Tag Archives: stevia

Sugar-Free Strawberry Cheesecake

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This sugar-free strawberry cheesecake may have just jumped onto my list of all-time favorite desserts, even those full of sugar.

This is a no-bake cheesecake that is easy to put together. Made with fresh strawberries, it is a fabulous summer dessert that won’t heat up the kitchen.

It is light and airy, not dense like a baked cheesecake. I sweetened it with stevia and erythritol, but you can easily substitute real sugar. But for those watching their carb and sugar intake, this is a wonderfully satisfying dessert. My kids don’t even miss the sugar!

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I made it in a 9” springform pan, and it completely filled the pan for a nice tall cheesecake. You could make it in a little bit larger pan instead if you don’t want quite as thick of slices.

I garnished the cheesecake with some whipped cream and fresh berries. A wonderful light and summery dessert.

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RECIPE:

Sugar-Free Strawberry No-Bake Cheesecake

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Crust:
¾ cup whole almonds (roasted and salted)
¼ cup whole pecans
¼ cup rolled oats
3 Tbs butter, melted
10 drops of liquid stevia

Filling:
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup erythritol
½ tsp liquid stevia
½ cup cool water
2 (1 oz) packages unflavored gelatin
1 quart (4 cups) whole strawberries, hulled
1 cup heavy cream

Garnish:
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs cream cheese, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
5 drops liquid stevia
Whole strawberries, and/or other berries (raspberries, blackberries)

Crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place almonds, pecans, and oats in a food processor; blend until finely ground. Add butter and stevia  and pulse until combined. Lightly spray 9” springform pan with baking spray (I like coconut oil spray for this). Press crust mixture onto bottom of pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Filling:
In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sour cream, vanilla, erythritol, and stevia and beat again until smooth.

Place cool water in a separate bowl; sprinkle gelatin over water. Let sit for 5 minutes, or until gelatin has softened. Microwave for 15 seconds, or until gelatin has dissolved.

Place strawberries in a food processor. Blend until very finely chopped (mixture will be slightly liquidy). Add gelatin mixture to food processor and pulse until mixed. Add chopped strawberries to cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Taste mixture and add additional sweetener, if needed.

In a separate mixing bowl, whip 1 cup cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into filling.

Pour mixture over cooled crust in the springform pan. Refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours or until firm.

Garnish:
Combine cream, cream cheese, vanilla, and stevia in a mixing bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Pipe onto top of chilled cheesecake and garnish with fresh berries.

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Low-Sugar Seedless Raspberry Nectarine Jam

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One of the kids’ favorite jams from last year was this Raspberry Nectarine Freezer Jam. This year I played with the recipe a little, to reduce the sugar and to make it a regular canned jam (freezer space is precious!).
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Nectarines and raspberries are a great combination! Be sure to leave the nectarine peels on when cutting the nectarines. They help give the rich color to the jam. They will be strained out later with the raspberry seeds. Pressing pulp through a sieve to remove seeds is not my favorite thing to do. It is a lot of work, and it seems like such a waste to not use all of that good stuff. I don’t mind having raspberry seeds in things, so I save the seeds (and pulp that clings to them) in the fridge and add them to smoothies, or stir some into my oatmeal in the mornings. A little extra fiber is never a bad thing, right?!

RECIPE:

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Low-Sugar Seedless Raspberry Nectarine Jam

——————————–Yield: About 5 half-pint jars

3 cups chopped nectarines (do not peel)-about 4-5 nectarines
3 cups slightly crushed raspberries
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 box no-sugar needed pectin
½ tsp powdered Stevia (or ¾ – 1 tsp liquid Stevia)**

Combine nectarines and raspberries in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Press through a fine sieve to remove seeds; discard seeds. Place fruit puree in a large saucepan with the lemon juice.

In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup sugar with pectin. Stir into fruit puree in the large saucepan. Bring to a hard boil (boiling doesn’t stop when stirred) over high heat. Stir in 1 C sugar and stevia. Return to hard boil; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim foam. Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

**My favorite is 1 tsp of Sweet Leaf brand Vanilla Crème liquid stevia

 

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Berry Picking and Raspberry Jams

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It is raspberry picking season here in western PA, and Little A & J helped me take full advantage of it last week. While older kids were off at youth camps, we spent a few days picking berries and making jams. And eating lots of berries on things like This:

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And This:

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We also made three different raspberry jams, two regular raspberry ones that I will share today, and a seedless variety with nectarines for tomorrow’s post. The first jam is a low-sugar red raspberry jam. I love how the fresh fruit taste shines in low-sugar jams, but they do have more of a fruit-spread consistency than the jelled set of full sugar jams.

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I make most of my jams with stevia as a sweetener. I use a little bit of sugar to help with the consistency and “sheen”, but most of the sugar I trade out for stevia. Stevia comes in many brands and forms (liquid: plain and flavored, powdered extract, “spoonable”, packets, crushed leaves), so you will need to do a little experimenting (i.e. tasting) to get the amounts just right.

I use the Sweet Leaf brand most of the time. In the past I have always used the powdered extract, which I highly recommend. This year I tried using their Vanilla Crème flavored liquid variety, and I really liked it. When making low-sugar jams, be sure to use the “no-sugar needed” pectin. For the SureJell brand, this is the pink box.

071311 027-1The second jam we made uses red, black and yellow raspberries. Black raspberries are smaller than the other colors, and have more a few more seeds. Their flavor also seems more concentrated. They make for good finger-staining when you are picking them! And teeth staining when you eat them. I actually prefer their taste over the red ones.

I made jam from just the black raspberries a few years ago, and it came out extremely thick (hold the spoon upside-down thick). So now I combine them with the red and yellow berries to get a better consistency.

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I don’t mind seeds in my raspberry jam, but if you prefer to make it seedless, start with about 1/2 cup more berries, and press through a sieve before adding pectin. If you want to make full-sugar jams, use the same amount of berries, regular pectin and 7 cups sugar (some recipes call for as much as 8 1/2 cups sugar).

RECIPES:

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Low-Sugar Red Raspberry Jam

——————–Yield: 5-6 half-pint jars

5 cups slightly crushed raspberries
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1 box no-sugar needed pectin
½ tsp powdered Stevia (or ¾ – 1 tsp liquid Stevia)**

In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup sugar with pectin. Stir into raspberries in a large saucepan. Bring to a hard boil (boiling doesn’t stop when stirred) over high heat. Stir in 1 cup sugar and stevia. Return to hard boil; boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim foam. Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process for 10 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

**My favorite is 1 tsp of Sweet Leaf brand Vanilla Crème liquid stevia

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Low-Sugar Triple Raspberry Jam

————————-Yield: 5-6 half-pint jars

5 cups slightly crushed raspberries (3C red, 1C black, 1C yellow)
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1 box no-sugar needed pectin
½ tsp powdered Stevia (or ¾ – 1 tsp liquid Stevia)**

In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup sugar with pectin. Stir into raspberries in a large saucepan. Bring to a hard boil (boiling doesn’t stop when stirred) over high heat. Stir in 1 cup sugar and stevia. Return to hard boil; boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim foam. Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process for 10 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

**My favorite is 1 tsp of Sweet Leaf brand Vanilla Crème liquid stevia

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Thanksgiving: Cranberry Sauce with Orange & Cinnamon

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Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching. Now is the time to start planning your menu. Over the next week, I will share some of our family’s favorites.

We love our cranberry sauce around here, especially on leftover turkey sandwiches the next day. The addition of orange peel and juice, and a hint of cinnamon gives this cranberry sauce a nice tang. The picture above is a Sugar Free version, made with stevia. The recipe below includes instructions for making it with full sugar or a sugar substitute. In the past I have had problems getting a proper gel with sugar substitutes, so I now add a little unflavored gelatin (Knox). I like it sprinkled with toasted finely chopped pecans, but the kids don’t like it as much this way, so I usually leave it plain.

RECIPE:

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Cranberry Sauce

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (or additional water)
1 cup sugar or sugar substitute (Stevia, Splenda) **
1 tsp Knox gelatin (if using sugar substitute)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp fresh grated orange peel
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup toasted pecans, optional

Place water in a medium saucepan. If using a sugar substitute, sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand 5 minutes. Heat to a boil. Stir in orange juice, sugar (or substitute), cinnamon stick and orange peel. Return to a boil; boil 5 minutes. Stir in cranberries, return to a boil. Boil 5 minutes or until cranberries pop. Remove from heat and remove cinnamon stick. Serve warm or cold with toasted pecans.

**NOTE: Sugar substitutes vary a lot in sweetness, especially stevia. I use Sweet Leaf brand powdered stevia and usually use about 1/2 tsp. Start on the low side; taste cranberry sauce and add more to your taste, if necessary. You can also use part sugar/part sugar substitute.

 

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Low Sugar Peach Vanilla Jam

072610 026-1 Of the five jams that we made last week (maybe of all the jams I have ever made), this is my very favorite. Fresh ripe peaches and flecks of vanilla bean. And low in sugar. What could be better.

Try it mixed into some homemade yogurt, or on top of ice cream.

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It is still too early in the season here for freestone peaches, but there are some good deals at the farmers market on some luscious, ripe non-freestone varieties. And for jam, these are perfect!

072210 035-1 To quickly and easily remove the peach skin, blanch the peaches in simmering water for 15-30 seconds, then transfer to an ice water bath.

072210 041-1 When making jam, the easiest way to crush your peaches, especially non-freestone varieties, is to take the whole peeled peach in your hand (over a large bowl) and squeeze. If your peaches are ripe, which they should be for a good jam, the peach flesh will be crushed through your fingers, leaving you with just the pit in your hand. Kids love this job!

To get as much vanilla flavor in this jam as I could without overcooking the peaches, I combined the crushed peaches with some lemon juice, 1 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp stevia in a large bowl. Then I added the vanilla bean (cut the bean in half lengthwise, then use the tip of a knife to scrape all of the seeds into the bowl with the fruit); stir in both the seeds and the vanilla bean halves. Let peach mixture sit for 2-3 hours, or overnight (in the refrigerator).

Leave the vanilla bean in while cooking the jam, removing it just before filling your jars.

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I love vanilla bean flecks!

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————

RECIPE:

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Low Sugar Peach Vanilla Jam

5 cups crushed peaches (about 4 1b)
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1/2 tsp powdered stevia
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 vanilla bean
1 box low-sugar pectin

Combine peaches, 1 cup sugar, stevia and lemon juice in a large saucepan or bowl. Split vanilla in half lengthwise. Scrape seeds into bowl with peaches. Stir in vanilla bean. Let sit for 2-3 hours or overnight (refrigerate if leaving overnight).

Mix pectin with 1/4 cup sugar. Stir into peach mixture. Bring to a hard boil (boiling doesn’t stop when stirred) over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean.

Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place jars in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

Yield: 5-6 half-pint jars

 

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Low Sugar Strawberry Citrus Jam

072210 028-1 Summer is in full swing here; temperatures hover between 85° and 90°, with humidity levels making it feel a good 10 degrees hotter. So have we been hanging out at the swimming pool, or in the sprinkler? Or finding nice, cool activities to do inside? No-we’ve been canning! Seeing just how hot we can get the kitchen with multiple pots of boiling water and macerated fruit. I do have some great helpers in this effort. Mashing fruit with the potato masher is quite a coveted job around here!

And it will all be worth it come January when we are snowed in, cracking open a little bit of summer in a jar.

I tried several new jam recipes this week, including this Strawberry Citrus Jam. Made with strawberries and and a chopped orange (plus peel), it is quite tart. Not so tart that the kids wouldn’t eat it, however. They really like it. I do too. And I love how the orange really brought out the color of the strawberries. I make most of my jams low sugar (substituting all but one cup of sugar with stevia), and the lower sugar often makes the jam less bright and clear. But the added citrus really brightened up this jam!

If you do try this jam, take a taste before you add it to your jars, and adjust the sweetness to your liking.

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RECIPE:

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Low Sugar Strawberry Citrus Jam
—————————(adapted from Big Black Dog)

1 large orange
4 cups crushed strawberries (measure after crushing)
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp powdered stevia
1 box low-sugar fruit pectin

Grate zest from orange into a large saucepan (you should have about 2 tsp). Cut white rind from orange; discard. Chop orange pulp and add to the saucepan. Stir in crushed strawberries, lemon juice, sugar and stevia.

Optional step: Let fruit/sugar mixture sit for 1 hour to overnight (place in the refrigerator if you are going to let it sit overnight). Letting the fruit sit in the sugar will help sweeten the individual fruit bits. It also helps keep the fruit bits from settling in your finished jam.

Stir pectin into fruit mixture. Bring to a hard boil (bubbles don’t stop when jam is stirred) over medium-high heat. Boil hard for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

NOTE: This is a tart jam. Try the jam at this point. If it is not sweet enough, add additional stevia or sugar. If you add additional sweetener, return jam to a hard boil before filling jars.

Ladle jam into sterilized jars. Wipe rims; add lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Let jars sit on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours to set. Check seal.

Yield: 6 half-pint jars

 

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Low-Sugar Peach Butter

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uthcjam2009I know that summer is long gone and buying good, fresh peaches is no longer an option for most of us. But I wanted to submit this recipe to Aimée’s  (Under the High Chair) Virtual Jam Swap. What a fun way to showcase fresh fruit from around the country (world?) and how to preserve them in one of my favorite forms: homemade jam!

I like Apple Butter, but Peach Butter is my all-time favorite. It has some of the same flavors as the apple butter, but is so much richer and has a full body that apple butter just can’t touch! I make most of my jams with a reduced amount of sugar, using  Stevia (a naturally sweet herb) to provide most of the sweetness. I have not been successful, however, canning with only Stevia and no sugar. The jam seems to need at least some sugar to help it gel properly and to provide some of the “sheen” that makes jam look so good. So I use a substantially reduced amount of sugar and a little Stevia (a little goes a LONG way).

Peach/Apple Butter are great, but much more time consuming than regular jam. With five kids running around making constant demands, I am not very good at stirring and watching a pot closely for hours at a time. So I make this jam in the crockpot. It takes a good long time – at least 12 hours, sometimes 24, depending on your crock-pot and how humid your house is. But if I only need to stir it every hour or two, that I can handle.

DSC01559I use a large crock-pot, about 6 quarts to make this jam. I end up getting between 7 and 9 half-pint jars in the end. This will depend on how thick you like your peach butter and how full you fill your crock-pot. I used 25 peaches (almost 1 peck) for this batch. Free-stone peaches are much easier to work with than cling peaches, but since the peaches will be crushed, either variety will produce a great result. It just depends on how much you want to work to remove those pits!

Start with peeling your peaches: Bring a pot of water to a boil, reduce heat and maintain a slow simmer. Drop (carefully!) peaches into the boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water. Let peaches sit in the cold water for a few minutes. The peels should come off easily now. Cut peaches in half and remove the pit. You can place the peach halves directly into your crock-pot, or slice/chop them a little so that you can pack even more peaches in the pot. I usually use the most sophisticated method of crushing the peach halves in my hand (freshly washed, of course).

Stir in your sweetener (sugar and/or Stevia) and some seasonings to taste: I like cinnamon, cloves and allspice.

Turn your crock-pot on low and cook with the lid OFF for 12-24 hours. Humidity will greatly affect how long it takes your peach butter to thicken. If your crock-pot begins to splatter (I don’t have a problem with this, but the low setting on my crock-pot seems REALLY low), you can place a splatter screen over the top, or put the lid on only partway.

Stir occasionally and enjoy the delicious smell all day long. When peaches become very soft and start to thicken, I use an immersion blender to make a smooth spread. You could also use a food processor or blender, but be careful as it is very hot.

DSC02189Continue to cook until peach butter is thick. It will become a gorgeous caramel color, and a spoon drawn through the mixture will leave a trail. The exact consistency is up to your personal preference. Taste and adjust spices as desired.

If you are canning the peach butter, prepare your jars and lids and boiling bath. Fill jars to within 1/8″ of rim. Wipe rims of jars (or they won’t seal properly). Place lids on jars. Place jars  in a boiling bath canner. Return water to a gentle boil and process 5 minutes. Cool  on a towel on your kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

Enjoy!

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Peach Butter

Peaches (about 25 for a large 5-6 qt crock-pot)
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/8-1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp Stevia extract (or about 2-3 cups additional sugar)

Peel peaches (dip in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then put into large bowl of ice water). Cut peaches in half and remove pits; slice peaches, if desired. Fill a crock pot with as many peaches as it will hold (leaving about 1” at the top). Stir in spices and sweeteners (proportions are for a large 5-6 quart crock pot). (NOTE: Start with a small amount of sugar/sweetener, as sweetness of peaches and personal tastes will vary. You can add more sweetener later, after the peach butter has reduced, if you want it sweeter) Set the crock pot on low or medium. Let it cook, without the lid, for 12-24 hours (cover with a splatter-guard if necessary). Stir occasionally.

When cooked and reduced, use an immersion blender to make a smooth peach butter (or leave it coarse, if preferred). Taste and adjust sweetness and spices. If butter gets too thick, add a little fruit juice. If mixture is still too thin, cook longer or transfer to a saucepan and gently boil (stirring constantly) until reduced.

Ladle hot mixture into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process 5 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

Yield: 7-9 half-pint jars

 

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