Lesson #10: Soda & Soft Drink Alternatives

root beer

How to Cook Real Food: Probiotic Tonics

Sodas and soft drinks are rife with unhealthy ingredients: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, additives, dyes and other chemicals.  But giving up these unhealthy drinks can be difficult particularly if you don’t have something with which to replace them.

In an effort to continually feed my family nourishing and healthy foods, we focus largely on probiotics: naturally pickled vegetables, yogurts and other nourishing foods.  For us, that effort includes replacing sugar-laden soft drinks and sodas with healthier alternatives like naturally fermented, probiotic beverages.  Instead of downing sugary sweet drinks, or even homemade sugary drinks, we consume water kefir, kombucha and herbal sun teas.   Water kefir, kombucha and sun teas can be prepared for pennies per gallon since their primary ingredient is water – virtually without cost.

Both water kefir and kombucha require a starter culture or a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts).  Once purchased and properly cared for, this colony of beneficial bacteria will produce kombucha and water kefir indefinitely.  The SCOBY for kombucha is generally referred to as a mother or as a mushroom while the SCOBY for water kefir is generally referred to as water kefir grains or tibicos.  Both transform sugary water into a mildly effervescent drink brimming with beneficial bacteria.  These bacteria metabolize the sugar so that the final beverage is not particularly sugary.

This installment includes:

VIDEO: Brewing & Flavoring Kombucha
VIDEO: Brewing & Flavoring Water Kefir
VIDEO: Probiotic Herbal Sodas
VIDEO: Beet Kvass
WORK SHEETS: Basic recipe worksheet for flavored kombucha, Basic recipe worksheet for flavored water kefir, Basic recipe worksheet for Probiotic Herbal Sodas, Recipe Formula for Kombucha (CHART), Recipe Formula for Water Kefir (CHART), Recipe Formula for Probiotic Soda (CHART)
FACT SHEETS: low-sugar alternatives to soda & soft drinks, Trouble-shooting Kombucha and water kefir including safe consumption guidelines, Benefits of Kombucha & Water Kefir, Lactic Acid Fermentation as an Immune-builder
RECIPES: Grape water kefir, spiced kombucha, ginger beer, kombucha-honey iced pops, beet kvass, beet and ginger kvass, root beer, vanilla bean and mint soda, hibiscus-ginger cooler


  • Identify healthier beverages than soda and soft drinks
  • Identify benefits of lacto-fermented, probiotic beverages
  • Prepare and flavor kombucha
  • Prepare and flavor water kefir
  • Prepare probiotic herbal tonic

Master Download

Download all the recipes, tutorials and fact sheets in one file by clicking here.

Videos & Links:

Kombucha is a powerfully medicinal fermented tea made using tea, sugar and a mother culture  (SCOBY).  It can also be flavored a variety of ways. Trouble viewing the video?  Click here.

Water kefir is a traditional probiotic beverage made using a starter culture (SCOBY) which can be purchased online.   Trouble viewing the video? Click here.

How to Make Herbal Tonics

Herbal tonics are easy to prepare and can be flavored a variety of ways.  They make an excellent alternative to soda and soft drinks. Trouble viewing the video? Click here.

How to Make Beet Kvass

Beet kvass is an enzyme rich, naturally probiotic tonic made from fermenting beets in water with a bit of salt and starter culture. Trouble viewing the video? Click here.

Links addressing Probiotic Tonics