Clean Drinking Matters, Too

This week, I’m down another pound and a half! I don’t have a progress shot for you because while every little bit matters when you’re trying to lose weight, not all losses are enough for a visible difference. Regardless, I’m proud of how far I’ve come in a short amount of time. I sense that I’m just about to plateau, so I’ll need to step up my game now that I’m feeling worlds better. More on that next week…

For Week Three post-baby, I’m focusing on clean drinking (check out my clean eating tips from last week). What you drink is just as important as what you eat on the journey to improved fitness. Today, I’m sharing with you what I drink on a regular or semi-regular basis. It’s a short list compared to what I don’t drink, but in a nutshell, I stay away from juice (except for occasional freshly pressed), soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, dairy milk, and coffee (coffee only because I don’t like it).

I try to consume beverages that are simple, as natural as possible, and packed with nutrients. Here’s my “do” list:

WATER AND WATER WITH LEMON: I’m not a scientist or nutritionist, but I’d venture a guess that water is the most beneficial liquid that you can put in your body. Living in the desert of Arizona, it’s especially important I am well-hydrated at all times. I don’t leave my house without taking water, even if I’m just running a short errand. While I don’t buy bottled water for environmental reasons, I do filter my water to remove the metallic, chemical-like taste in Arizona tap water. I don’t miss Michigan winters, but boy do I miss drinking delicious water straight from the tap!

Not only do I not leave my house without water, I don’t go to bed without a glass on my bedside table. If I wake up in the middle of the night—which is occurring quite a bit lately with a newborn—I drink water. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is drink water. Drinking cold water, in particular, right when you get up is a great way to get your metabolism revving.

DSC_2548

When I have lemons on hand, I also add lemon to my water and/or tea. Lemons are loaded with vitamin C and lemon in warm water (thus adding it to tea) has even more health benefits. In Arizona’s heat, I am only drinking my tea hot a couple of months out of the year, so most of the time, I am consuming lemon juice cold. You could simply cut a slice and squeeze it into your beverage of choice, or try making my drink infusers. They are quick, easy, and packed with flavor, and because they are frozen, you won’t have to worry about pre-squeezed juice spoilage.

DSC_2136

UNSWEETENED, UNFLAVORED PLANT MILK: It’s not often that I pour myself a glass of say, almond milk, but I love the taste of it enough to drink it all on its own when I’m not adding it to a smoothie or other dish. I love almond milk, but also drink oat, hemp, and cashew. Coconut milk is growing on me and I’m open to trying just about any kind; I’ve seen rice, sunflower, grain, and hazelnut milks, too. The key with buying processed plant milk is to find a brand that is organic, unsweetened, and unflavored. The upside to the processed variety—not often that those words are together in one of my sentences—is that they are often fortified with calcium, containing even more than dairy milk.

The downside, of course, is the processed part. Making your own plant milk is not terribly difficult, but it is somewhat costly. The amount of almonds, for instance, that it takes to make a half gallon of almond milk will likely cost you substantially more than purchasing it premade. There is also texture to consider. Having purchased a Vitamix a few months back, Travis and I are ready to attempt plant milk again, and recently acquired a plant milk bag (a sheer bag with tiny holes for straining) to help us with the job. We have made pumpkin milk in the past (from the seeds), but haven’t experimented with other types yet. I’ll let you know how it goes…

In short, plant milks contain an abundance of nutrients without the cholesterol found in animal milk, and are often lower in calories (if you’re counting) than the other kind, too.

GREEN TEA: You have probably heard that drinking green tea is great for boosting your metabolism and burning fat. It’s also loaded with antioxidants and has been a trusty health tonic in Asia for thousands of years. I was just getting into green tea when I visited my sister and her husband in Tokyo a couple of summers back, and after that, I was hooked. Green tea—and not that canned stuff with all the sugar in it—is available everywhere, hot or iced, and seriously tasted great every time I had it. There may not be any bad tea in Japan. 🙂

After drinking water upon first waking up, I start my day with green tea—typically before I even eat—and drink up to four cups a day. I am lucky to be a morning person and function extremely well without caffeine, so the nominal amount in green tea (when compared to coffee) does not play a role in my decision to drink it; the aforementioned health benefits and the taste make it my tea of choice. Now that I’m no longer preggo, I can go back to making it a regular part of my day.  (This one contains acai berry!)

DSC_2544

BEER AND WINE: Yup, I drink alcohol…not every day, and not a lot, but I do drink it. I love to have a couple beers while watching football or a glass of wine to wind down at the end of a long day. If alcohol consumption is smart and not excessive, there’s no reason why you can’t treat yourself and still lose or maintain weight.

Travis and I try to purchase craft and/or craft and local whenever possible. Quality and taste are important to me if I’m going to splurge on something that I don’t need. Growing up in Michigan—one of the country’s top craft beer destinations—and coming from a family that owns a gourmet food store specializing in some of the rarest and most sought after craft beers makes one a beer snob. Yea, I’m a beer snob…and so is Travis…

…so much so that we often make our own beer and wine just so that we can control the quality and flavor. There are tons of craft beers out there that we love, but when I offer you DIY as a wellness tip, I live up to it in nearly every aspect of what I consume, alcohol included. Turns out that brewing beer and fermenting wine yourself is not as difficult as one might imagine. While I don’t stress about beer and wine being vegan if I purchase it in the store (thankfully, most of it, naturally, is), if I make it myself, I can ensure that there were no animal parts involved in flavoring or stabilizing the product.

Cheers to good health…and enjoying it!

Advertisements

Ice Cold Water, Tea, & Smoothie Infusers

Today’s post features an idea I took from my sister, Petra, author of lifestyle blog 100 Tacks.  She has admitted to me on several occasions that she just doesn’t drink enough water, sometimes even forgetting to stay hydrated in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  While she doesn’t “dislike” the taste of plain old water, she’d rather drink other varieties.  Petra bought a Soda Stream not to make soda, but to carbonate her water.  Sometimes she drinks mineral water.  Other times, she infuses her water with fruit or herbs.

Infusing water has become increasingly popular, especially for those like Petra.  She told me that she will freeze ice cube trays with lemon juice and pop them into ordinary water for a slow release of added flavor.  Today, I’ll be making ice cube infusers that include citrus juice and herbs, whole fruits, and veggies.  When the cube melts, you can eat the “prize” inside!  🙂

For these cubes, I use citrus juice that comes from fruit I would never consider eating whole.  For instance, while you could make these cubes with orange juice, I’d rather just eat an orange; I’m never, however, going to chow down on a lemon or lime, so their juice makes for great infuser cubes.  Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of these super foods:

LEMON:  Loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, lemon juice can prevent/fight many diseases and ailments, such as cancer, diabetes, kidney stones, constipation, and indigestion.  Lemon juice also promotes healthy hair, teeth, and gums, can ease pain, fade scars, and more.  Although unrelated to nutrition per se, lemon juice is a popular all-natural household cleaning product if you’re trying to use fewer chemicals.

LIME:  Lime juice is also packed with vitamins and antioxidants, and like lemon juice, can assist with constipation and indigestion.  It can also relieve oral ulcers, congestion, nausea, and body odor, and rejuvenate hair.  It protects eyes, aids in weight loss, and is instrumental in preventing/fighting diseases such as scurvy and heart disease.

You can freeze lemon and lime juice—ideally with as much of their pulp as possible—alone, but I like to take the flavor profile up a notch by adding in yummy extras like fresh mint, cucumbers, or fruit.  As the cubes slowly melt, their flavors will release into your water or iced tea.

DSC_2130

I also love the idea of dropping these into piping hot tea to get it to a more drinkable temperature more quickly…and with more flavor!  And smoothies need some icy element, right?  While I typically freeze fruit to avoid needing to use ice, these infusers would be an extra punch of flavor and nutrition in the blender, too.

A few tips:

  1. Buy/grow/obtain more citrus fruit than you think you’ll need.  I ended up juicing two lemons and seven limes to make just one ice cube tray’s worth of infusers.
  2. Check your juice for seeds or seed particles than may have fallen through the grates of the juicer.  The seeds are bitter.
  3. Don’t make too many of one infuser combination unless you’re 100% certain you’re going to like it; it would be a shame to waste the cubes!
  4. Play around with flavors that appeal to you, inspired by combinations you already know you like or think that you will like.  Consider fruit salads, cocktails, mocktails, and teas that you’ve tasted.

Hopefully, these flavor infusers will help you on your quest to drink more water.  I always have a glass around and don’t even leave the house without filling up a bottle.  Cheers!

FORMULA BASE:  WATER INFUSERS

Makes 1 ice cube tray of infusers

  • Approximately 1 ¼-½  cups freshly-squeezed citrus juice  à  I’m using lemon juice for some cubes and lime for the majority (I just happen to have more limes!).
  • 1 cup additives (i.e. fruits, veggies, herbs, etc.) (optional)  à  I’m using strawberries and blueberries in my lemon cubes and two different combinations in my lime cubes:  cucumber + mint and mint + blueberry.

Juice your citrus fruits and check for seeds or seed particles.  Place any additives that you’re using, if any, in the ice cube tray compartments.  Fill the compartments the rest of the way with juice.

DSC_2133 DSC_2136

Freeze and enjoy in fresh water, iced tea, hot tea, or smoothies.

DSC_2137