Stevia & Smoothies


The Stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) produces sweet-tasting, calorie-free leaves which can be crushed or dried to sweeten hot or cold drinks.  Stevia can replace sugar in a lot of recipes and is ideal for consumption because it is not metabolized by the body.

Stevia grows best in warm conditions similar to those preferred by Basil.  It can be started from seed, but with challenges.  It is easiest to grow it from the herb’s cuttings or from a plant transferred to a raised bed.

How convenient and serendipitous that my mom dropped by today with a potted specimen of each herb!


Basil & Stevia Plants

Sweet Basil is my favorite herb.  Up until the weather became uncooperative, my Purple Basil plant was surviving.


Purple Basil

With a combination of my over-zealous harvesting and not enough rain, it has all but died off.

I am hoping that it will make a comeback, but for now, I am content to enjoy my new Basil plant.

I have never used Whole-Leaf Stevia before, so I was interested to see how it would work.


The hot and humid weather makes me want cold food and beverages.  This morning, I concocted a delicious and refreshing Fruit Smoothie by combining frozen watermelon, blackberries, strawberries in my food processor.  A few leaves from the Stevia plant sweetened it just enough.


If you look closely, you can actually see pieces of Stevia Leaf in there.  It’s much better to consume Whole-Leaf Stevia than the derivative of Stevia called Rebaudioside A.   Most commercially available drink mixes and packaged sugar substitutes are not Raw or Whole-Leaf Stevia, but the processed version.  It’s sometimes labeled as either Reb A or Rebiana on the label. These sweeteners are nutritionally inferior to Whole-Leaf as they have been liberated from most of their antioxidants.


In the past, I have experienced a fairly bitter taste when sweetening my tea with Truvia, the commercially available pre-packaged version.  From what I have read, this is caused by over-heating the herb.

Courtesy of Mother Earth News, here are a few basic Stevia applications as well as a Sugar-Equivalent Guide:

Stevia Tea. Fill a metal tea ball with 1 rounded tablespoon of dried, lightly crushed stevia leaves. Place in a clean pint canning jar, and cover with almost-boiling water. Steep 10 minutes before removing the stevia. Screw on the lid and keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Yield: 2 cups (16 ounces), sweetness equivalent to about 2 cups sugar.

Stevia Extract. Bring 1 cup water to almost boiling, add one-half cup lightly crushed stevia leaves. Remove from heat, cover with lid, and steep 40 minutes. Strain through a coffee filter, and pour into a dark-colored container. Store in the refrigerator 1 to 2 weeks. Yield: 3/4 cup (6 ounces), equivalent to 3 cups sugar.

Stevia Tincture. Place one-half cup dried, lightly crushed stevia leaves in a clean glass jar. Add 3/4 cup 100-proof vodka or rum. Screw on the lid and shake. Place in a cool, dark place for two days, shaking the jar twice a day. Strain through cheesecloth or a jelly bag, and place the liquid in a small saucepan. Heat on low until steam rises, and maintain that temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, (do not boil). This creates a more concentrated tincture while removing most of the alcohol’s taste and smell. Pour the cooled tincture into a dark-colored container. Store in the refrigerator up to 3 months. Yield: About 1/4 cup (2 ounces), equivalent to 6 cups sugar.

Stevia Preparation Sugar Equivalent    Notes
Stevia tea

1 teaspoon

1 tablespoon

1/4 cup

1 teaspoon

1 tablespoon

1/4 cup

Top method for sweetening herbal teas and lemonade, or for sprinkling over cut fruit. Can be frozen in cubes for long-term storage.

Stevia extract

1 teaspoon

1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon

1/4 cup

Ideal way to sweeten sorbets, salad dressings, fruit muffins and berry syrups. Most versatile form for cooking.

Stevia tincture

3 drops

1/2 teaspoon

1 teaspoon

1 teaspoon

1/4 cup

1/2 cup

Best method for stevia-sweetened hot chocolate, pudding or mousse. Concentrated and convenient to carry.


Have you tried Whole-Leaf Stevia as a sugar replacement?

What is your favorite fruit-blend for a smoothie?



Rose-Colored Glasses


For a brief period of time today, the “Rose-Colored Glasses” of my Eating Disorder-skewed mind slipped down.

They slipped down just slightly, but enough to allow for a moment of clear vision.

While working out on the Stairmaster at the gym, I powered-up the small tablet I sometimes use.

As I waited for the screen’s icons to load, a once-prided image of my upper body appeared on the screen.

Before I had the opportunity to shove the glasses back up to the bridge of my nose; my eyes and brain communicated in the lightning-fast way that neurons dictate.  And I saw the picture for what it really was.



Continue reading »


Science, Shoes & Sanity


For the past week, I have been exceptionally tired, both physically and mentally.

Days and nights have blended together.

I’ve slept between 14-16 hours at a clip, getting up only to use the bathroom, eat, check on my plants (when I remember them), exercise (on the days I have the will) and think obsess (when I can’t prevent the ruminations).


Having taken rest from any physical activity for three of the last four days, I assumed that my Depressive Downswing was the main culprit to my utter exhaustion.  While my poor mental health is likely 99.999% to blame, I awoke today with an itchy, sore throat, congested nasal passages and an outstandingly painful sinus headache.

Which came first, the sadness or the sickness? Continue reading »


Returning to Running: A Simple How-to Guide


The other evening, a friend contacted me to ask my advice on getting back into running.

He explained that although he had been in peak physical condition during active military service, he’s recently settled into a predominantly sedentary lifestyle.

Wanting to reclaim cardiovascular fitness, he’s motivated to make some positive changes.

In regard to his former relationship with exercise, he said:

“I loved my long runs, I lived for the sprint at the end of a 10 miler. How do I get back into loving running where I need it all the time, the energy, the quality of life?”

Here’s my response:

Continue reading »