Because who doesn’t love a nice summer drink
I’ll be honest; I love a good cocktail (or mocktail), especially during the summer. Many of my clients ask me if they can indulge in a cocktail, and my answer is usually yes (depending on where the patient is in their healing and what is going on). My approach is that I want you to enjoy food (and beverages) without feeling deprived! However, cocktails can be laden with hidden sugars and other artificial ingredients, derailing you from your healing journey. That being said, my advice is not to avoid drinking altogether; instead, drink smarter! This post gives you tips on making a healthier cocktail/mocktail and brings awareness to ingredients you should be on the lookout for!
Ingredients to include
- Bitters – bitters help promote better liver function and therefore helps your liver to process the alcohol more efficiently and more effectively. Did I mention they add so much flavor?!
- Seltzers – add carbonation and flavor without the extra calories and sugar!
- Kombucha – good for gut health as it contains probiotics and is a great way to add flavor and carbonation to a drink – just be sure to choose one with minimal added sugars
- Fresh herbs (mint, rosemary, thyme, ginger, lavender, etc.) – herbs are amazing in drinks because they bring such unique flavors with no added calories or sugar!
- Fresh fruit or fruit juice (raspberries, blueberries, apple, pear, watermelon, pineapple, lemon, lime, orange, you name it!) – Choosing fresh fruit can be a great way to add flavor to a drink without adding any artificial sugars/flavors and jacking up the sugar. If you are going to go with a fruit juice, be careful with portion size (we recommend keeping to ¼ cup or less per drink) and try to smash your fruit or juice it yourself to keep ingredients as simple as possible!
- Veggies (ex. cucumber, beet juice, celery) – while adding veggies to a drink may not be at the top of your list, they can be a great way to sneak in some hydration with their water content, and minerals, plus it adds flavor and may pack in a bit of fiber too to help steady your blood sugar a bit!
- Maple Syrup or Honey (if looking for a dash of sweetness) – these sweeteners are all natural and are packed with antioxidants
- Coconut water (unsweetened coconut milk is a good option too!) – packed with electrolytes to help keep you hydrated (and help that hangover) and a bit of sweetness making coconut water a great choice to add to a cocktail/mocktail in place of tonics, syrups, sugars, etc. if making at home
Ingredients to avoid (and substitutes)
- Tonics – tonics contain added sugars giving them their unique flavor, instead go for club soda or seltzer and ask the bartender to add in a couple of slices of citrus fruit and/or herbs for some added flavor
- Simple syrups and artificial/hidden sugars (ex. Cane sugar, Agave, Fruit Nectar) – simple syrups are incredibly popular in cocktails as they add sweetness, helping to mask the alcohol content; however, they are packed with sugar. Instead, ask the bartender to skip out on the simple syrup and ask them to add citrus fruit, herbs, or even a dash of honey or maple syrup!
- Mixers – packed with sugar, artificial ingredients like sugar, flavors, and dies. Instead, take the extra couple of steps by making your own mix with fresh fruit, bitters, and herbs. If at a bar, ask the bartender if they are using a mix and if they are then ask for them to make it without!1
- Soda – Try Olipop instead! These healthier “sodas” are delicious and contain prebiotics which are good for gut health and are much lower in sugar!
3 Health(ier) Cocktail or Mocktail Ideas
- Juice of ½ cup seasonal berry of choice (strawberries and blueberries are used in this recipe as they’re currently in season)
- 6 oz seltzer or club soda
- (optional) 1.5-2 oz liquor of choice- vodka, rum, gin, tequila etc
- Wash and prepare fruit of choice.
- Heat fruit on medium-high heat until juices are released
- Measure ½ cup of fruit juice and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to cool
- Measure out seltzer/club soda and alcohol of choice
- In a glass or cocktail shaker, combine chilled fruit juices, seltzer, and optional alcohol. Enjoy!
Coconut Mint Mojito
- (optional) 1.5 ounces white rum
- 4-5 mint leaves
- 2 ounces coconut water
- (optional) 1-2 tablespoons coconut milk cream (taken from the top of an unsweetened coconut milk can)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 ounces Club soda
- Ice cubes (as needed)
- Lime wedges (optional)
- Wash mint leaves and add to glass (or cocktail shaker)
- (optional) Gently muddle the mint leaves with a muddler to enhance flavor
- Squeeze limes. Measure 2 tbsp of lime juice and pour it into a glass
- Measure and pour in the rum, coconut water, coconut cream, and club soda
- Stir to combine all ingredients. Enjoy
Bee’s Knees (Lemon, Honey, and Gin)
- (optional) 1.5 ounces gin
- 1.5 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon honey
- ½ tablespoon hot water
- Ice cubes (as needed)
- Lemon wedge (optional)
- Freshly grated ginger root (optional for added flare)
- Measure out ½ tablespoon of honey and ½ tablespoon of hot water and add to a glass or cocktail shaker, and mix
- Measure gin and add to shaker
- Squeeze lemon. Measure 1.5 tablespoons of lemon and add to shaker
- Mix with ice (optional) and finely grated ginger)
- Pour and Enjoy!
To read more about what’s in your cocktail and other nutrition-related tips check out the following blog posts:
THE BOTTOM LINE
While cocktails are not exactly the healthiest for you, that does not mean they have to be avoided. Keeping the ingredients simple and relying on fresh fruit, herbs, vegetables, botanicals, and seltzer or club soda as a base can be a great way to “healthify” a cocktail/mocktail so that you can enjoy it without all the added sugars and artificial flavorings.