OK, let's get the alcohol thing out of the way first. I know all the detox programs tell you to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugar. And while I definitely agree about the sugar, alcohol and caffeine aren't so black and white. We know, for instance, that alcohol does a number of good things. It relaxes us, lowers stress hormones, acts as a social lubricant, and possibly-in small amounts-protects the heart. On the other hand, alcohol results in the death of 2.5 million people annually, and nearly 4 percent of all deaths are related to it. So moderation is definitely the key.
For people who can drink in moderation, a cocktail is fine, and the fabulous recipe below makes it even better. Chef Jeannette was going to make this drink with sparkling wine, but switched to gin because, honestly, it tastes better. But it's not just taste that puts this mixture over the top.
The blueberry and tart cherry juice concentrates are both loaded with natural antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients. Blueberry concentrate has been shown in rat experiments to have positive effects on memory, and the anthocyanins in tart cherries are such powerful anti-inflammatories that cherries and cherry juice are widely used as a natural remedy against gout. Even the pomegranate seeds that garnish the drink are nutritional powerhouses, with at least five studies demonstrating a beneficial effect of pomegranate juice on cardiovascular health.
And, just to make it more interesting, pomegranates have always been associated with love and erotica. In Turkey, the bride throws the fruit to the ground, and it's believed that the number of seeds that pop out will predict how many children she's going to have. It's just folklore, but it makes a nice way to introduce this cocktail at a Christmas party.
Berry Cherry Celebration Cocktail
Makes 2 Cocktails
Fruity, festive, and perfect for healthy holiday gatherings.
1 oz. blueberry juice concentrate
1 oz. tart cherry juice concentrate
2 oz. cold filtered water
2 oz. high quality gin
2 Tbs. pomegranate seeds, for garnish (see "Notes from Chef Jeannette")
Combine juice concentrates, water, and gin in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, and divide between 2 up glasses. Garnish each glass with 1 Tbs. pomegranate seeds, and enjoy.
PER SERVING: 147 cal; <1g pro; <1g total fat (<1g sat fat); 21g carb; 0mg chol; 15mg sod; <1g fiber; 19g sugars
Notes From: Chef Jeannette
To make this cocktail a "mocktail," combine the juice concentrates with 12 oz. of chilled plain seltzer water instead of gin. Mix gently, and divide between 2 tall, ice-filled glasses. Garnish with pomegranate seeds to serve.
To seed a pomegranate, make 4 shallow cuts through the skin-but not into the seeds-from stem to stern, dividing the fruit into quarters. Submerge the fruit in a clean sink or large bowl of water, and, using your hands, pull it open at the cuts. Gently remove the seeds from the skin and white pith. Carefully pour off the water and pith (the seeds will sink to the bottom) and store seeds in the refrigerator.
Jeannette Bessinger, CHHC, is a certified holistic health counselor and recipe developer. Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, is a nationally known health, nutrition, and weight-loss expert. Bessinger and Bowden have collaborated on numerous cookbooks, including The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes. Visit them online at thecleanfoodcoach.com and jonnybowden.com.