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Live it: Chill out this summer with these beverage classics

It's getting hot outside. Try some alternate takes on some drinks synonymous with summer. TRIBUNE PHOTO

Pass the iced tea, please … and the fruit smoothies, old-fashioned lemonade and all the other lusciously cool liquids that bring a refreshing “Aahhh” to a hot summer day.

Summer seems made for cold drinks, the kind that can be sipped on the deck or by the pool, after an invigorating bike ride or walk, or while lounging under the trees in the lazy embrace of a hammock.

Here’s a quartet of beverage classics to quench your thirst and add a welcome flavor to the days (and nights) of summer. Bonus: They’re simple to make, guaranteeing a minimum of time spent in the kitchen. It’s summer, after all. Why sweat?

Sparkling iced herbal tea

This alternate take on an American classic is sweet and zingy. LIVE IT! PHOTO The herbal tea gives this version of iced tea a mildly sweet and fruity flavor that’s the essence of summer. The sparkling water adds an unexpected touch of fizz.

8 grams (4 tea bags) herbal fruit or 

berry-flavored tea

2 cups boiling water

2 cups sparkling fruit- or berry-flavored bottled water

sugar (optional, to taste)

Place tea in heat-proof pitcher; add 2 cups boiling water and steep for 4 to 6 minutes. Remove tea bags. If you’re using sugar, stir in while the tea is still hot, tasting for the desired amount of sweetness. Add 2 cups sparkling bottled water. Chill tea. To serve, pour over ice. Serves 4 to 6.

There’s room here to get creative with flavor combinations — raspberry or wild berry herbal tea with raspberry-flavored sparkling water, for example, or a lemon/mint tea with lemon-flavored sparkling water. Experiment to find the blend(s) you like best.

Real lemonade

This homemade drink tops any lemonade mix you'll find in any store. LIVE IT! PHOTO Sure, it’s easier to mix up a pitcher of lemonade from a powdered mix or frozen concentrate. But everyone should make a classic lemonade at least once every summer, if for no other reason than to experience the real thing.

There’s no shortage of recipes for homemade lemonade. Some are the easy stir-and-pour variety while others are more labor-intensive (remove the rinds from five lemons, chop into little pieces and macerate in sugar for an hour, anyone?) This recipe sticks to the basics. Yes, it requires turning on a stove but it’s worth it. The resulting syrup allows the sugar to evenly dissolve throughout the drink instead of collecting on the bottom of your glass or pitcher. For a shortcut, make the syrup ahead of time and refrigerate until using.

For the syrup:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Combine in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and cool.

For the lemonade:

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 5 to 6 lemons

3½ to 4 cups cold water

1 to 2 thinly sliced lemons, optional

Combine syrup and lemon juice. Add water gradually, tasting for sweetness. Because this lemonade is made with fresh lemons, it may be more tart than what you’re accustomed to. If you like your lemonade on the sweeter side, you may need to add more sugar. Stir until well blended. Add ice and thinly sliced lemons, if you’re using them. Serves 4 to 6.

Smoothie

A creamy and smooth drink. And, best of all, it's healthy. LIVE IT! PHOTO What could be better than a creamy, fruity smoothie for a summertime breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up? Credit for this goes to Affiliated Community Medical Centers, whose dietitians are a great source for recipes that are appealing as well as healthful. Find more beverage recipes on the ACMC website at www.acmc.com (click on “Health and wellness articles”, then click on “Healthy recipes.” ACMC recipes also can be found on Pinterest.)

½ cup 1 percent low-fat milk

½ cup low-fat plain yogurt

1 banana, cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon liquid honey

½ cup fresh fruit or 1.2 cup frozen fruit, thawed (strawberries work best)

Place ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Serves 1.

Iced coffee

A alternative for those looking for something more than iced tea. LIVE IT! PHOTO If it’s iced coffee you crave, go with the cold — cold brew, that is. A cold press is smoother and less acidic than hot-brewed coffee and it’s perfect poured over ice on a hot summer day.

1/3 cup coffee beans

1½ cups cold water

milk, optional

Coarsely grind the coffee beans and place in a pitcher or large glass container with a lid. (If you have a French press, this is a great occasion to use it.) Pour in water. Refrigerate overnight, for at least 12 hours and up to 48 hours. Slowly pour water and coffee mixture through a coffee filter into a clean container. Serve coffee over ice; add milk if you like and stir well. If you’re really feeling decadent, pour your cold brew over a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a yummy treat that combines beverage and dessert. Serves 2 to 3.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at http://healthbeat.areavoices.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

(320) 235-1150
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