You’re aware of the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial colors and contaminated water and aluminum, BPA-lined cans. You’ve decided to stay away from regular soda and diet soda (with its horrific artificial sweeteners), sports drinks and junk “energy” drinks. You’re committed to drinking more healthy, pure water- KUDOS! Your body (and brain) thank you!
But what to do when you’ve tired of only drinking water and your tastebuds ask for something else occasionally?
Don’t worry- there are plenty of options- some you may not have thought of and some you may never have heard of. Try these next time you are looking to switch it up a bit:
1. Herbal Teas
There are so many types of herbal teas out there you are sure never to be bored. Herbal teas are made from herbs and spices and do not usually contain any tea leaves and are naturally caffeine-free. You can make a fantastic ginger tea with some grated ginger root, hot water and perhaps a teeny bit of honey swirled in at the end.
Kombucha is a delicious cultured, sparkling beverage that contains beneficial bacteria and yeasts. It is a fermented tea that is made by mixing a SCOBY (symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast) also called a mother or a mushroom, even though it’s not a mushroom, with sugared water and allowing it to sit at room temperature and culture. The bacteria/yeast eat the sugar and produce beneficial substances that are very healing and detoxifying to the body.
Generally, kombucha undergoes a secondary fermentation with fruit, juices or herbs to introduce a flavor into the beverage. While it can be a taste that takes some getting used to, especially if cultured foods are new to you, many flavored kombuchas are delicious and great for beginners. It’s best to start slow to avoid too strong of a detox reaction as your body adjusts to the healthy infusion of beneficial microbes.
3. Water Kefir
Similar to a kombucha, water kefir (pronounced keh-fear) is a sparkling probiotic beverage. Also a combination of different bacteria and beneficial yeasts, water kefir grains mix with sugared water, sit at room temperature until fermented and bubbly and typically undergo a secondary fermentation with fruit, juice or herbs to add flavor to the drink. It’s like a healthy soda pop that is easy and inexpensive to make and unlike soda pop, which robs you of health, water kefir builds health by infusing your gut with probiotics. Again, it’s wise to start slowly and build up over time.
4. Whole, Raw Milk
Raw milk is an incredible beverage. Full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, beneficial bacteria, protein and healthful fats, real milk, fresh from the farm with a nice thick layer of cream on top (it’s not homogenized) is a drink our grandparents enjoyed during their youth. Misrepresented by the commercial dairy industry for corporate interests and profit, real raw milk is a safe and healthful, nutrient-rich food when it’s sourced from cows eating fresh green grass, rather than corn/soy (read Cows Eat Grass??) and those who are not fed antibiotics and hormones, and handled properly by responsible farmers. For more information and to find real milk in your area, visit www.realmilk.com.
5. Spa water
Have you ever visited your favorite spa and been served a tall glass of refreshing and elegant spa water? Spa water is simply filtered water that has been infused with fruit, herbs or other natural ingredients. Besides being tasty and hydrating, these simple additions are an easy way to add nutrition as well. Lemon, lime or orange wedges taste great and provide additional enzymes, vitamins and minerals to your water. Have you ever thought about adding cucumber slices, mint leaves, sage leaves or herbs like lemon verbena to your water? It’s delicious, different and a practice some of the best spas around follow. So, pour yourself a glass of spa water, sit back and relax.
6. Sparkling Water
Sometimes you just want something a little bubbly. Sparkling mineral waters are a healthy way to satisfy your cravings for bubbly textures and they allow you to mix-it-up a bit. Try using sparkling water as you would still water in the Spa Water suggestion- all sorts of fun additions make sparkling water taste like a real treat.
7. Coconut Water
Coconut water, different than coconut milk, is vitamin, mineral and enzyme rich and extremely refreshing. Also beneficial for digestion and health, it’s very hydrating and an excellent alternative to sugary, artificially colored and flavored sports drinks. Coconut water is available in stores, but it’s easy enough to make your own. Simply buy a coconut- one that you can hear a nice sloshing when you shake it- and then pierce the eye of the coconut and tip it to pour out the liquid inside. That is coconut water.
8. Homemade Coconut Milk
Creamy, smooth, with an exotic and slightly sweet flavor, coconut milk is my go-to choice for a non-dairy creamy beverage. While coconut milk is available in cans, there are a few drawbacks to canned coconut milk. Most cans contain BPA, a potent endocrine disrupter, and even though you may be able to find a brand (Native Forest) without BPA, there is still the matter of possible additives like guar gum- a bean-based product that can be difficult to digest and therefore not GAPS-legal (what’s GAPS?). Additionally, during processing, many nutrients are destroyed, including Vitamin E.
Luckily it is simple, quick and inexpensive to make your own. To make coconut milk from a fresh coconut, crack open the coconut, peel the flesh, mix with water (warm is best) and blend. Strain through layered cheesecloth, butter muslin or a nut-milk bag and squeeze out the milk, reserving the expressed flesh to dry and process for coconut flour. Read more about my methods for making coconut milk HERE
Smoothies are a delightful treat and can make a satisfying breakfast, snack or other fast meal. Using a base of homemade yogurt (preferably with raw milk from grassfed cows), homemade coconut milk or nut milk, you can mix in fruit- either fresh or frozen- veggies, raw egg yolks (only do this with yolks from pastured chickens), and perhaps a drizzle of maple syrup or raw honey. Coconut oil can be melted and drizzled in, as can coconut cream. It’s wise to have good quality fats when you are consuming sugars as the fat will slow down the absorption and help prevent a blood sugar spike. Simply combine your chosen ingredients in a blender, blend it up to your liking and sip away.
10. Homemade Bone Broth
A savory and soul-satisfying beverage, warmed (never in the microwave!) nutrient-dense bone broth (stock) can warm you up, aid in digestion and healing and is an excellent source of minerals. A traditional food to its core, bone broth is great on its own, with a touch of unrefined sea salt, or with a bit of roasted chicken, a pastured egg yolk mixed in, or even a bit of ghee swirled in. Learn how to make bone broth HERE.
Don’t forget to switch it up. Make it fun! Add in a variety of these beverage choices, try different types of glasses every now and then (sparkling water in a champagne glass just tastes a little special!), vary the water temperature (though never too cold) and you’ll not be stuck with just having to drink plain ol’ water any longer!
Oh, and if you are struggling to give up that coffee? Try herbal coffee substitutes Teeccino or Dandy Blend. They are very good! I often help my clients kick the coffee habit by stair-stepping down a bit at a time to reduce caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Just replace a little of your regular coffee with decaf, switch to a high-quality organic coffee (it’s one of the most sprayed crops out there, so organic is important) and then you’ll wean yourself off of it.