Sunday, 27 May 2012

Pepsi? No thank you

Phew! The sun is high and the song about mad dogs plays through my mind, unbidden ...
This weather is wonderful for most of us, but how to cool down? I know from scanning other people's shopping trolleys during my routine shop, that bottled fizzy drinks feature high on the list of thirst quenchers. Full of e numbers, aspartame and other sweeteners, these drinks do nothing for our overall health.

Apart from spending huge amounts of time making your own fruit syrups ( I do it as part of my jam making routine) there are a few easy healthy drinks you can make yourself if you have a liquidiser and a few tricks to make more expensive drinks go further.

Fruit smoothies must top the list of easy healthy drinks. They can be made from an endless list of  fruits and vegetables, can use really cheap past their best fruit, be thick or thin and as cold as you like!

basic recipe

a banana
a small punnet of strawberries
half a dozen ice cubes or a slug of mineral water

Put all the ingredients into a good blender and whizz. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy!

Use any combination of fruit you like. Experiment to find your favourite. I usually start with a banana as it gives body to the smoothie. Combinations I like include pineapple and mango with coconut milk, blackberry with apple juice, peaches and honeydew melon. Use any bottled fruit juice lingering in the fridge, use tinned fruit if you have no fresh, frozen is good too. In fact, if you remember from a previous post, I freeze bananas to use in smoothies!
If you have a chance to buy cheap fruit, peel as needed and slice, open freeze it to keep the slices easy to separate when frozen, pack into freezer boxes or bags and label well. Most fruit will keep for a couple of months, but even if you find a bag lurking at the bottom of the freezer a year later, it won't have gone bad, it just won't be such a good texture. Still worth using.

Did I tell you to try vegetables in a smoothie? Well, yes, I did! Part of a peeled cucumber will disappear into most fruit combinations. Hide vegetables painlessly! Carrot juice is very sweet too and tastes nice with apple juice. You will need to juice these harder items as the blender only deals with soft stuff ;)

Expensive drinks for me are any properly made still or sparkling fruit drinks, where, if you read the label, you actually recognise the ingredients! They will typically NOT be sugar free. That is NOT A BAD THING. Yes, too much sugar is bad for you, but the sweeteners most companies use are counter productive to any health regime. Sugary drinks should be only a small part of your daily consumption. Try WATER! Even better, try mineral water, still or sparkling. 
Add a small glass of fruit juice, or add the juice of a lemon or lime, or a good fruit syrup to still or sparkling water. Add ice if you like. Herbs can be used in drinks too. Try bruising the leaves of  Sweet cicely and add to a bottle of mineral water. Leave it stand (in the fridge maybe?) overnight and strain the water into a glass, then add your lemon or lime. This plant acts as a natural calorie and nasties free sweetener. Mint leaves added to apple, pineapple and/or strawberries tastes great. Lovely and cooling.

a drink for a treat

Using a tall glass, fill to within 2" of the top of the glass with real (not sugar free!) lemonade or ginger beer.
Add a scoop of cornish ice cream, a tall teaspoon and a straw. Get it to the table quickly or it will froth everywhere! This is heaven in a glass. Treat status only, I think, or the waistline will expand.

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