Healthy Holiday Eating & Drinking

To stay on track with healthy eating, it is absolutely critical during this festive time of year to look for locally grown foods by shopping at your farmer's market or joining a local community supported agriculture (CSA) program for the bulk of your grocery items. When shopping at the grocery store (even Whole Foods), resist the temptation to fill your shopping cart with sweets, dairy, and chips. Filling up on “junk” foods will exhaust your digestive fire, create dampness, weaken your immune system, and make you more susceptible to seasonal illnesses.  It is especially during the winter season, as we all know, that the cold and flu runs rampant at the work place, in schools and at home.  And it behooves you to stay vigilant in what you eat so that you and your family can avoid getting sick.  (To read about home care for when you do get the cold/flu, read my blog here on that topic.)

So, I don't mean to be a party pooper, but  Christmas festivities and New Year's Eve celebrations are no ticket to trash your body (or to not make healthy snacks and meals for your children's growing bodies). While it's okay to indulge in “unhealthy” holiday treats in moderation, there's no reason why you can't make something that is both healthy and a real treat to counter those unhealthy treats!  If you're the host, you can create a healthy feast using plenty of winter root vegetable and body-warming lamb for example.  If you're the guest, don't arrive hungry to the party so that you don't run wild at the snack, cheese and sweets tray.  And if you're planning to partake in alcohol, ALWAYS drink in moderation and determine a designated driver before the drinking ensues.  But life is all about moderation, so do enjoy the festivities!  Let me share a family recipe for a tasty Colombian alcoholic beverage that will warm you up from the inside!

Canelazo.jpg

Canelazo 

(Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Recipes Included)

Canelazo is a drink that will warm you up on a cold night and is a popular winter drink in Colombia, where I’m from. It's made from aguapanela (found in Latino markets, but brown sugar may be substituted here), cinnamon, lime juice, and the fiery concoction known as aguardiente (or "fire water"). Aguardiente is an anise-flavored liquor, which can also be found in Latino markets, but rum can be substituted here. This is a delicious drink to serve to friends on a cold winter's night.  A children’s version can be found following the adult version.

 Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups aguapanela (or 1 cup brown sugar mixed with water)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4-6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup (or more to taste) aguardiente or rum

Sugar for serving

Preparation:

  1. Bring the aguapanela, lime juice, cinnamon sticks to a boil. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat. Add the aguardiente or rum (to taste). 

  3. Reheat, without boiling. (If it boils, the alcohol will boil away).
  4. Place sugar in a shallow dish.  Moisten the rim of the tea cup and dip into sugar.
  5. Serve hot into tea cup.

 Serves 4

 From a Chinese Medicine perspective, this drink is a Qi tonic, strengthening the digestion (aguapanela/brown sugar, cinnamon, anise), warming (alcohol, cinnamon, aguapanela/brown sugar and clove), stops pain (cinnamon, clove), and lubricates the lungs and stops cough (brown sugar).  So as long as it’s drank in moderation and taken after a healthy meal, an alcoholic drink like this can be warming and tonifying to the body on a cold winter night.  Enjoy!

Child-friendly Canelazo

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups aguapanela (or 1 cup brown sugar mixed with water)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4-6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon grass-fed beef gelatin powder

 Preparation :

  1. Bring the aguapanela, lime juice, beef gelatin powder, cinnamon sticks and clove to a boil. Mix gelatin powder well until it melts.  Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. 

  2. Remove from the heat.
  3. Serve warm into mug or sippy cup.

The gelatin may lump up after a while once the canelazo cools down. Warm the drink until it melts again and re-serve.