Summer mocktails: A healthy alternative for any occasion

Summer mocktails: A healthy alternative for any occasion

06.27.14
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If you love fruity flavors but aren’t so keen on sweets, sparkling water is the drink for you! Fizzy, refreshing and calorie-free, sparkling waters come in flavors that range from lemon and lime to strawberry and coconut. Mix in a few ounces of low-sugar fruit juice or some muddled mint for a more intense flavor. 
If you enjoy a spicy bloody Mary to kick off your weekend, you already know you can order one without the vodka – but have you ever thought about concocting your own? Simply add tomatoes, celery, onions, jalapenos and pickles to a juicer. With a juicer, other beverage opportunities are also endless. Start your day with a zippy carrot-orange-ginger juice. Get your greens with a kale-spinach-cucumber-apple drink. 
This drink isn’t just for school dances anymore — punch can be served at any festive gathering, Sunday brunch, or even a casual weeknight dinner. Punch was originally introduced to Europe from India, and comes from a Hindi word meaning “five,” a reference to the ingredients of alcohol, sugar, lemon, water and tea or spices. Today, alcohol-free punch options range from mulled apple cider with cinnamon and ginger to fruit juice-seltzer combinations. Sparkling grape juice can replace sparkling wine in many recipes.
Iced tea can be individualized to each drinker’s tastes, making it something the entire family can enjoy. Start by choosing a black, green or white tea (or naturally decaffeinated tea such as herbal or rooibos). Cold brew by steeping overnight in a pitcher in the fridge, or brew a concentrate by doubling the ratio of tea to hot water, then add ice and refrigerate. Instant iced tea mixes are becoming more popular — just remember to check the sugar content. Garnish with mint or a lemon wedge.
These concoctions are common at street festivals and fairs but are easy to make at home, too. Puree fresh fruit like watermelon, strawberries or pineapple with water, then freeze or blend with crushed ice for a healthy and delicious treat. For a thicker and creamier frozen treat, blend some smoothies with your favorite fruits and vegetables, yogurt or milk, and ice. 

Nothing says summer like lemonade. This sweet, tangy drink is a simple combination of lemon juice or flavoring, water and sugar or sweetener. Cut down on calories and sugar by reducing the amount of sugar used, or substituting a low-calorie sweetener. Try different variations of “ade” by using other citrus fruits like lime or pink grapefruit. Add any number of muddled or pureed fruits — from berries to rhubarb — or herbs like mint to your lemonade. Combine one part lemonade and one part iced tea for a slightly sweet alcohol-free mocktail.

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