FRIDAY FOOD THING
I have been a “Sugar in the Raw” user for years. In fact, I haven’t any white sugar in my home. I figure I eat enough processed foods as it is, and it just makes sense not to add processed sugar to the list. I have never felt comfortable with “artificial” sweeteners; they have not been very taste-bud friendly to me, and in my mind, chemicals are even worse than the “p” word in processed foods. I have been reading about the “Stevia” movement for half a decade or so, ever since I saw a talk show where somebody or another was soapboxing this new “miracle plant” discovered in the back-bush country of Africa. I don’t buy that spin.
According to Wikipedia, Stevia “… was used extensively by the Guarani people for more than 1,500 years, and the plant has a long history of medicinal use in Paraguay and Brazil. The leaves have been traditionally used for hundreds of years in Paraguay and Brazil to sweeten local teas, medicines and as a “sweet treat”.”
As with most products — even ones with an apparent 1,500 year track record — there is always controversy surrounding its safety. I discovered this “Is Stevia a Safe Alternative to Sugar? All those with a sweet tooth must read!” article, and decided it was objective enough for my FFT: “Stevia” Sugar Substitute blog article today. As always — here comes my disclaimer! — search Google and then make up your own mind. Do that, and we will both rest more easily.
It was no surprise to me that I bought a bag of “Stevia in the Raw” last week when I saw it in my local grocery store; I drink a LOT of sweet tea during the hot North Carolina summer months, and I gotta tell you, I fell in love with Stevia with my very first batch. Stevia comes in all sorts of different forms: fresh, dried, extracts, concentrates — you name it. I have only tried the “Stevia in the Raw”, version, but for now, here’s why I like it: “Stevia in the Raw” is a white, pourable, 1:1 ratio-sugar-look-alike powder, and I am set in my ways. I’d rather put a tablespoonful in my tea than drip a greenish liquid fluid on Earle of Gray’s forehead.
NOTES: the “Stevia in the Raw” folks mention on their packaging that, for BAKING purposes, 1/2 of real sugar should be substituted in order to maintain moisture content. Stevia plants and seeds are also available at most nurseries (looks kinda like mint, very beautiful plants that apparently can be grown indoors, too); plant your own and mess around with the possibilities. “Stevia in the Raw” recipes.