I am having lots of fun with fruit and herb infused waters this summer. For a recent brunch I hosted, I made up a big pitcher of water infused with strawberries and lemon balm. The one you see here features peaches with basil and lemon balm (I’ve got SO much lemon balm in my garden!).
I’ve also been dreaming up many other combinations, like pineapple with lavender and plums with anise hyssop, that I plan to try soon. If you are like me and don’t love drinking plain water, infused waters are a nice option.
Infused waters are great because they add subtle, pleasing flavors to the water your body needs. They are also naturally sweet, though much less so than juice. The icing on the cake? They are beautiful to look at…
…and they’re so easy to make: Just slice your fruit and pile it into a jar or pitcher (I used 6 peaches in my half gallon glass jar), add a bunch of herbs, and top off with water. The more fruit and herbs you use, the more flavorful your water will be. Allowing it to hang out in the refrigerator for an hour or more before you drink it will maximize the flavor, as well.
I often add a pinch of high quality salt (my personal preference is Celtic Sea Salt) to my infused waters. Sodium is an essential electrolyte and you lose some when you sweat (by way of exercise or very, very hot weather). It’s been a scorcher of a summer so I think the salt is really beneficial.
When you are ready to drink your infused water, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer to filter out floating bits of fruit and herbs. When you’ve used all the water in the jar, fill it up again. Keep refilling the jar until the fruit and herbs don’t have much flavor left. You can eat the fruit at this point, but it will be pretty bland: I usually just add mine to the compost, along with the “spent” herbs.
While we are on the subject of water, I’d like to address the “you must drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily” directive. We’re all familiar with this advice, of course, but do we really need to abide by it? My feeling is that it makes no sense that everyone should drink the same amount of water. Eight glasses may be the ideal recommendation for someone, but it may not be ideal for you. Different sized people need different amounts of water. Moreover, your water needs aren’t necessarily static: they can change day to day depending on your activity level, the climate, the amount of water-containing foods and drinks you consume, etc.
As part of a healthy lifestyle, I believe it’s important to find balance with water consumption. Many people either drink too little or drink too much. Hydrate yourself throughout the day and listen to your body. If you are in touch with your body, your body lets you know when you are thirsty. When you are thirsty, you should drink! Don’t drink water when you are hungry to fill you up so you won’t eat a lot, though- that’s not useful. It may even be harmful. When you are hungry, your body wants food…not water. Not drinking water isn’t healthy, but guzzling glass after glass of water when you are not at all thirsty is not exactly a healthy habit, either.
If you eat lots of fruits and veggies, drink wholesome smoothies and other healthy beverages like kombucha and milk (whole and raw, if possible), and even some coffee and/or tea throughout the day, you are taking in plenty of water. It’s unlikely that you need eight 8-ounce glasses of plain water every day on top of all of these foods and drinks (unless you live in a very hot climate and/or spend hours a day exerting yourself physically)! Keep an eye on your urine. If it’s dark, you are probably not drinking enough water. If it’s very pale or clear, you may be drinking too much water. When you are properly hydrated, your urine will still have a little (yellow) color to it.
I recommended drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning in my One Simple Change blog series and I have a chapter on that topic (and hydration, in general) in my book, as well. I think water first thing is a good practice, since your body’s been fasting while you sleep. I personally wake up feeling thirsty and I look forward to my morning water.
I recently discovered a health writer named Matt Stone and his thoughts on water and metabolism really got me thinking. Matt cautions against over consumption of water (particularly on an empty stomach) because it dilutes the salt and sugar in your cells, and this may damage your metabolism. So, if your metabolism is not quite up to snuff, I would NOT drink water on an empty stomach when you wake up, and I’d probably back off on the plain water throughout the day, as well, at least for a while. You can learn more about how to identify low metabolism and what to do about it (the suggestions may surprise you) in Matt’s book Eat for Heat.