By now, everybody's heard about stevia. Genuinely natural sweetener made from a South American herb. Super low glycemic index. Actually helps with pancreas function. The total opposite of those weird chemical sweetners sure to cause cancer in American lab rats like you and me. You can even buy stevia now in most grocery stores. But as with all once truly healthy foods/supplements/herbs that have gone mainstream, you now have to read the fine print to make sure you're not buying something "natural" instead of healthy.
Allow me and my attractive model, Emmaline, to walk you through the world of current marketplace stevia, and how to navigate it, how to recognize the faux, the pretenders, much like you did when Lay*s potato chips came out with "organic" chips and you knew something very, very unhealthy and bullsh*itty was awry . . .
I'm a big fan of the "SweetLeaf" brand. In part because it's the brand I've been using for ~fifteen years, but mostly because their stevia is pure, clean, no weird stuff added. And seriously, although I'm sure other brands are out there that are clean, I haven't found them yet, and let me tell you: a lot of very weird stuff is being added to stevia these days.
One of the common issues folks have with stevia is that it can taste bitter. The reason for this is that stevia's "sweet" is so concentrated that you only need a very tiny amount, and unless you have one of those itty bitty 1/8 teaspoon scoops, at least in the beginning, you're going to use too much and it'll taste bitter. To help combat this, stevia manufacturers added various "fillers" to both smooth out the taste, and bulk the product up to make it harder to overuse. The more clueless and/or unscrupulous ones added things like maltodextrin (sugar) or maltitol (chemical sugar substitute that will cause your colon to do the hula, and yeah, not really what you're looking for with your iced tea). But SweetLeaf makes their powder using inulin soluble fiber made from chicory and various veg/fruits, which is the best of both worlds.
The powder is good for cooking with, and for adding to hot drinks. It doesn't mix that well with cold drinks, unless you add it very slowly and stir as you go. The plain liquid stevia works well with hot or cold, though again you're back to dealing with the super concentrated issue.
But my very favorite part about SweetLeaf are the flavors. Above, Emmaline gets all up in the Chocolate flavored liquid, which is ridiculously yummy with coffee, tea, added to plain whole milk yogurt and berries and bananas and melon. Yum. Oh yeah yum.
And here Baby Emmaline gets all licky with the vanilla flavored. I use the fruit flavored ones, like Orange, Grape, and Lemon in the summer, to turn plain water or soda water into a "soda". And okay, I'll tell you my secret: it's what I use to make my Tequila Weasels.
My main issue is that my system is so hair-trigger that sugar/high fructose corn syrup/cane syrup causes my blood sugar to raise, my heart to pound, with a rather unphun energy crash on the other side. It's not such a big deal at night, but during the day it's like a 3pm slump for hours on end. And the artifical sweeteners like splenda and aspertame are of course pure poison. So for me, I cart stevia packets around, smuggle a club soda mixed with grape stevia into the movies, etc.
And dude, I am so going to order the Hazelnut, and the Cinnamon. And they have toffee and peppermint and root beer but really, I'm too tired to add one more dang link. This whole info thing is so more work than just plain old kvetching . . . But chocolate and vanilla stevia? Seriously worth passing on the yum . . .