Natural Sodas? Taste Test Challenge: Zevia!

I admit it – I sometimes crave a soda.

It usually comes over me when I pass by some fast food outlet and smell the fried food aromas drifting through the air. It’s amazing how long that food-programming lasts, considering the last time I really ate fast food was in high school. Sometimes when we’re having pizza and movie night on Friday’s at home (yes, I eat pizza and I love it! Pizza Plus in my Brooklyn neighborhood delivers the best whole wheat pie with Diaya cheese and zucchini slices you can imagine!) I’ll indulge in a frosty beverage, but it’s not the iconic red cans of dark cola I used to enjoy.

Coke, Pepsi, and other major colas aren’t part of my diet anymore. I learned that most sodas contain phosphoric acid, which can cause your bones to lose calcium due to the high acidity. Back in high school and college I would drink a Super Big Gulp from 7-11 several days a week, and most Americans can relate. Sodas sweetened with high fructose corn syrup make up the majority of American’s calorie intake.

I get a lot of questions from friends about whether they should avoid certain foods, and soda tops the list. Diet sodas seem to elicit the biggest worries, because they might have heard about studies linking artificial sweeteners to cancer, Alzheimer’s, or other health concerns.

I never liked the taste of diet sodas, and still find artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Equal to leave a funny after taste. My friend Val, belly dancer extraordinaire, described it perfectly: “This tastes like toothpaste!”

So I’ve decided to do a little experimentation and test out the new range of naturally sweetened sodas that are lining the shelves of health food store aisles these days.

My first taste test brings us to the world of diet sodas: ZEVIA.

Including stevia, erythritol (a natural sugar alcohol that, like xylitol, doesn’t contribute to dental decay), natural caramel, natural tartaric acid, citric acid, kola nut extract, natural caffeine, annatto, and ginger root, Zevia offers several flavors including ginger ale, orange, cherry lime, and cola.

ZEVIA is sweetened with non-caloric stevia extract, which is derived from a South American herb also known as sweet leaf. Although it appears to be a new trend, use of stevia is not new. South American tribes have sweetened their diets with with leaves from the sweet leaf plant and attribute medicinal properties to the herb. Stevia has been used in Japan since the 1970′s when sugar-free sweeteners began to grow in popularity.

Stevia has been banned in Europe, and has been labeled as a dietary supplement, but not as a sweetener, here in the US for decades. It is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and truly has virtually no calories.

MY TASTE TEST: I tried the cola, ginger ale and orange flavors from Zevia. The cola tasted exactly like my memory of Diet Coke! I have to say I haven’t had a Diet Coke in at least 12 years, so my tongue might have a different opinion from a regular drinker. The ginger ale flavor tasted more like tooth paste (thanks Val), and wasn’t very gingery. In fact, we realized that Tom’s of Maine ginger toothpaste has more ginger flavor than this soda! Finally, the orange soda was my favorite, which was a total surprise. I grew up playing soccer and our coach always had orange soda for our half-time beverage. Even as a sugar-a-holic young kid, I didn’t like orange soda because it tasted so thick and unnatural. But Zevia’s orange soda was lighter and clean tasting without being overly sweet.

So, if you like diet soda but want to move away from the artificial colors and artificial sweeteners, try ZEVIA. You can also try these packets of Stevia to take in your bag, car, or to your office – they’re just like sugar packets, without the sugar!

Next time I’ll talk about another brand of soda and how to make your own at home!

Osteoporosis Fears? Win “The Whole-Food Guide To Strong Bones”

When I discovered my health was dramatically improved by following a dairy and meat free diet, I realized I had to learn how to cook all over again.

I fumbled along experimenting with recipes, searching out cookbooks, and seeking teachers. I discovered a strong passion for cooking and health-supportive foods that I didn’t know existed, and wanted to make it a bigger part of my life. I was lucky to find a world-renowned culinary school right in my backyard; attending the Natural Gourmet Institute, founded by Annemarie Colbin, in New York City marked the beginning of my culinary and health counseling career.

Annemarie Colbin’s newest book The Whole-Food Guide To Strong Bones is a treasure trove of tested information and recipes that guide the reader through learning about body chemistry, supportive foods for building a healthy skeleton, and foods that can actually destroy your bone health. If you are at risk for osteoporosis or other diseases of the bones, you must read this book.

Women’s modern lifestyle habits are often dangerous for our bones. This book offers easy to understand recipes, tips, and lifestyle suggestions for how to make your skeleton strong.

Colbin’s book brings together decades of holistic teaching and cooking knowledge to offer a complete program for stronger bones. You’ll also discover how exercise and finding personal balance can improve your health and prevent fragility fractures, menopause-related bone loss, and osteoporosis. The book also includes many real-life examples and personal stories that help bring the information to life.

This book offers a holistic approach to understanding:

  • What puts you at risk for bone fracture
  • Why medication and estrogen therapy may not work for you
  • How the nutrients in whole foods build bone mass
  • That your bones are living parts of your body, affected by what you eat

I reached out to Annemarie recently, and she was kind enough to offer a signed copy of her book to one of my readers!

I’ll be choosing  a winner on Friday, October 1st, so leave a comment here on my blog about why you need to own this book!

(Look at my list of favorite cookbooks and books on health here!)

Here’s to your health,


Bone Up on Osteoporosis Protection For Life (Win Dr. Fuhrman’s new DVD! – read on!)

When I first decided to live a dairy-free life, about 10 years ago, I was amazed at how many people asked me “Where will you get your calcium? Aren’t you afraid of steoporosis?” I knew, after reading all the natural health and vegan nutrition books, that I didn’t have to worry. Still, it’s hard to convince people that the “milk mustache” campaign won’t do anything to protect women’s bones over time. 

Now there is a great resource for any woman who wants to improve her bone health and reduce her risk of osteoporosis naturally. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of countless health books including Eat For Health, and Disease Proof Your Child, has created the only DVD you’ll need from here on out:

OSTEOPOROSIS PROTECTION FOR LIFE is a fantastic resource that shares the science behind proper nutrition, avoiding high risk medications, common dietary causes of bone loss, and building strong bones. The DVD is also an exercise video! The DVD shows you in exact detail 10 bone building exercises that you can do anywhere. 



Just write a comment here on this blog and you’ll be entered into my contest to win one of Dr. Fuhrman’s new DVDs - thanks Dr. Fuhrman!

Be well,