Achieving a Sweeter Tomorrow Through Stevia

Achieving a Sweeter Tomorrow Through Stevia

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | July 19, 2019

It is no secret that more and more people are making their health and wellness their top priority. After all, who does not want to look and feel good as they age? A crucial factor that contributes to the state of our health has a lot to do with what we eat.

While everyone wants to indulge in their favorite sugary treats, nobody wants to impact the blood sugar levels in the body in a negative way.

Thankfully, there is a noncaloric sustainable sweetener that comes to the rescue. The organic sugar substitute is known as stevia. This shrub type of plant, first found in Paraguay, could hold the potential to provide the solution to weight management goals. Could this be the solution sweet-tooth individuals are looking for?

In the 58th Philippine Association of Food Technologies Inc. annual convention held recently at the Crown Plaza Manila Galleria, Ortigas Center, Ms. Cecille Miciano, export/marketing officer of Glorious Industrial and Development Corp. (GIDC) was among the guest speakers to lecture on the theme of “Future Food.” She spoke on the topic of plant-based sweetening alternative ingredient for tomorrows need. Her findings based on the 2020 Global Consumer Trends showed that the world market is ripe for the introduction of stevia. Likewise, she mentioned that among the five global trends according to Kroger (an American retailing company), plant-based food is one of them—consumers choosing to go meatless or dairy free gave rise to “Meatless Monday” and “Flexitarian Friday,” for example.

The local scenario seems to support this trend. In the Philippine sugar tax bill, because stevia is not sugar but purely steviol glycosides, it was exempted from the excise tax. Added to this, the guidelines on food and drinks as stated by the Department of Education, is the message that there is a need for students to limit the intake of free sugar for health reasons. The sequence of events makes it conducive or ripe for stevia to generate a buzz and penetrate mainstream consciousness.

The GIDC officer left the audience with the famous words attributed to Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.”

Dessert Application of Stevia

A shining example of stevia’s application in dessert was witnessed by the those who partook of the Philippine Culinary Heritage Food Festival of Diamond Hotel held during the country’s independence month. While it has been a practice of the hotel to feature celebrity chefs and their signature dishes, this time around was different. Diamond Hotel GM Vanessa Suatengco got hold of Chef Christopher Cariangan for an exciting collaboration. His passion for food research has brought to life culinary treasures of yesteryears. Aside from being the founder and president of Razorchef Philippines and being the chief general of the Culinary Generals of the Philippines, there is more to this Filipino-cuisine expert than meets the eye. His role as a brand ambassador of Sweet & Fit Stevia food supplement powder proved to be the ace up his sleeves as his tasty creations made a splash at the dessert station of the food festival. His three kinds of ice cream flavors, which were sweetened by Sweet & Fit Stevia were Ube Kinampay, Activated Charcoal, and Criollo. The Ube Kinampay, for example, pays tribute to the root crop native to Bohol. Its inherent creamy texture proved to be a good match for stevia.

On the other hand, heavy cream and eggs were added in the making of charcoal ice cream to achieve the desired texture as it is mixed with Sweet & Fit Stevia. Lastly, Criollo refers to the rare and expensive variety of heirloom cocoa. The ice cream flavors were a hit. The ice-cream flavors made with stevia had their share of fame as they made their rounds in social media. The locally produced stevia pride itself of having no bitter aftertaste.

Continuous research and development were key ingredients in developing great tasting food with stevia.

Glorious Industrial and Development Corp.

GIDC is the Philippines’s first stevia company established in 2004. To insure the nutrients of the stevia are intact after undergoing the production process, the company avails of the service of a third party lab test.

To further its credibility, there is an ongoing organic certification from the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines and Nicert organic inspection and certification. The issuance of the certificate would be a big boost to the company as it grows its list of satisfied clients both locally and abroad. Sweet & Fit Stevia was first marketed to the dietary department of hospitals catering to diabetic and borderline diabetic patients, as it positions itself as a health alternative to sugar. In recent years, on the other hand, the product demand has been on the upswing as health conscious individuals who turned into ketogenic diet looked for a sugar substitute. Not only does stevia meet the criteria, the product also has a zero reading in the nutritional facts department in terms of calories, total fat, cholesterol, sodium and total carbohydrates. The stevia company is certified by FDA, Phils.,ISO 9001-2015, Good Manufacturing Practices, Halal and DOST-Assisted Project.

GIDC supports the Stevia farming communities as it improve the quality of their life by way of higher income, educational assistance, health care and additional training.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Author Profile

Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.

Fantastic Potatoes

Fantastic Potatoes

Gabrielle R. Borromeo

The Daily Tribune | June 04, 2014

The United States Potato Board (USPB), the United States Embassy Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have brought US Tablestock Potatoes closer to the Filipino by making it increasingly available in the market.

Now restaurants and households may easily get a hold of russets, long whites, round whites, waxy reds, nutty flavored blues, purples and fingerlings in their most natural state. The potatoes are grown in the ideal growing temperatures, rich soil, state-of-the-art processing facilities and generations of expertise required by the US Frozen Potatoes. Consumers can be assured of a steady supply because US potato growers offer a plentiful year-round delivery of the finest potatoes that meet stringent FDA and USDA specifications. 

To further encourage the trade of US Frozen Potatoes in the Philippines, the USPB provides several support programs for establishments that use 100 percent US frozen potato products. One of them is the Best Practices Seminars and Training Programs where restaurant staffs is trained on proper storage, handling and preparation of US frozen potatoes to create the best tasting dishes.

Seminars about menu development are also practiced to help food service partners be aware of global trends and practices. Co-Op Promotions is also another support program wherein the USPB supports part of the promotional costs of the new menu using US Frozen Potatoes. Lastly, the USPB does ongoing research into trends and consumer attitudes to further help the establishments maximize their sales by capturing market trends, consumer attitudes and eating habits of their customers.

In gratitude to the Filipinos who have learned to love the spud and now welcome it in the Philippines with arms wide open, USPB held several events in celebration.


Cheyenne and I, all dressed up for the USPB event at Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay. Matchy matchy! 😉

The first event was held at Discovery Country Suites, Tagaytay City where renowned innovative and in-demand Chef Sau del Rosario joined forces with USPB to launch their compilation of recipes called Tasteful Taters.

This recipe book, produced and currently available through the USPB, stars US Frozen Potato products in a number of popular dishes from the Philippines and all around the world, with each one tried, tested and given Chef Sau’s five-star treatment.

During the event, Chef Sau prepared a demonstration of selected dishes to showcase the mastery and skill needed to emphasize the luxurious qualities of the US Potato just as featured in Tasteful Taters. He showed the audience the process he undergoes when coming up with exciting twists to existing favorites. It is no surprise that his gastronomic wizardry has found its perfect match in the adaptable ingredient. The event was also a rare chance to see recipes come to life by the famous Chef Sau himself.

Chef Sau del Rosario preparing the demonstration.

The next event was a two-day seminar at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. The first day was all about getting to know the US Tablestock Potatoes. It demonstrated also how to use the spud as both light fare and all sorts of meal courses from appetizers to desserts. The event was graced by Sarah Reece, the USPB international marketing manager to voice out the importance of the spud to the attendees.

A buffet spread featured the culinary possibilities of US potatoes, which remain endless, given their flexibility in elevating the flavor, texture and appearance of food.

Since potatoes have become a classic ingredient of some of the world’s best cuisines including dishes from the Philippines, USPB has promised a steady supply of US potatoes in order for the Filipinos to continue their work and talent in the food industry.

For more information about US Tablestock Potatoes, please visit or; or call 8534-8534 or 8534-8223.

Gabrielle Borromeo

Author Profile

Gabe organizes what she sees around her and loves to put it into words. She has been contributing her articles for the Daily Tribune newspaper, Tinig ng Marino (maritime) newspaper, Cook magazine, Appetite magazine and F&B World magazine.

You can contact Gabrielle at:

Sustainable Dining Through Plant Based Dishes

Sustainable Dining Through Plant Based Dishes

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | October 3, 2019

Sheraton Manila

In line with Marriott International Serve 360 Initiative, which guides all hotel in operating responsibly as they become global, Sheraton Manila welcomes September, the first Philippine Sustainable Month, by initiating a healthy spin on its comfort food.

So what makes the plant-based offerings of Sheraton Manila special? Taste, of course! Thanks to its team of seasoned chefs, the plant-based dishes they offer shows just how palate-pleasing these health treats can be.

“We want to eliminate the stigma that healthy eating, or vegetables, are dull. So we go back to basics, switching meat on well-loved foods to plant-based but still with the same enticing flavors,” Executive Chef Kiko Santiago says.

A plant-based diet, as backed up by medical research, is responsible for a host of health-related benefits. Among the positive attributes one can reap from such a way of eating include reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, mental deterioration and even keeping at bay certain types of cancers.

The drive toward healthy food offering of the five-star hotel, which runs until end of October 2019, is offered in its a la carte menu in their S Kitchen and in-room dining. Start off the healthy culinary journey with a most nutrient-dense crunchy kale salad served with plant-based longganisa mixed in the tomato salsa. Soothing sips of plant-based siningang is just perfect for the rainy days. A bite of their Western dishes, such as its mini Tacos and mini Wrap will have you convinced that the taste of plant-based food can indeed excite the tastebuds.

You need not wait for Tuesday for a taste of this Mexican treat. On the other hand, pasta lover will be delighted over its spaghetti bolognese with dairy-free daiya cheese. Local dishes, such as Pansit Bihon and embutido are given a healthy take as well. Craving for a dish with a bit of heat? The plant-based version of the Indonesian dish, Beef Rendang, served with dried chilli peppers, will not disappoint. End on a sweet note with the Stevia cheesecake. Weight watcher will rejoice over this zero calorie dessert- sweetener. Another hit dessert is the vegan brownies with popcorn which is flourless, eggless and dairy-free.

In an effort to reach more people with the healthy dishes, Sheraton Manila made sure there are wallet-friendly and served in good-sized portions. Starters go for P360 and main entrées range from P640 to P690 only.

Going all out, food sustainability trickled down to invade its cocktail selections at the hotel’s The Lounge, as well. The earth-friendly practice the bartenders observe ensures that there is more of the nature’s bounty to go around. Different kinds of citrus peel, for example, are infused with Arc Lava Rock Vodka that lends a whole new flavor dimension to the liquor. Likewise, instead of discarding a grape stem, see how creativity transforms it into a cocktail’s focal point. The eye catching collection of sustainable cocktails are priced from P495 to P575. Grab a hold of Flower Child , Live Green Go, Just Add Water and more, until October 12, 2019.

A Fruitful Partnership With Nurture Farmacy

The sustainable dining concept, which sources its produce in a vegetable farm, has positive impact on the environment, as oppose to the by products that is associated with animal farming. Sheraton Manila has gone the extra mile with the launch of their 300-sq m farm (for their vegetables and herb requirements) in Tagaytay. The move was made possible with the alignment of values it had with its partner, Nurture Farmacy—a wellness, cultural and farm destination in Tagaytay. The said partner, built on three pillars, resonates well with Sheraton Manila.

First, it is proudly Filipino as it embraces our unique cultural practices and traditions. Second, it upholds health by way of wellness intervention through food. Third, it encourages inclusive growth. Its team comes from the barangay where they are given opportunities for career growth. The collaboration of the two companies promotes awareness to sustainability among its guests via day tours and farm visits.

“We believe this is just the start of the many things we can still build on, in relation to sustainability. We plan to create more projects to support the talent and produce here in Nurture Farmacy and bring them to our luxury platform in our hotel,” General Manager Anna Liza Vergara beamed with joy. Indeed, eating plant-based food has its rewards. It is not only good for one’s health, but also compliments the environment and the community where these nutritious ingredients are being farmed.

Savor these plant-based offers from September 15, until the end of October. For information or reservations, please call (632) 902-1800.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Author Profile

Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.

A Healthy and Sugar Free Buffet Alternative

A Healthy and Sugar Free Buffet Alternative

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | September 19, 2019

Gimme some of that good stuff!

Healthy Meals PH provides Metro diners a healthy and sugar free buffet alternative.

AS Christmas tunes hit the airwaves, you know it is the season once again when people would soon dine out more often than usual to meet up with loved ones and their different circles of friends, as well.

With the overwhelming selections of dining establishments one can try out, how can a restaurant make itself stand out for the crowd? Lifestyle coach and restaurateur Rad Pelayo is well aware that a high number of stroke cases has been recorded during the Christmas season due to people’s overindulgence in fatty and oily food choices.

In this regard, his brainchild, Healthy Meals PH, a four-month- old restaurant in Torre de Vennezia, Quezon City, is pulling out all the stops to position itself as the dining spot offering healthy and sugar-free buffet selections.

During weekends, Healthy Meals PH, lays out a delightful spread of healthy and tasty treats in a space that coexists with a spa. The eye-catching multilayered buffet spread makes use of overhead rattan lamps and hanging baskets, with the burlap table cloth adding a nice touch. The modest set up exudes a picnic-in-a -garden kind of vibe.

Star of the show

THE star dish of this buffet is the oven-baked, Chicken Hardinera which is kind of meatloaf specialty originating in the Quezon province.

It has a mildly sweet taste one won’t easily get tired of and has a texture that can even go well with toasted bread. More poultry options come in the form of the chicken-crusted Keto Pizza and the Chicken Tacos garnished with lettuce, cucumber, and salsa. (Just think of pizzas and tacos getting a lean and mean nutrition makeover!)

The comforting taste of classic dishes are represented as well, with dishes, such as the Pata Tim sweetened with pineapple and slow- cooked tender Beef Caldereta served with pita bread. These two hit the spot every time.

For crunchy veggie delights, have a bite of Cucumber Boats and Vegan Wraps. Coincidence or not, the colors of Christmas shines bright with the Red Basil Pasta and the Green Pesto Pasta both of which are cooked al dente.

The desserts here are not a guilty pleasure. How can it be when its Choco Cupcakes are made with muscovado and its oatmeal cookies are baked with stevia? Who says you can’t have the best of both worlds? “It’s a treat, not a cheat,” goes the buffet’s clever tagline.

After you have your fill of the good stuff, wash it all down with unlimited servings of refreshing ice- cold ginger-turmeric drink.

The weekend buffet, priced at P499, is made more enticing with its 3-plus-1 promo.

There is also a buffet and massage tie up for P749 per head that comes with unlimited coffee, sugar- free drinks, sugar-free cookies and cupcakes. A 5-plus-1 promo is being offered for the month of September.

A One-Stop-Shop

HEALTHY Meals PH is a lifestyle brand that goes beyond its buffet on weekends and a la carte offerings on weekday. In fact, it doubles as a store for locally produced organic products, such as premium condiments like vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce and more-all as part of an advocacy of the restaurant to help farmers.

“During rainy season in Pagbilao, Quezon, there is a livelihood program that encourages farmers to make vegan bagoong and vinegar. We want to help farmers all year round, not just for their fresh produce but also for the end product of what they make. Mushrooms, for example, you don’t need it all the time, but they [the farmers] can make mushroom chips which you can sell all year round,” the lifestyle guru shares. Rad Pelayo prides himself in being a son of a farmer. The advocacy is a way of paying tribute to his roots and also as a way of giving back.

As an offshoot of this advocacy, he is able to give customers healthy and economical alternatives to its international and expensive counterparts.

In addition to being a store, Healthy Meals PH is also into packaged meal delivery even before the restaurant opened. “It is an alternative to cooking or ordering fast food. Lone condo-dweller, child with no baon, or you are just a health buff. It cuts across all lifestyle. When you are sick, the more you need to eat healthy meals,” the restaurateur said.

“Skinny meals is for sedentary lifestyle [for people with no exercise]- still complete and balanced meals. For active lifestyle, the gym goers, there is the high protein, low carbs meals, And keto meals- high in good fat, high in protein, and no carbs. There is a preparation leading to eating keto meals, which means you are already on no carbs diet. If you want to lose weight fast, go for keto. Vegan meals are available in the store menu, not for delivery, he added.

Indeed, with Healthy Meals PH, eating healthier meals has become a lot easier. Whether for delivery or dine-in, one is always assured of feeding himself/ herself of only the things that make a difference-the good stuff.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Author Profile

Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.