Liquid calories have always been my downfall. It’s been an issue my whole life — I’ve never enjoyed plain ol’ drinking water, and when I reach for a beverage, it always has to be some kind of flavored thing that’s probably bad for me. But I’m struggling to stay away from soda, and to lighten up on the liquid calories while still savoring the flavors I love. So because it’s hot out and I’m a thirsty bella, I’ll clue you all in to some of my favorite beverages these days.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so I love to kick things off healthy with a fruitalicious smoothie. Especially during the hot summer months, there’s nothing more refreshing. I blend up a big one, and take it with me to work.

Wanna know something cool about smoothies? They can be super good for you, loaded with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. And they can be a cheap breakfast addition as well — you don’t need to go to Smoothie King or Jamba Juice to make a refreshing blend. (Although, did you know that there’s a Jamba Juice book that includes a diet plan and tons of recipes?). A low-fat vanilla yogurt or kefir-based smoothie is always fabulous, but recently I’ve been just going for a total fruit blend. Here’s the thing. I can’t stand bananas.

I know, I know… they’re super good for you, filling, yadda yadda… it’s a smell and texture thing that goes back as far as I can remember. They gross me out more than almost anything. I can’t even be around someone when they’re eating one. It’s weird and sad — I know they’re good for me, so I wish I could get over my gag-reflex that kicks in the second I smell one. Anyway, because of the no-banana clause, my smoothies tend to revolve around berries, berry juices, mangoes, and peaches. Sounds expensive? But it isn’t really — especially if you buy frozen fruit. I usually go for Dole, which has excellent recipes, and they’ve also got organic fruit now for those of you who are strictly into organic stuff. Dole’s got great mixed frozen fruit bags, called Wildly Nutritious. The berry blend is so easy and delicious and ideal for smoothies, and the Tropical Fruit blend boosts immunity with pineapple, mango, golden kiwi, papaya and strawberries. All great smoothie fruits.

I make my smoothies right in the cup, with a hand blender. Add a little juice –love V8 Fusion if I can’t afford my favorite, favorite Kagome juices…. so wonderful, but kinda expensive, especially nowadays. Anyway, blend 2 parts fruit, a little juice to get it moving, or if you want to be especially low calorie, I hear a flavored water like Propel is a good mixer as well. Blend, blend, blend, and you’re good to go for the morning. It’s a great energy booster, filling, and a fabulous, lasting thirst quencher.

During the day I really do try to drink as much water as possible… but I need FLAVOR. I am still one of those idiots who feels like water’s medicinal. I haven’t yet learned to just love plain water — I know I need to, but I’m not there yet. I tend to steer towards flavored waters, which can be high in calories (as those new Propel vs. Vitamin Water ads reveal. Plus, 50 Cent’s admission in “I Get Money” has made me steer clear of the quarter-water-that-costs-two-bucks). I do try my damndest to drink plain water for most of the day, but at lunch I usually treat myself. My afternoon sip of choice is Sunkist, and over time my craving for the orange stuff has grown. I found myself wondering WHY I needed a Sunkist every day… and it turns out the stuff is laden with caffeine! Sneaky, sneaky Sunkist.

So what do I drink when I want to avoid high calorie, high caffeine sugary soda? Crystal Light. I must admit, I am a big fan. I grab those little ready-to-drink packets, and I am good to go. And now, Crystal Light is treading into Vitamin Water territory with their Crystal Light Enhanced flavors available with three different “benefits” — Immunity, Focus and Red Tea Mandarin, which is my favorite. It’s the first-ever Crystal Light made with Rooibos, which I adore. The flavor is yummy and not too fake-sweet, and I also really really liked the immunity flavor, which is cherry pomegranate. Mmmmm. I wonder how these would be in a smoothie? Probably pretty good. And how’s about Crystal Light cocktails? You don’t say!

Alright, let’s get down to after-work drinks!


I grew up in a family that enjoys a drink or three when the time is right, and that spirit is in me (so to speak). I enjoy a good cocktail, I do. I’ll gladly sip on some Henny and Apple Juice when the time is right. But being a Trini, I love rum — some great Trinidadian varieties are Royal Oak, 1919 (my favorite), and 10 Cane. And of course, there’s good ol’ Vat 19. I’ve gotten sick of the classic stand-by rum and coke, or even rum and ginger ale, so I’m on an ongoing (and quite enjoyable) mission to find a new delicious rum cocktail. Allow me to share a new favorite.

I discovered nirvana when my father-in-law introduced me to raspberry rum shrub. Oh wow. It’s an absolutely divine cocktail that he learned about via How’s Your Drink?, the cocktail column in the Wall Street Journal. Here’s the recipe courtesy of Cocktail Nerd

1 oz raspberry shrub syrup
2 oz dark rum
4 oz ginger ale

Oh so good. Super refreshing, sweet, a little tart, sparking, and delicious. But wait a minute — what’s shrub?

It’s this Colonial era drink concentrate made from fruit vinegar. Sounds weird, right? A vinegar-laced cocktail? But it’s just so different and sweetly-tart, and good. Just a splash makes a big difference. And you can also enjoy it sans booze, if you’re a teetotaler.

My father-in-law’s variety of choice is Tait Farm Shrub, which also comes in cherry, cranberry, ginger, and strawberry. I’m dying to try the other flavors — I bet a cherry or strawberry rum shrub is just as good!

One of the best, best signature cocktails I’ve ever had is the Basil 8 at hot celebrity chef Govind Armstrong’s restaurant Table 8 — muddled white grapes, basil, simple syrup, lime juice, and ginger ale. Fruit vinegar and basil are two surprisingly great cocktail additions, IMO.

Whether your drink of choice is intoxicating or not, let’s toast to a fabulous weekend, bellas — it’s the weekend! Do you have a new favorite drink? Tell me about it — I’m always on the lookout for a new taste that refreshes!

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