Hydration is important. I know this, and yet I slug coffee at my desk and rarely go get a glass of water. Staying well hydrated improves focus and brain function, helps with digestion and transporting essential nutrients around your body, and cushions joints.
The Dieticians of Canada recommend we aim for a fluid intake of about 3 L for men and 2.2 L for women 19 years old and over each day – more if we’re losing water through heat and sweat. It can be tough to keep hydration front of mind, but having interesting drinks on hand makes me more inclined to grab one.
We limit juice and soda at our house – it’s easy to consume far too much sugar when you’re thirsty – and yet we love bubbles and bright, interesting flavours. I don’t like adding too much plastic to the recycling bin, so we picked up a SodaStream sparkling water maker with a reusable bottle last year, and it has become one of our favourite things – especially with an 11 year old. It’s easy to use, perfect to have on hand when you need some sparkling water or base for homemade sodas – and kids love making their own as well as grownups.
The possibilities are endless. Homemade sodas are all the rage on restaurant menus, but they’re ridiculously easy to make at home. Not only do they save on the cost of bottled sodas, but reduce waste and your intake of sugar, artificial colours and flavours – you control what goes in, and you can add your own simple syrup or other flavours to suit your taste. (I like things less sweet, more tart.)
Even some citrus or cucumber slices or fresh mint makes for tasty flavoured bubbles without added sugar or calories, but we also like picking up raspberry and black currant juice concentrates from local farmers in the summer, and making our own flavoured syrups year-round, depending on what’s in season. In winter, lemon-ginger syrup allows you to make your own ginger ale – and it’s a fun way for kids to experiment with flavours they like.
Simple Syrup: combine equal parts sugar and water (or for lemonade concentrate, sugar and lemon juice) in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add ingredients such as grated or sliced fresh ginger, strips of lemon, lime or orange zest, torn fresh herbs (try basil or mint), loose leaf tea, cinnamon sticks, star anise or vanilla bean. Let the syrup cool and steep for a few hours, then strain and store in the fridge for up to 6 months.