DIY Sparkling Chia “Soda”: A New Way to Wow Your Water

My two young daughters love to drink kombucha. We are a household without soda or juice so kombucha is a very tasty treat for them. Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that contains a high concentration of b-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and good acids including lactic acids. Although I make or buy locally brewed, high-quality kombucha, and I believe in it’s many health benefits, I also am very careful to only let my girls drink it in moderation. While, the fermentation process does get rid of most of the sugar and caffeine from the tea, some does remain. In addition, kombucha usually contains a small amount of alcohol, depending on the length of fermentation, that ranges from .5% and 3%. So, despite all the great benefits of kombucha, the sugar, caffeine and alcohol do make me think twice before giving it to my kids. Read more about the health benefits of kombucha here: 18 Healthy Reasons to Sip Kombucha

pictured above are three varieties of kombucha (Green Tea Nettle, White Tea Hibiscus and Green Tea Grape) from one of my favorite bay area businesses: Threestone Hearth, a Community Supported Kitchen.

Three varieties of kombucha (Green Tea Nettle, White Tea Hibiscus and Green Tea Grape) from one of my favorite Bay Area businesses: Three stone Hearth, a Community Supported Kitchen

Over the holidays, my girls had a two-week vacation from school so there were lots of extra snacks and meals together, as well as more time for them to ask for “treats”. I found myself giving them more kombucha than I was comfortable with and decided to try to come up with an alternative that would satisfy them and make me feel at ease. This was also right after the official launch of my all natural water enhancer, H2wOw, which proved to come in handy for my new concoction. The girls and I have been loving our new drink so much that I decided to dedicate this post to what it is and how to make it.

Here's Clover enjoying our homemade, kid-safe effervescent "treat" drink

Here’s Clover enjoying our homemade, kid-safe effervescent “treat” drink

Our Yummy Effervescent and Kid-Friendly Drink Recipe:

We always soak Chia seeds to include in our kombucha, I knew this would need to be part of the mix. Chia seeds have more omega3’s than salmon, more calcium than milk and lots of antioxidants, they’re also fun to eat – similar to a gelatinous tapioca drink. In addition to including chia seeds, I knew our concoction would need to have an effervescent quality — since this is what makes kombucha such a “special” drink to them. Finally, there would need to be some sweetness and flavor to turn it in to an actual “treat” and not just sparkling water with chia seeds.

So for step #1, we prepared our chia seeds, which is really easy to do and I highly recommend adding this superfood to almost any drink, even if it’s just to plain water (my kids even like chia seeds in milk).  They add so many nutrients and can really help to take the edge off hunger for hours. We use high-quality organic seeds, such as Nutiva or Navitas, which are also raw. To make your chia seeds gelatinous and yummy, you will need to soak them first (preferably overnight). Soaking your seeds will work best if your water is hot but room temperature will also get you good results. I start by adding around three tablespoons of seeds to a 16oz. Mason Ball jar, then I add approximately one cup of hot water.

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To make glutinous chia seeds, simply soak 3TB of seeds in one cup of water in the fridge overnight.

Once the seeds and water are added, I cover the jar and give it a good shake. I allow it to cool a bit and then put it into the fridge to soak overnight. After a night in the fridge, your chia seeds will be blown up and completely gelatinous and the “water” mixture should be more like a gel. Depending on how much chia you like in your beverage will determine how much this yields, I usually add a couple of tablespoons of “gel” to each drink so one jar’s worth is enough for several drinks and will stay fresh in the fridge for about a week.  A jar of chia “gel” is a staple in our fridge and I am usually making a new batch every other day or so.

So now you know how to make yummy seeds, like the ones you find in drinks that costs upwards of $5.00 each, such as like Mama Chia and Synergy Kombucha. Even if you stop reading here, you should have enough to play with to make your own nutritious and delicious drink recipes. However, hopefully you’ll keep reading and try our recipe too!

One of our most used kitchen appliances is the Soda Stream. We use it multiple times everyday and go through lots of sparkling water at our house. So, for step #2 we prepared our sparkling water. Of course, you can also used plain store-bought sparkling water but it’s certainly less expensive and less wasteful to carbonate water yourself. There are lots of ways to carbonate water, you can check out comparisons of some of the best choices here: The Best Soda Maker

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After making our sparkling water, we were ready to bring the pieces together and flavor it. I added a couple of tablespoons of our chia gel to a glass and filled it the rest of the way with our freshly made sparkling water. This brought us to step #3 adding our flavor. I wanted to make this part fun and “experimental” for the kids, so we played around with trying different combinations of stevia and essential oils before we brought out the big guns….H2wOw. As I mentioned in my last post, New Year, New Goals, I recently (or should I say finally) launched my product that I’ve been working to develop for three years. H2wOw is an all-natural water enhancer — and I do mean truly all-natural, it’s made with NOTHING ARTIFICIAL and is the first all-natural water enhancer made from the essential oils and extracts of real fruit and botanicals.  I know it’s a product I created so you might take this with a grain of salt, but I must say, H2wOw tastes absolutely fabulous in our chia seed drink! We played around with all the flavors. My favorite is the Ginger Lime, but, with the chia seeds, the kids love the Mandarin Grapefruit the most.

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Finally, we added the flavor. We used H2wOw for a natural and healthy alternative.

With only three natural calories and less than one gram of sugar per serving (H2wOw is sweetened with a hint of Organic Agave and a touch of Organic Stevia), I feel good about my kids drinking it, especially in this “treat” drink which is really more of a “trick” drink since it is also sooo healthy. Between the awesome health benefits of the chia seeds and the natural electrolytes in H2wOw, which  help them stay better hydrated, I even let them have seconds – but only on vacation 🙂

If you don’t have any H2wOw, you can still make a yummy effervescent drink that’s completely natural (although it doesn’t taste quite as good). Play around with different essential oils and stevia to find a combination that works for you. Or, simply order your H2wOw today from Amazon to make this chia drink and add to your water all day long.

Keeping My Family’s Reusable Water Bottles Clean and Yucky Free

I’m on a quest to be as eco-friendly as possible and as I discussed last week, keeping my family hydrated is always top of mind. So, it’s a given that refillable water bottles are a part of our everyday lives. However, as awesome as our reusable bottles are, it’s no secret that they’re also a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. As I work hard to keep my family as well nourished as possible, I’ve become aware of not only the healthful foods I’m intintionally giving them but also the unintentional yucky “germs” that sneak in when I take certain shortcuts….like just giving bottles a quick rinse. Thus, part of my routine involves keeping our stash of refillable bottles in spit spot shape. In this week’s blog post I’m sharing a small bit about what causes bacteria and details on my method to prevent it.

First, a quick blurb about what causes bacteria in water bottles.  According to Wikipedia, (http://bit.ly/1oltrGA) reusing bottles could develop bacteria in the bottle between uses. Mouth contact to the bottle openings can easily transfer bacteria to the water content which can subsequently contaminate both bottle and water. Contamination will cause bacterial and fungal growth in the water while kept in storage; if the user cleans the bottle very well before reuse, the risk is much less.

So how can you keep your water bottles clean and free of contamination? Here’s what I do:

1.) I have a designated water-only bottle for each member of my family. Occasionally I offer other beverages to take on-the-go, such as milk, but I always use a different canteen for this (the old water bottles become designated for other beverages). There are mixed thoughts on plastic bottles and leaching so to be on the safe side I always go with stainless steel or glass and prefer ones with a flip-up or pop-up spout rather than a threaded mouthpiece.

2.) I wash each bottle at the end of the day with a bottle brush and warm, soapy water. A bottle brush works wonders at getting out anything that might be “growing” on the sides. If your bottle has a straw, use a straw brush to quickly get inside (especially the portion that touches your mouth). For bottle and straw brushes, you don’t need anything fancy and you should replace them about as often as a sponge so I go for whatever has the best price point (Amazon and Target both have plenty of options). Some people put their bottles in the dishwasher but I prefer the old fashioned way and always hand wash my bottles, I find it preserves any decals that are on the stainless steel bottles and gets the bottles just as clean (especially if very hot water is used). On a separate note, it’s also important to keep the bottle brushes clean and bacteria-free and for this I put the brushes in the dishwasher at least once each week.

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I always start with hot water and dish soap

3.) After washing the bottles, I leave them (and their parts) in a place where they can get plenty of air to dry overnight — don’t ever put the top back on a damp water bottle and put it in the cabinet for future use. This is the ultimate invitation to bacteria! For drying, I use the Boon Grass Countertop Bottle Drying Rack (http://amzn.to/1mzINM8), it keeps bottles raised and sanitary and provides great circulation for faster drying  OXO also makes a great drying rack (http://amzn.to/1vo0zCL)

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I love my Boon Drying Rack for keeping bottles ventilated while drying

4.) Approximately once per week I give the bottles a deeper clean. I put around one tablespoon of baking soda in the bottle, fill it with hot water and cup my hand over the top to give it a quick shake. Meanwhile, I put another few tablespoons in a glass bowl, fill it with hot water and add all the bottle components for their own “bath” (lids, straws etc). After a few hours of soaking time, I rinse the bottles and parts thouroughly, being careful to get rid of any baking soda residue.  White Vinegar also works well for a deeper clean and when I’m mistakingly out of baking soda this is my go to. With vinegar, I add around a 1/4 cup, fill the rest of the way with water and let the bottles stand this way overnight.

5.) And, finally my favorite step! After my bottles are clean and dry, I love to add a few drops of food-grade lemon or orange essential oil to the bottom before filling with water. Essential oils are known for their antibacterial properties and by just adding a few drops of a citrus oil, I get a nice refreshing hint of taste along with some great aromatherapy all day!

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essential oils, my last step to keeping reusable bottles fresh

Please come back and visit next week, I’ll be writing about the water bottle refilling stations that are popping up EVERYWHERE (at least all over San Francisco).