Nutritionist and author of What’s for Lunch, Rita Date, shares some interesting recipes and important food facts in her fortnightly column Kitchen Corner in She.

In the summer months it is especially important to stay hydrated and the best thirst-quencher is good old H2O.  However, other than plain water there are plenty of options available when it comes to refreshing beverages.

Now coming to the tricky part. Many of my clients ask:  What are the drink options available without sugar? I tell them that most drinks are full of sugar, particularly the ones that are available on the roadside or at restaurants — soft drinks, kokum, limbu pani, cold coffee, panna, etc.

So it is best not to drink the calorie-and sugar-laden drinks which will only add-on kilos. They are also not a good option for diabetics. You can add artificial sweeteners to the drinks but that really isn’t healthy, especially long-term.

That said, there are other healthier options. Try these: 

Coconut water | Ice tea with honey. Make some lightly brewed tea and refrigerate. Add honey before drinking. | Buttermilk with mint and coriander.

Nanchne water
Nanchne, (ragi or finger millet) is full of nutrients such as calcium and iron. The liquid jaggery also adds iron and this filling drink has plenty of fibre

Ingredients: ½ cup nachne powder, 2 cups water, 2tbsp liquid gur (or jaggery), a dash of cardamom powder.
Directions: Blend all the ingredients and cool or add ice. Stir before drinking.

Banana Smoothie 
Ingredients: 1 banana, ½ cup low-fat milk, 3 dates, a few cashews.
Directions: Blend ingredients with a few cubes of ice. This high-carb drink is not only refreshing but can be a filling snack or breakfast.

Flavoured water
You can get creative with water, the possibilities are endless. Combine fruits with accompanying spices and herbs and you have a great tasting drink. Here are a few options:

Cucumber Water
Ingredients: 1 cucumber (slices), 2 lemons (sliced) and a dash of black salt.
Directions: Add ingredients to a pitcher of water, filled with ice.

Pineapple and Mint
Add a cup of cut pineapple to a pitcher and crush with a large spoon. Add a handful of mint to the pitcher along with ice water.

Green Tea 

Ingredients: 5 green tea bags, 1 litre water, 2 lemons (sliced), handful of mint.
Directions: Steep tea bags in the boiled water for 3 minutes. Cool and add mint, lemon and ice.