Watermelon agua fresca (Agua de sandia)

Here’s why you won’t want to go to a 4th of July party without watermelon agua frescas:

  1. Watermelon agua frescas let you eat loads of watermelon without leaving your hands sticky and probably without dripping pink juice on your shirt
  2. The kids and teetotalers more responsible people will love that there’s a special drink for them (that is…until you spike it, which we will do tomorrow)
  3. A big ole batch takes 10 minutes of prep (but still feels special!)

What’s an agua fresca?  It’s a mixture of of blended and chopped fruit that’s macerated in water and sugar.  Before we moved to California a couple years ago I had never heard of them, but thankfully I quickly learned that agua frescas can be found at just about every taqueria and burrito joint in the area.  Now, whenever it’s hot, I try to keep one constantly at hand (that is, when I’m not eating sorbet).  I think the last time I was in LA I drank about 40 gallons of the stuff.

There’s a lot of recipes out there, but many of them are a bit too sweet for me.  Agua frescas need sugar (for the fruit maceration part), but I think it’s best if it’s kept to a minimum.  If that’s not your taste, though, you may want to bump up the sugar.  You can sample as you go along and see what seems right to you.  Bear in mind, though, that the drink will taste sweeter after the fruit has some time to macerate than it does immediately after you make it (during the maceration process the watermelon leaks out its yummy goodness).

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Smoothies

After a couple weeks on the road eating and drinking a bit too much, we’re trying to make this week extra healthy.  So far, there’s been lots of salad, roasted veggies, hummus and lentils (…and a couple ice cream sundaes…oops).  Now we’re moving into smoothies, our go-to when we want to put ourselves on a healthy path.  I love, love, love our smoothies for packing a big vitamin and fiber punch.  We also mix in enough veggies that they’re substantial, while reasonably low in calories.

To make a smoothie, I start with the same base every time (with a little variation here and there):

  • 1 orange
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 – 1/2 banana (I like just a touch for creaminess and potassium, without giving the smoothie too strong of a banana flavor)

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Homemade pomegranate grenadine

This is one of those must-do recipes.  It takes about 2 minutes of effort and is a ridiculous improvement over anything you can buy in the store.  Your cocktails will taste a bazillion times better (at least!) when you use real grenadine, rather than the red-dyed corn syrup that masquerades as grenadine.

I say real grenadine because the original version of grenadine was made from pomegranate juice, not cherry.  The word grenadine comes from the traditional French word for pomegranate, granade. Somewhere along the way, cherry replaced pomegranate in the most widespread grenadine syrups.  Now there are few grenadine syrups with any fruit in them at all.

Here are the ingredients of Rose’s grenadine: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Red 40, Blue 1.

Yuck, right?  So, let’s make our own.

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