I was introduced to Italian Sodas from my friend Jena a couple of years ago. And I absolutely love them. They are great to have for lunch or dinner when water gets a bit boring. Shhh….don’t tell anyone. One of my favorite Italian sodas is
but lately I’ve wanted to experiment with Italian Cream Sodas which is usually just adding heavy whipping cream or half and half to your choice of fruit and club soda. My latest version is this Blueberry Italian Cream Soda.
1 pound organic blueberries, washed (frozen unsweetened blueberries would work too)
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of sugar (or you can use a sugar/stevia mix … I think honey or another sweetener would work well too)
Put all the syrup ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium high heat until mixture boils, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the berries are soft and mushy. Strain through a cheesecloth into a bowl, then funnel the sweet syrup into a bottle, cover and put it in the fridge to cool.
For each soda, to your glass add:
1 cup Club soda
2 Tablespoons of the Blueberry Syrup
2 Tablespoons Heavy Whipping Cream (or half & half)
I have a lot of basil in my herb garden and have recently just made a huge batch of basil pesto that I divide into smaller containers and freeze. It’s late August and it’s hot here. Now I love lemonade pretty much anytime of the year, but it is especially nice on a hot summers day. Instead of making plain lemonade, I decided to experiment by adding basil and making it with Stevia instead of palm sugar. I must say, it is simple yet refreshing and much lighter (and less calories) by using the Stevia. I hope you will try adding basil to your lemonade the next time you make it.
1 cups packed fresh basil
4 cups water, divided
5 packets of Stevia
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 6-8 lemons)
In small saucepan, add basil and Stevia to one cup of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool.
To a pitcher, add the zest of one lemon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and cold water. Stir and taste. If too sweet (every batch is different according to your lemons), add more cold water until desired sweetness is reached.
On a recent trip to Whole Foods, I purchased a bottle of Rose Water from the baking aisle. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I love the smell of roses. So imagine my delight when Ann of Sumptuous Spoonfuls shared her Watermelon and Rosewater Slushie for one of my Smoothie Tuesdays.
I was excited to make this beautiful drink. The recipe called for frozen watermelon. I had also just bought a watermelon so I was in luck. I just had to freeze it which I did and I made it the very next day. I have altered her original recipe slightly to suit my taste and how much I wanted to make.
Makes 2 servings (although I drank both of the servings)
1 cup watermelon, frozen
16 oz. of filtered water
1 tablesmooth of Rose Water (I used Silver Cloud Estates brand)
1 cup of ice
Put all ingredients in your blender and blend until your desired consistency.
Notes: I’ve also made this slushie with yellow watermelon. To me, the yellow watermelon has a honey taste which adds a whole new dimension to this drink What a delight for your mouth!
This recipe for Mint and Melon Slush was inspired by one of the few chefs Gary and I watch together on the Food Network — Giada de Laurentiis. Giada’s original recipe calls for ginger ale and honey dew melon. I’m opting for cantaloup and club soda…and also a lighter version of sugar. She also uses sugar, but I’m sweetening things up with Stevia.
Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the sweetleaf plant. It’s 300 times as sweet as sugar, so it only takes a small amount to produce the same sweet taste as cane sugar.
There are currently several sugar substitutes available on the market, so what makes Stevia unique? For one thing, it’s all-natural, so I prefer it over other artificially manufactured substitutes.
Stevia also has several health benefits:
1. A no-carb, no-calorie substitute. For those watching their carbohydrate or caloric intake, Stevia is both carb- and calorie-free. This makes it possible for dieters to satisfy sweet cravings without wrecking their eating plans.
2. Lowers blood pressure. Stevia has been shown, in some studies, to lower blood pressure. This makes it an ideal sweetener for people with high blood pressure.
3. Lowers blood sugar. For people with high blood sugar levels, Stevia has the possible benefit of lowering sugar levels. This makes it a possibly acceptable substitute for anyone with blood sugar or insulin problems, including diabetics. However, diabetics should continue to monitor their blood sugar levels and insulin levels after using Stevia to make sure everything remains in check.
4. Has antibacterial properties. Stevia, when used orally, has shown antibacterial properties. This makes it an ideal ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwashes, as it can aid in fighting cavities and gingivitis.
For many people, the overwhelming benefit of Stevia is that it offers a seemingly healthy alternative to cane sugar, corn syrup, aspartame, or saccharine. For these people, the fact that it has been used in other cultures for centuries with no apparent ill effects is enough to recommend its use. Of course, if you have questions about the health benefits or side effects of this sugar substitute, you should check with your physician.
1/4 cantaloup, peeled and seeded
1 cup crushed ice
1/2 packed cup fresh mint leaves
1 club soda (or ginger ale)
1 packet of Stevia
Cut melon into 1-inch pieces. Add the melon, ice, mint, Stevia and club soda in to a blender. Pulse until the mixture becomes slushy. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.
Some people don’t like very minty flavor. So, you may want to consider that when deciding just how much mint leaves to use. But I don’t recommend doing away with the mint altogether — it is the mint that makes this drink cool-in-the-mouth refreshing.
How much sweetener to use is a matter or personal taste. The amount also depends on how sweet or bland the melon is. I’ve found that usually one packet of Stevia does the trick.
This recipe would also be great with watermelon and Giada’s original honey dew idea.
8 oz Orange Juice
8 oz Club Soda, Seltzer Water or Sparkling Mineral Water
2 oz. Pomegranate Juice
1/2 lime, sliced
In each glass, pour 4 oz. of the club soda and orange juice over the ice. I like to pour the orange juice over the club soda, but that’s just a personal preference. Top with a splash of pomegranate juice. Squeeze 1-2 wedges of lime in each glass. You use a straw or spoon to mix the juices together or leave them separate. I like to leave them separate.
Enjoy! You can also add cream but then we are getting into Italian Cream Sodas and that would be an entirely different blog post.
How To Make Home Made Sweet Syrup
Bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Add berries (either 1 1/2 cups of blueberries or 2 cups of strawberries) and boil for at least 10 minutes. Simmer for at least 10 more minutes. Berries should be mushy. Strain the mixture over a bowl and keep the juice. You’ll want to discard the berries because they’ve done their job. Store in air tight container. It will last in the refrigerator for a few days.
I don’t do it often, but I do like a Fresca every now and again. A peach Fresca is even better. While we were at the Farmer’s Market last night, we decided to pick up a few things at the local grocery store so I decided to get some Fresca. They only had the original flavor when I went to the store, so I decided to make my own – peach flavored Fresca, that is.
1 can of Fresca
1 peach, cut into slices
2 orange slices (optional)
Take 1/4 of peach and macerate to get the juice. Pour 1/2 juice into each glass over ice. Divide the remaining peach slices into each glass. Fill each glass with Fresca. Garnish with mint and orange slice.
It is hot, hot, hot here in Virginia! I think we are experiencing record temperatures across quite a few states here in the U.S. over the past week. So wen my friend send me the link for this Lavender Honey Lemonade my ears perked up. I love lavender, lemonade and limeade. So I decided to mix things up a bit and here’s what I came up with Maple Lavender Limeade. This one even got the thumbs up from my husband. It is delicious and refreshing.
4 cups water
1 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice
2 sprigs of fresh lavender (or 1 1/2 heaping tsp. of dried culinary lavender)
1/2 cup Grade A maple syrup
1. Bring 1 cup of water and maple syrup in a medium pot over medium heat to a boil.
2. Remove from heat.
3. Stir lavender into water/syrup mixture and cover. Steep for 15 minutes.
4. Remove lavender from lavender syrup. If you used dried lavender, you will need to strain it using a sieve.
5. In a large pitcher, combine lavender syrup, the rest of the water and lime juice and stir.
6. Let limeade chill before serving over ice. Makes about 5 cups of lemonade.
I saw this recipe for a Mint Cherry Ginger Goddess Drink on What’s for Dinner, Ally’s Kitchen. Ally is one of my favorite foodie friends and I just loved the name of the drink (I’m going to make a Mint Cherry Ginger Goddess Smoothie one of these day I love the name so much) so I clicked on the recipe link. I skimmed the post and made a mental note of the ingredients. Mint, check. Cherry, yup I just bought some cherries. Ginger, I have that too. The photo has orange slices which I don’t have any of those, but I do have lime so that’ll work. I’m thinking to myself, yay I have all of the ingredients, I can make this drink. Well, I guess I don’t read directions very well because her drink called for ginger ale and instead I used fresh ginger and club soda for the fizz. She also layers her ingredients. I blended all of my in the blender. But I must admit for not following the directions, the end product did turn out very nicely indeed.
8-10 fresh bing cherries
8 oz. of club soda (seltzer water or ginger ale)
6-8 leaves of fresh mint
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
Put all ingredients in the blender and blend! Garnish on a cherry, lime wedge, and lavender sprig (or mint had you not used it all in the drink like I did).
It’s turned back to winter here in Virginia, after a week of over 70 degree days. I was getting a little spoiled. I’m a little glad for the cold weather today (only a little) because it gives me a chance to try out this Hot Banana Bread Drink.
It’s thick, smooth, creamy, sweet, satiating, infused with warm spices – this drink has it all. And it’s not a frivolous treat. It’s packed with plenty of health-promoting nutrients, so there’s no need to feel guilty. Here’s why:
Walnuts. These guys are packed with good fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which the body uses to reduce inflammation, prevent blood clotting, regulate insulin and promote heart health. The ample presence of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients in walnuts make them an anti-cancer food, too.
Bananas. The electrolyte potassium, found in bananas, is an important nutrient for nerve transmission and muscle contraction, as well as for regulating water balance in the body. Bananas are also a good source of Vitamin C, fiber and Vitamin B6 (which is involved in more than 100 enzymatic reactions in the body and decreases the risk of inflammation). Pick bananas that have lots brown spots on them, as this means the starches have turned to sugars. They’ll be easier to digest and won’t give you a stomach ache.
Dates. Like bananas, dates contain potassium and are an excellent source of fiber. They’ve also got minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium, as well as plenty of B vitamins to help with energy.
Cinnamon. Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, a potent anti-inflammatory phytonutrient, plus it’s anti-microbial, helps control blood sugar and boosts brain function. And it’s got manganese, calcium, iron and fiber.
3/4 cup hot water
1 peeled ripe banana
2 tablespoons chopped raw walnuts
2 pitted dates
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 inch knob fresh ginger
Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Enjoy!