Refreshing Orange Lemonade (ditch that overpriced sport drink!)

This light drink has a lovely array of sweet and sour notes, with a dap of honey and just a dash of unrefined salt, making it very hydrating and delicious to sip on a hot day or when sick. I  drink it  because I like it, but it also makes a great homemade electrolyte drink!

(I have a tender place in my heart for beverages, as you may notice in my beverage section here on!)

“Electrolyte drinks” is an interesting concept that is new to the last 50 years or so, and I rather suspect it is mostly a marketing ploy. This is what we need to understand about most store-bought bottled electrolyte or sport drinks: They are made with chemically treated, refined sugars, use food dyes in abundance, contain artificial flavoring, and other less than stellar ingredients, such as brominated vegetable oils. All of these are ingredients I choose not to use in my kitchen, so why would I serve my children or myself a drink that contains all of the above? Plus they are expensive, especially when you consider that it’s basically sugar water with a bit of salt and a few nutrients added in.

The fact is we have been led to believe through advertisement and the companies behind them that we need special drinks to “recover” from a bit of sweat. It is true that staying hydrated is really important, especially if you are exercising and sweating a lot. Many experts agree that most will be fine simply drinking water and eating a well balanced diet (what a concept!) And there is a big difference between athletes who are working out everyday for hours on end, and those of us who do a 20-minute workout before breakfast.

However, I have heard testimonies from others, one being a pregnant mother, who found that they were having a hard time staying hydrated just with water. At the advice of her doctor, my pregnant friend started making a homemade hydration drink with natural electrolytes in them which did help her stay hydrated during the hot summer months while pregnant.

About five years ago, I got really sick for a week and found myself terribly dehydrated. Chicken broth with an amble amount of unrefined salt in it brought me back to the land of the living (or so I felt). The electrolytes in the salt and chicken broth were likely what made me feel so much better when water was doing nothing for me. I have also found kombucha helpful in feeling hydrated when sick or during a hot summer day.

While most won’t need to worry about electrolytes unless they are sweating and working out vigorously for more than an hour, according to a pediatric sports medicine specialist, there are times when sick, pregnant or nursing, or when out in the sun a lot where a drink containing natural electrolytes is very refreshing and hydrating. If you want to replace the over-priced sport drinks, it is really simple to make your own at home. There are many options, in fact!

As a side note, I tried to find the “perfect” amount of electrolytes to try to mimic at home, but there is such a wide variety of opinions on this (and some sport experts say that there are varying degrees of electrolytes in people’s sweat, so replacing them varies from person to person) that it was impossible to find. In the end, I’d say just drink what sounds good and feels good for your body. After a quick workout, drinking some water and eating a nourishing meal will be fine for most of us. After a day in the hot sun or sweating a lot while taking a long run, you may want a more mineral-rich drink.

One of the best options is simply drinking coconut water (affiliate link). The balance of electrolytes in coconut water mimics your blood’s electrolyte balance perfectly and it is refreshing and delicious too. You can add some delicious fruit juice in to flavor it, if you like. I mix it with a berry flavored kombucha for a light, refreshing drink.

You can also make a homemade “V8” style juice, if you own a juicer, using tomatoes, celery, carrots, a bit of parsley, a handful of greens, and even onion and garlic or red pepper (celery contains natural sodium, and can make this juice a bit “salty” in taste, but some people like to add a dash more of unrefined salt and ground pepper too). Another option is a simple vegetable and fruit juice using 6 celery sticks, 1 apple, and half of a lemon.

Or, you can make this super simple, easily adaptable version that tastes like orange lemonade with a dash of salt. It is tasty and refreshing! I used local raw honey that was unfiltered, so  it will have a slightly honey-ish taste (even with just the 2 tablespoons), but you can replace it with another all-natural sweetener, if desired. I personally enjoy the honey notes of the drink. You can leave out the salt, if you like, it’s added to help replace electrolytes lost through sweating or when sick, and I like the salty balance it brings to the drink, but it certainly is delicious without it too. Update: A reader kindly let me know that her doctor recommended using sugar when you specifically are trying to rehydrate. In that case, I’d use an organic cane sugar like this one.  (affiliate link). If you make kombucha, I’d recommend buying the linked to ten pound bag. 🙂

Refreshing Orange Lemonade (ditch that overpriced sport drink!)
Recipe type: Beverage
Serves: 1-2
Prep time:
Total time:
Make this on a hot day or to enjoy after a sweaty workout.
  • ½ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges, on average)
  • ¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons, on average)
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • 2 + tablespoons of raw honey, or sweetener of choice (to taste)
  • ⅛ teaspoon of unrefined salt (optional)
  1. Blend all of the above ingredients together in a blender. Adjust flavor as desired, and serve.
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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. says

    My son is training to bicycle cross country next fall to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund. I have been teaching his team about nutrition and made a drink similar to this for them. They really liked it!

    I also bought an electrolyte powder that is just electrolytes, no food coloring or sugar or anything else, from Hammer nutrition. It’s called Endurolytes powder. I mix it with a few ounces of 100% cranberry juice, some stevia, and water to fill the bottle. He really likes that too.

    If anyone is interested in seeing what they are doing and where they are going, their website is They also have a facebook page under CCC 4 Vets (which stands for Cross Country Cyclists for Veterans).

  2. Lee Family says

    My Naturopath doctor just spoke to me about not just drinking water to rehydrate last month, but adding a some lemon juice, sea salt and regular sugar. She said that other sugars don’t seem to work as well. This really surprised me, because she does NOT encourage people to eat refined sugar! Also, she said once she finds she has not been drinking enough liquids, it can take at least 3 days to get hydrated again.

    • KimiHarris says

      Lee Family,

      How interesting! You could alway use organic evaporated cane juice to avoid all of the chemical bleaching and processing that “normal” sugar goes through.

  3. Stephanie says

    When my son was sick with a kidney infection (took a week to figure out what was worn with him, poor guy), he was not eating, but I was forcing him to drink water to try to keep his body from artificially heating up. It actually made things worse because, unbeknownst to me, water alone will actually just make the electrolyte situation worse if one is not eating. By the time they admitted him he was quite dehydrated. Predictably, food and water work quite well together to replenish electrolytes, but water alone? Not so much. I have in one the Gatorade until I could find a natural alternative. So now that I know, I am with you–a quick workout is not a reason to load up on the fake drinks. BUT when our bodies are being stressed more than that, an electrolyte drink is better. The one you posted sounds delicious! I’ll have to make it this summer!

    • KimiHarris says

      Ahhh…poor guy! That sounds terrible! I bet that is a situation where coconut water would be one of the very best options.

  4. Rosita says

    I am going to have to try this. When pregnant and when nursing (like now), I am also dehydrated eventhough I drink well over the recommended amount of water. Perhaps this will help. I can’t stomach the taste of the fake stuff, but I think I might even enjoy drinking this.

    • KimiHarris says

      I also find that I have a harder time staying properly hydrated when nursing/pregnant on just water. For some reason, even just lemon water helps me stay more hydrated then plain water. Lemon juice is supposed to be a good source of electrolytes, though, so maybe that is it?

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