This Thanksgiving, we decided to make mango juice at home. I’ll tell you why: I don’t approve of soda in the house (and before you even suggest diet soda, which has been proven to increase weight gain, not decrease it, please take some time to read about the horrible health effects of consuming artificial sweeteners). Growing up in the Middle East (Bahrain and Egypt), we regularly (read: on weekends) enjoyed a glass of ‘aseer manga (“freshly squeezed mango juice” in Arabic), especially on hot summer nights. I cannot say for certain that the mango juice we bought at the recreation club (called ‘naady’ in Egypt) was made with fresh mangoes every time, but it was pretty darn good!
When my family moved to the States, we really missed the taste of mango juice, and would sometimes succumb to buying the little Mira brand drinks sold in a pack at the Arabic store, but it’s definitely not quite the same: it’s nothing like fresh mango, had a lot of sugar added making the taste overly sweet. It also had some sketchy ingredients such as “citric acid, ascorbic acid, microcrystalline cellulose, calcium chloride, and natural colors (annatto).” To top that off, each drink only contains 19% mango juice, with the first ingredient being water. So basically, we were paying a premium for sugar water with a little bit of mango ‘juice’ that is preserved and colored … no thank you!
Alongside the varied dishes we made for Thanksgiving, it kind of seemed like a hassle to make drinks from scratch as well! However, after having come across recent reports that many juices (even organic ones) on the market contain traces of arsenic (yes, I too had to read the article to believe it), we decided that the 10-15 minutes we spend making the juice from scratch is worth it. And it would be one more thing to add to our repertoire of recipes, though in reality it was a cinch to make.
Since I live in Virginia and it’s not exactly mango season in the fall, I decided that frozen mangoes are the best way to go. Already peeled, pre-cut and frozen (I made sure to buy mangoes grown in the States), they would be really easy to just throw into the blender with …
I was stumped for a few minutes. I didn’t really want to literally ‘water down’ the pureed mangoes with water – I wanted something with a subtle flavor (that is also natural) that I can add to the drink. After some deliberation, I decided that pure coconut water, which is the ‘water’ naturally found inside a coconut, would be an excellent sidekick for the mango, as it is not only tasty but also has an excellent nutritional profile. It’s best to get organic coconut water (with no additives) from a trusted source, as “commercial coconut water that you find in the U.S., often sold in bottles and tetra packs, is pasteurized and may have added pulp.” (FYI Living). Pasteurized (or heated) coconut water is no longer ‘alive’ with nutrients, so it’s not really healthy. Fresh coconut water is loaded with potassium and numerous other vitamins, and is full of natural electrolytes (reach for that instead of the worthless Gatorade when your kid has a fever!). For the recipe, I didn’t have the time – but had it been the only recipe on my to-do list, I might have bought 7 coconuts, cracked them open and gotten their water – but the absurdity of that idea makes me giggle a little.
Though the coconut water adds a very subtle coconut flavor, I wanted to add a little bit of a stronger coconut taste, so I added about a teaspoon of organic coconut manna, a whole food made of pure, dried coconut flesh, per cup of coconut water that I used. If you’ve never had coconut manna, you’re really missing out. I routinely add it to smoothies and yogurt parfaits, and sometimes, I just eat it right off the spoon! To add some tang to the juice, I added a couple of drops of lemon juice per cup. I resisted the urge to add more ingredients (raw ginger or cardamom powder were tempting possibilities) – but since we had kids coming over, I didn’t want to make too sophisticated of a drink.
I added a bunch of frozen mango pieces to the blender, added a cup of coconut water and a few drops of fresh lime, and hit the ice crush button to make it whirl. A sip to make sure the mixture didn’t lack any flavors revealed that the drink was perfection as it was, with no adjustments needed!
Consider making this next time you’re entertaining. Your guests will be refreshed without the artificial ingredients of store-bought juices and drinks. And the best part is that it’s super simple to make – just make sure to blend and bottle in glass pitchers several hours before serving and chill in the fridge until ready to drink. Natural separation may occur after a while, so a simple shake of the closed bottle or pitcher will get all the flavors mingling again.
Homemade Mango-Coconut Juice (‘Aseer Manga)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Keywords: raw beverage gluten-free low-sodium soy-free sugar-free vegan vegetarian mango coconut summer
Ingredients (1, but can adjust)
- 1 cup frozen mango (about 7-8 medium chunks), per person
- 1 cup raw organic coconut water, per person
- 1 teaspoon organic coconut manna (Nutiva is the brand I use)
- A few drops of fresh lime juice per cup
(1) Add all ingredients to a blender, and whirl till all ingredients are well blended. If using frozen mango, use the ‘ice crush’ option on your blender first, then use another milder blend function.
(2) Pour into sealable glass pitchers or bottles and chill in the fridge for several hours before serving.
(3) Shake well before serving. Enjoy!