Description: Stevia is a very sweet herb that is grown primarily in South America and the southwestern United States, in addition to parts of Asia. It is a highly concentrated sweetener available in whole and ground leaf form, and, as an extract. The extract is the preferable form, and is found in the natural marketplace as a dried powder or as a liquid tincture. It is 250-300 times sweeter than ordinary table sugar, otherwise known as sucrose, and does not raise blood sugar, so is considered safe for blood sugar related issues. Stevia can be found as a whole leaf powder or the ground whole herb can be found as a powder. Commonly called “Steve’s herb”, it is dark green and possesses a licorice-flavored aftertaste. Also found as an extracted white powder, the quality of stevia varies greatly.

What to look for: Organic, 100% pure stevia extract. It is available as a powder or liquid tincture. Powders are white, green, or brown, and depending on the quality of the stevia and the extraction process, can taste different. Look for powder without a bitter aftertaste. The liquid extract comes in both clear and a dark, opaque tincture.

Uses: Very small amounts to sweeten beverages, especially hot herbal tea. The white powder extract dissolves instantly upon contact with liquid, so it is excellent to sweeten lemon- or limeade. Follow special recipes designed for use as a replacement for granulated or liquid sweeteners, as the liquid in most recipes will require adjusting.

Where to find: Health Food Store, online resources.

Avoid: Inorganic, with additives.