All too often, sugary pop, chemical-laden sports drinks or an excess of fruit juices are used in place of milk in the dairy-free diet. I’m a huge proponent of simply drinking water and enjoying nutrients through delicious food instead, but admit that sometimes I crave a refreshment with a little more oomph. Fortunately, this seems to be the summer of amazing convenient, healthy beverages. We have been stirring our own little concoctions at home, but the options that follow are great for on-the-go, a quick replenish, or blending into smoothies for an antioxidant boost!
A drink like Gatorade can be tempting after a workout, a big hike, or on a hot day, but oh the sugars. I leaned on Emergen-C for a little while, but it never sat quite right. Recently I discovered MRM Hydration Factor, and was hooked! The little packets can be added to a water bottle, the citrus flavor has that tasty lemon-lime vibe, and it really does rehydrate nicely. The only caveat: price. It costs a bit more than Emergen-C or similar, but at a discount, it’s worth it. Website for info: www.hydrationfactor.com
You may not think of a dairy-free probiotic drink as refreshing, but GoodBelly StraightShot is a hit of just-sweet-enough goodness, with just 3 grams of sugars(!), that quickly quenches my thirst and tames my tummy. I love it after a workout or midday. I just updated my full review of StraightShot, which provides more on the product and my thoughts. Website for info: www.goodbelly.com
I adore iced tea, but not the overly-sweetened kind. In fact, I can go sans sugar altogether. Even so, pure unsweetened iced tea can be hard to find on the go, and most varieties are made from Lipton (not my favorite). Fortunately, Third Street has hit the convenience aisle with unsweetened and lightly sweetened black and green iced teas – all of which are brewed with organic, fair trade-certified tea! The lightly sweetened ones use just a dash of fair trade certified cane sugar (no high fructose corn syrup!) and they even offer a tasty half and half with lemonade for a treat. All Third Street teas are also non-GMO verified and gluten-free certified. Website for info: www.thirdstreetchai.com
Insane? Perhaps, but I’ve become rather addicted to tart shooters of this unsweetened healthy gem. It’s reported to have fantastic health benefits, from preventing UTI’s to warding away dental caries, and of course, it’s loaded with all-mighty antioxidants. When I need something a little sweeter, I make my own cocktail by adding a little water and a few drops of stevia, or I use pure cranberry juice in a smoothie. Look for brands like Knudsen, Lakewood, or Just Juice, or if you live near a Trader Joe’s, they have their own private label for a very good price.
These very unique drinks are low in sugars (just 9 grams per bottle), and sweetened with a blend of organic blue agave nectar, real fruit juice, and stevia. I loved the intense Pomegranate and Acai-Blue Lo varieties; they are refreshing and addictive sweet-tart gems that have a flavor unlike any other. The Mojito versions were a little too sharp and tangy for my tastes. Website for info: www.lofruitbeverage.com
If you believe in the power of super fruits, then Acai Roots should be on your hit list. These high-antioxidant drinks are made with mostly pure organic acai juice in the Premium Acai or acai, pomegranate and blueberry juices in the Acai Pome Blue. Both are sweetened a touch with evaporated cane juice, but still retain a berry-rich, slightly tart, and delicious taste. On the one hand, this is still a beverage that is a higher in sugars than I prefer in my drinks. But on the other hand, it is quite strong in flavor (and almost a touch too sweet), and actually best when made into a spritzer or added modestly to smoothies, in my opinion. Website for more info: www.acairoots.com
Again, not the least expensive alternative to Emergen-C, but this full-bodied, cool, effervescent green tea drink powder is delicious and worth the splurge. I did a full review on Sencha Naturals Green Tea + C here. Website for more info: www.senchanaturals.com
I have mixed feelings about this readily-available brand. It is owned by a mega-corp that I don’t love, and admittedly not the best of the brands here in terms of taste (if you are someone who really notices stevia, then I would steer clear), but it is so easy to find, and offers flavorful hydration without high fructose corn syrup or any added sugars. In a pinch, Vitamin Water Zero is an easy hit. Website for more info: vitaminwater.com
Pure Citrus Water
Toss a wedge of lemon, lime, meyer lemon orange, tangerine, ruby red grapefruit, or blood orange into your reusable water bottle and you’ve got nature’s best purifying drink! Whenever I remember, I squeeze some citrus into a tall glass of cool water. Nothing beats it!
Notes on these Healthy Beverages
Free From – All of the above are dairy-free / non-dairy by ingredients. To the best of my knowledge, they are also top allergy-friendly (egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free), gluten-free, and vegan / vegetarian (note that a flavor or two may contain honey), but check the label on each and make sure they are safe for you!
Who Says They’re Healthy? Everyone’s definition of “healthy” is different. For me, lower sugar and/or a tasty nutrient boost put these on my “sometimes” list. I still promote water as a key source of hydration, but when something more is desired, these are healthy beverages that I enjoy.
Real Opinions – This is not a paid or sponsored post – I’ve bought (or made) and enjoyed all of these drinks this summer!