5 summer mocktails with a health benefit

This content is sponsored by Johns Hopkins Medicine

Looking for refreshing beverages with an added health benefit? Try avoiding beverages packed with added sugars. Regular sodas can have over 50 grams of added sugar and 150 calories in one 12-oz can and some coffee-based beverages can pack a sugary wallop of 145 grams in one serving—almost four times the amount of sugar recommended for an entire day.  The American Heart Association recommends to limit added sugar to 36 grams for men (9 teaspoons, 150 calories) and 25 grams for women (6 teaspoons, 100 calories).

Cutting down on added sugar is key to maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding unintended weight gain and tooth decay. Water and tea can be the basis of a refreshing accompaniment to any meal and for those who like a bit of sparkle, a spritzer made with seltzer and fruit can offer a more nutritious option (and fewer calories) than conventional soda.

Strawberry-Kiwi Spritzer
1 kiwi fruit
1/2 cup strawberries
About 3/4 cup plain seltzer (club soda without sodium)
Ice cubes

Peel the kiwi and mash it in a strainer over a glass or small bowl. You should get about 2 tablespoons of tart juice. Wash and stem the strawberries and mash the juice through the strainer. Pour juice mixture over ice in a fancy glass. Top with seltzer and enjoy.

Serves 1

The serving contains about 30 calories, 1 g protein, 0 g fat, 10 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, and 1 mg sodium.

Cherry Vanilla Frappe
1 cup frozen, pitted sweet cherries
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup light vanilla yogurt (try Greek for added protein)

Freeze fruit before blending lets you skip ice cubes. If using fresh, pitted cherries, add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of ice.  Put ingredients in blender. Puree until almost smooth. Pour into 2 glasses.

Serves 2

Each serving contains about 133 calories, 6 g protein, 0 g fat, 25 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, and 95 mg sodium.

Pitcher-Perfect Iced Tea
4 tea bags: regular, decaffeinated, or herbal
4 cups water

Bring water to a rolling boil. Pour water over tea bags in a teapot, pitcher, or other one-quart container. Let steep 5 to 7 minutes. Remove tea bags. Chill. Serve in glasses over ice.

Serves 4

Instead of adding sugar or artificial sweetener, try adding fruit juice for a new flavor. Mixing 1 cup of tea with 1/2 cup orange juice adds about 56 calories, 1 g protein, less than 1 g fat, 13 g carbohydrates, less than 1 g fiber, and 1 mg sodium.

To make this recipe gluten-free, use only tea that is gluten-free. Read food labels carefully and contact the company if you have any questions.

Peach Melba Smoothie for Two
1 cup sliced peaches, fresh, frozen, or canned (drained and rinsed)
1 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt
1 cup crushed ice
1 cup fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries; reserve 6 berries for garnish
Mint leaves (optional), for garnish

Put peaches, yogurt, ice, and all but 6 raspberries into blender and puree. Serve in tall glasses. Garnish with reserved berries. The smoothie will be thick enough to float them on top. Add fresh mint leaves if you have them.

Serves 2

Each serving contains about 150 calories, 7 g protein, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 25 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, and 80 mg sodium.

Pink Lemonade
1 fresh, large lemon
1/2 cup very ripe strawberries plus 1 for garnish
1 packet sweetener
1 cup cold water
Ice cubes

Cut the lemon in half and remove seeds. Use a lemon reamer to juice. Strain pulp if desired into a large glass. You should get about 1/4 cup lemon juice. Crush strawberries and add juice to lemon juice. Add sweetener and stir. Add water and ice cubes. Garnish with a whole strawberry.

Serves 1

The serving contains about 40 calories, 1.5 g protein, 0 g fat, 10 g carbohydrates, 3.5 g fiber, and 2 mg sodium.


Theo McCloskey, RD, LDN, CNSC, is the clinical nutrition manager for Sibley Memorial Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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