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What does your Garden Grow? Low Calorie Lemonade

Updated on July 8, 2014
3.9 stars from 8 ratings of Low-Cal Lemonade

Is lemonade an essential summer treat?

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What's the quintessential summer drink? The most refreshing beverage on the face of the planet, whose sunny disposition brightens the muggiest, humidest, grossest day?

Lemonade! True lemonade is an artistic blend of fresh lemons cut into quarters, packed with ice, agitated (preferably by eager young hands), and sprinkled with loads of sugar and honey. For the pure deliciousness of bygone eras, start with organic lemons, raw honey and organic unbleached sugar. Yum!

Classic lemonade is a rich, refreshing drink we can't do without, but the calories add up fast. One tablespoon of Really Raw Honey has 70 calories. A tablespoon of organic sugar has 45. By the time you add enough sweetness to cancer the bitter lemon acidity and reveal the underlying flavors, you're looking at close to 100 calories a cup!

Lemon Basil
Lemon Basil | Source
Lemon Verbena
Lemon Verbena | Source
Lemon Thyme
Lemon Thyme | Source

Low-Cal Lemonade Saves Summer

Lemony herbs pack the same lemony punch as lemons, but without the lip-puckering acidity.

The result? The refreshing taste of fresh lemonade with a fraction of classic lemonade's calories. You can enjoy a glass, or two... or even three without breaking your beach-body calorie budget.


Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min
Ready in: 20 min
Yields: 6 servings (one pitcher)

Ingredients

  • 5-6 sprigs Lemony Herb, (use Lemon Thyme, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Basil or a mix)
  • 3-4 tablespoons Sweetener, (preferably Raw Honey or Organic Sugar, but anything will do)
  • 6 cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Zest, (fresh grated)

Preparation

  1. Grab a 5-6 springs of fresh lemon verbena, lemon basil or lemon thyme. If you're cutting from your garden-- - Lemon Verbena grow on long stalks, choose 5-6 stalks 3-4 inches long. - Lemon Thyme grows in 3-4 inch springs, choose 5-6 of them. - Lemon Basil grows in leafy bunches, choose 8-10 leaves.
  2. Rinse the herbs well to remove any dirt. Wash your hands at the same time.
  3. Rub the herbs between your palms to release the fragrant oils. Don't cut them or chop them, just roll them back and forth 8-10 times. They'll be shaped like a cigar, and they'll be covered in bright green lines where the surface is torn.
  4. Place crushed herbs in a pitcher or bowl.
  5. Steep herbs. Method #1- Add 1 cup water to pitcher/bowl (enough to cover the herbs). Microwave for 5 minutes. Method #2- Boil 1-2 cups water on stovetop. Pour water over herbs, ensuring all leaves and stems are covered. Cover dish and let rest for 10 minutes. As an alternative, use a French press or teapot to steep the herbs.
  6. When the herbs are properly steeped, and the water gives off the aroma of lemons, Stop the steeping process by adding the rest of the water to the pitcher or bowl.
  7. Finally, sweeten to taste! The mixture requires much less sweetener than classic lemonade, because it lacks lemonade's acidity.
  8. For an extra bit of color and lemon flavor, add a pinch of lemon zest to your low-cal lemonade.

There are an infinite number of lemonade variations to keep this low-calorie lemonade fun and exciting throughout the summer. One of the best ways to liven-up your lemonade is to add a dash of flavored berry syrup. Raspberry syrup, blueberry syrup or even mulberry syrup enhance the lemonade's color and flavor for a totally new take on the classic drink.

You can also experiment with a variety of sweeteners.

  • Organic cane sugar has a bland taste that lets the lemon flavor shine through.
  • Raw honey provides a richer flavor, and bits of beeswax from the honey's seal add visual interest.
  • Agave nectar, a low glycemic index sweetener, has its own unique flavor that melds with the herbs for a complex taste with lemony undertones.

Experiment, enjoy! and post new variations for everyone to share.

Comments

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    • toomuchmint profile image
      Author

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      You're welcome Turtlewoman. Thanks for your comment.

      Herbs make a great addition to almost any drink. Hubpages has some really great combinations - ones I never would've considered. Blackberry sage and watermelon rosemary!

      http://chippedteacup.hubpages.com/hub/naturally-fl...

    • Turtlewoman profile image

      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      Hmmm I drink lemonade all the time, made from fresh organic lemons....but I never thought to add herbs? What a great idea! I will try this tomorrow, since summer is here and what better way to drink a refreshing and healthy herbal lemonade? Thanks!

    • toomuchmint profile image
      Author

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      Thanks again Mwilliams66! :-)

    • mwilliams66 profile image

      mwilliams66 5 years ago from Left Coast, USA

      This is amazing. So good. Pinning and sharing!

    • toomuchmint profile image
      Author

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      Thanks Mwilliams for stopping by! The more you clip, the more they grow. Have fun and enjoy!

    • toomuchmint profile image
      Author

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      Thanks Specialk3749! I used to grow Stevia. I wonder what it would be like to steep stevia leaves with the other herbs.

      Hmmmm... :-)

    • mwilliams66 profile image

      mwilliams66 5 years ago from Left Coast, USA

      Congratulations on your prize winning hub.

      Time to do some herb clipping. I'm off to make your lemonade.

    • Specialk3749 profile image

      Karen Metz 5 years ago from Michigan

      Since I have been cutting "way" back on refined sugar, I was wondering what to do about lemonade! I LOVE lemonade! I think I will try this recipe and make it with Stevia (an all natural sweetener) since I do not like using any type of unnatural sweetener. Thank you for this recipe! I look forward to using it!

    • toomuchmint profile image
      Author

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      Thanks! I hope you enjoy it.

    • agirlnamedmichael profile image

      agirlnamedmichael 5 years ago from West Virginia

      I will be making this for sure! Sounds delicious and so refreshing!

    • toomuchmint profile image
      Author

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      Thanks Donna! Given your hubpages credentials and your new book (Congratulations!) your vote up is really great. :-)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Congratulations on your prize winning hub! This sounds like a wonderful way to enjoy a favorite summer drink without loading up on empty calories. Voted up.

    • toomuchmint profile image
      Author

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      Thanks Green Lotus! And congratulations on having a bumper crop of lemon basil. Lemon basil makes an incredible pesto, and it's amazing how many leaves go into one small container of spread.

      To make pesto, grind lemon basil leaves with a little olive oil. You can also add cheese, nuts or garlic.

      Pesto's incredibly versatile, and you can use it as a pasta topping, bread spread, or veggie dipping sauce. Best of all, you can freeze it in an icecube tray and come back to it in winter, when the basil battle is over. :-)

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Congratulations on your win! Now I know what to do with all that lemon basil that's overtaking my herb garden!

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 5 years ago

      This is a fantastic idea! If I can get the lemony herbs, I'll be making some of your lemonade recipe this week while the sun's out :)

    • toomuchmint profile image
      Author

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      Thanks pennylu! I hope you enjoy the recipe. If you're low-cal all the time, try substituting your favorite low-cal sweetener. One of my friends tried a couple drops of agave nectar with lemon verbena and loved it. :-)

    • pennylu profile image

      pennylu 5 years ago from Georgia

      I love lemonade, but I fear the calories so thank you for the low-cal recipe! Congrats on your win too!

    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 5 years ago from India

      Simple and yummy! Sounds great.

    • toomuchmint profile image
      Author

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      Thanks Kaili! Looking through your hubs gave me lots of new ideas! Sprouted red lentil soup, or maybe a sprouted raw garbanzo hummus. Yum!

      Browsing food before breakfast is a bad[!] idea. :-)

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 5 years ago from Canada

      Congratulations on your win. This sounds amazing...I love lemon basil and am going to give this a try.

    • toomuchmint profile image
      Author

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      Thanks Simone! Infusions are an exciting way to spice up summer. :-)

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      You know, I don't think I've ever had lemonade before, but I couldn't imagine summer without it! Lovely recipe Hub. :)