A Cup of Cheer

I don’t know about you, but with the festivities surrounding the holiday season I find it increasingly difficult not to booze it up with the best of them. Holiday parties, new years (and birthdays in my case) … are seemingly synonymous with alcohol (over)consumption. D’accord?

How does one resist? Well, you don’t have to, just change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change (I think Wayne Dyer said that). (The above drink is coconut water & lavender bitters mocktail and is a great alternative to the straight up martini for those of you fond of having a clear head and taking care of yourself.)  There are a lot of people in my life who don’t drink for various reasons …. religious, health, other spiritual, history of addiction or just as a personal lifestyle choice.  This holiday season, I decided to follow their lead.

This brings me to my recurring question: what is a healthy relationship with alcohol? Anyone? Is it kind of like a healthy relationship with cigarettes? Or more like a healthy relationship with food? Somewhere in between, I think. And definitely not for everyone. With two recent alcohol related fatal accidents close to home for me this holiday season I spared you the brunt of my holiday drinking ramblings and decided to keep it light and post a simple recipe.

My advice: this year, live your life to the fullest and lay off the booze or lighten up on your consumption. The best part: no hangover. Just you, your full confidence that you haven’t done anything stupid, a clear head, some extra money in your wallet and fond memories of catching up with friends and family that you do not get to see every day.

One of my favorite tricks to lightening up my alcohol consumption is to find something else I like to drink instead. Put it in some fancy stemware, throw on a garnish and there you have it.

Above: a delightful non-alcoholic after dinner treat. (It’s all about the garnish … and the stemware 😉 )

One of my favorite drinks this holiday season has been a chai spice cranberry infusion. Simple, healthy and invigorating. Ingredients:

  • Ginger (inflammation modulator, digestive & cardio-stimulant)
  • Cinnamon (smooth muscle relaxant, hypoglycemic, carminative, astringent)
  • Vanilla Bean
  • Cardamom (reduces the negative effects of caffeine & carminative)
  • Cloves (local anesthetic, carminative & antiseptic)
  • Cranberry Juice (can reduce the ability of E. Coli to adhere to the GU tract & lessen the bacterial biofilm load in the bladder, mostly used in treating UTIs and kidney stones)
  • Water
  • Your favorite version of sugar (honey, maple syrup, agave etc … there isn’t really anything good about sugar – except for that it tastes good to most of us)

Take your desired amount of each spice and add it to water (to taste, roughly 1 Tablespoon of herbs to 1 cup of water). (For example, I love ginger but not so much with the cloves … so mine is mostly ginger, but everyone has their own favorite way to make a chai.) Next, let it come to a rolling boil for about one minute then let it sit in a covered pot for 30 minutes.

Add sugar to taste and heat the water back up to dissolve the sugar if need be. Strain and mix half a cup of your delicious infusion with half a cup of organic cranberry juice (I use the unsweetened) and add some lemon water (I used lemon cucumber water in the photo above) until the blend is just right. Pour into a wine glass and garnish with some ginger.

And Voilà! There you have it. My newest addition to our holiday traditions.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?