Staying hydrated is important, especially during the summer months.
Here are a few ideas for drinks, other than plain water, to quench your thirst.
Though it has not been a particularly sunny summer, it is still hot and very humid. It is extra important to keep hydrated on warm days, since your body loses a lot of fluid through sweating.
Although I do not promote drinking sweetened beverages regularly, it is nice to have an alternate to water occasionally in the summertime.
Smoothies are a great way to begin a hot day, since they double as breakfast.
Recently I tried adding kale to a smoothie, since I have been receiving greens weekly from a Community-Supported Agriculture operation, and was pleasantly surprised.
Though many combinations of fruit, yogurt and juice or milk are delicious pureed, adding some greens can boost nutrition and use up extra greens before they wilt or you are delivered more. To make a green smoothie try blending 2 cups of kale leaves, 1 ripe banana, a ripe pear and enough skim milk or milk substitute to cover all of the ingredients in the blender.
You can also add greens to other colored smoothies, but I find it makes a red smoothie look a little brown, so if you are serving it to a skeptic, use a dark travel mug.
Watermelon coolers have become a new family favorite for a summertime beverage. Any time you have extra watermelon, preferably refrigerated, just blend it.
Since watermelon has such a high water content, it turns into a great beverage without having to add anything. Two cups of diced watermelon has only 80 calories, and the only sugars are naturally occurring.
You could doctor this up with a little seltzer or some mint leaves, but it is really refreshing and kid friendly as is.
Try making your own iced tea. It is simple, cheaper than bottled teas, and you can customize it.
To make iced tea, you simply brew strong hot tea and chill it. To make decaffeinated tea, try an herbal tea. Many fruity herbal teas taste great iced.
You can make this unsweetened, or at least minimize the amount of sugar you add, so your homemade version is better for you than store-bought iced tea.
WATER WITH A TWIST
Try adding some natural flavoring to your water, using fruits, herbs or even vegetables. Try something other than lemon, like lime, oranges, peaches or cherries. For kids, frozen berries are great.
You can add them to a water bottle, and they will keep the water cool while adding flavor as they thaw. The juice will not amount to many calories since not much is released, and eating the fruit after will provide you with fiber and other nutrients.
For a different taste, try cucumbers or fresh herbs.
Seltzer is a great alternative if you are craving something fizzy. Since it is unsweetened, it does not appeal to everyone. Try adding a splash of 100 percent juice to naturally sweeten it.
This is also a good way to control juice portions, which should really be 8 ounces (or less).
Of course, water is the best choice for a beverage. Your body needs water, it is calorie free, and usually costs nothing, but be sure you are drinking something throughout the day, especially in warm weather.
Jordy Kivett is a nutrition educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. For more information, contact her at 561-7450.