With the holidays come good food, good company and good drinks.
But, what do you do if you are in treatment, and have been asked to limit or avoid alcohol? Or, you may be choosing to limit alcohol for other reasons.
There are still plenty of tasty and equally festive alternatives. Many of these options use spices and herbs which add the benefit of cancer-fighting phytonutrients. “Phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant and phytonutrients are natural compounds found in plant-based foods. These natural chemicals help protect plants and also help us.
Foods such as ginger, cranberries, pomegranates, avocados and asparagus contain these phytonutrients, but they are also found in all other plant foods including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, herbs, spices and legumes.
If you do prefer an adult beverage, always check with your doctor first before consuming alcohol. There are mixed reports on the role alcohol plays in our health. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends, if consuming alcohol at all, no more than one serving daily for women and no more than two servings daily for men.
Alcohol has been shown to increase the risk for several different cancers including breast, colorectal, liver, mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophageal. Additionally, alcohol increases estrogen levels which may increase the risk of estrogen sensitive cancers. More recent recommendations for breast cancer prevention and survival recommend 0-2 drinks weekly.
If you are looking for festive drinks for your next holiday party, consider these phytonutrient-filled, non-alcohol options! If you are including alcohol, remember to drink plenty of water between sips to stay hydrated.
Cranberry Ginger Cider
2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups apple cider
8 each, 1 quarter inch fresh ginger
½ teaspoon orange zest
orange slices (optional)
Place juice, cider, ginger, and zest in a medium pan. Bring heat up and simmer 15 minutes. Remove pieces of ginger. Garnish each cup with an orange slice, if desired. Serve warm. Makes 4 cups.
From Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair
Hibiscus Pomegranate Cooler
¼ cup loose hibiscus tea (or 12 tea bags)
4 cups boiling water
4 cups cold water
1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
Spritz of fresh lemon juice
1 orange, sliced into rounds
3 sprigs fresh mint
seeds of one pomegranate
Put the tea in a heatproof container. Pour in the boiling water and let steep for five minutes. Strain the tea into a pitcher. Stir in the cold water, pomegranate juice, lemon juice. Add the orange slices and mint and refrigerate for at least one hour, until well chilled. Add a spoonful of fresh pomegranate seeds to the glass before serving. Makes 9 cups
Adapted from the Longevity Kitchen by Rebecca Katz
Gretchen Gruender, MS, RDN, CSO, is a registered dietitian nutritionist at SCCA.