December often means a calendar packed with holiday parties and high-calorie foods. While in the thick of the holiday season, many can find themselves getting thicker around the middle.
Weight gained over the winter holidays is not typically lost during the following year. Experts say that the average one pound gained between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can add up to five, ten, even 20 extra pounds over the years. However, making some new changes to favorite recipes can help cut calories and keep weight gain at bay. Award-winning author, culinary expert and internationally-recognized chef Amy Riolo recommends substituting stevia, a zero-calorie sweetener, in place of sugar in some holiday classics, such as pumpkin pie.
“With the holidays here, it’s always a struggle to eat right. By replacing the added sugar with stevia, we’ve already cut way down on calories,” said Riolo. In the new video series at SteviaBenefits.org, Riolo prepares several recipes with stevia, including pan-Seared ahi tuna, fresh fruit yogurt parfait and whole wheat oat apple cranberry muffins as well as the holiday favorite. The website also features other holiday favorites with stevia as a sugar substitute such as cheesecake, brownies and red velvet cupcakes.
While used abroad for many years, stevia has more recently caught on in the United States as a sweetener. And in November, the European Commission approved stevia as a sweetener in foods and beverages. “Stevia provides the food and beverage industry with a wider repertoire for delivering zero-calorie sweetness and offering additional variety and choice for consumers,” said Haley Stevens, Ph.D., President of the Calorie Control Council, a non-profit international trade association of manufacturers of low-calorie and sugar-free foods and beverages.
Made from leaves of a plant of the Chrysanthemum family, the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) is native to Paraguay and is grown today in many countries around the world. Steviol glycosides are found in the leaves of the stevia plant and each has a particular taste profile and sweetness intensity. Rebaudioside A is one of the many steviol glycosides in stevia leaves that provide sweetness.
As a safe zero calorie alternative to sugar in foods and beverages, experts also say stevia works well for individuals with diabetes because it doesn’t affect blood glucose levels.
For more information about stevia and how it can be used in recipes, visit internationalsteviacouncil.org
The Calorie Control Council, established in 1966, is an international non-profit association representing the low-calorie and reduced-fat food and beverage industry. Today it represents 40 manufacturers and suppliers of low-calorie, low-fat and light foods and beverages, including the manufacturers and suppliers of more than a dozen different dietary sweeteners, fat replacers and other low-calorie ingredients.