Make a Small Change That You Can Maintain: Start Each Day With a Glass of Water

I recently read an article in the New York Times, Rise and Shine, about what kids around the world eat and drink for breakfast. As a mom of two young daughters, I’m always looking for new ideas and inspiration. I wasn’t overly inspired by the food, much of it sugary and carb-filled, like the typical American breakfast (i.e. bread with butter and sweet sprinkles, Oatmeal with sugar, baguette with butter and jam and sweet cake). However, I was even less inspired by the beverages that children around the globe begin their days with, and surprised that only one of the 11 breakfasts featured in the article included a glass of water! Almost all of the children began their day with milk, chocolate milk or juice, which is probably similar to what happens in the US. Clearly this is just a small sampling but I still find it striking that less than 10% of these children have a glass of water in the morning.  After reading this article, I had to pause and give myself quick kudos for having at least one healthy habit that I’ve managed to pass on to my children 🙂

At my house, we all start the day with a glass of water. I’ve always enjoyed warm water with lemon (or sometimes lemon and honey) first thing in the morning and I make sure my girls have at least one glass of water before they leave the house because I know that they’re not always drinking enough during the day and I try to stay ahead with their hydration. I find that our little ritual of drinking our water together first thing helps us start the day off on the right foot – I am hopeful that doing something good for our bodies in the morning makes us more mindful of making healthy choices and drinking more throughout the day.

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I start my day with a tall glass of lemon water and my girls each chug a short glass of plain H2O. It’s a healthy way to start each day.

Most people know it’s healthy to start the day with a glass of water, but not everyone knows why or remembers to do it. Hydrating in the morning can make you feel more energetic by keeping your metabolism in check, helps remove toxins from your system, improves digestion and stimulates elimination. Having a glass of water first thing and then drinking more throughout the day will help you avoid health issues that may be related to dehydration.

If you don’t like to drink plain water, then try squeezing some lemon, lime or orange into your water. Not only does lemon give water a nice burst of citrus taste but it also provides many health benefits. For a really fast and convenient way to switch up the taste of your water but still keep it super healthy and natural you can also add a few drops of essential oil or try a natural water enhancer like H2wOw.

I know that it may not be a common practice to begin each day with a glass of water but it really should be. It’s such a small and easy change to make and keep but it is also a habit that can make a big difference. My girls and I toast our water glasses each morning — give it a try with your kids too.

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DIY Sparkling Chia “Soda”: A New Way to Wow Your Water

My two young daughters love to drink kombucha. We are a household without soda or juice so kombucha is a very tasty treat for them. Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that contains a high concentration of b-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and good acids including lactic acids. Although I make or buy locally brewed, high-quality kombucha, and I believe in it’s many health benefits, I also am very careful to only let my girls drink it in moderation. While, the fermentation process does get rid of most of the sugar and caffeine from the tea, some does remain. In addition, kombucha usually contains a small amount of alcohol, depending on the length of fermentation, that ranges from .5% and 3%. So, despite all the great benefits of kombucha, the sugar, caffeine and alcohol do make me think twice before giving it to my kids. Read more about the health benefits of kombucha here: 18 Healthy Reasons to Sip Kombucha

pictured above are three varieties of kombucha (Green Tea Nettle, White Tea Hibiscus and Green Tea Grape) from one of my favorite bay area businesses: Threestone Hearth, a Community Supported Kitchen.
Three varieties of kombucha (Green Tea Nettle, White Tea Hibiscus and Green Tea Grape) from one of my favorite Bay Area businesses: Three stone Hearth, a Community Supported Kitchen

Over the holidays, my girls had a two-week vacation from school so there were lots of extra snacks and meals together, as well as more time for them to ask for “treats”. I found myself giving them more kombucha than I was comfortable with and decided to try to come up with an alternative that would satisfy them and make me feel at ease. This was also right after the official launch of my all natural water enhancer, H2wOw, which proved to come in handy for my new concoction. The girls and I have been loving our new drink so much that I decided to dedicate this post to what it is and how to make it.

Here's Clover enjoying our homemade, kid-safe effervescent "treat" drink
Here’s Clover enjoying our homemade, kid-safe effervescent “treat” drink

Our Yummy Effervescent and Kid-Friendly Drink Recipe:

We always soak Chia seeds to include in our kombucha, I knew this would need to be part of the mix. Chia seeds have more omega3’s than salmon, more calcium than milk and lots of antioxidants, they’re also fun to eat – similar to a gelatinous tapioca drink. In addition to including chia seeds, I knew our concoction would need to have an effervescent quality — since this is what makes kombucha such a “special” drink to them. Finally, there would need to be some sweetness and flavor to turn it in to an actual “treat” and not just sparkling water with chia seeds.

So for step #1, we prepared our chia seeds, which is really easy to do and I highly recommend adding this superfood to almost any drink, even if it’s just to plain water (my kids even like chia seeds in milk).  They add so many nutrients and can really help to take the edge off hunger for hours. We use high-quality organic seeds, such as Nutiva or Navitas, which are also raw. To make your chia seeds gelatinous and yummy, you will need to soak them first (preferably overnight). Soaking your seeds will work best if your water is hot but room temperature will also get you good results. I start by adding around three tablespoons of seeds to a 16oz. Mason Ball jar, then I add approximately one cup of hot water.

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To make glutinous chia seeds, simply soak 3TB of seeds in one cup of water in the fridge overnight.

Once the seeds and water are added, I cover the jar and give it a good shake. I allow it to cool a bit and then put it into the fridge to soak overnight. After a night in the fridge, your chia seeds will be blown up and completely gelatinous and the “water” mixture should be more like a gel. Depending on how much chia you like in your beverage will determine how much this yields, I usually add a couple of tablespoons of “gel” to each drink so one jar’s worth is enough for several drinks and will stay fresh in the fridge for about a week.  A jar of chia “gel” is a staple in our fridge and I am usually making a new batch every other day or so.

So now you know how to make yummy seeds, like the ones you find in drinks that costs upwards of $5.00 each, such as like Mama Chia and Synergy Kombucha. Even if you stop reading here, you should have enough to play with to make your own nutritious and delicious drink recipes. However, hopefully you’ll keep reading and try our recipe too!

One of our most used kitchen appliances is the Soda Stream. We use it multiple times everyday and go through lots of sparkling water at our house. So, for step #2 we prepared our sparkling water. Of course, you can also used plain store-bought sparkling water but it’s certainly less expensive and less wasteful to carbonate water yourself. There are lots of ways to carbonate water, you can check out comparisons of some of the best choices here: The Best Soda Maker

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After making our sparkling water, we were ready to bring the pieces together and flavor it. I added a couple of tablespoons of our chia gel to a glass and filled it the rest of the way with our freshly made sparkling water. This brought us to step #3 adding our flavor. I wanted to make this part fun and “experimental” for the kids, so we played around with trying different combinations of stevia and essential oils before we brought out the big guns….H2wOw. As I mentioned in my last post, New Year, New Goals, I recently (or should I say finally) launched my product that I’ve been working to develop for three years. H2wOw is an all-natural water enhancer — and I do mean truly all-natural, it’s made with NOTHING ARTIFICIAL and is the first all-natural water enhancer made from the essential oils and extracts of real fruit and botanicals.  I know it’s a product I created so you might take this with a grain of salt, but I must say, H2wOw tastes absolutely fabulous in our chia seed drink! We played around with all the flavors. My favorite is the Ginger Lime, but, with the chia seeds, the kids love the Mandarin Grapefruit the most.

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Finally, we added the flavor. We used H2wOw for a natural and healthy alternative.

With only three natural calories and less than one gram of sugar per serving (H2wOw is sweetened with a hint of Organic Agave and a touch of Organic Stevia), I feel good about my kids drinking it, especially in this “treat” drink which is really more of a “trick” drink since it is also sooo healthy. Between the awesome health benefits of the chia seeds and the natural electrolytes in H2wOw, which  help them stay better hydrated, I even let them have seconds – but only on vacation 🙂

If you don’t have any H2wOw, you can still make a yummy effervescent drink that’s completely natural (although it doesn’t taste quite as good). Play around with different essential oils and stevia to find a combination that works for you. Or, simply order your H2wOw today from Amazon to make this chia drink and add to your water all day long.

Keeping My Kids Hydrated with Water-Packed Foods

My older daughter Cypress had to be taken to the emergency room last year with severe neck pain and a host of other symptoms. She was just over 5 at the time. Luckily, it turned out to be just a scare and basically “nothing”, however the doctor told me that her symptoms could have been caused in part by dehydration. I was shocked by this……I thought to myself “I’m a good mom”, I send her to school everyday with a full water bottle, I always have water with me, how could this be? But as my initial defensiveness subsided and I began to review the previous few weeks in my head, I realized there were many days that the water bottle I packed for school came back home full and that although I offered water throughout the day there really was no guarantee that she was drinking enough. So, I did what any parent would do and began monitoring her water intake much more closely and really tried to encourage her to drink more, explaining in layman’s terms why water is so important for our bodies. Her water intake definitely improved but I was still feeling like she wasn’t drinking enough.

I decided that I needed to get more creative and tried a range of things. I don’t generally allow juice, however I found if I put a small splash of some sort of organic juice (apple, blueberry, grape) in her water, she did tend to drink more. I also discovered that she liked tea and in the morning and evening began making various teas like hibiscus, berry and mint, sweetened with just a tiny drop of stevia. However, one of my favorite ways that I began to “sneak” water into her was by packing a lunch full of hydrating foods. Hydrating through foods has been a change that has stuck for our entire family, becoming a healthy habit that I no longer need to try to remember to do.

Her lunch today included half of a turkey sandwich, along with a side of fruits and veggies that all toll added up to more than 1 cup of water!

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I fill the lunchbox with as many hydrating foods as possible

It’s a fact, eating foods, such as cucumbers or strawberries, contribute to your overall fluid intake and help you stay hydrated. And, there are so many water-packed foods that I can constantly rotate to keep lunch interesting. What’s more, her lunches are filled with a lot more nutrition. There’s Vitamin C in everything pictured, not to mention the lycopene in watermelon and peppers, fiber in cucumbers, thiamine, vitamin B6, beta carotene and folic acid in red pepper and my favorite….celery, which contains the highest percent of water along with the longest list of nutrients, including vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C potassium, folate, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and plenty essential amino acids.

And, if extra hydration and nutrition isn’t enough to convince you, adults may be interested to learn that research shows that eating foods that are full of water will also help keep you satisfied on fewer calories.

Here’s a table of some of my lunchbox favorites, including water content percent and some of the added nutritional benefits of each food:

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A table of some of my lunchbox favorites along with some of their other benefits

And for those of you that need even more evidence in order to start integrating hydrating foods into your diet, I will leave you with this……A 2009 study at the University of Aberdeen Medical School found that the combination of salts, minerals and natural sugars in some fruits and vegetables can actually hydrate people more effectively than water or even sports drinks. Watermelon was on top of the list, thanks to its 92 percent water content and essential rehydration salts calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium.