I have discovered my new best friend!  It is in the form of a little tiny bottle of just a couple of ounces of liquid.  This is no ordinary liquid, though.  Oh, no!  Just one tiny drop of this all-natural liquid is sweeter than 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar!  The first time I tasted it, I put just about half-a-drop on my tongue, and the potency nearly blew me away!  It’s called Stevia.

Stevia comes from the leaf of a plant native to South America.  According to what I have read, tribesman used to pluck a leaf and chew on it to extract the sweet, flavorful juice.  As word about this little plant began to spread, folks began to farm it and harvest it to extract the juice.  As research on the plant and the extract became more widespread, it was discovered that the components are undigestable, and therefore completely calorie- and sugar-free.  Several studies showed evidence that, not only was the extract completely harmless, but some of the animals it was tested on actually showed increased health and reproductive capabilities, unlike their control-group counterparts.  So, if this substance has been around for so long, why haven’t we heard more about it?

Unfortunately, (according to my limited research) sugar cane farmers got wind of this discovery and managed to set up laws banning it from being imported into the United States.  They realized the risk to their profits.  Imagine–a simple, completely natural liquid with no calories, sugars, or carbohydrates, none of the negative side affects and risks of artificial sweeteners, yet sweeter than sugar!  In out sweets-loving society, that spells big $$$ losses to sugar cane farmers!

Well, long-story short, after many a political battle, Stevia has finally debuted here in America.  It still cannot be sold as a sweetener or a food, but only as a supplement.  I purchased my first bottle about 10 days ago.  At first, I was leary about the price, as it seemed awfully expensive for just a couple of ounces.  However, I have since realized that it’s potency makes it stretch a long way!  I have been using it to sweeten my sweet tea, and it takes just a tiny bit to sweeten the whole 2 quart pitcher.  Although I haven’t actually cooked with it yet, I understand that you can cook with it just like any other sweetener, and there are entire recipes devoted to using Stevia. 

I also want to note that, as a Type 1 diabetic, Stevia is like an answer to an un-prayed prayer.  I must constantly strive to reduce and limit my sugar and carbohydrate intake.  Yet, the chemicals contained in artificial sweeteners leave me with side effects.  I have resorted to using different forms of sugar and natural sweeteners like honey and Maple Syrup for a while now.  I still use those, but by switching to Stevia in my tea alone, I have reduced my sugar-intake by over 1 cup a week!  My tea wasn’t even that sweet!  If you are trying to lose weight, decrease your sugar intake, battle blood sugar, or are diabetic, I highly recommend Stevia!  It is well-worth every penny, and then some!