red jacket juiceDoes somebody have a summer birthday? Kids' birthdays in the summer are the best: Just throw everyone at the park and let them entertain themselves, sit back, serve yourself a little rose from your cleverly-disguised wine box ...

Oh, but this is about the kids. In my neighborhood parents always serve the same little juice boxes at every birthday party. Elsewhere it's those big bottles of soda. Either way: Sugar bonanza. And why not? It's a party, not breakfast.

BUT -- I'm starting to see a lot of lower-sugar, natural, good-for-you drinks that look so fun and tasty I doubt kids will miss the sugar.

Cold-pressed juices -- I've been getting Red Jacket juices at the farmers' markets here for years but now they've gone national. So keep an eye out for these cold-pressed, unfiltered apple juices and nectars (they call them "Stomps"). Higher in fiber and antioxidants, no added anything, lots of yummy combos.

Iced tea -- Not the caffinated kind, of course! Try a fruity, herbal tea with honey mixed in for a bit of sweetness. (Did I mention cheap?) Republic of Tea has some great kid-friendly blends like orange caramel -- especially cute if you're going with a Brave movie theme.

Going coconuts -- 2012 is the summer of coconut. I'm serious, all of a sudden I'm seeing coconut everywhere. So Delicious makes scrumptious coconut milk drinks in chocolate and vanilla (and they have sugar-free versions). And for another spin on coconut Tree Top is making reduced sugar juices made with coconut water. Sounds weird but they taste great.

Agua fresca -- This is a light, simple Mexican drink made from melon. Couldn't be easier to make: You basically just throw watermelon into the blender along with (if your kids like it) mint, lime juice, water, and a little sweetener. Blend and strain -- and ahhh! So refreshing. Here's a watermelon agua fresca recipe.

What do you like to serve at your kids' birthday parties?

 

Image via Red Jacket Juice