Have you ever toasted “to good health!” while secretly wondering if your cocktail was going to harm your overall wellness? While any behavior can be overdone “it can’t always be all or nothing,” says Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and FOF Debra Meadow. “If you want to enjoy an adult beverage now and then, and you have no health contraindications, it’s okay to enjoy in moderation.”
With this in mind, we asked FOF mixologist Cheryl Heisler to mix up a bevy of beverages for summer that incorporate healthy ingredients. You may recognize some of these concoctions as old stand-bys but, with Debra’s help, we’ve kicked the nutritional value up a notch or two.
To REALLY maximize the health benefits, turn any of these into “mocktails” by leaving out the booze altogether!
This drink is not only perfect to share with your BFFs over a summer Sunday Brunch but aids in digestion, too.
Rim a chilled rocks glass with unrefined sea salt. Add:
1 oz. vodka
Splash fermented pickle juice
2 twists fresh pepper
2 dashes Thai Red Curry Seasoning
1 drop Tabasco, jalapeño, Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)
Fill with low-sodium tomato juice.
Garnish: pickle or cucumber slice
Juice from “live, fermented pickles has good bacteria, or probiotics, that help keep digestion running smoothly” says Debra. Stick to pickles in the refrigerated section of your store, though, because pickles that “are heat-packed to be shelf stable, or in a vinegar brine, are not alive and won’t net you the same benefits.” Coupling low-sodium tomato juice with unrefined sea salt for taste adds “lots of trace minerals your body needs” without all the extra salt it doesn’t.
Mix up a pitcher of this crowd pleaser in a pinch and enjoy it at a backyard barbecue. Your guests will be delighted because not only is this drink super refreshing, it fights allergies, too. ( Serves 8 )
In a 64 oz. pitcher mix:
Juice of 8 fresh organic lemons (use additional lemons if you like it tart)
8 oz. tequila
8 teaspoons raw, locally processed honey (dissolve in warm water before adding)
Fill the rest of the pitcher with cold water.
Stir well, and pour into tall, iced glasses.
Garnish: lemon or lime wedges, squeezed, then set on rim
Use raw honey instead of sugar or syrup because it “is anti-microbial, aids digestion and contains live enzymes,” says Debra. Many people find that using raw honey from their own locale can also “help combat seasonal allergies.”
Originally from Trinidad, bitters are a combination of 38 medicinal herbs and spices that aid digestion. According to Debra, bottled bitters like Angostura or Peychaud’s or bitter liquors, like Campari or Pimm’s, are all good digestives. We’ll drink to that!
Blend equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and grapefruit juice in a shaker with lots of ice.
Strain into an iced martini glass.
Garnish: a fresh rosemary sprig
This highball cocktail is also high in health benefits—due to the addition of fresh herbs.
1 oz gin
1 teaspoon agave nectar
3-4 fresh mint leaves
4-6 lime wedges
In a highball or rocks glass, muddle mint, lime and nectar. Add ice, gin and fill with tonic water.
Garnish: mint leaf
“Fresh mint is good for digestion and fresh herbs in general have scores of health benefits, including antioxidant activity,” says Debra.
Think of this as a low-in-calorie, high-in-fizz screwdriver.
In a rocks or tall glass with ice, add:
1 oz. vodka
1 oz. orange juice (or the juice of one fresh squeezed orange)
Fill with seltzer
Garnish: orange circle
“Fruit juice, even fresh, is very high in sugar, so keep it to a splash to flavor your drinks and make up the volume with sparkling water. Since alcohol is a diuretic, adding seltzer or sparkling water will help keep you hydrated. I also recommend drinking one extra glass of water for every alcoholic drink.”
For a healthier spin on sangria–replace the fruit juices with brewed unsweetened iced tea.
Fill a tall, chilled wine glass halfway up with a medium dry red table wine.
Fill the rest of the glass with your favorite, unsweetened fruit-flavored tea (pre-brewed and chilled).
Garnish: a slice of summer fruit (pick one that compliments your tea flavor!)
“Freshly made tea has antioxidant properties and is much healthier than fruit juice,” says Debra. Add red wine with its many possible health benefits and we practically have a fountain of youth on our hands with this drink.
You’ll hardly be able to discern the taste of kale in this banana-raspberry frozen drink but the health benefits are certainly sizable.
1 large banana, very ripe
2-4 Kale leaves (no stems)
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup cold water
1 cup ice
2 oz Southern Comfort
Blend the first four ingredients well. Add the ice and blend well a second time. Add SoCo and blend once more.
Makes 2 tall servings or a round of shots for the whole group!
“I’m for almost anything that works more veggies into your day, and kale is king in the vegetable realm” says Debra. “Among its many healthy properties, kale is a potent detoxifier and anti-cancer food.” So take a shot at working a shot of this into your daily diet—it’s worth getting the blender dirty!
Debra Meadow is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner helping clients get healthy and stay healthy with whole food. She works with clients all over the country in customized programs and offers a free 1-hour consultation to anyone interested in finding out how real food can help them look good, feel great and soar. Visit blueravenwellness.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.