Flavoring Up Your Water
Water is calorie-free, but the liquid that comes out of your faucet could contain various minerals, depending on where it comes from (typically lakes and rivers). Many local governments around the country fortify tap water with fluoride (for healthy teeth) because it’s not available in many foods. Other essential minerals such as selenium and chromium are leached from underground rocks into water sources, but levels are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and tested regularly so you’ll get them in safe amounts.
Jazzing up your water doesn’t take much time or effort. In the summer, I always serve a large pitcher of ice water with sliced-up lemon and fresh mint at my family’s Friday night dinner. Any citrus fruit -- lemons, limes, grapefruit or oranges -- will give your water a fresh vitamin C boost. And there you've got a homemade batch of vitamin water!
Other fun fruits to add are berries or chunks of watermelon. For an outdoor barbecue, I sometimes toss in sliced cucumbers or chunks of pineapple. Mixing the fruit and water in a glass pitcher creates a beautiful yet simple presentation.
Don't be afraid to experiment with savory flavors, too. Try infusing your water with fresh herbs such as rosemary, lemongrass, parsley, mint or even some ginger. Alton Brown has an interesting recipe for Barley Water, which uses hulled barley, lemons and honey. I’ve tried a similar drink that used quinoa and a bit of melon juice instead -- delicious.
There are other calorie- and chemical-free water options, too. For a bit of fizz, dress up sparkling water, seltzer or club soda -- you get the flavor but still no calories. My grandpa used to mix 2 ounces of orange juice or 1 to 2 ounces of a sweet red wine with seltzer (a.k.a. a spritzer) — yum! You can make a berry spritzer with mashed blueberries and raspberries in seltzer. Really, any fruit or splash of 100% fruit juice can enhance sparkling waters.
Recipes to try: