Healthy Drinks

By Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD

Are sugary drinks the new tobacco? They just might be considering that New York City banned the sale of super-sized drinks and other cities have proposed taxing them. And for good reason. It’s relatively common knowledge that sodas, sports drinks, juice drinks, energy drinks, and smoothies offer a plethora of calories and sugar. What some people don‘t realize is that you can get hundreds of calories in just one drink, but they don’t make you feel full like other foods. On top of that, they can increase your feelings of hunger in just a few hours. This probably explains why emerging research shows that calories from sugary drinks cause more weight gain than calories from other foods. It’s no wonder they are considered one of the main causes of the obesity epidemic!

Yet nothing beats a nice cold drink on a hot summer day. So what to do?  Why not try a zero calorie drink, without artificial sweeteners, that is flavorful and maybe even good for you?  I have done many drink tastings with hundreds of people and there are a few standouts you can buy at the market that are worth trying.

MetroMint has zero calories and a tasty Chocolatemint flavor that even diehard chocolate fans seem to like. Steer clear of the berry and cherry flavors unless you like the medicinal taste of cough syrup.

Another great no-calorie drink is Hint. The Strawberry-Kiwi and the Mango-Grapefruit flavors are particularly good.

The winner in the unsweetened tea category is Sokenbicha Bold Barley Tea. I have found it at Whole Foods Market, but not all of the stores carry it. If you find a store that has it, try it. You will not be disappointed. It’s really good. There are other worthy unsweetened teas out there such as Tejava and Trader Joe’s also has an unsweetened green tea. However, they both pale in comparison to the Sokenbicha Bold Barley Tea.

Another great option is fruit-and-herb-infused water. I’ve created a few recipes at home and have been pleasantly surprised at how easy, tasty, and cheap they are. Why spend a buck fifty for a small bottle of another drink when you can make a whole pitcher at home for less money?

One recipe that I really like is made with sliced lemon with vanilla. It is easy, cheap, and quick. You can also combine lemon, mint, rosemary, and cucumber for a really tangy drink. I have a lemon tree in my yard and grow rosemary and mint, so all I have to buy is a cucumber and some filtered water. You can’t get much easier or cheaper than that. Another really tasty infused water is made with strawberries, but you have to leave it in the frig for a few days to get a great flavor.

Below is one of my favorite recipes. Try it instead of a daily 140-calorie can of Coke and in a year, with very little effort on your part, you could lose 14 pounds! Let me know if you would like to see more of my recipes for fruit-and-herb-infused water.

 Strawberry Kiwi

Strawberries infuse very well. This drink is so tasty and delicious it will keep you going back for more.


  • 9 ripe strawberries
  • 1 kiwi
  • 8 cups filtered or bottled water


1. Wash the strawberries, cut out the leaves, and cut in half.

2. Wash, peel, and slice the kiwi.

3. In a 2½-quart pitcher, or a gallon plastic water bottle, combine the water, strawberries and kiwi.

4. Make sure to cover the container and place in the refrigerator. If you are using a glass pitcher without a lid, place a piece of saran wrap snugly over the top.

This drink tastes good in 3 to 4 days. Take the fruit out once you like the flavor. Depending on how fresh your fruit was, it should last about 5 days.

Copyright © 2012 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.