- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2005

I remember when I was in the seventh grade and went with friends to see “Lawrence of Arabia.” The wide-angle desert cinematography was so real that we could practically feel the sun baking and the sand blowing, even though we were ensconced in cushy chairs at the RKO Palace in downtown Rochester, N.Y.

Our favorite scene was the one in which, after crossing the Sahara in unbearable heat, Peter O’Toole finally drags himself into a makeshift tavern at an oasis. Practically keeling over from thirst and exhaustion, he orders not water but a glass of cold lemonade. The audience roared with laughter at the idea of a half-parched human requesting a beverage instead of plain old water.

To today’s audience, such a scene would probably not elicit a chuckle. Quenching thirst in our modern age has become a complex matter. While being thirsty once meant walking to the kitchen for a glass of water from the tap, these days thirst busting can be about which brand of water and what type of fashionable container it occupies.

Convenience stores stock what seems like acres of guzzling opportunities. We get all sorts of esoteric blended frozen coffee and tea potions at Starbucks and other coffee shops. Juice bars and smoothie joints dot the asphalt landscape. All this adds up to a lot of expense and, often, loads of calories.

Here’s a lovely way to avoid spending too much money and calories on summer drinks. Why not set up a home juice bar and make some truly fabulous drinks yourself? Better yet, invite the children in your life to help or do it themselves.

They will appreciate knowing that there are good alternatives to soda and that creating new concoctions can be fun and easy, with results much friendlier to the waistline, pocketbook and teeth than many of the packaged liquids we buy at the store. No cans, no bottles. All that is needed are a little counter space, ice, a few ingredients and a bit of inspiration. Drink your own creation, and chill out in every sense of the word.

Excellent soda

This is a great way to wean children from canned sodas..

3 tablespoons frozen juice concentrate, any flavor

½ cup sparkling water

Ice cubes

Place frozen concentrate in a glass, and stir until soft. Add sparkling water and stir. Add ice cubes and drink. Makes 1 serving.

Strawberry slush

20 perfect medium-size strawberries, cleaned and hulled

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

4 teaspoons sugar or simple syrup (see note)

12 ice cubes

Place strawberries, lemon juice, sugar or syrup, and ice cubes in a blender, and process until slushy and smooth. Pour into 1 large glass. Drink or eat with a spoon. Makes 1 serving.

Note: To make simple syrup, dissolve 2 tablespoons sugar in 2 tablespoons hot water. Stir until dissolved. Use as much as needed. The rest will keep almost indefinitely.

Cool and light chocolate shake

3/4 cup chocolate sorbet

1 cup low-fat milk, possibly more

Up to 3/4 teaspoon sugar, optional

Place sorbet and 1 cup milk in a blender. Whip until smooth. (Add extra milk or water if it seems too thick.) Taste to see if it is as sweet as you like. If it isn’t, add a little sugar. Pour into a glass and be blissful. Makes 1 serving.


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