If you or your kids are struggling with your weight, you already know that you’re not supposed to drink soda or juice with abandon. Even “diet” sodas and artificially-sweetened drinks are risky, because they can increase your appetite for sweets in general. And what about healthy-sounding “energy drinks” and “sports drinks”?
They were both recently slammed by the American Academy of Pediatrics as being poor choices for kids and teens. Energy drinks are usually loaded with caffeine, sometimes over 500 mg, the equivalent of 14 cans of soda! And sports drinks like Gatorade contain extra calories and sweeteners that can contribute to obesity and tooth decay.
So what are we supposed to drink on hot summer days?
“For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best,” said Dr. Holly Benjamin, from the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, and co-author of the AAP report on energy and sports drinks for kids.
Ah, there it is, the universal advice: Drink Water! Okay, so we all know that water’s the best. But sometimes water just doesn’t cut it, especially if you’re trying to wean yourself from all those tempting, heavily-advertised sweet or caffeinated beverages mentioned above.
So here are 7 drinks to try this summer, healthy ice-cold quenchers that you can make very simply and economically at home:
1. Chilled Water: We’re not joking. Try filling a glass jar or jug with fresh water every morning and putting it in the fridge. (Feel free to go all Martha Stewart over this and use an antique green mason jar or other attractive container). Sure, you can always pour room-temperature or tap water over ice, but it can still take a minute or longer for the water to really chill down. Pre-chilled water fresh from a glass jar is immediately satisfying on a hot day. Somehow it’s more than just water — it’s something divine.
2. Chilled Water with Fruit: We told you this would be simple, right? Throw a few strawberries, raspberries, or a slice of orange, lemon, or lime into your jar of plain water when you put it in the fridge. Experiment with different combos. The fruit adds a delightful nuance of flavor, and also looks gorgeous floating in a glass jar or pitcher. And making “fruit water” yourself is ten times cheaper than buying bottled versions of similar “health drinks” in the store.
3. Sparkling water with Fruit: same as #2 but don’t mix in advance! Simply pour chilled carbonated water over a few pieces of fruit. Try adding a mint leaf. Ahhhh.
4. Sun Tea: Throw a bunch of tea bags, mint leaves, or both in a jar of water. Put out in sun for a 3-5 hours. Strain, and chill in fridge. Add lemon if you like.
5. Fruit Spritzer: Pick your favorite chilled 100% fruit juice and fill half a glass over ice. Fill the other half with chilled sparkling water or club soda.
6. Iced coffee: Brew some coffee. Chill. Pour over ice. Add nonfat milk if you like for an iced coffee “latte.” Obviously, this is a drink for teens and adults only! And you can also make it with decaff.
7. Best Fruit Smoothie Ever: the secret ingredient is frozen bananas. This is a great opportunity to use bananas that are slightly too ripe and sitting unloved in the fruit bowl. Peel, break into chunks, and throw into a ziploc freezer bag. Later, throw a big handful of frozen banana chunks in a blender, add some frozen or fresh strawberries, a hefty dollop of plain nonfat or lowfat yogurt, and then a quarter cup or so of orange or other juice, just enough to help liquefy the other ingredients. If you want added protein, throw in a scoop of whey protein powder and/or use Greek-style yogurt, which has more protein than regular yogurt. A great way to reward yourself after a sweaty workout!
What’s your favorite healthy summer drink? Do tell!