Refreshing Drinks That Aren’t Soda

After I watched “Fed Up” last year, I almost completely stopped drinking soda.

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Even though I previously only drank diet soda, I was – and still am – concerned about the effects that artificial sweeteners can have on insulin levels.

Before this happened, I drank Fresca almost every day.

Yes, Fresca, the delicious calorie-free grapefruit soda with a cult-like following.

Surprisingly, this whole change was not too difficult. I’ve had a few sodas here and there (especially on vacation), but for the most part, I don’t miss it.

I’ve also discovered a lot of new drinks that are great alternatives to soda.

If you’re thinking about making the soda-free transition, try these:

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Photo from La Croix website

  • La Croix water. Hands down, this is my favorite drink. This brand started at a brewery in my hometown in the ’80s. At the time, the business let local residents fill gallon jugs with the same clean spring water used to brew beer. (Alas, no alcohol). La Croix launched circa 1981 and is now the best selling domestic sparkling water brand in the U.S. It’s zero calorie, zero sweeteners and zero caffeine. It comes in a huge variety of flavors, but I would recommend orange, passionfruit and coconut. The grapefruit is also good but less distinctly like Fresca.

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  • Spindrift seltzer. This is new-ish brand to me, but I am quickly becoming a huge fan. The grapefruit flavor perfectly captures the mildly bitter taste of a fresh grapefruit. This contains 15 calories per can, which I can live with. I might even like this better than Fresca.

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  • Cascade Ice. I tried this in grapefruit and was not impressed. It was not really flavorful and was barely sparkling. In Europe this would be referred to as “low gas.” There are supposedly 29 other flavors, but meh. I don’t think I’ll get around to trying them.

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  • Bai 5 Bubbles. This is a bit of a stretch of the definition of “non-soda,” since it contains sweeteners and caffeine. It comes in seven flavors, including pink grapefruit, which is delicious. I also tried blood orange (ok) and coconut (cloyingly sweet). Ok, this is soda. Feel free to ignore this one.

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  • Coconut water. This is a once in a while thing, since I don’t like drinking a lot of calories. (A rule that never, ever applies to wine).

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  • Kombucha. I wrote about this beverage last year, including the dichotomous opinions that describe it as either Rotten Hippie Tea or the Elixir of Life. While definitely an acquired taste, it’s something that I find makes a decent alternative to a glass of wine, although minus the alcohol.

Please let me know if you have other suggestions! I’m always on the lookout for the Next Thing.

 

 

 

 

Kombucha

Have you tried kombucha? Do you like it?

I was introduced to kombucha about two years ago by a yoga instructor who valiantly tries to get me to be more bendy and Zen, two things which do not come naturally to me.

If you’re not familiar with it, kombucha has been variously described as an “immortal heath elixir” and “rotten hippie tea.” 

Bascially, kombucha is sweetened tea mixed with a a yeast/bacteria mixture known as a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (“SCOBY,” I know that sounds more than gross but the idea is similar to how sourdough bread is made) that allows it to ferment and become effervescent.

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Image and recipes @ wholelifestylenutrition.com

How does it taste? The best adjective I can think of is “acquired,” as in, it’s really an acquired taste. 

But so is coffee. And Jagermeister. Many people seem to adapt to them quite well.

To be more specific, kombucha tastes vinegar-y, but in a pleasant way.

You can make it at home, but it seems like a lot of effort:

I occasionally buy it at our local Food Co-op. I like the ginger flavors the best, but here are two brands to try if you’re interested:

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Let me know what you think!