Sweet Stevia

At a recent meeting of Rosalie Sauerhaft’s Dining Committee, KoH Director of Operations Gower Lane announced that the artificial sweeteners such as Equal and Sweet N’ Low would be phased out in the Bistro and something called “Stevia” would replace them.

Since your editor had never heard of Stevia, I thought it might be an advertising gimmick to further market my pal Steve Kanfer’s many books. Granted, my suspicion was not a sweet thought but I soon found out that it was totally unfounded.

Actually, Stevia is the latest sugar substitute on the market, one that is natural and better for you than all the chemicals some of us have been ingesting for years. So what is it?

According to Wikipedia, “Stevia is perhaps unique among food ingredients because it's most valued for what it doesn't do. It doesn't add calories. Unlike other sugar substitutes, stevia is derived from a plant.

The stevia plant is part of the Asteraceae family, related to the daisy and ragweed. Several stevia species called 'candyleaf' are native to New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.

But the prized species, Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni), grows in Paraguay and Brazil, where people have used leaves from the stevia bush to sweeten food for hundreds of years. In traditional medicine in these regions, stevia also served as a treatment for burns, colic, stomach problems and sometimes as a contraceptive.”

The bottom line for us Bistro sweetness freaks is that you can continue to indulge yourself without pouring the bad stuff down your throat.  

By the way, though it might have different manufacturers names you’ll be able to identify Stevia sweetener because it comes in a green package.