The holidays are a time to enjoy each other’s company and to think about the things we’ve accomplished and plan our priorities for the coming year. But, as it is with many things, with the good comes the bad: and the bad thing about chilling out and getting sentimental is forgetting about our health. The rationale goes something like this: “I’ve been so good this year…what’s one day of gluttony among friends?” Or sometimes the inner dialogue is: “Well, I’ve already gained five pounds this year…next year will be the year of my new body.” Well, with a commonly quoted average weight gain of six pounds during the holiday season, it’s easy to see why many people don’t bother trying.
A recent report from the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that in reality, most people only gain a pound. That would be good news if it weren’t also the case that the same study—and others— reported that that one pound of weight gain is rarely lost after the holidays. Instead, researchers posit that holiday eating is actually the root cause of the average yearly weight gain for adults of—wait for it–one pound. The stakes are even higher for those already overweight: they gain an average of two pounds per year. A pound gained every year for ten years is the equivalent of strapping a gallon plus a quart of milk onto your back 24/7. So the consequences of overindulgence—even short-term—can last a lifetime. That milk is really heavy, especially when it’s sitting inside your chest and compressing your poor defenseless heart.
Ideally we would make choices to avoid any weight gain at all; but sometimes, circumstances and priorities get in the way. So in light of that reality, it’s important to find ways to protect ourselves from any additional stressors on the body. “But how, Erin? How can I protect myself from any other additional stressors on my body?” you might ask. Well, funny you should ask, really, because I’ve come up with a delicious and useful solution: your beverage. Your secret weapon is my Holiday/Everyday Punch.
Why punch? Well, you have to drink something with dinner. You should stay well-hydrated during the cold winter months. The ham’s really salty sometimes. So you can drink water or you can drink this punch, which will satisfy your thirst just as well as water with the additional (and significant) health benefits its ingredients provide. Plus, this stuff just tastes good, and its color and its tart base flavors are festive and fun, a perfect complement to your holiday menu.
This two star punch starts with the juices from fresh berries and sour cherries, extracted by a quick and light simmer to keep the fresh flavors and nutrients intact. Fresh lime juice and a super-healthy Cranberry-Açai juice blend enhance the sweet-tart vibe of the recipe. Rounding out the mix is the effervescent element that comes from lime-flavored seltzer water. It’s delightfully pink-red. It’s bubbly and not too cloying. This is not the kid’s table punch unless, like me, you’re still sitting at the kid’s table sometimes.
As opposed to more conventional choices, a punch based on these ingredients is much lower in sugar and its resultant calories. Its rather surprising nutritional profile provides both protective- and recovery- oriented vitamins. These nutrients can help counter the effects of the choices we make as we eat, drink, and be merry. Raspberries and blackberries are rich in manganese, a critical trace mineral that assists with the digestion of fats and carbohydrates. Blueberries and açai both boast the same benefits as raspberries, and in addition, their cardiovascular benefits and their significant antioxidant properties restore damage done by our choices. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant, neutralizing the free radicals resulting from the metabolic processes of digestion; in addition, they provide a boost to your immune system to shorten the duration of your sick nephew’s holiday “gift.” The punch will also give you a shot of Vitamin K for bone health and believe it or not, a serving boasts two grams of dietary fiber per serving for, you know… And finally, a dose of B-Vitamins never hurt anyone who experiences the stress, anxiety, and fatigue characteristic of the holidays.
I carefully chose the ingredients in this punch to prove a point: your healthy choice can be your preference as well. I designed this drink to complement your holiday menu and hopefully it will become a new tradition: a resolution that helps avoid the problem now rather than remedy it later. So this holiday season, drink to your health with a drink for your health.
Canned tart cherries are generally found in the canned fruit section at your grocery store. As they’re not generally a big seller, they’re usually on the top or bottom shelf. Frozen berries and cherries are perfect for this recipe. Thaw the fruit in the refrigerator overnight (in a bowl to collect the juices) and proceed with the recipe as written.
Tip: To avoid watering down the final product with ice cubes, make a punch cube: before adding the seltzer and lime juice, pour about 1 ½ cups of the punch into a round plastic bowl or food storage container. Add a few fresh berries into the container and freeze until solid. Use your punch cube to keep everything nice and cold during service.
Servings: 20 (181 g )
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 min.
- 1 pint raspberries
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1 pint blackberries
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can pitted tart cherries, juices reserved
- 1 bottle no sugar added acai mixed berry juice, chilled
- ½ cup lime juice
- 1 liter lime seltzer water, chilled
- In a medium pot over medium heat, combine the raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and the sour cherries with their juices and bring to a low simmer (5 minutes).
- Reduce the heat to keep at a simmer and cook until fruit is soft (15 minutes). Pour the fruit and juices through a fine mesh strainer, pressing fruit with a spoon to release juices. Chill the juice (1 hour).
- To serve, combine the berry juice, the bottled juice, and the lime juice in a large punch bowl and stir. Add ice and pour in the seltzer to serve. If desired, garnish each serving with fresh berries.
About the Expert Chef
Erin Dow balances three food worlds. As a mother of three young children, she’s fighting the battle every parent faces: how to keep her kids interested in the foods that keep them healthy.
As the chef and owner of her catering company Eatswell Farm, she utilizes original recipes and techniques–focused on enhancing the enjoyment of locally-sourced ingredients–to best interpret the client’s vision. And as Consulting Executive Chef for Falmouth-based Professional Catering Services, a business specializing in production and backstage catering for concerts, she develops and executes menus that accommodate the strict nutritional requirements of the music industry elite.
Erin and her family raise their own chicken for meat and eggs, have dabbled in pastured Narragansett turkeys, and have a very weedy but very large and productive garden.