I’ve had my eye on a water carbonation system, namely a Soda Stream, for quite a while now. So you can imagine my joy when my husband gave one to me for Christmas. I enjoy a good glass of bubbly water every now and then to give me a little lift. I just don’t enjoy lugging bottles of the stuff from the grocery store up to my apartment; a dilemma not faced by my suburbanite driving counterparts. (Sometimes I do envy you all!) Sparkling water is a fantastic alternative to sugar-laden sodas. You get the fizz without any of the calories or potentially harmful ingredients, like phosphoric acid and caffeine.
For a long while, I upheld the myth that carbonation actually leached calcium from your body. Honestly, it was the main reason holding me back from consuming numerous glasses of the stuff on a daily basis. But after doing a bit of research, I am happy to share with you that carbonation is not the calcium-leaching culprit it has been made out to be. Many sodas contain phosphoric acid and have been linked to an increase in bone fractures among children and postmenopausal women. Now, I’m not going to tell you not to have a soda here and there if you so choose. The problem occurs when it becomes your main source of liquid on a daily basis.
I have not consumed soda pop regularly since my childhood years, as I now find it to be overly sweet and harshly carbonated. Occasionally my husband has the urge to stock the refrigerator with cans of cola, but soda is not a regular commodity found in our home, and our children, except for the occasional Italian soda at a restaurant, have never consumed the stuff. If parents realized their children’s teeth were getting an acid bath of phosphoric acid, followed by a nice coating of liquid sugar, they probably would not be so willing to whip out the “pop” from the fridge door so easily. (I won’t even go into the time on the subway when I saw a mother give her baby cola in a bottle! Yikes!!!)
So what about those times, like when your stomach is a bit queasy, when a can of soda feels exactly what the doctor ordered? You could go to the store and buy a can or two, but why not make a delicious and healthier option at home? Trust me, it’s not as difficult as you may think. And anything you make from scratch is always more delicious than the store-bought version! May I suggest to you a homemade ginger ale? Ginger possesses numerous health benefits, such as gastrointestinal, nausea, and motion sickness relief, as well as anti-inflammatory effects and possible protection against colorectal cancer. Not so shabby for a little spicy, underground rhizome [rootstock]!
Being a fan of ginger ale, and not wanting to buy the artificial caramel color and high fructose corn syrup version, or shell out almost $8 for a four-pack of high-end, organic ginger ale, I opted to make my own version. What I like most about making homemade ginger ale, is that you can vary the sweetness or spiciness, depending on your palate. I also included another drink recipe below, which incorporates ginger ale, kiwi, and mint. And when Halloween falls upon us once again, the kiwi drinks makes a fantastic “witch’s brew,” which can be consumed with or without a splash of alcohol, depending on the size of witches in your home. Cheers!
1 -5″ piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 1/8″ rounds
1 c. sugar
1 c. water
Add the peeled, sliced ginger, sugar, and water to a small saucepan. Give it a good stir. On low heat, slowly bring the water to a boil, stirring every minute or so, to make sure the sugar is dissolving nicely into the water. Allow this process to go on for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the heat and allow the ginger to seep into the simple syrup until the liquid has cooled. Pour the ginger and the syrup into a glass container with a top and store in the fridge. The ginger syrup should stay well in the fridge for a few months, just like any other fruit preserve. However, I seriously doubt it will last that long!
To make the ginger ale, pour about 2 Tbl. of the ginger syrup into a glass. Add about 8 oz. of carbonated water. Give it a gentle stir and you are ready to take your first sip of homemade ginger ale…….ahhhhh! Refreshing, isn’t it?!?
Kiwi Ginger Ale with Mint (aka Witch’s Brew):
6 kiwis, peeled and roughly chopped
5-6 c. ginger ale (see recipe above)
large bunch of fresh mint, leaves removed from stem
Place the kiwi and mint into a food processor and process until there are no large chunks of kiwi remaining and the mint is finely chopped. Pour the kiwi mixture into a large pitcher and add the ginger ale. Add some vodka or rum, if you desire. Refrigerate until chilled. The drink will separate in the fridge, so just give it a good stir before serving.