Drink

Happy Hour: Make THIS Your 2017 Cocktail

The Bee Sting: A honey-infused libationOver dangerously smooth anise-perfumed cocktails the other night, a friend told me his mother’s tried-and-true hangover remedy just so happened to be the MVP in our cocktails–honey. I scoffed a bit—isn’t sweet stuff the reason why I hurt so badly the morning after? But four Bee Stings, six hours of sleep and no hangover later, I was convinced.

So honey can banish a hangover? No more throbbing head, dizziness or sour tummy after a night of drinking? Sign me UP!

I poked around a bit to get to the bottom of this delightful mystery, and was able to come up with the following fun facts. It just so happens that honey is acclaimed by scientists for its ability to aid the body in breaking down alcohol. This little nutritional powerhouse can neutralize booze toxins, according to an article in the US National Library of Medicine. Author Arthur Cederbaum states that because honey contains natural fructose, which helps the body metabolize alcohol more quickly into a harmless byproduct, it can end the hangover period faster. (1)

Furthermore, honey pumps us full of antioxidants that protect the liver from alcohol damage. It also contains electrolytes–like sodium and potassium–which our systems exhaust while processing the alcohol, and which need replenishing in order for us to feel better.

Not too shabby.

And I can’t help but think that the whisper of Absinthe–a spirit made from medicinal herbs–must be the proverbial cherry on top, no?

I mean this cocktail is almost…dare I say it…good for you! 

So why not ring in the new you this new year by embracing a cocktail that will love you almost as much as you love it? Now doesn’t that sound delicious?

Bee Sting
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz honey simple syrup (see recipe below)
  • 3 oz vodka
  • Splash absinthe
  • Lemon wheel, for garnishing
  1. Rinse martini glass with a splash of absinthe. Do not discard.
  2. Pour lemon juice, honey syrup and vodka into a pint glass filled with ice.
  3. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel floater.

Print

Honey Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1/2 c water
  1. Combine honey and water in a small saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium heat until honey is dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temp.
  4. Chill for 30 minutes before using. Store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Print

 

Detoxify Everything (Health Hacks, Volume II)

It seems appropriate, in light of the fact that I have never consumed more cheese (chocolate/bacon/eggnog) than I have in the last two weeks, to do a post on detoxification. Around the holidays it’s easy to be aware of how polluted you feel, when indulgences wait around every corner, and your waistband gets tighter by the hour.

But even in our normal, mostly “healthy” lives, we are subjected to toxins on a daily basis—from pesticides on our veggies, to allergens in the air, to chemicals in our food-storage containers.

So this month’s health tip is to create detoxifying rituals to combat this constant exposure.

I’m going to start with the obvious one: drink more water. Drinking lots of water not only flushes toxins, it keeps our digestion regular and helps with weight loss. Furthermore, it makes our skin supple and allows our brains to run at maximum efficiency. Read tips on how to adopt this healthy habit into your routine here.

Then, Sweat It Out

You knew this was coming: of course exercise is on this list, because at the end of the day, strengthening your heart and circulatory system and maintaining agility is the key to vitality. But eliminating toxins is yet another bonus of working up a sweat.

A study published in Scientific World Journal (1) compared the amount of phthalates (a toxin found in personal care and household items) eliminated from the body based on the type of elimination—sweat or urine—and found that sweating was the superior method. In fact, the amount of toxin present in the sweat was twice that found in the urine. So flush your system with water, but don’t think that replaces a trip to the gym.

I’ve got great news though: even sitting in a sauna is an effective detox. As your body gets hotter and blood flow increases, toxins that are stored in body fat get released. These toxins might include pesticide residues and drugs—legal or otherwise.

Take Epsom salt baths to detoxifyThen, Soak It Away

I love any health tip that includes adding baths to the repertoire. The key here is to add 2 cups of Epsom salts, which contain magnesium and sulfate. The sulfates in Epsom salt help flush toxins and heavy metals from the cells. Your skin is highly porous, and adding the right minerals to your bathwater triggers reverse osmosis. This process actually pulls salt out of your body, and harmful toxins along with it.

As an added bonus, Epsom salt absorbed through the skin replenishes magnesium levels in the body. This helps produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical in the brain that creates feelings of calm and relaxation. Research shows that magnesium also increases energy and stamina. Experts believe that bathing with Epsom salt at least three times a week helps you to look better, feel better and gain more energy.

And get this! There are a gazillion more uses for Epsom salts, so please go read about them here. Then I bet you’ll want to thank me for telling you to take more baths and proving that they’re soo good for you.

You’re welcome.

Try Something Different

“So drink water, work out and take baths, that’s it?” you might be saying. “Those are things I already do!”

I know, isn’t that awesome? Just ramp it up a notch. And then check out these two things you might not be doing.

Take Activated CharcoalActivated charcoal flushes toxins

Activated Charcoal—not to be confused with charcoal used in your grill (giggle)— has a negative electric charge that causes positive charged toxins and gas to bond with it. This in turn helps promote a healthy digestive tract by removing the very toxins that cause allergic reactions, oxidative damage and poor immune system function, in addition to reducing bloating and gas. Hurray!

To optimize your health, routinely cleanse the digestive tract by taking 10 grams of activated charcoal 90 minutes prior to each meal for two days, according to Dr. Josh Axe, certified doctor of natural medicine, chiropractic and clinical nutritionist. During the cleanse, eat only organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meat, and wild fish.

Oh and guess what else?

Activated charcoal can prevent hangovers. Dave Asprey, of Bulletproof Coffee Fame, suggests 2000 mg after you’re done drinking, in order to feel, well, bulletproof the morning after.

I like it.

Eat Broccoli Sprouts

There is so much talk about super foods it’s overwhelming to know where to begin. So if you only add one new thing to your diet, it ought to be these babies.

Broccoli sprouts contain a chemical called sulforaphane which greatly enhances detoxification, excreting mercury, carcinogens and air pollutants, just to name a few. Compared to vitamin C, which fights free radicals directly for approximately six hours after exposure, sulforaphane prompts our cells to make antioxidant proteins that can fight for more than 72 hours. Not only are these little powerhouses thought to combat cancer in multiple ways, studies suggest they contain 1000 times more nutrients than mature broccoli, and can even cause a reduction in symptoms of autism.

With a little patience, broccoli sprouts are easy to grow in your kitchen. You can get organic broccoli seeds here. Visit Ali and Tom’s amazing Elimination Diet site for instructions on how to grow them, and start reaping the benefits today of this simple addition to your wellness routine.

For a great list of other foods you should eat after a binge, check out this article.

And Now For Something Delicious

If you’re kicking off 2017 with a cleanse, juicing is probably top of your list. For that reason, I wanted to include one of my all-time favorite juice recipes, that just so happens to have extra detox properties due to the addition of beets. Since beets tend to have an earthy flavor (I’ve been told by more than one picky eater that they taste like dirt), the addition of fennel and apple work against that flavor profile, resulting in a juice that is just slightly sweet, deliciously refreshing, and not remotely dirt flavored. During a cleanse where grass-flavored green juices abound, I consider this combo almost a dessert-like treat.

Beets contain antioxidants and minerals that have been shown to be cleansing and detoxifying. These include betaine, which helps the liver cells eliminate toxins; pectin, which clears the toxins that have been removed so they don’t reincorporate back into the body; and betalains, which have high anti-inflammatory properties that encourage the detox process.

And there’s no need to peel raw beets before juicing. Just give them a scrub, roughly chop, and juice away.

 

Beet-Fennel Detox Juice
  • 1 fennel bulb, stalks and fronds included
  • 1 small beet, scrubbed and cubed
  • 1 sweet apple, like Fuji or Honeycrisp, seeds and stem removed
  • 1 handful parsley, with stems
  1. Place all items into a high powered juice extractor and turn it on.
  2. Pour into a chilled glass, or place in freezer for 20 minutes before enjoying.

Print

 

*Of course, I should remind everyone that this blog is for information purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, you should work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you.

 

 

 

FourPlay and Buffalo Balls

Fourplay2You like the name of this post? Me too.

Funny thing is, it was totally inadvertent. I knew I’d be doing a wine post–Carhartt’s 2010 FourPlay, to be precise–and Fiancé and I were brainstorming what would make the perfect meal to go with it. And yes, at times, we prefer to build our menu around the wine instead of the other way around. What’s wrong with that?

FourPlay is a flavorful red blend from one of our very favorite wineries in Los Olivos. The 2010 vintage produced only 350 cases of the sweet, sweet nectar and Fiancé and I have been saving this bottle for a special occasion–something like, hey it’s Thursday, and we’re on our way to pick up more Carhartt wine this weekend, so let’s drink up. You know, that kind of occasion.

FourPlay is 35% cabernet sauvignon, 31% merlot, 24% cab franc, and 10% petite verdot. Four players working in balanced juxtaposition to get our juices flowing, and ready for the main event–in this case, a steaming plate of gluten-free fettuccine with Fiance’s crockpot marinara and huge, flavorful meatballs made of bison. Seeing as how the wine is described as a perfect partner to savory meats, hearty pastas, and aged cheeses, we figured this menu was a bull’s eye, and it gave me an excuse to buy some fancy cheeses to indulge in beforehand (for the first time since the Post to Post Links II error: No post found with slug "challenge-2013-elimination-diet-food-allergen-cleanse" began–woot!).

Fourplay3I took one sip of this wine and told Fiancé that I want every glass of wine I ever drink to feel this way in my mouth. Holy velveteen, I’m in love. The blend has brilliant clarity, and a cherry red hue with rich intensity, belying its cabernet sauvignon component. It’s also fairly leggy, which makes me think of a great line from my favorite sommelier (and mentor–lucky me) Caitlin Stansbury, about how merlot, which she affectionately dubs the Sex Bomb, “shows more leg than Angelina Jolie.”

Stick your nose in the glass, and you’ll find a medium intensity aroma of ripe red fruits–cherries and cranberries, the very same that you taste when you take a sip. I also detected a hint of baking spices, and Fiancé noted a little smoke. What a delightful surprise on this celebratory Thursday, to find that I actually am a fan of merlot, which it turns out is the likely reason this wine feels so damned good to drink!

Fourplay1If you’re curious about how to zero in on your favorite qualities when wine tasting, and yearn to bring out your inner wine-know, you should check out Caitlin’s book, Wineocology. Watch out, this sassy sommelier has a mouth on her, which is why I could read this book and drink wine all the live-long day.

I hope you’re heading into the weekend with plans to do something delicious!

 

Wine and Truffles: An Affair to Remember

Cakebread Merlot

Recently the boyfriend celebrated his 40th birthday, and his boss gave him a bottle of Cakebread Merlot and a box of Lindor chocolate truffles, with the strictest instructions to share them with me. I love his boss!

So we’re sitting on the couch soaking in the atmosphere of our new apartment, and it just seems like the right time to celebrate. I’ve never tried the Cakebread Merlot, but at around $50 a bottle (I looked it up, nosy thing), I know we’re in for a treat.  We decant it for 30 minutes to let the fruit and roasted herb aromas develop. We are very serious.

Lindor truffles come in dark, milk, and white chocolate and have a ganache center the consistency of butter. I’m not a big “chocolate-on-top-of-chocolate-decadence” girl (who would be, after working in a shop during college that sold every possible variant of the stuff), but these little babies are showstoppers. I’ve long since outgrown the over-sweet taste of most white chocolate but for some reason, white Lindor truffles hold the key to my heart. Basically, they defy everything I feel about the confection; about its decadence and tooth-pain inducing sweetness. And the buttery quality of the ganache gives such a silky mouth feel that it perfectly complements the velvety texture of the wine.

A tiny, creamy bite. A ripe, berry-filled sip.

The chocolate marries with the jammy flavor of the merlot, full of punchy plum and cherry notes, evoking Black Forest cake. Boyfriend compares the softness on the palate to sucking on a silk tie. It is marvelously balanced; there is just enough tannin to leave my palate cleansed and ready to taste all the nuances of flavor in the next sip and each one after that. Is that toasted oak that I detect?

Now this is certainly not the first time I have consumed chocolate and wine together. But it is the first time someone has given the combination to me (or Boyfriend) as a gift. Accompanied by the instruction to share this experience with someone awesome. Making this more than just a gift of wine and candy—making this a gift of time.  Making it a memory. A moment in my crazy life to stop and smell the roses. And plums. And cherries. And oak.

Doesn’t that just make you want to go and do something delicious?

 

Cakebread Cellars by James Lee is licensed under CC BY 2.0/ Brightness increased from original