Balsamic vinegar Coke? Copycat Dr. Pepper? Charlatans for sure, but are these worth giving a shot to help your long-term health?
Sugar crashes and dehydration are just two daily consequences of consistent soda consumption. Drink enough of the sugary stuff long term, and you’ve got to worry about decreased cardiovascular health, obesity, and diabetes (just to name a few possible effects). In fact, an American Diabetes Association study reported that consuming one or more sodas per day increased Type 2 diabetes risk by 67%.
If you’ve got to get your bubbly fix, but want a healthier alternative, TikTok users (of course) offer a plethora of options. Come with The Manual on a voyage to discover what people are saying about six alternative soda recipes on the social media platform.
We begin your soda replacement strategy with the divisive TikTok soda alternative, Healthy Coke. Why is it divisive? Well, the recipe calls for a shot of balsamic vinegar mixed with bubbly water.
If your first reaction is, “Gross!,” you’re not alone. Over 6 million people have viewed @mandyvjones’ experiment with guava-flavored La Croix, probably several of which with a critical eye.
“See, it honestly already looks like a Coke, but I swear to God, it tastes like a Coke. And it’s healthy, and good for you, and you guys should try it out.”
The experiment will only cost you a few bucks (especially with balsamic already on hand), so it’s a funky trick to try, even if you don’t find the same results.
One of the easiest ways to avoid the massive amount of salt and sugar added to popular pops is to skip the sweet stuff altogether. Monterrey, Mexico’s Topo Chico old-school bubbly (brewed since 1895) is a smooth, clear base from which to mix any one of a number of MiO Liquid Water Enhancers to make the drink burst and add some vitamins and/or energy to the mix.
One note before you go all-in on the Coca-Cola-owned Topo Chico. A 2021 Consumer Reports sampling found the brand has an average level of PFAS at 3.9 parts per trillion. In a July 2021 draft report, the EPA proposed safe levels of 0.007 ppt (or 0.07 7 pp quadrillion) for PFOAs and 1 ppt for PFOSs in drinking water, the now-banned chemicals in North American manufacturing. Per most things, moderation is the key.
If it’s a less-processed alternative to sugary soda, look to TikTok user @katchaomeow for inspiration — adding jam to sparkling water creates a delicious solution.
“This combo sounds like a dream, so let’s try it,” the user says at the start of the TikTok clip.
Kat chooses 2 teaspoons of Bonne Maman raspberry-lychee preserves to dollop in a glass of ice and lime LaCroix. At first, the lumpy mix appears a bit dicey, but the mixed results look just like a thirst-quenching organic treat.
“It’s so good. you have to try it,” Kat coos.
We’ve taken it easy on the recipes up to this point, but if you’re looking for a fun experiment sans the excess sugar, check out @whathowtry’s laboratory.
To make homemade Dr. Pepper, “Crush together cinnamon sticks, barley, lemon, and bell pepper, pour together into another container and add boiling water. Add almond extract, brown sugar, citric acid, and a bit a’ balsamic.”
Let the mix cool and add to fizzy water. Whathow says that while it’s not exactly Dr. Pepper, the peppers add an interesting flavor to the sparkling invention.
“Very cool. Yum, yum.”
Mmmm… another tasty-sounding beverage. Named for its muddy coloration, Dirty Sodas have been a TikTok fixture for years because of their similarities to iced lattes.
The original recipe for a Dirty Soda features Diet Coke, coconut syrup, cream, and lime juice, but you can easily alter the ingredients for a healthier option (at home or at the coffee shop). Utah’s @juliajenson16, for example, invented a version with carbonated coconut water, a lime, a squirt of coconut and raspberry syrup, and a dash of coconut creamer.
If you’re not looking to ease up on the sugar, a combo of butterscotch, root beer, and vanilla cream might be Harry Potter-style butterbeer brought to life.
Soju’s clear, distilled spirit is the most popular liquor in Korea. Arriving with a liquor level between wine and hard alcohol, soju’s taste can be an acquired one, which is why this pop alternative cocktail is an easy, digestion-friendly alternative to an evening mixer. TikTok user @ruthhiann shows us how.
Smash strawberries and pair them with Yakult’s probiotic yogurt drink and Sprite with yogurt soju to create a creamy, delectable drink. Yogurt soju beverages are also wildly popular in Korea and pair well with spicy meals typical of the peninsula or from anywhere in the world.
As we always maintain at The Manual, the kitchen is for experimenting and there are a few more fun, easy things to mix up than novel drinks. So get those beakers out and those mixers a’ stirring and try these TikTok soda hacks.
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