When I was in high school, my best friend and I both decided to eliminate soda from our diets. I wasn't particularly conscious about my diet at the time, but it seemed like a good idea given the scary stories I'd heard about all of the ingredients in Coke and Pepsi that purportedly they don't legally have to list. 11 years later, I still haven't really indulged in those drinks, but I still crave a fancy beverage now and then, especially since I can't buy the sugar or agave-sweetened drinks at local markets. Enter sparkling water. It's really easy to create homemade sodas, even without an expensive soda maker. I sweeten a bottle or cup with stevia (liquid or powdered), and usually just add fresh lemon juice. Delicious! I've also made homemade Jamaica soda (pronounced huh-my-kuh, a common refreshment in Latin America) by simply adding dried hibiscus flowers to a bottle of sparkling water and allowing it to steep overnight in the fridge, straining it and adding stevia the next day. For a recent party, I also poured a bunch of bottles into a large mason jar, and put some fresh mint, raspberries & stevia in to steep. If I'm feeling particularly lazy, I'll just add a few drops of liquid vanilla stevia to a cup for a homemade vanilla soda.
But if you really want to appease that part of you that gets supreme satisfaction by using obscure (yet easily accessible) ingredients and adding "infused" to the name of whatever is on the table, try this recipe. (Also, you know, it tastes really good.)
BASIL-INFUSED JICAMA LIME SODA
I MEDIUM JICAMA (usually found next to the plantains & yucca in the produce section)
1/2 OF A LIME OR 1 KEY LIME
3/4 CUP SPARKLING MINERAL WATER
1/2 TBS BASIL LEAVES
STEVIA TO TASTE
PEEL THE SKIN OFF OF THE JICAMA, AND USING A FINE GRATER, GRATE OVER CHEESECLOTH LAID OVER A BOWL. ONCE GRATED, RIGOROUSLY SQUEEZE THE JUICE OUT INTO A BOWL. ADD THE LIME JUICE TO THE JICAMA JUICE, AND THEN BARELY BRING JUICE TO A BOIL ON THE STOVETOP. PLACE BASIL LEAVES IN A HEAT-RESISTANT GLASS JAR, AND POUR THE HEATED LIQUID INTO THE JAR. CHILL IN THE REFRIGERATOR. ONCE CHILLED, STRAIN AND ADD SPARKLING WATER.