You have to let me slide on the title (Water for Elephants). I hated to start this post with you won't believe how much money I spend on soda! because nobody cares how much money I spend. But, I must tell you why and how I'm transitioning from a lifelong obsession with caffeinated soda to less expensive and healthier beverages. I figured I spend anywhere from $1800-$2000 annually on soda. That will shock the Diet Mountain Dew right out of your hand. Please. That could buy an iPad and more!
Having said that, I have made a successful effort to drink less soda and more water. It would defeat my efforts to reduce the expense if I substituted bottled water. I like convenient plastic bottles as well as anybody but, let's face it, we already pay for cheap, treated water that comes right out of the tap. What a great country! Benefits of Water
I have tried several homemade soda recipes lately. Certainly, sliced citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges or combinations of all these) give water a good flavor without having to add sweetener. I would say this is truly my preference. I particularly like the taste and always have limes and/or lemons around.
I wanted to share a few homemade soda recipes I have tried in case you are working on your budget, too. From a physical standpoint, I have never felt better. I haven't cut out caffeine altogether. One in the morning or right before housecleaning and I buzz right along.
Here are a few I've tried from least favorite to favorite (all recipes from Bon Appetit and seen at D.I.Y., The New York Times):
Cucumber, Mint and Basil Soda
Calories: 61 Calories, Sugar: 16g
- 1 1/2 cups simple syrup
- 1/2 large cucumber (about 8 oz.), thinly sliced crosswise, plus 12 slices for garnish
- 24 fresh mint leaves plus 12 sprigs for garnish
- 12 fresh basil leaves
- 6 cups soda water, divided
My Notes: As a fan of sugar and the other ingredients, this tasted pretty good! I think it would make a lovely drink to serve when you have guests or at brunch. Add a little vodka and you have a party.
PreparationBring 1 1/2 cups simple syrup to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove pan from heat and add cucumber slices (reserving 12 for garnish), 24 mint leaves, and basil. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain cucumber-herb syrup into a jar, pressing on solids in strainer. Fill a 12-oz. glass with ice cubes. Add 2 Tbsp. syrup and top with soda water (about 1/2 cup). Stir to combine. Garnish with cucumber slice and sprig of mint. Repeat to make 11 more sodas.
Calories: 56 Sugar: 13g
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon raw sugar
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- 5 small strawberries (or 3 large strawberries, quartered) plus 1 thin slice for garnish
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 3/4 cup soda water
My Notes: It's strawberries! What's left to say except this is easier to prepare and more naturally sweet.
PreparationCombine fresh lemon juice, raw sugar, basil, whole strawberries, and salt in a pint glass. Muddle ingredients with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves. Add ice cubes and soda water and stir until chilled. Strain into a 12-oz. glass filled with ice cubes and garnish with a strawberry slice.
Spicy Ginger Soda
Calories: 74 Sugar: 17g
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 3" pieces fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 12 lime wedges
- 6 cups soda water, divided
My Notes: My favorite: 1) I like ginger, 2) I didn't know what to expect from the ingredients listed. But, wouldn't you know, it has the most calories/serving.
PreparationCombine sugar, red pepper flakes, salt, ginger, and 2 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cover, and steep for 30 minutes. Strain ginger syrup into a jar and chill. Fill a 12-oz. glass with ice cubes. Add 2 Tbsp. ginger syrup, squeeze a lime wedge into glass, and top with soda water. Stir to combine. Repeat to make 11 more sodas.
Combine sugar, red pepper flakes, salt, ginger, and 2 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cover, and steep for 30 minutes. Strain ginger syrup into a jar and chill. Fill a 12-oz. glass with ice cubes. Add 2 Tbsp. ginger syrup, squeeze a lime wedge into glass, and top with soda water. Stir to combine. Repeat to make 11 more sodas.
What are your favorite ways to drink water?