Do you love lemonade but would prefer a healthy alternative to what is typically a sugar-loaded drink? Or are you looking for a refreshing drink that is easy on your wallet? If so, this versatile sugar-free lemonade recipe for you!
If you’ve been around my website a bit, you know that I don’t like purchasing ready-made things when I can easily make them myself.
Here is another case in point and one of the easiest yet.
One of my readers recently asked if I had a healthy drink she could treat her kids to by offering them something besides water. I completely understand.
I don’t let my kids drink any sodas or bottled juice drinks. One reason is due to the problems that they pose for health and the other is the cost.
My kids aren’t always happy with me about this decision, but well, I wasn’t put here to be their best buddy or to get the “Most Fun Mom of the Year Award” (though I admit that wouldn’t be a bad thing). My job is to help them to live a vibrant, healthy life, and part of that is encouraging them to have a healthy diet.
And sugar, artificial colors, and artificial flavors aren’t much of a help in that arena.
Concerns with Store Bought Drinks
1. High Fructose Corn Syrup and Sugar
Have you seen the plethora of negative information coming out about high fructose corn syrup and sugar alone? There has been mercury detected in high-fructose corn syrup due to the means of processing, and sugar is now being linked to all sorts of health issues.
If you make this homemade lemonade instead of buying store bought drinks, you can avoid much of your exposure to these not-so-great ingredients.
2. High Cost
Take a look at your grocery bill and see how much you are spending on drinks: sodas, juices, etc. And those “healthy waters”?
Don’t get me started. Anyhow, here is a way that you can treat your whole family to a wonderful summery drink without breaking the bank. And you can sweeten this homemade lemonade however you wish.
I must admit, that in recent days, there are more and more healthy alternatives on the market that I love. We recently tested some delicious Bai drinks at Costco and we LOVE Zevia soda. However, they really can put a dent in your budget, so they are just for very occasional purchases in our household. We’ve really only bought the Bais once.
Actually, an update to this post will be following soon, hopefully. We found a way to bring healthy, low carb soda into out home at a fraction of those cost. Stay tuned for that! It’s one of our favorite new additions to our kitchen!
3. Calories and Weight Gain
There is more to weight gain than just calories, but sodas and juices are pretty much empty, sugar-laden calories that have been implicated as part of the cause of our obesity epidemic.
It’s probably a good idea to restrict this kind of beverage if you are hoping to control your weight.
And personally, I would rather splurge on a healthy dessert than drink a soda. To quote my aunt, “I would rather eat my calories than drink them.”
Tips and Savings Information
Before we get to the recipe, here are some tips related to the recipe and the ingredients in it.
1. How much can you save?
If you purchase Costco’s lemon juice, one 64 ounce (close to a 2-liter) will set you back only 24 cents, plus the cost of your sweetener. And if you use stevia, this sugar-free lemonade really is a bargain drink!
Now that’s a sweet deal :-P!)
So skip the specialty stevia-sweetened drinks on the market — make your own homemade lemonade and do something more purposeful with your money!
2. How to Use Stevia
If you’re going to use stevia to sweetener your homemade lemonade, then here are some tips on how to use it.
This post on What Stevia Is has tips to help you use it if you aren’t familiar with it.
But for starters, these mini stainless measuring scoops are pretty much a must have if you are going to use stevia extract. I only really use one or 2 of the scoops, but they are pretty reasonable so I was willing to buy the set.
The 2nd smallest scoop is 1/32 of a teaspoon (the standard “stevia scoop” size) and it fits nicely in my small stevia container. Some of the extracts are of differing strengths, so you might need to use the mid-sized scoop as well.
3. Sweetener tips
For sweetening your sugar-free lemonade, if you are able to eat sugar (more on that later), I recommend honey or sucanat. If need/wish to avoid sugar, I recommend stevia. If you have trouble with stevia, there are other options:
Vegetable glycerine is a more natural one. NOW glycerine is a great brand.
They are not technically regarded as “whole foods” in the whole foodie arena, but xylitol and erythritol are the better choices among the alternative options. I recommend several brands, including Now Foods.
Recipe Notes and Substitutions
- Lemon Juice:
Note that the lemon juice content of this sugar-free lemonade is variable. When I first published this recipe, I used only 1/4 cup. Since then, I realize that I like my lemonade a lot stronger and I will use up to 1/2 cup or more. I kept forgetting to update the post but a few readers have commented with the same thoughts so it’s updated now :).
Please us only real (truly real) lemon juice. That so-called “lemon juice” that is made under the name “ReaLemon®” and similar knockoffs just don’t do it.Why? Well, yuck taste and yuck ingredients. Have you seen that label? Do you really want to be eating sodium benzoate, sodium metabisulfite, sodium sulfite if you don’t have to? Me neither.Besides, sodium benzoate has been implicated in issues related to it being combined with citric acid and creating benzene, so be very careful with this ingredient in both food and personal care products.
1/8 cup lemon juice is the equivalent of the juice from 1 lemon so you can use that approximation when shopping for fresh lemons should you choose to go that route.
Pure stevia is incredibly sweet. 1 scoop = 1/32 tsp and either one or two scoops will sweeten an 8 oz drink. It is really important which stevia you choose. Some are just plain icky. Our family’s current favorite is NuNaturals as it is one of the only brands that uses only water to extract the stevia from the plant. But KAL is really nice as well. I am going to be trying another brand that was recommended to me soon. I’ll keep you updated! See How to Use Stevia. You may substitute approximately 1/2 cup of a granulated or liquid sweetener to taste.
Healthy Processed Food Alternatives
Before we get to the recipe, if you like making your own healthy alternatives to processed foods, you might be interested in checking out my recipe page for other Make Your Own Tips that can save you a bundle, including:
- Homemade Protein Bars – a great breakfast or on the go treat
- Easy Coconut Milk – we make this all the time
- Homemade Taco Seasoning – better than the packets
- Easiest Almond Milk Ever
- Healthy Easy Strawberry Lemonade – super refreshing and low-carb
Homemade Sugar-Free Lemonade
- Pour water into pitcher.
- Add lemon juice and stevia.
- If using a granulated sweetener, mix ½ cup water and the sweetener in a pot and heat until the sweetener is dissolved. Then, once dissolved, add sweetener and water mix to remaining water.
- Stir and enjoy!
- This sugar-free lemonade tastes great chilled with ice cubes. It really refreshed my husband and boys this past week when they were working on our raised beds in 90+ degree heat!
What is your favorite drink?