Posts tagged drinks

Fancify Friday: Fruity fizzy drinks

Fruity drinksHere’s a quick way to add some ambiance to a family meal that you want to make a little special (and yes at my house it’s required that you say ambiance with a fake French accent–the worse it sounds, the better).

I have my kids cut up fruit into small pieces to put into water goblets. Add seltzer (or club soda) water and you’ve got a fancy, colorful drink.

I’ve found some kids are reluctant to try seltzer water (La Croix is my favorite). The sugarless, fizzy water is an acquired taste but it’s such a great replacement for soda it’s worth trying to get your kids to sample it.

 

How did I get my kids hooked on seltzer water? Well, I used to drink it all the time and my kids would ask for sips. At first they didn’t like it, but I kept drinking it. Fast forward several tries and my kids are regular seltzer drinkers.

 

If your kids tend to be especially picky, my suggestion is to mix half seltzer water with half juice. We’ve tried the half-half approach with apple, orange, lemonade, grape…and pretty much any other juice we might have on hand (tomato juice the big exception, of course).

 

Now, I haven’t mentioned the best part–once you’re kids have downed their drink they can eat the fruit. And the fruit will be “fizzified” (yes, it’s true we do make up words at our house). The carbonation in the drink works its way into the fruit giving it a bit of a bubble bite.

 

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Watermelon limeade

Mmmm...watermelon + lime

Lemonade needs an update. Playing around with some different variations of lemonade I happened on one my kids loved–lime with watermelon. Okay, I need to back up a bit. Full disclosure here: I had some watermelon leftover that was getting a bit mushy but I didn’t want to toss it. So instead I made it into ice cubes. Yes, I believe leftovers inspire creativity!

The temperatures hit 95 here the other day–with a dose of humidity so my kids were more than willing to give this flavor combo a try.

Here’s how to put it together:

  1. Put watermelon chunks into the blender. Puree.
  2. Strain the watermelon liquid to remove seeds.
  3. Pour the puree into an ice tray or another container to freeze. I lined a bowl with a baggie to make a ice disk and then I placed a little umbrella in it just for fun. (I also saved a bit of the watermelon juice to stir into the limeade so that you don’t have to wait until your ice cube thaws before you get the flavor.)
  4. Make a pitcher of limeade. You can use concentrate or make your own using fresh, squeezed limes + water + a bit of sugar (if my husband’s anywhere nearby this is his job–he’s the limeade master)
  5. Once the watermelon is frozen, add it to a glass filled with limeade and enjoy.

After you’re done making your watermelon limeade, check out these ideas for summer fun from Motherboard. I want to try out the backyard Iron Chef competition with friends.

Your turn–what are you looking forward to most about summer eats?

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Why aren’t you drinking…LaCroix?

Photo credit: LaCroix.com

Seltzer water is an acquired taste. And I’ve got it.

Instead of drinking soda around our house, when my kids have a craving for bubbles, I like to give them LaCroix seltzer water.

I usually mix LaCroix with fresh juice to give it some flavor (and to clean out my fruit drawer–mandarin oranges that might be too sour for eating are perfect squeezed into a drink). When I don’t have the time or the fruit on hand, I’ll use boxed orange, pineapple, or apple juice.

Alone, I find juice is just too sweet straight, and seltzer alone, too boring. Together, they make the perfect combo for kids–they feel like they’re getting a treat, while I know they’re getting fewer calories and sugar than if they were drinking soda or even juice.

So for New Year’s Eve if you’re looking for something for your kids to drink besides soda (or you!), pick up some LaCroix. I’d suggest that you fill their glasses first halfway with seltzer water and then the rest of the way with the heavier fruit juice.

As a side note, after extensive testing I find that LaCroix is better than the store brand seltzers which tend to be way too bubbly and to loose their bubbles much faster. I know, I know, I’ve given this way too much thought:)

How about you–what do you give your kids when they want something special to drink?

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Holiday Wassail

Christmas past: My kids with Santa

I’d always wondered what the holiday song meant, “Here we come a-wasailling/ among the leaves so green.” That is, until my mother-in-law offered me a mug of wassail years ago. The spicy, tart drink reminded me of a punchier apple cider. And the simmering wassail on the stovetop made the whole house smell like Christmas (no wonder, it has a full tablespoon of allspice in the mix).

When I tried to hunt down a recipe for wassail online I was surprised by all the entries. Wassail has some history! Apparently, wassail dates back to Medieval times. (Possibly even farther. Scratching your head at just when ‘Medieval‘ would be? Try 5th to the 15th century. Still scratching? Me too. Think: Monty Python and the Holy Grail :) . The word ‘wassail’ comes from a combination of ‘was hail’ which is how the Saxons would greet each other–and say good-bye. I guess a modern day equilvalent might be, “Whassup?”

But it seems there’s even more to the story. I’m no historian, but doing a little Google digging led me to entries about how wassailing, which is now also a term for ‘caroling’, may date back to a feudal custom practiced during the winter solstice. There was a tradition for the feudal lords (think: land owners) to offer food and drink in exchange to blessings from the pheasants who lived on their land. The whole idea in “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” of “Now bring me some figgy pudding” makes more sense when you have this in mind (I’d always wondered about that line).

While I find the history of wassail intriguing, what I like is the whole idea of inviting over friends to go Christmas caroling, then coming back for mugs of warm citrusy cider. I think I’ll try that this year, but as far as the figgy pudding, I’ll pass.

Have you ever tried wassail? Did you like it? What about going a-wassailing?

Here’s Mama G’s recipe for Wassail

Recipe

Servings: 10+

Prep time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 quarts water

1 c. sugar

6 sticks cinnamon

10 cloves

1 T. Whole allspice

2, 12 oz. cans frozen orange juice

1, 12 oz can frozen lemonade

1 gallon apple cider

Directions

  1. In a large cooking pot bring the water, sugar, and spices to a boil (the mixture will become syrupy). Boil for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to a simmer for half an hour.
  2. Remove the cloves and cinnamon.
  3. Add the concentrated juices and cider into the spiced syrup.
  4. Heat together. Serve warm.
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Why aren’t you drinking…Ya-Cool?

A cousin to drinkable yogurt, this Mexican “cultured dairy beverage” is perfect for packing as a snack or in lunchboxes. My kids LOVE them. Plus, there’s the whole novelty of it. While they might be popular and available everywhere in Mexico, you can’t find them just anywhere in the U.S.

I usually stock up at our Mexican grocers, which is sadly a half-hour drive from our house. Ah well, it’s worth the drive–I grab fresh-made corn tortillas, lime mayo, dried ancho chiles, pinguinos (I’ll have to post about those later–think less sugary, moist Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes). Ya-Cool come in packs of 5 small bottles with an easy to peel off aluminum lid. There are several different companies that make them and plenty of varieties to choose from. My kids’ favorite are the peach and pineapple. I like the regular which has sort of a mild, indistinguishable fruity flavor and strawberry (fresas).

According to the packaging, they are supposed to aid in digestion. I’m not really sure about the health claims, I just know they taste good. Perhaps Activia for youngsters?

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