When it comes to food and beverage, there are a lot of options out there. So many, in fact, that it can sometimes be difficult to choose which ones are the best for our family. One simple ingredient can throw everything off balance. We've all heard that eating too much sugar could be dangerous for our health–I always say moderation is key, although I'm the first to admit that I have quite the sweet tooth. Many folks turn to artificial sweeteners instead of sugar, but the real kicker is that these can actually be worse for you.
I was never a huge fan of diet soda or other sugar-free products, because I didn't really care for the taste. I did like chewing gum, though. I remember little by little, everyday brands on the market started switching from sugar to aspartame (an artificial sweetener) in order to sweeten their gum products. Because the taste never seemed to change, it didn't really bother me at the time. Then about seven years ago, I came across several health articles that discussed the dangers of consuming artificial sweeteners. Some of the things that I learned were downright scary, like the fact that methanol, an ingredient found in aspartame, can actually be broken down into formaldehyde in our own bodies. Pretty scary, right? I'm no scientist and rather not get into any conspiracies about this, but let's just say that I now stay far, far away from artificial sweeteners.
Needless to say I was pretty bummed that I couldn't chew my favorite brands of gum anymore. About a year later, I came across something called stevia, a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners. Stevia actually comes from the Stevia Rebaudiana plant in South America and is extracted from the plant's leaves. With my discovery of stevia, also came my discovery of actual products made with stevia, including...you guessed it, chewing gum! Throughout the years, I've tried several brands that I liked and just recently I was introduced to another brand called Stevita Stevia.
HERE'S A BIT OF HISTORY ON THE COMPANY:
Farmers in Maringa, Brazil in the early 80's formed a cooperative to harvest stevia leaves. Maringa is in Southwestern Brazil, the native habitat of the stevia plant. In the mid 80's, they turned it into a company to farm the plants and extract the sweet crystals from the stevia leaves. In 1987 the extraction factory was completed. In 1988 the Stevita® brand, the first stevia table top sweetener in the world, was introduced in the local market.
When it comes to finding natural chewing gum that doesn't contain artificial sweeteners, I get a little giddy. You can imagine my excitement when my shipment of Stevita Stevia products came to the door. SteviaDent is Stevita Stevia's brand of sugar-free gum. There are five flavors to choose from, wintergreen, spearmint, cinnamon, peppermint, and fruit flavor. For those who are worried about tooth decay, xylitol is included in the list of ingredients for this gum. They also come in a convenient twelve pack, perfect for slipping into my purse or glove compartment
StevitaDent offers that same consistency of many gums that I used to chew and the flavor really does last. The spearmint and peppermint are by far the mintiest flavors of the bunch. If you need to freshen your breathe, these will definitely do the trick. Stevita Stevia uses natural flavoring in their gum and this was especially evident in the cinnamon flavor. I really enjoyed it, because it has more of a natural spice flavor than other cinnamon brands that I've previously tried on the market. There was definitely a noticeable difference. My absolute two favorites flavors were the wintergreen and fruit. The wintergreen was nice, because it wasn't overly minty, yet still offered a nice freshness. I had yet to find a stevia sweetened fruit gum that I enjoyed until now, and that is why the fruit flavored SteviaDent was my favorite. The taste has the perfect amount of fruitiness without being overly sweet–just what I was looking for.
When discovering Stevita Stevia's complete line of products, I also noticed that they offered a chocolate drink mix called Stevita Delight. This immediately caught my eye, because I had been on the lookout for a healthier chocolate mix option.
To give you a little background, I don't give my son too many sweet drinks, but every now and then I like to offer him a nice cold glass of chocolate milk as a treat. He loves it, and I love the twinkle in his eye as he takes that initial sip and then quickly chugs the rest down...priceless! As I become more and more aware of food and beverage ingredients that may not be good for us, it also leaves me searching for new products that I would have otherwise turned to. Artificial dyes and colors are additional ingredients that I have been trying to eliminate from our pantry. I was appalled to see that two of my all-time favorite brands actually contained caramel color, red 40, blue 1, and yellow 6. Honestly during this day in age, I don't know why companies still use these ingredients. I personally think the color shouldn't matter as long as it's healthy and tastes great.
Lucky me, Stevita Delight to the rescue with only three all natural ingredients– concentrated cocoa powder, stevia extract, and vanilla flavor. In using this particular chocolate mix, I found that it did take a bit of trial and error to get used to. Since stevia is typically way sweeter than sugar, I have always found that a little goes a long way. The total serving size for an 8 ounce glass of milk is two teaspoons. I did find this measurement to be way too sweet. I decided to bring it down to one teaspoon and that definitely did the trick. Since it is a powder, it can get a little lumpy, so I also recommend giving it a good, rapid stir. I personally like to mix everything in a shaker bottle before I pour it into a cup. The taste is smooth, chocolatey, and all around yummy! It's such a relief to now have a natural chocolate milk mix that's quick and easy to make. It'll especially be nice for our hot cocoas during the wintertime.
If you're looking to kick sugar or artificial sweeteners (or both) to the curb, then I definitely recommend giving Stevita Stevia a try. In addition to their delicious SteviaDent chewing gum and Stevita Delight chocolate drink mix, they have a ton of other sugar-free alternatives like simple sweetening powders, beverage flavor syrups, and even hard candies!
For more information on Stevita Stevia, be sure to connect with them on social media.
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