It’s summer, a time of days out, barbecues and picnics so don’t get caugt short on the drinks front – try our great suggestions for something different, says Lisa Burn.
It’s time to wake up and smell the smoothies… or juice, fruit tea, in fact, what whatever takes your fancy. Soft drinks have come a long way since the days of diluted orange and they’re not just for kids any more, with flavours and products designed to appeal to the most sophisticated palate.
You are cordially invited…
The perfect choice for any party, cordials make wonderful summer drinks when mixed with either sparkling or still water, just add ice cubes and a suitable garnish such as a slice of lemon or sprig of mint, depending on the flavour. Speaking of flavours, go for those brands that use natural ones, such as flowers, herbs, spices and real fruit as well as natural sweeteners such as apple juice, grape juice, sugar or honey rather than artificial additives. Cordials may contain what looks like a lot of sugar but remember they are made concentrated and designed to be drunk diluted. Because they’re concentrated they will keep for several months after opening if refrigerated.
Presses provide a refreshing alternative – they’re already mixed with sparkling mineral or spring water and again appeal to adult taste buds so are perfect for drivers or teetotallers at any gathering. Both cordials and presses come in myriad flavours (that also mix well with wine and spirits, by the way) including traditional elderflower, cranberry, ginger, strawberry, cherry and blueberry.
There’s nothing like a good cup of tea, no matter what time of year it is. In summer however it feels appropriate to’ indulge in a few fruity alternatives to the usual cuppa. Whether you’re a strawberry lover, orange addict, or you’re mango mad, there’s a fruit and herb tea to suit you. They’re light, totally refreshing and they taste good, generally without the caffeine. They can also be therapeutic, so if you’ve over indulged at next door’s barbecue mint will settle your stomach and if you’re having trouble sleeping chamomile should sort you out.
Make your cup of fruit and herb tea with very hot but not boiling water, infuse the bag for several minutes before drinking, without milk and preferably without sugar. Or, let cool and mix with fruit juice for a long non-alcoholic drink with a difference. Go for natural flavours and ingredients (real pieces of dried fruit, herbs and spices) rather than artificial or nature-identical ones. Another contender for best cuppa is rooibos or redbush tea. This tea from South Africa is caffeine-free, low in tannins and is full of antioxidants. Best of all, it tastes great. Try it with or without milk or experiment with the different varieties available including Earl Grey, spiced and vanilla.
When talking of tea, let’s not forget that traditional American import, iced tea. Just prepare in the usual way (try it with antioxidant rich green tea or rooibos), cool, pour into a jug over ice cubes and enjoy in a tall glass garnished with mint or lemon.
Give me five
Cold from the fridge or over ice, fruit juice is another refreshing tipple for a hot day. Ideally, make it yourself with a juicer or citrus press and drink immediately to absorb maximum nutrients and health benefits but if you lack the necessary equipment (or lack the necessary inclination) then very good ready-made varieties are available – and they do count towards your recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Try a savoury drink of tomato juice with a good dash of pepper sauce for a spicy kick or how about cranberry and apple juice for a sharp but sweet thirst quencher? Apple juice is a good mixer for many drinks as it blends well with other flavours – carrot is a prime example – while cranberries, full of antioxidants, may be important for the health of the urinary tract and tomatoes, which are full of the antioxidant lycopene, could help fight cancer.
Fruit juice delivers a more rapid sugar hit than the fruit itself does as you lose the natural fibre during juicing that ordinarily slows down absorption into the blood, so if you’re going to drink lots of fruit juice or you’re going to give it to children consider diluting it with mineral water (or risk the little darlings running round the ceiling all night).
No longer just for kids, milk has grown up. We’re-not just talking milkshakes, delicious though they are, we’re talking smoothies – satisfying blends of fruit, yoghurt, milk, herbs, spices, seeds or nuts that taste sublime and are good for you into the bargain. Don’t like or can’t tolerate milk? No problem as they’re just as delicious made with rice, soya or nut milks as well as vegan yoghurt. They’re simple to make yourself with a blender but they’re also widely available in store and if you’re in a rush with no time to eat, are nutritious and substantial enough to keep you going until your next meal.
There really is nothing quite like it for taking away a thirst, yet in our fast food world it is not most people’s drink of choice. Water is the poor relation when it comes to drinks, which is astonishing when you consider that without it we would die. Its health benefits include increased vitality, better mood, luminous, plump skin and healthy hair. It can even help you lose weight because, as well as being calorie-free it reduces appetite – thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Next time you get the urge to reach for the biscuits drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes or so before deciding if you still feel hungry.
Summer makes it easier to hit the two-litres-a-day goal as heat makes you more thirsty and your body loses water through perspiration so always have a glass on hand to glug – you may find you drink much more without even realising.
Sparkling water is an alternative to still but if the thought of drinking H2O is just too unpalatable then try adding a squeeze of lemon juice or other fruit juice, or you could try one of the flavoured varieties now widely available. Cheers! ®
Natural Lifestyle © Natural Lifestyle July 2005 in connection with Natural Health Week