During the summer, I am always craving ice cold drinks. Sometimes I want them to be fruity, sometimes I need them to be sweet. I always want them to be refreshing. Making them reminds me of growing up in Mexico City where aguas frescas are readily available. At my own house, we usually had a pitcher of agua fresca in the center of the lunch table (lunch is eaten later, at around 3 pm, and is the main meal of the day). I could walk over to the fridge and reach for more throughout the afternoon. I also crave aguas frescas these days because I still have somewhat of a sweet tooth, but my tolerance for sugar has decreased dramatically. Gone are the days when I could eat a large slice of cake and wake up feeling great! Now, I get a sugar hangover like nobody’s business. And so, I turn to these ice cold drinks to satisfy my love for sweets without hurting my body.
Agua de Piña
Pineapple water is the easiest to make and my very favorite of all the aguas frescas. I recommend you use a very, very ripe pineapple to get the real taste of agua de piña. In fact, my mom tells me we turned all fruit that was a minute away from having to be tossed into agua fresca. A very ripe pineapple will not only taste sweeter, I find it also blends more smoothly.
1.5 cup of cut, cored and peeled pineapple
3 cups of cold water (add a few ice cubes if your water isn’t super cold)
Blend on high for about a minute.
If your pineapple is not ripe enough, you may want to add some agave syrup, maple syrup or stevia to taste.
When you pour it out, it will be foamy and almost creamy. This is how I like to drink it. In the summer, this is my ultimate afternoon treat!
I am living proof that the United States is an astoundingly effective melting pot. The agua fresca most commonly found at my house as a child was agua de limon, or lemonade. The traditional recipe is made with key limes (which are just called limones in Mexico), water and sugar. But I am now much more partial to the more typical American strawberry lemonade. Here is my recipe:
3 cups of cold water
The juice of 2.5 lemons (plain yellow lemons)
1 cup of frozen strawberries
¼ teaspoon of white stevia powder
½ tablespoon of maple syrup*
I begin by making the lemonade part in the blender. I add the water, lemons, stevia and maple syrup. Sometimes I add more lemon, sometimes a tiny bit more stevia. Once the lemonade tastes right, I add in the strawberries. Blend all the ingredients in a high speed blender for about a minute. Strain through a fine mesh to strain out the seeds. Refrigerate immediately so that it remains cold.
*I find that the maple syrup mellows out the aftertaste of stevia a little bit.
Homemade “Egg Cream”
Ok, so at first taste, you will most likely not recognize this as any version of an egg cream, but over time, you may actually come to like it more. I thought of it after making a really delicious vegan chocolate syrup that I love so much I actually eat it by the spoon. It’s not as sweet as traditional chocolate syrup, it’s also thicker. Here is the recipe:
Bittersweet chocolate sauce
¼ cup of cacao powder*
⅛ cup of maple syrup
½ cup of water
Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium to high heat. Wisk them as they heat up, making sure the mixture doesn’t burn. You can decide how thick you want it. Sometimes I let it thicken quite a bit and eat this mixture as a sort of vegan pot de creme! This syrup is more bittersweet than sweet. If you want it to be sweeter, you can either add more maple syrup or a bit of stevia to the mix.
3 tablespoons of the vegan chocolate sauce
½ cup milk (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
¾ cup of soda water
To make the egg cream, mix the chocolate sauce and the milk. Fill your glass with ice. Then, add the soda water. Mix again and sip!
*I have never made it with cocoa powder, but I am sure it would also work. Also, I have noticed big variations in the taste of cacao powders by brand. My favorite, by far, is by Navitas.