Monday, May 21, 2012

Summery Sugar Free Ice Tea

It feels like summer is in full swing around here the past few days.  Temperatures jumping into the 80's.  I love it. I often tell my husband I think the stork dropped me in the wrong state.  I am a warm weather girl.  I love the heat.  I don't mind that we have no A.C. in the peak of the summer.  Bring it on!  

I realize this isn't everyone's consitution. My girls love being outdoors but even today as the temperature soared into the high 80's, they wanted to play inside more than outside.  They wanted out of the sun and the heat.  Even though the temperature in our house was 86 at one point, it certainly felt a little cooler than on our very sunny deck. 

As the heat comes on full force I continute to try to find ways to keep my girls cool and hydrated.  Now my first choice in hydration is always water.  I think it's so crucial to get kiddos used to drinking water when they are little.  Its interesting that so many adults "hate" drinking water.  Instead they rely on juice, coffee, pop, and flavored waters.  Things that over time will dehydrate the body and can cause a list of ailments, including constipation.  If kiddos become used to carrying a water bottle when they are little the habit will most likely roll over into adult-hood.  I encourage parents to keep the juice boxes and glasses of milk to a minimum and really up the water intake. One of the best ways to do this? Be a role model for your kiddos.  Let them see mom and dad drinking water. 

One of our favorite ways to add some hydration to a hot summer afternoon is by making Sun Tea.  When I was little my mom made the best sun tea, or at least that was my opinion.  It was a sign of summer.  I still love the nostalgia of a glass jar sitting on the deck preparing one of my favorite beverages.  Now my mom's tea was loaded with lots of sugar, which is surely why I loved it so much.  But good news. I have found ways to make a dynamite Sun Tea with out the heaps of sugar. And the even better news? My girls love it. 

 When making Sun Tea, I choose to stick to herbal teas.  This way they are naturally caffeine free.  I don't know about you, but my girls certainly don't need an extra caffeine boost.  They have endless energy reserves the way it is. 

Herbal teas contain a whole array of nutrients, antixoidants, and minerals.  Not only is Sun Tea so tasty to drink but it's really nourishing for the body.  Teas can be incredibly healing for the body.  Peppermint tea can aid in digestion.  Ginger tea can help if feeling nauseated. Herbal teas come in variety of flavors and offer a wide range of  health benefits.  I prefer to buy loose leaf teas in bulk.  It is a great way to experiment with a variety of tastes and even mix and match flavors.  Tea bags will work as well, and you can even mix and match with different flavors of your favorite tea bags.  The fun is in the experimenting.  And really you can't go to wrong with a cold, refreshing glass of sun tea on a hot summer afternoon.

To make Sun Tea, simply add loose leaf tea to a large tea ball and place in a glass gallon jar.  If using tea bags, add 4-5 bags.  Let sit in the sun for several hours until it is dark and looks like a delicous tea.   The sun does the work for you!  Next step is to simply refridgerate until cold.  I like to start brewing my Sun Tea in the morning because when the intense heat kicks in I am prepared with a refreshing glass of tea.  I like to use flavored teas because it creates amazing tastes and decreases the need for sugar.  Lemon. Blueberry. Mango. Orange. The flavors are potent and create a delicous glass of tea.

Another trick is to add fresh mint or stevia to the gallon jar.  Another option is to add sliced lemons or other fresh fruit. This helps create extra deliciousness in your cup!

Then sit back and sip your Sun Tea while reading a book and enjoy the warmth of the sun!

Cheers to Ice Tea!

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