Healthy Homemade Drinks That Sparkle

Nov 11, 2013

Making flavored sparkling water at home is healthier and more economical than buying it in the store—and better for the environment, too. It’s easy to do with these suggestions and recipes, especially when your refrigerator dispenses carbonated water right from the door.

Flavored sparkling water has surged in popularity, in part because it’s a health-conscious alternative to sugar- or additive-laden soft drinks. Carbonating and flavoring your own water at home has the added bonus of being better for the environment, as well as for the family budget—even more so if you get sparkling water straight from your refrigerator rather than from a bottle or can.

If your household hasn’t yet made flavored sparkling water a habit, here are some reasons why you should consider it—and some tasty recipes to help get you started.

Healthy for Your Family

Flavoring your own sparkling water with fruit juices or homemade syrups is healthier for your family because:

  • You can control the amount of sugar in your family’s drinks. A diet high in refined sugar is a proven health risk, and much of the sugar consumption in industrialized nations comes from beverages.
  • You can vet the other ingredients that go into your carbonated beverages. Most sodas and soft drinks contain chemical additives.

Healthy for the Environment

Making sparkling water at home reduces your family’s carbon footprint in a couple of ways:

  • You use fewer bottles and cans (and less other packaging) that end up in landfills. Even if you recycle diligently, processing the plastic and aluminum waste carries an environmental impact.
  • You limit the need to ship bottles and cans from the bottler to the warehouse to the grocery store, reducing pollution from the vehicles that transport them.

Healthy for Your Budget

The cost of a home carbonation system is quickly recouped by the savings you’ll see. You might save even more if:

  • You’re in the market for a new refrigerator. Consider one that has a sparkling water feature right in the door, like the Samsung AW4. This will save counter space as well as the inconvenience of a separate carbonation system.
  • You make your own sparkling water flavors, rather than relying on prepackaged syrups. The suggestions and recipes below can give you a head start.

Flavor Suggestions and Recipes

Flavored sparkling water can be as simple as a squirt of lemon or lime, or as complex as an infused syrup-and-juice “cocktail.” You might start by weaning your family off of high-sugar juice. Cut the juice with a bit of sparkling water, and then gradually add more over a few weeks’ time until they’re drinking a healthier 50-50 mix. Next, introduce some more adventurous combinations, such as:

Sparkling Peach Green Tea

This cooling drink with a touch of mint is super easy. Brew plenty of double-strength tea (double the tea leaves, not the brewing time) and keep it in the refrigerator so you can quickly mix up this refresher.

Makes 1 serving

2 ounces (60ml) double-strength brewed green tea, cooled
3 ounces (90ml) peach nectar
4 ounces (120ml) sparkling water
2–3 mint leaves, plus extra sprig for garnish

Combine tea and peach nectar. Add ice and sparkling water. Bruise mint leaves to release oils, and add to tea; stir. Garnish with mint sprig.

Mango Lime Fizz

Fresh lime balances mango’s sweetness with a bit of tartness.

Makes 1 serving

½ lime, cut into 4 pieces
4 ounces (120ml) mango juice
Ice
4 ounces (120ml) sparkling water

Place lime pieces in serving glass and add mango juice. Mash the pieces of lime to release their juices. Add ice to the glass and top with sparkling water.

Pineapple-Ginger Carrot Fizz

This is a refreshing and healthy drink that’s pretty enough for guests, especially when you garnish it. Use this recipe to serve several people, or keep the pineapple-ginger-carrot base mixture in the fridge for single servings anytime.

Makes 5 servings

1 recipe pineapple-ginger syrup (see below)
¾ cup (180ml) carrot juice
3½ cups (750ml) sparkling water, chilled
Ice to serve
Shaved carrot curls and / or pineapple chunks for garnish (optional)

Combine the pineapple-ginger syrup and carrot juice in a pitcher and stir to mix (this mixture can be made ahead of time; cover and keep refrigerated). Just before serving, add chilled sparkling water. To serve, fill each glass with ice and garnish with a carrot peel and a pineapple chunk, if desired.

Pineapple-Ginger Syrup

2 cups pineapple juice
3-inch (7.5cm) piece of ginger root, peeled and cut into 1/4" (6mm) round slices.

Place the juice and the ginger root slices in a small pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer uncovered until liquid is reduced by half (about 15 minutes). Cool to room temperature, letting ginger steep in the pineapple syrup. When cool, remove ginger pieces from pineapple syrup and store mixture in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (Note: For stronger ginger flavor, leave the root in the pineapple syrup while storing.)

Sparkling water drinks are healthy and economical, but they should also be fun. Get creative with combinations that sound interesting to you. You might even challenge your family to a drink-inventing contest!