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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DH says:
May 2, 2008, 11:20 am
I was a fruit juice addict over a year ago. I was probably drinking 48 to 64 oz of fruit juice a day. I stopped cold turkey & replaced it with ice water & Crystal Light. I probably drink about 90 oz of iced water a day now, and I have lost a gang of weight.
Tiffanita says:
May 2, 2008, 11:22 am
You've been tagged, read my page for the rules. :)
islandgirl550 says:
May 2, 2008, 11:25 am
I'm West Indian too Bella and I loves my rum too(Appleton, Myers, Sangters, and Wray & Nephew when the budget is tight.) I guess my favorite drink would be a Dirty Banana. Let me tell you how to make one: 3 ounces Tia Maria 3 ounces rum cream liqueur 3 ounces dark rum 6 ounces milk 2 ounces simple syrup 1 1/2 banana ice Directions 1. Fill blender 3/4 way with ice. 2. Add all the ingredients and blend well. Yum, yum, yum! says:
May 2, 2008, 11:43 am
Green Tea smoothies are great. I always keep a pitcher of green tea in the fridge and whenever I want something sweet I make one. I also keep several bags of frozen fruit in the freezer so that I can have variety. Make the green tea according to directions. Take out the tea bags at the recommended time so that the tea will not become bitter. (I learned that I can drink tea without sugar/sweetner when it doesn't taste like it NEEDS sweetening.) Put some fruit in a blender, add green tea. Blend away. You get a great refreshing low calorie drink. For another variety, make lemonade sweetened with maple syrup and add it to frozen fruit for a different type of smoothie.
Calming.Corners says:
May 2, 2008, 11:43 am
I am about 60% raw right now. I have this wonderful blend for breakfast and througout the morning. Many call it green lemonade or green cocktail. The ingredients are kale, romaine lettuce or celery, apples and lemons. I put it in a juicer and voila. Trust me it is so good and good for you. It really does taste like lemonade.
Toneahh says:
May 2, 2008, 12:10 pm
I am so glad you mentioned Ten Cane. I keep trying to spread the word about this stuff because it's great and Trini. My friend came to visit and I made him a drink with Ten Cane and ginger beer. He has since been trying to get it imported into Germany. Ten Cane is that rum that can be mixed with everything (except coke imo). Raise your glasses ladies and let’s sip to our bella-ness. Happy Friday
Ana says:
May 2, 2008, 12:15 pm
Here's what I do. I never have time in the morning to actually get all the ingredients together for a smoothie, so I do it at night and put it in the fridge/freezer. Then in the morning I blend it for, what, like a minute? Then I'm good to go! I love me some smoothies.
Patrick Jnr. says:
May 2, 2008, 1:07 pm
Right on the money little sister! You know I'll be in my usual spot later taking a few for you!
Farah Mendlesohn says:
May 2, 2008, 1:52 pm
Don't try to get over the banana reaction. It sounds as if you are on the edge of allergy territory. Most of the people I know who get the gag reaction move into projectile vomiting if they push it (I'm a tad sensitive to under-ripe bananas and can only eat ripe ones if mashed).
BK says:
May 2, 2008, 2:04 pm
I love this post.. I love smoothies and now that the weather is warmer they will replace my standard breakfast meal now.. I like to use lowfat vanilla yogurt, fruit (I use fresh or frozen by dole) and a lil oj to get it going.. sometimes I add a lil whey protein as well. Now the quest is to find a low calorie cocktail cause as an island gal myself I luv my rum punch but need to not partake in it as often LOL
toonsNtunes says:
May 2, 2008, 2:22 pm
Don't sweat the banana aversion. It's probably one of the worst fruits for you nutrition wise. Sure it has it's benefits but there are other fruits that are better. Either way, you have me jonesing for a smoothie now. Damn. And some rum cocktails. What about the old stand by of coconut rum and pineapple juice. Or is that sacrilege?
TX Girl says:
May 2, 2008, 2:43 pm
Iced Green Tea with Aloe Vera Juice, sweetened with Agave Nectar. Could not believe how refreshing this was yesterday.It's got to be good for me.
LeAnne says:
May 2, 2008, 3:34 pm
I have a hard time drinking water too. But, I would rather have water than that nasty Crystal Light. Yuck-o-rama!
Sabrina97 says:
May 2, 2008, 4:28 pm
I don't know if you tried the Wal-Mart brands of the to go packets. They taste almost exactly like the Crystal Light, but they are almost a dollar cheaper! The also have flavors that Crystal Light doesn't make in the to go... like fruit punch! I'm like you, flavor is the only way I can drink water. It's kind of sad, really. I would so much water and calories if I let go of the 50 Cent-water that's not really. As far as cocktails, I do love some Malibu or Pelican Bay and Minute Maid Guava Pineapple Juice. It's good and fruity! Yum!
berrybrowne says:
May 2, 2008, 4:47 pm
HUGE fan of crystal light. i hate drinking plain water, so i pour a tiny bit of powdered iced tea mix into my 32 oz container and enjoy.
HeavenLeiBlu says:
May 2, 2008, 7:11 pm
Wow, I'm most def in the minority. I LOVE me some water (con el limon, por supuesto), and I don't drink alcohol at all. Just never developed a taste for it. So I guess I'm no help here, LMAO.
sho nuff says:
May 2, 2008, 7:59 pm
i just tried the crystal light packets yesterday! i thought they tasted great but I had two and when i met my friend for drinks after work she asked me what color lipstick I had on.....i shudder to think if its doing that to my lips what its doing to my teeth? =( ps. i sho love this blog sd
Sumatra77 says:
May 2, 2008, 8:43 pm
I thought my brother was the only one who had a banana aversion. He's hated them since he was a kid and doesn't want to be around anyone eating them either. I was scared he'd pass it on to my niece because I LOVE them. Eat one almost every day. I love water too, especially with a slice of lemon, orange or cucumber.
Michelle says:
May 3, 2008, 7:17 am
I weaned myself from juice about ten years ago. Within a few months I dropped 20 pounds. Our bodies don't register liquid calories in the same way they register food calories. You can literally drink 1000s of liquid calories and not feel sustained -- which can lead to obesity. There's an interesting article on this subject in the Nutrition Action Newsletter (see October 2007). When I add juice to my smoothies I use it sparingly. Sometimes I use skim milk -- if my fruit is ripe and flavorful it's fine. That said, I drink a lot of water. It's the only thing that quenches my thirst. But I love smoothies (as a meal replacement). I use Stonyfield's plain nonfat yogurt. It's thick and creamy without the sugar and fat. Frozen mango chunks add great texture and flavor. Blueberries add antioxidants gorgeous color and flavor.
Michelle says:
May 3, 2008, 7:19 am
Like some of the other posters -- I also love iced tea (celestial seasonings red zinger with a splash of ginger syrup) is the bomb.
nyc/caribbean ragazza says:
May 3, 2008, 7:37 am
Love a nice cool glass of water BUT I also love smoothies (esp. with Mangoes) and Mojitos. Of course I do not drink the latter during the morning. ha.
ericka says:
May 3, 2008, 10:25 am
Warm Love Bella! I love making smoothies. We always have them on Saturdays and today I will be mixing lime-ade, and frozen mango,pineapple, and strawberries..It's so good. Here are a few links that I like from the sisters on ymib:
ericka says:
May 3, 2008, 10:34 am
You should also check this book out, I have it here and it is filled with great cocktail and smoothie concoctions!:) "Juices & Smoothies: Over 160 Healthy, Refreshing and Irresistible Drinks and Blends" by Suzannah Olivier and Joanna Farrow
Brandi says:
May 3, 2008, 11:19 am
Hey ladies. I love Crystal Light as much as the next girl. I started drinking it to replace soda. However, my main concern is that it is usally loaded with Aspartame. So if you can, try to pick up ones make with Splenda instead. The verdict is still out on whether or not Aspartame causes cancer and brain tumors but this Bella is not taking any chances.
Atiyah says:
May 3, 2008, 12:05 pm
I like the taste of Crystal Light but it gives me horrible headaches, so alas I just drink my water plain. {deep sigh}.
tabitha says:
May 3, 2008, 3:56 pm
Oh, girl! You are singing my tune! I am a hard-core soda addict and have been trying to quit for a while. I'm vegetarian, I eat organic, I work out 4 times/week-but then I'm addicted to soda! I'm working on it, y'all. As for bananas-they were the only thing my other couldn't eat up until her 9th month of being pregnant with me, and I wouldn't eat them as a baby, either. They're good for you, but so is flax seed, which is what I add to my smoothies.
willikat says:
May 4, 2008, 12:59 pm
i HATE bananas too. strawberries have just as much potassium, for all the people who tell you that you have to eat bananas for potassium. i have the same smell/texture issues.
regina says:
May 4, 2008, 1:24 pm
I love smoothies!!! But I never thought about the morning to work smoothie. My diet for the summer is pretty much just smoothies! I also have the water issue (I am working on that)!
Raycal says:
May 5, 2008, 9:14 am
Drinking Calories is a waste of time for me. I love food too much to waste my calories on a drink. I drink water all day, everyday now and I occasionally have Orange Juice or Apple Juice for Breakfast but other than that, my calories go into Food consumption. I am getting into smoothies though. I'm always looking for good smoothie recipes.... Please Share!
Neek says:
May 5, 2008, 9:29 am
Wes says:
May 6, 2008, 8:54 am
Thanks Bella! This post was very VERY informative- I'm gonna print it out!
Anaylli says:
May 7, 2008, 9:15 am
Yay! I love fruit vinegars! I'm so glad you've spotlighted them Afrobella!...I'm actually going to do post on them soon. I've even got my mother drinking them, and that's a feat, lol. Great post as always!
Irie Diva says:
May 7, 2008, 11:15 am
Bella you absolutely must try the juliana blue, its pinapple coconut rum goodness! pics and recipe: its my absolute favorite cocktail. and for the milky lovers you should try the almond hazel. its amaretto rum (almond flavored goodness!) with tia maria and creme....mmmm mmm mm
Dominique says:
May 8, 2008, 12:31 pm
I love smoothies also! I stopped drinking sodas a while ago and I feel better and lost some weight, which was an added bonus. Thanks for the information on the Jamba Juice books. Looks like it will have some great recipes. Haven't tried the Crystal Light yet, but I will. @Raycali-I agree about wasting calories on drinks. I would rather use mine for chocolate. lol It's getting ready to get really hot in Houston, so all these recipes are just in time.
Arlene says:
May 8, 2008, 2:11 pm
I'm a smoothie lovin' girl. Smoothies really are my drink of choice but since I am getting married soon and want to look great I've had to add lots of protein to my diet SO I've started adding chopped almonds to my smoothies. I know, it sounds weird at first but once you try it with berries and some vanilla yogurt - you'll be amazed at how good it tastes. To add more protein I add a bit of Vanilla protein powder as well. :-) Enjoy!
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