3 Amazing Healthy Alternatives to Pop
It’s hard to kick a soda habit. We know that heavy consumption can increase your risk for diabetes and obesity, and that it’s filled with empty calories, artificial colors, and preservatives. The sugar and caffeine can make you crash and the money spent adds up! So we’re challenging you to put down the can, invest in your health and try a few soda alternatives.
1. Cucumber lavender mint soda
Here’s one way to use up some of that fresh produce in season right now. Cucumbers are a great source of B vitamins, a natural energy boost if you find yourself missing that caffeine. The high water content and fiber also aids in weight loss.
1 Liter soda water
1/2 medium cucumber
20 fresh mint leaves
1 cup tap water
3 Tbsp fresh or dried lavender flowers
2 cups sugar
Combine the tap water and lavender in a medium sauce pain and bring to a boil. Stir in 2 cups sugar until fully dissolved. Remove from the stove, strain the lavender flowers from the syrup and add the thinly sliced cucumber and mint leaves. Cover and let steep in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Fill your favorite glass with ice cubes. Combine syrup and soda water to taste and drink in the taste of late summer.
2. Kombucha tea (Pictured above)
Tea doesn’t come to mind as the first soda alternative, but Kombucha is crisp and refreshing and even has a bit of carbonation to it. Because it’s slightly fermented, it’s also a probiotic food, which is great for your stomach and digestion.
1 gallon sweetened tea (Must be black or green!)
1 Kombucha mushroom (aka “mother” or “scoby”)
1 thin kitchen cloth
1 rubber band
1 large gallon glass
20 oz fruit juice of your choice
Smaller jars with lids to hold 80% of the tea
Boil one gallon of water and add 3 to 4 tea bags. Tea must be either black or green– herbal blends are not effective for this type of tea. Add one cup sugar and leg it dissolve completely. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature (about 1 1/2 hours).
Once the tea is cool, pour into the large gallon glass. Pour the Kombucha mushroom into the tea alongside, with the liquid it comes in. Cover the glass container with a thin cloth and wrap the rubber band around the lid to secure. Place in a cool, dark corner away from direct sunlight.
Let the tea sit for 5-7 days. Here, the mushroom is “eating” the sugars to produce enzymes and acids, giving the tea its carbonation and tangy flavor. The mushroom with reproduce itself into a “baby” scoby, which you can give to a friend.
Pour three ounces of fruit juice into each individual glass bottle and fill the rest with the tea mixture. If you want to save your scoby, make sure it sits in at least 1 1/2 cups of the tea mixture. Let the bottles sit 1-2 additional days then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely before opening. Then enjoy the fruits of your hard work!
3. Peach basil shrub soda
“Shrub” sodas are making a comeback in foodie circles. They’re fruit syrups preserved in vinegar to make a sweet and very tangy drink… And they’re a great way to preserve our summer harvest.
2 cups fresh peaches
5 leaves basil
1 pint apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
Glass container with a lid
A large cooking pot
First, make sure your glass container and lid are sterile. Wash with hot soapy water and boil. Carefully remove the jar from the pot after it’s cooled and place peaches inside. Heat the vinegar up to just below boiling, and pour over fruit.
Screw on the lid and let the container cool away from direct sunlight. Let it stand for at least 48 hours. Strain the mixture through a coffee filter and place back into saucepan. Bring to a boil and dissolve the sugar in the mixture.
Let cool, pour into another sterilized jar and cap tightly. Add two tablespoons of shrub syrup into a small glass of soda water. Voila!
What are your favorite pop alternatives? Share your favorites in the comments below.
Photo credit: Jordan Oram