Make Homemade Healthy Alternatives to Soda - and Save Money, Too!
No one really thought about the need for healthy alternatives to soda until everyone became addicted to it in the 1970s. Prior to that Coke came in a 10 oz bottle, as I recall, that you could buy for 15 cents. It was a treat that was just that, a treat.
Fast forward to the 21st century and Coke is the new water. (By the way, please understand I am from Texas. EVERY soda product is called Coke here, even Pepsi, so keep that in mind.) It is not ingested by the ounce anymore but by the liter...and, while a couple of Cokes a week probably isn't so bad, it is really bad for the body in those amounts.
But if you need your fizz and flavor what are you going to do?
BPA Free Infusion Pitcher
This BPA-Free, 93 ounce Infusion Pitcher has a sleek modern design. Just put the cut fruit of your choice in the center column and let it flavor the water over time. With 21 five star reviews and a price of under $15 it's a great deal.
Simple and Fresh Fruit Infused Water
Fruit infused water is light and refreshing with just a touch of flavor. It does not pick up significant calories or carbs from the fruit. This is easiest to make if you invest in an infusion pitcher — they aren't very expensive. Basically the infusion pitcher is a normal pitcher with a perforated center piece. Smash the fruit slightly and then put it in the center column. Fill the pitcher with filtered water. Refrigerate it for several hours, the longer the more flavor the water will have.
This water will be fine for up to three days as long as you keep it refrigerated but it probably won't last that long!
Good fruit combinations are:
- Strawberry lime
- Strawberry kiwi
- Strawberry basil
- Peach and raspberry
- Blueberry and lemon
- Orange and pear
- Mixed citrus
- Mango ginger
You don't have to peel citrus fruit, just wash it and cut it in chunks.
Keep in mind that the best flavors are a balanced combination of sweet and tangy — that's why strawberry lime works so well. There are literally thousands of possibilities. You'll want to keep creating new combinations and see what you like best.
Homemade Agua Fresca
Agua Fresca, a fruit flavored water, originated in Mexico and has recently become popular in the United States. It isn't just delicious, it's pretty!
The beverage can be made with nearly any fruit or fruit combination. Some to consider are:
You can create your favorite combinations — anything goes! The fruit is usually muddled or blended with the water so it has more flavor (and calories) than fruit flavored water. If you use a fruit with seeds, like blackberries, you'll probably want to strain the water before serving.
Watermelon Agua Fresca Recipe
This refreshing Agua Fresca is easy and delicious. Serve it with a couple of watermelon cubes on a skewer to make it pretty.
- 4 cups ripe watermelon, seeds removed
- 1/2 cup Spring water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Squeeze of lime
- Blend the watermelon, sugar, and water in the blender.
- Squeeze the lime in and blend.
- Fill four glasses with ice and fill with the watermelon mixture.
- Garnish with lime wedges
How to Make Italian Soda
One of the favorites around here is Italian Soda. We started making them when we owned a tea room, and once we got used to them were too spoiled to stop. Italian sodas are really easy to make and have far less sugar that the sodas that you buy. The syrups also come in sugar free versions if you are avoiding sugar.
The best way to serve an Italian soda is in a tall, iced glass, with some whipped cream on the top. If you make your own whipped cream from organic cream, and watch your sugar, it isn't unhealthy unless you are having to watch your fat intake. The combinations are almost endless!
Italian Soda: Basic Recipe
- 2 Tbs flavored syrup
- 8-12 oz club soda
Pour syrup into glass, add club soda and stir.
That is easy, isn't it? Now, when you need to add some luxury to that you want a Cremosa.
- 2 Tbs flavored syrup
- 8 oz club soda
- 4 oz half and half or cream
Stir together, or serve in layers. To serve in layers, pour the syrup in the glass. Add the club soda, then partially whip heavy cream and float it on top. It takes some practice but is a beautiful presentation.
Variations of Italian Sodas and Cremosas
Now that you have the basics down...Here are some of the best flavor combinations based on the Monin syrups which you can click on in the side bar for more information:
- Victorian-1 tbs vanilla, 1 tbs rose
- Creamsicle-1 tbs orange, 1 tbs vanilla
- Creme Brulee-1 tbs caramel, 1 tbs vanilla
- French Countryside- 1/2 tbs lavender, 1 1/2 tbs lemon
- Summer Afternoon-2 tsp blackberry, 2 tsp white chocolate, 2 tsp violet
- S'mores-1tbs toasted Marshmallow, 1/2 tbs Caramel, 1/2 tbs Chocolate
There are literally hundreds more combinations and ways of making them, and each of the recipes can be used for cremosas as well.
Now, are you wondering about how healthy are these, really? Here is the breakdown:
Homemade Italian Soda
- sugars: 11 g
- sodium 0
- calories 110
- sugar 30g
Plus, you have a natural, gourmet beverage that is exactly what you wanted without the chemicals. You can adjust the calories by using less syrup. There are no calories at all in club soda.
Make Soda with Stevia
Healthy Fruit Juice Soda
Another healthy alternative to soda is a drink made with fruit juice and club soda. Like the Italian sodas, the possibilities are almost endless. Various combinations of organic fruit juices, or organic fruit juices and tea are given some fizz by mixing them with the club soda.
In this case, you will want to make your drink half club soda, half juice.
- 4 oz orange juice
- 4 oz club soda
- 1 oz orange
- 1/2 oz lemon
- 1/2 oz grapefruit
- 1/2 oz key lime
- 2 oz green tea
- 4 oz club soda
- a little sugar or honey if needed.
Sparkling Fruit Punch
- 4 oz organic mixed juice punch
- 4 oz club soda
- 1 banana liquefied in the blender
- 4 oz club soda
- 1 tsp lemon juice
There are many combinations to choose from. Any organic, 100% fruit juice will be a great addition to your homemade beverage. Be sure to pour it into iced glasses because it is just so much better that way.
Drinking Plenty of Water Is the Best Choice
The best alternative to any kind of beverage is water. Pure water is essential to the body and the more of it, within reason, the better.
Whether you drink it iced, with a slice of lime or lemon, or at room temperature be sure, no matter what else you are drinking, that you get all the water your body needs. Eight 8 oz. glasses is only the bare minimum.
Sadly, coffee does not count. Keep a large glass of water within reach and sip it often for the healthiest body ever.
New Habits Have to Be Cultivated
Keep in mind that it takes three weeks of consistent practice to get a new habit down pat. Your taste-buds update pretty quickly as well. At first you may really crave your sodas but that craving will abate as time goes on. At first the less sweet alternatives will taste bland but as you get used to drink them you'll find that they seem to become more intensely flavored.
Over time you'll find that you are healthier, feel more energetic, and you may even drop some weight!
Have you tried any alternatives to soda that haven't been mentioned here? Leave a comment below and share your recipe!
© 2008 Marye Audet
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