Featured Ingredient: Sugar in the Raw
Is it possible to indulge in sweet treats and not send your blood sugar on a Rocky Mountain high? With stevia, maybe.
Since obtaining FDA approval for use as a sweetener in 2008, an ever increasing number of stevia brands are showing up on store shelves. This no-calorie sugar substitute, extracted from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, a herb native to Paraguay, is meant to appeases those that want a sugar alternative but aren’t willing to use sketchy artificial sweeteners like Splenda. Incredibly sweet, Rebiana (the extract from stevia) is 300-400 times sweeter than cane sugar.
I recently got my hands on a product called Stevia Extract in The Raw to try out. Their Cup for Cup bag of granulated sweetener can be used as a 1:1 replacement for sugar so you don’t have any confusing conversations to figure out. Because the stevia extract is so sweet, they blend it with a bulking agent, in this case maltodextrin, to allow it to be conveniently used as a sugar replacement. Basically maltodextrin dilutes the stevia so it’s no longer crazy potent.
Though I still need to try baking with it, Stevia Extract in The Raw worked well in the no-cook recipe below. It gave the rhubarb sauce a very slight bitter taste, but overall you could not tell that sugar was AWOL. If you’re concerned about your sugar intake but can’t shake the sweet tooth, you might want to try this product out.
Mini Cheesecakes with Rhubarb Sauce
2 cups diced rhubarb
¼ cup Stevia Extract in the Raw or regular sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla
1/2 cup graham crumbs (you can find these at most grocery stores)
½ cup walnuts, very finely chopped
6 Tbsp pure maple syrup
½ cup cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup low-fat ricotta cheese
Juice of ½ lemon juice
1 Tbsp Stevia Extact in the Raw or regular sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
Combine rhubarb, sweetener and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the rhubarb begins to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix together graham crumbs, walnuts and maple syrup until everything is moist. Grease 6 muffin cups and evenly divide crumb mixture among the cups and press down flat. Mix together cream cheese, ricotta cheese, lemon juice, sweetener and vanilla extract. Divide cheese mixture among the 6 muffin cups. Place the muffin tin in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours. To unmold, carefully slide a butter knife around the edges of the muffin cups and gently lift the mini cheesecakes. Serve topped rhubarb sauce.