This is a guest post from the fabulously talented Shaina Olmanson of Food for my Family.
Papers are sprawled across the dining room table as my kids crunch numbers with pencils. In the kitchen I field questions ranging from algebraic equations to division to which side the “stick” goes on the number nine as I load lunchbox containers into the dishwasher and start preparing the family dinner.
As homework is finished and put away, the kids come to join me in prepping our next meal. There are vegetables to wash and chop, often pots that need stirring, and the table, once cleared, needs to be set.
One of my favorite surprises to play on my children right under their noses is to change up what’s in their dinner glass. In the commotion of six people all doing something different, a simple pitcher switch in my husband’s hand will fill dinner glasses with something other than water or milk, and it won’t be until after grace is said and forks are raised that one of them will take a sip of surprise.
We generally offer the same two beverages for meals and in between with a few exceptions. Tea and tisane make an appearance – especially in the middle of winter – with herbal, fruit, and ginger tisanes being offered to soothe sore throats or warm cold fingers and bellies before bed. Coffee and wine are left to the adults, clearly, and that leaves my kids without much access to sweetened beverages of any kind.
While we may not stock up on soda, I know it’s important to teach my children how to appreciate a special drink every once in a while and also how to drink them responsibly so they can manage themselves when it is an option outside the home. I hope to avoid the forbidden fruit mentality that can be a result of overly zealous dietary restrictions and keep our food options open and positive.
Plus, there are certain times when a bubbling glass of soda hits the spot: It’s refreshing after a workout or on hot summer days. It helps soothe an upset stomach when you’re sick. It also helps calm cravings for something sweet. Soda can also serve to make a meal extra special and be a way to celebrate.
Ginger ale happens to be a family favorite when it comes to any type of soda, and so it’s the one we make most often.
An abundance of spicy ginger that infuses itself into this syrup makes for a bubbly soda with a bit of a spicy kick. Because we control how it comes together, we have the added health benefits of fresh ginger in a special drink our whole family enjoys. If you are a ginger aficionado and like your ginger ale extra spicy, finely mince a bit of the cooked ginger after straining, and then add it right back into the syrup.
This recipe is adapted from my sucanat version of the same ginger soda. If you are so inclined, you may reduce the sucanat a bit and add a few stevia drops to up the sweetness for a lower glycemic index beverage. Or maybe try using sorghum syrup or maple syrup for a unique spin. If you’re looking for another wonderful honey-sweetened soda, try this lemongrass version.
Recipe: Honey-Sweetened Ginger Ale
- Peel the ginger root and thinly slice.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the ginger root, water, honey, and lime peel. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool.
- Strain the ginger pieces and lime peel, and pour the cooled syrup into an airtight container.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
- To prepare the ginger ale, mix together about 2 tablespoons of syrup with 6 ounces of sparkling water over ice. Stir gently to combine.
- Garnish with a lime wedge and enjoy.
Regarding the bubbles: You can use any type of sparkling water or club soda for these recipes. Keep in mind that your final product will mirror what you’re mixing in, so a sparkling water with small bubbles and lower carbonation will result in a soda of similar mouth feel. For us, we carbonate our still water using a Sodastream (on Amazon, aff. link).
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Note from Katie: I’m so grateful to Shaina for sharing this recipe, which I made from her blog last summer (the sucanat version), as part of The Ginger Challenge Series. It’s so. much. fun. And her philosophy on avoiding the “forbidden fruit mentality” is speaking to me hard core! Do visit her blog and take special note not only of her superb from-scratch recipes and photography, but also her One Deal, Five Meals category that will help you be a frugal real food master!
Shaina Olmanson is a work-at-home mom of four, feeding both family and friends one plate at a time. She shares recipes, tips, opinions and her philosophy on food at Food for my Family as she strives to teach her children how to eat well: seasonally, locally, organically, deliciously and balanced. Follow Shaina on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter or G+.
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