Homemade Gatorade Concentrate and Healthy Foods at Summer Camp

Homemade Gatorade Concentrate via www.DeliciouslyOrganic.net

School lunches have gotten some much-deserved attention lately. We don’t often hear about food served to kids at other venues like summer camps, though. We go to Missouri each summer so the kids can attend a sports kamp called Kanakuk Kamps. Last year I shared how I packed my kids’ food for the entire week because there aren’t many options when it comes to unprocessed or gluten-free foods. Packing everything was an expensive chore (over $300!), but it was important to Pete and I that our kids felt great and continued eating unprocessed foods while at camp.*

After going through that experience, I decided to ask Kanakuk if I could help them with a one-day test featuring less-processed foods and new recipes. I offered to pay the difference for the food and work alongside the kitchen staff for the day. I was thrilled they agreed!

After discussing with the leadership, we set two goals for the day:
1. No trans-fats
2. No food dyes or artificial coloring

I rewrote the menus, sent in my list of foods to order, and arrived bright and early last Friday to get to work.

Here was the menu:
Scrambled Eggs with Bacon (I used this recipe minus the cheese)
Plain Whole Yogurt sweetened with a bit of honey
Yogurt Toppings – seeds, coconut flakes, frozen/thawed berries


Marinated, Grilled Chicken
Green Beans
Mashed Potatoes (I used the recipe from my cookbook)
Romaine with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Marinated, Grilled Flank Steak (sliced thin after grilling)
Grilled Bell Peppers and Red Onions
Blanched Broccoli with Butter and Sea Salt
Romaine with Homemade Ranch Dressing
Partially thawed fruit with Homemade Magic Shell (this dessert was a huge hit!)

It was such a joy to feed the kids and staff a day of unprocessed foods and teach how to use less processed foods. The total increase in cost for each meal was $.75 a child. So, for about $2.25 a day, we could possibly change all the menus to unprocessed foods for the camp. If you were a parent, would you pay an additional $15.75 for a 7-day camp if you knew your child would eat healthier foods?

Does your child go to summer camp? Have you ever considered what they eat every day? I encourage you to ask questions and try to help camps serve healthier foods. We can make a difference!

Gatorade is often served at sports camps and practices. This drink contains food dyes and processed sugars, so I called my brother (a coach at the University of Kentucky) and he sent me over a homemade recipe for a “sports drink”. It was the perfect substitute for the processed drink and the kids didn’t know the difference! This recipe is in a concentrate form, so you can keep a batch of it in the fridge and then add 1-2 teaspoons to 8 ounces of water. It’s a great way to replace fluids and electrolytes while staying away from artificial colors and preservatives.

*Years ago when our kids ate all the food at Kanakuk, they would come home with breakouts of eczema, rashes and tummy aches. After discussing with the kids, they chose for us to bring our own food, so they wouldn’t have to deal with the after-effects of the more processed foods.

UPDATE: I’m sad to say, despite my best efforts and the positive response from the campers and counselors, Kanakuk has decided not to serve healthier foods to campers. I’m not sure what their reasoning was, but I did get an email that they declined. I hope they will reconsider in the future.

SECOND UPDATE: This year Kanakuk Kamps is now offering a gluten-free or egg-free menu for those who need it. It’s a step in the right direction!

Homemade Gatorade Concentrate

Serving Size: Makes about 2 quarts

Homemade Gatorade Concentrate

I tested this with both fresh juice (unpasteurized) and a bottled organic pasteurized juice and they both tasted great. Brands such as Eden Foods or Lakewood are great options.


    For the concentrate:
  • 1/2 cup juice (I used cherry)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt or any other unrefined sea salt


Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over low, stirring occasionally until honey and salt is dissolved. Pour into a glass container and store in the refrigerator. If you use a fresh juice (unpasteurized) it will keep for about 4 days in the fridge. If you use a pasteurized juice it will keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge.

To serve: Stir 1-2 teaspoons concentrate into 8 ounces water (if you prefer a stronger flavor add an additional teaspoon or two) or mix all of the concentrate with two quarts of water.

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  1. Stephanie

    Love Love Love this post!! I just got done volunteering for my kids’ VBS at church this week. Breakfast and lunch was served each day to all of the volunteers. While I was very grateful for the meals made for me , it was horrifying to see that 95% of the food served was processed food: store-bought muffins, frozen fish sticks, boxed macaroni. This post has inspired me to see what I can do to help change this for next year!

  2. Karen

    I, too, have had the experience of packing a weeks worth of food and sending my son off to camp. It was a lot of work, but one I would do all over again. The funny thing is, all his friends were begging to eat what he had. I contacted the camp two weeks before he went and asked for their menu, ugh, don’t do that unless you are really going to do something about it. It was frightening what they were feeding the kids. I made the necessary substitutions for meals he couldn’t eat and snacks. His favorite item I sent was your recipe for chicken nuggets with ranch dressing, grain free of course. He would have eaten them every day :o)

  3. Love, love, love this … it’s why you are truly a blessing to so many! I really wish we lived closer. I am so inspired by your heart for going out and making healthy change happen through volunteering and taking part in your community and others. Sounds like project sports kamp meals-makeover was a huge hit! Lots of blessings to you!! :) Kelly

    • Deliciously Organic

      Thanks, Kelly! I wish we lived closer too! It was such fun to work with this camp and I’m thrilled that places like these are willing to open the door to new possibilities!

  4. That is awesome that you chose to take the initiative for making a days worth of meals for all the kids at camp! That is SO cool that you were brave enough to ask and willing to pay for the difference! The world needs more people like you to help everyone know that you can feed mass amounts of people without using processed food!

    • Deliciously Organic

      Thanks, Holly! I was thrilled for the opportunity to work with them. It was a great experience for both sides and I truly hope I can do more work like this in the future!

  5. d

    My question is
    When your kids get big enough to put down 2 footlongs or 2 hamburgers with sides, in a single setting, what do you feed them to fill them up? Even then, they will be hungry again in 2 hours.

    • Deliciously Organic

      I’ve found that traditional, nourishing foods such as pastured meats, plenty of traditional fats (butter, coconut oil, lard, ghee, etc.), vegetables, some fruits, pastured dairy, nuts and seeds seem to work pretty well to fill kids up. Eating a bit less grain, as little sugar as possible and more nourishing meats and fats can help satiate and the kids might actually find their appetite decreases b/c their insulin levels are more steady. That’s just my personal take. Everyone I’ve talked to that eats this kind of diet finds their appetite decreases and they can go longer in between meals. I can say the teenage boys at the camp LOVED the menus that day! :)

      • Jennifer

        I have found since I’ve switched to whole, nutritional dense food I’m not as hungry as I used to be and have more energy in the day. I only drink raw milk (if at all) and lots of veggies, nuts, seeds, pasture raised meats in moderation. My sugar consumption is low and I don’t drink much juice at all.

      • Lori B.

        My boys are like the above and can just pack down the food. No toddler finger food here! I noticed that when I make nutritionally dense foods for them, they eat less and less frequent. When I let them get a hold of a box of crackers, they will plow through it and come to me saying they are starving. Take out the junk food and concentrate on lower grains, high protein & veg. Success!

    • Deliciously Organic

      The goal of the day was to use less processed foods and also eliminate food dyes and transfats. While it would be nice to also cater to every kind of diet, this wasn’t on the agenda. I stuck with traditional, nourishing foods to fuel the kids that day. Maybe in the future if I’m able to do more work with this camp they can look into catering to certain diets.

      • Thanks so much for responding! Unfortunately if my child had been there, he would not have had a lot to eat (and at home we eat a whole foods plant based diet – no processed foods, food dyes, trans fats, etc.), so it is definitely something to consider for the future. Hopefully you can do more there :)

  6. Shannon

    This is incredible. I would really like to know what kinds of juice do you pick. How do I know which ones to get? I don’t want to ruin the whole point of this by getting the wrong kind of juice.

    • Deliciously Organic

      We used an orange juice at camp, but it was being served that day, so it was a good economical choice. I prefer to stick with fresh juices (unpasteurized), or if you want the concentrate to last in the fridge for a bit longer, I would look for an organic juice without any sugars.

  7. Graciela

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. We will be starting soccer in the fall and this will be a good way to dehydrate from all the running my son will be doing. How long with the gatorate concentrate last in the fridge? Also any particular brand of juice to buy? Can you use sea salt if I can’t buy celtic salt? Any other recommendations?

    • Deliciously Organic

      I prefer to use fresh juice, but of course, it doesn’t last quite as long in the fridge. I used Kdunsen Organic Tart Cherry Juice as a test and it lasted 2 weeks in the fridge. I would look for a juice that doesn’t have any added sugars, flavorings or coloring. Another great brand of salt is “Real Salt”. I prefer to use a good quality sea salt that hasn’t been processed (if it’s pure white, it’s probably been processed/bleached).

  8. Michelle

    You had me at “homemade Gatorade concentrate.” I am definitely making a batch of this and keeping it in the fridge. I love everything else about this idea and this menu, too. Thank you!

  9. that is so so wonderful. I am going to send the article to my childrens school who I am working with to change their tuckshop and what they offer cildren when they go away.

    Just a quick question-why are the potatos in water.

  10. Katie

    Was this a Kanakuk kamp?? We just got back from the week long family kamp and my husband and I were just saying we wish there was a more healthy selection. (Less processed, more whole food)

      • Deliciously Organic

        I wanted you to know that despite my best efforts, Kanakuk has decided to continue serving processed foods at camp. I think now it’s time to start educating the parents so we come together and urge camp to change. If you could please write camp and let them know you would like to see changes it would be most appreciated! Thanks!

      • Laura

        My kids go to Kanakuk, too, so when I saw the hat in one of your photos, I was thrilled to see that they were willing to work with you on this experiment. I hope it means there will be some long term adjustments at *all* of their camps going forward and I will definitely write them to let them know I read this and support moving in that direction! Thank you.

        • Deliciously Organic

          Laura – I wanted you to know that despite my best efforts, Kanakuk has decided to continue serving processed foods at camp. I think now it’s time to start educating the parents so we come together and urge camp to change. If you could please write camp and let them know you would like to see changes it would be most appreciated! Thanks!

  11. Jennifer

    You can also make a vitamin water by filling a container with water and adding sliced watermelon and mint or cut up pineapple or berries.Chill overnight and you’ve got an instant sports drink!

  12. jenny

    Just curious, why do you spell camp with a k? Is that a particular organizational camp or something? I don’t mean any disrespect or anything, I’ve just never seen it spelled that way before!

    • Deliciously Organic

      There were certain restrictions at the kamp, so while I would have preferred to use fresh juice we had to use pasteurized juice. We chose orange for that day, but at home I made it with cherry and both versions passed the kid test.

  13. Kathleen

    Do you have any info on this divided round plates? That would be a great lunch
    box for my son at school, but a plate like that would be good too. I know there are lots of divided plates available but the roundness looks really cool.

  14. Elizabeth

    Carrie, I’ve loved your posts and recipes for years now. I’ve always been a whole food rather than processed food eater and just in the last few years I’ve gone completely grain free. I’m curious about your thoughts on the purpose of recipes that attempt to recreate processed junk in a healthier form. Some days I think that this is a fantastic approach and a great way to ween people off processed food. On other days I think that the better idea is to avoid “replacements”, i.e. instead of a homemade gatorade, just no gatorade at all; drink water. For myself, I know I just skip it and stick with water and hot herbal tea as my only beverages. For my kids, I tend to make the unprocessed versions of what their friends are eating so they don’t feel too left out. Again, I’m saying all of this because I’m curious about what your thoughts are about the two sides of this idea.

    • Deliciously Organic

      Thank you for the kind words. This is a topic I’ve thought of myself. I personally don’t mind recreating junk food with healthier ingredients as long as they are consumed in moderation. It’s fun, and while I could eat an apple for something sweet, it’s kinda nice to actually be able to have a slice of chocolate cake or a muffin every once in a while. Many who are just stepping into the world of unprocessed foods have a hard time imagining life without the favorites they’ve grown accustomed too so as long as they are eaten in moderation, I’m ok with it. I think it can actually help in the transition. In the early years of eating unprocessed foods, I baked quite a bit and now I’ll make a dessert or “recreate” something maybe once a month. I consulted with my brother about the issue of replacing electrolytes (he’s a huge advocate for unprocessed foods) and he sees merit in giving kids/athletes a drink that can help quickly replace electrolytes if they’ve been out in the hot temperatures. If I’ve been out in the heat, I will take 1/8 teaspoon of Celtic sea salt with some water to help replace electrolytes/minerals and this recipe is a much more fun version of that. :)

  15. Michelle

    Just made the Gatorade, using Lakewood’s tart cherry juice, and it’s a hit! I don’t drink very much water myself, so this will even encourage me to drink it more, since it IS mostly water. Thank you!

  16. OMG!!! You did not take on the entire camps menu???? I am speechless …. that takes such guts and such determination and such …. I don’t even know the word. LOL I am in awe of you and the lengths you go to to make a difference. I couldn’t even dream to take on such a task.

    I am just starting to talk with my kids school about their lunch program and also with the scouts on their overnight trips. Both have horrible food choices (which is why you packed for your kids). We shouldn’t have to do this. We PAY for the camps, why can’t they provide meals that are nutritious? Why do our schools provide meals that I consider hazardous to my kids health?

    You have given me the hope, the determination and the courage I needed to keep going forward Carrie! I thank you for that.

  17. Cherie

    What is a good price for pasture raised beef and chicken? I’m looking into buying 1/4 or 1/2 of a cow and the prices vary so much, and the only place I’ve ever bought chicken is organic from the grocery.

  18. Wow! Never even considered making homemade Gatorade before. My hubs loves his sodas. I’ve taken to making honey sweetened ginger ale. He’ll excited that this will be added to his homemade drink treats. I love that it’s sweetened with honey as well. We’ve been getting off the processed sugar mill over the last couple months

  19. Angie

    Hi, I am home from work with a stomach bug that has led me to becoming a toilet seat warmer to say it nicely. My husband wants me to take Imodium and drink poweraid but that’s not my thinking so I just whipped up your recipe and I have been putting a essiential oil mixture on my tummy.

    I am wondering if you could make the concertante and freeze it. Would it last and keep the nutrients needed? I live out in the country and based on how sick we get a drive to the store for juice isn’t always a option. I also thought the ice cubes would be great to take to sick friends or friends with sick babies.

  20. Shawn

    Egads! If parents knew the unbalanced meals over processed foods their kids were getting at the popular and many decades running camp I worked at a handful of years ago, they would be appalled! I was appalled that with my super high caloric use workload at the camp was being fed what I was (I mostly ate as many pears at each meal that I could. It was that bad.) and felt severely under nourished just trying to eat healthy and balanced. Many of our meals were starch on starch with some frozen veggies and a side of cheese. The unfortunate thing is I had worked at exactly the same camp 7 years before ( and then, two years I. A row!), and the food was completely different in quality. I went veggie for the summer all times due to not wanting to eat low grade mass butchered meats and even had a chef open to discussion and resources to create balanced nourished meals for all the veggie kids and workers at camp. Now, they are so clamped into exactly what they have to serve being exactly at every camp and ultimately to keep camp prices as low as possible, that the workers (3months eating bad diet) to kids suffer. It was awful and made me very sad and disillusioned to what’s happened at least in the Minnesota Girl Scout summer camp community.

  21. Veronica

    This sounds great! Can the concentrate be frozen to last longer? I’d love to make a couple of them with different juices, but I wouldn’t want them to go bad before my family could finish them.


  22. Katie

    This doesn’t seem like a lot of sodium actually makes it into each glass. Can you do a comparison? I have an illness where I have to watch my electrolytes very carefully and would love to branch off from gatoraid/powerade.

    • Deliciously Organic

      This is a recipe that my brother uses (he’s a football coach at a major university). He said they use it for their athlete’s, but I don’t know the exact breakdown of sodium in each glass.

  23. Nicki

    So glad to have the Gatorade recipe! My teen daughter has Chronic Fatigue with POTS; her main therapies right now are to drink lots of water and add lots of salt to her diet. Commercial Gatorade has a long list of unpronounceably awful ingredients, so she’ll be thrilled to make this instead. Thanks!

  24. um,
    I want to try this, as my daughter is very active in Volleyball and I don’t like her drinking all these other ‘sports drinks’. But your info left me with one question.
    We use Celtic Sea Salt already, but I always buy the coarse one, and restock my grinder. When you measured out the 1/4 teaspoon, was the fine or coarse grind? I don’t want to use to much or to little.
    Thank you!


  1. […] Homemade Gatorade – The recipe in in a concentrate form, so you can keep it in the fridge and just add to water when the kids need some extra hydration. […]

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