Sunday, December 16, 2012

Make Your Own Soda

Lots of families have kids who love sugary drinks, which we all know are generally unhealthy and are linked to obesity and diabetes. But when Mom and Dad love their soda, too, it is a tricky proposition to remove it completely from the house. But there is another option... and it's healthy, too.

The first thing we must remember is that for most people, soda is actually an acquired taste. This is especially true of diet soda, which often contains chemicals that are quite bad for you in order to provide the "sweetness" craved by the drinker. So changing a soda solution might require a few attempts to get used to the flavor, but it is worth the small effort.

These days, it is becoming more common for families to make their own sodas at home. Carbonating systems are available at many retailers. Their mixes, however, are generally just the same chemical junk found in mass-produced beverages. But if you crave a frosty carbonated beverage, these machines allow you to inexpensively make your own seltzer water, the starting point of all soda drinks.

Without a contraption to sparkle your own water, you can still pick up bottles of seltzer or club soda for a fraction of the cost of name brand cola. Once you have the fizzy water ready, you only need two more ingredients and you are moments away from a delicious soda.

The secret ingredients are fresh lemon juice (you only need a little) and molasses. All sodas need a sweetener of some sort, but looking at all the natural options reveals one basic truth: while sugars generally offer the same calories, they are otherwise mostly nutritionally vacant. Honey and maple syrup offer some trace nutrients and are healthier options than refined sugar, but molasses is a nutritional powerhouse in its own right. That is correct: molasses is downright good for you.

So take a glass of sparkling water, squeeze some lemon into it and stir in a spoonful of molasses. The amounts you like will take a little experimenting to work out, and will likely change as you grow to appreciate the complexities of flavor in good molasses. I recommend the rich tasting black strap variety and Meyer lemons as a flavor combination, and I like mine strong and frothy with an extra pump of carbonation. Have fun finessing your own homemade bubbling beverages!

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