Many of us are aware that we need to make healthy food choices such as eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products and lean protein foods. But what many do not realize is that making healthy food choices also includes paying attention to what we drink.
For many of us a large amount of calories come from the things we drink. This causes a problem because certain drinks such as regular soda, energy and sport drinks and alcoholic beverages provide a lot of calories with little nutrition. When we drink too many of these drinks, it is easy to go over our limit for calories without getting the nutrition we need.
Having a diet high in sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. This is due to the high sugar content and calories in these drinks. Some studies confirm that sugar-sweetened beverages do not fill you up the way food does and a person can drink a lot of these drinks without feeling satisfied which results in weight gain.
The solution? Make wise beverage choices with just a few simple substitutions. Instead of your usual morning coffee shop stop for a medium latte made with whole milk, try a small latte made with fat-free milk. Rather than a 20 ounce bottle of cola with your lunch, have a bottle of water or diet soda. A great beverage that also serves as an afternoon break can be water with lemon added.
You say you don’t like the taste of just plain water? Try adding a fruit slice of your choice or even a splash of 100 percent fruit juice to enhance the flavor. Although I’ve printed this recipe for strawberry green tea before, it’s the perfect edition of a healthy beverage choice.
Strawberry green tea
13 cups water
13 green tea bags, regular size
1 pound fresh strawberries
1 cup honey
1 lemon, optional
Wash strawberries and remove the tops. Chop the berries with a hand chopper in a large pot. Add water to the chopped berries and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let mixture cool for 5 minutes. Add tea bags and submerge. Steep tea for two to three minutes. Strain the tea through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth-lined colander into a gallon pitcher. Add honey and stir until dissolved. Chill and serve. Garnish with a lemon slice if desired. Makes 16, 8 ounce servings. Nutrition facts: 70 calories; 19 g carbohydrate; 0 g protein; 0g fat; 0mg cholesterol; 5 mg sodium; 1 g fiber, 17 g sugar.
Be sure to find us on the web at http://ces.ca.uky.edu/clark/ and follow the links to Taste of the Month for this week’s featured recipe for bacon and tomato dip.
Jennifer Howard is the county extension agent for family and consumer sciences.