Summer is just around the corner and that means more time out in the sun. Whether you're working, playing or exercising, it's important to stay well-hydrated! While I prefer cool water (maybe sparkling with a squeeze of fresh lime), many people think of sports drinks, energy drinks and flavored vitamin waters. Granted, they seem sassy and sexy, but have you looked at the labels of some of these popular drinks? They can be packed with sugar, high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. They often have added salt and caffeine too. Some of them claim to be fruit flavored, but have no fruit or fruit juice added.The big selling point for many of these sports drinks is the "electrolyte replacement factor." The electrolytes in your body are sodium, potassium and chloride. These are salts that are needed by your cells to carry electrical impulses to other cells, allowing your muscles and nerves to work properly. Most people get plenty of sodium and potassium through their normal diet. While you always want to replace the fluid you lose from any activity, unless you are really exercising vigorously and sweating a lot, you probably don't need sports drinks to replace electrolytes. If you are going to be out in the sun and/or engaging in exercise, you can brew up your own cooling drink to take along. We have some great ideas for making your own summer tea and sports drink that are good for your health and good for your wallet.For summer tea, brew up a large batch of black, white, green or herbal tea, plain or with natural flavors. These are available caffeine free, too, so use whichever you prefer. My personal favorites for a hot day are mint tea, apricot white tea or peach white tea. For an extra treat, add a cinnamon stick, some green cardamom pods, a couple of cloves, some chopped fresh ginger root or even an inch of a vanilla bean when brewing the tea. Remove after cooling.Next, add some 100% natural fruit juice like pomegranate, black cherry, grape, cranberry or apple. For a fun and nutritious boost, blend with fresh fruit such as grapefruit, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, papaya or kiwi. Taste and if it's not sweet enough for you, add some more fruit juice or just a bit of honey or agave nectar. Chill and serve. There you have it: a great homemade hydrating drink, perfect for packing in a reuseable bottle when you hit the road.Play around with the proportions of tea to juice to suit your tastes. You can also try this recipe from Allegro® Tea:Allegro's Backyard BBQ Fruit Tea Cooler8 bags Allegro® Fruit Ambrosia Tea4 cups boiling water4 cups apple juiceSteep the tea in boiling water for 10 minutes. Pour into a 2 qt. container along with the apple juice. To serve, pour over ice and garnish with mixed berries such as blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. You can pour it cold into a bottle and take it along outside.Now, if you want to add some potassium to your drink for electrolyte replacement, start with a cup of orange juice, apple juice or grapefruit juice. For flavor and variety, add a cup of mint or other tea, a tablespoon of frozen juice concentrate such as grape, cranberry, apple, orange or cherry. If desired, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. It's simple and refreshing!
Need some inspiration on cool combinations? How about:
Peppermint tea with pureed strawberries and a teaspoon of frozen apple juice concentrate
Jasmine green tea with pureed kiwi and a drizzle of honey or agave nectar
Pink grapefruit juice with citrus herbal tea topped off with sparkling water
All natural limeade with pureed papaya and a splash of water, sparking or still
All natural lemonade with pomegranate juice cut with sparking water
Because fruit has fiber and small seeds (like kiwi and strawberries), be sure to blend with enough liquid to obtain a pourable consistency and, if desired, strain before drinking. To replace electrolytes, add a teaspoonful of orange juice concentrate to any of these combinations.Have you ever made your own sports drink or do you have a special summer cooling drink? Tell me about it! I'd love to know.