By Madeleine Ranshaw, RD, LD – West Kimberly Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian
Stay hydrated and healthy with delicious ways to flavor drinks.
It’s summer. It’s hot. Chances are, you’re feeling extra thirsty. We know drinking water can be boring, but we also know that sugar-sweetened beverages are the leading source of added sugars in the American diet. A 20-ounce soda, for example, can have between 15 and 18 teaspoons of added sugar. Even an innocent lemonade or sweet tea packs in 25-plus grams in just eight fluid ounces.
Fortunately, when it comes to hydration and choosing between something sweet versus plain water, there are few healthy compromises to consider.
Get a little artsy with this one. You can make beautiful ice cubes by freezing berry purees, fresh herbs, and slices of citrus. Place a small amount of berries and herbs in an ice cube tray, fill with water, and freeze. As the cubes melt in your water, they slowly release new flavors.
Freeze fresh fruit or buy it frozen — either way, adding frozen fruit chunks instead of ice to water is another smart flavor enhancer. It keeps your drink chilled and offers a healthy snack at the end.
Muddled fruit and herbs
One of the best ways to release flavor from berries and herbs is to muddle them together before adding them to water or club soda. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle to muddle, just use the end of a wooden spoon to mash the berries and herbs together. Try strawberry and fresh basil, or blueberry and fresh mint.
Flavored low-cal beverages
For convenience sake, there are endless options of low-calorie flavored drinks on the shelf. Look for ones that offer the same antioxidants you would get from fruit. Brands like Core have an organic line of five-calorie drinks that contain the same amount of antioxidants as a ½ cup of blackberries or cherries.
Dilute sugary drinks
If juice is a must in your household, look for 100-percent fruit juice, and try diluting it with water or club soda to cut down on sugar. Squeezing a little citrus into your mix will help bring out the flavors.