When you know how to make fresh lemonade without sugar, you can (and will want to!) make it even when it’s not summer.
Still, is there anything more quintessentially summer than a glass of sweet, cold, tart, fresh homemade lemonade? In fact, just typing that conjures up images of long, lazy afternoons on the sun-drenched shores of Lake Michigan for me.
But, with the growing body of data showing that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is bad news bears for your waistline, heart health, and diabetes risk, it’s hard to indulge in a traditional lemonade without some serious health-guilt.
So, what’s a lemonade-craving, bathing-suit-clad, sandy-toed soul to drink between dips in the lake?
How about giving our healthy, whole-food take on lemonade a try?
We swap out processed sugars for wholesome honey and bump up the nutrient-density with two surprise ingredients, making this lemonade a zingy, guilt-free, health-promoting, beach-day treat!
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How to Make Fresh Lemonade: The Ingredients
Four simple, whole-food ingredients are all you need to whip up this delicious, sugar-free summer decadence! Let’s check them out!
1. Lemon Juice
First thing’s first: you’re (obviously!) going to need some freshly-squeezed lemon juice! I mean, it’s lemonade!
Not only does the lemon juice give this tasty drink its signature tart, fresh taste, lemons are packed full of healthy vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (compounds that plants use to keep themselves healthy that your body loves, too!). Lemons are rich in vitamin C, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, folate, iron, potassium, selenium, zinc, fiber, carotenoids, and flavonoids.
All these healthy nutrients help explain why lemon intake is linked to decreased risk of:
- heart disease
- kidney stones
- psychiatric diseases
These little fruits clearly pack a punch for more than just your taste buds! They also hit your health with a good one-two boost!
As amazingly healthy as lemons are, you can’t deny their eye-watering tartness makes drinking them unsweetened a bit… challenging. A hint of sweetness, though, and that tartness turns to a refreshing delight.
So, we added some honey to our lemonade! Why honey?
Well, honey gives us the sweet flavor we’re after, but in a much healthier package than table sugar. Honey is rich in natural sugars, of course, but also contains fiber, amino acids, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, manganese, potassium, zinc, copper, calcium, antioxidants and phytonutrients!
Researchers think that these healthy nutrients are the reason that honey has:
- a low glycemic index (even though it’s full of natural sugars)
- antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties
- beneficial effects on blood sugar and blood fat levels (especially when replacing table sugar)
- immune-boosting properties
- wound-healing properties
- anti-anemia effects
See? Definitely better than nutrient-free and health-bankrupt table sugar!
Learn More About the Glycemic Index and Your Health
How to make fresh lemonade that’s seriously tangy and seriously healthy? Add one of our kitchen secrets: ginger!
Ginger is a warm spice, adding rich, tangy undertones and making our lemonade soothing as well as refreshing. It’s subtle, though, so you don’t lose the overall beachy, lemonade-y feel!
Ginger is also rich in all kinds of health compounds! It is an awesome source four unique classes of seriously health-promoting phytonutrients: gingerols, paradols, shogaols, and zingerones. Together, these compounds allow ginger to:
- improve digestion
- lower levels of fat in the blood
- help reduce weight
- protect your heart
- reduce your risk of diabetes
- reduce inflammation throughout your body
- protect against cancer
- prevent free radicals from damaging your cells and tissues
- ease menstrual pain and flow rate
A touch of ginger and a world of health benefits! Totally worth adding to your beachy treat, don’t you agree?
4. Cayenne Pepper
Our second surprise ingredient (and last ingredient overall) is a cayenne pepper. This hot, red spice adds just the right amount of heat to our lemonade! It gives the flavor a unique complexity and just a little kick!
Excitingly, cayenne pepper doesn’t just put a zip in this lemonade! It also puts a little zip in your metabolism.
Research has shown that the molecule responsible for making cayenne pepper hot (capsaicin) is a serious metabolism booster. It activates a key metabolic receptor in your body called TRPV1 that revs up both your fat burning and sugar burning pathways, leading to:
- lower blood sugars
- reduced insulin resistance
- reduced fat storage
- improved markers of metabolic health
- improved artery function
- healthier liver function
A flavor and metabolism boost in one tiny pinch of red spice! Talk about a win-win for your lemonade!
Anybody who wants to make fresh lemonade should own a blender and a juicer. These two tools will make the task such a breeze that you won’t mind doing it every day!
- Optional High-Powered Blender (We love the Nutribullet!)
- Optional Citrus Juicer Assist (We love the Prepara Juicer!)
- Juice of 2 medium lemons (~4-5 tbsp of lemon juice)
- 2.5 tsp of honey
- 1 in of fresh ginger (thinly sliced or grated)
- Pinch of cayenne
- 3 cups of water (less if you want it stronger)
- Pour 3 cups water into pot.
- Add lemon juice, ginger and cayenne into pot.
- Bring water to a boil for 3 minutes.
- Let steep until water has cooled.
- Pour the cooled lemonade into a pitcher or mason jar.
- Stir in 2.5 tsp honey.
- Enjoy your sugar-free lemonade!
So hot out that just the thought of turning on the stove brings a tear to your eye? You can also skip the boiling if you like! Simply place all the ingredients in your high-powered blender and blend until smooth!