This recipe for Mint and Melon Slush was inspired by one of the few chefs Gary and I watch together on the Food Network — Giada de Laurentiis. Giada’s original recipe calls for ginger ale and honey dew melon. I’m opting for cantaloup and club soda…and also a lighter version of sugar. She also uses sugar, but I’m sweetening things up with Stevia.
Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the sweetleaf plant. It’s 300 times as sweet as sugar, so it only takes a small amount to produce the same sweet taste as cane sugar.
There are currently several sugar substitutes available on the market, so what makes Stevia unique? For one thing, it’s all-natural, so I prefer it over other artificially manufactured substitutes.
Stevia also has several health benefits:
1. A no-carb, no-calorie substitute. For those watching their carbohydrate or caloric intake, Stevia is both carb- and calorie-free. This makes it possible for dieters to satisfy sweet cravings without wrecking their eating plans.
2. Lowers blood pressure. Stevia has been shown, in some studies, to lower blood pressure. This makes it an ideal sweetener for people with high blood pressure.
3. Lowers blood sugar. For people with high blood sugar levels, Stevia has the possible benefit of lowering sugar levels. This makes it a possibly acceptable substitute for anyone with blood sugar or insulin problems, including diabetics. However, diabetics should continue to monitor their blood sugar levels and insulin levels after using Stevia to make sure everything remains in check.
4. Has antibacterial properties. Stevia, when used orally, has shown antibacterial properties. This makes it an ideal ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwashes, as it can aid in fighting cavities and gingivitis.
For many people, the overwhelming benefit of Stevia is that it offers a seemingly healthy alternative to cane sugar, corn syrup, aspartame, or saccharine. For these people, the fact that it has been used in other cultures for centuries with no apparent ill effects is enough to recommend its use. Of course, if you have questions about the health benefits or side effects of this sugar substitute, you should check with your physician.
1/4 cantaloup, peeled and seeded
1 cup crushed ice
1/2 packed cup fresh mint leaves
1 club soda (or ginger ale)
1 packet of Stevia
Cut melon into 1-inch pieces. Add the melon, ice, mint, Stevia and club soda in to a blender. Pulse until the mixture becomes slushy. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.
Some people don’t like very minty flavor. So, you may want to consider that when deciding just how much mint leaves to use. But I don’t recommend doing away with the mint altogether — it is the mint that makes this drink cool-in-the-mouth refreshing.
How much sweetener to use is a matter or personal taste. The amount also depends on how sweet or bland the melon is. I’ve found that usually one packet of Stevia does the trick.
This recipe would also be great with watermelon and Giada’s original honey dew idea.