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Make Homemade Healthy Alternatives to Soda - and Save Money, Too!

Updated on September 11, 2014
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

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?

Image:Morguefile.com We drink much more soda than we used to.
Image:Morguefile.com We drink much more soda than we used to.

BPA Free Infusion Pitcher

Fruit Infusion Pitcher - Shatter Proof Acrylic - 3 Quart - By Decodyne
Fruit Infusion Pitcher - Shatter Proof Acrylic - 3 Quart - By Decodyne

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
  • Melon
  • 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.

photo credit: arnold | inuyaki via photopin cc
photo credit: arnold | inuyaki via photopin cc | Source

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:

  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Strawberry
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Cucumber
  • Blueberry
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Grape
  • Apple

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.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups ripe watermelon, seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup Spring water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Squeeze of lime

Instructions:

  1. Blend the watermelon, sugar, and water in the blender.
  2. Squeeze the lime in and blend.
  3. Fill four glasses with ice and fill with the watermelon mixture.
  4. 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.

Cremosa:Basic Recipe

  • 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

  • calories-90
  • sugars: 11 g
  • sodium 0

Coke

  • calories 110
  • sugar 30g
  • sodium:11

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

Morguefile.com
Morguefile.com

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.

Orange

  • 4 oz orange juice
  • 4 oz club soda

Citrus Blast

  • 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

Banana 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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    • twilanelson profile image

      Twila Nelson 

      6 years ago from Carmichael, California

      Thank you for a clear and healthy Hub. And thank you for sharing the recipes for some healthy alternatives to soda.

    • Don Simkovich profile image

      Don Simkovich 

      6 years ago from Pasadena, CA

      I've had 2 Diet Pepsis in the last 2 or 3 months. I drink coffee but my alternative to soda has been a blend of powdered supplements and they taste great. One's an antioxidant. I really like the taste and I no longer have a craving for soda that I would get once in a while.

    • the pink umbrella profile image

      the pink umbrella 

      8 years ago from the darkened forest deep within me.

      you know all we drink anymore is pepsi. i went for 2 years without even thinking about soda, and now since im always thirsty, and soda is so cheap, its all we drink in my home. Im definitely going to consider the fruit juice and the club soda thing, it seems like an alternative that shouldn't be too expensive.

    • profile image

      bessiesue 

      8 years ago

      I do not drink soda but do drink a lot of juice. Lately I have gone to a better alternative and that is water, vinegar, honey and a dash of ginger.

    • Ginsengcare profile image

      Ginsengcare 

      8 years ago

      It's very informative for soda usage. Thanks for your valuable stuff.

    • BeckyC profile image

      BeckyC 

      8 years ago

      This is great! I never knew Italian sodas were so easy to make. I personally don't drink coke (or pop, as it's called around here), but due to my health condition I'm supposed to drink 1 1/2 gallons of liquid a day--and more when it's hot. I'm always looking for new things to drink, and these look really good. Maybe I can get some of my family members to drink them too.

      One of the earlier comments caught my eye. It was by Pete, asking how to stop drinking caffeine without ending up in the ER with withdrawal symptoms. I'm sure he isn't the only one with that problem--instead of trying to stop drinking caffeine all at once, maybe try weaning yourself off of it slowly. Maybe drink one can less per day, and you could even replace it with one of these wonderful Italian sodas!

    • RK Sangha profile image

      RK Sangha 

      8 years ago from USA

      very useful, thanks.

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S Jain 

      9 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      That healthy alternate soda options are cool!

    • MikeNV profile image

      MikeNV 

      9 years ago from Henderson, NV

      It's not just the sugar that is unhealthy. Its the effect that soda puts on your blood chemistry and PH balance. Just removing sugar doesn't make it healthy.

    • tourmaline2777 profile image

      tourmaline2777 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      Great Hub!! Sodas are so addictive. I was drinking about 2 cans a day then I heard about how unhealthy  high fructose corn syrup is. Now, I  do the juice and club soda thing. I will also mix lemon and/or lime juice with agave nectar and add seltzer (taste kinda like 7-up). And sometimes I will do a natural soda-usually root beer-gotta have root beer with my pizza.

    • eswar profile image

      eswar 

      9 years ago from India

      Good hub, but water cannot be an alternative to anything it is basic and essential, that nothing in the world cannot compete with.

    • guidebaba profile image

      guidebaba 

      10 years ago from India

      Good. I Like this.

    • BernieQuimpo profile image

      BernieQuimpo 

      10 years ago from Philippines

      Very informative and helpful hub, Marye. It is really scary the way sodas have become like water, especially for kids. In the Philippines, you can see children drinking coke from plastic bags (using a straw of course). I go for water or coconut water (we call it buko juice in the Philippines) or soda water with calamansi (a small citrus fruit quite popular in my country).

    • profile image

      U R What U Eat 

      10 years ago from United States

      Over the past year I quit drinking soda as well, the carbonation does horrible things with my stomach.

      If you are looking for more alternatives to soda, I'd suggest FRS Energy - I just wrote a hub on it.

    • *Joy* profile image

      *Joy* 

      10 years ago from Williamsville, NY

      Awesome! I don't buy soda, but I do love seltzer. I am weaning myself from the ones with splenda. I am making this over the weekend.

    • Sandilyn profile image

      Sandilyn 

      10 years ago from Port Orange, FL

      Those drinks sound wonderful. I myself cut way back on the soda about a year and a half a ago. I feel healthier for doing so. I still drink a few during the day but I drink mostly water.

      Most people do not realize the ill effects of drinking too much soda. For instance I have complex seizure disorder. Having more than 3 sodas a day can cause me to have more seizures.

      Then there are the ones filled with sugar and the problems with high blood pressure and so on.

      Have a glass of water!

    • Sandi Anders profile image

      Sandi Anders 

      10 years ago

      What a great lens. I have been a long time user of stevia (I use it in my protein smoothies in the a.m.). I particularly liked the video with the suggestions regarding making soda without all the chemicals that are in diet soda.

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 

      10 years ago from London UK

      These sound excellent!

      I stopped drink fizzy drinks "Soda" for the reason that they are bad for you so i will have to check them out and hope that they taste nice and still have lots of fizz!!

    • profile image

      Amy_Roberts 

      10 years ago

      Fantasic alternatives, I'm definitely going to try these out! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      lucas 

      10 years ago

      Pete is an example of why we should stop drinking soda

    • profile image

      pete 

      10 years ago

      I;ve been drinking Pepsi for 50 yr. about 6-12 oz cans a day at least.

      Last year I tried to stop drinking it and switched to diet 7-up....I ended up in the ER due to a withdrawal from caffeine. So I'm back on the Pepsi...any ideas

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Love the Hub - great recipes that I must try! I drink waaay too much soda (all of it diet, but nonetheless...)

    • profile image

      marmaduke 

      10 years ago

      French sodas are even better than Italian sodas. When I recently developed painful kidney stones, that was my only alternative at the local coffeehouse. My favorite is cinnamon/caramel...YUMMMMM!

    • Rob Jundt profile image

      Rob Jundt 

      10 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks for this great article. I'm sure we'll try a few before the summer is over.

    • Chef Helm profile image

      Chef Helm 

      10 years ago from Seattle

      One of the changes I've made in the last couple years is to stop drinking soda. I used to drink cola, then I wanted to get rid of the caffeine. I started drinking lemon lime. Then I wanted to get rid of the sugar, so I started drinking soda. Not only have I lost weight, I don't have the sugar crash I used to get. Thanks for the info, I'm so used to grabbing that lemon wedge and squeezing it into my soda, I need to try some Italian sodas.

    • Son of Voodoo profile image

      Son of Voodoo 

      10 years ago from Home

      Actually home made soda was gonna be my answer. I also noticed sparkling juices listed. Also something to be aware of, most coffee shop will be able to make you an italian soda. I prefer these sice coffee does strange things to me.

      As an alternative for sodas for me, I make up a big old batch of tea, sweeten it to taste with organic cane sugar. I tend to go for the fruity black teas, like Paradise tea. Chill it overnight, and drink it throughout the day. Check your local are for specialist tea shops also. You can get some awesome flavors. I just recently purchased a Peach Cream black tea. It is fantastic. With the loose teas you will need a strainer, but i know with the Paradise Tea you can use the larger tea bags in a coffee brewer.

    • Kat07 profile image

      Kat07 

      10 years ago from Tampa

      These sound so very refreshing! I can't wait to try them!

    • profile image

      Dave 

      10 years ago

      The simple one that isn't on your list is club soda with a twist. Lemon, lime, sometimes both.

      There's enough flavor to make it "not just soda water", and that does the job nicely for a lot of people.

      Dave

    • RainbowRecognizer profile image

      RainbowRecognizer 

      10 years ago from Midwest

      These are delicious - and fun to make!!! Our family also loves Knudsen spritzers which are 80-100% juice, but come in lots of yummy flavors for the person who loves variety... :o) Thanks for posting this!

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 

      10 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I always love Italian sodas, so thank yhou for sharing your recipes for them.

    • dindin profile image

      dindin 

      10 years ago from Texas

      I quit sodas last year and I miss them. I've tried Izze which is pretty good (sparkling water and juices).

      I think I'll try some of the Italian sodas.the French Countryside sounds wonderful.

    • gamergirl profile image

      Kiz 

      10 years ago from Antioch, TN

      Awesome hub! You've got me hooked with the concept of flavored syrup and club soda - there's nothing stopping someone from using sugar-free flavored syrups to create a dreamy concoction of bubbly yumminess.

      Thanks for answering my request, dearie! I'll be printing this one out. :D

    • JerseyGirl profile image

      JerseyGirl 

      10 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Great info! I try to introduce non-soda drinks in my house, and try to make it "fun" to enjoy. Thanks for many great ideas.

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