This month I’ve taken on the challenge of abstaining from alcohol – GASP!
How? What? WHY?
Well, I wanted to give my body a respite from daily indulgences (aka: vino) and focus on replenishing many of the nutrients lost during the holiday craze (Can anyone say: One tequila, two tequila, three tequila…floor?!) And so far, at day fifteen (no, I’m certainly not counting the days…), I feel, damn, GREAT!
After the holiday craze and a relaxing (and not to mention, indulgent) few weeks in the Rockies, I wanted to do something for myself, for my body. A thank you, so to speak, for the machine that allows me to carry out my daily work. I wanted to focus on detoxifying my liver, refueling my body with vital nutrients and trying out new recipes that make me feel energized and, well, healthy.
My biggest challenge so far: I get puckish, no starved actually, the minute the hand strikes six (ok fine, maybe five thirty) – cocktail and pica pica time! But, this month, instead of going for that glass of Chianti, it’s those Mini Reece’s Buttercups on the table! Oh well, if its not one vice, its another.
I have, however, been making lots of fun mocktails that add diversity to the monotonous glass of sparkling water. Here are a few of my favorites, that I hope inspire you to unleash your inner mixologist, whether or not your sober this month.
Lemongrass Iced Tea
Lemongrass is one of my absolute favorite flavors – it’s the Asian in me – and luckily it has so many health benefits. So, this month I plan on consuming far too many pitchers of this lemongrass iced tea, even if it’s blistery out!
Lemongrass is a perennial plant, which smells like a lemon but tastes milder and sweeter. It has many nutritional benefits: it promotes healthy digestion by killing bad bacteria and repopulating good; it helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels by reducing the absorption of cholesterol and it detoxifies the body as it purifies the liver, kidneys, bladder and pancreas.
4 teaspoons of loose leaf jasmine green tea (placed in a cheese cloth or tea strainer)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 inch piece of ginger, cut thinly
In a large heatproof pitcher, steep the jasmine green tea, stalks of lemongrass and slices on ginger in almost boiling water (about 6-8 cups) for 4 minutes. (You don’t want the green tea to steep for too long as it gets bitter.) Meanwhile, make a simple syrup by bringing to a boil the sugar and 1 cup of water. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer to combine flavors for about 5 minutes. Combine once cooled.
Grilled Pineapple and Lime Mocktail
Pineapple is another of my favorite flavors (clearly, my head is in the tropics) and thankfully it’s a treat that I can indulge in as often as I please.
Pineapple contains tons of Vitamin C – something we all need to take in the winter when the flu starts to plague – and manganese, which helps fight off bone disease. It is also helps with digestion, as it not only contains lots of fiber but bromelain too, an enzyme that helps to break down protein.
2 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ripe pineapple cut into rounds and then triangles
1/2 cup grilled pineapple
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoon sparking orange juice
In a small bowl, whist together the honey, lime juice, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and with it, base the pineapple triangles. Place on a heated grill (or grill pan) and cook for about 4 minutes until each side is caramelized.
Blend the grilled pineapple, lime juice and honey. You can add in ice into the blender to make the drink thicker or you can simply pour over crushed ice. Add the sparking orange juice and top off with club soda. Garnish with a grilled pineapple slice.
It would be near blasphemy if I failed to include a mocktail using nutritious dark leafy greens – the whole point of doing this sober-month-challenge is to detoxify and refuel the body!
Getting accustomed to the earthy flavor of chlorophyll has certainly taken me some time, and it helps to add a little fructose to the mix. Then you really don’t feel like a giant cow grazing on the fertile soil of Montana.
The combination of kale and cardamom makes for a nutritionally potent drink. Kale, naturally low in calories and completely fat free, gives the body a giant boost of iron and Vitamin K, helping to support healthy blood and to prevent against cancers. Cardamom, helps to combat nausea, acidity, and bloating and aids the body in eliminating waste through the kidneys.
A bunch of kale
2 cups of spinach
2 stocks of celery
1 inch ginger root
1/2 green apple
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
In a juicer, juice the kale, spinach, celery, lemon, ginger root and apple. Blend in the cardamom powder. Salt the rim of a margarita class and serve!
Whenever I think of winter, I think of hot turmeric tea (and of course, gluhwein, hot toddies, apple cider and eggnog…). Mixed with lemon and honey a hot turmeric tea is the ideal way to start the day, not only because it is so comforting and easy on the stomach, but because it has so many nutritional benefits as well! Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antioxidant properties.
I’ve adapted my daily turmeric tea into a fancier, mocktail version that I can sip and savor when all my friends indulge in their mulled wine.
2 cups water
1 teaspoon dried turmeric powder
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 medium carrot
1 teaspoon raw honey
A pinch of cinnamon
Combine all ingredients and enjoy!
Coconut Mint Cooler
Since, this month, I’m not draining every liter of hydration with every tequila shot, I’m deliberately trying to hydrate. And better way to get a boost of hydration, electrolytes, calcium magnesium, phosphorous, sodium and potassium, than with organic, unrefined coconut water?! The mint leaves add a refreshing element to the drink but is also known to help ward off colds and coughs. No winter flu here!
4 cups organic coconut water
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup chopped mind leaves
4 lemon wedges (1 for each serving)
½ teaspoon black pepper
pinch of salt
Blend water, honey, mint, black pepper and salt into a blender. If you want to make it thicker, you can add crushed ice, or you can simply pour it on top of cubes. Garnish with a lemon slice.