Thursday, April 18, 2013

Stevia Use in Dairy Grows

Warmer weather and longer days motivated me to make my first trip of the season to Home Depot’s Garden Center. And like last year, stevia plants were for sale. Of course, I had to ask how they are selling, and the clerk assured me they are a hit.

Interestingly, earlier in the day I interviewed James Kremer, executive chef and director of food and beverage at Country Club of Peoria, Peoria, IL, for an article I am writing on an unrelated topic for Culinology. In casual conversation, he offered this: “I always try to prepare foods in the healthiest manner, and that includes keeping calories low. We grow stevia on the property and I use the leaves in many of my dairy desserts, including crème brulee and panna cotta. We explain on the menu that the stevia is grown right here and that it is a no-calorie, all-natural sweetener. The desserts are very well received.”

Stevia-based ingredients are considered natural, high-intensity sweeteners. They are based on extracts from leaves of the Stevia rebaudina plant. Numerous ingredient companies are extracting the sweetest compound from the leaves, the steviol glycoside known as rebaudioside A (reb-A), which is non-cariogenic, contains no calories and has a zero glycemic index, making it safe and suitable for diabetics. FDA has not actually permitted the stevia plant itself to be used as a food ingredient in packaged foods, only the reb-A extract, and only ingredients that contain 95% or more pure reb-A. FDA recognizes reb-A as GRAS for use as a general purpose sweetener. (See chart below for a glossary of terms.)

With reb-A being one of about a dozen sweet-tasting compounds in the stevia plant, suppliers are differentiating themselves by reb-A content, as up to 5% of a stevia-based sweetener can be something other than reb-A. Most of the zero-calorie stevia-based sweeteners are 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar.


Source: Cargill

Recent Dairy Innovations Sweetened with Help from the Stevia Plant

Quark by elli is a fresh, German-style soft cheese, similar to cottage cheese but with a smoother and creamier texture, and offering a milder taste than Greek yogurt. elli answers a growing need for an all-natural, nutrient-dense source of protein and calcium, without the added sodium found in cottage cheese or high-sugar content of some yogurts.

 Each single-serve 5.3-ounce cup contains 14 to 17 grams of protein and 80 to 90 calories, depending on variety. Sweetened with a proprietary blend of stevia and erythritol, the company is able to keep calories low, as well as sugars (5 grams) and carbohydrates (less than 10 grams).

elli can be enjoyed straight out of the cup or be used as an ingredient to create sweet and savory recipes that often call for cottage cheese, cream cheese, ranch dressing or yogurt. It comes in five varieties: Lemon, Pineapple, Plain, Red Velvet and Strawberry.
For more information, visit HERE.

Core Power is produced and marketed by Fair Oaks Farms Brands Inc., using fresh, quality real milk that undergoes a unique cold-filtration process. This yields fresh milk with increased amounts of protein in the same ratio naturally found in milk: 20% whey and 80% casein. This recovery beverage is sold in 11.5-ounce recyclable plastic bottles and is aseptically packaged so it can be distributed in a shelf-stable environment until chilled before consumption.

There are two light varieties: Chocolate and Strawberry Banana Light. Both are sweetened with a touch of honey (like all of the regular varieties). Calories and sugar contents are kept low through the use of monk fruit juice concentrate and stevia leaf extract. The light versions contain 20 grams of protein per 11.5-ounce bottle, while the others, which come in Chocolate, Honey and Vanilla flavors, contain 26 grams of protein. For more information, visit HERE.

Yakult U.S.A. Inc., now offers Americans a lower-calorie version of its probiotic shot-style namesake drink. Yakult Light has almost two-thirds less sugar than regular Yakult as a result of being sweetened with only a small amount of sugar and a stevia-derived sweetener. It contains 30 calories per 2.7-ounce bottle, while the original contains 50 calories. For more information, visit HERE.

Powerful Yogurt is a super-protein Greek yogurt that aims to serve the health and performance needs of busy men with active lifestyles. The product is differentiated from existing Greek yogurts by its 20 to 25 grams of natural protein per serving, which is a “man-sized” 8-ounce container that is at least 33% larger than most individual-serving Greek yogurts. To keep sugars down to 21 to 23 grams per serving in the fruited varieties, the company uses a combination of sugar and a stevia-derived sweetener. The product comes in six flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Banana, Blueberry Acai, Mango, Plain and Strawberry. For more information, visit HERE.

FitPro uses ultrafiltration to concentrate the protein in this REAL milk beverage. There are two formulations, both of which come in chocolate and vanilla flavors.

The 17-ounce FitPro Plus is designed for athletes and workout enthusiasts. It contains 40 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbohydrates and 250 calories. The 11-ounce FitPro Daily is for active individuals. It contains 26 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbohydrates and 160 calories. The company keeps carbs and calories low by filtering out the lactose while it concentrates the whey and casein proteins, as well as by sweetening with a blend of stevia and monk fruit extract.

For more information, visit HERE.

Tillamook was the first light yogurt brand to offer a product naturally sweetened with Truvia® sweetener and other natural sugar substitutes.Product containers sport the Truvia logo.

“After 24 months of research and development we found the perfect combination of natural sweeteners, setting our brand apart from the competition,” says Jay Allison, Tillamook vice president of sales and marketing. “We didn’t compromise and now our consumers don’t have to either.”

The 6-ounce yogurt cups contain only 110 calories per serving, 35% less than regular low-fat yogurt. The full line consists of Oregon Strawberry, Vanilla Bean, Marionberry, Raspberry, Peach, Mountain Huckleberry, Northwest Berry Patch, Pomegranate Blackberry, Lemon Squeeze and Dark Cherry.

For more information, visit HERE.

ITO EN now markets Teas’ Tea Plus half & HALF. This ready-to-drink tea beverage line is made from fresh-brewed green tea that is infused with fruits juices and other flavors. Varieties are: Coconut Water, Grape, Green Apple, Lemonade and Peach. Each 16.9-ounce square plastic bottle contains two servings, with each serving providing 50 calories. The drink is slightly sweetened with cane sugar and a touch of stevia.  For more information, visit HERE.

Casper’s Active D’Lites with Probiotics Lite Ice Cream will be featured this coming week as a Daily Dose of Dairy. Stevia-based sweetener is used in both the ice cream and the chocolate coating. Watch for more information this coming week.

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