Stay­ing cool can be fat­ten­ing

Nat­u­ral fruit drinks are the way to go

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FOOD | COMMUNITY - BY MELISSA D’ARA­BIAN

Balmy weather calls for icecold sweet treats; fruity drinks are a nat­u­ral part of the sum­mer­time pool­side land­scape. But those drinks are of­ten loaded with sugar, boast­ing 40 or more grams in even a rea­son­ably-sized drink.

Worse, the “fruiti­ness” is of­ten from flavoured syrup in­stead of the ac­tual fruit, which likely trans­lates into high­fruc­tose corn syrup and food dyes. Even “nat­u­ral” frozen fruit drinks of­ten have a bunch of added sug­ars. (Re­mem­ber: White sugar is nat­u­ral. It doesn’t mean your body needs a ton ex­tra.)

The good news is that mak­ing your own fruity drinks is in­cred­i­bly easy. I grew up in Tuc­son, Ari­zona, drink­ing “aguas fres­cas,” which trans­lates into “fresh waters.” Mex­i­can aguas fres­cas are made from fresh fruit blended or mashed into cold wa­ter and ice.

Liv­ing near the bor­der, we would peel fra­grant man­goes, and scoop the chunky sweet flesh into a blender with a cup of wa­ter, ice, a splash of lime juice and (yep!) a lit­tle sugar and we’d blend into a slushy treat that de­fined hot Ari­zona sum­mers for me.

Now that I have four daugh­ters of my own, I whip up my up­dated ver­sion of the agua fresca of my child­hood. I blend up a cup of al­most any sum­mer fruit cut into cubes - I love can­taloupe, mango or straw­ber­ries - with a cup of cold wa­ter, a cup of ice, and the se­cret to a great icy tex­ture: a cup of frozen wa­ter­melon cubes.

The frozen wa­ter­melon blends up icy and thick, and gives the drink body that doesn’t melt away as quickly as ice. And, the blended frozen wa­ter­melon helps keep the agua fresca from sep­a­rat­ing while you sip. Plus, wa­ter­melon is re­fresh­ing, and mixes eas­ily with all the other sum­mer fruits, al­low­ing them ac­tu­ally to be the star of the drink.

I skip the white sugar al­to­gether, squeez­ing in a lit­tle orange juice in­stead of the tra­di­tional lime juice - it gives the drink just enough tang and a tiny touch of sweet­ness. (But, if you want to add a spoon­ful of sugar or agave, you’ll still come out ahead of most overly sweet pre­pared drink mixes.) My last agua fresca trick: Pick a con­trast­ing-col­ored in­gre­di­ent to add in the last 10 sec­onds of blend­ing, so you get pretty flecks of colour (and flavour), such as blue­ber­ries, mint or basil leaves or even chopped cu­cum­ber.

ICY AGUA FRESCA

Serv­ings: 4

Start to fin­ish: 5 min­utes

1 cup frozen seed­less wa­ter­melon cubes (about 1-inch each)

1 cup straw­ber­ries, stemmed and halved (or other sum­mer fruit, like mango or can­taloupe cubes)

1 cup ice-cold wa­ter

1 cup ice cubes

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 ta­ble­spoons chopped fresh mint leaves (or other con­trast­ing in­gre­di­ent like blue­ber­ries, chopped cu­cum­ber, or basil)

Place the frozen wa­ter­melon, the straw­ber­ries, wa­ter, ice and orange juice in the blender and blend un­til al­most smooth. Add the chopped mint leaves and blend just un­til mixed in, with vis­i­ble flecks, about 10 sec­onds.

Chef’s Note: For a creamy treat, add a ta­ble­spoons of vanilla yo­gurt be­fore blend­ing.

Nu­tri­tion in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 32 calo­ries; 2 calo­ries from fat; 0 g fat (0 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg choles­terol; 1 mg sodium; 8 g car­bo­hy­drate; 1 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 1 g pro­tein.

On­line: http://www.melis­sadara­bian.net

AP PHOTO

This June 19, 2017 photo shows glasses of icy agua fresca in Coron­ado, Calif. This dish is by Melissa d’Ara­bian and it is a great way to keep cool dur­ing the sum­mer.

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