We like to think of our nutrition recommendations in terms of what you can have, as opposed to what you can’t. Even so, people inevitably start to think of their glass as half empty when they’re asked to scratch certain beverages off their shopping list in preparation for the Whole30®. No soda?! No cream and sugar in my coffee? No alcohol!?! What the heck will I drink?!
Today, instead of “no” this or “no” that, try to think in terms of what drinks you can say yes! yes! yes! to. Like yes, I get to drink refreshing, herb-infused cucumber water and pretend I live at the spa 24-7. Or yes, there’s a chill in the air, the leaves are turning, and this steaming Snoopy mug full of bone broth is knitting me a warm, cozy sweater for my insides.
There are a wide variety of nourishing, health-promoting, delicious beverages you can choose from on the Whole30, so right now, let’s look at what you can drink – nay, what you get to drink – when things like soda, alcohol, and creamer no longer have a home in your grocery cart.
Tap or Filtered Water
“What can I drink besides water?” is probably on our top ten list of Whole30 questions. A lot of people see water as boring and tasteless, but aside from being one of the three things you need to actually stay alive, water is a very versatile drink. Remember, you aren’t stuck with just the stuff from the tap! Make drinking water more exciting by creating a fancy-yet-simple spa-like concoction with herbs (think rosemary or mint), citrus (lemon, lime, or orange), cucumbers, or fruit (like melon or berries).
Inspiration: For specific “self-flavored” water, see recipes here and here. Freeze up some fun flavored ice cubes and drop them into a tall glass for an afternoon pick me up. You can even make water seem more special by creating these lovely floral ice cubes and filling up a beautiful carafe with sweet glasses to match.
Mineral and Sparkling Water
Whether you’re in need of a beard for alcohol at the bar or just want a little something bubbly, mineral and sparkling water are great go-to beverages. Pour some in a glass with ice cubes, garnish with a slice of lime or a few green olives, and voila! A mocktail that won’t be mocking you tomorrow morning. Mineral water in particular contains minerals like calcium and magnesium, important for health, and is a great way to source these compounds without the fluoride and chlorine found in most municipal-sourced tap water.
Inspiration: If you’re a little befuddled about spring vs. mineral vs. sparkling waters, check out this explanation of different bottled waters. Our favorite mineral and sparkling waters are Gerolsteiner (for its super-high mineral content), and Pellegrino flavored waters (in lemon or lime), but any variety without added sugar or fruit juice works. A word of caution – read your labels, even with water!
While we encourage conscientious consumption of coffee, it’s not off limits for your Whole30. (You’re welcome.) Missing your cream and sugar? Here are some ways to continue to savor your café experience. First, if you prefer to “whiten” your coffee, look into adding a little coconut milk to your morning brew, or take it a step further with this homemade creamer. Second, buying good coffee (not the stuff in a can at the grocery store) will present a better, less bitter flavor when brewing, making it easier to drink without all that sweetener. Adding vanilla or cinnamon to your coffee (or to the beans before grinding) can also add variety. Finally, hazelnut, vanilla, and other flavored coffees are fine – as long as you read your labels! (Starbucks VIA® instant coffee has flavored varieties that actually contain more sugar than coffee!)
Inspiration: If you like your coffee black like the night, try out these methods for a tastier mug posted in our forum by StuffIMakeMyHusband (this woman knows her coffee!):
I would suggest looking into a good brewing method. I love cold-brewed coffee; it has far less acidity than heat brewing and is mellow and smooth. The other way I brew is in my Chemex. It has a thick filter that absorbs a lot of the oils that make coffee bitter and it produces a really clean cup. This is how I cold brew, this is how to use a Chemex. I get my beans from a local roaster and grind them at home (freshly ground is key!), I like central American beans and I look for a ‘full city’ roast (lighter roasts don’t have enough flavor, darker gets burnt tasting). Finally, try adding a pinch of salt, ta rick I learned from Alton Brown. It can offset the bitterness the way that sugar does. And I love the coconut creamer from Following My Nose (recipe), I made it with melted cocoa butter instead of coconut oil so it has a sort of white chocolaty taste.
Depending on which region of the world you come from, drinking tea can be social, ceremonial, ritual, spiritual, or medicinal. For many, a cup of tea is a comforting ritual after a long day, or a healthier substitute for those dessert cravings. All varieties – black, green, white, and herbal – are permitted on the Whole30.
Inspiration: We like rooibos teas for their naturally sweet flavor, but half the fun with tea is venturing out to find your own favorite. Melissa Joulwan’s favorite online tea shop is Adiago Teas, but we also love varieties you can find at any grocery store or health food shop, like Numi’s Honeybush, the Republic of Tea’s Plantain Coconut, or Traditional Medicinal’s Throat Coat. Add a wedge of lemon, some grated ginger, or a little coconut milk to complete the experience. And if the weather’s not right for a steaming cup, try this Thai Iced Tea minus the honey, or use Whole9 Forum Moderator Renee Lee’s brew method:
In my experience, if you brew hot tea and then just throw it in the fridge, you’re going to get cloudy iced tea. I double brew my tea, fill a pitcher with ice, then pour the hot tea into the pitcher. It chills it faster and you don’t get the cloudy tea phenomenon.
We aren’t big fans of drinking your food, but we definitely approve of using vegetable juice as a nutritional supplement (and not a replacement for eating real vegetables), or as a tasty break from drinking water. Just make sure your concoctions are far more vegetable than fruit, and beware that even some vegetable-only drinks (like those heavy in beets and carrots) may pack more of a sugar punch than you’re willing to add to your day. You’ll probably have to juice it yourself (or use a blender of sorts), as most pre-packaged “vegetable juices” are mostly fruit. Read your labels, and do the sugar-math! This carrot-apple-mango juice looks vegetable-y, but has 33 grams of sugar in one bottle.
Inspiration: Odwalla’s carrot juice has just one ingredient: (carrots), and Trader Joe’s makes a low-sodium organic tomato juice that tastes great on its own, or spiced up with a dash of hot sauce and a stick of celery. And check out these vegetable juice recipes, designed to treat common ailments in a healthy, holistic manner. (We make no claims as to their effectiveness, but some of them sure do sound tasty.)
Most people either love it or hate it, but kombucha has many redeeming health qualities, so if you’ve never tried it, now might be the perfect time. Our Director of Operations, Erin, didn’t love kombucha at first, but once she tried it off the tap at Whole Foods, she was hooked. Go for the unsweetnened types (flavored or unflavored – both are fine on your Whole30) or learn how to brew your own.
Coconut water is another fine “treat,” even during your Whole30, although it’s naturally a bit too sugary to replace your everyday water consumption. Coconut water flavors vary tremendously by brand, so you may have to try a few before you find the one you like the best. We’re big fans of Taste Nirvana’s coconut water with pulp.
If kombucha or coconut water aren’t what you’re craving, perhaps a lovely mug of bone broth will suit you. Though not your traditional cold weather drink, bone broth can be a savory, fortifying treat in those dark winter months. Use the recipe in It Starts With Food, or try this slow-cooker version from Nom Nom Paleo – make a big batch, freeze it in individual small-sized mason jars, and enjoy a cup a day with no preparation (but a little heating up).
Finally, for the kiddos, our own Robin Strathdee notes that her little ones love “fizzy water” (especially the fruity flavors), watered-down coconut milk (from the can), fruit-flavored herbal teas, and water infused lightly with fruit juice.