Having almost completely weaned myself of aspartame-sweetened sodies (my friend Jam. calls soda “sodies,” so I’ll borrow her term from now on), I still get the occasional hankering for a sweet and health-neutral drink. I use “health-neutral” because sodas and, to a lesser extent juices, can never match the health benefits of the fruits and vegetables from which they are derived. Even wholesome-sounding V-8 lacks the fiber and nutrient punch that fresh tomatoes and veggies would pack.

That said, a craving for sweetness is practically wired into us Homo sapiens. Who am I to fight nature?

The challenge in selecting a sodie today is two-fold– one, a desire to keep calorie counts “in check,” and two, to avoid potentially harmful artificial sweeteners. Sorry Adina, I had to say it!

A Boylan’s Cream Soda tastes too fine to be rejected entirely from one’s diet, but few Americans can afford on a regular basis the additional sugar a frosty glass o’ Boylan’s supplies.

Many of us sweet-seeking health nuts turn to diet sodas, but as I blogged several days ago, the unknown in the realm of aspartame and co. is cause for alarm for many health professionals and otherwise interested consumers.

Picking up some flavored coffee the other night at the supermarket (Starbucks’ naturally-flavored caramel… I can’t wait to try it!), I was hit by a craving for a sweet sodie. Our health food store has a few such products to offer, and so I snagged a 6-pack of Zevia, a non-caloric soda I had spotted a week or so ago at Whole Foods.

Zevia’s ingredient list is blessedly short– triple filtered carbonated water, the (safe) sugar alcohol erythritol, citric acid, orange oil for flavor, stevia and annatto, a natural food coloring agent. The brand, which calls itself “nature’s answer to diet soda,” comes in seven flavors– Dr. Zevia, Cola, Ginger ale, Orange, Black Cherry, Twist and Ginger Root Beer. All seven are calorie-free.

Because any drink tastes better out of fancy glassware, I poured my first can of Zevia Orange into a red wine glass filled halfway with ice, and got to sippin’.

The verdict? A delicious medium between a flavored seltzer and sugar-sweetened sodie, Zevia’s orange-flavored concoction hit the spot.

‘Twas a perfect summer day, and perfect at that for a Zevia natural sodie! The 6-pack retailed for $5.99 at my local food co-op.

On an entirely unrelated note, I’ve decided to include the evidence of a minor animal rights violation my father and I committed en route to work the other day:

In our defense, Sophie the Dog didn’t seem to mind, but really… for shame! I guess we finally have conclusive evidence that our family is completely meshuggeneh1.

For more information on Zevia sodas, click here.

1 Yiddish for ‘crazy’ or ‘senseless’