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.