Enriching Your Wallet and Your Health

lemon-basil-waterOunce for ounce, we spend a LOT more on beverages than we do on food. And I’m not even talking about alcoholic beverages. I’m talking about bottled water, bottled tea, bottled juice, pop, kombucha…all of it. While I like to splurge on fizzy mineral water once in a while – as much as I wish I had a mineral spring flowing through my backyard, I don’t, which means that I have to satisfy my hankering with bottled mineral water – the beverage that baffles me is flavored water. Most flavored waters are nothing but non-fizzy pop with lots of unpronounceable words in their ingredient lists. (Ever tried to wade through the label on a bottle of vitamin-enriched water? The fact that Glacéau is owned by Coca-Cola isn’t a coincidence.)

So rather than pay way-past-tap-water prices for flavored water made with chemical versions of flavors, try making your own flavored water with actual flavorings: extracts, fresh herbs, a squeeze or spritz of fresh juice, even dried edible flowers like hibiscus and rose petals. In terms of extracts, vanilla is my favorite, but nut extracts like almond and hazelnut are also fun to use. Citrus wedges are incredibly refreshing; fresh herbs like basil and mint and lemon verbena are, too. The only herbs I don’t care for in my water are members of the allium family, like scapes and chives. But perhaps you’re an alliophile (yup, I just made that up) or have vampire phobia and would like chive-flavored water. By all means, flavor away!

I opted to flavor this water with a lemon wedge and a sprig of fresh basil. I used standard tap water, but fizzy mineral water would be even more delightful. Or try making your own vanilla-orange soda by stirring vanilla and a splash of freshly squeezed orange juice into sparkling water. Fresh ginger juice (use a garlic press to crush a piece of fresh root – a little juice goes a long way) also pairs well with citrus. And for sheer visual appeal, steeped hibiscus flowers make a brilliantly beautiful red drink. Try adding a little vanilla and serving your hibiscus-laced water over ice. You could even stick edible flowers – nasturtiums, violets, pansies – and tiny umbrellas into it. Heck, if you have any Tiki mugs around, serve your flavored waters in those.

Enjoy!

Courtesy of The Cultured Cook.

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