Can the words natural and soda co-exist or is “natural soda” an oxymoron? After reviewing the newer natural sweetener, Truvia, the good folks at ZEVIA sent Grading Girl samples of this surprisingly delightful, unindulgent indulgence. Admittedly, I all but eliminated soda from my adopted clean-eating diet a few years ago. But when I unzipped the compact cooler containing the soda (thank you, ZEVIA!) and opened my first can, I was surprised at how light, fresh and tasty the bevarage actually was. ZEVIA comes in six varieties – ZEVIA Natural Cola, ZEVIA Natural Orange, ZEVIA Natural Twist, ZEVIA Natural Root Beer, ZEVIA Natural Black Cherry, and ZEVIA Natural Ginger Ale. The first flavor I opened was the Natural Cola as I wanted to see just how similar to the leading diet sodas this tasted. This flavor tasted so close to Diet Coke that I had to run to my closest grocer to grab a can and compare the two side-by-side. The result: ZEVIA had a lighter, more refreshing taste whereas Diet Coke left me feeling full. Zevia was, in fact, just fractionally sweeter – not too sweet, but enough to satisfy my taste buds more than the average soda.
Now they had my curiousity. Next, I tested the Natural Orange . . . this one tasted better than the Orange Crush I used to drink as a kid. Maybe it was because I hadn’t sipped flavored soda in years, but I finished the whole can rather quickly (unusual for me). Here’s a rundown of my taste test on each of the ZEVIA flavors:
Natural Cola = Lighter, more refreshing than the leading Cola
Natural Orange = Tasted as if a bit of juice from an orange was squeezed into it (made with natural orange oil)
Natural Twist = Almost as light as my lemon water
Natural Root Beer = Very authentic, old fashioned root beer taste (this coupled with fat free ice cream would make a guiltless root beer float!!!)
Natural Ginger Ale = As with the Natural Cola, more refreshing and light than the originals. I’m buying a case of this to keep on hand when my daughter’s home sick and won’t drink anything else.
Natural Black Cherry = My favorite (as are all things cherry!) Just sweet enough.
So are these tasty treats too good to be true? Grading Girl did her research on the few ingredients found in the sodas. The main ingredient, Stevia, is found in all six flavors. It’s a natural herb native to South and Central America. For centuries, native Americans of Paraguay and Brazil called it “sweet leaf” and used it to sweeten native foods. The extract from the stevia leaf has no calories, no effect on blood sugar levels, and is much sweeter than sugar. This would explain how it can be so pleasing to the palette without the unwanted side effects. The next ingredient found in all six flavors is Erythritol, a natural sugar alcohol found in fruits and vegetables, also with no calories or effect on blood sugar levels. Here is a bonus for those of us who remember those 2nd grade experiments where the teacher leaves a tooth in a glass of soda to quickly decay – Erythritol does not promote tooth decay! In fact, the caramel coloring found in the Natural Cola is only from real caramel. The other ingredients found in a few of the flavors are just as natural: tartaric acid occurs naturally in many plants, particularly grapes, bananas, and tamarinds, and is also found in wine (Most colas use cheap, harmful phosphoric acid for flavor. Phosphoric acid is used in fertilizers and detergents! Yikes!); kola nut extract naturally occurs in caffeine (which is only found in the Natural Cola flavor, by the way); annato is the only existing natural orange coloring (the ZEVIA team searched far and wide to find this as they refused to use any unnatural coloring); and, ginger root is found in the Natural Root Beer and Natural Ginger Ale flavors.
The correct answer is no, this is not too good to be true; and, with ZEVIA, the term “natural soda” is not an oxymoron. The 0 calories, 0mg sodium, 0g sugar, 0g fat equals one thirst-quenching, crave-curbing soft drink.
Grading Girl gives ZEVIA an A for pleasingly refreshing taste without the bloated filling afterward that sodas usually leave me with. This is one type of soda – no, let me correct that, the ONLY soda – I will be happy to stock my fridge with and not feel guilty about sipping myself!! Thank you, ZEVIA, for creating a seemingly too-good-to-be-true product into something that just about everyone can consume within their clean-eating lifestyles. My daughter especially thanks you since I’ve been refusing to buy other sodas.
Addendum to original post: Thank you to Zevia for sending the 6-pack of soda. My family enjoyed every last drop!!
Two representatives of a new natural sweetener were at my gym the other day. When they found out about my website, they gave me many samples to try. I just used one sample in a Sunday late afternoon fruit salad ~ what a pleasant addition.
As I’ve already revealed in my Shake the Sugar post, sugar is my vice. Before I discovered the benefits of clean eating, Suzy Qs and Twinkies used to be normal staples in my breakfast menus. Naturally, my interest peaked when I was tempted last week to try the Truvia lemonade at the gym. Not only did it taste sweetfully sugarful, but it didn’t waste the couple of hours I just spent upstairs working up a sweat because it contains 0 calories. What’s more, one little packet is equal to two teaspoonfuls of sugar. That means if used as a replacement in recipes, half the amount of Truvia will be needed in comparison to the original amount of sugar.
So what is in Truvia that makes it so tasty yet healthful? Grading Girl did her research and found out Truvia contains three ingredients: Erythritol, Rebiana, and natural sweeteners. Erythritol sounds like a chemical but it is actually a naturally fermented sugar alcohol found in pears and grapes. It’s made by a culture much like making yogurt from milk. It is then filtered, dried, and crystallized into a dry ingredient that is 99% pure. Rebiana is what gives Truvia its sweet taste. It comes from the best part of stevia leaves. What makes Truvia different from other sweeteners is that the other sweeteners are a mixture of components from the Stevia leaves; Truvia is made from the strongest component only, Rebiana. Finally, the natural sweeteners are used “much like salt and pepper is used to taste,” as the Truvia website tells us. This is the only part that has Grading Girl wondering – what exactly are the “natural sweeteners?” This is the smallest portioned ingredient and I’m impressed with the natural way this sweetener is produced, but it would still be satisfying to know exactly every morsel that makes up the final product.
Overall Grading Girl gives Truvia, “Nature’s Perfect Sweetness,” an A- as a quality natural sweetener to use in coffee, lemonade, baked goods, cereal, yogurt, etc. I plan on using the rest of my samples in baked goods and oatmeal, and I can’t wait to get some during my next trip to Whole Foods. Half the amount of Truvia is equal to a full amount of sugar (1/2 cup Truvia = 1 cup sugar). This means your baked goods will have less sugar and less calories. Extra credit to Truvia for being non-caloric and having no effect on the glycemic index! This means it’s a safe alternative for diabetics and people trying to lose weight.
Thank you, Truvia, for satisfying this girl’s strong sugar cravings!! Double thank you for the free samples!!! I used every last crystal with confidence!