Sunday, August 31, 2014

SweetLeaf Sweet Drops Cola - Review

I have never been a big soda drinker. Yes, I do enjoy the occasional chilled Pepsi or a Coke with a piping hot pizza or a spicy dish. The tart, almost bitter taste of the cola somehow complements a hot, spicy meal and I might indulge myself with one. The key word being indulge, because in my humble opinion, a soda - it doesn't matter what brand is it, doesn't qualify as an everyday consumable item. Other than the fact that soda has absolutely no nutritional value, some brands have about 40 grams of sugar in each serving, that's almost 8 teaspoons of sugar !! Add in the caffeine content and you have an addictive drink that replaces real nutrition with empty calories. Even if you go in for the diet varieties, they almost always use sugar substitutes which are no nutrition powerhouses themselves!

That is just for adults, I shudder every time I see kids guzzling these sodas down. Just think about childhood obesity, nutrition deficiency, dental decay and you will understand why! That's why, when I got the opportunity to review SweetLeaf Cola flavored sweet drops through Moms Meet, I was a little intrigued and a little curious as well. I had of course heard of stevia sugar substitute, I knew that it was plant based and was considered safer amongst all the sugar substitutes on the market, but I had never tried it myself. I always get a bitter aftertaste in my mouth, no matter the brand of the sugar substitute and I just end up using real sugar in lesser amounts.

A few facts about the SweetLeaf cola drops that I came across are:
  • SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia Sweet Drops Cola is a healthy alternative to traditional sodas.
  • All you need to do to enjoy a refreshing beverage is to add 2 - 3 drops of the Cola sweet drops to every ounce of sparkling water.
  • These drops are portable and very convenient.
  • SweetLeaf Sweet Drops contain no carbohydrates, sugar alcohols, calories, methanol, aspartame or sucralose. They are all-natural and gluten-free.
  • They are made with USDA certified organic stevia.

I bought a bottle of sparkling water from my local grocery store and immediately refrigerated it so that I could have a cool base for my cola drops. You could also use ice cubes, if you preferred that.
I then added about 8 - 10 drops of the liquid cola drops, stirred it well. I was pleasantly surprised when I could not detect the metallic aftertaste that I usually experience with all sugar substitutes. The taste was refreshing and the drink was fizzy due to the sparkling water. I could see how it could be used as a substitute for traditional sodas, especially by those who consume caffeinated beverages throughout the day, instead of water. I wouldnt say that using these cola drops would give you a beverage that would taste exactly like traditional soda. It doesnt. But, given that it contains 0 calories, no chemicals and is all natural, it would be worth it to just try and see for yourself.

The retail price is $4.39 for 37 servings and $14.99 for 100 servings. You could also visit SweetLeaf online and use the coupon code ColaMD at checkout to take 30% off your online order. You would also get free shipping with this deal.

Please visit the following links for more information about SweetLeaf.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetsSM blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Swedish Tea Ring - Eggless Baking Challenge

Do you ever feel that time is slipping like sand through your fingers ?? I get that feeling now and again, when I look at my kids, expecting to see my little babies, but actually seeing little persons, growing and maturing too quickly, right in front of my eyes ! Ever since I started working, I have had less time to spend with them during weekdays, but the job was my choice and so there is nothing for me to complain about :) I have to shift and slide my tasks and schedules around, so that I get to maximize the time and fun that I can have with my little darlings.
For July, the Baking Eggless challenge was to make a Swedish Tea Ring. It is very similar to cinnamon rolls, a rich yeast bread with a filling of cinnamon sugar, nuts and raisins, except it is baked in a circular form, usually in an intriguing design. This delicious bread originated in the Scandinavian region, which can now be separated into the countries of Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway. Most recipes seem to have been handed down by sweet grandmothers and continue to be relished in all parts of the world !

There are several recipes and creative designs floating merrily on the internet. Take your pick, but definitely give it a try !
The recipe we adapted is here.

For the dough:
1/2 C milk
1/4 C ricotta cheese(substituting for 1 egg)
1/2 Tbs butter at room temperature
11/2 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
11/2 C + 2 Tbs bread flour
3/4 tsp active dry yeast

For the Filling: 
1 Tbsp softened butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 C packed light brown sugar
4 Tbsp almond slivers (optional)


1. Put the milk, ricotta cheese, butter, sugar, salt and bread flour in a bowl.
2. Proof the yeast with a tablespoon of warm water and add to the bowl as well.
3. Mix all the ingredients well, until a smooth and slightly sticky dough is formed.
4. Knead well for about 5 - 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
5. If you find that the dough is too sticky, then add a tablespoon of dough at a time, until desired texture is obtained.


6. Oil a bowl and place the kneaded dough in it. You can use the same bowl in which you mixed the dough.
7. Cover loosely with a clean cloth and place in a warm area to let the dough rise.
8. After about 1.5 - 2 hours, the dough should have risen to double its original volume.
9. In the meantime, prepare the filling by combining the cinnamon, cardamom and sugar.
10. Punch the dough slightly to deflate the air. Roll it out into a 12 X 16 rectangle (approximately)
11. Brush the softened butter over the rolled dough. Leave about half an inch all around so that you can seal the ring properly.
12. Sprinkle the sugar and spice mixture evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the slivered almonds over the sugar and press slightly into the dough. You could use raisins instead of the nuts or you could use both !
13. Starting at the longer edge, roll the dough tightly into a log. Place the log, seam side down, stretching it with a gentle hand and then joining the two edges together to form a circle.
14. Place the circle on a greased baking tray. I lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
15. Using sharp kitchen scissors, cut 2/3 of the way through the loaf , at 1 inch intervals. Spread the cut pieces lightly.
16. At this point, I covered the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerated it. It was late in the evening and I didnt want to bake it at that time.
17. I couldnt bake it until the evening of the next day. The sugar and butter had combined to make a syrup of sorts which had oozed out of the dough. I was hoping that my bread wouldnt turn out to be a soggy mess !
18. If your dough is refrigerated, warm it up on the counter top for about 40 minutes. Do the same even if you intend to bake the bread on the same day. The second rise will yield a nice texture to the bread.
19. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush the tea ring with milk.
20. Bake the tea ring for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden and the filling seems bubbly.
21. Drizzle lightly with icing when the tea ring is still warm and serve immediately to all the family members who would have trickled into the kitchen following the delicious aromas emanating from there !

Notes :
1. The tea ring was delicious. The covering was flaky and rich and buttery and the filling was sweet and spicy and crunchy.
2. Kids and hubby both loved it and polished it off in a day !
3. The dough came together very easily and I had no difficulty with it at all.