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Swap the Pop – Top Picks for Healthier New Beverages to Try

on January 13, 2014

flavored waterMegan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

Let’s face it – if you’re anything like me, you have sampled all kinds of drinks throughout your life ranging from chocolate milk to Coca-Cola.  With sugar-consumption rates at a shockingly all-time high and trained/corrupt taste buds persuaded by chemical cocktails, it’s time to stop and take a look at what you’re drinking throughout the day.  Hydration is super important, and while we know that water is technically the best source of hydration (and believe me, I think that nothing really beats drinking clean, properly filtered water throughout the day), it can get a bit boring day-in and day-out for some folks.  Couple it with the finicky tastes kids have for things (not to mention needing to keep it healthy!), it’s important we have a few good alternative ideas in our arsenal.  We are bombarded on a daily basis with ads for coffee drinks, sodas, sugary sports drinks, flavored milk/milk-type drinks, etc… the selection (and their ingredient lists) can become very overwhelming…and totally loaded with sugar.  With the recommendation by one of my friends and favorite article followers, I am drafting this list of healthy drink alternatives for when the thought of drinking water all of the time, well, just, runs dry.  Here are a few quick, kid-friendly, super easy ways to incorporate (and even disguise….mwoo hah hah!) healthy and delicious drink ideas into your daily hydration routine:

1.Fruit or Veggie Flavored/Infused Water – This has to be one of the easiest ways to spruce up water and have it taste like a whole new world (plus adding some nutritional value!).  This is a great alternative to actual juices that you’d buy in the store, which are loaded with sugar (and in many cases preservatives and additives), but not loaded with actual fruit and/or veggies.

  • Try slicing some pieces of fruit or vegetables like strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers, lemons, limes, melon, grapes, etc.  I always recommend using organic when possible, for the skins, which have the most pesticide residue on conventional produce, will be immersed in your water (and well, that just isn’t something you want to be ingesting).
  • You can even make different combinations to create a type of water sangria (sounds awesome, I know) full of lots of different fruits that will add their own natural sweeteners (and vitamins!).
  • Get the kids (or reluctant loved ones) involved by allowing them to come up with combinations, help prepare the fruits and veggies, and track which combos they like best.
  • Using different and fun pitchers to put the water in (make sure it’s BPA-free!) and have a selection of different varieties available to choose from in the fridge.
  • Fill up your water bottles that you carry around with you and add the slices of fruits or veggies to the bottle to keep the flavor going with you.
  • Looking for an added sweet boost?  Try a few drops of Stevia to enhance the flavor a bit (but remember…. The sweeter your drinks, the more sweet cravings you will spark, which can sabotage trying to work on cutting out sweets in your diet).
  • Using frozen fruit or veggies tends to add more flavor to the water, for as these pieces dissolve, they release more flavor.
  • Cut up pieces of fruit and/or vegetables and put them in ice cube trays, fill with a little bit of water, and freeze to make fruit/veggie cubes.  Once frozen, these will pop out nicely and be easy to add to water or plain seltzer.  It also makes it easier to mix-and-match flavors without having to make whole batches of water (and this is particularly helpful for households with different preferences!)

 

2. Fun with Fizz – Try switching to plain seltzer for that added fizz (or use plain seltzer in the recipe listed above to make a fizzy-fruit blend).  Sometimes we just look for the fizzing sensation of carbonation (which is a reason why many people crave soda).  While I don’t recommend drinking lots of carbonated beverages because the bubbles of carbon dioxide actually create a gas build-up in your stomach and digestive system (and can actually interfere with your natural stomach acid balance), it’s ok to have as an occasional switch-off alternative.

  • While options are really limited, I recommend (if possible) to make your own seltzer by using a carbon-cartridge soda stream seltzer gun.  Buying a bottle of seltzer is obviously the easiest choice, but many times, manufacturers don’t use the cleanest sources of water and then they are sitting in plastic bottles for periods of time, so you can be ingesting BPA.  Obviously do what fits best for your household, but getting a seltzer gun may be a fun and practical investment if you really like carbonated beverages.  This way, you control the quality of the water being used and the container in which it’s stored in (plus it’s fun).

3.       Herbal teas – Swap out sweetened, teeth-staining and caffeine-riddled iced-tea or hot tea with an herbal variety that’s naturally caffeine free.  This can also serve as a great     replacement for coffee for those of you trying to cut back (coffee is very acidic, which can lead to digestive issues).

  • In addition, for those of you trying to cut out caffeine, switching to just decaf tea or coffee is not always the healthiest option for several reasons – namely there is a chemical process that is needed to be undergone to remove as much caffeine possible (but not all is, so you are still getting some caffeine!). 
  • Herbal teas are tasty, lighter in color (so they won’t do as much damage on your teeth), and often nutrient-packed so you receive added health benefits like calming, immune-boosting, or digestive-aiding qualities. 
  • Many herbal teas (like chamomile, mint, and lemon) are safe to give to children, too, so you can make your own home brew of iced-tea and even add a splash of stevia, coconut palm sugar, or a little bit of local honey to sweeten it up naturally. 
  • Try to use organic tea when possible, for like produce, tea leaves are often saturated with pesticides or chemical conditioners that then become even more concentrated as the teas are dried.  You do not want to be adding this to your diet.  In most cases, organic teas are not that much more money than conventional teas.
  • My one word of caution is to steer clear of the mesh tea bags that look like triangular pyramids (they’re pretty fancy looking and becoming more popular).  I mention this because these tea bags are made out of a plastic mesh that contains BPA (the hormone-disruptor chemical) and is definitely released into your tea because the heat from the hot water releases this chemical even more.
  • You can even add fruit to your tea (instead of using water, as in the example above).  This will make for some tasty concoctions!

4.       Fruit Slush – If you’re looking for some texture or wanting the indulgence of a smoothie without taking in all of the calories, try making a homemade, refreshing fruit (or veggie!) slush by combining ice, some fruit and/or veggies (either fresh or frozen, and preferably organic), and clean, filtered water in a blender and blend until smooth like a slushie.  For a tad of added sweetness, you can add some stevia or local honey, etc.

5.       Honey, Ginger, Lemon Refresher – For a definite zing packing a vitamin punch, try creating a special brew of hot water, honey, lemon, and freshly sliced and peeled.  Let it steep for about 20-30 minutes before putting in the refrigerator to cool.  You can either strain it or leave the ingredients in the water, but you will be left with an invigorating ade that will add some vitamin C, immune-boosting goodness, natural energy, and soothing digestive help.

What are some of your ideas?  Feel free to share below!  Please share feedback on any of the suggestions above (or versions of) you have tried.

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at: megan@empowerhealthcoach.com.

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One response to “Swap the Pop – Top Picks for Healthier New Beverages to Try

  1. Sarah says:

    THANK YOU For your article this week! I purchased myself an Aquazinger this week!!!! I’ve already infused blackberries and raspberries into my water with the help of my new water bottle AND with the help of your awesome suggestions! Thanks Megs!!!!

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