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By Natalia Gill, from An Appetite For Joy
Nothing makes sweet, potassium-rich honeydew come alive like a squeeze of sour lime! I absolutely love this combination of flavors. Here they are juiced and lightened up with an equal part water then spiked with a pinch of sea salt for an electrolyte drink that really hydrates on a sizzling summer day.
And ya’ll (you guys, mes amis) it is gonna be a hot one! I’m reminded every time I glimpse the forest land in our Georgia backyard. It is exceptionally lush for this time of year, wildly abundant with its teeming underbrush, both ominous (poison ivy) and delightful (honeysuckle! muscadine!) … A sure sign of many steamy days to come.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals we have in our bodies that carry an electric (ionic) charge, allowing them to perform important functions such as muscle contraction, nerve conduction, and the movement of fluids throughout the body. Common electrolytes include sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, sulphur and phosphorous.
Being in the heat, exercise, nursing, certain health conditions and medications as well as an imbalanced diet are ways that we can become depleted. Sodium and potassium are usually the first to go resulting in a dehydration that water alone may not be able to quench. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of electrolytes and I also find it helpful (and fun) to make my own mineral-rich drinks when I really need something to hit the spot.
(Important note: Dehydration can also signal that your electrolyte levels are too high. If you are having trouble keeping your fluids balanced, talk with your doctor to make sure there isn’t something more serious going on.)
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Good uses I’ve found for electrolyte drinks
- Several years ago while nursing, I found myself in a state of low-level chronic dehydration. I just couldn’t seem to rise up out of it and I was really dragging. I decided to try “coconut water therapy” and sipped on it for three days (about 32 oz. a day) and felt totally renewed! (Kimi notes: A naturopathic doctor recommended this therapy to me as well when sick, and it worked wonders! I got a case of this brand .)
- My 7-yr old son is very athletic, always dribbling the basketball or challenging me to a game of dodgeball in the sun (he always wins). He drinks a lot of water, but occasionally I whip up one of these for him to have in between meals when he’s not getting electrolytes from food.
- My 3-yr old daughter is not a lover of fruit and doesn’t naturally drink a lot of water – I have to prompt her throughout the day or she can easily become mildly dehydrated. She does, however, love fresh-pressed juices, smoothies and electrolyte drinks.
- As far as stomach bugs go, I don’t generally pump my kids (or myself) with fluids during the acute stage of the illness. I wait until the stomach is less eruptive and hydrate them when they are able to keep things down/in. I started doing this based on my pediatrician’s recommendation and I find they recover much more quickly this way. Once the worst is over, they are able to replenish their fluids efficiently and effectively instead of the symptoms being drawn out. (This may not be best for your child and your particular situation. Always discuss things first with your pediatrician – dehydration is a serious matter.)
Electrolyte Drink Ideas
Sip these on the porch or turn them into popsicles and always have instant hydration on hand!
- Refreshing Orange Lemonade
- Watermelon-Coconut Electrolyte Drink
- Healthy Strawberry Lemonade (just add a pinch of salt!)
- Simply coconut water (the perfect balance of electrolytes – it was made for us!)
- Chicken broth (I used to put warm broth into a stainless steel sippy cup for my kids to tote around when they were sick.)
Why not store-bought sports drinks?
Besides the obvious overload of refined sugar and additives, I don’t like to confuse my palate (and especially not my children’s) with manmade flavors. Even the “naturally flavored” varieties are likely laced with unlabeled MSG, an ingredient we try to avoid because I believe it throws the taste buds off balance and has long-term ramifications.
Juicer Recommendation and “What if I don’t have a juicer?”
I use a Champion juicer that my dad bought a couple of decades ago and later gave to me. It still works perfectly and (knock on wood) I think it still has several decades left in it. My friend bought a 1970’s Champion (in a fun vintage mustard color) on e-bay for $70. Talk about holding its value! And the design hasn’t changed much so I believe she can purchase replacement parts right off of Amazon. Potential cons of the Champion is that it produces some heat and has a lot of parts to clean, but a plus is that it protects the juice from air exposure so in that regard it preserves the antioxidants well. And I don’t mind the cleanup – it’s an easy rinse off and I’m used to it.
Kimi Notes: I use this juicer and really love it (it keeps juice cool and is easy to clean). This one by the same brand is actually a little cheaper and has even higher Amazon ratings. My sister owns the later model and loves it.
BUT if you don’t have a juicer and aren’t ready to invest in one, you can simply combine the melon chunks, water and sea salt in a blender! See the recipe note for proportions.
- 2 cups honeydew chunks
- 1 lime, peeled
- 1 cup water
- 1 good pinch unrefined salt (up to a scant ¼ teaspoon to taste)
- Juice together the honeydew and lime. Combine with the water and stir in the salt until dissolved. Serve over ice.