You can’t beat a tall glass of something cool and refreshing on a hot summer’s day – resting back in your sun lounger and hearing the jolly chink of ice cubes dancing about in your glass. But what if you have gut trouble, or are currently working to try and improve your health? Fizzy drinks and juices are packed full of sugar – whether added refined sugar, or natural sugar – it is all still SUGAR, and we get enough of the sweet stuff already. Sugar can have a detrimental effect on the gut by promoting growth of harmful bacteria, which in turn can lead to a worsening of symptoms such as bloating, wind, constipation and diarrhea. So if you want to say goodbye to your digestive issues and find your way back to radiant health, finding healthy replacements for anything sugar-laden is key.
Now please let me introduce to you – stevia lemonade! It’s sweet, refreshing, natural, sugar free, artificial sweetener free and can be rustled up in five minutes with only 3 ingredients.
So what exactly is stevia??
Stevia is a plant. Its full name is Stevia rebaudiana. It is native to South America and has been used for more than 1500 years by the Guarani peoples, who named it “sweet herb”. The leaves of the plant are harvested in order to make stevia powder or extract, which can be used just like sugar. It contains no calories and is up to 200 times sweeter than sugar, so a little really does go a long way!
One word of warning – just because stevia is listed on the ingredients doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Stevia has been used in processed products such as Truvia (a sugar replacement which contains erythritol – a sugar alcohol which can give you serious gut trouble) and combined with unhealthy ingredients in other products. When using stevia drops or powder, it’s really important you only buy unprocessed stevia. Avoid anything with ingredients other than purified water (e.g. inulin, erythritol, flavourings, preservatives etc). My favourite brand of stevia drops is this one. Even better you could grow your own stevia plant on your windowsill!
So here is how to make your own healthily delicious stevia lemonade:
(N.B. sunglasses and comfy chair obligatory – hell why not even get someone to fan you with a giant leaf while you’re at it..)
- 4 lemons
- 1 lemon to slice and add to jug
- 1 litre sparkling water/soda water
- 20-30 drops stevia (add more or less depending on preferred sweetness)
- Handful of ice cubes
- (Optional additions - orange slices/handful fresh mint/sliced cucumber/strawberries/raspberries)
- Squeeze four lemons and add the juice to a jug
- Add the sparkling water, ice cubes and stevia drops and stir with a large spoon
- Taste and increase to desired sweetness by adding more stevia drops if required
- Serve in tall glasses with lemon slices