Let me just say right up front, that in general I do not believe in diet-induced substitutes for the real thing. In other words, I use butter, not margarine, and sugar, not splenda. If I want to lose weight I eat less and avoid desserts. That said, once in a while it is nice to have a cool, sweet drink, without all the sugar and calories. Cranberry juice in particular needs a lot of sweetener to make it palatable. Have you ever tasted pure, unsweetened cranberry juice? It is terrifically tart. That’s why supermarkets carry more cranberry “cocktail” than the unsweetened juice. Yet pure cranberry juice is very good for you, especially if you are a woman. My doctor once explained to me that cranberries have a natural antiseptic that protect women from UTIs. She also explained that the juice with added sugar isn’t nearly as effective.
This cranberry cooler uses the herb stevia as its sweetener. Stevia is a South American herb that has been used for hundreds of years as a sweetener. Since the 70s, Japan has used stevia extensively for sweetening food products. It’s available in many forms – the dried herb, a liquid extract, and a powder. You can find stevia at Whole Foods and most health food stores in the herbal supplements section. Stevia has zero carbs. This little recipe calls for 1 part pure cranberry juice to 3 parts soda water. An 8-oz glass of the cooler would have a total of 4 grams of carbs (for those of you that count these things). The taste? Refreshing and satisfying, but honestly, not quite as good as sugar. Probably very similar to if you had used splenda in place of sugar. That said, the carb count of 1 glass of the stevia sweetened cooler is 4 grams versus a typical glass of cranberry juice cocktail at 34 grams.
- 1/4 cup pure, unsweetened cranberry juice
- 3/4 cup club soda or sparkling mineral water
- 10-15 drops (about 1/8 teaspoon) of liquid stevia extract (amount may depend on your specific brand of stevia)
Stir the stevia into the cranberry juice. Add the club soda.
Makes one cup.