This month’s Recipe Redux topic was a bit daunting for me when I first read it:
I’m no cocktail expert, seriously, but I thought what better way to step out of my box and be a bit more creative than usual? Initially, I was really keen to use kombucha in my creation, with its natural fizz and a whole lot of probiotic benefits, but decided on another tasty creation that I don’t think will disappoint. When I went to buy ingredients there was a big bag of grapefruits that was staring right at me as I walked into the store and I decided that I had to do something with them. After conducting a few experiments along with a Google search to help guide my flavour combinations, I came up with today’s tasty mocktail creation (which can easily be turned into a cocktail with the addition of a splash of good vodka) 🙂
What’s the deal with alcohol?
So alcohol is something that is a bit confusing at times in terms of the good and bad effects it has on our bodies. Small amounts of red wine are said to be linked to a variety of health benefits, whilst we know that excess alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on our liver. The recommended daily alcohol intake is 1 standard drink for women and 2 standard drinks for men . A standard drink is generally defined as an alcoholic beverage containing 10 g of alcohol, at least that’s how it works in South Africa and Australia . One standard drink contains more or less the amount of alcohol that a healthy liver is able to detoxify within an hour. Some common standard drink sizes include :
- 30 ml spirits (40% alcohol)
- 250 ml regular beer (5% alcohol)
- 450 ml light beer (2.7% alcohol)
- 115 ml wine (10-14% alcohol)
- 107 ml sparkling wine (12% alcohol)
Alcohol contains the ‘active ingredient’ ethanol which is able to help reduce shyness and self-consciousness and subsequently increase confidence in those who consume it. At the same time, large amounts of alcohol tend to impair one’s judgment . How exactly does alcohol do this? Ethanol, unlike most other molecules that we consume, is so small that it is able to pass through the blood-brain barrier into your brain, where it interferes with neurotransmitters that are responsible for all of the brain’s activities. Alcohol is metabolised by the liver, which makes the liver particularly vulnerable to damage in cases of alcohol abuse . The relationship between alcohol consumption and heart health is a bit complicated, with a number of studies showing that excessive alcohol consumption can be linked to increased cardiovascular disease risk whilst moderate alcohol consumption may provide beneficial effects including :
- Increasing HDL cholesterol levels in the blood
- Decreasing blood pressure
- Lowering the amount of fibrinogen (a substance that plays a role in blood clotting) in the blood
- Decreasing the risk of diabetes
- Temporarily decreasing stress and anxiety
As with most things, consuming alcohol in moderation every now and then is fine, but overdo it and you’re not doing your body any favours. The truth is that alcohol can be a bit of a poison to our body when we consume too much of it due to the fact that it dehydrates our body somewhat and can put quite a bit of pressure on our liver (the detox centre of the body) . So what can you do to best look after your liver?
- Be mindful about why and when you drink alcohol. When you do enjoy a cocktail or a delicious glass of fine wine, enjoy every sip. Savour the taste, aroma, and experience.
- Enjoy alcohol with others, in good company, and in positive environments. There’s nothing better than a glass of wine over a delicious meal with friends where it forms part of the evening, not the purpose of the event.
- Hydrate 🙂 Ensure that you drink water whilst drinking alcohol to make sure that your body is well-hydrated.
- If you don’t particularly enjoy drinking alcohol, or think you need to cut down a bit on your alcohol intake, explore delicious non-alcoholic options. This spritzer is a winner and can easily be mixed up a bit using different herbs, fruits, and other ingredients.
- Make your own cocktails. This allows you to have control over the amount of alcohol in your drink, as well as all of the extras that are used to make your cocktail delicious. Often cocktails contain large amounts of sugary syrups, so it’s a bonus if you can have some degree of control over this.
- One more tip I can give you is to treat alcohol a bit like sweet treats, make it a ‘sometimes’ thing, something that you enjoy on special occasions, for celebrations, or for sundowners with friends on the weekend.
and what about Grapefruit?
Grapefruit is beautiful. I seriously think that this week’s photos look beautiful thanks to the ruby red colour of this stunning fruit. Grapefruit is known to have a sweet, sour, and bitter taste, loved by some and hated by others. In terms of its nutrition, grapefruit packs a whole lot of nutrients and antioxidants whilst being relatively low in calories . A single 100 g servings of fresh grapefruit contains :
- 176 kJ (42 kcal) total energy
- 1.6 g dietary fibre (6% DV)
- 31.2 mg vitamin C (52% DV)
- 1150 IU vitamin A (23% DV)
- 135 mg potassium (4% DV)
Thanks to the vitamin C that grapefruit contains, along with a number of other vitamins and minerals, this fruit has the potential to strengthen your immune system and prevent acute infections . As with most other fibre-containing fruits, grapefruit can play a role in slowing down gastric motility, increasing digestion time and keeping you fuller for longer . Grapefruit, like other citrus fruits, contains citric acid, which may play a role in preventing the formation of oxalate kidney stones by preventing their binding with calcium in the kidney and allowing them to be flushed out of the body . As a bonus, grapefruit is incredibly hydrating thanks to the fact that it contains almost 88% of its total weight in water .
Interestingly enough, however, there are certain people who should avoid consuming grapefruit. Grapefruit contains substances that inhibit the action of an enzyme that is particularly important in the metabolism of certain medications, including :
- Calcium channel blockers
- Some statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup honey
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate rubies
- 200 ml freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- 2 Tbsp rosemary syrup
- 250 ml sparkling water or soda water
- 60 ml vodka (good quality), optional
- Grapefruit segments
- Pomegranate rubies
- Fresh rosemary
- Combine the water and honey in a small saucepan on the stove. Bring to the boil before adding in the fresh rosemary and reducing the heat to a simmer.
- Simmer for 10 minutes, strain, and allow to cool down completely.
- Place 2 Tbsp of the pomegranate rubies into each of the glasses. Muddle (this basically means 'squish') the pomegranate rubies to release some of their juices.
- Into each glass pour 100 ml grapefruit juice, 1 Tbsp rosemary syrup, and 30 ml vodka (optional). Top with sparkling water or soda water, and garnish with the remaining pomegranate rubies, fresh grapefruit segment(s), and a fresh sprig of rosemary.
 National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. What is a Standard Drink? Available from: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink [Accessed 21 May 2017].
 Arnarson A. Authority Nutrition. Alcohol and Health: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Available from: https://authoritynutrition.com/alcohol-good-or-bad/ [Accessed 21 May 2017].
 Elliott B. Authority Nutrition. 10 Science-Based Benefits of Grapefruit. Available from: https://authoritynutrition.com/10-benefits-of-grapefruit/ [Accessed 21 May 2017].
 Nutrition Data. Grapefuit, raw, pink and red, all areas. Available from: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1905/2 [Accessed 21 May 2017].