Kid-friendly Italian Vanilla Basil Sodas Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Italian Vanilla Basil Sodas

Recipe: Italian Vanilla Basil Sodas

Italian Vanilla Basil Sodas

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Olena Rudo/Shutterstock.com
prep time
5 minutes
cook time
makes
4-6 servings

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • blend :

    to stir together two or more ingredients until just combined; blending is a gentler process than mixing.

  • pour :

    to cause liquid, granules, or powder to stream from one container into another.

  • tear :

    to pull or rip apart a food, like basil leaves, into pieces instead of cutting with a knife; cutting breaks cell walls more, so herbs can discolor faster.

Equipment Checklist

  • Blender (or pitcher + immersion blender)
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
scale
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Ingredients

Italian Vanilla Basil Sodas

  • 3 fresh basil leaves
  • 3 C sparkling water
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor—check label)**
  • 1/2 C sugar/agave nectar/honey
  • ice

Food Allergen Substitutions

Italian Vanilla Basil Sodas

  • Gluten/Wheat: Use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor. 

Instructions

Italian Vanilla Basil Sodas

1.
tear + add + blend + pour

Tear 3 basil leaves and add to a blender along with 1 cup sparkling water, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 cup sugar. Blend! Then top with 2 cups of remaining sparkling water and taste. Add more sugar if necessary. Top with ice, pour into cups, and "Saluti!" ("Cheers!")

Surprise Ingredient: Basil!

back to recipe
Photo by Chizhevskaya Ekaterina/Shutterstock.com

Hi! I’m Basil!

"Ciao (chow)! I'm Basil! But you can also call me Genovese basil (that's Italian, from Genoa). My leaves are usually used fresh, added late in cooking to keep my flavor. If you combine me with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese, you'll have a yummy, green Italian sauce called "pesto," which is good on pasta. You'll also find me on a delicious but simple pizza from Naples, Italy, called "pizza margherita." Besides fresh basil leaves, Neapolitans (people from Naples) traditionally top this pizza with a tomato sauce from San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt. Of course, basil is good in dishes from many countries!" 

History

  • A long time ago, Greeks and Romans believed basil would only grow if you screamed wild curses and shouted while sowing the seeds. They also thought that If you left a basil leaf under a pot, it would turn into a scorpion!
  • Basil may have originated in India; there are speculations that it originally came from tropical areas spanning from Southeast Asia to Central Africa. 
  • Ancient Egyptians used to use basil to embalm the dead and prepare for burial.
  • In Italy, basil is considered a token of love, and in Romania, if a girl gives a sprig of basil to her boyfriend, they are engaged. 

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Basil is a part of the mint family. There are 50 to 150 species, including Genovese (Italian) basil (the most common), Thai basil, cinnamon basil, lemon basil, lettuce basil, spicy globe basil, and green ruffles basil! Each type of basil has a unique aroma and taste. 
  • Leaves of the basil plant tend to be oval-shaped, shiny, and smooth-edged. Their edges cup slightly. 
  • Basil plants can grow to be from 8 inches to 4 feet high. 
  • Basil has seeds that can germinate after 10 years!
  • Basil will grow small flowers that look like spikes at the top of the plant. The flowers are edible, but we generally eat and use just the leaves.
  • The word "basil" comes from the Greek "vasilikos," which also means "royal." It is believed that basil was once used in royal perfumes. 

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Basil grows best in hot climates. When harvesting basil, pinch or cut the leaves at the stem from the top of the plant down. Select a few large leaves rather than snipping the whole stem. Choose leaves that are bright and free from blemishes. Picking leaves encourages the plant to produce more leaves. 
  • You could also try growing basil in a pot on your kitchen window sill, so it's easy to pick what you need when you need it.
  • Wash basil gently and pat dry. When you buy basil from the store, it will often come with its stems. Trim the ends of the stems and store in a glass of water as you would a bunch of flowers. Basil stores best at room temperature.
  • Use fresh basil leaves in salads, salad dressings, sauces, pasta, marinades, and sandwiches. Basil leaves in cold water make a nice summer refresher, or add some mint with the leaves to make a digestive hot tea. Basil can be dried or blanched and frozen. Dried basil enhances the flavor of tomato soup.

Nutrition

  • Basil contains 98% of our DV of Vitamin K1 in just one-half of a cup! Vitamin K1 is essential for blood clotting. For example, when we get a cut, we need our blood to clot so that the bleeding will stop and our cut will heal. 
  • Basil contains carotenoids—those powerful plant-based nutrients that protect our cells from oxidation (rust) and enhance immunity. 
  • Essential oils found in basil not only give it its aromatic and therapeutic scent but are also anti-inflammatory. 
  • Basil has been shown to act as an adaptogen. Adaptogens are natural substances that help us respond in a healthful way to stress. So the next time you're feeling stressed, grab a handful of basil, hold it to your nose, and breathe in deeply. Then, toss it in your salad and eat it.

 

History of Italian Soda!

Photo by Aedka Studio/Shutterstock.com
  • Italian soda was developed in the United States, not Italy! It was first made by Torani, a San Francisco, California company, which makes flavored syrups. 
  • The founders, Rinaldo and Ezilda Torre were Italian immigrants who introduced their syrups to the San Francisco North Beach neighborhood in 1925. They created an Italian soda by mixing their syrups with sparkling water (also called carbonated or soda water).
  • You can easily make an Italian soda at home with flavored syrup (typically fruit-flavored), sparkling water, and ice. If you add half-and-half or heavy cream to the concoction, it becomes a cremosa or Italian cream soda. The Italian word "cremoso" is "creamy" in English.

Let's Learn About Italy!

Photo by Marina Andrejchenko/Shutterstock.com
  • Italy became a unified country in 1861, only 150 years ago. It is sometimes called "bel paese" or "beautiful country."  
  • Italians invented the piano and the thermometer! 
  • In ancient Roman mythology, two twin brothers named Romulus and Remus founded Rome, Italy's capital city. The myth says the twins were abandoned and then discovered by a she-wolf before being found and raised by a shepherd and his wife. Eventually (and after many exciting adventures), they found themselves at the location of Palatine Hill, where Romulus built "Roma." The Italian wolf became Italy's unofficial national animal. 
  • In the 1930s and 40s, Mussolini, Italy's prime minister, and dictator tried to eliminate all foreign words from the Italian language. How did he do that? He just changed them! For example, in soccer, "goal" became "meta." Disney character names changed, too: Donald Duck became "Paperino;" Mickey Mouse became "Topolino;" and Goofy became "Pippo." Although they're not banned anymore, these words and names have stuck. So now if you go to the Italian Disneyland, called Gardaland Park, you will see Topolino and Pippo! 
  • About 60 million people call Italy home, and it is 116,350 square miles, slightly larger than the US state of Arizona. If you compare that to the United Kingdom, 67 million people live there, and it is about 94,350 square miles. So, the UK is smaller than Italy but has a bigger population! 
  • The Italian flag is green, white, and red. These colors represent hope, faith, and charity.
  • The average Italian eats close to 55 pounds of pasta annually. If you think about how light pasta is, that is a considerable amount! There are more than 500 different types of pasta eaten in Italy today. 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Italy?

  • Kids begin school at 6 years old. They grow up speaking Italian, but they learn English in school, so many become bilingual in Italian and English.
  • The most popular sport for kids is football (soccer). The Italian word for soccer is "calcio," the same word they use for "kick." A favorite of younger kids is "Rody, the bouncing horse," a plastic horse that a small child can hop onto and bounce around the room. Rody was invented in Italy in 1984.  
  • The family ("la famiglia") is a central characteristic of Italian life. Children have great respect for their older relatives. It is traditional to name the first male child after the grandfather and the first female child after the grandmother.
  • If kids live close to school, they can go home and have lunch with their families! Lunch at school might be pasta, meat with vegetables, a sandwich, or a salad with lots of ingredients. Families typically eat dinner later (7 to 8 pm), so kids end up staying up later, too!
  • Between lunch and dinner, kids often enjoy "merenda," which is an afternoon snack that translates to "something that is deserved." It is really a mini-meal that can include both savory and sweet foods. Examples of savory foods are a salami or mortadella sandwich, a slice of rustic bread rubbed with a cut, raw tomato, or "pizza bianca" (white pizza without tomato sauce). Types of sweet foods eaten during merenda are "gelato" (a lower-fat type of ice cream), any kind of cake, or biscotti dipped in warm milk.

The Yolk's On You

"Knock, knock!

"Who’s there? 

"Noah!

"Noah who? 

"Noah herb named Basil?

That's Berry Funny

What is a seagull's favorite herb? 

BAY-sil!

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