Pink frozen berry drink by D. Sharon Pruitt via Flickr
Among all the "natural" energy drinks, chill-out beverages, coconut waters, probiotic kefir shooters, alternative milks, and superfruit juices at the recent Natural Products Expo, there were some standout organic liquid refreshments in the mix. The nonstop array of sips and gulps overflowed, from a brain-enhancing drink for better thinking called Nawgan (as in noggin), an endorphin-producing elixir with kicky capsaicin called Prometheus Springs, and lots of antioxidant-filled concoctions, drinkable snacks and functional potions to quench your thirst. Here's a taste of a organic choices from shakes to teas that are healthy, too:
For a iced tea, soda and juice alternative, try this raw, organic, probiotic beverage that come in delicious flavors like Blood-Orange, Lemon-Ginger, Chai, and the original, which has none of what some call a typical aftertaste. This ancient Asian "tea" is made through a process of fermenting a culture known as the "mushroom" or "mother." It's back on shelves after the FDA discovered one brand was too high in alcohol. Vibranz is crafted in small batches with moderate carbonation to reduce alcohol levels, and it is said to restore healthy bacteria and detoxify. And it's refreshing.
This first organic nutritional shake contains organic fruits and vegetables (kale, beet, blueberry, banana, the ubiquitous acai, and more), complex carbs from brown rice, eight grams of protein. It's whey-based, not water-based, unlike Ensure and other meal replacement drinks, that are often recommended to the elderly or ailing, and it's also not loaded with corn syrup, sugar and artificial colors. A new Healthy Kids version helps with picky eaters. Orgain was developed by Dr. Andrew Abraham, a 28-year-old cancer survivor, who wanted to make a shake that actually contributed to health. Available in a Tetrapak, it's smooth, satisfying, it has no vitamin aftertaste or sugar rush. Yummy for all ages.
Want to guzzle your yogurt? Go for kefir. It's packed with live active cultures and is lactose-free, from grass fed cows that actually graze pastures. Lifeway celebrates its 25th year with the new super-powered BioKefir shots, but the company that virtually put kefir on shelves also offers a line of organic lowfat kefirs and "Kefir Green" drinks with wheatgrass, alfalfa and other phytonutrients and fruits from kiwi to blueberry which have their own benefits.
Make your smoothies with organic and rGBH-free whey protein powder flavored with bourbon vanilla, fair trade dark chocolate, wolfberry (goji), yumberry (yamamono), and acai berry filled with antioxidants, fatty acids and fiber. The whey is from hormone-free goats, sheep and cows grazing on small local artisan farms in Wisconsin. Tera's Whey is a good protein alternative to meat, without sugar or artificial flavors and loaded with minerals, electrolytes and bio-organic benefits. Her "green" plant is designed with minimal processing, heat recovery/exchangers, water re-use, and native landscaping. (Tera's daughter has a degree in environmental engineering at MIT.)
Organic and fair trade, Honest delivers an extensive line of cold teas that are either unsweetened or just a "tad sweet" (with organic cane sugar, agave or honey). There's Pomegranate White Tea with Acai with only 20 grams instead of 60, more typical of competitors, green teas and mates. The newest collection, Cocoa Nova "Infusions," come in Mint, Cherry and Mocha flavors, that are chockfull of antioxidants and theobromine found in dark chocolate. Available in glass bottles (not PET), they're a treat.
Considering most Americans consume 100-150 calories a day in sugary sodas, imagine if they switched to any of the above, how the obesity and diabetes levels could drop.
For the purists who prefer to stick with water or juice, brew or mix your own, check out some recipes below. Proost, sante, skol, and bottoms up!