Tag Archives: stevia

Gluten Free Orange Pumpkin Bread

Gluten Free Orange Pumpkin Bread from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Pudding

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Pudding at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

We’re getting the house we’ve lived in for 11 years ready to be put on the market. After the movers left Tuesday (we’re putting most of our stuff in storage so the house looks larger and can be “staged”) I’ve been in a complete funk. All I’ve wanted to do sit in bed, watch The Walking Dead, and eat comfort foods.

Zombies and comfort foods? Well, since it’s Halloween and pumpkin season, how about a yummy bread pudding using pumpkin puree and some sweet yet tart cranberries?

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Pudding at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Bread pudding tips and tricks

This recipe makes a huge amount of bread pudding – perfect for a Halloween or Thanksgiving party. It’s also makes a decadent (but not too unhealthy) breakfast goodie when family is visiting from out of town. If you’re making this for dessert for your immediate family and don’t want a couple of weeks of leftovers, cut the recipe in half.

You can make the Pumpkin and Cranberry Bread Pudding gluten free or not depending on the type of bread you use. Also, it’s a great way to use bread ends, if your family’s like mine and refuses to eat them. (I freeze bread loaf ends and use them in meatloaf, Thanksgiving stuffing, French Toast, and bread pudding.)

Feel free to substitute raisins or dried cherries or raisins for the cranberries. Or you can use half shredded coconut and half dried cranberries or another dried fruit. Serve with a whipped cream, a scoop of ice cream, or whiskey sauce if you’re not watching the calories. Pumpkin and Cranberry Bread Pudding reheats very well in the microwave, but it’s delicious cold, too. You can also make it several days ahead. Just cover with aluminum foil, refrigerate, and reheat in a microwave (by the serving) or the whole pan in a 325 degrees F oven for 15 minutes.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Pudding at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Pudding

Based on a recipe from the Joy of Cooking.


  • cooking spray
  • 24 ounces gluten free or whole wheat bread, stale but not hard
  • 1 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup stevia
  • 3 cups skim milk
  • 1 12-ounce cans fat free evaporated milk
  • 2 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree


  1. Spray the inside of a 15x10x 2 inch rectangular baking dish and set aside.
  2. Cut or tear bread into 1/2 inch pieces. You should have about 10 lightly packed cups of bread pieces. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Cover bread with dried cranberries.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk eggs and egg whites.
  5. Add vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt , sugar, skim milk and condensed milk to eggs and whisk until blended.
  6. Pour egg, spice and milk mixture over bread and cranberries. Mix together bread and liquids until bread is saturated. Let stand for 30 minutes periodically pressing the bread down with a spoon or spatula to help bread absorb the liquid.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Baked the pumpkin and cranberry bread pudding in a in a bain marie (water bath) until puffed and firm in the center - about 1 1/2 hours.
  9. Serve warm or cold, either plain or with whipped cream or ice cream.
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 90 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours
Servings: 16
  • Serving size: 1/16 of pan
  • Calories: 263
  • Calories from Fat: 25
  • Total Fat: 2.8g
  • Saturated fat: 0.8g
  • Unsaturated fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 452mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 47.1g
  • Sugar: 29.8g
  • Fiber: 4.1g
  • Protein: 13.2g
  • Cholesterol: 49mg

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Pudding at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

School lunch makeover challenge: chocolate pudding

chocolate pudding The folks at Truvia challenged me to replace a usual lunchbox snack (be it chocolate milk, pudding, cookies or candy) with a no-sugar-added, naturally sweetened healthy snack from one of their Truvia-sweetened recipes.

One of the not-so-healthy items I used pack for my kids was chocolate pudding. We gave it up years ago because it was laden with empty calories and a bunch of stuff I wasn’t comfortable giving my kids. Truvia’s school lunch makeover gave me an idea for making a healthier chocolate pudding.

By using coconut milk and rice starch, I went one step further and changed the recipe so kids who can’t have dairy or corn could eat it, too. It's also gluten free. (Feel free to use skim milk and corn starch from the original recipe if you or your child doesn’t has any food sensitivities or allergies.)

This is a very quick and easy healthy snack recipe to make since it’s done in the microwave. You can easily make up a batch on a school night. Put the pudding in plastic containers covered in plastic wrap overnight. Snap on the lids in the morning and add it to your child’s lunchbox. They’ll be thrilled!

making chocolate pudding


  • 3 tablespoons rice starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 11 Truvia packets
  • 2 1/2 cups lite coconut milk
  • 2 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate, cut into small chunks - I used Dagoba Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (gluten free)


  1. Assemble ingredients.
  2. In a large microwaveable bowl, place corn starch, salt and Truvia® natural sweetener
  3. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
  4. While whisking, add coconut milk to dry ingredients and mix until no lumps or dry spots.
  5. Add chocolate pieces to the milk mixture.
  6. Place in microwave and heat for 1 minute. Remove and stir well.
  7. Repeat step 6.
  8. Place back in the microwave and heat mixture for 2 minutes, stir well, and heat for 2 minutes again until thickened.
  9. Add vanilla and stir.
  10. Allow to cool at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  11. Portion into individual serving dishes and cover with plastic touching pudding to prevent skin from forming.
  12. Chill in the refrigerator until cooled and set.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 20 Minutes
Servings: 4 servings
  • Serving size: 3/4 cup
  • Calories: 181
  • Calories from Fat: 134
  • Total Fat: 14.9g
  • Saturated fat: 11.6g
  • Unsaturated fat: 3.3g
  • Sodium: 189mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 15.5g
  • Sugar: 8g (Erythritol 7g)
  • Fiber: 2.4g
  • Protein: 3.7g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Nutrition facts per serving  for original recipe: Calories 160; Total Fat, 8g; Saturated Fat, 4.5g; Trans Fat, 0g; Cholesterol, 5mg; Sodium, 280mg; Total Carbohydrate, 26g; Dietary Fiber, 2g; Sugars, 8g; Erythritol, 7g: Protein, 7g; Vitamin A, 6% DV; Vitamin C, 2% DV; Calcium, 20% DV; Iron, 15% DV.

Kids like Truvia sweetened snacks

Kids love pudding lunch makeover challenge

Lucie and Nathan both loved the pudding. Nathan especially liked the texture and taste. I’m sure they’ll be asking for more Truvia sweetened pudding soon!

Project LunchBox – FamilyFreshCooking.com

Featured on Jane Deere's Fusion Fridays.

Disclosure: Truvia provided me with samples of their product and a gift card to pay for ingredients.

Saying goodbye to summer – Mixed Berry & Banana Sorbet {vegan friendly, sugar free}

Mixed Berry Sorbet The kids are back to school signaling the end of one of the craziest summers we’ve had in a long time. My husband was laid off in June and he’s spent the summer being a stay at home dad while job hunting. As the current bread winner, I’ve been busier than ever working here at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet (I hope you’ve noticed) and on other freelance work.

It may also be our last summer in Colorado, so we’re trying to savor every last bit of it, from dinners we make from locally caught trout to berries, vegetables and herbs we grow in our yard.

One of the things I wanted to do this summer was make homemade ice cream from our berries. I bought a Cuisinart 2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker last spring with plans to do so, but I didn’t have the time until last week.

Instead of cream, whole milk and sugar, I wanted to use Native Forest Organic Light Coconut Milk and liquid stevia so it would be dairy free and relatively guilt free, too. I did a search and found a recipe for Blackberry Ice Cream from Kristen at Passion 4 Eating. I liked that she used bananas in her recipe, which was perfect because I had a few overly ripe ones in the refrigerator. I substituted liquid stevia for the sugar Kristen used, and played around with ratios and amounts a bit.

The mixed berries I used were mostly raspberries and some blackberries from my garden. You can use any type of berries you like.

Mixed Berry Sorbet

Mixed Berry & Banana Sorbet


  • 2 small bananas
  • 2 - 13.5 ounce cans light coconut milk
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh or frozen berries, thawed
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid stevia, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed


  1. Peel bananas, and toss into a blender with the coconut milk. Blend until combined.
  2. Add the blackberries, 1 tablespoon of the liquid stevia, the vanilla extract and the lemon juice. Blend until the berries are completely pureed.
  3. Taste, add more stevia if too tart. Add a bit more stevia than you think you need as the flavor will change when the liquid sorbet is frozen.
  4. When you’re satisfied with the level of sweetness, make sorbet in a two quart ice cream maker according to manufacture’s directions.
  5. Serve immediately.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes
Servings: 1 3/4 quarts or 20 scoops
  • Serving size: 1 scoop
  • Calories: 39
  • Calories from Fat: 19
  • Total Fat: 2.1g
  • Saturated fat: 1.9g
  • Unsaturated fat: 0.0g
  • Sodium: 10mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 5.4g
  • Sugar: 2.2g
  • Fiber: 0.7g
  • Protein: 0.7g
  • Cholesterol: 0g

Mixed Berry Sorbet

Should you buy an ice cream maker?

I thought my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker did a good job – the sorbet was creamy though a bit softer than regular ice cream.

However, the sorbet turned into a solid mass when put into the freezer. If you have leftover sorbet, you’ll need to thaw it out before serving. If you leave it out too long, it’ll turn into a milk shake. You can either put it back in the ice cream maker to turn it back into a sorbet. Or you can drink it as a shake – up to you!

I’ve also made traditional ice cream using whole milk and whipping cream in the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. I actually had better results with the sorbet as the ice cream was too runny! The recipe I used for the ice cream made a bit more than two quarts, so I feel my ice cream maker does better with smaller batches.

You can’t beat the price making your own ice cream, especially if you have berries or fruit growing in your backyard. What I really like is that you can control what goes into your ice cream or other frozen treats, so you can make sure your recipe fits any dietary needs, food sensitivities or allergies you may have.

You can also make grown up concoctions like frozen margaritas from better-for-you ingredients like fresh lime juice and berries, agave nectar, stevia and organic tequila. Sound like fun? Then go for it!

Looking for stevia in San Diego at BlogHer 2011 #blogher11

San Diego This year’s BlogHer conference was at the San Diego Convention Center and the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina. I’ve been attending BlogHer since 2006 when there were only 600 women in attendance. This summer there were over 4,100 attendees!

Many told me they felt that this year’s conference was positive, fun and mellow. Maybe it was the gorgeous San Diego weather and the lovely breezes coming off San Diego Bay. It could have been the beautiful views of the Coronado Bridge. Or maybe we were just energized by working out with Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser, Quaker’s new spokesperson.

The hunt for stevia

This year, I was thrilled to be sponsored by the Global Stevia Institute to talk to other attendees about stevia and to find stevia-sweetened products at BlogHer 2011.

Sadly, there was no Pure Via presence at BlogHer 2011 even though PepsiCo has been a longtime sponsor of the conference. However, they did have a booth where attendees could sample Trop50, which is sweetened with stevia. They featured the Lemonade and the Raspberry Lemonade flavors, which are delicious. However, my favorite is still the Pomegranate Blueberry.

There was only one other stevia sweetened product on the expo floor – nimble by Balance Bar. It’s sweetened with stevia and brown rice syrup, and made especially for women and moms.

There were no stevia packets available at the coffee and tea service areas – just the usual pink, blue, yellow and white stuff. It was the same at the parties and in the local restaurants and coffee houses. This was surprising as the conference offered a variety of healthy, vegan and gluten free meals.

Let’s talk about stevia

While I’m beginning to find stevia packets here in Colorado at hotels, restaurants and coffee houses, I don’t see it in other places I visit. That’s why I always carry packets of stevia in my purse. It’s a great way to start a conversation about the benefits of stevia as a zero calorie, natural sweetener.

When talking with other attendees about stevia, many were very knowledgeable about it, loved using stevia in their coffee and cooking, and even told me their favorite brand. Usually they mentioned Truvia, as the company has done several campaigns with bloggers through various public relation and marketing agencies.

All in all, I can’t wait for BlogHer 2012 in NYC and have already bought my ticket. Hope to see you there! I'll be the one digging the stevia packets out of my purse.

Disclosure: the Global Stevia Institute sponsored my time at the Blogher 2011 conference.

Cappuccino Granitas, sugar free frozen treats with a buzz!

Sugar Free Cappuccino Granitas

Due to my food sensitivities to sugar and milk as well as a desire to make healthier snacks for my kids, I’m experimenting with various frozen treats this summer. While I do have a ice cream maker, I wanted to try out some simpler recipes for fruit popsicles, granitas and paletas first.


Granitas is the Sicilian version of sorbet, but more course and crystalline. I liken it to shaved ice with grownup flavors. According to Wikipedia, it’s served in Italy more like an ICEE with a straw, unlike how I made it – more frozen and served in a bowl with a spoon.

Inspired by the Espresso Granita in the June 2011 issue of Bon Appetit, I came up with two healthier espresso-flavored granitas. Instead of milk I used coconut milk and I sweetened the drinks with stevia. To me, both versions taste like a delicious icy, iced coffee.

Just a note of warning! This is a highly caffeinated dessert, so be careful feeding it to the kids or treating yourself to a big bowl after dinner. Unless you all want to be bouncing off the walls that is.

Sugar Free Cappuccino Granita with Chocolate

This is the darker granita shown above on the left.

Makes 6 servings



  1. Stir all ingredients into a medium bowl into well combined.
  2. Pour into a 9x9x2 metal baking pan.
  3. Freeze for 90 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from freezer and stir, mashing any frozen parts with the back of a fork.
  5. Cover and freeze until firm, about 2 hours more.
  6. Remove pan from freezer. Using a fork, scrape granita vigorously to form ice flakes.
  7. Divide granita among bowls or glasses and serve.

Nutritional information

  • Calories 52
  • Calories from Fat 44
  • Total Fat 4.9g
  • Saturated Fat 4.3g
  • Trans Fat 0.0g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 14mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 1.7g
  • Dietary Fiber 0.7g
  • Sugars 0.8g
  • Protein 0.7g

Nutrition Grade C- from CalorieCount 

Weight Watchers POINTS = 1.5

Sugar Free Cappuccino Granitas

Sugar Free Cappuccino Granita with Cinnamon

This is the lighter granita shown above on the right.

Makes 6 servings


  • 2 cups hot espresso
  • 1/2 cup Stevia Extract In the Raw 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Stir all ingredients into a medium bowl into well combined.
  2. Pour into a 9x9x2 metal baking pan.
  3. Freeze for 90 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from freezer and stir, mashing any frozen parts with the back of a fork.
  5. Cover and freeze until firm, about 2 hours more.
  6. Remove pan from freezer. Using a fork, scrape granita vigorously to form ice flakes.
  7. Divide granita among bowls or glasses and serve.

Nutritional information

  • Calories 97
  • Calories from Fat 86
  • Total Fat 9.5g
  • Saturated Fat 8.5g
  • Trans Fat 0.0g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 17mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 2.6g
  • Dietary Fiber 1.1g
  • Sugars 1.4g
  • Protein 1.0g

Nutrition Grade C- from CalorieCount 

Weight Watchers POINTS = 2.5

This Mama’s tips

  • If you forget to do the first stir and the granita has frozen solid, leave out for a while to soften up before scraping. Or you can break up the block of granita in your food processor. Return it to the pan and freeze for 30 minutes to firm up. Then scrape, flake and serve.
  • If you’re concerned about the amount of fat from the coconut milk, substitute low fat or skim cow’s milk.
  • Worried about the caffeine? Use decaf espresso.

Cool down with Orange Coconut Popsicles

Sugar Free Orange Coconut Popsicles This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sunkist. All opinions are 100% mine.

Green is good when it comes to Sunkist Valencia Oranges

Have you ever noticed that your Valencia oranges get a little green in the summer? That’s called “re-greening” and is a completely normal thing. Sunkist® Valencia oranges may occasionally “re-green” in warm weather. When Valencias ripen on the tree, they turn a bright orange color. However, warm temperatures may make their skin reabsorb chlorophyll as they hang on the tree causing the orange color to look partly green. So, while the outside of your Sunkist® Valencia oranges is green, the inside remains ripe and delicious.

Don’t believe that green is good when it comes to Valencia oranges? Well check out the Sunkist Valencia Oranges Re-greening Video featuring Chef Robert Danhi to learn about Sunkist Valencia Oranges and why they re-green during warm weather.

Cooling down with healthy, stevia-sweetened fruit popsicles

Now that summer’s here I was eager to try out some of the coconut milk and orange popsicles I’ve been eyeing in the freezer section of my grocery store. Then I saw the prices (so expensive!) and decided to make my own.

I did a little recipe hunting and was shocked at the sugar use in most popsicle recipes. Just because it’s a popsicle doesn’t mean it has to be filled with crap! So I decided to sweeten my orange coconut popsicles with little bit of liquid stevia. The kids loved it! I thought it was as delicious (and way cheaper) than the store bought ones, too.

You can use vanilla soy milk instead of coconut milk, just leave out the vanilla extract. If you don’t have food sensitivities or allergies to milk, go ahead and use skim or low fat milk.

You can find liquid stevia at your health food store or online, and Tovolo popsicle molds on Amazon. (I also have the rocket ones – so cool!)

Sugar Free Orange Coconut Popsicles

Sugar Free Orange Coconut Popsicles

Makes 6 to 7 popsicles depending on the size of molds used



  1. Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight (at least 8 hours).
  4. To release popsicles, place molds under running hot water until popsicle releases.

Nutritional Information

  • Calories 104
  • Calories from Fat 61
  • Total Fat 6.7g
  • Saturated Fat 5.9g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 4mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 11.2g
  • Dietary Fiber 2.0g
  • Sugars 8.6g
  • Protein 1.4g
  • Vitamin A 4%
  • Vitamin C 75%
  • Calcium 3%
  • Iron 3%

Nutrition Grade C+ from CalorieCount

Weight Watchers POINTS = 2

Sunkist Valencia orange tips


  • Fresh Valencia juice may be squeezed and refrigerated overnight. If tightly covered and immediately chilled, no loss of flavor or Vitamin C will occur.
  • Fresh juice packs nutritional power and great taste into all kinds of fruit smoothies. Start with 1/2 cup of juice and 1/2 cup of diced orange in a blender. Add a peeled banana, some frozen berries and 1/2 cup of yogurt.
  • Valencias are especially good to eat when cut into "smiles." Cut fruit in half crosswise; then cut 3 or 4 wedges from each half.
  • Peeling Valencias is easy. Just trim a thin slice from each end of the fruit, then set orange on one end. Cut away strips of peel from top to bottom, until all peel is removed

Connect with Sunkist

You can find Sunkist on Twitter @sunkist and on Facebook. You can also find more about Sunkist citrus fruits on their website along with additional Sunkist citrus recipes and healthy kid recipes.

Visit Sponsor's Site

chocolate tofu shake

Chocolate tofu shake sweetened with stevia

chocolate tofu shake

With warmer weather here – or nearly so – my thoughts turn to cooling down with a yummy chocolate shake. However, like other people with food sensitivities to dairy and sugar, I have to forgo ice cream shakes.

So I created this chocolate shake made with tofu and sweetened with stevia for those who want some creamy, cool chocolaty goodness, but who also want to avoid dairy and sugar-sweetened alternative ice creams.

Chocolate tofu shake

Makes four chocolate shakes


Directions to make chocolate paste:

  1. Combine 2 cups of milk, cocoa powder and stevia in a small bowl.
  2. Stir until combined into a paste-like substance.

Directions to make chocolate shake:

  1. Combine paste, tofu and 1/2 cup milk in a blender. Pulse until blended.
  2. Add ice cubes to blender. Mix on high until ice is completely crushed.
  3. Pour into two tall glasses and serve.

Nutritional information

  • Calories 129
  • Calories from Fat 49
  • Total Fat 5.5g
  • Saturated Fat 1.1g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 83mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 14.4g
  • Dietary Fiber 3.2g
  • Sugars 6.6g
  • Protein 9.6g
  • Calcium 10%
  • Iron 15%

Nutrition Grade A from CalorieCount 

Weight Watchers POINTS = 2

This Mama’s tips

Answer my stevia survey for a chance to win $100!

42-17245001Part of my work as an Expert Panel member on the Global Stevia Institute board is finding out how people feel about stevia. That’s why I’m asking you to fill out this short online survey about stevia. It’ll take just a few minutes of your time.

Once you fill it out, you’re eligible for a chance to win one of two $100 American Express Gift cards. (You have to be over 18 to enter and be willing to send me your name and mailing address so we can send out your gift card.)

The survey will be up for two weeks and ends Monday, February 21, 2011. We’ll pick a winner at random the first week and another winner the second week.

Good luck and thanks in advance for filing out my stevia survey!

The survey is now closed. Thanks to everyone who filled it out and congrats to winners Jane S. and Kathy G.

How to make coconut yogurt

Coconut Tapioca Yogurt

Due to my food sensitivities, I’ve been on the lookout for alternatives to milk-based yogurts. While you can buy commercially prepared soy and coconut yogurts, all the ones I’ve found are sweetened with cane sugar, which I have to avoid. The only exception is So Delicious Dairy Free Agave Sweetened Yogurt, made from soy milk.

I decided to make my own coconut yogurt based on the method I use to make homemade milk yogurt and this recipe from The GFCF Lady. Since she has to strain the coconut yogurt to make it thicker, I decide to add instant tapioca as a thickener. The result is a tapioca-coconut yogurt hybrid. It has the sourness of regular yogurt from the yogurt culture starter (and all the probiotic goodness), the taste of coconut milk, and the texture of tapioca pudding. Slightly sweetened with stevia, it’s pretty darn good.

Note: Yogourmet Freeze Dried Yogurt Starter does contain skim milk powder and sucrose. If you're looking for a completely dairy free alternative, you may want to try GI ProStart™ Yogurt Culture Starter. I haven't used it, so I can't endorse it. If you have, leave a comment below about your experiences with it.

A note on yogurt makers

Recently, I found a never used, discontinued Salton one quart yogurt maker at a thrift store for under $10. (You can find used units on eBay for $70-90.) I prefer the one quart size to the Salton Yogurt Maker with 7 Glass Jars that I also own. Pouring the yogurt mixture into the glass jars is messy and time consuming. Plus you have seven jars (and lids) to wash instead of one large container. Plus, I’ve broken a jar and cannot find a replacement.

If you are serious about making your own yogurt, invest in a two quart system like the Yogourmet Multi Electric Yogurt Maker. If you’re still experimenting, you can make yogurt in a crockpot or in a quart jar using everything from a heating pad to the sun. Making coconut yogurt is pretty foolproof as long as your starter is good and you don’t overheat your yogurt.

Homemade Coconut Tapioca Yogurt

Makes 3 cups


Special equipment:

  • A candy or milk frothing thermometer
  • Yogurt maker


  1. Pour coconut milk into a saucepan.
  2. Add tapioca and stevia to the coconut milk. Mix thoroughly with a whisk or spoon.
  3. Heat mixture to 170 to 180 degrees F.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool down to 110 degrees F.
  5. Mix in yogurt culture starter to coconut milk.
  6. Pour into yogurt container(s) and place into your yogurt maker.
  7. Heat for six hours or until you have the desired consistency and taste. (The longer it cooks, the more sour it will taste and the firmer it will be.)

Nutritional information

1 serving = 1/2 cup

  • 103 calories
  • 7.5 g fat
  • 6.6 g saturated fat
  • 8.3 g sodium
  • 16.7 g carbohydrates
  • 0 fiber

Weight Watchers POINTS = 3 (Nonfat milk yogurt has 2 POINTS)

This Mama’s tips

  • This is a gluten-free recipe.
  • This recipe isn't 100% casein free since the yogurt starter has skim milk in it.
  • You can buy Yogourmet Freeze Dried Yogurt Starter online or at your local health food store.
  • You can use any brand of coconut milk you can find. I chose Thai Kitchen because it’s available at most mainstream grocery stores. Also, you can buy it by the case on Amazon for $1.73 per can.
  • If you’re concerned about BPA or want organic coconut milk, try Native Forest Organic Light Coconut Milk.
  • You can also use full fat coconut milk. I tried both full fat and lite and the results were the same. Your calories and fat will be higher with full fat coconut milk, of course.
  • If you want super thick yogurt, add another tablespoon of instant tapioca. If you want thinner yogurt cut it down to 1 or 2 tablespoons.
  • There’s just enough stevia added to the mixture to give it a pleasant taste. You can add more stevia during the cooking process if you want it super sweet.
  • Feel free to substitute sugar, honey or agave nectar for the stevia, too. All will increase your calorie and carb counts, of course.
  • After the yogurt sets, you can add additional flavorings, like vanilla extract, more sweetener or fruit.

Zevia: zero calorie soda sweetened naturally with stevia

zevia sodas

As a expert panel member for the Global Stevia Institute, I’m interested in learning about products that contain stevia like Zevia, a natural diet soda sweetened with stevia and erythritol, a natural sugar alcohol found in fruits and vegetables.

The mixed stevia soda sampler six-pack I received contained all the flavors that Zevia makes with the exception of Twist. After chilling the sodas overnight, I drank three over the course of the day – cola, ginger ale and Dr. Zevia. That evening I shared the ginger root beer, black cherry and orange with my children, Nathan (10) and Lucie (7) to get their opinions on the natural sodas that would be more popular with kids.

Taste testing Zevia natural sodas

Ginger Ale was the first Zevia soda I tried. I love natural ginger soda, but after the first sip I thought, “This is too sweet!” As I did later with all the Zevia sodas. After a few more sips, I detected subtle ginger flavors – too subtle! I would have preferred if Zevia Ginger Ale had a stronger ginger taste. Still, I enjoyed drinking it and of all the Zevia sodas, I would buy this one again.

The next soda I tried was Cola Zevia. This one was good, too, after I got past the first “OMG this is too sweet” sip. Then I tried Dr. Zevia, a Dr. Pepper/Mr. Pibbs type soda. Both the cola and Dr. Zevia suffer from being too subtly flavored. Maybe I’m used to Coke Zero, but I want a soda to give me a give me a blast of flavor along with that sweet taste.

The kids’ opinion

Taste testing the remaining three sodas was pretty amusing, since the kids and I didn’t agree most of the time. I thought that Orange Zevia was disgusting, but Lucie really liked it. I liked the Ginger Root Beer, but Nathan said it tasted nothing like root beer. (Well, it’s flavored with non-GMO caramel, maybe that’s why.)

He decided to switch to the orange, while Lucie drank the root beer. However, we all agreed that Black Cherry was good, though it reminded me of the Dr. Zevia soda.

So what’s in Zevia soda?

Each Zevia soda contains no calories and natural flavoring ingredients like kola nut extract, artaric acid and fumaric acid. If the soda contains caffeine, it’s from a natural source like coffee. The orange soda contains citric acid for flavoring and annatto, from the achiote tree, for the coloring. You can see ingredient lists of all the sodas on the Zevia website along with more information about stevia and where to buy Zevia sodas.

All in all, I thought Zevia was just OK. They need to turn up the flavors and turn down the sweet. Then they'll have a great diet stevia-sweetened soda.

Disclosure: This Product Was a Free Giveaway

Cooking with Truvia: Exotic Hot Chocolate

Truvia™ is a zero-calorie, natural sweetener that's an alternative to sugar. Besides adding it to coffee and tea, you can safely cook with Truvia. (Download this Sweetness Conversion Chart to figure out how much Truvia you’ll need to substitute for sugar.)

I recently used it to make a special hot chocolate recipe from celebrity chef, Marisa Churchill of Top Chef and The Food Network Challenge fame. First, here’s the original recipe, followed by my recommendation to lower the calories and fat.

Exotic Hot Chocolate

Makes 3 servings


  • hot chocolate in a teacup 2 cups 1 % milk
  • 6 packets Truvia™ natural sweetener (1/8 cup & 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 of a vanilla bean
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 3 star anise (available in the spice isle of the supermarket)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, optional for garnish


  1. In a small pot, combine the Truvia™ natural sweetener, cocoa powder, cinnamon, star anise, salt, and cayenne. Cut the vanilla bean in half length wise, scrape the black seeds out of the pod using the back of a knife, and add it into the pot. Whisk in the milk.
  2. Place the pot on the stove over medium heat. Whisk frequently so that nothing settles to the bottom of the pot and burns. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove the pot from the heat. Add in the chopped chocolate and whisk until melted.
  3. Pour the hot chocolate into three mugs. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and serve immediately.

Nutritional information

I plugged the ingredients in the Calorie Count Recipe Analyzer, which gave it a Nutrition Grade of B. Not bad.

Calories 153
Total Fat 9.8g
Saturated Fat 6.1g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 8mg
Sodium 126mg
Total Carbohydrates 14.7g
Dietary Fiber 3.7g
Sugars 8.8g
Protein 8.1g
Vitamin A 7%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 21%
Iron 17%

Revising the recipe

My family thought the cayenne was too spicy. It was almost like drinking a a chocolate mole. After two sips, my daughter – who loves chocolate – refused to drink anymore, so it’s not a recipe I’d try again.

Instead, here’s my revised recipe. I chose evaporated milk over 1% milk because it’s creamier, which eliminated the need for the unsweetened chocolate chips. I upped the cocoa powder and star anise, too. I also chose vanilla extract over vanilla bean for practicality sake since I always have extract in stock.

If you don’t like anise, eliminate it. And if it isn’t sweet enough, add another packet or two of Truvia. Feel free to experiment with other spices like nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Using pumpkin pie spice would be a fun variation.

This Mama’s Hot Chocolate

Makes 3 servings


  • 2 cups fat free evaporated milk
  • 6 packets Truvia natural sweetener
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • 4 star anise
  • pinch of sea salt


  1. In a small sauce pan, combine the Truvia™ natural sweetener, cocoa powder, cinnamon, star anise, vanilla extract and salt.
  2. Whisk in the evaporated milk.
  3. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat. Whisk frequently so that nothing settles to the bottom of the pot and burns.
  4. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove the pot from the heat.
  5. Pour the hot chocolate into three mugs and serve immediately.

Nutritional information

I plugged the ingredients in the Calorie Count Recipe Analyzer, which gave it a Nutrition Grade of B+. Less fat, less fiber, more protein, more sodium and more calcium – good stuff.

Calories 148
Calories from Fat 10
Total Fat 1.1g
Saturated Fat 0.7g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 7mg
Sodium 248mg
Total Carbohydrates 22.5g
Dietary Fiber 1.8g
Sugars 19.6g
Protein 14.0g
Vitamin A 13%
Vitamin C 3%
Calcium 50%
Iron 7%

For more recipes using Truvia, check out the Truvia recipe section.


Disclosure: I was given two boxes of Truvia to sample and use in cooking.