Soda that can give you some nutrition

SIPS

Italian-style drink often mixes milk and flavored syrup

Sips

April 07, 2004|By Sara Engram | Sara Engram,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Considering the abundance of tasty beverages that quench thirst or tantalize taste buds without carrying a high price in empty calories, it's hard to sing the praises of soda.

Even so, there are times when a carbonated tickle hits the spot - and with a little forethought, you don't have to resort to the usual sodas that are ever ready to tempt you with flavor and convenience while offering no nutritional value.

One way to get flavor and nutrition is to make Italian soda.

This is a simple concoction - a shot of flavored syrup, several ounces of carbonated water and, often, an ounce or so of milk or cream. It's served over ice.

These days, Italian sodas are available at old-fashioned soda bars and even at many coffee bars and cafes. The choice of flavors is as wide as the syrup selection, from vanilla or caramel to almond, raspberry, mandarin or peach.

They're also fun to make at home. For a creamy texture, add milk or half-and-half (some people call the milky version cremosa). Or mix a couple of flavors. You can adjust the proportions to your taste; for less sweetness, simply use less syrup.

And if you're a parent whose children, despite all your good intentions, just love those nutritionally empty sodas, you might want to adapt the Italian-soda concept as a way of decreasing overall soda consumption, or even adding a bit of nutrition in the form of milk. You could also substitute soy, rice or almond milk.

I recently came across a recipe for an "Italian-style milk soda," which combined flavored milk (strawberry or chocolate) with orange soda.

I tried the chocolate-milk version on a willing 11-year-old, who found it tasty for a couple of sips then quickly lost interest.

With the leftover soda, I tried again, this time combining a half cup of milk with about a cup of orange soda, all served over ice. The effect was almost like an orange-flavored milkshake.

It was pronounced "good" and unlike the previous version, it was actually consumed. Meanwhile, I took comfort in thinking that at least I had diluted the soda with a beverage that has nutritional value.

If I hear a clamor for more "orange milk soda," I may invest in a bottle of orange Italian syrup. Even without the milk, it could come in handy during a long, thirsty summer.

Italian Soda

Makes 1 serving

1 part flavored syrup plus more to taste

4 parts seltzer or mineral water

fresh mint or fruit for garnish

Fill a tall glass with ice, add syrup, and fill with seltzer. Stirwell. Add more syrup to taste. Garnish with fresh mint or fruit.

Note: Fruit, nut and herb-flavored syrups are available at specialty-foodstores.

- Martha Stewart Living

Per serving: 311 calories; 0 grams protein; 0 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 78 grams carbohydrate; 0 grams fiber; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 2 milligrams sodium

Italian Soda With Milk

Makes one 16-ounce serving

2 ounces Italian syrup

13 ounces nonflavored soda water

1 ounce half-and-half or milk

whipped cream (optional)

Fill glass with ice, add syrup, soda water and half-and-half or milk. Stir to combine flavors. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

- www.50plusfriends.com

Per serving: 247 calories; 1 gram protein; 3 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 53 grams carbohydrate; 0 grams fiber; 15 milligrams cholesterol; 97 milligrams sodium

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