When travelling along the island’s roads, you will often spot a roadside vendor under an umbrella or the shade of a tree. Stop and quench your thirst with a refreshing juice drink. No preservatives, it’s just as nature intended.
There’s been a recent coconut craze worldwide based on the nut (or more technically a fruit) offering a host of magical benefits. While it’s not proven that consuming coconut can cure terminal illnesses or change your hair colour, it is still surely a healthier option for a sweet-tasting beverage.
Drinking coconut water from the backyard is typical in any Saint Lucian’s lifestyle. But getting through the shell requires a machete and an adequate amount of skill that thankfully scores of roadside vendors are willing to practice for about EC$2. The coconut water is also conveniently available ready-chilled in different sized bottles at a cost of $5-10. The vendors re-use plastic bottles so you might wish to take your own.
Coconuts grow year-round and the true health benefits assure high levels in potassium, with few calories and little sodium. The great tasting coconut water (with different flavours depending on the colour of the nut) has an insignificant amount of sugar compared to sodas and other fruit drinks, so indulge!
Saint Lucia has a long history fermented with slavery and sugar cane plantations. Stone ruins are sprinkled all over the island marking where large sugar mills, belonging to French and British plantation owners, once stood. Today, the erstwhile thriving industry lives on in Roseau Valley where St. Lucia Distillers runs a world-renowned rum business, although it’s no longer produced from local sugar cane.
Sugar cane, picked straight from the field, was one of our original snacks – juicy and an instant energy booster. Nowadays, we still like to munch on it but the preference is to buy the extracted juice, to avoid getting the stringy bits stuck in your teeth! Winston’s roadside booth in Marisule (on the highway between Castries and Rodney Bay) is worth stopping at. Watch Winston insert the stalk into a press to squeeze out the juice. He’ll then bottle it so that you can enjoy the sweet, refreshing flavour of this local beverage.
By-products of sugar cane are still used in Saint Lucia for ailments: molasses to strengthen the immune system or a good shot of rum to get mucus off your chest. As for the cane juice itself, it is said to regulate blood sugar and pressure levels and reduce stress.