Thursday, June 9, 2011

5 Make-at-Home Natural Energy Drinks

Recently, followers of the health and nutrition world got some not-too-revelatory news: Sports and energy drinks are not good for children.

According to a study in Pediatrics, these commercial beverages contain excessive amounts of caffeine and "empty" calories that can detract from a healthy, well-balanced diet. Their recommendation? Give your kids water instead. (Oh, and low-fat or fat-free milk are OK, too — although slightly caloric, they're a good source of calcium and vitamin D.)

Not to diss on water, but aren't we overlooking something here? What about natural energy drinks — those made with fruits, vegetables and other ingredients that are rich in energy-boosting vitamins and minerals? Think smoothies featuring potassium-packed bananas or green juices made with protein-rich ingredients like spirulina or wheatgrass. If you're going to eliminate sports and energy drinks entirely, these natural, make-at-home alternatives at least introduce a little variety and flavor to the mix (not to mention they are no doubt a better value than store-bought brands). While kids might not be interested in some of these, they're good ideas for us grown people, too.

Check out the recipes below for some inspiration.

Energy Smoothie
This tasty drink features the energy-boosting benefits of bananas and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Both are good sources of potassium which helps fight against fatigue and enable's the body's enzymes to moderate energy production. Plus the inclusion of silken tofu gives the smoothie a nice, thick texture and boosts the protein content. (The touch of sweetness from the strawberries and honey doesn't hurt either.)

Easy Energy Smoothie
As in the previous recipe, this smoothie combines orange juice, bananas, and strawberries, but for an extra boost adds flaxseed oil. It helps slow down the release of fruit sugar to the bloodstream so that you get a long, even supply of energy.

Tea-Licious Smoothie
Tea drinkers should try this recipe, the refreshing combination of peppermint and citrus is the perfect low-calorie and low-fat pick-me-up.

  • 1 cup brewed peppermint tea, room temperature or chilled
  • ½ cup lemon sorbet
  • 1 ½ cups fresh orange segments, frozen
  • ½ cup fresh grapefruit segments, frozen
Combine the chilled tea and sorbet in a blender. Add the orange and grapefruit segments. Blend until smooth.

Adapted from "Smoothies: 50 Recipes for High-Energy Refreshment" by Mary Corpening Barber, Sara Corpening, and Lori Lyn Narlock:

Add a small amount of spirulina powder — a good source of essential amino acids and B vitamins — to naturally potassium-rich coconut water to make this simple energy drink. (Fair warning: Spirulina may be a bit of an acquired taste.)

Big Gatorade drinker? This recipe approximates the ratio of ingredients that makes the popular energy drink so effective.

- Maryse Chevriere, The Daily Meal
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