For some reason in my warped mind I seem to think that most anything that is good for me is either not to my taste or at best passable. Imagine how surprised and suspicious (suspicious by nature) I was when I found out about and tried Stevia, an alternative to the artificial sweeteners on the market (like Aspartame, Nutrasweet, etc) and loved it (pls. note that I don't sell Stevia, just really like it and its health benefits and wanted to share with you). Unlike artificial alternatives which contain acetic acid, formaldehyde, chloride, and other un-pronouncables Stevia is a healthy fat free, non caloric, 100% naturally sweet plant with a zero glycemic index that is 30 times sweeter than sugar. These attributes make Stevia a good alternative to sugar or chemical sweeteners. Native people in Paraguay and other parts of South America have used stevia safely for centuries. More recently Stevia gained popularity as a sweetener for coffees and teas, but it can sweeten just about anything you like. Because it works so well in cooking and baking, you can easily substitute Stevia for sugar in just about any recipe. Did you read that last sentence?! Yes, we can make our delicious sweets with this non caloric plant and lose the calories and negative impact of sugar! Ahhhh-the good life. Here are some great facts about Stevia-
**STEVIA IS A SOUTH AMERICAN HERB that has been used as a sweetener by the Guarani Indians of Paraguay for hundreds of years. The leaves of this small, green Stevia rebaudiana plant have a delicious and refreshing taste that can be 30 times sweeter than sugar.
**THE BODY DOES NOT METABOLIZE the sweet glycosides from the stevia leaf or any of its processed forms - so there is no caloric intake. Stevia doesn't adversely affect blood glucose levels and may be used freely by diabetics. Great news for diabetics and on a side note my brother has had diabetes since he was a child and now uses Stevia with wonderful results.
**STEVIA has been used since pre-Colombian times with no reports of ill side affects. Stevia has also withstood years of research that has proven Stevia to be safe for human and animal consumption. Stevia has been used around the world with NO reports of Stevia overdose or toxicity to humans in the past forty years.
**WHY IS STEVIA JUST COMING ON THE MARKET? Stevia has been around for a long time, even in the United States. Early studies on Stevia go back to the 1950's but the United States is a nation chin deep in bureaucracy, dirty-politics and corruption. In the 1950's the sugar industry fought to prevent the use of Stevia in the United States. Today, the manufacturers of Nutrasweet (aspartame) have practically bought the FDA to prevent it's approval as a food additive and therefore a sugar substitute. If you don't believe me, contact 60 Minutes of CBS. In the Spring of 1997 they aired a report on how Nutrasweet "bought" influence with the FDA to force the approval of a sweetener that is now blamed for the illnesses and deaths of thousands of Americans (hence my giving up Diet Pepsi). I also found dozens more articles siting that the use of Stevia in the U.S. being repressed because of the billion dollar artificial sweetener industry. This would be a great topic for anyone wanting to write about big companies controlling our health, etc for the sake of a profit. Keep in mind that I am one of those sorts that never really believes we are hearing the whole story from the bigwigs. REF-http://www.cookingwithstevia.com/stevia_faq.html#anchor02
**SINCE THE 1970'S JAPAN HAS BEEN USING STEVIA IN A WIDE VARIETY OF FOODS such as ice cream, sodas, pickles, sauces, and a variety of beverages. In fact, Stevia now has over 50% of the sweetener market share in Japan. That number continues to grow as the evidence against Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners mount.MMMHMMMM.
Obviously, I am on the Stevia train here and I do love it. I use it in my tea and have gotten my friends using it in their coffee as well. I sprinkle it on cereal , fruit,peanut butter sandwiches and oatmeal (I have a sweet tooth so what can I say). I have not tried baking with it yet as I am no baker (I want to be but I'm just not )but I think I will try some experimenting and let you know what I come up with.
You can buy Stevia at your local health food store (Wild Oats, Whole Foods) in the supplement section near the vitamins. I bought 100 packets for $6.99 but you can also get it in a liquid form or a big jar of it to use. I am really excited about finding this, not only for my health but also for the weight loss benefits. Now if they would only make a dark organic healthy chocolate bunny with Stevia so I could eat that instead of the leftover version of my daughters that I just inhaled- I would be in heaven!
P.S. You can google "Stevia Recipes" or "Stevia Cookbook" and a ton of sites come up-so give it a try and tell me what you think.
Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite National Park
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