Monthly Archives: August 2009

PureVia vs. Truvia

Good morning! Husband is sick in bed — I think I might’ve brought something home from work on Friday. Though, I am currently asymptomatic. Good thing with back-to-back hockey games this evening. On an unrelated note, let me re-visit stevia-based sweeteners: Truvia and PureVia.

If you read yesterday’s blog, I deemed Truvia #1 to my taste-buds. Someone helpfully pointed out that they’re made from the same plant — the stevia plant. Stevia is native to Paraguay and Peru (depending on which source you reference). It is approximately 30 times sweeter than natural sugar, and is calorie free! Stevia-based sweeteners were approved for use by the FDA in December of 2008. Though they are 2-3x more expensive than saccharin (Sweet’n Low), aspartame (Equal) and sucralose (Splenda), they are gaining popularity quickly. “Truvia” is Coke’s version of the stevia-based sweetener, while “PureVia” is Pepsi’s version [1].

Both Truvia and PureVia are calorie-free, kosher products. One packet of commercially sold Truvia equates to the sweetness of 2 teaspoons of sugar. On the Truvia website there is a Q&A section and one of the questions is: What makes Truvia natural sweetener better than other stevia-based sweeteners? So, the research goes on [1].

The stevia plant has over 200 varieties. The quality of the “sweetness” depends on the extracted sweet compound that the leaves yield [2]. To me this reads “some parts of the plant are sweeter than others.” We move on to PureVia’s site where they give away the answer.

The sweeteners are made from Reb A (or Rebiana) — the SWEETEST part of the plant. PureVia is ethanol-purified and the Reb A is blended with other “natural ingredients” for flavor. The bulking agents in PureVia include erythritol and isomaltulose [3]. Truvia does not purify with ethanol, according to what I’ve found thus far. Truvia also mentions no use of isomaltulose as a bulking agent [4]. Erythritol sounds bad, but it is a natural sweetener. It’s found in fruits such as grapes and pears and is extracted naturally [4].

So in a nut shell, the stevia plant’s sweetness varies a lot. Though both products are derived from the Reb A portion of the plant, the bulking agents and proportions of stevia vary…creating a different taste. There ya have it. Is there ANYTHING more anyone could ever want to know about stevia? : )

Last night I used some of my new calorie-containing sweeteners and made crock pot oatmeal. It was delicious. I threw into my crock pot:

2 cups of old fashioned oats
6 cups water
3 Tbsp cinnamon (I like a lot!)
2 Tbsp turbinado
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1/3 cup dates, diced

Cook on low 8-9 hours and enjoy! It was creamy and delicious! It needed no more sugar and has leftovers ready for 3 breakfasts this week! If you think I’m crock pot obsessed, you are correct!

On a completely unrelated note…no more football-less Saturdays! It should be a good year for the Fighting Illini (#25) and Oklahoma Sooners (#2). The two teams play back-to-back next weekend on ESPN and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m saving my first hoodie reveal for Saturday. Crock pot vegetarian chili will be involved, as well. What college football team are you a #1 fan of?

Lily and I are off to the dog park…have a wonderful day!

[1]. McCay, Betsy.

FDA Clears Use of Herb as Sweetener. The Wall Street Journal. December 18, 2008.
[2]. Stevia-based Sweetener Truvia Gets FDA Nod. Stevia Cafe.
[3]. PureVia website.
[4]. Truvia website.


Filed under artificial sweeteners, aspartame, breakfast, diabetes, dog, exercise, healthy cooking, recipe, reduced-calorie, Splenda, sugar substitutes, weight loss

Which sweet for me?

THANK YOU readers for all of your sugar insight! Turns out the real deal is taking a back seat to all that’s out there. Between Splenda, Truvia, PureVia, turbinado, agave, etc…I do wonder how much granular sugar sales have been affected.

Anyways, while my husband (who still won’t read my blog…) was napping…I went grocery shopping. While I typically avoid the grocery store like the PLAGUE on Saturday afternoons, I was interested in picking up some of your suggested sugar “substitutes” (be them calorie-free or not). So, here’s what I ended up with: PureVia, Truvia, agave nectar, and turbinado — all per your recommendations! And here’s my cart:

I also picked up dates based of Gina’s recommendation. I’m hoping to make some old fashioned crock pot oatmeal with the dates. Also in there was ingredients for my taste test #2 at work this week with my co-workers. I digress…

When I got home, I figured “Why not try them all and compare!?” So I did. And I took notes.

The contestants…
The set-up

The results!

Here’s what I came up with…

1. Truvia: silky texture, heavier than Splenda; slightly bitter at first; granular – not powdery, if melted on tongue…tastes like room temperature vanilla ice cream : )
2. turbinado: large, sweet granules; less bold than brown sugar; maple-y
3. agave nectar: prune/date flavored; medium viscosity syrup; no after-taste
4. PureVia: sweeter and more bitter than Truvia; similar in flavor to Sweet’n Low; bitterness subsides

I have to confess that as I was leaving the store with all my new, healthy sugar alternatives…Sonic (which SHARES the parking lot with the grocery store, in my defense!) was having Happy Hour — half-priced fountain drinks and limeades for those of you up north. Sooooooo I might’ve…probably…got a diet cherry limeade. While I know I won’t ever be fully aspartame-free, I do think it’s important to decrease the bad and increase the good in our lives. And for me, that includes diet cherry limeade. I HAVE, however, abstained from diet soda for over 3 weeks! This is huge for me…even though my habit was never more than 12 ounces a day, on average.

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend and enjoy the last football-less Saturday of the year! WOOT!


Filed under artificial sweeteners, aspartame, convenience foods, diabetes, glycemic index, guilt-free, reduced-calorie, Splenda, sugar substitutes, weight loss

Sugar Substitute Saviors

Diet analysis performed on over 300 individuals shows sugar substitutes to be a useful strategy for those looking to lose weight and/or maintain weight loss. Those included in the study also used fat intake reduction, sugar-modified foods, reduced consumption of high-calorie beverages, and an increased use of artificial sweeteners. The results of this study, published in the International Journal of Obesity report that overall, consumption of sugar-free beverages sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners increases dietary restraint – a key aspect of successful weight maintenance [1].
This study compliments the findings of a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which found that those consuming sugar substitutes had significantly greater weight loss compared to non-users. To be noted is the intended use of artificial sweeteners. When used as a weight-loss tool along with portion control and exercise, sugar substitutes aid in overall calorie reduction, resulting in weight-loss [1].
In the US, more than 194 million consume low and reduced-calorie foods and beverages according to the Calorie Control Council’s most recent consumer survey. This number is expected to rise as more consumers learn that a reduced calorie intake produces weight loss and weight maintenance [1].
While the survey does not specify WHICH artificial sweeteners consumers used, I pose to you: what artificial sweeteners / sugar substitutes do YOU use? Why is this product your top pick?
I am an avid Splenda-user, but feel I should branch out to using more agave, maple, and other commercially-prepared products such as Truvia and Stevia. Tell me about them! As a general rule of thumb I tell patients that you should never opt to drink your calories. I would personally recommend a diet soda over a regular sugar due to the calories and the need for most Americans to lose or maintain their current weight. Do you agree or disagree with this?
Do YOU drink diet soda? Crystal Light? Diet teas, Snapple, etc.? Why or why not?
[1]. Hubrich, Beth. Consumption of Sugar Substitutes Assists in Longterm Weight Control. Medical News Today. August 25, 2009.


Filed under Splenda, sugar substitutes, weight loss, weight maintentance

Detox diets are baaack!

I dunno, I guess I don’t get this diet trend. My colon, clean or not, is doing just fine…thanks. And yet, since ancient times, people have followed colon-cleansing and “detoxifying” diets to lose weight and/or gain health. According to Andrea Giancoli, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, “These types of detox diets really aren’t necessary, and there really isn’t any scientific basis behind them to prove any kind of necessity.” – Phew! She goes on to explain, “In a healthy individual, we already have several detoxing mechanisms in place that are fantastic: Our liver, our kidneys, our digestive system, our lungs, etc., are our natural detoxifiers, so we don’t really need a so-called detox diet” [1].
Dr. Julie Temes Ellisa, an internist with Associates in Internal Medicine in Louisville agrees. While bowel regularity is extremely important, there are ways to alter the diet to achieve desired results. Adding more fiber and drinking more water come to mind (duh) [1].
As for weight loss, don’t let Beyonce be your guide. After following a cleansing diet consisting of fresh lemon juice, organic maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water, the star boasts a 20-pound weight-loss. Just like the infamous “grapefruit diet” and “cabbage soup diet” — one will lose weight. That weight-loss, however, is only sustained if a normal intake is not re-initiated [1].
If not for weight loss, many seek colon-cleansing and detoxification to rid of gut bacteria. McClave explains that gut bacteria are important and beneficial for optimal health. He explains that without helpful gut bacteria, bad bacteria such as pseudomonas can cause illness. For those that believe colon-cleansing regimens to rid of stored alcohol and caffeine, do your research. Caffeine nor alcohol are stored in the body so there’s no need to “rid” of them [1].
And if you’re thinking, “I’ll give it a shot, what’s the worst that can happen?” — keep reading. Bowel-cleansing can result in electrolyte imbalance and put people at risk for cardiac dysrhythmias, muscle cramping, and dehydration. Further, many of these detox diets are very low-calorie diets (~600-800 calories/day) which can result in not only macronutrient deficiency, but micronutrient deficiency. Therefore, medical supervision is required when undertaking such regimens [1].
The DL on “MODERATE” Fasting.
There is researching showing that intermittent or moderate fasting (i.e. 1 day per week) can be beneficial. How? The body’s hunger cycle can be adjusted, the body can be made to be more insulin sensitive, and there can be an overall disease risk reduction.
But of course, if you’re serious about healthy living and weight loss/weight management, steer in the direction of balanced eating, portion control, and increasing exercise. Consumers should always be skeptical of regimens promising rapid results or easy weight loss. A safe weight loss is approximately 1 to 2 pounds per week.
Always remember, “If it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is.” – My Mama
Side note: I guess I need to get over myself, huh!? 😉 Or is the quiz broken and you all really think he’s a jerk to be traded in? ; ) Happy Friday, all!
[1]. Carter, Darla. Coming Clean: Detox Diets Are Back. Courier Journal. August 21, 2009.


Filed under blood glucose, detox diets/colon cleansing, fiber, fruits and vegetables, weight loss

Do you know Hungry Girl? Do you do Vitas?

I’m hungry, yes…but not me. THE Hungry Girl.
If you aren’t signed up to receive daily email newsletters from HG, you ought to. Back in the day when I went from “unhealthy” to “more healthy” (to put it nicely), I guiltless-ly indulged in VitaMuffins and VitaTops. They have thus slipped my mind and out of my pantry’s arsenal of healthy options…until now, thanks to Hungry Girl who advertises them regularly on her site. While I fully agree that I’ve gone slighly carb-crazy this week between No Pudge Fudge and now VitaMuffins and Tops…I all but apologize. Who doesn’t need more guilt-free chocolate products in their lives?! That’s what I thought. Go carb crazy here — and don’t feel an ounce of guilt over it! VitaMuffins and VitaTops offer lots of great varieties and flavors, and you can’t go wrong. I haven’t had anything I wouldn’t walk a mile for! Plus, for 100 calories, lots of fiber, and minimal fat…rest assured, you’re choosing a great treat!
And I couldn’t stop at just ONE box of products…so I got 2! They were on sale buy 1 get 1 free!
And here’s the contents…yumm!
And also from Hungry Girl, here’s a recipe I think I must try off her Tuesday emailing.
HG’s Boneless Wings
4 oz. raw boneless skinless chicken breast cut into 8 nuggets
2 Tbsp fat-free liquid egg substitute
2 Tbsp whole-wheat flour
2 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and/or spray with nonstick spray.
Place chicken in a bowl, cover with egg substitute, and toss to coat. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and black pepper. Mix well. One at a time, transfer chicken nuggets to the flour bowl, giving them a shake first to remove excess egg substitute – coat completely with flour, and then transfer to baking sheet.
Bake in the over for about 16 minutes, flipping halfway through, until chicken is fully cooked. Remove from the over and set aside.
Combine chili sauce, vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a bowl and mix well. Add chicken and toss to coat. Gobble up!
Makes 1 serving.
Per serving: 267 calories, 1.5 g. fat, 775 mg sodium, 30 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. fiber, 15 g. sugar, 31 g. protein
…Compared to Wendy’s boneless wings (8 nuggets): 550 calories, 18 g. fat, 2,530 mg sodium, 67 g. carbohydrate, 3 g. fiber, 27 g. sugars, 31 g. protein
For other great tips, food finds, and recipes visit Hungry Girl at!


Filed under convenience foods, dessert, diet, fiber, guilt-free, Hungry Girl, recipe, reduced-calorie, weight loss

Fat cells for life

If an overweight individual loses weight, do you think they lose their chubby fat cells? If you thought “yep”…think again.
(This is a big “aha!” moment for most people.)
The number of fat cells you acquire by your late teens/early 20’s are yours for life. When you lose weight, those cells do shrink in size, but they never go away. THIS is why maintaining weight after weight loss is so incredibly difficult – you’re predisposed to gaining it back. Literally. This is also why childhood obesity is a risk factor for adulthood obesity [1].
Think bariatric surgery can take some of those cells away for you? Not according to a study performed by Bruce Buchholz at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
For reasons as such, prevention is being shifted to childhood-aged population [1] – childhoods build lasting blueprints of what’s to come for our weight, health, and ultimately, our happiness.
On a lighter note, I got asked at work today to contribute to tomorrow’s bake sale. With a hockey game this evening, I was short on time. I stopped on my way home, all sweat and picked up break and bake chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies… and of course: NO PUDGE BROWNIES! Mint AND raspberry. I taste tested just a bit and they are delicious!!! If you haven’t tried these fat free brownies…you’re missing out! They can be found in the baking aisle right next to their full-fat counterparts. The best part: you just add yogurt, mix, and bake. Does it get any easier than that? Try’em out!
[1]. Mahan, Rachel. Trying To Get Rid of Chubby Cells? Fat Chance. MSNBC. May 30, 2009.

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Filed under convenience foods, dessert, diet, grocery store, guilt-free, healthy cooking, kids, obesity epidemic, reduced-calorie, research study, weight loss

Omega-3 Show-Down!

Know that omega-3’s are good for you…but that’s about it? Bruce Watkins, Purdue University professor of nutrition and director of the International Omega-3 Learning and Education Consortium for Health and Medicine helped in developing a website devoted to teaching consumers about types of omega-3’s, benefits of omega-3’s, and where to find them in the diet. They created this site in the process. The site answers basic questions about omega-3 fatty acids. Also included for doctors, medical providers, and veterinarians is a fact sheet and patient handout [1] – check it out!
Additionally, the site includes a database of foods containing omega-3’s as well as the amounts. I know Gina and I have a discussion back about the feasibility of consuming adequate omega-3’s for cardio-protective benefits through the diet alone. There is also a chart showing how much and what types of omega-3’s men and women of varying ages and with differing health histories should consume [1]. Sign-up to receive their monthly newsletter, too! Jackpot!
Omega-3’s for asthma? Heart disease? Cancer? Maternal Health? Cognitive function? Transplantation? Mental health? Eye health? Diabetes? Go here!
The run-down (per 100 grams/~3.5 ounces):
Highest overall omega-3 content (fresh fish) = salmon, Atlantic, farm-raised (2507 mg omega-3’s)
Highest ALA content (fresh fish) = salmon, wild (295 mg ALA)
Highest EPA content (fresh fish) = salmon, Atlantic, farm-raised (862 mg EPA)
Highest DHA content (fresh fish) = salmon, wild (1115 mg DHA)
Okay…salmon takes the cake for the fresh fish. Other great options include: swordfish, trout, tuna (bluefin), whitefish, halibut, catfish, and anchovies.
Highest overall omega-3 content (shellfish) = shrimp (540-601 mg omega-3’s)
Highest ALA content (shellfish) = crayfish, wild (32 mg ALA)
Highest EPA content (shellfish) = shrimp (293 mg EPA)
Highest DHA content (shellfish) = squid (342 mg DHA)
So, shrimp are a GREAT option for omega-3’s. Other shellfish sources of omega-3’s include: blue crab, Dungeness crab, queen crab, spiny lobster, mussels (yum!), and scallops!
And FYI: canola oil and flaxseed oil contain omega-3’s! Per 100 grams there are 9137 mg omega-3’s in canola oil and 53,300 mg omega-3’s in FLAXSEED OIL! I must ask, who knew that canola and flaxseed oils had so many omega-3’s!? You can boast your intelligence, it’s alright!
What do YOU need?
– If you have no documented coronary heart disease, eat a variety of fish at least twice a week. Try to focus on fattier fish such as salmon. Use other products such as flaxseed and canola oil, as well as flaxseeds and walnuts.
– If you HAVE documented coronary heart disease, consume about 1 gram of EPA + DHA per day, preferably from fatty fish. Supplementation may be recommended by a physician.
– If you have elevated triglycerides, take 2-4 grams of EPA+DHA per day through a supplement provided under a physician’s care.
As always, purchase and use supplements with caution. Supplements are not FDA-regulated and are not tested for purity or potency.
All the nutrition facts are provided by the US Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21.
[1]. New Web Site Aims To Deepen Public Knowledge of Omega-3s. Purdue University. August 21, 2009.

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Filed under cholesterol, chronic disease, fish oil/omega-3's, heart health, meat consumption, US Pharmacopeia