August; the final "hoorah" for summertime drinks
Ahhh, sweet summertime. Watching it from home has been...interesting. And a practice in patience thus far. It's been fun tapping into creative outlets to process all that's going on in the world. One of those outlets has been mastering - or ATTEMPTING to master - the art of homemade, flavored iced tea, special smoothies, and lemonade with a twist. Of course, Cliff and I are trying to keep sugar intake to a minimum, so these delicious treats are sweetened with organic Stevia. [Secret: I seriously can't tell the difference between the full-sugar and Stevia-flavored versions!] Plus, a few of these summertime drinks let you use some fresh herbs straight from the garden!
I've compiled this list from recipes I've shared on IG (and Facebook), which includes rosemary lemonade, watermelon iced tea, blueberry lemonade, and strawberry basil iced tea. As temps stay warm here (through October, really), I'm still working to "whip up" some fun ways to quench your thirst...this Thursday, I'll share a delicate and delicious white peach iced tea. Be sure to follow along to grab the latest recipes!
Tips for getting the most out of your summertime drinks
- When steeping the tea sachéts in a saucepan, use a wooden spoon to tie the bags to the handle and place the spoon over the pan to let the bags steep in the liquid. When ready to remove, you can just slide the bags off the handle and into the trash can!
- Most traditional "simple syrups" call for equal parts fruit, water, and sugar. If you have Stevia packets hanging out around your house and prefer to use these, I've found that 15 packets is the norm for achieving sweetness without being overly sweet.
- Save the bits of fruit that you use in the simple syrup mixture for use in a smoothie at a later date. Multiple uses is a great way to maximize your fruit flavor!
- If you have time, try to chill these drinks overnight, or at least a few hours. Plenty of ice helps, but also waters down individual servings. For those of you in the South like me, know that whatever we have to do to cool things down, we will do it!
No Sugar Added Strawberry Basil Iced Tea
- 1 pound strawberries, caps removed
- ¾ cup fresh basil leaves
- 5½ cups water
- 6 black tea bags
- 15 organic Stevia packets
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pulverize strawberries in food processor and strain into pitcher.
- Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a saucepan, remove from heat, and add tea bags to steep for about 5 minutes.
- In a separate saucepan, add 1 ½ cups of water, bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Stir in 15 packets of Stevia until dissolved and add basil leaves. Let sit for about 5 minutes before discarding basil.
- Let basil simple syrup and tea cool completely, then combine with strawberry mixture in pitcher. Add more water to fill the remainder of the pitcher (6 - 8 cups, typically). Stir in baking soda to help maintain vibrant red color. Let cool in the refrigerator before enjoying with ice.
Watermelon Iced Tea
- 15 Stevia bags
- 10 cups water approximate
- 5 black tea sachéts
- 2 cups chopped watermelon seeds removed
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add 5 black tea bags. Steep for about 5 minutes.
- In a separate saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 15 Stevia bags.
- Allow liquids from both saucepans to cool.
- In a food processor, pulse 2 cups of chopped watermelon. Strain to remove watermelon flesh and any rogue seeds.
- Combine all liquids in a pitcher, add water to fill pitcher (4 - 8 more cups) and stir in 1 teaspoon baking soda to help maintain red color. Chill for several hours before serving.
No Sugar Added Blueberry Lemonade
- ½ cup fresh blueberries
- 4½ cup water
- 9 Stevia packets
- 3 lemons (juice and zest)
- Zest and juice the lemons and set the lemon juice aside.
- Add blueberries, ½ cup water, lemon zest and 7 Stevia packets to a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil. Gently stir and smash the blueberries as they become more fragile.
- Remove from heat after about 10 minutes and strain into a pot or measuring cup.
- Divide the lemon juice between two glasses, and add one Stevia packet per glass. Add more water to thin the mixture in each glass. Stir and chill in fridge for several hours. To make more for a crowd, double the recipe and serve in a pitcher (thin it out with more water to stretch it even more...it takes a lot to weaken the flavor!).
Skinny Rosemary Lemonade
- 1 cup lemon juice approx. 6 or 7 lemons
- 2 tablespoons zest of lemons approx. 3 lemons
- 10 cups water
- 15 organic Stevia packets
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary, washed save 2 for garnish
- Add lemon juice to pitcher and set aside.
- Bring about 4 cups of water and lemon zest in a pot over medium-high heat.
- Lower temperature to a simmer, add 3 rosemary sprigs, and 10 Stevia packets. Allow to simmer for several minutes, stirring occasionally. This creates a rosemary simple syrup. Let cool.
- Strain the liquid into the pitcher and add about 6 - 8 more cups of water and 5 more Stevia packets.
- Chill in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight. Cut extra rosemary sprigs into pieces that can be used a garnish.
When making lemonade from freshly-squeezed lemons, save the lemon remnants and either use immediately to remove hard water stains from your sink or faucet OR freeze and use at a later time to thaw and insert in your disposal to make it smell so fresh and so clean...clean (sorry, couldn't help it).
Are you more of an iced tea or lemonade fan (or are irritated at this question because it's honestly BOTH!)? I've already used some of the blueberry remnants from the blueberry lemonade recipe for a blueberry smoothie (recipe over on IG) and I'm excited to try this with a few more summertime drink remnants before we make the official transition to fall. I call them "Smoothie Bits" and may or may not get too excited when I get to freeze fruit remnants now. 😉 And, just a recommendation...try pairing the rosemary lemonade with my Smoke and Spice Baked Chips. Yum.
Until next time, I raise my glass and say, "cheers" to your #hearthhealthhappiness!