Low Carb Cranberry Cooler

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.

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Low Carb Cranberry Cooler Recipe

Ingredients

  • 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)

Method

Stir the stevia into the cranberry juice. Add the club soda.

Makes one cup.

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cranberry-cooler-ingredient.jpg

Links:
Stevia.com
Stevia for sale at Amazon.com

14 Comments

  1. heather

    I like to use agave nectar for my sweetness. It’s consistency is like warm maple syrup and mixes into other liquids very well. I find it in it’s cooked version at Whole Foods or other “fancy” stores or health food stores. For a raw version I buy online.

  2. cued100prof

    My gripes with stevia are that it has a kind of wierd flavor of its own and it doesn’t thicken to a syrup. I find that liquids sweetened with it have a watery feel in the mouth. But if you’re willing to compromise a little, using a proportional amount of sugar with stevia helps while still reducing the calories. I find using 1/4 the amount of sugar called for, and substituting stevia for the rest helps with the flavor and adds some smoothness. If I’m cooking a fruit compote or canning, I’ve had some success with adding just a pinch of agar flakes to approximate the texture of sugar syrup. I expect that would be too much trouble to do for a drink like this since you have to heat the agar.

  3. Andrea

    I would much rather use Stevia than chemical sweeteners such as Splenda for my diabetic relatives who cannot tolerate sugar. There are NO known side effects from Stevia–whereas many ill effects from Splenda have been reported.

    Thanks for helping to get the word out and for providing another great recipe!

  4. mariss

    Can I just say, I really appreciate your low-carb posts. I’m a religious visitor to your page and it’s great to see you shake things up a bit!

    Happy New Year!

  5. Emily

    Thank goodness someone else agrees about artificial things. Sugar may not be that great for you, but do we know the long term effects of sugar? Yes! Do we know the long term effects of splenda? NO!!!

  6. Julana

    The Fat-Flush Diet recommends eight glasses a day of Cran-water. Seven oz of water, to one oz of cranberry juice. We don’t drink eight glasses a day, but we do drink one or two, over ice. Not bad. But yours sounds worth trying, too.

  7. Allie

    for a kids version, instead of club soada use sprite (or 7up), and forget about the liquid stevia extract. I’ve had it with my family before-but you might want to make that a little larger, kids love it.

  8. Jim

    I just discovered agave nectar. What did I do all these years without it!

  9. Maurice

    I haven’t actually made this but I did want to comment on some of the ingredients (Stevia) for Emily’s post.

    I’m your typicall health nut and was trying to convince my stubborn Mother about the harm of the artificial sweeteners (Aspertame, splenda, etc.). Stevia is natural, can be bought organic (haven’t seen it at the store yet) and you can make it at home unlike splenda. It is an extract, like any herb, and is extracted from the plant family where the sunflower resides. It can be processed though. Large companies (Coca-Cola for example) plan on using this, but will be using powerful solvents to extract this. Your typical store-bought stevia has been extracted using alcohols and can even be flavored naturally.

    If you haven’t used stevia before don’t expect it to BE sugar, it’s not. It has a slight liqourish-like flavor to it, but very slight, and if too much is added you can taste the sweetness on your lips (though it’s more of a sensation rather than taste, so your’e not tasting liqourish on your lips).

    My stevia was bought at Sprouts, generic Sprouts brand of course, and I use 2 drops in my coffee in the morning, 1 drop in my oatmeal and a drop or so in any sweet blended drinks. For the purpose of the cranberry article…. My mother bought some unsweetened 100% cranberry juice at Sprouts, about 32 oz., and used about 6 drops of stevia. It’s expensive for a little dropper bottle about $15, but I have had 3 and each last about 4 months (I live with 7 people so your bottle will last longer).
    In case my coffee and oatmeal examples didn’t give an idea of proportions; 1 drop is equal to 1.5 to 3.5 tablespoons sugar in sweetness (depending of brand/strength, and even what is being sweetened).

    Sorry about the length by the way… Oh, and agave nectar is good too (tastes as sweet as sugar, but is 3/4 sugar, and the darker one is no sweeter than the light one), but that’s just catcus syrup so no huge article needed. Give stevia a try, its a great thing, but don’t take my word, do some of your own research and decide for yourself. I’m at the peak of my fitness so far at 17 and I dont have any of the “symptoms” that are pointed to stevia. I have been using it for a year so far and I’m not a vegetable yet…(that was a little humor by the way)

  10. B

    My sister and I have been using powdered Stevia by NOW for a couple of years in our coffee. I also use it in Nature’s Plus Unsweetened Spiru-tein High Protein Energy Meal Simply Natural Chocolate mix with 2 % milk and ice chips to make a breakfast drink since my Nestle’s Sweet Success drink mix was discontinued. Many people must have used too much of the Stevia in their food or the different types may have a weird taste. The powdered NOW doesn’t give any taste but sweet if used in a very tiny quantity. I just barely put a little dusting on a cup of coffee. I only use 1-3 of the tiny spoons that are provided in the NOW containers for the 8 oz. protein drink. Start with just a smidgen and taste before adding more. 1 oz. (28 g) costs about $5-6 at the local health food store and lasts us several months. A lot less than sugar or the subtitutes on the market now. I have used it in a couple of recipes by doing just what someone else here said and used powdered Stevia for 1/4 of the sugar. One recipe I used the Stevia with was Boiled Cookies (No Bake Cookies). It called for 4 cups of granulated white sugar (doubled) and I used one tiny spoon for 1 cup of the sugar. (I think) One of my sister’s uses it for part of her sugar in Banana Nut Bread. There are recipe books out for Stevia at the health food stores. I tell everyone about it all the time.

  11. Heather

    Ack! margarine! worse than butter!

    Great article about trans fats here: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/13/business/13transfat.html

  12. Kathy

    Cranberry juice isn’t bad at all if you dilute it with enough water. I also applaud your use of stevia rather than suggesting Splenda.

  13. Monica

    I was deligted to see that there is a mystical substance out there that can satisfy my sweet tooth and is healtier choice than sugar.

    Has anyone substitute sugar with Stevia in their daily diet? And how long?

  14. clare eats

    I love Cranberry drinks! and I think this looks like a winner. I appreciate that you say no to splenda and it’s ilk.

    But I don’t think we can even get unsweetened cranberry juice in oz. At christmas we can get the frozen berries though.

    My mum is a nurse and they use cranberry tablets to treat people who have spinal injuries to prevent UTI’s she said that the juice avalible in OZ don’t have enough of the necessary chemical from the cranberry’s to make them effective.

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