Monday, March 25, 2013

Basil and Lemon Iced Beverage (Motivational Monday)

It's officially Spring (although we woke up to 3 inches of snow this morning). Have you started to think about what plant in your garden?  If you don't have a garden, perhaps you are thinking about planting some tomatoes or a small herb garden (after all, you can grow herbs in your kitchen!).  One of my favorite herbs (one which sadly we've never grown before) is basil.  It may not be one of the 10 herbs that can aid in weight loss, but in my opinion it can definitely be a weight loss herb.  Maybe not because of any miraculous component that it contains, but instead because of all the delicious recipes (that are also light) that can be made with basil.  Wondering what those recipes are?  You'll just wait for this summer, I'll be posting basil recipes all summer long. I can't wait.  And I'm starting today, with this Basil and Lemon Ice Beverage.

No, this is not an extra dirty martini.  I just think drinks are more fun served in martini glasses.

Why am I posting this, you ask?  Well, for a few reasons.  First, I want you to get excited for my future basil recipes.  And second, I feel like spring and summer are the perfect time to start educating people about the importance of reducing added sugars, specifically in their beverages (after all, this study linked 180,000 global deaths on sugary drinks....WOWZA!).  Many of us crave iced coffee beverages or colas when it gets hot outside, but instead of grabbing for something with sugar it's a good idea to have a plan in mind to prevent you from drinking your sugar quota for the day, in one sitting (btw, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 24 grams of added sugar for women, and 36 grams for men, per day.  Read more here and here).  One of my favorite things to drink is a simple naturally flavored, 0 calorie seltzer water as a substitute to sweetened drinks or boring ice water.

We all know that added sugars are popping up in the most unlikely places in our food supply (we can't say that desserts and sugary drinks are the only sources of our added sugar.  Heck, those "nutrition bars" that are so popular can sometimes have more than a day's worth of added sugars!).  Many of the people I work with are addicted to added sugars that come from "healthier" drinks like tea.  Ok, they aren't healthy, but many people think teas are healthy, and forget that they can often be loaded with sugar.  In fact, many of the bottled teas on the shelf can have just as much sugar as sodas and pops. 

39 grams of added sugar in this peach tea.  Ummmm, that's more than a day's worth of added sugar. You may as well drink a cola!  Trust me, this is not good for you (unless it's an every once in a while treat, OR unless you manage to fit it into your diet, which I suppose can be done, as long as you aren't getting any more added sugars throughout your day.  Yikes. My suggestion? Get the unsweetened bottled teas, or brew your own.)

If you need a refreshing (and light) drink, try making your own.  I got this recipe from a customer at the grocery store where I work.  She said she had just received a Vita Mix for her birthday, and this recipe was in the cookbook that came with it.  I don't have a Vita Mix, but I thought I could try it with my Magic Bullet.  I'm sure it wasn't the same, but it was certainly refreshing!

Basil and Lemon Iced Beverage
Makes one serving

1/2 cup chopped ice
2 cups water
Splash of lemon/lime or plain soda water (optional)
1 lemon (all the juice and 1 tsp. zest)
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 tsp. stevia (or other sugarless sweetener)


Blend in a Magic Bullet, blender or VitaMix.  Blend until the beverage is to your desired thinness (I liked mine with a little bit of the basil floating to the top....)
Optional: Add a splash of soda water for some extra fizz and pizzazz! 

Nutrition Facts
1.5 grams sugar (from lemon, not added)
~20 calories

Some of the basil pieces floated to the top, but I sort of liked that texture in my drink.  This was so refreshing.

Ok, let's get back to the garden talk.  Nick and I have been thinking about our garden and have decided on only planting four things this year.  Yeah, last year our garden got a little overgrown....

This year we're keeping it simple;

Butternut Squash 
(to make soups, sauces, and to stuff with delicious foods)

(to make zuchini noodles, zucchini boats, and to grill on our gigantic outdoor grill)

(for bruschetta, caprese salads, summer salads, and salsas)

(let's face it, basil makes everything taste better in the summer!)

Oh yeah, did I mention we will also be growing corn and spaghetti squash? Yeah, Nick seems to think we live on a farm.

QUESTION:   Do you have any simple refreshing spring/summer drinks to share? Have you thought about your garden yet? What are you planting?

Thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd

NOTE: I love comments!  But, be sure to come back to read any replies to questions or comments, as they do not go directly to your e-mail.


  1. Hi Gina! I love the look of this drink! It's perfect for the huge amounts of basil we have in our herb garden (and I would totally serve it in a martini glass, too!). We have a garden for the first time this year, so we plan to plant peppers, tomatoes, melons, greens, more herbs, sunflowers, and more I've forgotten. We're pretty ambitious!

    It's incredible how much added sugar is in packaged foods and drinks - people are always so surprised when I tell them. Thanks for sharing!

  2. So pretty and refreshing! I have always been an unsweetened beverage drinker & those sweetened teas in the store drive me crazy~it's seriously hard to find a unsweetened brand! When I'm not drinking plain ol' water, I like seltzer water or Pelligrino, and another favorite treat is Ayala's Herbal water-especially Lemongrass Vanilla mint-no sweetener at all, but a nice alternative to plain water. I'm excited about summer gardening, since I finally have my rooftop garden. I'm thinking basil and tomatoes too, plus more greens, peppers, and other herbs. Have a wonderful week!

  3. This looks lovely. I've been on a sparkling water with lemon kick lately. So much so I'm wondering if I should invest in a soda stream. Hmm...
    So looking forward to planting our deck containers and seeing gardens in bloom. Happy Spring Gina!!

    1. I'll be honest, I've thought about the soda stream too, even though I HATED it when it first came out!! Obviously I wouldn't use the syrups and stuff :) Well....not a lot. haha

  4. I have a soda stream that my sister-in-law bought for me. I love it. As you say, I don't use the syrups that came with it, but today I added my favorite hibiscus tea. Totally refreshing. The only thing to take into account is the cartridges. You'll need to be able to refill them. Lucky for me I can at our local Target. Fantastic post Gina. Definitely sharing this one. :)

  5. Hello! I stumbled upon your blog as I was exploring some of the blogs my own blog's readers follow, and I just loved this post. I tend to drink plain water but every once in a while having a relatively healthy drink with some flavor is nice. I'd like to invite you to participate in my blog's link-up party to celebrate the end of National Nutrition Month - feel free to check it out and share one of the delicious, healthy recipes you've been enjoying this past month!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jess! I will definitely check out the link :)