Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Talk to me about stevia - and help me perfect my chocolate peanut butter balls!




Esofia
09-11-2011, 03:13 PM
I made up a batch of tiny little chocolate peanut butter balls a while back, and discovered that they are fantastic things for when I need a snack, especially if I'm lightheaded or otherwise really needing something to eat well before a meal. For context, I have severe ME/CFIDS, am on a nice wholefoods diet, am vegan, and being only 4'11 and inactive, am not on all that many calories compared to other folks. I also have gallstones, so after two delightful attacks of biliary colic, I'm on a low-fat diet by doctor's orders. Of course, the doctor's orders change with the doctor, but they vaguely agree that I should not be eating too much fat at any one point in the day.

Anyway, next time I want to make them healthier. This is the first recipe. Sorry about the quantities being weights, I kept adding things and tasting and weighed everything before and afterwards, but next time I'll try to work out volume as well.


50g Peanut butter
48g Lindt 90% chocolate
12g Pure soya spread (non-hydrogenated margarine)
29g Sweet Freedom syrup (low GI syrup)
44g ground almonds
15g cocoa powder
60g MyProtein soy protein isolate
30ml unsweetened soya milk

Melt, mix, form into 60 little balls, keep in fridge.

Thoughts for next time: involve oats in some way, probably replacing the ground almonds, use cocoa powder all the way instead of using chocolate, and try prunes to partially sub for the marg and syrup. Any suggestions on how to do this? I've used prunes in a fabulous (and incidentally gluten-free as well as vegan) chocolate prune cake I adapted from another recipe, so I know I like them with chocolate, but that's about it.

I'm also interested in trying stevia, and it generally sounds like a useful thing to have around. Could people tell me more about it? I'm finding it rather hard to cut through all the hype. Remember that I'm in the UK, do not have access to US stores, and almost certainly don't have access to US products. At the moment I'm gazing thoughtfully on some green powdered stevia on eBay. I hear it tastes a bit like licorice, but I like licorice so that's probably something I could work with.

Oh yes, and I also will be making up another batch of chocolate spread some time soonish. Usually I mix up hazelnut butter, margarine, agave syrup and cocoa powder. Will prunes work here? Would stevia work, and how would I adjust for texture?


Tejas
09-11-2011, 04:07 PM
I have a great idea! You make them in the ways you're describing then tell us how they are :lol:

I use Stevia, but I've never heard of green Stevia, nor of anything that taste like licorice.

lin43
09-11-2011, 05:36 PM
I don't care too much for stevia. It's leaves some sort of weird textural film after I have it. That being said, I've never tried it in baked goods, just in tea, coffee, etc. However, I do like a product called Z-sweet. It has stevia in it, but it's combined with another all-natural sugar alcohol (can't remember off the top of my head). Unlike most non-sugar sweeteners, Z-sweet is actually a bit less sweet than sugar, so you have to use more of it. I've never tried baking with it, but the company's web page has recipes for baked goods. You can buy it on Amazon. The only downside is that it is expensive, and because it's a bit less sweet than sugar, you have to use more of it.


Esofia
09-11-2011, 05:52 PM
There's no sign of it on Amazon UK, I'm afraid. I'm having a look at it, but it sounds possibly rather artificial (really can't use artificial sweeteners), plus the one place I've found which is selling it is asking an incredibly high price (16 before shipping). Pity, as it does get good reviews. I don't use sugar/syrups much, it's not worth spending a bomb on something I haven't tried, but I am really getting on well with those little chocolate peanut butter balls and they are worth developing further.

Did you use the white processed stevia or the green stevia, and did you try it in anything other than drinks? I don't sweeten drinks, and I gather that the green stevia (the type I'm interested in) isn't the best there as it doesn't dissolve and can have a bit of a herby flavour, while as you mentioned, a lot of people report an aftertaste with the white stevia.

lin43
09-11-2011, 08:50 PM
There's no sign of it on Amazon UK, I'm afraid. I'm having a look at it, but it sounds possibly rather artificial (really can't use artificial sweeteners), plus the one place I've found which is selling it is asking an incredibly high price (16 before shipping). Pity, as it does get good reviews. I don't use sugar/syrups much, it's not worth spending a bomb on something I haven't tried, but I am really getting on well with those little chocolate peanut butter balls and they are worth developing further.

Did you use the white processed stevia or the green stevia, and did you try it in anything other than drinks? I don't sweeten drinks, and I gather that the green stevia (the type I'm interested in) isn't the best there as it doesn't dissolve and can have a bit of a herby flavour, while as you mentioned, a lot of people report an aftertaste with the white stevia.


That's too bad that you can't find the Z-sweet. It definitely is not an artificial sweetener. I don't do artificial anything (I mainly eat organic). It is expensive, though, as you say, and it seems as if the site you found is even more expensive that I've seen. Shucks!

I used the white stevia; I've never heard of the green stevia. I only tried the stevia in drinks, so maybe it would be better in baked goods?? Also, it's not so much that it had an aftertaste as much as an after-texture, if that makes any sense. (Of course, my taste buds are not as finely tuned as others, and I've heard the licorice complaint as well). If you try the stevia for baking, one thing that you might try is running it through your food processor to make it a finer consistency for easier dissolving. On the Z-sweet site, they have that suggestion for their product, so maybe it would work for stevia, too. Good luck! (Your p.b. balls sound scrumptious).

Esofia
09-12-2011, 05:22 AM
Oh yes, they are scrumptious. Hopefully they'll still be scrumptious when they've been redesigned.

I'm googling erythritol more now, as I've found that http://www.thesuperfoodco.co.uk/natural-sweeteners-c-172.html?zenid=8d64fa0f4657567a0cd700a67be77a30 sells it along with stevia, a couple of other things, and a stevia blend which appears to be their version of Z-sweet. (Incidentally, "Z-sweet" works so much better if you say "zee-sweet" rather than "zed-sweet", the latter being how Brits and Canadians say it.) I'm still trying to work out what counts as artificial, or more to the point, what counts as likely to cause me health problems. (I saw one website which was making various perfectly normal foods sound as if they were a form of plastic!) I'm googling erythritol with CFIDS, and so far I've found one page where it's on the "absolutely forbidden" list due to causing gastro-intestinal problems. Mind you, this list also contains all starchy veg, lettuce and spinach, fruit, all grains, recommends olive oil in one breath and bans it in another, and I think I'll look for a more reliable source now. Still, they may have a point about GI side-effects. Some UK diabetes site was selling Z-sweet (at the very high price), they may be worth chatting to. This page http://dalemhealthtwo.blogspot.com/2010/08/problems-with-new-sweetener.html is really putting me off, though.

I find residues mildly annoying in drinks as well. I drink herbal teas if I'm drinking something other than water, and it happens with those occasionally.

Esofia
09-12-2011, 08:42 AM
Hah. I just spent some time making up the chocolate prune spread, which was far more faff as I had to add boiling water to the prunes and nuke them a bit and mash them a bit, and when all is said and done, the calorie count is marginally higher, there's the same amount of fat, and it has higher carbs. Should I even bother messing around with prunes when I make those chocolate peanut butter balls again?

(Probably not going to try stevia, it seems too fraught and it's really expensive.)

lin43
09-12-2011, 08:53 AM
Oh yes, they are scrumptious. Hopefully they'll still be scrumptious when they've been redesigned.

I'm googling erythritol more now, as I've found that http://www.thesuperfoodco.co.uk/natural-sweeteners-c-172.html?zenid=8d64fa0f4657567a0cd700a67be77a30 sells it along with stevia, a couple of other things, and a stevia blend which appears to be their version of Z-sweet. (Incidentally, "Z-sweet" works so much better if you say "zee-sweet" rather than "zed-sweet", the latter being how Brits and Canadians say it.) I'm still trying to work out what counts as artificial, or more to the point, what counts as likely to cause me health problems. (I saw one website which was making various perfectly normal foods sound as if they were a form of plastic!) I'm googling erythritol with CFIDS, and so far I've found one page where it's on the "absolutely forbidden" list due to causing gastro-intestinal problems. Mind you, this list also contains all starchy veg, lettuce and spinach, fruit, all grains, recommends olive oil in one breath and bans it in another, and I think I'll look for a more reliable source now. Still, they may have a point about GI side-effects. Some UK diabetes site was selling Z-sweet (at the very high price), they may be worth chatting to. This page http://dalemhealthtwo.blogspot.com/2010/08/problems-with-new-sweetener.html is really putting me off, though.

I find residues mildly annoying in drinks as well. I drink herbal teas if I'm drinking something other than water, and it happens with those occasionally.


Yes, some people have gastro-intestinal issues with straight erythritol (my sister is one of them). However, with Z-sweet, that problem usually doesn't occur because it's not straight erythritol. Just FYI---I know you can't get it.

The best option might be to just make your p.b. balls the normal way and then have just a taste of them?? I know that's hard. It's one of the reasons I haven't caved to making cranberry nut biscotti even though I really want to.

Esofia
09-12-2011, 09:05 AM
I *am* having just a taste of them, I'm not bingeing here! That recipe makes 60 balls, each about 3/4" or less in diameter.
But they're still relatively calorie dense. Subbing oats for the gorund almonds will help, and I'm now pondering whether I'm better off using cocoa powder or chocolate. I'm guessing that with the former, it'll be easier to adjust the amount of fat included.

I can get erythritol here, and I can get it blended with stevia extract, but I don't want to risk it. Stevia extract blended with erithrytol turns out to be quite common under various brand names, and horror stories of side effects abound. It doesn't seem that blending erythritol with something else reduces the risk, from what I can tell, and erythritol is very definitely something that's been synthesised, no matter how misleadingly it's marketed. The form of stevia used in Z-sweet and other blends, rebiana, is also a chemically modified form of stevia rather than pure stevia. As I mentioned before, I don't use artificial sweeteners for medical reasons.

Suzanne 3FC
09-12-2011, 04:18 PM
I'm pretty sure that green stevia is just powdered stevia leaf. A lot of herbal shops sell it that way.

Esofia, I agree with you regarding rebiana and I'll avoid it. It's about as close to stevia as Splenda is to real sugar. But I also avoid real stevia.

Zsweet originally was just erythritol and fruit extract. I'm not sure when they started adding stevia.


Your recipe sounds delicious :)

Esofia
09-12-2011, 04:23 PM
It looks like they only have stevia in their supersweet version. Why are you avoiding stevia, out of curiosity?

They're pretty yummy, yes. They were a bit too strong before I added the protein powder the first time, it balances them out nicely. Next time I am going to use the Bounce Balls (http://www.bouncefoods.com/uk/index.php?page=shop.browse&category_id=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=26) for ideas as well. Not that I've ever tried them, but they get good reviews and they look like a sensible way of constructing things.

Suzanne 3FC
09-12-2011, 04:39 PM
I am not 100% convinced that stevia is safe long term, and I've reached a point in my life where I've taken too many chances with my health and it's time to turn it around. A lot of people might debate me on that but it's the choice I've made for my personal circumstances. Stevia is not approved for food use here. It's sold as a dietary supplement simply because the supplement industry here is largely unregulated. From what I understand, the modified version of stevia (rebiana) was approved under somewhat dodgy circumstances. I agree with you that it's not a natural product.

Truvia is about as close to stevia as Splenda is to sugar. (Splenda originally advertised itself as all natural, having been made from sugar - the way Truvia advertises itself in regards to stevia). After years of swearing Splenda was just fine and using it daily, I paid an extremely high price for my actions. That's another thread :)

I did try stevia once in a beverage I bought at the health food store and it was bitter to me. It took almost 8 hours for the bitterness to leave my mouth.

The Bounce Balls sound good, and what a great idea to clone them!

Esofia
09-12-2011, 04:47 PM
Yes, the stevia thing is distinctly odd. It may well be that it's just a licensing problem and the powers that be are being awkward due to money interests, but it may not be. There was a similar business over kava kava, and however much people claim that it's just a nice herb which you can use for anxiety and pain and so forth, the traditional recreational use doesn't really mesh with that, not to mention that the research isn't great (even if that liver thing probably is a blip). Anyway, stevia isn't approved for food use in the UK either, and the sellers I found who were providing it tended to be dodgy beyond belief, for example when they were claiming that it could cure diabetes, amongst other miracles. I would have no idea what I was getting from a place like that, and the companies mysteriously had no phone numbers.

The Bounce Balls look fairly similar, so it does give me some idea of which ingredients work together. I plan to try grape juice, for instance. Mine will be a lot smaller than theirs, though, probably 10% of the size! And chocolatey. Thanks for being enthusiastic, this is making me realise that I should really do proper volume measurements as well as just weighing all the ingredients before and afterwards, so that I can share the recipe.