At the beginning of my pregnancy I read some information in a book that said there is actual scientific research that artificial sweeteners cause cancer. In fact, the one that causes it specifically had been taken off the market in the 80s maybe but due to pressure from the makers of it (what do I say all the time? Money talks!) it was put back on the market, unchanged, still as cancer causing as ever. This really opened my eyes because I was newly pregnant and up until that point if I wanted a flavored drink, I would only consume the ones without calories, because I couldn't justify the calories in a drink. So from that point on, I really haven't drunken anything that is "diet" or "sugar free" or "half the calories" or anything like that because it's all a code word for artificial sweeteners. However, as I mentioned once before, my craving for flavored drinks this pregnancy has been huge. Thus, I've been drinking calorie-ladened drinks almost every day-mostly juices or fruit punches or whatever. And for the past 7 months or so I've felt bad about consuming these empty calories. Well, for you mamas out there like me-in the same pickle I was in-wanting to drink a flavored drink without calories or artificial sweeteners-I have a solution!
Iced herbal tea! It's a little pricey because a box of 16 tea bags runs about $4 so that means every cup of tea is about $.25. Compared to juice or Gatorade or something that's expensive-double maybe even triple the price, but I think it's worth it. So here's how I make a practically calorie free drink: I soak 4 tea bags of chosen flavor in 2 cups of boiling water. (Make sure to do it in a glass container-to avoid any chemicals heated plastic might give off or simply the melting of plastic.) After about 5 minutes of soaking, remove tea bags and squeeze out to get all the flavor. Add the 2 cups of flavored tea to 2 cups of cool water. Before I do this though, here's my important step-add some sugar, honey or some other sweetener. I tried adding honey but honey is so distinctive, it didn't work for me. So now I add 2T of white sugar. (If I ever buy agave I might try that.) The 2T of sugar works out to 1 1/2t per cup of tea. That's a mere 24 calories per drink! Practically calorie free, artificial sweetener free, and still tasty! When I drink it, I make sure I pour it over ice because it is so expensive, I don't want to be drinking a huge glass full on accident.
So far our favorite flavor is raspberry herbal tea, with the 2T of sugar added and 2T of lemon juice added. Sort of tastes a bit like raspberry lemon aid. Yum!