Tracking my efforts to beat Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), aka CFIDS, aka CFS

Tracking my efforts to beat Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), aka CFIDS, aka CFS

Sunday, July 22, 2012

More Stevia Product Reviews: Chocolate & Sodas

In previous posts, I reviewed flavored liquid stevia drops, and a homemade recipe for stevia chocolate sauce.  I've since had the opportunity to try a few more products: two stevia chocolate brands and two soda brands.  The two chocolate brands reviewed below are the only two stevia chocolate brands on the market - at least that I've been able to find.

Stevia Chocolate by Dante Confections

Dante Confections' stevia chocolate bars are available for order on Amazon for $29.95 for eight bars.  The price works out to about $3.74 per bar, which is pricey but not outrageous.  Premium chocolate bars with sugar care comparably priced.  For those of us PWMEs on no-sugar diets, stevia products are one of our few indulgences.  I forgo so many other expensive activities with ME/CFS that I'm comfortable spending a few dollars on chocolate.  

Dante Confections produces a darker variety of chocolate.  Their product only comes in one flavor: straight up chocolate.  Nothing fancy here, just coco goodness.  

My Amazon order arrived within five days, with each small brick of chocolate individually wrapped in thin tissue paper, which in turn were wrapped inside ordinary sandwich bags.  As I opened the package, I felt like I was receiving illicit contraband!  

If you're a dark chocolate lover, this is your brand.  I loved every bite of it, but then again, I can handle the relative bitterness of dark chocolate.  My wife, who prefers sweeter chocolate, sampled it and said, "I don't know how you can enjoy this stuff."  So it depends on your taste palette. 

One benefit of the darker chocolate was that I found it lasted longer.  I was much more likely to savor each square and let it melt in my mouth -- usually being satisfied with two small squares as an after-dinner treat.  With the YC brand (below), I found myself eating whole bars at a time.  I think darker chocolate forces one to savor it more, which might be a good thing when we're talking about such a pricey commodity.

The ingredients list is simple, which I found reassuring.  Three ingredients:  Chocolate liquor, stevia, and pure vanilla.  That's it.  (Incidentially, chocolate "liquor" should not be confused with chocolate "liqueur."  There is no alcohol in it.  It simply means that it's made from hardened liquid chocolate.)

Personally, I couldn't tell much of a difference between the stevia chocolate brands I review here and regular chocolate bars made with sugar.  It all tastes delicious to me.  But some of the more "sophisticated" chocolate lovers on Amazon claim they can tell the difference.  Take that for what it's worth...

Stevia Chocolate by Coco Polo

The other brand of stevia chocolate is Coco Polo.  Their chocolate is of the more milk chocolate variety, with various flavors to choose.  I ordered the variety pack of 12 bars, which I believe are no longer available.  They currently offer an 8 piece variety pack for $42.00.  This works out to about $5.25 per bar.  

I ordered Coco Polo directly from the company's website which, in my case, was a mistake.  It was 21 days from the time I placed my order until the goods arrived at my house.  When you're out of chocolate, this is an unreasonable amount of time to wait!  At about day 17, I sent an email inquiring about the status of my order.  It was never returned.  I've since discovered that Coco Polo is also available on Amazon, which might be the better choice next time.  

The Coco Polo packaging is much more professional looking, if that kind of thing matters to you. The bars arrived each sealed in gold-colored wrappers, which in turn were inside printed paper sleeves.  The sleeves contained the usual Nutrition Facts and ingredients sections on the back.  

Interestingly, the main sweeteners (by weight) in these bars is not stevia, but rather erythritol and inulin.  I'm finding that this is pretty common with "stevia" products.  I gather that it's difficult to approximate the flavor of sugar with stevia alone, but you can get pretty close with a combination of stevia and these other natural sweeteners.  Stevia is the last ingredient listed in the Coco Polo bars, which could mean that the bars only contain trace amounts of it.  But, erythritol and inulin are also both low on the glycemic index and arguably don't feed candida.  

The chocolate itself tasted much sweeter than the Dante Confections chocolate -- probably due to the darker chocolate mixture, but also because Dante doesn't use erythritol and inulin.  And of course, it was nice to have the variety of six flavors: Almond, cherry, elderberry, cocoa dark, nibs and ginger.  The only flavor that I found to be a little....odd was ginger.  Who's ever heard of ginger chocolate?    

All in all, I liked both brands for different reasons.  In the future, I'll probably alternate my orders between the two companies.  

Zevia Sodas with Stevia

Finally, I've been sampling Zevia brand sodas, which I purchased from Whole Foods and Sprouts markets (although they can also be ordered directly).  They are sold in ordinary 12oz. soda cans, packaged in six-packs, with 15 flavors available.  So far I've tried five of them: Black cherry, orange, caffeine free cola, Dr. Zevia, and ginger root beer.  

Again, it's been over eight months since I've had a regular soda with sugar or aspartame, but these sodas taste almost as good if not exactly as good as "the real thing" to me.  Prices are reasonable, although not as cheap as name brand products.  For instance, a 24 pack can be ordered from Amazon for about $19, or about $0.80 per can.  

Again, as with the chocolate reviewed above, be aware that the dominant sweetener by weight is not stevia, even though the product says "sweetened with stevia" on the can.  While this statement may be correct, Erythritol is listed four ingredients higher than stevia on the ingredients list.  But, I don't begrudge Zevia their marketing strategy, which I think is fair enough and not overly deceptive.  Anyone can look on the back of the can before buying.  

All in all, I think it's a good product and I'm grateful to see more and more options enter the marketplace for those of us who avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners.

                                                      Blue Sky Free Sodas with Stevia

7/27/12 update:  I've since discovered another brand of canned stevia sodas while shopping at Sprouts Market, called Blue Sky Free.  It is apparently manufactured by the more well-known Hansen Beverage Company.  While I've only had an opportunity to sample one flavor so far, Cherry Vanilla Creme, I find that it tastes about the same as Zevia.  And like Zevia, they also sweeten with Erythritol in addition to stevia

Their price at Sprouts Market was a little lower than Zevia - although I can't remember the exact amounts.  On Amazon, it seems to be a little cheaper as well: about $17 per 24 pack, or about $0.70 per can.

Blue Sky offers a different range of flavors than Zevia, so it's nice to have a choice between the two brands.  In addition to the usual flavors like Cola and Root Beer, Blue Sky's selection includes Lemonade and Jamaican Ginger Ale, among others.  For the full selection, see their website.

I'll try to update this post later when I've had a chance to try more Blue Sky flavors. 


  1. I can't use stevia. It causes a nasty drop in my blood sugar. I guess it is a side effect for some people. I found that I tolerate xylitol well though.

    1. Interesting, I didn't know it could do that for some people, but I just looked it up and saw others who reported the same thing (as I'm sure you know).

      I've noticed that Xylitol is often mixed with stevia in different products. It seems to be one of those other "good" sweeteners. I've looked into it and have read a lot of drawbacks about it.

    2. My kid's girlfriend is diabetic so I've been experimenting with other natural sweeteners that don't cause blood sugar spikes. I bought both stevia and xylitol in bulk in pure form so I could use them in cooking. I can't eat stevia but am fine with xylitol and hubs is the exact opposite so now I'm stuck again. Right now I just feed gf homemade smoothies sweetened with banana which she likes. I just try to stick to real food as much as possible. I do cheat with dark chocolate though and ice cream once a week. Although I did buy an ice cream maker this year so I could make it with much lower sugar content and full fat cream.

    3. I think you're right that the best policy is to stick to natural foods as much as possible. I'm trying to keep these stevia and xylitol products as "occasional treats," but it's difficult at times.

      By the way, in my comment above, I meant to say that I have NOT read a lot of drawback about xylitol. Forgot that all important word, not.

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