Imagine a diabetic character on TV who suddenly begins to act a little strangely, but is not too confused to murmur, “I think my blood sugar is too low.” Everyone on screen runs for something sugary that the character will absorb quickly. Orange juice, or maybe Coke. Sweet drinks like juices and sodas, with up to 12 (!) teaspoons of sugar per can, are great for spiking your blood sugar. None for me, thanks.
Here’s what I found in the “beverage center” at our local Walmart. I especially wanted to look at product names, because the more creative the brand name, the more highly manufactured it is likely to be.
There was Sunny D, Powerade, Gatorade (11 flavors), Juicy Juice, Country Time, Tahitian Treat, Hawaiian Punch (many flavors), “Propel vitamin enhanced water beverage mix” (“raspberry lemonade naturally and artificially flavored,” and “berry naturally flavored”), and “Dasani Natural Lemon Flavored Water Beverage.” V8 Splash (not V8 tomato juice) was available in mango peach, fruit medley, berry blend, and tropical blend, which also had a “diet” version.
Caffeinated or coffee-flavored beverages included Red Bull energy drink (original and sugar free), Monster (regular, mega and lo-carb), Starbucks Frappucino coffee drink in 3 flavors (coffee, mocha, vanilla), and Starbucks doubleshot espresso & cream premium coffee drink (regular and light).
Country Time Lemonade Drink Mix is “reminiscent of a time when it was easier to get good old-fashioned lemonade.” The powder mix was first marketed in 1975 by a TV character named “Grandpa.” Cans and bottles arrived in 1982. Then came Pink Lemonade (1995), Iced Tea with Lemon (2003), Strawberry Lemonade (2004), and Country Time Light Lemonade (2005). The Strawberry Lemonade is “the perfect blend of two favorite flavors: sweet, sun-ripened strawberries and the classic taste of lemonade.” I recommend buying strawberries and lemons, and mixing in some sugar and water.
In addition to V8 and V8 Splash, V8 makes a fruit juice product called “V8 Vfusion.” Its first ingredient is sweet potato juice. At Walmart they carried acai-mixed berry, strawberry-banana, pomegranate-blueberry, goji-raspberry,and passionfruit-tangerine flavors. The acai was listed 6th, the strawberry 7th, and the banana 8th in the list of ingredients. That’s because consumers aren’t eating tangerines, passionfruit or berries; they’re eating the names. They’re not even eating sweet potatoes. And the price we all pay is much higher than the one marked on the bottle.
Among powdered mixes, Crystal Light takes the cake. There was Crystal Light natural lemonade flavor, natural pink lemonade flavor, peach artificial flavor, raspberry lemonade flavor, white grape artificial flavor, crystal light red tea, crystal light white tea and, believe it or not, “crystal light green tea natural honey lemon flavor with other natural flavor.” That’s creative. The word “natural,” which appears twice, describes not the product, but its flavor, and the juxtaposition of “natural,” “flavor,” and “artificial” is curious. You can also find Crystal Light live active (with 3g of fiber), Crystal Light energy, Crystal Light focus, or Crystal Light sunrise. Wouldn’t it be better to get some rest and exercise?
So what else is there to drink? If you don’t feel like a glass of cool water from the tap, or a glass of milk, or unsweetened iced tea, then try this recipe. It’s not sugar-free, but it’s got a lot less than manufactured stuff. Dissolve ¼ c. sugar with ¼ c. water in a saucepan over low heat, and set it aside. While it cools, mix together 2 cups of water and 1 + 1/2 c. lemon juice (fresh squeezed if preferred) in a large pitcher filled halfway to the top with ice. Stir as much or as little syrup as you like into the contents of the pitcher. Add lemon slices, strawberry slices, basil or mint leaves, slightly bruised, to garnish. Cheers!