Confession-time: I have a long running love affair with Diet Coke. In college when all of my friends were starting their day by fueling up on coffee before their early classes, I decided that Diet Coke would be my caffeinated-beverage-of-choice, and would often kick off my day by opening the first can. This would be followed by several more cans throughout the day and into the evening hours. This habit continued after graduation and into my working-girl years- where I would keep rolls of quarters in my desk drawer, ready to feed into the Coke machines in the break room on a regular basis.
When I became pregnant with my first child, I knew it was time to put aside this habit because I didn’t want to fill my body with all those chemicals- the aspartame, the caffeine, the artificial coloring. So I limited myself to one caffeine-free Diet Coke once a week or so, and instead drank water and seltzer and lemonade. Having the thee boys is such quick succession, there weren’t too many weeks when I wasn’t either pregnant or breastfeeding… so you would think that my Diet Coke habit would have been kicked to the curb for good. But alas, no. But with the craziness of motherhood coupled with working outside of the home, followed by leaving the workforce and adding three more children to the family- my need for a near-constant “pick-me-up” grew. And most days I was drinking 3-4 cans of the (fake) sweet stuff.
And it’s not just the caffeine that I crave- in fact, I will tell you that I really don’t even notice a jolt from it the way I do when I drink a cup or two of tea. It is just the bubbles and the yummy taste. I adore it. I feel hard for Diet Vanilla Coke when it came out about 10 years ago, and was crushed when the company decided to remove it from their product line. And now I have fallen equally as hard for Vanilla Coke Zero. But when I think about all of the unnecessary chemicals that I pour into my body- it gives me the willies.
So I started to modify the amount of Diet Vanilla Coke that I am drinking by adding green tea to my diet. I drink a mug of Earl Grey green tea each morning (doctored with a little fat-free International Delights dairy creamer and one splenda…. ugh- more chemicals), and one each afternoon when the kids come home from school. There is definitely something comforting and soothing about drinking a cup of hot tea. But the daytime consumption is still as little out of hand.
With this in mind, I remembered that my friend, Kris, had told me about a holiday gift that she had received a year ago that was an at-home seltzer maker, and I recall her saying that she loved it and it was simple to use and was definitely helping her to cut back on the amount of Diet Coke that she was drinking. So armed with my new resolution to start cutting back on the amount of “fake food” that I eat and feed to my children (although please know that soda is only a “special occasion” beverage for my kids), I decided to look into the whole at-home seltzer machine thing.
And that’s when I found my new favorite thing…. my Sodastream!
I think that I paid around $80 (plus shipping) for the machine which includes a one-liter bootle for storing your soda and your first CO2 canister, as well as a few sample packs of soda or seltzer flavors (you can choose which type of samples you prefer).
The process to set it up is fairly simple. You plug in the CO2 canister into the back of the machine and each canister (of this size) should fill approx. 60 bottles. The CO2 canisters are meant to be returned to the manufacturer- so when you order a replacement canister, they send you a shipping carton to mail back the empty canister (kind of like ink cartridges for laser printers).
Making the soda literally takes less than a minute. You fill the one-liter bottle with cold tap water, screw it into the sodastream machine ensuring you have a fairly tight seal, and then press the button on top three times to fill the bottle with the bubbles from the CO2 canister (holding the button until you hear a loud buzz each of the three times). Unscrew your bottle from the machine, and you’re done.
When I ordered the machine I also purchased some of the soda and seltzer flavors, beyond just the sample packs that came with the machine, because I wanted to see if “diet coke” made with the sodastream would also satisfy my occasional craving for my old favorite. But you know what? It doesn’t. The taste seems to me to be too falsely sweet. The kids however, enjoyed tasting some of the other fun flavors such as diet pink grapefruit soda and diet cranberry raspberry. I would say that these are fine for the occasional treat, but I don’t plan to make a habit of buying the mixes. Even the ones to add into water to make flavored seltzer tasted falsely sweet to me.
The way I love it best? Plain seltzer with a slice of lemon or lime. And a nice side-benefit- no soda cans to collect or return. I think that this is going to be one healthy living tool that is going to become an easy new habit.
Full disclosure: There is nothing to disclose! I purchased the Sodastream on my own, and all opinions shared here are my own!