One of the most difficult food habits to break out of is soda. This can be a roadblock for hospital food services trying to promote healthier lifestyles for patients. Soda drinkers can grow to love big name brands with distinct flavors. These beverage giants usually offer a variety of nutritional value – diet, zero calorie, naturally sweetened and more. It is difficult for hospital kitchen staff to compete with these popular drinks. However, chefs willing to exercise creativity can produce healthier alternatives to these drinks that may appeal to avid soda drinks.
Gather your ingredients
The first step to take is deciding what flavors you want to explore. You will want to start simple, so consider some fruit flavors before moving onto more complicated recipes. Invite your kitchen staff to pitch some ideas, acquire some fresh fruit or fruit juices and start your experiment.
There are many methods you can use to create your own sodas, all of which require carbonated water. One is to simply use fruit juices and blend them with club soda, as Mother Earth News suggested for a tasty grape soda. This can be tricky since the juice will already have a certain amount of sugar. Adding the club soda will dilute the juice, which may then require additional ingredients that could compromise the healthiness of the beverage.
Another method suggested by Prepared Pantry is to get ahold of fruit concentrate and combine it with carbonated water to help keep the soda from lacking taste or being too watery. As with fruit juices, pre-made concentrate will likely already have sugar. The up side is that you do not have to worry about losing flavor, so it will probably be healthier than simply using fruit juice.
Yet another technique requires a little more work but has the benefit of freshness – taking fruit and making it into a reduction, creating your own fruit concentrate. According to food blog BraveTart, this helps enhance the flavor. This has the additional advantage of being able to control the amount of sugar that goes into the concentrate. Add club soda to the homemade concentrate and give it a try.
Expand your products
Once you establish some quality recipes, consider moving onto more difficult flavors, such as root beer. This requires more ingredients, which will allow your staff to hone their recipe skills. It may also appeal to more soda drinkers, since root beer lovers may not enjoy fruit-flavored sodas as much. This can be a fun and rewarding experiment for kitchen staff and patients alike.