Friday, July 1, 2011

Project Lunch: Soda-licious!

I found an easy recipe for making cola and thought it would be a fun activity to do at the park for my MOMS Club Kids Cooking Class. I decided we'd try several flavors of soda, rather than tweak and experiment with just one flavor.

We had 15 kiddos, plus Z, but only 14 of them were interested in 'cooking.' We were at a park Z and I hadn't been to before, and it was quite a nice one! It was hard getting the kids gathered to start!
I mostly made double-batches using the measurements in the cola recipe, with various substitutions or exclusions. I bought a box of those little paper Dixie cups to make getting little dribs and drabs of soda to taste-test not seem like so little! The down-side was that they break down fairly quickly, but I had 200, so we were in no danger of running out! My plan had been to let them use fresh cups for each flavor, but they clutched their soggy little cups like dragons hoarding their treasure!

I brought a water-bottle to mix the sodas in, since it had a wide mouth through which to add ingredients, and I could screw the top shut for "mixing" (aka: shaking!)

First up -
Lemon-Lime soda:
1c club soda
2 tbsp sugar
1/2tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lime juice

Consensus: Tasty. What's next?

Grape Soda:
1c club soda
2 tbsp sugar 
1 tsp grape juice (doubled for later batch, kids liked it better.)

Consensus: Yum! Z wanted me to make grape again, but some of the other kids voted to try ginger ale.

Ginger Ale:
1c club soda
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 "dashes" powdered ginger (I used between 1/8th and 1/4th tsp)
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Consensus: Yum, but tasted more like cream soda. Probably needs more ginger and possibly lemon, and/or less vanilla.

Orange Soda:
1c club soda
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp orange juice (doubled that for the second batch and the kids liked it more)

Consensus: Yum... but one boy said it needed vanilla... hmmm... Okay. Let's give it a try!

Orange Creamsicle Soda:
1c club soda
2 tbsp sugar
2tsp orange juice
1/2 to 1 tsp vanilla
Consensus: Winner!

Notes: If you decide to try this, I recommend making it into a science experiment. Make smaller batches and write down your recipes and observations as you tweak whatever flavor you've chosen to work with. Maybe start with 1tsp sugar and see if it's sweet enough. Try doubling the juice before adding more sugar. Etc. Then you'll have the recipe that's just right for your crowd!
I felt that the flavors with the sweeter juices (orange and grape) could have used less sugar. And doubling the juice made a huge positive difference, at least according to the kiddos.

When you add the sugar, it makes the club soda fizz, which was a real crowd-pleaser. So if you add it a little at a time, you get the biggest bang for your buck! Plus if you have several kiddos, letting them each pour in a teaspoonful keeps everyone happy (or rotate who gets to add each bit. Break up some of the larger measurements so everyone gets to add something.)

Other than with the two kids who weren't interested in participating, this was a big hit! The whole group stayed for the first two flavors, and then most of them stayed for the next two. They'd kind of flit in and out and I noticed sudden influxes of participants during tasting times! It went great until Z face-planted on the cement (and scraped her legs but didn't break the skin) heading back towards me while we made the last batch (Orange Creamsicle, redux. Luckily another mom stepped in and mixed it up so I could comfort Z.) And then she flopped off the bench, body-slamming the concrete, spilling her Orange Creamsicle drink everywhere (and actually skinning both knees this time.) I got all my stuff back out of my tote to make one last batch of grape (with the juice doubled to make it yummier) to cheer her up. Then finished cleaning up and went home.

Nutritional comparisons: (I did maths using 1c club soda, 2tsp juice, and 2 tbsp sugar vs. the brand-name sodas. I have no idea about the nutritional value of the spices or vanilla extract.)

Home-made soda using store-brand shelf-stable grape juice/Crush Grape Soda (nutrition info found here.)
serving size:  slightly over 1c/1c
Calories: 96.67/130
Sugar: 31.67g/34g
Sodium: 61.46mg/45mg
Vitamin C: 5% Daily Value/*not a significant source

Home-made orange using refrigerated Tropicana no-pulp/Crush Orange Soda
serving size: slightly over 1c/1c
Calories: 94.6/130
Sugar: 30.92/34
Sodium: 60/50
Vitamin C: 5% DV/*not a significant source

The lemon and lime juices that we used added no calories, sugar, etc, but the lime juice adds 5mg sodium/tsp. And obviously, adding less sugar will reduce your calories (15 calories/tsp) and grams of sugar (5g/tsp.) The bulk of the sodium in the home-made soda is from the club soda (60gm/cup in the Shasta brand we used,) but there are no-sodium versions out there (Canada Dry makes one.)


  1. Great idea, my two boys would love this! New follower from the friday blog hop, have a great weekend! You can find me at

  2. what a great idea. I'm in my local moms club chapter and we are always needing fun activities to try. Do you do the kids cooking monthly? What a great activity!

  3. Hi following u from friday blog hop, kindly follow back:


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