Despite the health claims of all those artificially enhanced sports drinks on the market, nothing beats pure H2O in a BPA-free water bottle for quenching thirst and replacing lost fluids after working out. Nothing, except for homemade vitamin water enhanced with fresh fruits and herbs.
Commercially packaged sports drinks and coconut waters have recently come under scrutiny for unsubstantiated health benefits by public health and consumer watchdogs for deceptive advertising about the health claims of their chemical and sugar-laden beverages.
HOW MUCH WATER DO I NEED?
The Institute of Medicine recently determined that adequate intake (AI) of water for men is roughly three liters (13 cups) and approximately 2.2 liters for women (about 9 cups). But individuals may need more based on their personal health issues, climate and exercise habits. So what about that old rule of eight, 8-oz glasses of water a day? While there’s no hard and fast evidence supporting this particular number, it became popular because it was easy to remember and it’s within the ballpark of the recommended intake.
There are multiple reasons health and fitness professionals nag us about drinking enough water: our muscles are composed of 75% water and it plays a vital role in transporting nutrients and waste on a cellular level. Water cushions our internal organs, helps them function and regulates our body temperature. The good news is that your total water intake can come from food sources like fruits, vegetables and soups. Your morning coffee, tea and even sodas count towards your quota. But not alcohol, which has a dehydrating effect. Sorry, but happy hour doesn’t count as hydration.
While these fresh vitamin waters may look all fancy and spa-like, the true beauty lies in how effortless and economical these homemade fresh fruit drinks are to make. The possibilities and combinations are endless and easily tweaked to your personal preferences, making those recommended 13 cups a day a breeze to guzzle down without added sugar or artificial flavoring.
There’s absolutely no cooking or exact measurements required. Simply wash and cut the fruits and herbs (if using) of your choice and dump them into a glass pitcher or jar fill with water. And yes, it should be glass, not only because it’s BPA-free, but glass can withstand prolonged exposure to fruit acids without breaking down, and it repels odors and germs so your drinks will taste better and fresher.
Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight and let those fresh fruits steep and release their flavorful essences and vitamins.
The recipes for each of the vitamin waters pictured are merely suggestions, so feel free change the water to fruit ratio or change up the combinations to suit your own tastes. There is no way to screw this up, seriously. I chose these combinations mostly because I happened to have lavender, rosemary and the other herbs growing in my garden.
The fruit waters pictured here were made in 24 oz and 16 oz Ball jars modified into seriously cute DIY straw cups as featured in The Fix blog by Mr. Handyman. If you’re feeling crafty and have an ten minutes to kill, these straw cups are also super easy and fun to make, even for the most craft-impaired.
PREP: 5 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 5 hours or overnight.
· 1 cup of assorted blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries into jar.
· a few sprigs of sage leaves
· Pour cold water until full and let it steep in the fridge for 4 to 5 hours.
· Enjoy straight out of the jar or pour over ice.
PINEAPPLE + MINT
· Cut approximately one cup of pineapple into thin slivers or small chunks and place in jar or pitcher.
· Add a few mint leaves to taste.
· Add cold water till jar is full.
· Refrigerate at least five hours or overnight.
WATERMELON + ROSEMARY
· Cut a cup’s worth of ripe watermelon into bite sized chunks and place in jar.
· (optional) Add a few sprigs of rosemary
· Fill jar with cold water and refrigerate for five hours.
BLACKBERRY + LAVENDER
· Wash and place a cup of blackberries into bottom of jar. You can muddle the blackberries by crushing them gently to release the juices if you want a stronger flavor, but that’s purely optional.
· If you want a delicate floral flavor, you can add a few lavender flowers to the water. It gives a very subtle flavor and Lavender has potent antibacterial properties. Plus, it looks pretty!
· Fill with water and refrigerate for at least five hours.
CUCUMBER + LEMON
· Slice a cucumber into thin slices. Do the same with one lemon.
· Fill jar with cold water and refrigerate for five hours.
All of these waters should keep in the fridge for up to three days. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll down these in one sitting. No problem, just keep refilling the water and stick it back in the fridge and keep reusing that fruit. You can muddle (i.e. gently crush) the fruit at any time to refresh the flavor. When you’re done with the fruit, you can make smoothies out of it, or mix it in with oatmeal or yogurt. Oh yeah, and go out and buy more fruit – you’ll be doing this all week long. Here’s a friendly tip: don’t forget to locate the nearest clean public restroom when you’re out and about – you’ll be doing a lot of peeing too.
There are so many other flavor combinations that sound good for future experimentation, but I ran out of jars and room in my fridge. So I’m keeping a growing list for future reference :
· Apples + cinnamon sticks
· Peaches + ginger
· Mango + Pineapple
· Pomegranate + Strawberries
· Kiwi + Lime
· Cherries + Vanilla Bean pods
If you get the opportunity to try any of these suggestions or come up with your own, I’d love to hear it in the comments below! Please share your vitamin water mixology genius with the rest of the world.
Minsun Park is a blogger, writer and a black belt in taekwondo who gets her ass handed to her daily by her two sons. She’s written for iVillage, SheKnows, ePregnancy and is featured in “The Hot Mom’s Handbook” by Jessica Denay. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter