It is already starting off to be a very hot summer, and hydration will be even more important now. You might already know that about 75 percent of the human body is water, but did you know that about 20 percent of our fluid intake comes from the foods we eat?
Here are some fun ideas to incorporate hydrating fruits and vegetables into your day:
Start summer meals off with soup. OK, it sounds like a crazy idea to eat soup in the summer, but there are some amazing cold soups to start off your meals if you are not afraid to try new things. You can try gazpacho, carrot coconut lime soup, or a chilled blueberry soup (recipe at whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/recipes/myplate-cnpp/chilled-blueberry-soup). By the way, raw blueberries contain about 84 percent water.
Blend up some cold, refreshing smoothies. Just put ice, low-fat milk and/or yogurt, plus your favorite fruits into a blender and blend until smooth. Do not forget to add in a little spinach or kale (it does not really change the flavor but it adds important vitamins, minerals and fiber)! Raw spinach is about 91 percent water.
Do you remember eating gelatin with fruit suspended in it? Bring back that sweet classic – just make your favorite flavor gelatin and add in your favorite fruits for an instant cool, sweet and hydrating treat. Since gelatin is made with water, it and the fruit help with hydration. Prepared gelatin is about 84 percent water.
Grill vegetables or fruit on skewers or on special grilling trays. Grilling fruit caramelizes the natural sugars in the fruits and gives them a different and interesting texture and such yummy flavor.
Try different colors in your salads – add a new fruit or vegetable and see how you like it. Be adventurous while hydrating and getting in your daily fruits and vegetables.
Use mashed avocado on your sandwiches instead of mayonnaise – it has the same creamy and rich texture as mayo and it also gives a new flavor. Plus, you are making a healthier substitution. Avocado is about 72 percent water.
Toss extra vegetables into casseroles or pasta dishes (peas and squash work great here). If your kids do not really like vegetables, this is your chance to sneak some in. If you steam then blend up some yellow squash, no one should notice any difference in flavor when you add it to the spaghetti sauce or casserole. Cooked yellow squash is about 94 percent water.
If you do not like the taste of water, buy an infuser cup and flavor your water with any fruits, veggies or herbs you choose. Some flavor combination ideas to try are: strawberry basil cucumber, raspberry lemon, pineapple ginger and cucumber lavender. The flavor possibilities are endless. Strawberries (along with watermelon) have some of the highest water content of all the raw fruits, with 91 percent water content.
SOURCES: USDA Food Composition Database: ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/index; choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-liven-up-your-meals; and Hydration: Water, the Forgotten Nutrient curricula from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service