This may seem a bit far afield for JOTOLR, but maybe not....in fact, I believe I may give this a shot this coming gardening season. After all, it's not often out here JOTOLR that we can be "trendy."
With CocaCola and Pepsi giving it a push....STEVIA is the newest sweetener on the market. Of course, it hasn't come without a fight. You might know that thanks to good old American capitalism--(as in, may the one who fights the dirtiest fight, win...!) Stevia has been awhile in attaining (as this website tells us: Stevia) acceptance and approval through the auspices of crooked accusations about its so-called "safety."
Stevia is an herb, native to Paraguay and Brazil. It is billed as being 300 times sweeter than sugar. Now, we can even buy the seeds for stevia and grow it ourselves. But if that's too cumbersome, you can purchase the liquid or powder in the natural food section of your supermarket. Mother Earth News for August and September has a comprehensive article on Stevia as does Civil Eats (dated December 29, 2008).
We're talking drinks, now....don't think baking and Splenda and all that. Instead, think calorie free, natural (not like Aspertame, or Saccharaine, etc.) --ALL NATURAL and practically zero calories. I LOVE it!
In fact, as I said above, I may add it to the garden seed list this coming spring. Fedco Seed has Stevia (page 79 of the 2010 catalog). They say it's a finicky thing to get started. We shall see...then, drying and shredding the leaves? Might just be easier to put this one on the buy list, instead of growing it.
In any case, I can vouch for the sweetener aspect. Summertime, when the heat index is high...there's nothing better than a tall cool glass of lemonade. EXCEPT for the sugar. Especially for those of us who need to watch our BMI's. (like me!) The thought of drinking down a whole day's worth of calories in two tall glasses of lemonade leaves me practically apoplectic! Enter STEVIA. You can make lemonade that will refresh you and keep you svelte! Practically zero calories.
I can personally vouch for Stevia. It has been my companion all summer long. Two squirts of Stevia plus a dash of lemon juice, and I am good to go...It will soon be available in soft drinks of every stripe for those who favor that method of "hydration." So far CocaCola and Pepsi have signed on. Not sure when it will hit the market shelves in that form, but it won't be long. Personally, I don't use soft drinks, so I'm already in the driver's seat, here. Makes me feel somewhat smug that I've been using Stevia for the past two years. I buy my Stevia in the bottles with the dropper in the natural foods section of Kroger's as well as the Amish store, Cheese 'n More at Gap Mills, West Virginia.
And, since April 1st of this year, I've dumped 30 pounds. I'm almost back to my high school weight of 112. Yea! Go, Stevia. Right now, the two companies that have approval for selling stevia are Sweet Leaf and Truvia. I haven't checked it out recently, but Sweet Leaf even used to have various flavors including root beer, orange, grape--even chocolate. Go to: Sweet Leaf for information and the story of Stevia.
For me, though, there's one caveat: after 50-plus years of drinking coffee with sugar? Not a chance I could switch to Stevia on that one. I'll stick by my 1/2 teaspoon of real sugar in the Java!