Warm days and cold drinks are meant for each other. As the body turns up its air-conditioning system (perspiration) so you don’t overheat, it sends “rehydrate” signals to the brain. You think, “Wow, I could really go for a cold drink!”
So what will that thirst-quencher be? For pure refreshment at rock-bottom cost, you can’t beat water, says Jane Andrews, M.S., R.D., Nutrition and Product Labeling Manager for Wegmans Food Markets. “It’s cheaper than anything else you could drink, it’s environmentally friendly with no packaging to dispose of, and it has no ‘empty’ calories – in fact, no calories at all! Carrying a reusable water bottle makes it convenient to stay hydrated on the go.”
But what if you’d like a little more fun or flavor in your cool drink now and then, without adding many calories? “There are so many alternatives to sugary drinks like sodas or sweetened iced tea or coffee, which can pack as many calories into a bottle as regular soda,” Andrews says. In the bubbly-fizzy corner, think diet sodas, sparkling mineral water, or unsweetened seltzers spiked with natural flavors such as vanilla, lemon-lime or pomegranate.
Spritzers can also be a sensible refreshment for the whole family, Andrews points out. “These days pediatricians talk with parents about liquid calories in beverages, even juice,” she says. “Juice is a natural, wholesome food, in the appropriate amount. One juice glass a day (6 ounces, a little over half a cup) is about the right amount. To make spritzers yourself, mix juice half and half with plain or sparkling water – and the bubbles make it more fun.”
For a ready-to-go spritzer, Wegmans Sparkling Fruit Juices have just arrived in the juice aisle of stores. The 8.4-ounce cans come in a four-pack for $2.99 and provide 100% of the daily Vitamin C requirement. The 50% varieties (half juice, half sparkling water) offer the best of two worlds, Andrews says: “Each of the 50% cans has half a cup of juice. You get the nutritional benefits of pure juice, plus a whole day’s worth of Vitamin C, but take in fewer calories.”
Wegmans Category Merchant Jim Gaylord, adds “We think customers will really enjoy the flavor combinations: Pomegranate-Cranberry and Peach-Mango are available in 50% juice, and Apple-Raspberry, Tropical, and Orange-Tangerine are each 100% juice.”
Like iced tea? “It’s a terrific choice,” says Andrews, a tea-drinker herself. Unsweetened tea delivers healthful antioxidants with no calories or artificial sweeteners or colors. Brew your own or choose from bottled brands, and add a touch of sweetness without extra calories by using an artificial sweetener.
“Coconut water is also very popular, and it’s easy to see why,” says Andrews. “It’s low in calories, packed with more potassium than a medium banana, and has a light, refreshing flavor.”
One more big category for summertime thirst-quenchers is flavor enhancers for water, like a new liquid product that comes in a little squeeze bottle, Kraft’s MiO. “These types of products make sense for lots of families. They come in many flavors and are low in cost and calories – so much refreshment, for so little money,” Andrews says.