Naturally flavoured water is a healthy alternative for kids

September 14th, 2016

by Karen Halley, GreenUP Communications & Marketing Specialist

The next time you reach for your favourite thirst-quenching lemonade or soda, take a peek at the nutritional label and see how much sugar has been added. Many popular brands of pop and juice contain upwards of 40 grams of sugar per serving!

Beverages that are sweetened with sugar are the largest source of sugar in most kid’s diets. Sweetened drinks are actually marketed towards children and parents and are readily available at most concession stands, pop machines, and on the grocery store shelves. This is contributing to childhood obesity and unhealthy body weight in kids.

Children enjoy their homemade flavoured water at GreenUP Ecology Park Family Night; kids really enjoy the fruity flavours of Rosehips and Hibiscus flowers and will also benefit from the health benefits of vitamin C that come along with it.

Children enjoy their homemade flavoured water at GreenUP Ecology Park Family Night; kids really enjoy the fruity flavours of Rosehips and Hibiscus flowers and will also benefit from the health benefits of vitamin C that come along with it.

Tap water, a much healthier option, is a readily available alternative, which helps to keep kid’s bodies hydrated and healthy, and also reduces the waste associated with packaging of single servings of juices, pop, and bottled water.

Unfortunately, healthy, flavoured alternatives to water or juice are not widely available but making your own is a fun way to enhance tap water and it can be done with plants from your own backyard!

GreenUP Educator, Danica Jarvis explains the benefits of using backyard plants to make flavoured water including Bee Balm, shown here growing in the GreenUP Ecology Park Food Forest, which is also a great pollinator plant.

GreenUP Educator, Danica Jarvis explains the benefits of using backyard plants to make flavoured water including Bee Balm, shown here growing in the GreenUP Ecology Park Food Forest, which is also a great pollinator plant.

The Peterborough region has seen a great in increase in the number of community gardens. Schools are also incorporating gardening into learning outside the classroom walls. Consequently, kids in this region are gaining interest in gardening, hands-on skills with tools, and the ability to identify plants.

Children in GreenUP Ecology Park Earth Adventures summer camp investigate a wild raspberry patch to enjoy the delicious benefits of wild edibles; with the rise in community and school yard gardens in this region, kids  are gaining interest in gardening, hands-on skills, and the ability to identify plants.

Children in GreenUP Ecology Park Earth Adventures summer camp investigate a wild raspberry patch to enjoy the delicious benefits of wild edibles; with the rise in community and school yard gardens in this region, kids are gaining interest in gardening, hands-on skills, and the ability to identify plants.

With this type of enthusiasm in our community for growing our own food, there is an opportunity to get kids involved with planting, growing, and tending to their favourite plants for flavouring water – and some of these plants may already be growing in your yard.

Naturally-flavoured water can be made with local plants such as Rose, Lavender, Mint, Red Clover, and Plantain. Leaves, flowers, roots, and other parts of certain plants can be harvested, dried and tied into cheesecloth with string to then to infuse water that can be consumed as a cold, refreshing thirst quencher.

Naturally-flavoured water can be made with many local plants that can be dried and stored: Rose, Lavender, Mint, Red Clover, and Plantain are commonly found in gardens and may already be growing in your own backyard.

Naturally-flavoured water can be made with many local plants that can be dried and stored: Rose, Lavender, Mint, Red Clover, and Plantain are commonly found in gardens and may already be growing in your own backyard.

Marianne Beacon of Elderberry Herbals suggests, “Kids really enjoy the fruity flavours of Rosehips and Hibiscus flowers and will also benefit from the health benefits of vitamin C that come along with it.”

An attendee of GreenUP Ecology Park Family Night enjoys ‘Flower Power’ water made from Rose petals, Roseships, Hibiscus and Red Clover.

An attendee of GreenUP Ecology Park Family Night enjoys ‘Flower Power’ water made from Rose petals, Roseships, Hibiscus and Red Clover.

She also recommends starting early with children when they are young so they can learn to experiment with their favourite flavours and become accustomed to making blends they enjoy most.

arianne Beacon from Elderberry Herbals helps an attendee of GreenUP Ecology Park Family Night assemble a home made flavoured water from dried Hibiscus, Rose hips, and Red Clover tied in cheesecloth in order to make naturally flavoured water. Healthy Kids Community Challenge Peterborough has provided funding to help families and kids to make healthier, unsweetened choices when selecting beverages to hydrate.

arianne Beacon from Elderberry Herbals helps an attendee of GreenUP Ecology Park Family Night assemble a home made flavoured water from dried Hibiscus, Rose hips, and Red Clover tied in cheesecloth in order to make naturally flavoured water. Healthy Kids Community Challenge Peterborough has provided funding to help families and kids to make healthier, unsweetened choices when selecting beverages to hydrate.

Recently, Marianne presented at GreenUP Ecology Park as part of the Nature Nocturnes evening programs with Healthy Kids Community Challenge Peterborough. Children had the opportunity to participate in making infused water from various local plants, which encourages the benefits of improved healthy behaviours that can be experienced when kids choose delicious and healthy food options.

Marianne demonstrated how to make infused water for kids and families, “When using leaves, harvest them before the flower blooms, and when using flowers, pick them when they are freshest.” Plant parts can be hung or laid flat to dry with lots of room between stems and leaves for air to circulate. Once dried, store them in a cool, dry location such as a glass jar or paper bag.

A young camper at GreenUP Ecology Park enjoys homemade flavoured water made from sumac  which is naturally sweet and high in vitamin C.

A young camper at GreenUP Ecology Park enjoys homemade flavoured water made from sumac which is naturally sweet and high in vitamin C.

Of course, it is also important to ensure that you have correctly identified the plant you want to harvest so that you know it is safe to consume and that it is not endangered; native species such as Wild Ginseng, Goldenseal, and Lady Slipper are rare and struggling in their native ranges and must be left alone.

Infusing your tap water with homegrown herbs and flowers is a great way to hydrate, stay healthy, and enjoy your garden in a new way.

A group of summer campers at GreenUP Ecology Park raise their cups as they enjoy flavoured water they made with sumac berries, lemon, and a bit of added sweetness of honey from the GreenUP Ecology Park bees.

A group of summer campers at GreenUP Ecology Park raise their cups as they enjoy flavoured water they made with sumac berries, lemon, and a bit of added sweetness of honey from the GreenUP Ecology Park bees.

For opportunities to learn more about making homemade and homegrown infused water, watch the GreenUP online calendar and the workshops page at http://www.www.greenup.on.caor visit Herbalist, Marianne Beacon’s website at http://www.elderberryherbals.ca.

To learn more about Healthy Kids Community Challenge Peterborough, visit http://www.sustainablepeterborough.ca

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