According to Melly Martinez of Mexico in My Kitchen, agua frescas (literally “cool water” in Spanish) are everyday beverages served in Mexican households and are often adapted based on what fruit is freshest and easiest to find at the moment—they're endlessly versatile and can be customized to your own preferences. And because agua frescas are booze-free and filled with water and hydration-friendly fruits, they're a no-brainer drink for blazing summer days.
- Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, registered dietitian and nationally-recognized food, nutrition, and wellness expert with a private nutrition counseling practice
“During the summer, people are more conscious of the need to hydrate," says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, plant-focused nutrition and wellness expert and author of Sugar Shock. “Just how much fluid you need depends on a few things. The recommendations are 11 cups per day for women and 16 cups for men, but those can increase when it's hot out, you're exercising, or both.”
Cassetty says that water-rich foods like watermelon, tomatoes, and soup can supply about 20 percent of your daily fluid requirements, meaning you’ll still need to sip around nine cups a day for women and 11 for men. Since the CDC reports that the average U.S. adult only drinks five cups of water per day, Cassetty says that most people could use more fluids in their daily diets, and an agua fresca is a refreshing and fun alternative to water that can appeal to all ages.
While agua frescas are often thought of as sweet and fruity, Nancy Lopez of Mexican Made Meatless says that the drink can also include vegetables, nuts, and/or seeds for a seriously nutrient-rich—and delicious—sip. In fact, she loves adding chia seeds to her pineapple agua fresca recipe to up the nutritional ante (omega-3s! protein! fiber!) while also giving the beverage a nice texture. Even better: This drink requires three ingredients and is free from added sugar. Plus, Lopez says that you can also zhush it up with a sparkling water floater for a bit of fizz. Check out her recipe below.
1 1/4 pounds pineapple chunks
1 small lime juiced, optional
5 cups water, divided and add more or less according to your taste
1 Tbsp chia seeds, optional
1. Prepare the fresh pineapple (if not purchasing pre-cut), place it in the blender, pour in or squeeze in the lime juice, then pour in a little more than half of the water called for in the recipe. Blend until completely smooth.
2. Pour the chia seeds into a large pitcher, then place a colander over it to strain the blended pineapple juice. Use a spatula or spoon to help you squeeze out as much of the juice as possible. If you have to, work in small batches to avoid a mess.
3. Discard the leftover pulp then pour the remaining cold water into the pitcher and mix well. Place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or until ready to use. You’ll allow the chia seeds to fully hydrate and the drink to further chill.
4. Serve chilled and over plenty of ice cubes. You can decorate with a slice of lime and a few pieces of pineapple, if desired.
Cassetty adds that it’s important to keep your sugar intake in mind to ensure you don’t exceed the daily limit of six teaspoons per day for women and nine for men (yes, that includes honey, too). She also loves tossing in a Zespri Sungold kiwifruit into her agua frescas, as they offer 100 percent of your daily vitamin C intake, which will give your skin and immune system a boost while also tampering inflammation—perfect for those hot summer days. Here’s a kiwi-packed recipe that will keep you super hydrated, thanks to the addition of electrolyte-packed coconut water.
6 whole kiwi, peeled, in chunks
8 cups filtered water OR coconut water, or you can mix both
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1. Place kiwi chunks and water, coconut water, or half of each in a blender and blend for about 30-50 seconds, or until there are no longer kiwi chunks.
2. Pour kiwi water in a jar. Add in lemon juice, and stir to combine.
3. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days.
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