When I realised I was low on vitamin C supplements I thought I’d better stock up, particularly as hayfever season is just around the corner. Was I in for a shock when I discovered that all my normal supplement suppliers were completely out of vitamin C with some even posting ‘no stock until April’ notices!
So. In the absence of supplements, and aside from smoothies, here are some ideas for really healthy drinks. Some of them do need some preparation I’m afraid, nothing like popping a pill!
1) Infused ginger & turmeric
Scrape the peel off an inch of root ginger and slice. If you have a pestle and mortar, bash the slices. Place in a saucepan with turmeric. Use ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder or turmeric paste. Cover with 1-2 cups of water and simmer for about 20 minutes or more. Leave to infuse for as long as you want. Add honey to flavour. Options: you can add cinnamon stick and lemon juice if you wish. I find turmeric powder in a drink leaves a powdery texture on the tongue so I prefer to use the paste.
2) If you want a ‘no preparation’ drink, mix ½ teaspoon of turmeric (preferably root or paste) with lemon, honey and hot water.
3) Hibiscus - the healthiest drink
Acording to Dr Michael Greger, out of 280 common drinks, hibiscus came out on top with the highest antioxidant content. In other words, if you really want something to boost your immune system, this is a good one. Indian and Middle Eastern shops sell dried hibiscus flowers; I get mine from Morrisons supermarket. You only need a small handful in a teapot filled with hot water. Infuse for 15-20 minutes and sweeten with honey if you wish.
4) Cold Tea
If you prefer to have your drinks cold, researchers have found that taking herbal teas that are normally drunk hot and infusing them instead in cold water boosts the antioxidants even further, plus you get more polyphenols. Although heat will activate polyphenols, it will also destroy some, whereas cold will retain more of them.
Polyphenols are chemicals which plants produce to protect themselves and they, in turn, are beneficial to our health.
Take your herbal tea such as hibiscus flowers, rosehips, white or green tea leaves, put them in a jug, fill with cold water and leave them overnight in the fridge.
5) All of the orange
We all know that oranges contain vitamin C but the part we normally eat, the flesh contains only 25% of the vitamin C. The pith, the membranes in between each segment and the skin contain most of the goodness of the fruit, plus the membranes contain hespiridin which is good for the skin.
In his book How to Eat Better, James Wong suggests blending oranges whole and adding them to soups and smoothies. His idea for orange squash is to mix 2 oranges blended with the juice of 2 lemons, 1 tablespoon of double cream and 2 tablespoons of stevia (baking blend). The double cream takes the edge off the bitterness.
6) Good old honey and lemon
Just like oranges, you can blend lemons and that way you get all the goodness of the pith and the segment membranes. Chop the fruit and blend in a food processor until smooth. You can store this in the fridge and take out a teaspoon to mix with honey in a drink. Alternatively, you can use blended orange with honey.
7) Ready-made drink
If you really don’t want the trouble of preparing your own drinks, according to James Wong, buy cheap orange juice. The whole fruit is whizzed up, juice, skin and flesh so it contains the goodness of the whole orange. And this way you get more vitamin C and more antioxidants than in the juice alone.