Did you know that the average American consumes 270 calories of added sugars each day? That’s about 17 teaspoons of sugar! Considering almost half of the added sugars in our diets come from beverages, it’s important to make healthy drink choices.
Try one or more of these ideas to make your home a kid-friendly drink zone:
Make water, low-fat or fat-free milk, or 100 percent juice an easy option in your home. Have ready-to-go containers filled with water or healthy drinks available in the refrigerator. Place them in lunch boxes or backpacks for easy access when kids are away from home. Depending on age, children can drink a half to 1 cup, and adults can drink up to 1 cup of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice each day.
Keep water readily available and try infusing with fresh fruit or herbs for a twist. Give your water a kick by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, grapefruit or orange. Make it bubbly and fruity by adding a splash of 100 percent juice to plain sparkling water.
Fuel your day with a flavored milk recipe. Just combine ingredients in a blender and puree until mixed. Or, simply mash any ingredients with a fork, add milk and spices, and whisk together until smooth. Very Berry Milk: 1/4 cup of fresh or frozen berries and 1 cup of low-fat (1 percent) or fat-free milk. Peanut Butter Milk: 1 tablespoon peanut butter, a half ripe banana and 1 cup of low-fat (1 percent) or fat-free milk.
Show your kids how to take the chill off by having them help you prepare one of these warm and healthy beverages:
Hot apple orange cider: 4 cups of 100 percent apple juice, 2 cups of water, one orange sliced and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Combine apple juice, water, orange slices and cinnamon in a cooking pot and bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat and let simmer for one hour. From there, simple pour a cup and enjoy! To save leftovers, make sure to refrigerate within two hours.
Warm milk with a cinnamon twist: Heat 2 cups of low-fat (1 percent) or fat-free milk, stir in 2 teaspoons of honey, and add a dash of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick. Please note that honey is not safe for children under 1 year of age.
Who knew healthy drinks could be so much fun? For more ideas to make your home a healthy drink zone, visit flesny.org and be sure to look for Finger Lakes Eat Smart New York nutrition educators at food pantries and other community events near you.
Maggie McHugh is a senior nutritionist with Finger Lakes Eat Smart NY at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wayne County.