With 2017 having just begun, a number of us are reflecting on how this year will really be the best yet. In general, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I appreciate that many people like a date to mark the beginning of significant life change. That date provides motivation and it has a personal meaning. (Although it wasn’t planned, I even remember the date that I decided to pursue plant-based living over FIVE years ago, which I’ll be writing about next week. Stay tuned!)
I published my first post to this blog on New Year’s Day 2015, so I truly understand the symbolism of a new year’s seemingly clean slate. Although raising my two little ones has had more of an impact than I would like on how often I’m able to publish new posts, I’m keeping at it in my own time. THANK YOU for sticking with me! 🙂
As 2016 dwindled down, I had a lot of people reaching out to me for guidance in diving into a plant-based diet or just eating more healthily in general. Today’s post is inspired by one such inquiry. We are making over the beloved bubbly beverage soda!
Several months ago, a Facebook friend of mine was looking for a smarter alternative to soda, the one unhealthy item she just couldn’t seem to kick. She isn’t the first person I’ve chatted with that can’t get enough of the bubbles; when she was getting married, my sister Petra—a longtime Coke lover—registered for a soda stream just to carbonate water in an effort to drink less cola. I’ve also witnessed a number of friends throughout the years make the switch to diet sodas to hold on to the carbonation without the calories.
I’ve never been in to soda myself, but I definitely see the draw. It isn’t so much the flavor or the sugar; it’s the bubbles. They are tingly and refreshing and a welcome alternative to flat beverages like coffee, tea, and water. I totally get it. I can’t bear, however, watching people I care about continue to consume high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and dyes, and manmade sweeteners when I know that there is a better way to get that bubbly fix.
When I did consume soda (or pop, as we call it in Michigan) growing up, it was almost always Sprite. The lemon-lime flavor is light and crisp and seems a perfect match for the bubbles. So today, I’m making my own version of Sprite.
For starters, I’m using juice from a real lemon and a real lime. As a result, my soda will be a bit cloudier than commercially produced versions, but I’m alright with that in the name of health. Although highly dependent on the size of the fruit, the juice from one lemon contains roughly 15-20 calories and 50% of your daily recommended vitamin C and the juice from one lime contains roughly 10-15 calories and 30% of your daily recommended vitamin C. Adding a couple of teaspoons of this freshly squeezed citrus juice to my soda is adding a negligible amount of calories and a noteworthy amount of vitamin C. Yes!
Secondly, I’m using an all-natural, plant-derived sweetener that is lower in calories than cane sugar. You know that I don’t count calories (when you eat as healthily as I do, you certainly don’t have to), but knowing the facts is important when you’re trying to lose weight or tone up, so that’s why I’m sharing this information with you. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol naturally occurring in the fibers of certain fruits and vegetables such as strawberries and cauliflower. It contains 10 calories per teaspoon and does not have a significant impact on blood sugar levels. So, we score again! (If blood sugar, diabetes, or other issues related to sweeteners is of concern regarding your health and diet, make sure to do your own research on this or any product, of course!)
8 ounces of my lemon-lime soda contains roughly 30-35 calories and no artificial flavors or dyes. 8 ounces of Sprite contains 96 calories and the following ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium citrate, and sodium benzoate. (Check it out on Coca Cola’s website if you need to see for yourself!) I don’t know about you, but I like the idea of club soda, fresh juice, and xylitol better.
Have a soda stream? Carbonate your own water and save yourself the sodium often found in club soda. You could also get through the soda preparation more quickly by simply mixing your sweetener and water and dropping in one of my water infusers, which you’d already have on hand in your freezer. Sweet!
And one final note, after many trials and tastes tests, I developed a soda formula that hits just enough of the sweet spot for me. If you’re coming off of a serious soda addiction, you may need to start with a tad more xylitol until your taste buds adjust. 🙂 Enjoy!
FORMULA BASE: SODA
- 8 ounces carbonated water –> I’m using club soda.
- 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed fruit juice –> I’m using 1.5 tsps lemon and 1.5 tsps lime.
- 2.5 teaspoons natural, plant-derived sweetener –> I’m using xylitol.
- OPTIONAL: pure extracts, spices, or herbs* to taste –> I’m not using any today.
*Can you imagine how delicious a sprig of fresh mint would be?! Yum!
Combine all ingredients and stir until sweetener is dissolved.
Pour over ice. If you make extra, be sure to stir before serving and keep in mind that like any soda, it may become flatter over time.