Drinking With Your Kids
It is finally hot out- truly sweaty, summery hot. It’s the kind of hot that makes you thirsty. You know how important it is to keep yourself and your kids hydrated in this kind of weather. However, most parents turn to sugary or- just as bad- artificially sweetened drinks to whet their little whistles.
When I suggest to parents that they should offer their kids water, I often hear, “Oh, they won’t drink it.” Really? I mean, your kid is outside playing tag, sweating up a storm and he will dehydrate and pass out before he drinks water? Okay, maybe once. If you stop keeping the soda, powdered drinks and juice boxes in the house, isn’t it pretty likely that he’ll learn to accept better options?
Getting rid of sugary and artificially sweetened drinks needn’t mean losing flavor altogether. Flavor can be wonderful when not cloaked in one-note sweetness. In fact, I hate the way I feel when I drink sweet drinks. It feels heavy. I love the invigoration of an unsweetened, naturally-flavored drink on a hot day.
Give these suggestions a try. It will definitely take some time to wean your palate off of the sugar. This is actually a process of weaning the brain off the addiction to sweetness you’ve indulged. Give it three weeks before you expect to the sweetness cravings to ease up.
Naturally decaffeinated teas, which are technically “infusions” because they don’t actually contain tea leaves, are delicious and so easy to make. There are so many wonderful varieties, many of which have fruity notes that are suggestive of sweetness and especially accessible to the palates of children. Before you give me the my-kids-won’t-drink-iced-tea line, let me remind you that there are a bajillion flavors of tea. There are lots of tea samplers that you can buy at the store that will enable your family to find some that you can settle on. Let me remind you that the presence of sweet drinks in the fridge is going to compromise your ability to sell anything new.
I saved these great 1 quart milk bottles that I use to brew iced tea in my fridge. I just throw two tea bags into a bottle full of water in the evening and have iced tea when I wake up in the morning. The small bottles allow me to have a nice variety ready to be served all the time. I often make the tea a bit stronger than I might drink straight because the ice in the glass will dilute the flavor of the tea quickly.
“Why is it,” I recently wondered, “that I don’t make my own infused water at home?” I was away at a spa with my husband. Everywhere I went, there were lovely little glass jugs of iced water with cucumbers, strawberries, grapefruit wedges or mint sprigs leaving gentle notes of flavor in the cool water. They were so beautiful. I loved them. I even performed a little booze-free mixology. A little bit of the strawberry water with the mint water was awesome.
Some of my favorite infusion ingredients include: strawberries, raspberries, apricots, apples, citrus slices or wedges, cucumber, mint (smash it a bit before you put it into the water), and lemon verbena. You are limited only by your imagination. If your idea goes bad, big deal. You’ve sacrificed a piece of fruit and a bit of water.
Most fruit infusions will taste good for as little as two hours or up to a day. It depends what you’re infusing. Strawberries, cucumber and herbs are good for the day. The pith (white part) in citrus starts to impart a bitter flavor to the water after a few hours. I tried doing kiwi the other day. It was delicately refreshing for about 90 minutes. A few hours later it tasted like vitamin E. Blech.
You can make your infusion and then just keep it in the fridge. When you pour water, just top it back off. There’s usually enough flavor for a few refills. Purified water generally tastes more neutral than tap water because of the noticeable presence of a chlorine flavor in most municipal water.