Healthy Summer Hydration
Lee Holmes offers a guide to creating refreshing and delicious drinks you can take to your next barbecue or party, sans alcohol.
Dehydration is all too common, especially in the warmer months. Between celebratory drinks and increased sweating, it’s easy to slip into dehydration mode. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you’re trying to cut down on your alcohol intake, water can seem like the least-tempting drink there is. It’s plain, flat, and doesn’t exactly help you feel like the life of the party. That said, by going alcohol-free, you’ll experience less bloating, be a little kinder to your waistline, and have less irritability the following day. Now that sounds like a party I want to attend!
So is there somewhere in the middle? Can you avoid alcohol but still consume a delicious beverage? The answer is a resounding “yes”! You don’t need to choose between alcohol or plain water — you can find a healthy and enjoyable drink in between.
The Formulation for a Healthy Party Punch
Whether you like it tart or sweet, punch is the ultimate party thirst quencher. While traditional punches are typically high in sugar and kilojoules, they can be delicious and full of nutrients. So, what makes an excellent punch? A great one combines fruit or fruit juice, water and a flavour kicker.
Punch usually starts with fruit juice, but before we begin, let’s get to the elephant in the room: is fruit juice bad for you? Well, like anything, fruit juice can be unhealthy when drunk in excessive amounts. In moderation, fruit juice can be healing and provide the body with an array of nutrients.
The best juices and fruits to include in a punch are packed full of flavour and nutrient benefits:
- Pineapples are loaded with a digestive enzyme known as bromelain that can help stimulate digestive juices in the stomach. Processing pineapple into pineapple juice significantly reduces the amount of bromelain present, so make your own fresh pineapple juice. It has an exceptionally vibrant tropical flavour that balances the tastes of sweet and tart.
- Grapefruit reigns supreme if you’re looking for something sour, acidic and bitter. Grapefruit contains beta carotene and lycopene, two antioxidants that leave the skin looking radiant and smooth.
- Cranberry is well known for its assistance in lowering the risk of urinary tract infections, and that is because it is full of nutrients and antioxidants. Cranberry has a tart flavour and is low in sugar.
- Oranges are known for their vitamin C content, but they are also great for helping the body produce collagen, which reduces fine lines and wrinkles. Oranges have a sweet and tart taste.
When it comes to water, try using filtered water, sparkling water or coconut water (not technically a true water, but packed with wonderful nutrition).
Once you’ve chosen your water and fruit, it’s time to add a flavour kick. You can try including lime, lemon, herbs or even some chilli. Before adding everything to your punch bowl, make your punch extra special with garnishes. Try slices of fruit like lemon, pineapples, oranges or limes or edible flowers. Then, add everything to the bowl with ice and serve with a soup ladle.
There are an infinite number of gorgeous flavour combinations you can try for your punch but some you might like to try are:
- Pineapple + lime + sage leaves + sparkling water
- Orange juice + lemon + pineapple juice + water
- Cranberry juice + sparkling water + lemon, squeezed
- Pomegranate juice + cranberry juice + lemon + fresh mint + sparkling water
Delicious Mocktails, Slurpees and Crushes
Mocktails are not just for people under 18; anyone and everyone can enjoy them. The secret to masterfully crafting a mocktail, slurpee or crush is to use whole fresh ingredients — the more herbs and fruit, the better.
It all starts with a supercharged base. Try kombucha, cold-pressed juice or sparkling water. Once you’ve chosen your base, add in the fun stuff.
The most enticing garnishes you can include are berries, pomegranate, watermelon, citrus fruits, pineapple and fresh herbs. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some of your old favourite cocktails reimagined.
- Nojito: watermelon + lime juice + soda water + fresh mint
- Sans-Alcohol-Gria: pineapple + orange + sparkling water + cranberry juice + mint leaves.
- Almost an Aperol: fresh grapefruit juice + water + tonic water + fresh rosemary + sliced oranges
- Happy Belly-ini: peaches + apple juice + sweetener of choice + lime juice
- Pina Coolada: pineapple + coconut water + lime + ice cubes + coconut cream + lime slices to serve
Create Incredible Infused Water
It’s time for a game. What do luxurious spas, waiting rooms and dinner parties have in common? Infused water. Let’s leave the sports drinks and vitamin waters back in 2010 and move towards a future with good, old-fashioned water with a twist. Infused waters are sure to keep you supercharged and super-hydrated. We are not talking about putting a lemon in a jar of water here and calling it a day (although that works too). Infused water is about unleashing your creativity.
Fruit and Veggies
Let’s begin with the fruit. You can try peeled and sliced lime, oranges, berries, kiwi, pomegranate, apples, grapes, peaches, pineapple, grapefruit, nectarines or pears. Any fruit that’s in season can go into your water. As long as it’s fresh, not bruised or overly ripe, it’s good to go in!
Next, add some vegetables. Cucumbers, fennel, celery stalks and carrots all work wonderfully, but you can choose whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand.
Once you’ve added your produce, push them down with a wooden spoon to release their flavours.
Add in the Herbs
If you feel like being fancy, add in some herbs. I love using rosemary, basil, thyme and mint, and have found they all work well. Squeeze them gently before throwing them in to help release their natural aroma and oils. I’m also known to add spices like cinnamon sticks, cloves and fresh ginger, and even edible flowers like citrus flowers and violets to make it look beautiful. If you want to join me in the edible flower trend, make sure you choose food-grade and pesticide-free produce.
It’s now time to pour in filtered water, coconut water or sparkling water on top.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are a few of my favourite infused water combinations:
- Blueberry + lemon + mint + filtered water
- Watermelon + basil + sparkling water
- Strawberry + lime + basil + sparkling water
- Orange + cardamom + cinnamon + clove + sparkling water
- Lemon + ginger + filtered water
- Strawberry + basil + vanilla + coconut water
Once you’ve created your combinations, let them sit for a few hours to infuse before serving.
Enjoy these different hydrating drinks this summer and maybe even add some to your next party menu.