June 29, 2011

By Contributor Gretchen Brown RD, kumquat

Whoever coined the term “turning lemons into lemonade” was onto something more than just having a good attitude. The ever-popular summer-time drink also has the potential to bring major health benefits. This particular version of lemonade is my go-to beverage on a regular basis. It is chock-full of delicious nutrients and, if you can believe it, is almost calorie free!

Lemons are powerful anti-oxidants. They are believed to be anti-cancer, as well as useful in lowering blood pressure and increasing HDL, the good cholesterol. The mouth-puckering juice is also used to clear the digestive system and purify the liver, and is great for relieving nausea and soothing symptoms of the common cold.

 A lesser-known tonic, but one just as vital, is aloe vera.  Aloe vera is an amazing plant. Its juice provides a long list of impressive benefits. Not only does it soothe skin, it is also incredibly helpful in soothing and healing the gut. It is tremendously important for those with ulcers, Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, IBS and gluten intolerance. In addition, aloe juice can amplify the absorption of vitamins and decrease inflammation in the body. Aloe juice has a slight tanginess that blends perfectly with lemons, and can be purchased at your local health food store or online.

Stevia adds the perfect amount of sweetness to this refreshing drink. The extract from the stevia plant is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a long way. The best news is that this natural sweetener has no calories and has very little effect on blood sugar. Stevia comes in both a powder and a liquid form, and can also be found at your local health food store.

Aloe Lemonade

1/2      cup freshly squeezed organic lemon juice

1/2      cup organic aloe vera juice

2         cups water

20       drops liquid stevia

 1. Combine all ingredients and stir well. Serve over ice.

Yield: 2 servings.

Maybe you can’t pay a quarter at your local neighborhood lemonade stand for this version, but it is just as refreshing and delicious. You’ll certainly be doing yourself a favor taking a pass on the classic sugar-laden lemonade, as well as those store-bought powdered ones filled with mysterious chemicals. So when life hands you lemons, make lemonade... but don’t forget the aloe juice and the stevia!

Also see Fresh-Squeezed, Lip-Smacking Lemonade Recipes from MyRecipes.

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