¡Es muy caldo! (Spanish) Atsui nee! (Japanese) What a way it hot – mi well thirsty – mi need fi cool down (Jamaican patois)
Is it hot enough for you? No matter how you express it, summer brings on the heat, the sweat, and a very big thirst. And culture can matter when trying to keep your cool.
We are all aware of the need to keep well hydrated but did you know that water makes up approximately 60% of your body’s weight? Water helps regulate the body’s temperature, carries nutrients throughout the body and aids in digestion. That is why it is important to drink plenty of water, especially during the summer months. But we lose water quickly through perspiration, making us susceptible to dehydration. Children ages 2-6 should drink five to six cups (one cup = 8 ounces) of liquid each day; kids 6-12, six to eight cups, adolescents and adults ?? cups. The more active you are, the more fluids you need.
Water is great, but can get a bit boring. Caffeinated, sugar-laden carbonated drinks abound and entice, but add empty calories and do little but leave you wanting more. How often do you see people walking around with those 32 ounce mega cups of colas? In reality they are drinking gargantuan amounts of sugar– X tablespoons in one hit. Yikes! Certainly it is the right concept– sipping huge amounts of liquid in a colorful colossal cup– but the wrong combination. Why not save those calories for an ice cream?
Sugar need not be the enemy and does help provide energy. It’s the amount used that can be controlled by making your own drinks. Of course lemon and lime ades need a lot of sweetening or you will be walking around with a permanent pucker. However you don’t need as much as you think. It’s a matter of re-training the taste buds.
For the cost of one of those giant drinks you can make a day’s worth of beverages for the entire office or for a block full of kids– and have fun too. In a week’s time you can taste test thirst quenchers from half a dozen countries, expand your kid’s culinary and geographic boundaries and do it with a nutritious twist.
Many cultures use fruit to flavor water therefore providing a natural sweetness. In Mexico, aguas frescas– fresh water– is a very common drink made from a variety of fruit pulps and water, such as pineapple, papaya, watermelon, strawberry, cantaloupe and tamarind. Street vendors in stalls serve up this refreshing and colorful drink from big glass jars with ladles. Preparing aguas frescas is easy and fun and can be done at home. Watermelon, a very popular flavor is refreshing, and a beautiful pink color. Buy a seedless watermelon or make removing the seeds an activity for the kids: Can they guess how many seeds in half a watermelon?
Sky Juice is a drink that is enjoyed in the Caribbean country of Jamaica. Also sold by street vendors, large blocks of ice are shaved and these shavings are put in a small plastic bag. Some fruit syrup flavoring is added. A straw is placed in the bag and as the heat of the sun melts the ice, flavors blend and sipping ensues for a very cool treat.
Kakigori– shaved ice– is the sno-cone of Japan. Mariko Takinami Brothers formerly from Japan, now living in Brookline with her two children, remembers hot summer days when she’d beg some money from her mother, grab her best friend and they would go to an old grandmother’s shop window to buy melon, lemon or strawberry flavored kaki gori. “Kids, just love it. I was so happy that I would eat the ices too fast and my head would get so cold I would have to hit it.” A colorful, inviting banner hangs from these little ‘mom and pop’ stores that sell hot bean paste filled waffles in the winter. Mariko dreamily describes the one adults favor – green tea syrup over the shaved ice topped with sweet azuki beans. “For a little extra yen the obaachan (grandmother/proprietor) would drip sweetened condensed milk over the peak– that was heaven.”
And what about one of our own summer drinks? Smoothies are a cool and nutritious blend of fruit juice and yogurt. Rumor has them coming from California, but smoothies have relatives all over the world: Batidos in Puerto Rico, frulatti in Italy, and mango lassis in India are all first cousins.
All it takes is a blender, a hand cranked ice shaver, some funky cups and a few crazy straws– equipment that adds up to less than a day at the movies for a family of five. And you get to keep the stuff! Making smoothies is an activity in which all ages can participate and the words “I’m bored,” can be met with the exhortation – “press the ?? button and pipe down.”
While plenty of plain old water– plain or fizzy– is still your best choice for a healthy diet, adding these drinks and frozen treats to your repertoire will add a little variety, education, and excitement.
Aguas Frescas (Mexico – 2 quarts)
2 cups of your favorite fruit, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, strawberries
2 quarts of water
sugar to taste
1. Put the fruit in the blender
with 2 cups of water and blend.
2. Mix this with the rest of the water (6 cups) in a pitcher and stir well.
3. Add sugar to taste.
4. Add some ice cubes
*For fruit such as limes and oranges, you squeeze the juice of the fruit (6-8 pieces) directly in the pitcher with the water and sugar.
Strawberry Orange-Banana Smoothie (United States – 2 large servings)
2 cups orange juice
1 cup frozen banana, cut in chunks
(don’t throw those soft bananas away – freeze them)
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1/2 cup nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt
1 cup ice cubes
1. Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth and foamy. For a thicker Smoothie add ice cubes.
Sky Juice (Jamaica)
Make your own Sky Juice for a great summer fruit cooler.
5 cups crushed ice
1 can frozen fruit juice concentrate
20 sandwich size plastic bags
10 plastic straws, cut in half ribbon
1. Put ice cubes in 2 large plastic bags.
With a rolling pin, hit the ice crushed.
Divide into 20 bags.
2. Make frozen juice with half the amount of water indicated on the package.
3. Spoon about 1-2 tablespoons of juice on top of the ice.
4. Place straws in bag and tie a colorful ribbon around the top.
*You may need to add a little water to get the ice to start melting if you are serving this inside.
*Another way to make this is to place ice and juice in a blender. Process until a slush is formed.