This Weekend’s Moscow “Wow”

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I’m a fan of health, wellness and HYDRATION. And, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I’m not much of a social drinker. For the past several years, I’ve veered away from cocktails. Since having kids, there just isn’t much room in my life for even the smallest glimpse of a hangover. Waking up early, with a headache, isn’t worth the tradeoff. Sure, I enjoy a glass of wine here and there but don’t go much beyond that.

Lately though, even wine hasn’t been sitting well with me – in spite of my efforts to stay very hydrated, especially when consuming alcohol. I’m not sure if I’m more bummed about not being able to enjoy a glass of wine or by the reality behind it….I’m getting older, I’m often sleep deprived and my body is more sensitive to many things that, in my “youth”, never fazed me.  Recently, I was out to dinner with a friend, analyzing and agonizing over which varietal of wine would be least likely to produce a headache. My friend suggested that, instead of wine, I try a cocktail and that it would likely have less of an impact since I must be reacting to the tannins in wine not the alcohol itself. Ordering a cocktail hadn’t crossed my mind in many years (honestly, I’m that boring) but her explanation seemed reasonable and I figured I had nothing to lose. However, as perused the cocktail menu, I was disappointed by the choices – if I wanted to order one of the “signature mixologist” concoctions it seemed I had to chose between very strong, as in “that’ll put hair on your chest”, or very sweet, as in sweetened with trendily disguised sugar, like elderberry syrup, crème de violette, cherry cordial, and citrus honey.  Since I’ve never gone for either very strong or very sweet, I found myself in yet another predicament. By this point, my companion was over my exhaustive analysis, first of the wine menu, and then the cocktail menu, so in an effort to get on with it,  I finally ordered a simple vodka and soda with extra lime. BUT, I was determined to revisit my cocktail quest at a later time — convinced that I could create something tasty, interesting and most importantly without all of the calories and sugar.

This past weekend I found myself home, after a long week, with a hankering for an alcoholic beverage…..and so, my cocktail experimentation began. Having gone through a similar quest to create a healthy and natural water enhancer, I had some experience under my belt and once again brought out the fresh fruit, essential  oils and stevia. I played around on Friday night and served my husband and me up some decent drinks, but truth be told I didn’t make anything noteworthy and couldn’t even make it all the way through my one drink. Luckily, I truly enjoy a challenge, and with even more determination, I continued to experiment on Saturday night and achieved much greater success. With the simplest combination I made a delicious and healthy (it’s all relative) cocktail! I created a delicious and healthy version of a Moscow Mule, replacing the high-sugar ginger beer  with Ginger Lime H2wOw. I can’t believe I didn’t think of using H2wOw sooner; sure it’s a completely off-label use, but it makes so much sense for cocktails! I’ve been calling my cocktail the Moscow Wow and I’m so excited to have a fun drink to share with our next house guests.

Order some Ginger-Lime H2wOw, break out your copper mug (if you have one), and give this very simple recipe a try.

  1. Add ice to your glass or use a copper mug for an authentic taste
  2. Pour a shot of vodka over the ice (I used Tito’s)
  3. Add three squirts of Ginger Lime H2wOw (if you’re confused about how much a squirt is say the word squirt while squirting)
  4. Fill up the rest of the mug with sparkling water or club soda (I used Fever Tree)
  5. Garnish with a slice of lime
  6. Enjoy!

P.S. And for those of you that are wondering if any of these cocktails have left me with a headache, the answer is NO. I’m surprised and happy to report that I’ve (at least temporarily) converted from a tepid wine-drinker to a blooming healthy-cocktail connoisseur 🙂

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                                 My Delicious Moscow “Wow”

 

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Poor Circulation?…..Try Some Water with Dried Longan Fruit

The other day I went for a massage. It was MUCH needed after 6 weeks of traveling with my kids and lots of lifting, sitting and flying. My body was full of aches and pains. The therapist I saw was an interesting guy from China who, upon noticing that my hands and feet felt cold, and my neck and shoulders very tense, had some recommendations for me. He suggested a warm morning drink made with water, dried longan fruit, red date and ginger, explaining that it’s a common drink for Chinese women to improve circulation and help with relaxation. I’m game to trying anything that is natural and helps with relaxation! Since I was already in the Inner Richmond district of San Francisco, home to a large Chinese community and many great Asian markets, I decided to pick up the ingredients straight away and give the concoction a try.

At the market, I discovered that dried longan fruit is also known as Long Yan Rou and is closely related to the lychee. And, Red Dates are actually just another name for jujubes. This new drink was sounding better and better! Adding ginger to my water is something I already enjoy (more on that in a future post) but the other two ingredients were new to me and I really had no idea how to prep them for water. Both the dried fruits are the consistency of Medjool dates….so, I assumed that some soaking was in order but was certainly open to more guidance on this.

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The three and hopefully magical ingredients for my warm water beverage

A Google search for ideas on how to make this enticing drink, as well as more information on the properties of each ingredient was in order. First, I researched each ingredient on Wikipedia to find out more about the medicinal properties. Here’s what I learned:

Red Dates: Commonly called jujubes, Chinese dates, Korean dates, or Indian dates are a species of Ziziphus in the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae). The fruit and its seeds are used in Chinese and Korean traditional medicine, where they are believed to alleviate stress. In addition to this they are used for many other purposes, including anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory and their wound healing properties.

Longan Fruit: One of the better-known tropical members of the soapberry family (Sapindaceae), to which the lychee also belongs. In Chinese food therapy and herbal medicine, the longan is believed to have an effect on relaxation. The longan, much like the lychee, it’s thought to give internal “heat”.

Ginger: A flowering plant (Zingiber officinale) whose rhizome, ginger root or simply ginger, is widely used as a spice or a folk medicine. Ginger is one of the oldest and most versatile medicinal foods and in China it’s been used by healers for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese medicine holds that ginger “restores devastated yang” and “expels cold”. Ginger has many believed uses including reducing muscle soreness and inflammation, alleviating nausea and helping digestion. 

Now that I better understood the ingredients, I was ready to use them! I didn’t find much when I Googled this exact combination, but I did find many recipes with ginger and red dates, many of which included goji berries. The closest recipe I found was on a lovely blog called A Beautiful Day and I used this recipe as my reference, omitting the pear and pine nuts.

Here is what I added to 10 cups of filtered water:

25 dried red dates, pitted and sliced

10 dried longans

2 inch chunk of peeled ginger, sliced thinly

After prepping, boiling, simmering for an hour, and finally straining, my drink remedy was ready! I let it cool to a lukewarm temperature and then gave it a try.

It was quite interesting and, based on the profile of the ingredients, more medicinal tasting than I expected, . Right away, I could see why the recipe on A Beautiful Day called for pear because the drink had a bit of a bitter quality and needed something a little sweet to offset this. I added a tiny bit of honey and it became much more enjoyable to drink. I found it very soothing and cozy. It reminded me of Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea, which for years has been a favorite product of mine and something I always have on hand.

I’ve now been enjoying this medicinal water for a few days and have tried it both warm and cold (the batch I made yielded enough for at least one cup daily for a week). I definitely prefer it more as a warm tea-type beverage. And, while I don’t know if it has had any true efficacy on my health, it’s something I’m glad I tried and will make again. It was fun to experiment with new-to-me ingredients that have so many believed healing properties.

 

 

DIY Sparkling Chia “Soda”: A New Way to Wow Your Water

My two young daughters love to drink kombucha. We are a household without soda or juice so kombucha is a very tasty treat for them. Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that contains a high concentration of b-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and good acids including lactic acids. Although I make or buy locally brewed, high-quality kombucha, and I believe in it’s many health benefits, I also am very careful to only let my girls drink it in moderation. While, the fermentation process does get rid of most of the sugar and caffeine from the tea, some does remain. In addition, kombucha usually contains a small amount of alcohol, depending on the length of fermentation, that ranges from .5% and 3%. So, despite all the great benefits of kombucha, the sugar, caffeine and alcohol do make me think twice before giving it to my kids. Read more about the health benefits of kombucha here: 18 Healthy Reasons to Sip Kombucha

pictured above are three varieties of kombucha (Green Tea Nettle, White Tea Hibiscus and Green Tea Grape) from one of my favorite bay area businesses: Threestone Hearth, a Community Supported Kitchen.
Three varieties of kombucha (Green Tea Nettle, White Tea Hibiscus and Green Tea Grape) from one of my favorite Bay Area businesses: Three stone Hearth, a Community Supported Kitchen

Over the holidays, my girls had a two-week vacation from school so there were lots of extra snacks and meals together, as well as more time for them to ask for “treats”. I found myself giving them more kombucha than I was comfortable with and decided to try to come up with an alternative that would satisfy them and make me feel at ease. This was also right after the official launch of my all natural water enhancer, H2wOw, which proved to come in handy for my new concoction. The girls and I have been loving our new drink so much that I decided to dedicate this post to what it is and how to make it.

Here's Clover enjoying our homemade, kid-safe effervescent "treat" drink
Here’s Clover enjoying our homemade, kid-safe effervescent “treat” drink

Our Yummy Effervescent and Kid-Friendly Drink Recipe:

We always soak Chia seeds to include in our kombucha, I knew this would need to be part of the mix. Chia seeds have more omega3’s than salmon, more calcium than milk and lots of antioxidants, they’re also fun to eat – similar to a gelatinous tapioca drink. In addition to including chia seeds, I knew our concoction would need to have an effervescent quality — since this is what makes kombucha such a “special” drink to them. Finally, there would need to be some sweetness and flavor to turn it in to an actual “treat” and not just sparkling water with chia seeds.

So for step #1, we prepared our chia seeds, which is really easy to do and I highly recommend adding this superfood to almost any drink, even if it’s just to plain water (my kids even like chia seeds in milk).  They add so many nutrients and can really help to take the edge off hunger for hours. We use high-quality organic seeds, such as Nutiva or Navitas, which are also raw. To make your chia seeds gelatinous and yummy, you will need to soak them first (preferably overnight). Soaking your seeds will work best if your water is hot but room temperature will also get you good results. I start by adding around three tablespoons of seeds to a 16oz. Mason Ball jar, then I add approximately one cup of hot water.

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To make glutinous chia seeds, simply soak 3TB of seeds in one cup of water in the fridge overnight.

Once the seeds and water are added, I cover the jar and give it a good shake. I allow it to cool a bit and then put it into the fridge to soak overnight. After a night in the fridge, your chia seeds will be blown up and completely gelatinous and the “water” mixture should be more like a gel. Depending on how much chia you like in your beverage will determine how much this yields, I usually add a couple of tablespoons of “gel” to each drink so one jar’s worth is enough for several drinks and will stay fresh in the fridge for about a week.  A jar of chia “gel” is a staple in our fridge and I am usually making a new batch every other day or so.

So now you know how to make yummy seeds, like the ones you find in drinks that costs upwards of $5.00 each, such as like Mama Chia and Synergy Kombucha. Even if you stop reading here, you should have enough to play with to make your own nutritious and delicious drink recipes. However, hopefully you’ll keep reading and try our recipe too!

One of our most used kitchen appliances is the Soda Stream. We use it multiple times everyday and go through lots of sparkling water at our house. So, for step #2 we prepared our sparkling water. Of course, you can also used plain store-bought sparkling water but it’s certainly less expensive and less wasteful to carbonate water yourself. There are lots of ways to carbonate water, you can check out comparisons of some of the best choices here: The Best Soda Maker

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After making our sparkling water, we were ready to bring the pieces together and flavor it. I added a couple of tablespoons of our chia gel to a glass and filled it the rest of the way with our freshly made sparkling water. This brought us to step #3 adding our flavor. I wanted to make this part fun and “experimental” for the kids, so we played around with trying different combinations of stevia and essential oils before we brought out the big guns….H2wOw. As I mentioned in my last post, New Year, New Goals, I recently (or should I say finally) launched my product that I’ve been working to develop for three years. H2wOw is an all-natural water enhancer — and I do mean truly all-natural, it’s made with NOTHING ARTIFICIAL and is the first all-natural water enhancer made from the essential oils and extracts of real fruit and botanicals.  I know it’s a product I created so you might take this with a grain of salt, but I must say, H2wOw tastes absolutely fabulous in our chia seed drink! We played around with all the flavors. My favorite is the Ginger Lime, but, with the chia seeds, the kids love the Mandarin Grapefruit the most.

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Finally, we added the flavor. We used H2wOw for a natural and healthy alternative.

With only three natural calories and less than one gram of sugar per serving (H2wOw is sweetened with a hint of Organic Agave and a touch of Organic Stevia), I feel good about my kids drinking it, especially in this “treat” drink which is really more of a “trick” drink since it is also sooo healthy. Between the awesome health benefits of the chia seeds and the natural electrolytes in H2wOw, which  help them stay better hydrated, I even let them have seconds – but only on vacation 🙂

If you don’t have any H2wOw, you can still make a yummy effervescent drink that’s completely natural (although it doesn’t taste quite as good). Play around with different essential oils and stevia to find a combination that works for you. Or, simply order your H2wOw today from Amazon to make this chia drink and add to your water all day long.