Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sugar Free Cold Drink Ideas

Homemade sesame milk
I dehydrate pretty easily. Its constantly an effort to make myself drink... and drink... and drink, to prevent myself from becoming dehydrated, dizzy, and potentially passing out. When I'm pregnant, this is doubly hard. In the summer, its also really hard. Pregnant in the summer? Yup, pretty much dehydration central for me.

The thing that makes it harder for me to drink enough is I don't enjoy drinking straight water. I mean I'll drink one or two cups here and there, but when dehydration is a concern for me and I need to drink many cups of liquid in a row, I get pretty sick of water. Not to mention that too much plain water being consumed at one time can actually cause health problems if you don't have enough electrolytes in your system.

Until I started going sugar free, my go-to drinks to have around the house were lemonade, mock "Lipton's" iced tea, and chilled sweetened herbal teas so that we'd always have tasty, cheap, chemical free beverages available to drink that were enticing enough to stop me from dehydrating.
Of course, now that we're on the quest to eliminate white sugar frugally and naturally (and doing a pretty good job if I may say so myself!!!), having tasty, flavorful drinks has gotten somewhat tougher.

Here's a list of cold drink ideas that are:
Chemical free
White sugar free
Easy to make at home
and still taste good!!!

In the spirit of keeping it frugal and as healthy as possible, I'm not including anything that contains any alternative sweeteners like honey, fig honey, sucanat, or stevia. This pretty much also makes all these drinks good for people following a Paleo or Primal diet.
Since I'm currently dairy free (aside for fermented dairy) and gluten free, most of these drink ideas are gluten free and dairy free as well. (There are two containing fermented dairy.)
Lastly, no juicer required for any of them either!

Healthy Sugar Free, Chemical Free, Gluten Free, Un-fermented Dairy Free, Frugal Tasty Cold Drinks

Before I get into this list, I have to add that contrary to what you might first think, no, tasty does not necessarily mean sweet.
There are so many foods we eat every day that are absolutely delicious that are not sweet, ranging from soups to main dishes to side dishes to junk foods to breakfast foods that are not sweet; there is no reason why a drink specifically needs to be sweet to be tasty.
Yes, its something new to wrap our heads around, that drinks can be something other than sweet, but once you get over that mental block, you'll be able to enjoy a lot of healthful drinks that you might not have thought were options previously. (In case you think I'm lecturing or anything, it too took me a little bit to wrap my mind around this concept and be open to drinking non sweet beverages.)

So, without further ado, here's the list.

Homemade Milks and Milk Based Drinks

  • Homemade Coconut Milk. If you're going to be using this chilled, remove the coconut cream that hardens at the top, as it'll make it unpleasantly lumpy to drink.
  • Coconut Milk with Chai. You can either make unsweetened chai masala tea and mix it with your coconut milk, or you can sprinkle chai seasonings into plain coconut milk. (See here for proportions, but you'll want to include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves.)
  • Coconut Milk with Vanilla. A splash of real vanilla will do, perhaps also with a dash of nutmeg.
  • Passion Colada. Of course, this is cheapest if you have an abundance of passion fruit growing near you as I do, and if you make your own homemade coconut milk in this recipe.
  • Non Alcoholic Banana Pina Colada
  • Homemade Sesame Milk. Leave out the sugar. If you're not sweetening, you may want to water it down a bit more than you would otherwise.
  • Homemade Chickpea Milk. Leave unsweetened.

Fermented Drinks

  • Kombucha. Make the kombucha with less sugar than written in the recipe. My friend makes it with only 2 tablespoons of sugar per liter and it works fine for her. Leave the kombucha to ferment longer so all the sugar gets fermented out of the drink.
  • Beet Kvass. Sometimes I add a dash of hot sauce or sprinkle in some hot pepper flakes to give it some extra kick.
  • Rejuvelac. This is a slightly effervescent fermented drink made from sprouted grains. Though its usually made with glutenous grains, I've had success making it with quinoa, as explained here.
  • Ayran. This is a Turkish yogurt based drink. If you make any non dairy yogurts at home (and if you do, please teach me how you do so), I'm sure you can make ayran with that as well.
  • Milk Kefir. A fermented dairy drink made with "grains" that are similar in idea to kombucha mushrooms, only they are cauliflower like clusters instead of pancake like mushrooms. I have plans at some point to share instructions for making kefir... right now my kefir grains are being neglected in the refrigerator... Kefir can also be made with other non dairy milks, like coconut milk, I just never have done it myself.
  • Pickle Juice. No, I'm not just saying this because I'm pregnant, lol. This tastes just like the homemade lacto fermented pickles you made, just in drink form, and has all the wonderful probiotics in it as well. If you like pickles, there's no reason you shouldn't like this. The way I do it is I mix up a batch of lacto-fermented foods, refrigerate it, and after the food is finished, I drink the liquid. I liked my dill pickle juice best of all, but also enjoy sauerkraut juice and kimchi juice.

Water Based Drinks

  • Water with lemon juice. This is tastiest if ice cold. Alternatively, you can add a few slices of lemon or lime.
  • Water with mint and lemon juice. Let the mint seep for a while.
  • Water with orange juice. Squeeze a fresh orange into your pitcher of water. Alternatively, add a few slices of the fruit.
  • Cucumber water. Just add a few slices of cucumber to your water. 
  • Cucumber lemon water. Same as above, just add a few slices of lemons to your mix. Ideally, let it sit for an hour refrigerated before serving. Consider adding a few sprigs of fresh mint to your water and let seep.

Other Drinks

  • Chilled Unsweetened Tea. Choose a non bitter variety ideally, like fruity teas or zingers. Chamomile, fennel tea, mint tea, lemongrass tea, and green tea are all good options.
  • Non Alcoholic Bloody Mary. Leave out the teaspoon of sugar, and use healthy worcestershire sauce, ideally homemade.
  • Watermelon Agua Fresca. Leave out the sugar. I'm sure you can replace the seltzer with water and it'll be just as delicious. 
  • Watermelon Cucumber Juice. You can do this without a juicer, just by blending it in a food processor or blender and then straining it.
Wow, for very strict rules, this is quite a lot of sugar free drink options! When I started this list, I had no clue how long it would end up. I'm very pleasantly surprised!

Do you try to cut out sugar from your diet? Do you follow a Paleo/Primal diet? What tasty sugar free drink options do you have in your home? What can you add to my list? 
Is there anything on my list you've tried? Which ones, and what do you think of them?
Are there any things that this list has inspired you to try?
How do you convince yourself to drink enough liquids?

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