By Contributing Author, Nan Gibbons of Eat Breathe Blog
Image courtesy of SeveStJude
Most kids crave the sweet flavors and fizz of soft drinks, but parents don’t always share that fondness for these high-calorie sugary drinks. Drinking soda can increase the risk of childhood obesity if consumption isn’t controlled, and the acidity and sugars in soft drinks can wear away tooth enamel and lead to cavities.
Hardly any worthwhile nutrients can be gained from drinking soda – or, at least, from the soda that comes in a can. But when you make your own soda, you have control over what’s in it and can control the amount of sugar. Better yet, homemade sodas are easy to make, and may even save you some money at the grocery.
Creating a base for your soda creations
No matter what type of soft drink you make, you will create various flavors and soda types based off of a base recipe. This base recipe can be created various ways, and you might experiment with different base recipes before finding one that suits your personal tastes.
One common base recipe requires two cups of water, two cups of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon tartaric acid. Heat the sugar and water mixture over low heat until the sugar dissolves, and cool before adding the tartaric acid. You could choose to start with only 1/2 to 3/4 cup water and one cup granulated sugar. Added seltzer provides the soft drink with some fizz.
Regardless of what recipe you use, make sure you only use water that comes from a refrigerator water filter or another filtered water source. Contaminants in water can negatively affect the end result of your homemade soda, but filtering the water before using it will preserve the flavor quality.
Adding in extra ingredients
Once you have the base recipe in place, mix a fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate or other fruit-based product – such as fruit molasses – into the base soft drink to get the flavors you want. This is where the nutritional value of the soft drink comes in, providing the soft drink with the nutrients found in fruit juices. More concentrated fruit juices will feature more intense flavors and a more satisfying soft drink.
Consider adding doctor-recommended nutritional supplements that can bolster the nutritional value of the soft drink. These could include liquid vitamin supplements or even ingredients like honey, which sweetens the drink while providing antibacterial and antiviral qualities.
Although any sugared drink is going to have some nutritional drawbacks, homemade sodas are vastly better for your children than store-bought soft drinks. Just make sure to regulate how much your child consumes in a day and encourage healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong with indulging your child’s sweet tooth in moderation, and homemade sodas will give you greater peace of mind while serving as a more rewarding treat.
About the Author: Nan Gibbons is the proud single mother of her three-year-old son Reid. As a licensed nutritionist and personal trainer, she owns and operates her own personal training business in San Diego. In their free team, Nan and Reid enjoy exploring the beach with their lab mix Cody, putting together puzzles, and having healthy cooking adventures. Visit her blog: Eat Breathe Blog