Gin Fresh Fruit Fizz Cocktail is the most delicious and refreshing cocktail I’ve made all year… hands down! I had some left over kiwi and strawberry in my fridge, some fresh mint in my garden, and wanted something fruity but light with this heat wave we’re having in Portland. Also, I had purchased these amazing Moscow Mule cups and was dying to make something delicious in them.
Whenever the winter has fully gone and left us, and the sun seems like it just might be here to stay a while, I feel like everyone goes cocktail crazy. Well, at least the people that I know in my life! Which more than works for me. I remember creating amazing cocktails with my friend April when I last lived in OR. Always with fresh ingredients and incredibly refreshing in taste. She’d love this Gin Fresh Fruit Fizz drink for sure! April, I’ll make it for you next time you’re here. We used to use this stick we found in the backyard for a muddling stick… pretty sure she still has it! In my 30’s, I’ve graduated to a real muddler. I purchased a Rabbit cocktail set the other week and I’ll never look back. Muddling has never been so easy! Ahh… adulthood. A pretty sweet hood to live in.
If you love gin, strawberry, kiwi, mint, lime, refreshing and natural cocktails to help beat the summer heat, I implore you, make this cocktail now! Also, what an amazing and delicious drink to serve up on Memorial Day. Gin Fresh Fruit Fizz Cocktail will have all of your friends melting in the palms of your cocktail making hands. Slurp up!
- 3-4 ounces of gin
- 3-4 ounces of lemonade
- 2 kiwis
- 2 limes
- 4 strawberries
- Approximately 10 fresh mint leaves
- Crushed ice
- Seltzer water to fill the rest of the cup
- Squeeze the juice from 1 whole lime per cup
- Fill the bottom of each cup with crushed ice
- Add 1 kiwi, 2 strawberries, and approximately 5 mint leaves per cup- muddle well
- Add I.5-2.0 ounces of gin per cup
- Add 1.5-2.0 ounces of lemonade per cup
- Stir well or shake well
- Fill each cup about 3/4 of the way to the top with crushed ice
- Top with seltzer water - stir again
- Garnish with mint if you'd like!
To Kombucha or Not To Kombucha (this is my question) is a post about the myths, facts, and personal opinions of the health benefits of drinking this “magical elixir,” as it is often called. Currently, quite a few of my Beijing friends and I are ordering kombucha through a local supplier who brews it herself. Our friend, Jackie, is our ‘dealer.’ She has sourced and organizes our weekly deliveries and we are thankful for her efforts. Expensive? Oh yes! But we all deem it to be worthy of our loot. How are we benefiting? What does science say? What do kombucha enthusiasts say? Continue reading to find out and I’ll share with you what I’ve learned.
Kombucha originated in Asia. Many articles I’ve read state that it most likely originated in China, however, I did not come across an article that 100% proved that. Kombucha also goes by the name “mushroom tea,” though this is misleading, as there are no mushrooms in this product nor does it originate from any fungi source. To say it simply, Kombucha is fermented tea. It has been around for thousands of years and made it’s appearance in North America in the late 90’s. This is when you could find bottles on store shelves, though most likely, few shelves and only in health food style stores. It seems to have made a larger appearance and been found more widely in North America since about 2008.
What is this stuff & how is it made?:
This fermented tea is meant to heal a multitude of ailments and diseases according to kombucha enthusiasts, be a great supplier of probiotics, give you energy, help and/or cure anxiety and depression, and to simply give you a good n’ healthy gut, in addition to a multitude of other things. Just Google it. There are far too many ailments and diseases that this “magical elixir” cures so I will not list it here. Many people home brew this concoction or purchase it in the store either pasteurized or unpasteurized (more about that later). It has a slight vinegar taste and is quite acidic. You can buy it or make it in many different flavors. My two favorite are lavender/blueberry & lemongrass/ginger.
The process is simple. You need to purchase a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Some also refer to this as the “mother.” Simply stated it is the home for the bacteria and yeast. You add a small bit of sugar (gets further diluted in the fermenting process) to black tea (sometimes green tea), and then let it ferment for at least a week. Don’t go too long or the process could go south and have serious health effects. Due to the fermentation, there are trace/slight amounts of alcohol in the kombucha. The fermenting process occurs in a non-refrigerated environment, perhaps in the dark, and typically in a glass jar. Using ceramic in the fermenting process can lead to lead poisoning and other materials can easily kill the “mother” or have other negative effects. It is of the utmost importance that kombucha is made in a sterile environment to avoid introducing unhealthy bacteria into mixture. Just know what you’re doing!
There is no scientific evidence or studies to support that kombucha can cure diabetes, cancer, depression, anxiety, arthritis, colitis, or any other disease or ailment that many posts/articles state. However, there have not been very many in depth studies of the effects of kombucha on humans.
When drinking unpasteurized kombucha (less safe if you don’t know you’re making it properly) you get a large does of probiotics. Probiotics give your gut healthy bacteria. Therefore, it may be able to help and prevent certain illnesses. Probiotics are most definitely great for your immune system and for getting that digestive tract running smoothly. There have been documented studies done on rats that showed kombucha reduced their liver toxicity. Of course, it is safest when pasteurized but this could compromise the health benefits kombucha offers.
There may or may not be a high enough volume of antioxidants and flavonoids in a drinkable dose of kombucha so that one may garner the positive effects that they would have on your body.
How to drink kombucha:
It appears that many people drink approximately 4 oz (125 ml) of kombucha a day. However, other articles I have read state that people may have 2 oz in the morning and then 2 oz again in the evening. I have also read that after a few weeks of drinking kombucha you may slightly increase your ‘dosage’ as long as your body is reacting positively to it. Some people with sensitive stomachs or who start by taking too much too soon may experience nausea, vomiting, or even jaundice (though not common). Listen to your body! I have read that drinking it in the morning is the best time to imbibe, however, that information was not included in most of the articles that I had read.
What the nay-sayers think:
- It is too high in acidity and that this can damage your teeth (though I’ve read that you should drink it all at once to avoid this, swish some water around in your mouth afterwards, and refrain from brushing your teeth for the hour following consumption).
- If you drink too much you can put yourself at risk, as there are cases of individuals getting lactic acidosis (just know you do not want this).
- There a few incidents of individuals dying from consuming kombucha that was not brewed properly.
- There is no scientific evidence to support that kombucha prevents, cures, or helps diseases.
What the enthusiasts are saying:
- It can help to prevent, cure, and diminish symptoms, of a variety of diseases and illnesses.
- The probiotics help with digestive issues (move those bowels, people!), give you energy, lift your spirits.
- Loads you with B vitamins and boosts your immune system.
- Enhances the absorption of minerals.
- The proof is in the pudding. If for thousands of years individuals have felt and witnessed first hand the positive effects of this “magical elixir,” there is not much more evidence one needs to acquire to believe in the healing power of kombucha.
What myself and my friends have noticed since drinking about 250 ml/day for a few months now: (some of us have different answers and we drink it for different needs or simply for overall wellness)
- “Can eat and not feel bloated, heavy or gross.”
- “Gets the digestive tract moving better and produces better stools.”
- “Gives perkiness that was not there prior throughout the day. Feel less tired.”
- “Works better and faster than the probiotics that I have taken in the past.”
- “Happier and more energetic.”
- “I had really gripey IBS type pain for a good few months before hitting the kombucha. It was staring to get me down. I didn’t realize how much I wasn’t regular but now, when drinking this daily, I am so regular and feel no pain anymore. It is so much better drinking the kombucha than not drinking it that I actually stress if I run out.”
To conclude, I would say that you should do what you think works for you! If you think this is non-sense and don’t believe that people experience these positive side effects than don’t drink it. If you want to give it a try hoping it will cure something or at least for a better gut due to those amazing probiotics, give it a go! Start with less and increase as you go. Just remember, be aware of how you feel, how much you’re drinking daily, and that I have heard that the pasteurization process can kill the probiotics, however, you could research this more. Do what’s good for you, your gut, and be smart! Please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts. Would love to get a good discussion going!
I am sure you have all heard me mention how I chug my G’s Oatmeal Smoothie every morning and love it. It’s just so healthy and such an incredible start to my day that I can’t get myself to move on to one of my many (yet to be posted) other smoothie recipes. However, on the weekends I sometimes need a change. A break from the berries if you will! I am a massive fan of anything peanut butter and banana or peanut butter and chocolate. I find those combinations to be unbeatable in my sweet tooth world. Like I’ve said before, I don’t particularly have a sweet tooth, as I’d choose a bagel, potato chip, slice of pizza etc any day over chocolate or other sweets, however, those are the loves of the small sweet tooth within me. I have really been enjoying my Creamy Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie for weekends now! My lil’ man, G, loves them as well. Double delight! Honestly, you could throw in some cocoa powder for a chocolate effect, add some spinach for the fiber (I always do), and use any kind of nut butter you’d like! I’m never strict with a recipe so I most certainly don’t expect the same from my readers. In Beijing, it is very difficult to find natural peanut butter, and when you do, it costs oodles of moola. I have taken to buying the “mixed sesame” butter (a variety of what I think is sesame seeds, peanuts, and probably something else), as it is completely natural, delicious, and costs a mere $1.00! Now, you cannot beat that. These are the things in China that I will truly miss… well, a part of some of the things I will miss. I am leaving after 5 long years in 7 weeks and it will be extremely bitter sweet! I am starting to feel the reality now… I digress, back to smoothie speak! I drink them all year long but I know that they’re even bigger hits in the summer time. Bring on the beach, the sun, and the great outdoors. I am beyond ready and am sure you are, too! Enjoy your Creamy Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie in the summer, spring, winter, or fall… at the beach, in the morning, afternoon, or at the mall. Okay, I had to do it. The Dr. Seuss in me insisted. Enjoy it even as a light dinner or dessert. It knows no bounds! Slurp up this deliciously satisfying and healthy Creamy Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie and I promise you, you’ll be on the road to a healthier you!
- 2 bananas
- 3-4 large spoonfuls of peanut butter
- 1/2 a ripe avocado
- 2 cups oats
- Dash of vanilla extract
- 1 can coconut milk
- Coconut water (use your desired amount for thickness/thinness)
- Large handful of spinach (optional but recommended- I always use this)
- Put a splash of coconut water in the bottom of your blender and add the oats
- Top with coconut milk
- Add bananas, peanut butter, avocado, vanilla
- Top with spinach if using
- Add your desired amount of coconut water
- *I put this in the refrigerator overnight and blend in the morning for a cold smoothie!
- This yields 3 large glasses.
- Add cocoa powder for a chocolate flavor
- Add spinach or kale for some awesome fiber/vitamins. You won't taste it if you're concerned about this.
- Use any kind of milk (almond, soy - plain, vanilla, chocolate -, cow's milk etc)
- Use any kind of nut butter
Well, it’s official. I’ve finally decided that to make my goal weight by mid-June I am officially going to have to kind of… err… sort of… uugghh… maybe diet a bit! Yuck! That tasted bad evening writing down that hateful “d” word. I made it 6 months while staying on target or even getting ahead of my chart and have hit the longest of plateaus over the past 3 months. If I plan on “making it” to the finish line I have to actually cut back a bit. I’ve also just revamped my workout. In previous posts I had mentioned the glory of Jillian Michael’s Shred It Level 1. Well, now it’s Level 2 in addition to her 6 Weeks to 6 Pack Abs (if you want to die a painful workout death… do this. It’s killer! But amazing), and I am taking hour long Latin dance classes every Friday. I feel the combo should get me to where I need to be in the short bit of time I seem to have left. Sigh, sigh, and sigh again… however, I feel great! So, that’s the silver lining, and the hope for total “svelte-ness” is my dangling carrot. In my mind it’s super model status, however, reality strikes in the form of a possible thinner thigh, arm, and a true dream of 50% of Jillian Michael’s abs. We dream big here my friends. I mean BIG. I do indeed, dare to dream.
I start every morning with my G’s Oatmeal Smoothie recipe. My little man (Greyson) LOVES them, as do my husband and myself. Berries mixed with oatmeal, coconut milk, and yes, spinach! Don’t let this scare you! The spinach is masked by the coconut and the sweet fruit. An incredibly healthy and satisfying start to your day. Not to mention, I make it the night before so the oats have been fully soaked, it will be cold without having to add ice, and let’s face it, one less step to slow down your morning. Sold! Next, I arrive at work and have a small snack of almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and a clementine. I love all of them and they keep my belly content until a later snack or early lunch. I swallow this down with a cup of chrysanthemum tea with a dash of cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and an ever-so-small squeeze of agave. This is incredibly refreshing and easy to drink. After this, I return to the caffeine with a Jasmine Green Tea (I have a black coffee as soon as I arrive at work). For a small lunch or hefty snack, I have a whole wheat slice of bakery bread loaded with all kinds of delicious seeds, and I smother it in my homemade Classic Hummus after smashing some avocado on the bread (sometimes with a tomato or some cheese as well-all depends on how crazy I feel that day!). If I want to make this more of a lunch, I will have a heftier slice of my bread and it’s toppings plus I’ll tack on a salad or soup, like my Pesto Mushroom Salad or my Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup. I’m not trying to pack the calories in but I definitely want to feel satisfied and really enjoy my food. What’s eating if we don’t love it?! My goal is to fuel my body with the “best” and enjoy it in the making. Simple, happy, delicious. Join me in my not-so-new morning mantra!
*As featured on foodgawker.com!
Warm & Delicious Spiked Choco-Coffee will definitely warm your winter soul with some special fuzzy feelings! Amarula, vodka, Grand Marnier, hot chocolate, and coffee. Top it with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and a sprinkle of hot chocolate for your extra fancy self! It’s guaranteed to kick your booty, send you smilin’ to the stars, and is simply incredibly tasty. Bored of your typical spiked coffees? Give this one a whirl and I promise you’ll be going for round 2! How was this cocktail created? IKEA. Yes, that is my answer. Whatever do I mean? Well, let the tale begin…
Since I’ve had a baby and the air quality in Beijing can ruin weekends, I don’t really go out anymore. If you are reading this and you know me I have no doubt you’re in total and utter disbelief! 😉 I got super excited when I made plans with my Beijing bestie, Alana. What were we going to do on this fine Saturday afternoon? Go to IKEA together. Seriously, I was teeming with excitement for 2 weeks leading up to this Saturday. We both needed to stock up on supplies. Also, I have always wanted to go back to IKEA with my camera (not just my iPhone) to take pictures of the countless individuals sleeping, yes, full out sleeping, on the display beds at this fine establishment. Once, there was even a family eating their own noodles in an IKEA kitchen display. I sh#% you not. Last year, a rumor went around stating IKEA had banned people in China from sleeping on their furniture. However, it was just that, a rumor. Learning that the thrill of a good nap was still alive & kickin’, I told Alana we had to go there with my Canon and a super yummy and strong cocktail to further our entertainment value. We did it, and it was AWESOME! We walked around, took pics, drank our Warm & Delicious Spiked Choco-Coffee, got pretty toasted, pretended to sleep on beds, and shopped. The two of us definitely came home with more than a few unnecessary items and a bit of a stumble!
If you want to have an amazing day at a Chinese IKEA, I strongly suggest drinking a Warm & Delicious Spiked Choco-Coffee. Obviously, many of you reading this blog do not live in China, so for you, I strongly suggest this tasty libation next time you have a nice cold day with a friend over. Perhaps Google people sleeping in beds at IKEA for your entertainment as well. Sip, slurp, get your buzz on, pink up those cheeks, and enjoy!
The first set of pictures below are the ones of the lovely IKEA adventure. Please keep scrolling to see the Warm & Delicious Spiked Choco-Coffee pictures and recipe!
- 1/4 tsp Grand Marnier
- 1-2 ounces Amarula (or Bailey's)
- 1 ounce vodka
- 1 tsp hot chocolate powder (more for a garnish if you'd like)
- Hot coffee
- Whipped cream (optional)
- Chocolate Shavings (optional)
- Fill your mug of choice with coffee - about 3/4 full
- Pour in your 3 liquors and hot chocolate powder - stir well
- Optional: Garnish with a nice heaping of whipped cream, top with chocolate shavings, and sprinkle with hot coco powder
- I truly prefer Amarula to Bailey's for this drink. Do not operate heavy machinery while drinking or soon afterwards!