Aguas frescas are a staple in most Mexican and Mexican-American homes, mine included. The best aguas frescas are made with ingredients that are in season because they’re easiest to get, typically cost less because they are more abundant, and have the best flavor because they’re at their peak growing season. Honeydew melon—also known as melón verde—is in season typically from May to October, with the peak from May to August, but we’ve been seeing a lot of this melon in the grocery stores in Southern California since mid-March. This honeydew and cucumber agua fresca recipe is light and refreshing for warm spring and summer days. You can also opt to serve it straight as a juice with breakfast—just run through a juicer or powerful blender and leave out the water and optional sugar.
I’ve been on a healthy homemade juice kick since we returned from Mexico in January. I’ve always loved carrot juice and whenever we vacation at the beaches in Mexico, I always order carrot juice with my breakfast if it’s available. Drinking carrot juice before getting sun, as well as after, can also help you hold onto a tan for a bit longer. (But don’t forget to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.) Carrot juice is high in Vitamin A and beta-carotene, which aids in tissue and bone development, benefits eyesight, boosts your immune system to help stave off colds, and helps heal dry, flaky skin. Carrot juice is rich in other minerals too, thanks to carrots being a root vegetable, and folates, which are a safe, natural provider of folic acid (and why you’re likely to see pregnant women drinking it). It’s packed with antioxidants, Vitamin C, B complex and also has a low glycemic load, making it a healthy and safe drink for diabetics. What’s not to love about carrot juice?
National Margarita Day is February 22 and National Tequila Day is July 24, but who really needs a holiday to celebrate one of Mexico’s most famous libations? This spiced pear margarita recipe has a cinnamon-infused kick and gets a sweet, molasses-like depth from piloncillo.
There are two great things about this recipe: First, it can be served cold or hot, depending what kind of climate you live in and whether you’re suffering through a brutal winter or not. Serving it hot is just like having a fruit-infused tequila hot toddy! And second, the spiced pear puree will keep in an airtight container (I recommend a glass jar) in the refrigerator for up to a week, and the recipe can be easily doubled if you want to make it in advance for a party or just enjoy a few cocktails during the week.
This margarita recipe calls for Bosc pears, which have brown skin and sweet flesh. They’re in season from September through April. If you can’t find Bosc pears, you can substitute Bartlett pears, which also are sweet and juicy, and in season from August through February.
Grocery stores are typically overflowing with prickly pears—known as tunas rojas in Spanish—in August and September. You can eat them plain, use them to make agua fresca de tuna roja, watermelon and prickly pear paletas, prickly pear sorbet or even margaritas! There are so many possibilities.
Prickly pears are full of pectin, which makes them ideal for jelly and jam-making. The pectin produces a syrupy consistency that’s also perfect for blending with ice to make a frozen margarita. I’m serving this margarita for our Mexican Independence Day celebration. It’s a sophisticated representation of the Mexican flag: red from the prickly pears, white from the tequila blanco and green from the lime.
As you may have noticed this year, I’ve been posting a lot of mango recipes. Mangoes are seemingly easier and cheaper to get on the West Coast, and available for a longer period of time than in Chicago where we used to live. We’ve been drinking a lot of agua de mango this year because I can’t resist buying mangoes almost every week.
This recipe calls for Ataulfo mangoes, which are a yellow variety known for being sweet. Close substitutes or other names for this kind of mango can include Manila mangoes, honey mangoes or champagne mangoes. Ataulfo mangoes are in peak season between March and June, but can often be found in stores all the way through December depending on the part of the country where you live.
Leave the mangoes out on the counter at room temperature for a few days if they’re firm at the time you buy them. You’ll know they’re ripe and ready to use when the skin gives a little when you press it and/or the skin starts to wrinkle slightly. If the skin is already wrinkled when you buy them, they’re ready to use immediately. This variety of mango is less fibrous than the Tommy Atkins (green with red blush) variety, and therefore is more ideal for making aguas frescas.
If you like this recipe, you may also like my agua de fresa y mango recipe (strawberry and mango)….