5 Healthy Alternatives to Orange Juice When Your Kids are Sick

healthy alternatives to orange juice when sick

When our kiddos come down with a cold, as parents we have been trained to run out and get the orange juice.  

It kinda makes sense…. Orange juice contains vitamin C which helps to support our children’s immune systems.

But while oranges are a good source of Vitamin C, orange juice also has tons of sugar that can get in the way of a fast recovery! In contrast to whole fruit, fruit juice does not have fiber. Even fruit juice with only natural sugars has too much sugar to be considered healthy. Without the fiber and other nutrients contained in the whole fruit, our bodies treat the sugar from fruit juice in a similar way to candy. If you don’t think that sounds very healing and beneficial to your kid’s immune system, I agree. 

I also know that when our kiddos are sick, they probably aren’t getting enough hydration, so just giving them oranges won’t do the trick either. So when your kids are sick, try one of these 5 healthy alternatives to orange juice.

1. Water with Electrolytes

When our kids are sick, it’s important to make sure that they get plenty of fluids. Cold and flu symptoms often cause their bodies to lose fluids which can lead to dehydration. Runny nose, fever, nausea, and diarrhea contribute to water loss. This also leads to loss of important electrolytes like sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium. These electrolytes help regulate and control the balance of fluids in the body and play a critical role in keeping your immune system functioning properly.

So there’s nothing better for our kiddos when they’re sick than good ole’ water with some added  electrolytes.

To make:

To one cup of water, add the juice from ¼ of a meyer lemon and ⅛ tsp of mineral sea salt. Stir.

If your kiddos prefer a flavored drink, try LMNT and Re-Lyte electrolytes. They both have tasty flavors AND good ingredients.

2. Bone Broth

Bone broth is pretty simple to make. All it needs is a bit of time. Bone broth contains so many wonderful immune supporting and boosting minerals that are already broken down so they can be delivered to the body without much stress or energy being used. Remember, our kids’ bodies are working hard to fight infection already. It’s also a nutritious and filling drink, which can be helpful if your sick kid doesn’t have much of an appetite. This warm drink is filled with electrolytes so it helps with hydration. 

To make:

Start with some soup bones, a chicken carcass, or chicken feet (grass-fed/pasture-raised if you can find it) and blanch them (boil for about 20 minutes). This removes any impurities, especially if you are using the feet. 

Once blanched, bake the bones on high heat (around 450 degrees) until they are brown. This step will make your broth so much tastier, and it helps loosen the minerals and nutrients that we want to release into the broth.

Then place the bones and any juices released and crispy bits in a large pot with water and a generous splash of apple cider vinegar to help pull out the minerals. Add a few supportive and delicious herbs (whatever you have around). Garlic, onion, lemons, peppercorns, and thyme are all great. Whatever herbs you add can go in whole (crush the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife). Onions, lemons, and the like can be halved.

Let the pot simmer for 12-24 hours. (A slow-cooker is wonderful for this.) Strain and cool quickly. When cooled, the broth will be like Jello-O in consistency–that means you did it right!

Serve warm and salt to taste.

Pro Tip: You can also make it ahead in a big batch and freeze it in single portions to use as needed. (Be careful freezing in jars, as the liquid will expand and can break the jar. Leave a good two inches of headspace or freeze in ziplock bags.)

If you don’t have time to make your own, Kettle and Fire and Epic are both great brands. Bone broth is trending, so there are many companies branding their stock as bone broth. Real bone broth is thick with collagen and fat and should be very rich. Regular stock is thin and usually vegetable heavy. It’s fine, but it’s not the same as bone broth. Make sure you know what you’re buying.

3. Veggie Broth

I know not all of you eat meat, and veggie broth can also be nourishing, warming, and versatile. Use it in soups, sauces, casseroles, and stews or sip it straight. Making your own veggie broth is super simple. Plus, it contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and vital minerals.

Cans and cartons of broth in the store can have all kinds of additives and questionable ingredients. Plus, veggie broth is a great way to make use of all those extra scraps you’d normally toss or compost. This is a GREAT way to minimize food waste.

To make:

Save veggie scraps (onion and garlic skins, ends of carrots, stems of kale and herbs, bell peppers, leeks, green onions, mushrooms, etc.) in a gallon-size bag in the freezer. Note: steer clear of cruciferous veggies, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts, as they can leave bitter flavor in the broth. Zucchini and green beans tend to become bitter as well when simmered for a long period of time. 

When the gallon-size bag is full, add the veggies to a 6-quart pot. Add enough water so you can easily stir the veggies. Add any herbs and seasoning (bay leaves, coriander, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper are great!) Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a bare simmer and cook for 1 hour, uncovered. Strain broth and enjoy! Store broth in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

4. Ginger and Turmeric Tea

Ginger and turmeric tea is great because it is easy to make and very healing. Roots like ginger and turmeric contain a number of supportive qualities including aiding digestion and reducing inflammation.

To make:

You’ll use about ½-inch piece of each root per two cups of water, but you can adjust based on how intense you want the flavor and how long you steep the tea. 

Rinse your roots, and slice into thin rounds. Place sliced roots and water into a pot and simmer for 5-10 minutes depending on the flavor you desire. Strain the tea when it reaches desired strength. Add a bit of lemon juice and a spoonful of honey to make this tea extra delicious and soothing. 

**Turmeric is also a strong dye. Be aware that any utensils or surfaces you use preparing the turmeric may be stained yellow-orange.

5. Hot Chocolate

Yes, you heard me correctly. But I’m not talking about your standard grocery store hot chocolate. I’m talking about hot chocolate with a healthy twist, using coconut milk, raw cacao, and raw honey

Coconut milk is more supportive than cow’s milk, as dairy can increase mucus production and is difficult to digest for some people. Coconut has antiviral and antibacterial properties.  Plus the healthy fat adds some extra calories if your little one is hungry and needs something with substance but no food sounds good. I prefer unsweetened organic coconut milk by Native Forest and use a ratio of about 1:1 or 1:2 coconut milk to water.

Cacao is a potent antioxidant. Make sure it is 100% and raw. It contains theobromine, which also acts as a gentle cough suppressant (almost as effective as codeine without the side effects). It also widens small airways in the lungs (may help with asthma or other respiratory issues).

Sweetening with a little raw honey rather than cane sugar can help ease cold symptoms. While honey won’t cure a cold, it can help soothe a cough and sore throat and add a little boost of beneficial nutrients at the same time.  

To make:

Steam the coconut milk or warm it on the stovetop and stir in the raw cacao and honey until they dissolve. Make sure the milk is warm enough to melt the honey so that it doesn’t sit in the bottom of the cup, but don’t let it get too hot and start to cook the cacao and honey. Add a dash of cinnamon on top for extra flavor (and for looks, beauty is healing too!). Sip and enjoy!

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Now, those are much healthier options than orange juice! Happy sipping, and I hope your kiddo gets well soon!

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