August accounts for some of the hottest weather of the summer season, but it also signifies the finality of those not-so-endless days of sun, surf, and sand. So, when planning your Labor Day barbecue (sniff, sniff), make sure you’re offering refreshments that hydrate your guests — and no, mojitos don’t count. Not drinking enough H20 can cause dehydration issues to include headaches, fatigue, skin issues, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and muscle cramps. While pros suggest you drink several glasses of water daily to meet your hydration needs, this can be difficult for some. With that in mind, here are five ultra-hydrating recipes that are big in taste, low in calories and brimming with health benefits.
WATERMELON SALSA: water content 92 percent
Watermelon is chock-full of vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as antioxidant-rich lycopene. It also contains potassium, which is essential for regulating water balance in the body.
3 cups finely diced seedless watermelon
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
⅓ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup minced red onion
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Place watermelon, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice and onion in a medium bowl; stir well to combine. Season with salt. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
CHILLED STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB SOUP: water content 91 percent
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, but they also offer a hearty dose of fiber, folic acid, manganese, and potassium. They also contain significant amounts of phytonutrients and flavonoids, which are responsible for the berries’ bright red hue.
4 cups ½-inch pieces rhubarb, fresh or frozen
3 cups water
1½ cups sliced strawberries
¼ cup sugar
Bring rhubarb and 3 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Cook until the rhubarb is very soft and broken down, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Put a couple inches of ice water in a large bowl and set the bowl with the rhubarb in it to help cool it quickly. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until cool, at least 20 minutes. Transfer the rhubarb to a blender. Add strawberries, sugar and salt; blend until smooth. Return to the bowl and stir in ⅓ cup basil (or mint). Serve sprinkled with more herbs and a generous grinding of pepper. Cover and refrigerate the soup (without basil or mint) for up to 1 day. Stir in herbs just before serving.
SUMMER PEACH AND BALSAMIC PIZZA: water content 89 percent
Both nutrient-dense and hydrating, peaches boast several key vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, and B, as well as potassium. When the skin is consumed, these fuzzy fruits provide disease-fighting antioxidants too.
1 batch pizza dough (store bought or your own recipe)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced or grated
2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
4 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
Prepare the balsamic reduction by pouring balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan, bringing it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vinegar has reduced to 1/4 cup, about 20 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide dough into tennis-ball sized pieces. Take one piece of dough and punch it down on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a circle approximately 1/4-inch thin. Place the pizza on a pizza peel or pan that has been generously coated with cornmeal.
Lightly brush each pizza with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Top with mozzarella, goat cheese, and peach slices. Drizzle the pizza with balsamic reduction. Place the pizza in the oven-directly on the oven rack. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until pizza crust is golden and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with basil and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Cut into slices and serve.
TANGY CUCUMBER DILL SALAD: water content 95 percent
Extremely low in calories, cucumbers also provide traces of nutrients, such as vitamin K, potassium and magnesium. Keep in mind that while cucumbers are typically served cold, they can also be included in cooked preparations like soups and stir-fries.
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
kosher salt and black pepper
1 English cucumber, sliced
¼ red onion, sliced
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, dill, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the cucumber and onion and toss to combine.
ROMAINE AND AVOCADO SALAD WITH LEMON-TARRAGON VINAIGRETTE: water content 96 percent
Lettuce may seem ordinary, but just one cup of leafy greens provides more than a quarter cup (59 ml) of water, in addition to one gram of fiber and five percent of your daily needs for folate — which is particularly important for pregnant women as it can prevent birth defects. It’s also high in vitamins K and A, both of which are known for keeping both bones and immune system in check.
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons chopped tarragon
1 whole-wheat baguette
3 sprays olive-oil cooking spray
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
2 heads romaine hearts
Salt and black pepper to taste
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch arugula
8 nicoise olives, halved
2 heads baby fennel, shaved
1 sprig tarragon
In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for dressing; set aside. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the baguette into eight 1/4-inch slices, spray with olive-oil, and bake until golden brown.
Crush the avocado with a fork, season with salt, and spread in a thin layer on each plate. Place two baguette slices on top. Dress the romaine leaves with the lemon-tarragon vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper, and arrange on plates. Garnish each plate with tomatoes, arugula, olives, fennel and tarragon.