This past Monday the temperatures in the Northeast reached record highs – 107 degrees! I don’t remember such scorching heat wave in this part of the country. So what’s a raw mommy to do? Stock the fridge with cool refreshments, of course! No, I’m not talking about beer or soda in cans. Keep reading and you’ll see what I have in mind…
I don’t know about you but in the hot summer months my appetite changes. Rather than big, hearty meals I prefer light, refreshing dishes and especially liquids. I could easily thrive on a combination of fruit & veggie juices, lemonade, green tea, almond mylk, coconut water and water kefir. In fact, these liquids have such concentrated amount of nutrients that you may feel surprisingly energized and nourished. If you think about it, any food we consume has to be turned into liquid before our body can absorb its nutrients. So drinking more liquids in the summer could help your body rejuvenate and re-balance itself.
The six liquid beverages above are 100% raw and free of sugar, dairy, soy and any artificial preservatives or flavors. Most of them you won’t find in the stores and if you do, they may be quite expensive. I will explain the health benefits to each one and teach you how to make them at home in an easy and affordable way.
One of the best choices for rehydrating the body. Coconut water is naturally fat-free and low in carbs and sugars despite its sweet taste. It has a plethora of benefits to our body including an abundance of electrolytes that carry nutrients and oxygen to cells, raises your metabolism, promotes weight loss, naturally replenish your body fluids after exercising, boosts the immune system, controls diabetes and rids the body of toxins. If you are ever stranded somewhere without food or water, as long as you have coconuts available, you would be just fine. The sweetest and finest coconut water comes from young green coconuts also known as Thai coconuts. They are available at Asian markets.
The health advantages of water kefir are well documented and explained in my blog What is Water Kefir and How to Make It. In a nutshell, this is a fermented probiotic beverage that helps balance the intestinal micro flora. It contains good bacteria such as Acidophiles which feeds on the bad bacteria, viruses and Candida in the digestive tract. Flavored water kefir tastes much like Italian soda. Its effervescent feel and low sugar content make it an awesome substitute for soda.
One of the most healing and analyzing liquids that you can consume is green juice. Green juice is low in sugar and abundant in live enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Because the fiber is removed, the body immediately absorbs them into the bloodstream, which lead to instant feeling of energy and wellness. Also, green juice is very high in chlorophyll, the green agent plants make by converting sun energy. Interestingly, chlorophyll is similar in molecular structure to our blood plasma and perhaps that is why is has such profound detoxifying effect on our body.
Green juice is typically made from a combination of green leafy vegetables (i.e. Romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, collards), vegetables (i.e. cucumbers, peppers, celery) and an apple and lemon. By adding the apple and lemon it cuts down the grassy taste of the greens and makes the juice delicious. My 19-month-old son Denzin loves sharing green juice with Mark and I every morning. We endearing refer to green juice and our “morning coffee” without the quick pick-me-up and then crush down caffeine does to us.
Mint Agave Lemonade
When it comes to lemonade, its’ not created equal. The lemonade you buy from the store is usually made from lemon concentrate, huge amount of sugar and preservatives. It’s so sweet that you have to water it down to make it palatable. The boardwalk lemonade may taste better but it still has too much sugar and at $5 for a large cup, it’s not worth the price. I’ll share with you my favorite Mint Agave Lemonade recipe which is 100% raw, natural and low-glycemic. It was a huge hit at the Permaculture party I hosted a couple of weeks ago.
- 6 C filtered or spring water
- 1/2 C freshly squeezed lemon juice (3-5 lemons)
- 1/3 C raw agave nectar
- Handful of washed mint leaves
- Combine water, lemons juice and agave nectar in a large pitcher or blender. Stir or blend on low until all incorporated.
- Add mint leaves and blend on low-speed to chop them up. If not using blender, make sure to chop the mint by hand before adding.
- Pour over ice and enjoy!
Honey Green Tea
The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It has also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots (source). In the winter I like to drink my green tea hot but in the summer, I make it into iced tea. Here is my basic recipe:
- 6 C filtered or spring water
- 4-6 tablespoons of loose green tea leaves pending how strong you like it
- 4-6 tablespoons raw honey, raw agave nectar or Stevia
- Boil water and let it cool to 110 degrees prior to pouring over green tea leaves. You do not want to scold them with hot water because it will destroy the sensitive phytonutrients of the tea.
- In a French Press add the green tea leaves and pour the cooled down water over them. Let it steep for 10-15 minutes. The longer the stronger the flavor of the tea.
- Pour the ready tea into large glass pitcher and add the honey to your liking. Once dissolved, add ice and enjoy.
Note: to get the best quality green tea use loose leaves as opposed to the bags. Asian markets carry some of the finest brands from Taiwan or Japan at a fraction of the cost you will pay at Whole Foods. The brand I’m currently using is Tenren’s green tea from Taiwan. Also, to make large batches of iced tea, you’ll need to purchase a large Bodum French Press. It’s really the best way to brew coffee or tea.
My list wouldn’t be complete without including my homemade delicious almond mylk. If you read my blog The Ugly Truth About Dairy, you would know why I recommend almond mylk over dairy milk. Beside the health advantages, it really tastes superior to dairy. And it just as versitile. I use almond mylk for smoothies, over granola, as base for my cheezecakes and ice creams or just on its own. To get the recipe on how to make it at home, please click on the link to my dairy blog.
There you have it, folks. Making your own summer refreshments is easy, fun and cost-effective. Your kids will love them, your spouses will be asking for more, and your friends will be impressed at your next summer party. No need to continue buying those sugar-laden, artificially flavored sodas and teas at the supermarket anymore. Plus, you save so many plastic bottles and packaging from going into the landfill. It’s a win from all angles!
Copyright © 2010 Zoe V. All Rights Reserved