When Life Gives You Lemons...

It's already getting hot in Texas. And I'm not too thrilled about it. To survive you need to crank up the AC, wear light-colored clothes, swim frequently and stay hydrated!

And even though I am not a soda drinker, water just doesn't always cut it for me...yawn. But a glass of cold lemonade definitely does the trick. It really quenches your thirst and tastes delicious.

Yes, there's plenty of packaged lemonades you can buy in the stores.

Or you can choose from a frozen concentrate in a sticky can or even powdered lemonades.

But the truth lies in this...if it's yummy and processed, how good can it be for you? The answer is "not that good." 

Modified cornstarch, glycerol ester of rosin (food additives) and the dreaded HFCS aka high fructose corn syrup. And with a whopping 28 grams of sugar per serving, you might as well live it up and have a soda.

The good news is there are homemade alternatives that are easy to make, taste like real lemonade and are good for you. And since this blog is dedicated to seeking and creating healthy options to foods we love, homemade lemonade seems like a natural fit.

As an added bonus, research shows there are many health benefits to lemons. For example, drinking lemonade may help prevent kidney stones. Drink a glass of water with lemon juice in the morning and it will help to cleanse the liver. Lemons are full of Vitamin C and are thought to prevent infections. They are also are a good diuretic.

David loves lemonade and when he found out how good it is for you, he started making it all the time, especially when it's hot outside.

His recipe is simple. Freshly squeezed lemon juice. Spring water. And a natural sweetener such as Truvia or Sun Crystals. Three simple and natural ingredients.

Add a sprig of mint, lavender or basil and you've got a summer beverage that's both healthy and delicious. Make a simple syrup with water, sweetener of choice and steep some herbs from the garden and you've got a spectacular lemonade (see second recipe below).

Oh, and top it off with a shot of vodka, and well, I bet you can taste it already.

Buen provecho!

The Cowgirl Gourmet

Print recipe

Our local gourmet grocery store, Central Market, sells freshly squeezed juices such as orange, grapefruit, tangerine and other seasonal juices as well as lemon and lime. Because it's easier, David likes to use this lemon juice. But please don't go and buy that stuff in a green bottle that claims it's lemon juice, because it's not. Either use freshly squeezed from the store or squeeze your own lemons. Of course, you could also replace the lemons with limes and make limeade. As for the sweetener, you could also use stevia, agave nectar, Sun Crystals or whatever you like, but be sure to adjust the amount of sweetener according to your taste.

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup water, preferrably spring water and definitely not tap water unless you live in New York City where the water is great

For one pitcher of lemonade:
8 ounces (1 cup) lemon juice
32 ounces (4 cups) water
8 single serving Truvia packets

Add lemon juice and water to pitcher and stir. Add in approximately 8 single serving packages of Truvia or to taste.

Serve over ice and enjoy.

Herb Infused Lemonade
The Cowgirl Gourmet minimally modified this recipe from Seattlest

To make herbal lemonade, you’ll need a few lemons, 5-6 springs of fresh herbs (such as mint, lemon balm, lemon thyme or lemon verbana; use 4 sprigs of thyme or basil; and use 3 sprigs of lavender; or drop in a chunk of fresh ginger) sugar of choice (Truvia, agave nectar, Sun Crystals). Bring equal parts water and sugar to a boil (a cup each should make enough for a nice jug of lemonade), shut off the heat and add your herbs. Cover and let sit 10 minutes. Taste, let steep longer if necessary (some herbs will start to turn bitter, so it’s good to check every few minutes). Strain out the herbs and let the syrup chill.

Once the simple syrup is chilled, mix with freshly squeezed lemon juice (see recipe above for ratio) and water.

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