We’ve all been told at one time or another that we should drink more water. Maybe your doctor mentioned it during an appointment, an athletic coach said something at practice, or a health teacher covered the benefits of water and body function in class. It could be something as simple as a parent telling you to drink more water in order to get you to quit drinking all the soda. Whatever the source, the bottom line is water is good for you.
But what if you really hate the taste of water. Infused water is a tasty alternative.
I’m going to confess right now that prior to writing this article, the extent of my infused water experience was adding a lemon slice to my water. In order to make this article more interesting, informative and to satisfy my own interests, however, I looked to Google and Pinterest. The wealth of information was mind-boggling.
I naively thought that I could quickly find a few recipes to try, write about and recommend. I should have known better. Not only did I get buried with ideas on what fruit and herbs work best for infused water, but recipes for infused waters can be specific to detoxification, weight loss, cleanse, stress relief, headaches, inflammation, heartburn, energy boost and the list goes on. Covering all of the various combinations and claimed benefits are space and time prohibitive, so I’m going to leave that search up to you and cover the basics and tips I found useful.
Water: Use cold or room temperature water. Hot water will cause fruit to fall apart faster and can compromise nutrients. If you’re craving the fizz of soda, but not the caffeine or calories, sparkling water is a good alternative to plain water.
Containers: A glass container is recommended. I like mason jars because they’re portable, but a glass pitcher can also be used. Plastic or metal could be used, but depending on the ingredients used to infuse the water, it may have a reaction to the metal or plastic and add an odd taste.
Preparation: Citrus and fruits like strawberries can be sliced thick, thin, halved, or quartered. Because they are softer, they flavor the water faster. Fruits like apples and pears need to be sliced thinly because they take longer to release their flavor.
Use a muddler or wooden spoon to crush herbs like cilantro, basil and mint to release their oils. Rosemary, ginger root and lemongrass should also be crushed.
To muddle herbs or fruit, place the fruit or herbs in the bottom of a glass container and then press the muddler or wooden spoon on the fruit and herbs using a twisting motion to extract juices from the fruit or oil from the herbs. Muddling ingredients accelerates the release of flavors.
Soak Time: Water should be infused at room temperature for no more than two hours. In order to prevent bacterial growth, water infused for longer than two hours should be refrigerated.
Berries, citrus fruits, cucumbers and mint flavor water immediately. Harder fruits like apples and pears or herbs like cinnamon, rosemary and ginger root need to infuse overnight in the refrigerator.
Unpeeled citrus tends to make the water taste bitter after four hours, so peeled citrus should be used if soaking for longer periods.
Benefits: The warmer weather has been a reminder that I need to drink more water, and adding fruit or citrus my glass just increases my nutritional benefit. In addition, according to Joshua Gowin, Ph.D., of Psychology Today, “Dehydration can impair short-term memory function and the recall of long-term memory.” Finals will be here before we know it, and increase in brain function is just another reason to drink more water.
In addition, according to the Center for Disease Control, “Substituting water for one 20-ounce sugar sweetened soda will save you about 240 calories.” Adding fruit or citrus to your water is naturally going to add a few calories to water, but in the long run, it’s still going to be less calories and better for you than soda or blended drinks.
Hydration is important. The combination options for infused water are abundant. If you have a favorite combination, share it on The Mainstream Facebook page. Cheers!
4 cups water
6 mint leaves
Place mint leaves in the bottom of a glass container and crush with the end of a wooden spoon or a muddler. Add lime slices, water and ice. The lime and mint will infuse flavor in the water almost immediately.
Suggested Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs, Spices and Pairings for Infusing Water.
Vegetables and Fruits:
apples • limes • blueberries • blackberries • watermelon • cantaloupe • carrots • celery • lemons • cucumbers • fennel • strawberries • grapes • nectarines • jalapenos • kiwi • cherries • beets • mangoes • honeydew • oranges • peaches • pears • pineapples • plums • raspberries • grapefruit • tangerines
Spices and Herbs:
lavender • rosemary • parsley • ginger root • cloves • cinnamon • basil lemongrass • mint • cardamom • thyme • cilantro
Mixed berries or citrus are always tried and true options, but here are a few
Other pairings to consider:
Fennel and pear
Cucumber + lime + strawberry + mint
Jalapeño, cucumber and mint
Lime, basil and ginger root
Mint, watermelon and honeydew
Raspberry, lemon and rosemary
Blueberry, orange and basil
Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and orange