How Fear Can Paralyze You

Hi! It’s me. Long time, no see. I’ve been absent for nearly a year, and even before that, my posts were irratic at best. I’m not proud of that and there’s really no excuse for it. You were never far from my mind and I have a whole notebook full of blog ideas written down to prove it.

I could tell you that LIFE happened, but so what? Everybody’s life is happening all the time. I could tell you I was taking a sabbatical — that sounds as if I’ve been soul-searching and dedicated to the writing process. I could hint that I was working to be a better me (and I have been). I could mention a tragic thing that’s happened in my family and you all would completely understand why this blog might not have been my number one priority. I could give you several reasons for my absence, all having an official “sound” to them. I could even (dare I say it?) lie.

But that wouldn’t fit the purpose of this blog, nor would it be fair to those who patiently waited for me to come back (or forgot that you were subscribed to this blog and didn’t miss me at all). I want to tell you the absolute truth…and this is going to be embarrassing and painful for me. I’m afraid and the fear has paralyzed me for a long time.

Spiritually, I am closer to God than I’ve ever been. There are so many things to share with you that I found empowering in my time away. Each moment made me a much better wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. I will eventually share those amazing insights with you. I promise.

Why didn’t I just sit and share these things with you then? I was scared someone would ask me about my way of eating (woe, for short — which by the way is still carb cycling and it’s still working) and my weight loss. The question I dreaded answering the most was this: did you meet your goal weight? 

No. That is the truth in a nutshell.

In 2013, I got close…so close I could see the finish line. And then I gave up. I blew it. And the truth is, I don’t know why. Every ounce that I lost, I gained back plus more. I packed away my nutrition books. I stopped doing research. I just decided it wasn’t worth the effort and I was sorry I ever mentioned it in this forum. People were still reading this blog, especially the posts on nutrition and weight loss. They left wonderful comments. Someone even asked if this blog was still active.

In all honesty, I was prepared to be unhealthy for the rest of my life. I just didn’t care anymore…until my doctor shared blood work results with me that shook the foundation of my world. I was in a health crisis: cholesterol was awful (not enough of the good kind, way too much of the bad), I was pre-diabetic (and probably should have been classified as Type II), my blood pressure was way too high (and I was already on medication), my chronic pain raged, and I was at the second highest weight of my whole life (226 pounds). I was an emotional and physical wreck. Dr. Anderson asked me two questions that saved my life,”Do you want to lose the weight and work on these numbers or do you want me to put you on medication? Don’t you want to live a long, happy life and watch your granddaughter grow up?”

Just so you know what me at 226 pounds looks like, here I am:


So in the summer of 2015, I chose to work on my weight and cholesterol through diet. I knew what worked. I’d done it before. Could I do it again? I remember telling my husband, Kelly, that I had yoyo dieted so much in my life, I should have “Duncan” tattoed on my hip!

When I had my check-up in September 2015, I weighed 211 and that was enough to get a second chance. The journey started out rough and along the way, there have been extreme highs and lows…and a lot of middle of the road days where I just keep plugging away. I just want to tell you that it’s gotten a lot better. Have I reached my goal weight? Not yet, but I’m getting there!

To be continued…



Satisfying a Craving Sensibly: Low Carb Zucchini-Spinach Lasagna

“I determined to make God, rather than food, my focus.  Each time I craved something I knew wasn’t part of my plan, I used that craving as a prompt to pray.  I craved a lot.  So, I found myself praying a lot.”  Lysa TerKeurst, from Made to Crave (Zondervan Publishing)

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I love Italian food.  Lasagna is my favorite Italian dish, but it is filled with carbs.  (And carbs are not my friends!)  Every nutritionist I’ve ever heard speak about exchanges and lowering carbs has suggested using zucchini slices for lasagna noodles.  I don’t miss a lot of pasta, but I do get a craving for lasagna once in a while.  So, I did a little research, found some recipes, and tried them.  Some of the recipes were just not tasty.  So I decided to tweak the recipes – take the best of each one and make a recipe that was my own.

I think I hit the jackpot with this recipe!  My husband agreed to try it and my daughter gave me a funny look, but she tried it to please me.  Surprise, surprise — they loved it!   My older son had a serving when he came in from work and gave it his seal of approval as well.   In fact, there was only one serving leftover that night (and that became my lunch for the next day).  Here is what it looked like as it came out of the oven:

Photo Image:  Sandra Hall Rosser

This is so yummy and satisfying!  So here is the recipe for you to try.  As you make this, let me caution you to make your meat sauce chunky and the cheese mixture creamy (I did this by adding a tablespoon or two of heavy cream or milk if the cheese mixture was too thick).  These two hints will make all the difference in the world.

Skinny Zucchini-Spinach Lasagna (serves 6)


3-4 medium zucchini, sliced in thin rounds or in long thin strips (I used a mandolin to make even slices)*

1 cup of baby spinach leaves with the stems removed (washed and drained well)

1 pound of lean ground beef

16 ounces  non-fat, small curd cottage cheese

3/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese + 1/4 cup

1 egg (or 1/4 cup liquid egg white)

1 cup part skim, low-fat mozzarella cheese

Dried Italian seasonings:  basil, oregano, parsley (1 teaspoon each)

4 teaspoons garlic powder (divided)

4 teaspoons onion powder (divided)

Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 Tablespoons of heavy cream (or almond milk/skim milk), as needed

1 24-ounce bottle of low sugar spaghetti sauce, 1 cup reserved (I used Hunt’s)

1 Tablespoon stevia (optional)

An 8″ X 8″ pan for baking

Non-stick cooking spray


1.  Cook hamburger on medium heat in a fry pan until meat is no longer pink.  Strain the meat so that most of the fat is removed.  (An old Weight Watchers trick I use it to pour two cups of boiling hot water over the meat to remove even more fat.)  Let the meat drain completely.

2.  Add meat back to fry pan and add most of the spaghetti sauce (reserve about 1 cup to use when layering).  Meat sauce should be chunky.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add 2 teaspoons garlic powder and 2 teaspoons onion powder. Add stevia.  (Stevia gives the low sugar spaghetti sauce a rich, marinara-style taste, but this can be omitted according to your tastes.)  Cover and let mixture simmer on  low.

3.  Wash and slice your zucchini.  Zucchini have high water content and to keep my lasagna from being soggy, I lay the slices of zucchini in one layer on some paper towels.  I salt both sides of the zucchini and cover with another paper towel and wait about an hour.  The salt leaches the water from the zucchini slices, making them more firm.  (I also do this with egg plant slices.  It makes them firm, not mushy, when you bake them.)

4.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

5.  In a mixing bowl, add cottage cheese, egg, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, the dried Italian spices, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and 2 teaspoons onion powder.  Use a hand mixer to cream the ingredients together.  It may be slightly thick.  I add 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream to make it a bit creamier, which will make it easier to spread.

6.  Divide the zucchini slices (2 groups of slices) and divide the spinach

7.  Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Put 1/2 cup of the reserved spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the pan.

8.  Start layering the lasagna in this way:

A.  1/2 cup spinach, first group of zucchini slices, half the cheese mixture, half the meat sauce, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

B.  1/2 cup spinach, second group of zucchini slices, remaining cheese mixture, remaining meat sauce, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, the remaining 1/2 cup of reserved spaghetti sauce, and finally the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  (In the picture, you will see a bit of baby spinach at the top — I had about 1/4 cup left over from the bag, and I put the rest of the spinach in a layer right before the plain spaghetti sauce and Parmesan cheese at the top.)

9.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil.  Bake for 40 minutes covered.

10.  Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 20 minutes.  Cheese should be lightly golden brown.  Set pan on a cooling rack and let rest 15 minutes before cutting.

*Having made this several times now, I have found that I really like the zucchini slices cut the long way.  They actually have the feel of a lasagna noodle when you eat the lasagna.  Also, using spinach is optional. (In fact, you can add any vegetables you like to this recipe.  If you add a lot more vegetables, I’d suggest a 9″ X 13″ pan.)  If you have a chunky meat sauce and a creamy cheese layer, this will keep the lasagna from being soggy.

Nutritional Information (1/6 of the pan):  275 calories, 5 g fat, 600 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrates, and 22 g protein

Serve this with a generous portion of tossed salad filled with veggies and Lite Ranch dressing (or vinaigrette dressing).



Carb Cycling: What It Is and Why I Do It

When I was planning this post, a thought came to me:  what do I know anyway?  Who am I to tell anyone what or how to eat.  I was already looking for another topic on which to write and then I had my Upper Room devotion this morning.  This is what the LORD said to Moses:

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.  (Exodus 9:16 NIV)

Now, I am not Moses.  But I am called for a purpose:  to show the power of God and proclaim it on this earth.  I love God and my entire weight loss journey has been about renewing my body, my Temple, for His purposes.  He gave me a brain and a fair amount of intelligence.  He gave me a love for people – men, women, and children of all ages, races, socio-economic status, and religious (or non-religious) affiliations.  He gave me a forum to share what I know.  So, I kicked the devil and his lies to the curb, and decided to write what I know — the way I’ve succeeded in losing weight.  I am going to answer some of the questions I’ve been asked about how I lost the weight and what eating plan I follow.

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Carb cycling — what is it?  It’s a way of eating that changed my metabolism.  It is, in scientific terms, cyclic ketogenic dieting. Carb cycling involves eating a low carb diet on some days during the week, interspersed with high carb days.  The reason carb cycling works is because it helps put (and keeps) your metabolism in a constant state of fluctuation.  Your body doesn’t get used to the amount of carbohydrates you consume, so you are less likely to hit a plateau.  If you reach a plateau in your weight loss (a place where you consistently stay the same weight for an extended period of time), you have to jump-start your metabolism so your body will signal the cells in your body that it’s time to burn the fat that’s stored in them.


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I first learned about carb cycling when I saw Chris Powell on Dr. Oz.  Then I watched him on “Extreme Makeover:  Weight Loss Edition.”  (This year they changed the title to “Extreme Weight Loss” and it comes on ABC, Tuesday nights at 8:00 pm.)  This is how Chris teaches his client to eat and the results are incredible.  So, I bought his book Choose More, Lose More for Life.  After four months of eating as outlined in his book, I lost twenty-eight pounds.  (There are many book that promote cyclic ketogenic plans, like The 17-Day Diet, but I’ve read them all and like Chris’s book the best.)

There are four ways to carb cycle.  I am using the “Turbo Cycle” because it gives you faster results.  But during vacation, I used the “Classic Cycle” because we ate out more and you get more high carb days.  For the first time in my life, I didn’t gain weight on vacation!  (You can also choose from “Easy Cycle” and “Active Cycle.”)

So, how does my “Turbo Cycle” work during the week?  On low carb (LC) days, I eat 1200 calories and limit my overall carb intake to 25-30 grams or lower.  On high carb (HC) days I eat 1500 calories and my overall carb intake is between 50-75 grams. This is the my week at a glance:

Monday – LC

Tuesday – LC

Wednesday – HC

Thursday – LC

Friday – LC

Saturday – HC 

Sundays are special days.  Sundays are days that are for a special meal that you would not eat during the week.  On Sundays, I eat low carb with the except of eating a special food that is usually a no-no on any other day of the week.  For example, if I want to eat Papa John’s pizza, I eat it on Sunday AT ONE MEAL ONLY.   If I decide that I’m going to have a big bowl of ice cream, I do it on Sunday afternoon, but I eat ONE BOWL.  There are other people who carb cycle that use the whole day to go on an eat-fest.  But I can’t do that.  I can’t promise that I can rein myself back in after an all-day, eat-whatever-you-want, free-for-all. So I choose one special dessert or meal for Sundays and the rest of the day, I eat low carb.

When do I weigh?  I weigh once a week on Saturday morning because that is what Chris Powell recommends — weigh on a the same day each week and on a day AFTER you’ve had a low carb day (or a couple of low carb days on the Turbo Cycle).

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How long do I carb cycle?  Carb cycling should be done in three-week increments.  On my fourth week, I eat high carb every day for seven days, 50-75 overall carbs per day.  I DO NOT WEIGH ON THIS WEEK.  Why?  Because I will gain 1-2 pounds during this week.  You have to do a HC week because it will allow your body to gather energy to burn fat for the next three weeks.  If you’re a lifelong dieter, this will be hard for you.  It was for me, so that fourth week, I just continued carb cycling.  By week six, I had reached my first plateau.  I was hard-headed so I just ate low carb the entire seventh week – and I gained three pounds!  So, I did the HC week under personal protest.  The next week, I returned to carb cycling and I had lost five pounds! NEVER SKIP THE HIGH CARB WEEK!

What do I eat?  I eat real food.  I eat no processed foods.  I eat low glycemic index foods because they don’t spike my blood sugar (and spikes in blood sugar can cause cravings).  I eat fruits, vegetables, and grilled/baked/broiled meats.  I watch my intake of starchy vegetables (like corn and potatoes) and limit my intake of bread.  When I do eat bread, I love Ezekiel 4:9 breads and English muffins.  These breads are made from sprouted grains and are on the low glycemic index.  The Ezekiel 4:9 Cinnamon Raisin bread is my absolute favorite.

Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. ( Ezekiel 4:9a, NIV)

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How do I know what’s good for me?  I read.  I research things on the internet.  I talk to people who have been doing this longer than I have.  I exchange information with friends.  I never put any food in my body whose ingredients I cannot pronounce. I get enough good fats.  You have to consume fat to burn fat!  I stick to whole foods because I know what’s in them.   If you are a vegan or have a special needs diet, then carb cycling can be adapted.  (Chris addresses this in his book.)

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Sounds complicated and time-consuming!  At first, it was.  But then I remembered that fast and easy was how I gained 75 pounds.  Not caring about the food I put into my body brought me to the point of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and pre-diabetes.  So, it takes a little planning.  At first, I almost became overwhelmed, but at the end of my first three weeks of carb cycling, it was almost second nature.

If you have questions, please leave them in the comment section.  I will answer them.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find the answer.  Carb cycling changed my life.  It may sound cliche, but it IS a lifestyle change.  Below is a sample menu from a LC day.  If you see an asterisk (*) beside an item, then there’s a corresponding recipe coming in tomorrow’s post.  I do not share recipes that I have not personally made. (Let’s be honest – some low carb recipes are a waste of your food resources and time!  They taste B.A.D.)  I am pretty creative in the kitchen so a lot of these will be my own recipes. If I’ve adapted them from a source, I’ll tell you so you check out the original. All recipes have been approved by my family — I figure if THEY won’t eat it, neither will anyone else!

This sample menu is made up of foods that I actually have eaten on a LC day:


Basic Breakfast Scramble*

1/2 cup Confetti Veggie Hash*

1 cup green tea sweetened with stevia


I cup red seedless grapes

15-20 raw almonds


Bunless Burger Salad*


2 wedges Laughing Cow Herb & Garlic Spreadable Cheese

Unlimited celery sticks


Grilled Spicy Cod Fillet*

1/2 cup Confetti Veggie Hash*

2 (or more) cups of tossed salad

1-2 Tablespoons Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing or Lite Vinaigrette Dressing

What about a snack at night?  I don’t eat after 8:00 pm.  But if you like a snack at night, choose raw almonds or walnuts, a tablespoon of nut butter (peanut or almond) on celery sticks, or an Extend snack.  (Extend snacks are made by the Extend Company and are made for diabetics, so they adhere to the low glycemic index and will not cause a spike in blood sugar, which could really derail you at bedtime.

Beverage Consumption?  I drink water.  That’s pretty much it.  I don’t drink carbonate beverages — even diet sodas.  My daughter and I gave soda up for Lent three years ago and we’ve just never picked it back up. Divide your body weight by half and that’s a good estimate of how many  ounces of water you should have a day.  I do drink green tea or coffee in the morning, but I am caffeine sensitive, so only at breakfast.  I do love de-caffeinated ice tea with stevia, though.

Do I fall off the plan?  At least once a week.  But I get right back on track.  That’s the only way to get where I’m headed:  get up and just keep going.  Carb cycling never leaves me hungry.   It’s a huge amount of food to eat in one day.  It’s the way I’ve chosen to eat for the rest of my life because I don’t feel deprived.

I hope this helpful.  Just writing it made me appreciate how carb cycling has changed my body and how grateful I am to God that I found this way of eating.


Related Articles:


Weight Loss Wisdom 1

I struggled fiercely with a title for what I want to share with you.  In fact, I stepped away from the computer and lay on the bed for a few minutes to stretch out my back and think.  I thought so hard that I feel asleep!  And I awoke this morning, still with nothing.  As I made coffee, I thought about a verse I had recently read in Proverbs:

But wisdom will help you be good and do what is right. (Proverbs 2:20 NCV)

Isn’t that what losing weight is about — doing what is right for our bodies?  So I chose the above title, not because I am wise and all knowing, but because God has helped me find wisdom in searching the internet, reading books and magazines, and asking questions to people I trust to know what’s good for me (three cheers for Dr. Meredith).

Today’s tidbits of wisdom are maybe not the first things I tried in respect to diet (as in what I eat, not a fad diet) and exercise, but they are certainly bits of knowledge that brought me some results.  That was the number one question I’ve been asked since last Wednesday’s post — How did you get started?  (Thank you for the all emails – – and Facebook message questions!  I promise I will get to them all.)

Here are ten bits of advice or knowledge to get you started or keep you going:

1.  Don’t drink your calories.  If you are hooked on regular soda, fruit juice, or sweet iced tea, you are probably drinking 2,500 calories a day that do not come from a sustainable food supply for your body.  SUGAR is your big culprit here.  While switching to diet soda or some other drinks that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners is much better than the full sugar kind, I fully recommend water as your drink of choice.  (Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you’re simply thirsty.)  Try a full glass of ice-cold water before each meal to start with or drink water with your meal.  If you just can’t stand the taste of water, add fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice or fruit slices to your water.

2.  Sweeteners that are natural cause less sugar cravings than artificial sweeteners.  Stevia, Truvia, or sweeteners made from monk fruit, like Nectresse, are three that are made from plants.  The biggest complaint I had when I started was that it took more of these sweeteners to make my beverages sweet.  However, the longer I used them (and I love Stevia in the raw), the less I needed because my body was detoxing from that sugar taste.  I was shocked to hear that the Center for Science in the Public Interest has downgraded Splenda’s “safety of use” level from “acceptable” to “use with caution” based on a recent study from Italy. (Please see the related articles links at the end of the post for more information on this.)

3.  A diet based on the low glycemic index will help if your body doesn’t deal well with carbohydrates.  Carbs are simply not my friends.  The American Diabetes Association has a great website ( has a wealth of knowledge and recipes.  I found that if I eat like a diabetic, I lose weight.  My sugar cravings are less.  The one thing that I love about eating “sugar free” (for the most part — I’m not saying I never have sugar because I treat myself occasionally) is that it seems to have attacked that awful belly fat that I had in my “apple-shaped” body.

4.  All carbs are not created equal.  Pasta, rice, noodles, and bread (even the wheat or whole-grain type) are used by your body much differently than carbs that come from fresh fruits and vegetables.  The bad carbs (as they’re referred to in diet jargon) still turn to sugar and it often are stored in the fat cells for future use.  Good carbs take longer to digest and therefore the body actually uses more energy to digest them, making you feel full longer.  I love fruit and truly believe fruit is one of the best natural treats your body can have, but I still try to eat my fruits before 3:00pm.  Fruits in the morning (in smoothies or by themselves) can boost your energy naturally and satisfy a sweet tooth.

5.  Eat fresh, whole foods often.  (Read this:  almost all fast food is a no-no — even salads!)  Processed food is full of carbs (read:  sugar) and ingredients that you cannot pronounce.  I have become a label-reader.  When I see the ingredients list on a label and see things that I don’t recognize or have to Google to find out what they are, I avoid the product.  A chicken breast is a chicken breast.  Fresh salad greens are salad greens.  An apple is an apple — nothing added.

When I do eat out, I go to the restaurant website and search the nutritional information.  When I arrive there, I already know what I’m going to have so I don’t make spur of the moment decisions that derail me.

6.  A ten-minute walk can boost your metabolism by 50%.  Don’t have time to workout?  Find just ten minutes a couple of times a day to walk and you will see a huge increase in your energy and at the scale.  This was the best news I came across in my initial weight loss journey.  I cannot walk more than about ten minutes at the time because of my back, hip, and knee.  The pain is too great.  Most days I can do ten minutes, though.  if you have an iPhone, there are apps (free and $.99 – $2.99 for purchase) that will count your steps as you go through-out your day.  Currently, I use the free version of Runtastic.  While we were shopping yesterday at the Tanger Outlets and Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach, SC, I used the app to count my steps.  Experts say that walking 10,000 steps a day is as good an exercise as jogging or a workout at the gym.  I didn’t quite make it to 10,000 yesterday, but 6,407 steps wasn’t bad.

7.  Educate yourself.  Read, talk to others, ask questions, and take nothing at face value.  Dig, dig, dig for information.  Your doctor is a good place to start, but your doctor is busy with a lot of things.  Make a list of questions to ask and back up those questions with articles, books, websites and any other source of information your can.  Give them to your doctor and ask for his/her opinion.  The only silly question is the one you do not ask.

I have to give you one book to read because the information in it changed how I view my carb intake.  Choose More, Lose More for Life by Chris Powell, who is the trainer and star of ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss.”  The first plateau I reached (at 185), I saw Chris on GMA and ordered the book.  I found out that I was “carb starving” myself.  I had no idea that there was such a thing as too little carbs!  Without some carbs, your metabolism goes into starvation mode and slows down to conserve energy.  It’s a great book and I “carb cycle” now to give myself the needed energy to burn my stored fat.  The great thing about carb cycling is that this book gives your four options, and I love options.  It’s a must-have for your nutritional library.

8.  Find some accountability partners.  These are people with which you can share your trials and triumphs.  I tell my accountability partners what the scale says each week.  I call them when I’m frustrated and want to ride to Diary Queen and have one of everything.  I love Kelly, but he’s my husband, not my accountability partner.  He loves me unconditionally and would tell me I looked great in a burlap sack.  Choose your accountability partners based on their ability to be honest with you.  You need someone to say, “Put down that Pop Tart and back away slowly.”

9.  Weigh once a week.  Your weight naturally fluctuates during the week depending on a great many things, such as salt intake, water intake, and for me, where I am in my carb cycle.  Truth be told, I weigh on Saturday morninging about 7:00am in my undies — sometimes stark naked if I think that will help!  I weight at the same time every week so that over a month’s time, I can see results.  If you change the factors (such as weighing one week in the morning and one week in the afternoon), your data will be off.  So choose a day, stick with that day, and mark your weight each week on a calendar.  (Then tell your accountability partner the results — even if you gain two pounds, two weeks in a row!)

10.  Remember this:  it took you a while to get in THIS shape and it will take you awhile to get INTO shape!  If you’re looking for a quick fix, there is none.  Fad diets offer you false hope.  Even if you have some success on a food-restricted diet, when you return to your old ways of eating (I always did because I could not stand the deprivation), the weight comes back and probably with more added on top.  If you stray from your healthy eating, get back to it soon.  One day does not a lifetime failure make!  It’s a day-by-day lifestyle.  Once you commit to it and start seeing results, you won’t go back.  It feels too good when you eat right.

Good luck as you launch your new lifestyle.  I am still at it every day on my way to my goal weight of 150.  Even after I reach my goal, I will still be at it every day because I love the way I feel.  Let me know if I can help.


Related Articles:

How Safe is Splenda? (Fox News)

Splenda May Not Be Splendid After All (Yahoo! News)

The Truth About Sugar Substitutes (Family Doctor)

The Sweetness of Stevia