vanilla flavored to quick-dissolve Tabs and one-for-one NuStevia Sweetener Baking Blend. I was, truly, overwhelmed by the generosity of the company and determined to give everything a try so I could write up a thorough review of my experience with the products.
[. . . only a small sampling of the bounty I received!]
The first thing I did was try the one-for-one baking blend (a stevia-based blend that can be used in equal amounts as sugar). In fact, the initial version of my Lemon-Blueberry muffins contained this sweetener. And while the texture and flavors using the product were, quite honestly, fantastic, I’m afraid that my ACD wasn’t as receptive to the mix (or, perhaps, it was too receptive: the maltodextrin–used as a filler–seemed to feed the yeast. I wouldn’t recommend it for those with severe candida symptoms.). If you’re not concerned about candida, however, this is a marvelous product and one that produced a really tender, moist crumb in my baked good–without any other sweeteners added.
I turned back to the varieties of pure stevia they had provided. My kitchen became a stevia-based dessert bakery and café for a time: I concocted more muffins, a beet-based mousse, fudge, and several other goodies along the way with the vanilla flavor; I added the plain stevia to salad dressings and breakfast cereals; and I tried out the tablets in my morning tea.
Well, I will tell you, NuNaturals has developed their reputation as the company that produces non-bitter stevia for a reason! Like so many others, I was incredibly impressed with their products. The flavor and sweetness level is, to quote that golden-haired thief of ursine breakfasts, just right; neither too sweet, nor with any aftertaste that I could detect.
I’ve really enjoyed playing with the liquid and coming up with new recipes such as the brownies, below. Even in these treats (where quite a bit of the sweetener is necessary), the flavor is rich, chocolately and intense–but not bitter. These are a dense, moist type of brownie (if you’ve had bean brownies before, you’ll know what I mean)–don’t expect cakelike nibbles from this recipe. In addition, the squares are best refrigerated before eaten, as this allows the coconut oil to firm up and render the sweets really fudgy. I have had to start cutting them very small (or baking in mini-muffin tins) to ensure that I stop myself after two. Okay, three.
In fact, I’m quickly running out of my bottle of vanilla and will be bereft when it’s gone (Ron, can you bring NuNaturals in Toronto? Please?). I find myself reaching for it whenever I want to sweeten–well, almost anything. And although I realize that the vanilla flavor is perhaps a tad expensive, I reasoned that I could simultaneously omit the actual vanilla extract when using it, thereby saving the cost of the pure vanilla (itself a rather pricey ingredient).
My major regret is that I wasn’t able to try out the other flavors (since they combine stevia in an alcohol base, apparently Canadian customs won’t allow them to be shipped across the border. Silly Canadian customs! And also, waaa!).
If you’ve never tried stevia , you can read more about this amazing, natural, zero calorie, zero glycemic herbal sweetener here.
Thanks again, Ron, for the opportunity to try what is truly a wonderful product. You’ve made my life that much sweeter!
AND NOW FOR A GIVEAWAY! [Note: the contest is now closed.]
I was so impressed with the products that I asked Ron if I could hold a giveaway of some NuNaturals stevia on my blog. And, generous as ever, he said “yes!” I decided to restrict the prizes to products I have actually tried and would use regularly. If you’d prefer to try out some of the other products (such as the one-for-one baking blend), do take a look at the NuNaturals website!
For this giveaway, there will be THREE lucky winners of stevia products from NuNaturals! How generous is that? (PLUS an added prize, from yours truly. . . read on!)
Each of the first 3 winners will receive one bottle of NuStevia PURE EXTRACT, 1 oz. Size, and one box of NuStevia 50 packets, plus one bottle of Alcohol Free Vanilla Stevia Liquid, 2 oz. Bottle. I’ve tried all three products and recommend them highly. (This is real stevia, not the processed, extracted stuff that contains only part of the stevia rebaudiana plant). What a great prize package to get started with stevia–or to find new ways to use it!
The contest is open to all residents of the US and Canada. However, I know how disappointing the North America-only contests can be, so I’ve decided to throw in my own prize–a copy of my ACD cookbook, Anti-Candida Feast, which will be awarded to one overseas entrant (and that way, you can at least create some stevia-based recipes at home)!
To enter, simply leave a comment on this page telling me about your own experience (or wish to experience) stevia as a sweetener. Do you have a great recipe? Do you add stevia to something that we wouldn’t normally consider? Did stevia help keep you from developing health problems? Whatever your feelings on this herb, please let us know!
Be sure to include your name and location in your comment, and a valid email address (if it’s not already included in your comment header). North American winners will be required to provide a mailing address as well (and Canadians, a telephone number) so that NuNaturals can ship your prizes to you. For overseas winners, all I’ll need is a valid email address.
You can gain extra entries by mentioning and linking to this page on your blog, by tweeting about it (and please include @rickiheller in your tweet so I’ll see it), by Stumbling this page or adding it to Facebook. Then come on back over here and leave a comment letting me know that you’ve done so (that way, I’ll have one comment per entry–easier to tally up the entries that way).
On WEDNESDAY, April 28, I’ll choose four names at random and let you know who won!
Update, April 29: The winners have been announced! Check this post to see who won.
Thanks, all, for participating, and good luck! 🙂 I hope you love using NuNaturals stevia as much as I do. And here’s a great recipe to get you going.
Dense and Fudgy, Stevia-Sweetened and ACD-Friendly Brownies
[Update, April 23: Based on the comments so far from those of you who’ve never tried stevia, I feel I must reiterate: these do not taste like conventional brownies! They are dense and moist and almost like fudge in texture (and totally addictive in their own right). For your first stevia-based recipe, I’d suggest something like this apple-pumpkin crumble, or the Crimson Mousse—then come back and make these brownies next!]
I found the inspiration for these from the now-ubiquitous black bean brownies that I first saw on Heidi’s blog and my favorite sweet-potato based brownie from Simple Treats . The result is an ACD-friendly bar that’s yummy enough for anyone to enjoy. Because unsweetened chocolate requires quite a bit of stevia to achieve the desired sweetness, I combine it here with a touch of carob for a final product more like a bittersweet chocolate bar.
4 ounces (115 g) good quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup (80 ml) tahini (sesame paste) or smooth natural almond butter
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin coconut oil, preferably organic
1/4 cup (60 ml) carob powder
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
2 cups (480 ml) very soft cooked black beans, rinsed and drained well
1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened chocolate or vanilla almond milk, or unsweetened soymilk
1/2 cup (120 ml) yacon syrup OR agave nectar (note: for Stage 1 or 2, use yacon)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s OR 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder OR 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) wattleseed (these all help to intensify the chocolate flavor–thanks for the wattleseed, Johanna!)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 ml) packed sweet potato purée
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely ground flax seeds
35-45 drops plain, vanilla or chocolate stevia liquid (I used NuNaturals vanilla, but if you can get the chocolate, I bet it would be fantastic in these)
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line an 8″ (20 cm) square pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a small, heavy-bottomed pot over very low heat, melt together the chocolate, tahini and coconut oil, stirring constantly until the chocolate is almost all melted. Remove from heat and allow to sit another minute or so; stir again to melt all the chocolate. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the carob powder, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt (if using wattleseed, add it to the dry ingredients as well). Set aside.
In a high-speed blender, mix together the beans, almond milk, yacon syrup, soy sauce, vanilla, sweet potato purée, flax and stevia; blend well, pushing the mixture down toward the blades as necessary, until smooth. Add the chocolate mixture and blend again until well combined. (Note: if using a conventional blender, do this: blend together the beans, almond milk, yacon syrup, soy sauce, vanilla and stevia until very smooth; add the sweet potato and blend again. Turn the mixture into a bowl and stir in the flax and chocolate mixture by hand until well combined before proceeding.).
Turn the blended mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until combined; do not overstir. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in preheated oven 45-55 minutes, rotating pan about halfway through, until a tester inserted in the center comes out moist but clean. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold before cutting. Makes 25 small squares.
Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. May be frozen.
Of course, I can’t resist including these babies in Amy’s weekly Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays lineup! Hop over to Amy’s blog to see what everyone else cooked up. 🙂
Last Year at this Time: Update: Diet and Dessert
Two Years Ago: Frugal Frittata
© 2010 Ricki Heller
Never miss a recipe–or a comment from The Girls! Click here to subscribe to RickiHeller.com via email. You’ll get recipes as soon as they’re posted, plus cookbook updates and news about upcoming events! (“We love subscribers, Mum. . . almost as much as we love treats!”