By Sue Knorr:
Water. It’s as important for sustaining life as the air we breathe, but few people drink enough of it. The body is 70 percent water. Water is easily lost and needs to be continually replaced throughout the day in order for the body to remain hydrated and work efficiently. Staying hydrated on a fat-burning diet like the Zone requires almost 50 percent more water than would be needed on a high-carbohydrate diet.
Since you’re going to be drinking all that water each day, why not enjoy it? Flavored water is taking up more and more shelf space in grocery stores everywhere, but buyer beware. I don’t recommend spending your hard-earned money on it. Many of the top brands are nothing more than new concoctions of sugars, food colorings and artificial flavors.
Infused water is the perfect substitute for a sugary soft drink, and it can be easily made at home, no special skills required. Home-made flavored water has a hint of flavor rather than an overpowering sweetness. It really hits the spot and keeps you coming back for more. All you need is water, ice, fruit, vegetables and herbs to make these refreshing recipes. So grab your water bottle, pitcher or beverage dispenser and get ready for a new thirst-quenching experience.
How to make infused water
- Chop or slice fruits and vegetables and place in a pitcher.
- Add 4-6 cups ice and fill the pitcher with water.
- Place the filled pitcher in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to blend for two hours to overnight.
- To avoid adding unwanted carbohydrates, don’t puree, juice, crush or muddle the fruits. It’s fine to lightly bruise herbs to bring out their flavors.
- Don’t cut the pieces of fruits and vegetables too small.
- Avoid bananas.
- Don’t skimp on amounts. The average drink dispenser can easily hold eight or more small-to-medium-sized fruits and vegetables.
- Herbs that work well are basil, lavender, mint, sage, rosemary, tarragon and thyme.
- Home-made infused water keeps up to several days in the refrigerator.
- Additional ice may be added prior to serving.
- If you like fizz, add some carbonated water just before serving.
- Be creative! Use whole sprigs of herbs to give a fun and festive look to drink dispensers and pitchers. Add a handful of blackberries to give some colorful contrast to a pitcher filled with lemon slices.
Recipes and Favorite Flavor Combinations:
The amounts given are for a pitcher unless otherwise noted. Amounts can be adjusted up or down to fit a drink dispenser or water bottle.
- BASIC LEMON 4 lemons sliced into rounds. For a smoother and less acidic flavor try Meyer lemons when in season.
- LEMON-LIME 2 lemons, 2 limes and 1 orange, all sliced into rounds.
- CUCUMBER AND FRUIT (drink-dispenser-sized recipe) 1 apple cut into slices plus 1 medium cucumber, 4 to 6 lemons and 1-2 oranges, all sliced into rounds.
- APPLE CINNAMON 2 apples and 2 pears thinly sliced, plus 6 cinnamon sticks.
- STRAWBERRY HERB 3 or 4 cups sliced strawberries plus a handful of mint sprigs or 8-10 basil leaves. Squeeze the herbs in your hand slightly to release the flavor.
- Blackberries, slightly bruised, and sage
- Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries
- Cucumber, lemon and mint
- Cucumber with sliced and seeded jalapenos
- Lemon, grapefruit and mint
- Peaches and vanilla beans
- Raspberry and lemon
- Raspberry and lime
- Watermelon and rosemary
The possibilities are endless. With these basics as a guide use your imagination to see what you can come up with!