Healthier Summer Sips

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July 9/10 2009 - DINING - MINIS: Agua Frescas Credit: Evan Sung for The New York Times

Photo by: Evan Sung for The New York Times

Evan Sung for The New York Times

Cold drinks help slake your thirst on hot summer days, but some go-to summer sips (We're looking at you, lemonade and soda) are loaded with sugar. Instead, fill your glass with these healthier, lower-sugar coolers:

Iced fruit tea or mint tea: Choosing a fruit or herbal tea gives natural sweetness without added calories. This lightly sweetened mint iced tea recipe is a great one to try. This recipe for hibiscus tea uses a scant two tablespoons of sugar in the whole batch, relying on cinnamon and orange slices for extra flavor.

Fruit spritzers: Use a couple ounces of your favorite fruit juice — tart cherry or orange juice would be a good place to start — and then fill the glass with seltzer for a bubbly, lightly sweetened soda alternative. This ginger-berry spritzer is another take.

Cold-brewed iced coffee: It's not just about the caffeine: Coffee is one of the biggest sources of antioxidants in American diets. Get going the night before to have a perfect pour ready in the morning.

Looking for more ideas? A  green smoothie  is a refreshing way to pack vegetables like cucumber and kale into your day.  Agua fresca (pictured above) is a wonderfully refreshing, endlessly versatile summer drink that you can make with whatever ripe melons most appeal, and even flavored water can change things up. Drop a few cucumber, orange or lemon slices into your pitcher for a spa-like sip.

And take heart: Even ice cream shakes are doable. This  peachy mint shake sets itself apart by using only a quarter-cup of ice cream per serving, and then loading it up with juicy peaches and flavorful mint.

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