Each month FBC member and nutritionist, Sondi Bruner, takes a favourite recipe and shows you how to adapt it to be allergen-friendly, as well as delicious and healthy. This month she’s got tips for creating healthy, alcohol free, summer mocktails!
I've never liked the taste of alcohol. I don't have any stories about buying fake IDs or sneaking booze out of my parent's cabinet as an adolescent (though my options at home were limited: Manischewitz wine pretty much sums it up). My first drunken experience occurred at the ripe old age of 21 at Toronto's The Brunswick House, a university dive bar where your feet stuck to the floor. I ended up making out with a random dude because he told me it was his birthday -- and I'm fairly certain that was a lie.
Given my enormous sweet tooth, in the past I would have a drink or two if it was filled with pineapple juice or cola or something else so sugary no alcohol could be detected. I'm sure my poor pancreas sobbed at every sip. And now? I'm all about the mocktails.
Many alcoholic beverages contain gluten (like beer), and I simply can't stomach the artificial chemical mishmash in conventional drink mixes or syrups. If you're in the same boat, why not try a mocktail instead? Here are some of my favourite ways to make non-alcoholic drinks more healthful, allergen-friendly and fun!
1. Infuse Water With Herbs, Fruits or Vegetables
It might be a big leap for the booze lovers out there to classify flavoured water as a 'mocktail,' but stay with me. Infused water is a simple, easy and tasty way to add more excitement to a beverage that many people don't like to drink on its own. Throw a handful of blueberries, raspberries, grapes, sliced strawberries, peaches, apricots, cucumber or kiwi into a pitcher of water and let the flavours mingle. It's like sangria ... um, except without the wine.
Another favourite of mine is adding mint leaves or sliced ginger to warm or cold water for a refreshing sipper that also helps with digestion. Rosemary, basil or lavender are other great options, too.
2. Use Fresh, Whole Ingredients
Many fruity cocktail recipes don't use actual fruit -- they substitute flavoured syrups that are supposed to taste like those fruits. It simultaneously cracks me up and makes me sad when companies claim their products are 'made with real fruit'. That fruit juice concentrate has absolutely zero benefit, especially when it comes along with gobs of sugar, artificial colours and preservatives. If you're making a non-alcoholic peach bellini, use actual frozen peaches, squeeze fresh lemon or lime when making a virgin margarita, or blend strawberries into a faux-daquiri.
3. Substitute Fizzy Water or Kombucha For Alcohol
If you like the mouthfeel or taste of cocktails with a little spark 'n pop, try using carbonated water or kombucha in your healthy mocktails for added pizzazz. Kombucha is a fermented, probiotic drink that can aid digestion and detoxify the liver. Since it's fermented, it has a very strong, sour, alcoholic taste. It took me quite a while to acquire a taste for it because it reminded me too much of beer. Blend up your favourite fruits and herbs with plain kombucha, and add your own sweetener to taste (some kombucha brands have a ton of sugar, so I like to add my own).
4. Make Your Own Syrups
If you're blending up fruit with kombucha or carbonated water, you're essentially making a smoothie. I appreciate that some folks aren't into the slushy drinks and want a drink they don't have to chew. Instead of buying drink mixes, make a batch (or batches) of your favourite syrup flavours to add to mocktails. Simple syrups are easy to make: boil up your favourite fruit and water, and then add sweetener if necessary (I like using honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar).
There's a great tutorial on The Kitchn about how to make a 'fruit shrub,' which uses the addition of vinegar. And for more ideas, check out this grapefruit syrup and this elderberry syrup from FBC conference speaker Meghan Telpner, who also happens to be a superstar mixologist.
5. Play With Teas
Tea isn't only for chilly weather and the flu. Brew up a large batch of your favourite tea, chill in the fridge and then add sweetener to taste (or your homemade syrup -- see above). Green tea, chamomile, mint, rooibos, chai ... whatever you love. You can also use chilled tea as a base for blended drinks made with kombucha or fruit.
- 3 480ml bottles unflavoured kombucha (we used this brand)
- ¼ cup grated ginger
- 2 cups soda water, or more/less to taste
- Open a bottle of kombucha and pour it into a glass jar. Add the grated ginger and close up the jar. Allow the mixture to infuse for a minimum of one hour, or you can leave it overnight.
- Pour the ginger/kombucha mixture into a large pitcher and add the remaining bottles of kombucha and the soda water.
- Taste, and add more soda water if needed. You can also add a bit of honey or maple syrup if you'd like it sweeter.
- Chill in the fridge.
And here are some great summer entertaining allergy friendly remixes to try:
- Allergen Friendly Remix: Ice Cream
- Allergen Friendly Remix: The Burger
- Allergen Friendly Remix: Potato Salad
- Allergen Friendly Remis: Sensational Salads
Check out more of Sondi’s Allergen Friendly Remixes for great ideas on revamping your favourite recipes to make them allergen friendly!
Got a favourite recipe you’d like to see get an Allergen Friendly Makeover? Let us know in the comments!
Sondi Bruner is a holistic nutritionist, freelance writer and food blogger. She educates people who follow allergen-friendly diets about how to eat simply, deliciously and safely, allowing them to rediscover the pleasure of food. When she’s wearing her writer’s hat, she works with natural health brands to create content that will help their customers live fulfilling, healthful lives. Find out more at www.sondibruner.com. Or you can follow Sondi on Facebook or Twitter.