Everyone knows that water is absolutely essential to good health. Most everyone is aware that soft drinks are loaded with sugar, corn syrup (ewwwww) and chemicals. Some people even know that supposedly more healthy beverages like diet soft drinks and "natural" sodas are actually full of artificial flavorings, scary fake sugars and unspecified chemicals as well.
What very few people know is that our bodies don't even like those beverages. They become accustomed to them and even crave them, but if we stop drinking them regularly, we don't crave them anymore. In fact, my clients who get off them tell me that they tried one after not having any for a few weeks, and all they tasted was chemicals.
"But how can I stop, April? That soda in the afternoon is the only thing that gets me through!"
Well, I'm going to share with you my two favorite tricks for kicking that sugary beverage addiction. You will even find you start craving WATER!
My #1 favorite is Infused waters.
You can buy these already made, but they often have artificial flavorings and even added sugars or artificial sweeteners which totally undermines the benefits. And they're expensive. So let's just make our own. It's super simple to do and you will feel like a genius who needs to snap pics to share on social media cause they're so pretty. ;)
If you want to get really smart about it, you can even do a few minutes of research and decide what to infuse your water with depending on what health benefits you are addressing. Feeling a bit of a scratchy throat? Infuse your water with a vitamin C-rich burst of lemon. Need a pick-me-up? Infuse fresh ginger and a dab of honey.
But depending on what you choose to infuse, you can reap other benefits including:
- Protection against aging. Fruit and veggies are loaded with antioxidants which protect your cells against free radical damage.
- Increases digestion and nutrient uptake and reduces bloating. Your grandmother knew that ginger and cucumber in particular can help reduce swelling and water retention.
- Decrease stress. If you want to feel more calm, you can infuse your water with herbs that promote relaxation. My favorites are sage, lavender, and chamomile.
HOW TO MAKE INFUSED WATER
Once you start to think outside the box, there is nothing holding you back! So start thinking of exciting combinations to try.
Water: Any water will do, but anyone who knows me, knows I prefer Berkey filtered water because it takes out everything—even hormones.
Fruit: Berries, melons, dragonfruit, pineapple, any citrus, apples, pears (all fresh or frozen)
Vegetables: Cucumber, celery, fennel, carrotsHerbs: Rosemary, thyme, mint, basil, cilantro, parsley
Spices: Cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, fresh ginger, cloves, vanilla bean
Edible flowers: Rose, lavender, citrus blossoms, hibiscus, pansies, violets, dandelion
1) Grab a large pitcher (glass is preferable so no leaching of icky stuff into your water) or a big glass jar.
2) Wash everything you are adding to your infusion. Try to choose organic ingredients whenever possible.
3) Peel anything you want peeled, slice things you want sliced, etc. The thinner and smaller your pieces are, the more flavor and goodness will be released into the water.
4) Add the fruit, herbs, spices, etc. into your container bottle and then fill it up with fresh water.
5) Wait. Leave your water for a few hours to let everything infuse. The longer you let it sit, the more of a flavor punch you will get. Some elements take longer than others to release. Be patient. Once the water looks and tastes the way you want, store in the refrigerator and drink as much as you like!
Here are 5 of my favorite flavor combos:
Clementine & Cilantro
Cilantro is a strong flavor, so a little of this herb goes a long way. When paired with clementine, the cilantro mellows and adds a mysterious undertone that is delightful. Cilantro has long been prized as a digestive stimulant—it encourages production and release of enzymes and gastric juices, both of which aid in digestion and better absorption of water and nutrients. It is also antimicrobial, hypoglycemic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and even a favorite with those battling cancer. The clementine looks beautiful and adds a boost of vitamin C while promoting hydration.
Blueberry & Mint
Rich in antioxidants, blueberries are known to fight inflammation and lower the risk of some cancers [source]. Meanwhile, lemon is rich in vitamin C, and mint helps to freshen breath.
Green Apple, Pear and Basil
The tart and sweet combo of fresh green apple and pear packs a flavor wallop. Note that harder fruits take longer to fully infuse, so let this one steep for awhile. Basil provides a delicious base note and is also anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial.
Pineapple Cucumber Mint
Cucumbers are a go-to for spa waters around the world, and with good reason. They infuse a beautiful flavor that is clear and fresh an
d help cleanse the body of stored toxins. In Chinese Medicine, cucumbers are relied upon to cool the system and boost hydration. Pineapple is not just delicious, it is also full of important micronutrients like manganese, potassium, magnesium and B vitamins. And peppermint or spearmint are known to positively impact all things related to the gastro-intestinal tract (reflux, acidic stomach, bloating).
Kiwi & Bearberry
Kiwi fruit is full of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant, and also stimulates the immune system. Bearberry is an ancient remedy for urinary tract and kidney infections. If your immune system and/or urinary tract need a boost, try this uplifting and delicious infusion.
My #2 favorite trick for making water more delicious:
My mouth is watering as I type this sentence! Do yourself a favor right now and get some aged balsamic vinegars. Make sure you are getting true aged vinegar with no added sugars, just infusions. These vinegars are fermented and pack a punch of flavor and good bacteria for your gut health.
My favorites tend to change with the season: Summer = raspberry, coconut; Fall = macintosh, spicy chipotle; Winter = cinnamon, cranberry/pear; Spring = green apple, meyer lemon.
Just add a tablespoon or two to your glass of water and enjoy increased water uptake and an insatiable desire to drink more!
If you don't have a local quality olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar shop, you can order from my local store online at https://www.thespicyolive.com/product-category/aged-balsamic-vinegars