I know it’s not popular to like soda let alone diet soda, but dangit, I do. I don’t let myself have it often, but I indulge in a diet Coke or Pepsi or Dr. Pepper about once a week. I know I’m not alone judging by the stacks upon stacks at the grocery store but I still feel like of naughty saying it because I know the stuff in those is pretty not great for you, particularly when consumed in abundance. The full-sweet versions are scarcely any better for you with their wall-to-wall calories and whatnot. What it boils down to is that soda, pop, or whatever you call it where you’re from is considered a treat to have infrequently in our home.
I get my fizzy fix on a daily basis, though, because I’m the devoted owner of a rather elderly SodaStream Home Seltzer and Soda Maker and I have worked that puppy out since the day I got it. I mostly make seltzer with it because that satisfies my fizz addiction. (That link is an affiliate link to Amazon.com. If you purchase that item through the link, the price doesn’t change for you but I get a small commission which helps keep the goodies coming here at Foodie with Family.) Sometimes, though, we just want that sweet bubbly stuff.
Most of the time I take care of my kids’ desires for fizzy lifting drinks by pouring a little unsweetened juice (grape, apple, cranberry… Whatever is on hand!) over ice then filling the rest of the glass with seltzer. As an adult, though, I’m a little wary of drinking my calories (hence the forbidden love for diet sodas) so I usually just sit out the fun and hold firm with my seltzer.
I saw zero calorie Stevia* sweetened soda at the store the other day for a pretty penny and it got my wheels turning. I’ve done homemade root beer syrup and loved it, so why not try a homemade Stevia soda? Diet soda at home? WOOHOO! For my first attempt, I decided to go with something I knew would mask some of the aftertaste Stevia sometimes has… something citrusy and borderline fruit punchy; Hibiscus Lime.
What is Stevia and where do I buy it?
*Are you familiar with Stevia? It’s the darling of the not-sugar-sweeteners crowd right now. It’s an entirely natural, un-engineered, from-the-leaf-of-a-plant-you-can-grow-yourself sweetener that is, ounce for ounce, three hundred times sweeter than sugar but with zero calories and no carbohydrates. Not only that, but it lends trace amounts of fiber. It’s suitable for diabetics and Kosher, to boot!
Hibiscus has a fruity, tart flavour much like cranberries and sweet undertones that are enhanced when something sweeter is added to the party; in this case, Stevia.The result is a tangy, tart, sweet, citrusy fruit punch type of soda.
The Stevia I used is available at most moderately well stocked grocery stores and my beloved Amazon. Oh, and hey… since it has three hundred times the sweetening power of sugar, that little canister goes a very long way. (Affiliate link below.)
So go to your local health food store or order some dried hibiscus flowers from Amazon. I love tangy iced tea made from these, too, and keep about a pound on hand at all times. FYI, a pound of hibiscus flowers fills quite a few jars! (Another affiliate link!)
The beautiful thing about this is that I don’t have to slide it to the back of the counter and tell the kids you can’t share. I let the kids have at this until it’s gone. Just look at that face.
Another beautiful thing about this recipe is that you whip up a batch of the syrup, keep it tightly covered indefinitely in the refrigerator, and then just pour it and seltzer over ice. There are no bulky bottles to shuffle around before and after drinking it. If you don’t have a home seltzer maker, you can always buy plain seltzer or club soda at the store. They don’t have any funky ingredients either. (Now if I can just figure out a calorie free caffeinated cola I’ll be a seriously happy camper.)
- 3 cups cool, fresh water
- ¼ cup dried hibiscus flowers
- 2 scant tablespoons Stevia powder
- ¼-1/2 cup fresh lime juice, to taste
- 1 glass, ice optional
- 1 tablespoon or more Calorie-Free Hibiscus Lime Syrup
- chilled seltzer water or club soda
- Add the water and hibiscus flowers to a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid. Bring the water to a boil then shut off the heat, leaving the covered pan on the burner to steep until the liquid reaches room temperature. Line a colander with a coffee filter or use a fine mesh sieve to strain the liquid from the flowers. Discard the flowers, rinse the pot, and return the strained liquid to the pot over medium heat and stir in the Stevia. Don't be dismayed if it clumps at first, keep stirring and it will dissolve. Once the Stevia has dissolved, stir in ¼ cup of the lime juice. Taste the syrup. If the flavour of the Stevia is pronounced, stir in a little more lime juice to help mask it. Pour the syrup into sterile jars with tight fitting lids.Store thusly in the refrigerator indefinitely.
- If desired, fill a glass with ice. Pour about 1 tablespoon of the Calorie-Free Hibiscus Lime Syrup into the glass. Pour 8 ounces of chilled seltzer or club soda over the syrup and ice. It will foam up like a proper soda, so be prepared to slurp! Stir gently, take a sip and adjust the sweetness if desired by adding more syrup. Serve immediately!
Disclosure: The links to amazon.com above are affiliate links. If you purchase an item via one of these links, your price remains the same, but amazon sends me a small commission. Many thanks to those who purchase through these links! Also, I am not a doctor or registered dietician, so do your own research to see whether you find Stevia a suitable thing to add to your food. Google is thick with resources on the subject!