As the weather gets warmer, I often find myself wanting to enjoy a bottle of Diet Coke. Or, worse yet, feed my addiction to sugar-free energy drinks. I have tried, numerous times, to move away from artificial sweeteners, but I always find myself coming back to them. I have tried iced tea (which I still do love, on occasion, especially chamomile and jasmine), seltzer (which I also still enjoy), and water (which I can not drink!). As the temperatures have been hitting the 80’s and 90’s this month, I have discovered two beverages that may actually do the trick for me.
The first summer treat I would like to introduce to you, is fruit water. This was inspired by our stay at Embassy Suites, on our way home from Michigan, over Christmas. At the hotel, they had a water cooler, filled with water and fruit (and one day, they have cucumbers in the water!). The fruit added such a delicious, subtle flavor to the water, that I couldn’t stop drinking it. I now keep a pitcher of fruit water in the fridge. Any fruit will work, but I really like water infused with citrus. I use orange, tangerine, and lemon slices. When I go to the gym, I fill my water bottle with fruit slices as well. Simply refreshing!
Another alternative to soda–and to cocktails–is an herbal-tea creation that I have discovered. This yet-to-be-named mocktail requires a few steps to make, but it is infinitely worth it:
Bethany’s No-Name Mocktail
1. Brew a pot of herbal/fruit tea. I use 4 tea bags of rooibos, 2 tea bags of raspberry fruit tea, and 1 tea bag of chamomile. Let it brew until it is very strong, about 30 minutes.
2. Add just enough honey to sweeten, then chill. The tea will become sweeter after chilling.
3. Serve in wine glasses, one part chilled tea and one part coconut seltzer. (If you can’t find coconut seltzer, any flavor will work. But it is heavenly with the coconut!).
4. Garnish with orange, lemon, and tangerine slices.
It looks elegant, and tastes like a summer evening. If any of you make this, and can think of a clever name for it, please share in the comments!
And, finally, I wanted to share a recipe for a treat that I make Beanie, for her lunches. My little pal loves granola bars, but I have a very hard time finding bars that are made without refined sugar, or worse yet, high fructose corn syrup. We discovered Larabars, which are date-sweetened, but not the easiest thing on the budget. So I’ve modified granola bar recipes that I have found online, and created this:
Versatile Honey Granola Bars
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup peanut butter (or almond butter, or chopped nuts)
1/2 cup honey (or 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup maple syrup)
1/4 cup butter, chopped into pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup apricot preserves (or other fruit preserves, or raisins, or dried fruit)
1. On a slightly greased pan (or cast iron skillet), toast oats (and chopped nuts, if using) at 350 degrees, for 3-5 minutes. Stir, then roast an additional 3-5 minutes.
2. Remove oats, and place in square-shaped container.
3. Over medium, cook butter, honey, peanut butter (is using), vanilla extract, salt, and fruit preserves (if using), until mixed and melted. Pour into container with oats.
4. Stir mixture together. Stir in any remaining ingredients. Press down into container. Chill, until bars stick together.
What are some of your favorite summer treats?