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A Healthy Substitute for Juice and Sports Drinks

Is your child an apple juice addict? A sports drink fanatic? Are you looking for some healthier options to keep your kiddo hydrated, without all the sugar and artificial dyes?

I’ve got the perfect solution.

Coconut water.

I love coconut water, both for the taste and the nutritional benefits.

And I don’t even like the taste of coconut!

So if you’re about to stop reading…wait a sec! [Plus I have some awesome smoothie suggestions at the end!]

A while back, I was in Whole Foods. Alone. Without the kids. Since that doesn’t happen often, I walked each aisle at a leisurely pace, looking at all the new and interesting goodies on each shelf.

I saw a display of coconut water, and since I had only heard of coconut milk, and I was intrigued.

I bought a few brands to see how they would taste and did a little research…

Did you know that coconut water is:

  1. The clear liquid inside a young coconut
  2. A natural sports drink, perfect for re-hydration. It has more electrolytes than your average sports drink, without the added sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives or dyes.
  3. Gluten-Free
  4. Loaded with Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Iron, Calcium (depending on the brand)
  5. Low Sodium
  6. No fat, low calorie
  7. No cholesterol
  8. And get this…It’s been used as IV fluid in the tropics when medical saline was low in supply. That’s pretty amazing.

These were the three I picked up:


I made sure that they were good and cold (They taste MUCH better chilled.)

And then I wrote A, B, C on the bottom of my very fancy cups:


Yup. Those are cookie monster cups. I was out of Elmo.

Then I shuffled them up well.

The results?

C2O (A) was a very strong coconut flavor, pretty sweet, a little nutty, and was a little syrupy

Vitacoco (B) was more delicate, just the right amount of coconut flavor, almost like fruit juice, lighter

Blue Monkey (C) very similar to A

I’m not a huge fan of strong coconut flavor (as I mentioned before), so Vitacoco was my favorite of these three.

[This would probably be a good place to say I do not work for any coconut water company, nor am I getting compensated in any way for writing this post…just sharing my good old thoughts with you!]

THEN I did the taste test with my kids and some of their friends who were over for a playdate…and B (Vitacoco) was the clear winner with them too.

Looking at the labels, A and C both had roughly the same amount of potassium (290mg), 2% calcium, no Vitamin A or C, and some iron.

B had more than double the potassium (680mg), slightly more calcium (5%), a whopping 230% of Vitamin C and 10% magnesium.

So go out and pick up a couple of cans. Do your own taste test and see which one your child likes best. There are dozens of brands, these three just happened to be the ones I chose. There are flavored coconut waters and pulp/no pulp options. You can chill it and/or put it over ice. You could blend it into a smoothie with or without some fruit. The possibilities are endless!

And speaking of smoothies, I’ve got a few favorites to share with you.

green smoothie for kids

Image courtesy of gameanna |

With Monsters University in theaters now, you may have a monster lover in your house…in which case, try these Mike Wazowski Monsters Green Smoothies.  One of my kids doesn’t touch kiwis and the other isn’t a fan of banana and pineapple, but both of them love these. Oh, and did I mention there’s spinach in there too? Since we have a nut allergy around here, we used coconut milk and it was yummy. I used a ton of ice (by accident) and it turned into a slushy, which worked well on that 90° day. One word of caution, you need a pretty powerful blender to get this incorporated and it makes a LOT.

This is another fantastic green smoothie, with a darker green color (different green veggies), and apple juice. I love what she posted right before the recipe: “Readers, this is a green smoothie.  Do not be afraid.  It comes in peace.” Love it! Anyway, this is a particularly good one for those apple juice addicts I was talking about!

If your child still can’t get past the green color, head over to here to learn 10 tricks to get your kiddo on the green drink bandwagon! (#3 and #4 definitely worked for us in the beginning.) They also posted a “transition smoothie” recipe to get your child warmed up to the idea.

Looking for a more “berry” smoothie – with a pretty red, pink or purple color? Sure, you can whip up some frozen berries and pears (with juice for added sweetness), but this Berry Smoothie recipe also has some celery (and optional greens) and you can’t tell there are veggies in the mix! (I didn’t add the ginger…it’s a pretty powerful taste and they’re still getting used to it in my stir frys!)

But what if your child doesn’t really want a frothy, thicker drink? How about some Bunny Juice. If your child isn’t a fan of carrots, they will probably drink this, since apples and carrots mixed together are a sweet combination!

Especially if your kiddo is on the “white” diet – bread, pasta, potato, sugar – and you’d like to inject a bit more protein into his diet, add some protein powder to the smoothie.  (I’m a fan of the Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder – Vanilla – from Bioactive Nutrients.)

So there you have it….a great, healthy substitute for apple juice and sports drinks and some yummy, easy and healthy smoothie recipes. Let me know how you like them the in the comments below…and please share any of your other personal favorites too!



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