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Kid-Friendly Recipes: Refreshing Drinks for Summer

Lisa KuhlmanLisa is a writer, budding photographer and herb enthusiast. She enjoys poking around in the garden, creating in the kitchen and reading a good book (when she’s not answering the call of “Mom!” from her five children).  

Ah, summertime—It's just around the corner! Remember your carefree summer days of playing outside, going swimming and catching fireflies? If you are lucky, maybe you still spend your summers that way! One sign of summer is a child with the ever-present red Kool-aid mustache. It's kind of cute, but I propose other healthy, tasty ways to cool off on a hot summer day.

Homemade Ginger Ale 

Homemade ginger ale is simple to make and tastes better than what you can buy at the store. Make a simple syrup by combining one cup of water and one cup of sugar and bringing it to a a boil. Chop one large rhizome of ginger root into small pieces (This is a good job for older children.) add it to the syrup, and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. If you prefer to strain out the ginger pieces, do it while the syrup is still warm. However, leaving the pieces in will continue to intensify the flavor. Add 2 tablespoons syrup to a glass filled with ice; fill the glass with club soda; and stir. Store the syrup in the fridge for up to a week.

Photo by Michelle Meiklejohn/Courtesy 

Don't have time to make ginger ale? Try some Ginger Zinger Tea. To add a colorful and flavorful twist to store-bought ginger ale, insert three or four bags of Raspberry Zinger tea into one 2-liter bottle of ginger ale. Be sure to tighten the top of the bottle back down to keep the carbonation in the soda. Allow to steep for at about an hour. Serve over ice.

Try this fresh ginger ale by Bruce Cost.  

5-18-2011-lemonadeHoney Mint Lemonade 

Lemonade is a summertime classic. If you have a child with an adventurous palate, consider adding lavender to the recipe. Start by steeping a handful of lavender buds in 2 cups water for about 10 minutes. Strain out the buds and use the the tea with the water you use to make lemonade. Freshly squeezed lemons and sugar for lemonade are wonderful, but the powdered stuff will work too! To make it special, garnish the glasses with a sprig of lavender. {Photo by Adventures of Pam & Frank/Courtesy Flickr}

If your kids like iced tea, how about trying herbal iced tea such as mint or chamomile? If your family prefers traditional iced tea, try making a simple syrup of equal parts honey and water to sweeten it. Experiment with adding adding lemon juice, mint or lemon-flavored herbs to steep in the syrup after you have removed it from heat. Strain out the herbs while the syrup is still warm. Having your child choose an herb from the garden to garnish their drink is a good way to help them become familiar with herbs.

Kid-Friendly Herbs for Summertime Drinks:

+ Bee balm
+ Chamomile
+ Lemon balm
+ Lemon verbena
+ Lavender
+ Mint

My kids really like to make ice pops. Almost any drink can successfully be made into a popsicle, although some are more successful than others. Drinks and smoothies with a lower sugar content will be very hard, though that hardly seems to stop kids from enjoying them. If you search the internet for ice pop molds you will find all manner of shapes and sizes, but a plastic spoon or craft stick and a plastic cup will work just as well, even if it comes out of the mold a bit lopsided. As an aside, popsicles can also be used to administer herbs to a sick child. Make herb tea, replacing all or a portion of the water with juice and freeze it into a popsicle. This can be especially affective in averting dehydration and soothing a sore throat.

Watermelon Mint Slushie 

How about a Watermelon Mint Slushie? Combine ice, seedless watermelon, and a sprig of mint in the blender and enjoy. Warning: A little mint can go a long way! Start with a small amount and add more to taste. (Thanks to my good friend and fellow foodie Jennifer Knox for sharing this recipe!)

Photo by imagelane/Courtesy

Happy summer!