Refreshing No-Sugar Summer Coolers

Hot days equal big thirsts! Intense perspiration can cause dehydration quickly, especially in little bodies. Natural, refreshing hydration is the goal. While cold, pure water is an excellent choice, sometimes the children like to drink something with some flavor and I prefer to provide some extra nutrients to replace what’s lost from the body in the Summer heat. Since we do not like to add sugar, we like to turn to fruit and herbs.

Two of our favorites are Watermelon Juice and Ice Pops and refreshing Chocolate Mint Coolers (no alcohol).

Chocolate Mint Coolers (you can use any flavor mint) emply non-electric, old-timey methods and are as simple as gathering fresh, organic chocolate mint *(See tips on growing mint), removing the leaves from the stems, washing the leaves carefully and placing about 1 1/2 cups of washed mint leaves into a half-gallon container, preferably glass.

Two easy, no-fuss methods to infuse the minty-chocolatey goodness into the pure water to turn this into a cool refresher are cold and warm. The first way is simply to place the washed leaves into water and chill – for a cold infusion. Please the filled container in the refrigerator for 24 hours, strain the leaves, add stevia to taste and drink!

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The second way is akin to a “sun tea” and that method again is simple. Place the mint and water-filled glass (not plastic) containers in a sunny spot in the morning and in a few hours (depending on the sun and how strong you want the taste), it’s done! You also have the choice to bruise or muddle the leaves to have them release more oils and flavor. In the pictures, the darker-colored liquid is a result of the leaves being bruised or muddled. The clear liquid is a result of leaving the mint leaves intact and allowing them to infuse gently in the water. This yields milder in flavor and yet has a lovely, smooth mint flavor. For those who prefer a more muted mint taste, this method is preferred. If you do muddle or bruise the leaves and the mint flavor is too pronounced, add more fresh water to dilute. We also sweeten to taste with stevia.

Call the family, pull up a rocking chairs on the front porch and bring out a pitcher of ice cold chocolate mint cooler in tall glasses, over ice with an extra sprig or two of fresh mint, and enjoy some refreshing time together.

Watermelon juice Coolers
Watermelons are a recognized symbol, food and drink of Summer. Watermelon’s sweet flesh bursting and overflowing with juice is enjoyed by all ages especially in hot weather and especially when the watermelon is ice cold. At picnics, BBQ’s, cookouts and all sorts of gatherings during the Summer, the cold watermelon has a place of honor. There are many fun traditions surrounding the eating of the watermelon due to its juiciness and it’s seeds. In our family, we like to have watermelon eating contests, complete with seed-spitting distance markers. However, again due to watermelon’s signature high juice content (water+melon+watermelon), eating the sweet fruit can be messy as the juice drips down the chins of the eaters. So, for a change I decided to blend up the watermelon into 100% smooth juice using my VitaMix and serve that as a cooler.

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There is so much you can do with juiced watermelon (think ice cream, sorbets, slushies, and more! Again, the simplest method is cutting away the ripe, sweet flesh from the rind in pieces to for in the VitaMix and fill to the top. I don’t bother to de-seed since the VitaMix pulverizes the seeds and any remaining particles will fall to the bottom of the container. Cover the VitaMix jar and using the tamper, start on speed #1, move to #10 then flip on the high speed and blend for 1 minute. If you don’t have a VitaMix, you may want to use smaller batches in your blender and remove any black seeds.

For maximum refreshment, chill the watermelon juice and serve icy cold (do not serve over ice as this will dilute the juice), no sweetener necessary and this too could benefit from a sprig of fresh mint (perhaps pineapple mint, orange mint or even classic peppermint) in the serving glass. No napkins required! With any remaining watermelon juice, fill up ice pop containers, or use BPA-free cups with small spoons inserted. Freeze and enjoy!

*Tips for growing organic mint: Only use organic mint starters. Mint spreads! Be sure to plant your mint in a container or in the ground using an organic mesh bag, or in a separate bed from other mints and other plants. Pick the leaves often and evenly to encourage growth. Dehydrate the extra for mint tea or cooking with mint year round.

 

 

© 2006-2014 All Rights Reserved Vickilynn Haycraft and Real Food Living

About Vickilynn Haycraft

A student of health and nutrition for 30 years, Vickilynn Haycraft has over 25 years of actual hands-on experience reviewing and personally using different tools of the homemaking vocation, focusing on the areas of health and nutrition. Vickilynn is a magazine columnist, product reviewer, cookbook author and now radio talk show host, as well as being full-time wife and mom to 5 children. Read Vickilynn's Product Reviews and Family Preparedness Articles at Examiner.com. She blogs at the Real Food Living Blog.