Tuesday, July 6, 2010

0 Recipe #132: Refreshing Homemade Lemonade with Fresh Mint & Lemon Slices

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It just hit 100°F here & both Erik & I are ready for something cool & refreshing this evening. So, I just made a pitcher of ice cold lemonade to go along with tonight's dinner --  gourmet burgers stuffed with feta & fresh herbs -- which'll of course be made on the grill. Yum! (Burger recipe to follow, but of course....)

Cool and refreshing, this lemonade will not only sate your thirst but also keep you hydrated and healthy! The lemon juice, honey, and mint in this drink are a particularly powerful combination. For one, lemon juice has multiple health benefits: Its antibacterial properties help fight infection in the throat and get rid of chest congestion; its high levels of potassium can help provide relief from dizziness, nausea, and fever; and its vitamin C content not only fights cancer but also boosts immunity by increasing the body's white blood cell count, antibodies, and interferon (i.e., interferon coats cell surfaces to ward off viruses and fight infection). Honey aids in respiratory health and helps boost immunity and energy.

And then there are the myriad health properties of mint: Mint is useful for eliminating toxins from the body, alleviating respiratory issues, and freshening breath. It may also relieve headaches, not to mention it’s got astringent, antiseptic, analgesic, and antimicrobial properties. Mint’s high concentration of the antioxidant, rosmarinic acid, has been shown to markedly reduce allergy and asthma symptoms. The menthol in mint not only has cooling effects but, more importantly, has anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties, acts as a decongestant, and can soothe digestive problems by helping to relax intestinal muscles. Its perillyl alcohol content (a phytonutrient) may offer anti-cancer benefits. It’s a good source of fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, copper, vitamins A, B2, and C, anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids, and the electrolytes potassium and calcium. The latter two are of particular benefit to athletes, as the first helps reduce post-exercise inflammation while the second replenishes essential electrolytes lost through exercise.

Refreshing Homemade Lemonade with Fresh Mint & Lemon Slices

1/8 c. (2 Tbsp.) fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (use liquid measure)
6 c. cold water
1/2 c. honey
1 lemon, sliced crosswise into thin (1/4") rounds, with ends discarded
2 c. ice cubes

Directions:  Add the mint leaves to a large glass pitcher. With the side of a spoon, mull the mint leaves by pressing them against the sides of the pitcher. Next, add lemon juice, water, & honey, in that order. Stir well with a long spoon or stirrer. Then add sliced lemons. Refrigerate & add ice just before serving. Serve & enjoy!

Variations: Use limes instead of lemons, or use both. Or, for an even more colorful presentation, add orange slices into the mix. Due to its popularity, lemonade is great for entertaining guests: Add seltzer water and lemon sherbet to turn this drink into a punch, or, to make it alcoholic, spike your lemonade with vodka (for vodka lemonade), or add beer to make shandy, a.k.a. beer lemonade. (Beer lemonade actually goes by several different names, depending upon where you are in the world: it's called a shandy in the UK/US, a panaché in France, a clara in Spain, and a radler in Germany.)

Yield: Makes about 64 fl. oz. (or 8 cups).

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