We all know that sugar can be addictive. So much so, that in a 2007 study, a French physician gave rats a choice between cocaine and sugar, and guess which one won? That’s right, sugar. There’s something about its sweetness that satisfies both rodents and humans alike. On a physical level, sugar, like drugs, triggers dopamine in the brain, which causes our minds to develop a dependency on it.
We are a soda-loving country. A study released by the Center for Disease Control in August revealed that one in 20 people drinks the equivalent of more than four cans of soda each day, even though health officials say sweetened beverages should be limited to less than half a can. Further cause for pause? The study, based on in-person interviews of more than 17,000 people, also revealed that African-Americans and Mexicans get more of their calories from sweetened beverages than other racial and ethnic groups. These are worrisome revelations considering soda has been linked to childhood obesity, heart disease, and other health complications. The appeal of soda is obvious; it is easily accessible and cheap. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle must outweigh all these factors.
I gave up soda years ago, but, there are times when I crave a bubbly, sweet drink. This is where non-soda options come in handy. These recipes are healthy alternatives that can be enjoyed by those with even the biggest sweet tooth. If the ingredients below are not available to you, something as simple as adding fruit and mint to soda water can provide a healthy alternative to that can of Coke. Another great benefit of making alternatives to soda is that you can control the amount of sugar that goes into your drink, and a little goes a long way. Enjoy.
Cucumber Mint Soda
- ½ large cucumber, thinly sliced
- 2-3 Mint leaves
- 1 cup of soda water or seltzer
- 1-2 Tsp. of raw sugar, agave nectar or honey
- 1 Tsp. of fresh lime juice
- ½ cup of simple syrup: this is a combination of sugar and water, warmed in a small saucepan.
Makes 1 – 1 ½ cups
- Heat 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan over medium heat, until sugar is dissolved.
- Simple syrup can be stored for up to a month
- Put cucumber slices, mint leaves, sugar or other sweetener, and lime juice in glass.
- Muddle ingredients with a wooden spoon.
- Add soda water and ice.
Strawberry, Lime and Basil Soda
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. of raw sugar
- 5 fresh basil leaves
- 5 small strawberries, chopped
- 1 cup of soda water
- Combine lime juice, sugar, basil and strawberries in a glass, muddling the ingredients with a wooden spoon.
- Add ice and soda water.
Lemon Ginger Soda
- ½ cup of ginger, grated or thinly sliced
- 1 cup of simple syrup (1/2 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water)
- ½ cup of lemon juice
- 1 cup of club soda
- Put ginger, sugar, and water in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Turn the heat low to a simmer and slowly cook for around 30 minutes.
- Turn off heat and let cool completely.
- Add lemon juice and stir.
- Remove the ginger pieces and fill a glass with ice, then add the ginger soda.
- Garnish with a lemon slice.