Advent Calendar – Dec 16th: My Favourite Things

Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

These are a few of my favorite things

I have fallen behind on delivering one fresh post every day in December as part of my Advent Calendar series, and to catch up today, I thought I would share with you, a couple of quick, healthy beverage recipes that have become my favourite non-alcoholic drinks this winter.

I confess, the thought came to me last night, as I watched The Sound of Music for the 1,400th time. Can you believe that time-treasured movie classic came out 55 years ago! Julie Andrews was 30 years old at the time playing the role of Maria Von Trapp, and yet she looked like she was in her early twenties. But I digress.

I am a big fan of bold red wines like Cabernet Sauvignons, and flavourful Gin and Tonics and buttery-warm or spicy rum drinks however, because my current health regimen does not include alcohol, I have turned to healthy alternatives for socializing and entertaining, that still makes me and my guests feel like I am joining in.

My “White Tonic” is a delicious beverage that you can drink hot or cold, in a tea cup, or chilled in a wine glass, or with ice cubes in an old-fashioned glass. Best of all, the ingredients pack powerful medicinal properties making it extremely beneficial to your health, reducing inflammation, boosting anti-oxidants and lowering blood pressure just to name a few.

  • Cut up one lemon, in quarters.
  • Add a spoonful of whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and sliced in two.

Place these 4 ingredients in a pitcher, or large bowl. Bring 4-6 cups of water to a boil, then pour the hot water in the pitcher, and let steep for 2 hours. Scoop out the lemon, cloves, cinnamon and ginger once its ready and discard.

Keep it in the refrigerator, and drink it cold or warm, depending on how you want to use it. I even add water or sparkling water to my glass sometimes, if I don’t want it as potent. You can also add Turmeric to it, to boost the detox aspects even more.

The other favourite beverage comes from Ina Garten, better known as the Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa. She shared a Bloody Mary recipe that is so flavourful and impressive, and can be made ahead of time and best of all, I find it can be enjoyed alcohol-free.

Cut up 2-3 stalks of celery in large pieces, including the leaves, and puree in a blender or chopper until its finely minced. Add to a large pitcher, along with:

  • 2 teaspoons of horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon of yellow onion, grated
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 dashes hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco), or to taste
  • Pour in the contents of one large can of tomato juice (36 ounces), stir well and chill. VoilĂ !
  • I am sure you can well imagine all the extra flavour that comes from the ingredients added to the tomato juice. Serve in tall glasses over ice, with a garnish of your choice, including a spicy green bean, or olives, marinated carrot stick or the traditional stalk of celery. Of course, if any of your guests would like a stronger version, you can add vodka to the mix.
  • Both of these drinks are nutritious and healthy, and are perfect for any festive occasion! They are two of my favourite things, which I now always have on hand. Cheers!

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