Clients are always asking me that question, particularly after I take away their diet soda and coffee! (one cup of coffee a day, okay. More than that, not a good idea. Read more about coffee here. As for diet soda, please read this.) Fortunately, there are plenty of options that make healthy and refreshing summer time drinks. Here are a baker’s dozen of my favorites.
- Iced Tea Brew a pot of herbal or green tea, double strength, and then pour it over ice for an instant cool-down. If you want it sweetened, add stevia* or xylitol* while it is still hot.
- Jazzy Seltzer There are lots of great tasting flavored seltzers, from raspberry to white chocolate. Just avoid anything with artificial sweeteners or flavors.
- Lemonade! My kids loved making fresh lemonade when they were little. You can find a perfectly good citrus press for just a few dollars. Then all you need is some lemons (preferably organic), some water and some xylitol or stevia to sweeten.
- Pick Your Own Blend This time of year, I love to harvest my tea from my garden and my evening walk: red clover, different mints, lemon balm, nettle or dandelion leaves – all tasty and nutritious.
- Cool Down Tea Mix red clover and a few leaves of sage for a very pretty and cooling brew. (Especially recommended for menopausal women.)
- Kombucha I’m a big Kombucha fan. Kombucha is a great tonic and is so easy and inexpensive to brew at home. If you’re a fan like me, you’ll want to invest in a home brewing system, rather than paying $4 a bottle. I recommend using glass or lead-free ceramic, but you can get beautiful wooden casks too. The most important attributes to look for are an open top (you’ll cover it with cotton while brewing) and a tap, so even an inexpensive iced tea container will work well. Here’s an example:
Read more about Kombucha here. And if you want to get started, ask me for a SCOBY and a little starter!
- Electrolytes In this heat, I see many clients’ hydration going down, down, down. That can make you feel sluggish, and has a huge impact on your metabolism as well. Electrolytes can help, but please don’t drink those sugary/corn syrupy artificially colored and flavored drinks. I have several formulas that are all natural and sugar free. Some come in convenient packs that you can carry and use as needed. I also have an unflavored concentrated liquid or powder that you can add to anything you’re drinking. Improving your hydration by even single percentage point can help your brain with focus, and your boost metabolism too.
- Vitamin C You can find flavored or unflavored powders that you can add to water or seltzer. Kids love this! Be careful of sweeteners though: look for less than 5 grams of sugar and no artificial sweeteners. Ask me if you’d like to try mind.
- “Milk Shake” Mix some unsweetened coconut milk (or almond if you prefer, but I always choose coconut for its health benefits), stevia or xylitol, and some fresh local strawberries, blueberries, a peach – use your imagination! Add some crushed ice and blend.
- “Egg Cream” Did you drink these when you were young, or was that just a NY phenomenon? My updated healthy version: half seltzer, half unsweetened coconut or almond milk, some vanilla extract, and some stevia or xylitol. You can even put a dollop of canned coconut milk on top for a creamy, healthy treat. I recommend Thai Kitchen Organic.
- DandyBlend Formulated as a healthy, alkalinizing, non-caffeinated coffee substitute, a glass of iced DandyBlend with coconut milk is one of my favorite summer treats. Gluten free, of course, or I wouldn’t recommend it. Most coffee substitutes are not, so be careful.
- Cistus Tea Cistus tea helps make us (and our dogs) less attractive to ticks, but it also has many other health benefits. You can read more about that here. In the summer, I love to brew it with a fruity herbal tea, and some stevia, and use my infusion pitcher, filled with strawberries, to give it a lovely summer flavor.
13. Use the infusion pitcher with other iced tea, or even plain water. Try sliced lemon, lime, cucumbers, berries, or anything else that strikes your fancy! It’s a lovely way to liven up “plain” water!
Now with all those options, you never have to feel bored. Or thirsty!
*Xylitol has many therapeutic benefits. You can read more about it here. The one I use and sell is made to pharmaceutical standards and is both better tolerated and tastes much better than most of the commercial products. It does not feed intestinal yeast, and does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels. Best of all, it looks and tastes just like sugar and can replace sugar 1:1 in recipes.
*Stevia, too, has become much more popular and available. That’s great, but unfortunately a lot of the products are not. Because stevia is so much sweeter than sugar, it is often mixed with other ingredients, both to dilute the sweetness and to fill the package. This not only makes it less healthy, it makes it less tasty, and is why people often complain of an aftertaste I recommend 100% pure stevia mixed in a glycerine or water base. For stevia that has some anti-Lyme activity, you want one labeled “Whole Leaf Stevia”.
*You can drink all day and still be under-hydrated. Just as with other nutrients (Calcium, for instance), it’s not what goes in your mouth that counts, but what your body can absorb and utilize. Many people drink water all day long, but it never gets into their cells, and so their hydration never goes up. This generally has to do with insulin resistance and other chronic health issues.