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

Recipe: Lemon-Vanilla Italian Sodas

Lemon-Vanilla Italian Sodas

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

Fun Food Story

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Lemon-Vanilla Italian Sodas

Enjoy this fizzy, refreshing drink with Italian food or any food!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • blend :

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

  • scoop :

    to pick up an amount of food with a utensil to move it to a dish, pan, or container; utensils that can be used to scoop are spoons, dishers (small scoops used for cookie dough or melon balls), ice cream scoops, or large transfer scoops for bulk foods.

Equipment Checklist

  • Blender (or pitcher + immersion blender)
  • Cutting board
  • Kid-safe knife
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Wooden spoon
scale
1X
2X
3X
4X
5X
6X
7X

Ingredients

Lemon-Vanilla Italian Sodas

  • 2 to 3 lemons (for pulp and rind)
  • 1/2 to 1 C granulated sugar/honey/agave syrup (or 2 to 3 stevia packs)
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor—check label)**
  • 3 C sparkling water
  • 2 C ice

Food Allergen Substitutions

Lemon-Vanilla Italian Sodas

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

Instructions

Lemon-Vanilla Italian Sodas

1.
scoop + add + blend

Have your kids wash 2 to 3 lemons, cut them in half, take out the seeds, and scoop the fruit pulp into a blender (or pitcher for use with an immersion blender). Add 1/4 cup lemon rinds (peel), 1/2 to 1 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup sparkling water and blend. [pour + mix} Pour in remaining 2 cups sparkling water and 2 cups ice. Mix everything well with a wooden spoon and enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Lemon!

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Photo by Alena Levykin/Shutterstock.com

Hi! I'm Lemon!

“I just love the sun, don't you? That's because I'm a lemon, and we grow so much better in sun and warmth. My skin is a lovely, sunny yellow color. I'm a citrus fruit, but I'm not sweet like an orange. So if you bite into me, your mouth might pucker! But if you squeeze out my juice, then add water and sugar to it, you'll enjoy the sweet and sour taste of lemonade! My zest and juice can bring a wonderful brightness to many dishes."

History

  • Lemon trees are small evergreen trees thought to be native to Asia. Sometime in the first century, they came to Italy and the Mediterranean region. Although the trees were widely distributed throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean countries between the 8th and 11th centuries, they weren't cultivated to a great extent until the middle of the 1400s in Italy. Spanish explorers brought lemon seeds with them to the Americas later in the 15th century. By the 19th century, you could find lemon trees in Florida and California.
  • Today, California and Arizona produce 95 percent of the entire lemon crop in the United States.
  • During the European Renaissance, fashionable ladies used lemon juice as a way to redden their lips! Today you might find people with naturally blond or light brown hair using lemon juice, diluted with water, to lighten their hair. This method is subtle and requires exposure to sunlight to see results, so be sure to put sunscreen on your skin!
  • Lemons were once so rare that kings would give them away as gifts. 

Anatomy & Etymology

  • There are two different types of lemons—acidic and sweet. The most common acidic varieties include Eurekas and Lisbons. The acidic types are grown commercially, and the sweet types are grown mainly by home gardeners. Lemon trees bloom and produce fruit year-round. Each tree can produce up to 500 to 600 lemons annually.  
  • Lemons are hybrids of bitter or sour oranges and citrons, another type of citrus fruit.
  • Lemons are technically berries. All citrus fruits are berries!
  • Lemons are protected by a rind or peel and a lining of spongy, white tissue called the "pith." When zesting lemon peel for a recipe, you want to avoid including the pith, which is bitter. Lemon flesh is plump, full of juice, and studded with seeds.
  • Common types of lemons include Eureka, Lisbon, and Meyer. Meyer lemons have a sweeter, more floral taste and aroma. They are a combination of a lemon and a sweet orange. Eureka lemons are the most prolifically grown lemon in the world. They have pointed, tapered ends. 
  • The word "lemon" is from the Middle English "lymon," from the Old French "limon," which is from the Arabic "līmūn," a collective term for citrus fruits.

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • To choose lemons with the most juice, look for those with thin peels and are heavy for their size. There are about three tablespoons of lemon juice in one lemon and about eight seeds.  
  • Lemon juice is sour by itself, but you can add lemon juice and zest from the rind to bring an acidic balance to a sweeter recipe, like cakes, cookies, and curds. It also brightens up vinaigrettes, marinades, and risottos. Lemons can be squeezed over grilled, fried, or roasted chicken, fish, or vegetables. You can make lemonade with the juice and tea from the lemon leaves.
  • Lemon juice keeps cut pears, apples, bananas, and avocados from turning brown because the acid helps keep the fruit from oxidizing.  

Nutrition

  • Vitamin C! The rind of the lemon has the most vitamin C. Since lemons are high in vitamin C, they have been used throughout history to prevent scurvy—a disease that causes bleeding gums, loose teeth, and aching joints. To this day, the British Navy requires ships to carry enough lemons so that every sailor can have one ounce of lemon juice a day. The demand for lemons and their scurvy-preventing properties hit a peak during the California Gold Rush of 1849. Miners were willing to pay large sums for a single lemon. As a result, lemon trees were planted in abundance throughout California. 
  • Lemon oil, extracted from lemon peel, cannot be ingested. However, when diluted and applied to a person's skin, there is evidence that it acts as an antibacterial and antifungal. Diffused in the air or added to bath water as aromatherapy, it can ease anxiety and stress, lift mood, and sharpen brain function.
  • Citrus fruits, like lemons and limes, have citric acid, which can help prevent kidney stones from forming.

 

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.

That's Berry Funny

What do you give an injured lemon?

Lemon-aid!

The Yolk's On You

Why did the lemon stop halfway across the road? 

He ran out of juice!

THYME for a Laugh

What did the lemon say to the cake? 

"Sour you doing?"

That's Berry Funny

The date on my vanilla must have expired.

It just doesn't make any scents!

The Yolk's On You

Why did the lemon have no friends? 

Because she was a sour-puss!

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