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July 9, 2016. Here’s the solution to that age-old problem. You know, the problem of what to drink with a nice summer dinner – when you don’t want alcohol. No red, pink or white wine. No beer. Just something cold and refreshing with a lot of good, interesting flavor. Something you sip very slowly. Between bites.

Something that’s not sweet. Not full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Something just like this Watermelon-Peach-Ginger-Mint Pop. Cheers!

The Not-Secret Formula
1 cup of coarsely chopped watermelon
1/2-cup of coarsely chopped ripe peaches
1 fresh lime, squeezed for juice
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh ginger
1/4-cup of fresh mint leaves (loose, not packed or chopped)
1/4-cup of fresh cilantro, optional (loose, not packed or chopped)
1 teaspoon chopped jalapeño or other chili pepper, optional

Put it all in a mini-blender or food processor and let it rip. 15 – 30 seconds in the spin cycle is all you need. Play around with the ingredient quantities – make it perfect for you. Then pour it through a fine mesh colander to filter out the slush. Now you’ve got a cup of your soda “base” or syrup.

You won’t need much. Three tablespoons of this “mixer” is all you’ll need for a wine glass worth of soda. Because the sourness of the lime, the sweetness of the fruit and the aromatics of the mint and ginger are so intense.

The Flavor
I think this soda is terrific with food because it’s not obvious. There’s a good sweet-sour balance from the watermelon, peach and lime. You wouldn’t call this a sweet drink. You wouldn’t call it sour. You taste both parts, but you wouldn’t say it was one or the other. If it was a rosé wine, you’d say it was fruity but dry.

The same goes for the ginger and mint. Sure, there’s a mintiness, but you don’t immediately think it’s mint. Or ginger. It’s just herbaceous and refreshing. The mint cools things down. The ginger really lights it up, without completely igniting it like the optional chili pepper. The ginger’s bright; the jalapeño’s hot.

All together, these ingredients make a beverage that’s great with almost any food on a hot summer night. A great pairing with fish or shellfish. Or veal or chicken. Even hot dogs. And unlike a glass of wine, you don’t have to be embarrassed about putting in an ice cube or two.

The Flavor Volume
You can turn it up or down. A little more or less soda base. A little more or less soda water. The “formula” turns the volume up to 5. If mildly flavored tonic water is a 1 or 2 and Coca-Cola is a 9, this Watermelon-Peach-Ginger-Mint Pop is a 5. If you want yours in 1 – 2 range, use 2 tablespoons per glass. Want to turn it up to 11? Use 5 or 6.

When Sweet Is Bitter
People who swallow one or more sugary soft drinks per day have twice the risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease than people who don’t.

People who drink that stuff regularly are at the same higher risk for diabetes and heart disease even when they maintain a healthy diet and healthy weight. So, yes, drinking a lot of sugar is likely to put on pounds. But even if it doesn’t, drinking sodas with high glycemic loads will still get you. Because they cause sudden spikes in blood sugar.

Glycemic load? First, there’s the ingredient’s Glycemic Index (GI): how quickly and how high it boosts your blood sugar. Then there’s the Glycemic Load (GL): how much of it is there to do the boosting.

Cost Comparison
Water. Seltzer. Soda.

Let’s start with tap water vs. bottled water. Drinking bottled water has an environmental impact 285 times greater than drinking tap water. It’s the greenhouse gas emissions associated with making and transporting all those plastic bottles. Your personal out-of-pocket cost? Well, tap water’s practically free; bottled water, not close to free. Water quality? Get a good filter – your drinking water will be better than most bottled waters.

Want bubbles?
Blow your own. Get a soda siphon; fill it with your filtered tap water; carbonate it with a small, cheap, recyclable carbon dioxide cartridge. The freshest and best sparkling water in town.

Health Cost Comparison
High fructose corn syrup is the second ingredient (after water) in non-diet sodas. Coca Cola’s Glycemic Index is 68; an 8-ounce serving delivers a Glycemic Load of 16. FYI, those are very high numbers.

Now look at my sweetener: fruit. The GL of a whole cup of this soda “base” is less than 4. The GL of an 8-ounce serving that uses a whopping 4 tablespoons is less than 1. Yup. A Coke’s GL is more than 16 times higher.

Let’s Do The Math
A brisk 4-minute walk will burn the less-than-20 calories in today’s Pink Soda. But you’ll be walking briskly for 20 minutes to burn the 97 calories in an 8-ounce serving of Coke.

What to do?
Make and drink your own. Low GI and Low GL means no adverse effect on your metabolism. And it’s less than half the price of buying a cola. Cheers!

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