Cooking Together: A Food Column by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff
Healthy Cocktails for Special Occasion
We all like to celebrate special occasions with festive drinks. And, usually, these drinks contain alcohol. But some people may be tired of having too much alcohol around the holidays; some cannot have alcohol for health reasons, and some are too young to consume alcohol.
Photo by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff.
In this column, you will see how to make two festive drinks that are free of alcohol and caffeine. The green drink is made with cucumber and the red drink is made with a fresh pomegranate. The ingredients used in these drinks – cucumber, pomegranate and apple juice – are all very healthy. Apple juice boosts immunity and strengthens metabolism. Cucumbers are rich in vitamins that help us fight viruses and are good for digestion. Pomegranates are packed with nutrients that promote memory and heart health. So, let’s prepare these healthy drinks!
The first drink made with cucumber resembles a mojito, but I call it a “welcome drink,” because that is how it was presented to me the first time I had it. I was traveling in South India during a hot summer day. I came to a hotel and upon my arrival this cool-as-a-cucumber drink was offered to me. And it just hit the spot!
You need a firm cucumber that has dark green skin. You need the skin on for this drink, so buy organic cucumbers and do not peel them. Buy clear apple juice if you want to highlight the green color.
1 large organic cucumber with dark skin
1 glass (about 8 oz.) clear apple juice
1 tablespoon or less freshly grated ginger root
½ cup water
Juice of a half lime and a sliver of lime for decoration
A few leaves of fresh spearmint
First, juice the cucumber. If you have a juicer, use it by all means, but the blender works well too. Cut the cucumber into large pieces and place it in the blender with the water, ginger and mint leaves, saving a few for decoration. Blend these ingredients for two minutes until very smooth. Let the smoothie settle for a minute. Then strain the mixture using a fine sieve and collect the clear liquid in a bowl. You will only use the clear juice. (The rest of the fibrous pulp can be saved for a smoothie.)
Place two cubes of ice in a glass. Pour the cucumber juice until the glass is half filled. Add an equal part of apple juice on top. Sprinkle the lime juice in. Decorate the drink with a sliver of lime and a few mint leaves on top and serve.
The red pomegranate drink can be called “Pomegranate Champagne or Punch.” If you are making it for a teenager’s party, call it a punch. Fresh pomegranate in this drink is much better than the bottled variety.
2 or 3 large, very-ripe pomegranates to obtain one cup of juice
2 or 3 cups of apple cider
Slices of few tangerines, two oranges and a lime
First, squeeze the pomegranate using a citrus juicer. The electric juicer works fast, but you can use the hand -held one too. Cut the pomegranate into two halves. Hold one half with the cut-up side down and put pressure on it with your cupped hands. Juice is collected at the bottom and the seeds remain on top. Collect the juice in a jar. Place citrus fruit slices with some ice in a bowl. Add one cup of fresh pomegranate juice. Next, pour two cups of cider on top. Taste to correct flavors and serve in champagne glasses. Cheers!
Note: If this is a party for teenagers, it is safer to serve the drinks in plastic cups instead of in fancy glasses.
“This photo was taken by a librarian, Janet Tom, at a library event about this time last year. I am holding a drink with an attendee. Of course this was before the CV0ID-19 time.” – Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff.
Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff is a Sunset District resident and the author of “Cooking Together” and “Flavors of India,” both available at Other Avenues Food Co-op at 3930 Judah St., in the Outer Sunset District, Green Apple Book Store in the Richmond District and Rainbow Grocery Co-op in the Mission. Shanta writes recipes and articles on food and nutrition. She also teaches vegetarian and vegan cooking classes and shares her recipes via videos on YouTube.
Categories: Cooking Together