drinks

Spicy Kombucha Margaritas

New Year’s Eve mocktail, anyone?

All right, I’m just getting straight to the point here. Every year in the days following Christmas, I’m totally over it with alcohol. I’m not even much of a drinker but with all of the parties and family gatherings, weekend wine turns into a daily wine or cocktails x2 or x3. It’s also hard to stay hydrated with all of the running around and this is a combination for feeling kind of… yucky.

Enter, this fun twist on a margarita that combines the flavors of blackberry, lime, and jalapeno with kombucha instead of booze. The mocktail that could easily be transformed into a cocktail with the addition of your favorite spirit but is plenty interesting without it.

Spicy kombucha margaritas!

Spicy Kombucha Margaritas

You might remember a previous post on alcohol + mocktail ideas where I talked about new some research and my personal thoughts on how drinking fits into a healthful diet. This topic is especially relevant at the beginning of a new year because #dryjanuary is a thing. If you’re someone who wants to cut back on alcohol, I would highly suggest keeping fun alternatives like this on hand.

What’s the deal with kombucha?

So it’s no secret that I like am totally obsessed with kombucha. I tasted it for the first time YEARS ago but I’ve developed a new appreciation for it lately and I’m not quite sure why. Obviously there’s the health benefits. Kombucha contains live and active cultures (similar to yogurt) and can help strengthen your gut microbiome. Speaking of which… Denver Locals, have you signed up for my upcoming event at Happy Leaf Kombucha yet?

Then of course there’s the refreshing bubbles. The subtle sweetness. The interesting flavor combinations. I could go on and on. It might seem silly, but I think my favorite quality is the fact that it just feels special to drink. Most of the local breweries here have kombucha on tap for a non-alcoholic option that looks almost identical when poured in a beer glass. Some even taste like it too! It’s more exciting than tap water without all of the sugar that comes with sodas and juices.

Related // How to Make Kombucha at Home

I love a good “kombucha happy hour” at the end of a workday when I’m not in the mood for alcohol but want to sip on something while I cook dinner too. You certainly don’t need to mix it with anything but for a special occasion, why not spruce it up a bit? I decided I wanted to do a riff on a margarita where the tequila is optional.

spicy kombucha margarita ingredients

It doesn’t really get any easier, but the result is a beautiful deep purple mocktail with just the right amount of sweetness and spice. Here’s how you make it:

Step 1: Build your “base”

Muddle the juice of a lime with jalapeños and whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand. I’ve been crazy about blackberries lately because they are perfectly sweet and juicy, plus the color is insane so I highly recommend. You could also use a different berry, blood oranges, or even pomegranate arils if you’re feeling really ambitious. Also, if adding alcohol to this drink, now is the time!

Step 2: Add the booch

Next add the kombucha. Since I was going for a margarita-like flavor, I used this Health-Ade Jalapeno Kiwi Cucumber flavor and it turned out really great. I like this brand because the flavors are strong and on the spectrum of sweetness it’s on the lower end of some others I’ve tried.

That being said, there are hundreds of kombucha flavors to choose from these days, so make it your own with whatever catches your eye. Other personal favorites include: ginger-lemon, pink lady apple, and pomegranate.

Step 3: Finishing touches

Fill the remainder of your glass with ice then garnish with extra jalapeno and fruit. I also added a salt rim to one version (see photo below, on the right) and this was fun and brought out the flavors a little bit more, but is purely optional. Just run your lime around the rim of the glass to add some moisture, then turn it upside down on a plate of salt.

spicy kombucha margaritas
Spicy Kombucha Margaritas

Whether or not you plan to partake in a cocktail or two on New Year’s Eve, what better way to start the evening than with a beautiful and healthyish drink like this one? Change it up with the season and per your personal preference. Cheers and see you in 2019 friends ✨


Spicy Kombucha Margaritas

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 1 serving | Prep time: 5 minutes | Total time: 5 minutes
60 cals, 8 g CHO

Ingredients

  • 1 lime

  • 5 fresh blackberries

  • 5 thin slices jalapeno

  • 8 oz kombucha

Instructions

  1. Juice the lime into a stemless wine glass or small mason jar.

  2. Add blackberries and three slices of jalapeno; muddle.

  3. Top with the kombucha, stir gently to combine.

  4. Fill remainder of the glass with ice.


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Iced Cardamom Lattes

Afternoon pick-me-up anyone?

iced cardamom latte

This might be my new fall obsession you guys. I’m going to get bold and say it - forget pumpkin spice lattes and get on board the cardamom latte train. Even better, make it iced. But first, let me back up for a second and tell you about this drink.

The weather in Denver is amazing around this time of year; crisp and cool in the morning and evening with summer temperatures still creeping in during the day. It’s a little awkward on the cooking front because I started adding soups and chili back into the meal plan but then get seriously overheated when I have the leftovers for lunch the next day.

I like to think this drink is the perfect “in-between seasons” drink because I get to incorporate fall flavors and stay cool. It’s the best afternoon pick-me-up and tastes exactly like the coffee shop drink I was hoping to recreate.

Swedish Coffee

You may or may not remember me referencing a coffee shop in Minneapolis called Bread & Chocolate in this post back in February. They serve something called a Swedish coffee that has steamed milk, cardamom and cinnamon. I don’t normally get fancy with my coffee but this was plain delicious and super unique. It had a touch of sweetness, just enough to bring all of the flavors together since cardamom can be a little bitter on it’s own.

iced cardamom latte

How to use Cardamom

Cardamom seems to be one of those flavors you would likely recognize, unable figure out where you last tasted it. In general it’s most often used in baked goods like quick bread, spice cakes, muffins and desserts, probably right alongside cinnamon.

Interestingly, I recently learned that while the Swedish might not actually use it in coffee, it’s still a favorite spice in Swedish cooking/baking. Sweden is also one of the world’s top coffee consumers, even ahead of the U.S. one article I read. I’m part Swedish you know! It all makes so much sense.

Another fun fact: they use the term “fika” in reference to grabbing coffee together - it could mean both the act of getting together or as a noun (i.e. “see you at fika”). I’m not sure if this iced latte would be worthy of any of the menus over there, but I’m still a big fan and I think you will be too!

iced cardamom lattes

Iced Cardamom Lattes

A seasonal afternoon pick-me-up featuring fall flavors of maple, cinnamon and cardamom.

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 1 serving | Prep time: 5 minutes

ingredients

  • 6 oz strongly brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature and then chilled

  • 2-3 oz milk of choice (I used 1%)

  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup

  • 1/8 tsp each: cardamom and ground cinnamon

  • Plenty of ice

instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a mason jar, then screw the lid on tightly and shake well until frothy.

  2. Pour into a fun glass and top with a shake more of cardamom.


Did you make this recipe? Remember to Tag @LeanneRayRDN on Instagram!

The Easiest Mason Jar Sangria

easy sangria in a mason jar

I'm comin' in hot with a cocktail recipe that is simple and perfect for your 4th of July festivities! It's my lazy girl take on classic sangria and I am going totally basic and serving it up in mason jars. 

In all seriousness, the jars make this a breeze as a hostess because you can make them ahead of time, screw the lids on and throw them over some ice for a fun presentation and built in glass - no extra cups required. Sangria is already really simple but I swapped out some ingredients to make it even more approachable for you busy folks! The patriotic colors make it even more fun for the holiday, but of course you could serve this all summer long. 

ingredients for sangria

Wine

I went red because I prefer red sangria over other variations, but you can use white or rosé too. If you switch up the wine, just think about the other flavors and make ingredient adjustments accordingly. In terms of which type of wine to use,  any cabernet, merlot or shiraz should work just fine; it really comes down to your taste preferences (sweet or dry).  My suggestion is to go for an inexpensive bottle since you will be mixing it with other things anyway. This is not the time to splurge on that fancy one you've been eyeing!

Juice

A traditional sangria typically has orange juice, but the thought of drinking a glass of orange juice in the hot sun is not super appealing to me so I went for lemonade. I knew the flavor would pair nice with the fruit I chose, and I often have this Simply Lemonade on hand in the summer so it was the practical choice. Many sangrias also include some sort of sugar or sweetener, but since lemonade is plenty sweet, I omitted that component for taste and simplicity. 

Liquor

I swapped in whisky for the more traditional brandy because I hate having to buy something I won't use in anything else and brandy is one of these. But use whatever you like. Vodka would probably work too!

Fruit

The options for fruit are endless. In the past I have used anything from oranges to mangos to melon in sangria and it always turns out great. To keep the patriotic theme going I went red (strawberries), white (apple) and blue, er... black? (blackberries). The lemon pictured above is for the garnish but some citrus is always a nice addition. I have also seen some people get really clever and cut the apples in a star shape for the 4th of July but I'm not that cutesy or patient. If you have it in you to do that part, I think it would be a hit! 

Bubbles

I chose sparkling water because again, I always have it on hand. You could also use lemon-lime soda, basic club soda or even prosecco if you want to get fancy. The bubbles makes all the difference though so be sure not to skip this step. Remember to wait on adding anything carbonated until just before serving since it will go flat if it sits for several hours. 

pitcher of sangria

Important Note: after having made this myself, I made the determination that it would have been much easier to divide the fruit evenly among the jars as opposed to putting it in the pitcher. 


The Easiest Mason Jar Sangria

A fresh and fruity summertime drink - perfect for the 4th of July or a backyard party!

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 6 servings | Prep time: 15 minutes | Total time: 4 hours 

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle red wine

  • 1 cup lemonade

  • 1/4 cup whisky (or bourbon)

  • 6 oz fresh blackberries

  • 5 large strawberries, chopped

  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped

  • 1 can sparkling water

  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Pour the wine, lemonade and whisky in a large pitcher and mix well. Set aside.

  2. Evenly distribute the fruit between six wide-mouth, pint-sized mason jars.

  3. Pour the wine mixture into the jars filling each to the 1 cup line. Give each a good stir and muddle the fruit just a bit.

  4. Screw the lids on and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (could make up to a day in advance).

  5. When ready to serve add ice, top off with sparkling water and a slice of lemon.


the easiest mason jar sangria in a mason jar

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