The act of raising a drink to the health of others dates back to ancient Greece and Rome.
Ironically, the first written account of the word “toast” was first mentioned by Shakespeare in one of his plays and it literally meant that a piece of toast was left to soak in a jug of wine. Presumably to improve the flavour and lessen the acidity. The person being honoured by the toast would then be expected to eat it at the end. Thankfully we have come a long way since then and the phrase “toasting to good health” refers only to clinking glasses and not ingesting a piece of soggy bread (I’m sure as a Banter you get the irony in that).
As we raise a glass to your health, here are some Banting drink ideas for you to see in the New Year.
Sparkling lemon: Pour sparkling water over freshly squeezed lemon/lime juice and ice in a tall glass. Add mint leaves for extra flavour.
Infused waters: Infused waters are a great way of jazzing up an ordinary glass of water. It’s amazing how the water comes to life with the addition of some fruit, veggies and herbs. Add some berries, cucumber, ginger, lemon or orange slices, as well as herbs like mint and thyme to a jug of iced water. Let the ingredients impart their flavour for a while and watch as the magic happens when you have a sip.
Iced tea: Replace the water in the above with cooled herbal teas such as rooibos, mint, orange, lemon and ginger, etc. Try any flavour combination you can imagine.
Hot chocolate*: If you’re in a colder climate you might prefer toasting with something warm. Combine good quality cocoa with a little hot water and stir to remove the lumps, top up with cream, milk, coconut milk or almond milk, or a combination (just be aware of the carb count of the various milks). Add a touch of vanilla, and other spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to make it extra festive. A sprinkle of paprika or cayenne pepper gives it a little zing. (It is your choice if you’d like to add a bit of sweetness from a sugar-free substitute).
Very nearly non-alcoholic:
Sparkling kombucha: Because kombucha is fermented, it does have a slight amount of alcohol. You can drink the kombucha just as it is, chilled, or top it up with some sparkling water and add in some herbs or berries for a kombucha spritzer (which tastes surprisingly similar to a white wine spritzer). Drink it from a wine or champagne glass for a touch of elegance. (Remember that kombucha contains some carbs so take that into consideration).
For more on the benefits of kombucha, read here.
Banting Rock Shandy: Add some Angostura bitters to a glass of the sparkling lemon you made above for a different taste sensation. (Although Angostura bitters are 44.7% alcohol by volume, you will be using a few drops, diluted in liquid, which makes the alcohol content almost zero).
White wine spritzer: Top up half a glass of your favourite white wine with sparkling water and ice for a refreshing drink that packs less of an alcoholic punch than a full glass of wine.
Banting eggnog*: The festivities wouldn’t be complete without a mug of eggnog. For the recipe see here.
Spiced vodka/gin: infuse a bottle of vodka or gin with cinnamon sticks, lemon and orange peel, cloves, nutmeg, star anise, or cranberries. Pour over ice and sip or top up with sparkling water.
Martini: Emulate James Bond with this one. A dry, very dry martini, shaken, not stirred if you prefer. A potent combination of gin/vodka and vermouth garnished with an olive or a twist of lemon. It’s recommended to sip this one slowly as a few could put you on your ear.
Bubbles and strawberries: You can drink a glass of MCC or champagne just as it is or add a fresh strawberry or strawberry pulp for a bit of a difference. Avoid the sweet sparkling wines as these are high in carbs and loaded with sugar.
Bloody Mary: For those who prefer their drinks savoury – this one’s a winner. Tomato juice mixed with vodka (for a non-alcoholic version leave it out), Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco or black pepper and garnished with a celery stick.
Whiskey on the Rocks: A trusty favourite. You can't go wrong with a good quality whiskey over a few blocks of ice. Add some water if it's a bit potent on its own.
(For 11 points to consider before drinking a brandy and coke, read here.)
*If you're in Transformation you may want to take it easy on the hot chocolate and eggnog as dairy can stall weight loss.
As always, we do have to caution you when it comes to alcohol. It's on the Grey List because it's a toxin and a stimulant, but it can also be an important social component in many people’s lives, especially around the festive season. Drinking in moderation is always recommended, especially as it can impair decision making and lead to choices that can have a negative impact on your health and weight loss journey.
That being said, we wish you wonderful festive season surrounded by all of your loved ones. Eat, drink and be merry, but remember to use your meal tracker.
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