May. 4. 2018
Eat Well
McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder

When the weather warms up, so do those after-work drinks, happy hours and cocktail party invites.

While there’s no harm in imbibing once in a while, you want to make the best choices for your health, and that means limiting alcohol or avoiding it all together for a period of time. And that’s OK! You can still partake in social gatherings with a mocktail. Unfortunately, most mocktail recipes are calorie-dense and filled with empty calories from sugary juices and syrups. That’s why today, I’m sharing my tips for creating healthy and refreshing mocktails! The secret to preparing these flavorful libations is to use whole, fresh ingredients. Think plenty of fruit, fresh herbs, seltzer. Honestly, you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a festive, Instagram-worthy drink! Just be sure to avoid simple syrups, drink mixes, fruit juices and concentrates. In case you missed it, I addressed the effects of alcohol on your body.

Healthy Mocktail Drink Bases

Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that has excellent probiotic benefits. You brew tea and then add sugar and SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). The SCOBY eats the sugar, which turns the tea into a fermented beverage. What’s great about kombucha is that it’s vegan-friendly and dairy-free, and it also tends to be low in calories. But some brands of kombucha tend to be high in sugar and have very small amounts of alcohol (usually under one percent). It’s also unpasteurized, so pregnant women should avoid it.

Green juice or any other cold-pressed juice

Juices make a great base for mocktails because they’re full of flavor from the fruits, veggies, and herbs you add into it. They’re also packed with vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and minerals. Plus, they’re easier to digest because they don’t have fiber. Try my Carrot Apple Blended Juice or the Stripped Green Juice.

Seltzer or sparkling water

We’re big fans of La Croix seltzer at team NS! They make a great base for mocktails because they’re bubbly, fizzy and have a hint of flavor. You can dress it up with flavors you love, like lemon, lime, berries, ginger, etc. Most seltzer waters have zero calories or have very few calories and don’t contain any sugar. And best of all, other people in the room don’t know you have a non-alcoholic drink, so you’re partaking in the festivities minus the dehydration and hangover that often comes with drinking alcohol.

Iced tea

As I’ve said before, I absolutely love tea because it has a calming effect and it’s more refreshing than coffee. Tea is also packed with health-boosting antioxidants, catechins, and polyphenols that help prevent chronic disease, cancer, bone loss. The list goes on! They also have a complex flavor profile, ranging from sweet to earthy to grassy to nutty to floral. Simply brew tea in a kettle and allow it to steep for at least 12 hours to fully get its flavors and nutrients. Try my Love Your Liver Iced Tea recipe, which features peppermint tea and ginger.

Superfood Mocktail Garnishes

– Berries
– Ginger
– Cherries
– Pomegranate
– Watermelon
– Citrus fruits: Lime, lemon, grapefruit, oranges, and kiwi
– Fresh herbs and flowers: Mint, lavender, rose, rosemary, sage, and basil
– Chia seeds
– Rhubarb

4 Superfood Mocktails and Spritzers to Make at Home

1. Sangria

You’ll never miss the wine in sangria when you have all the other delicious components. My fun non-alcoholic take on the Spanish drink involves using iced black tea and freshly squeezed orange and pomegranate juice. Muddle oranges and apples at the bottom of each glass or a pitcher and pour the tea and juice mixture into it. Then, I like to add thin lemon and lime slices and some seltzer or sparkling water over it. The result is a  refreshing drink that’s perfect for enjoying a meal al fresco or lounging outside.The muddling the fruits enhance their sweetness, so you don’t need to add much sweetener. But if you want to add a little something, check out my guide to preparing your own Stevia extract or include a touch of honey.

2. Avocado Margarita

My Avocado Margarita is one of my all-time favorite summer drinks! The great news is that you can enjoy this cocktail completely alcohol-free.What makes this drink a superfood mocktail is — you guessed it — avocados. Avocados are rich in heart-healthy fats and fiber, so this beverage will fill you right up. Simply add an avocado with lime juice, sea salt, and a touch of honey and orange juice in a blender and blend until the mixture is smooth and liquefied. Garnish with fresh lime zest, sea salt around the rim, and a watermelon radish slice, and you’ve got yourself one festive drink that will woo your dinner guests to the table.

3. Watermelon Mint Twist

Watermelon is incredibly hydrating — it’s actually got more water content than most fruits. It’s also a great source of electrolytes and has essential nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. Plus, watermelon takes well to a variety of herbs and is naturally sweet so you don’t need to add any sweeteners to enhance its flavor. I’m partial, but I think my Watermelon Mint Twist is one of the best cocktail recipes out there — and mocktail when you omit the vodka! In this recipe, I use watermelon juice and frozen watermelon juice ice cubes for more flavor and presentation. The lemon juice and fresh mint tame the sweetness of the watermelon with a hint of bitterness and tart flavor.

4. Two-Minute Strawberry Lemonade Chia Fresca

Want to change up the way you enjoy your H20? Chia Fresca is what you’ve been looking for. Chia Fresca is another great way to stay hydrated with extra benefits. Chia seeds are an excellent source of brain- and heart-boosting omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Not to mention, these tiny powerhouses are hydrophilic, meaning they love water and soak up any liquid they’re in. What’s more is that they swell into a gel-like consistency when they come in contact with water to promote gut health and stabilized blood sugars. What’s not to love? My Two-Minute Strawberry Lemonade Chia Fresca recipe calls for chia seeds (obviously) and filtered water, but to turn it into a fun mocktail, you can substitute water with seltzer. I also add one packet of this True Strawberry Lemonade Mix, which is absolutely free of artificial sweeteners or flavors and preservatives. It’s made with real fruit and has just one gram of sugar.

Let’s Hear It!

What are some of your favorite mocktail recipes? What flavors do you like to mix and match? Share your summer mocktail recipes with the NS community below and post them on Instagram with #nutritionstripped. For more mocktail and drink recipes, check out the Nutrition Stripped Cookbook. It’s got a great selection of recipes you can enjoy year-round and in the summer — since that’s just around the corner!

xx McKel