recipe

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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Dirty Chai Spiced Pecans

Is anyone else borderline-obsessed with the flavors of dirty chai? If you need a simple party snack with minimal ingredients for the holidays, allow me to suggest this dirty chai spiced pecan recipe! You can easily customize the nuts and spices based on what you have on hand but this might be my new favorite combination.

Dirty Chai Spiced Pecans

What’s the Difference Between Chai and Dirty Chai?

Chai is most commonly known to be a blend of warm spices steeped with black tea. The spices that make up a chai blend typically include some or all of the following:

  • Cinnamon

  • Ginger

  • Cardamom

  • Nutmeg

  • Cloves

  • Black pepper

These days, it’s become so popular that you can find a chai tea latte in just about every coffee shop. This refers to a base of steamed milk mixed with simple syrup and spices (not to be confused with chai tea, which is just a tea bag steeped in hot water).

For some reason I got the idea of experimenting with my own homemade chai several weeks back. I researched a bunch of different recipes (like here and here) and came up with my own blend based on personal preference; mainly that it’s heavy on the ginger and low on the sweet.

The word “dirty” in reference to coffee shop drinks simply means adding a shot of espresso. In a previous life (namely, college) I was known to add a shot of espresso to my iced coffee sometimes but gone are the days when I caffeinate to that level. Chai lattes seem to be the most popular drink to “dirty” so often times this flavor combo makes its way into recipes too.

Using Instant Espresso Powder in Baking

In recent months, I’ve seen a few other bloggers post recipes using this Delallo Foods Instant Espresso Powder (affiliate link) and had been wanting to order some for myself because it’s hard to find in stores. From there, my dirty chai spice blend was born.

Delallo Foods Instant Espresso Powder

The cool thing about this powder is that it’s perfect for baking and incorporating into your favorite recipes for a strong, roast-y coffee flavor, no espresso machine required. You don’t even have to add water to it before using. Some of the recipes I saw this used in are totally drool-worthy like these 6 Ingredient Espresso Brownies and this Banana Bread with Espresso Glaze.

I rarely make sweets and with holiday parties on repeat this month, I wanted to think of something interesting to make that doesn’t require a separate grocery stop and a lot of hands-on time. For this reason, spiced nuts came to mind!

How to Make the Perfect Spiced Nuts

After some trial and error I found out that the secret to great spiced nuts is to coat them in egg whites before adding the spices. This helps everything stick together and get nice and crispy on the edges. From there you can add whichever spices and sweetener you want!

In addition to being super tasty, these are also dairy-free for those of you who need to avoid it (it can be hard to come by an appetizer than doesn’t involve cheese this time of year). It’s a nice bonus to get some protein and healthy fat in something a little bit more substantial than cookies or fudge, while still feeling special.

Dirty Chai Spiced Pecans

Put these out to tide your guests over until dinner without spoiling appetites or package them up in a mason jar with a bow and you have an easy homemade gift option! I hope you love them as much as I do. If you make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @LeanneRayRDN!


Dirty Chai Spiced Pecans

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 8 servings | Prep time: 5 minutes | Bake time: 30 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes

ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp instant espresso powder

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • 1 egg white

  • 2 cups pecans (halves & pieces)

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

  3. Add espresso powder through salt to a small bowl and mix well with a fork (try to get rid of any large chunks)

  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy.

  5. Add the pecans to the egg white and toss to coat evenly; then add vanilla extract and the spice mixture and mix to combine.

  6. Spread in one even layer on the sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes (stirring halfway through) until browned and fragrant. These will crisp up as they cool. Once you can handle them, break apart and store in an airtight container for up to one week.


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One-Dish Mediterranean Chicken

One-Dish Mediterranean Chicken (simple and healthy!)

THIS CHICKEN you guys. The recipe was inspired by a Mediterranean fish packet recipe - you know, the type you cook in cute little foil packets with everything in one easy-to-clean-up meal. After having added it to my meal plan for the week, I noticed I already had fish in the rotation multiple times so I grabbed some chicken at the last minute (along with a few other ingredients to make this really sing). The result was a super simple one-dish meal where all of the flavors just work. I think it might be a new weeknight staple for many of you!

One-Dish Mediterranean Chicken Recipe

These are the main ingredients you need to get this dish going besides your usual olive oil, salt and pepper.

  • Chicken breast (it’s a blank canvas, which I love)

  • Pesto (salty and delicious)

  • Pint of grape tomatoes (the ones that are super flavorful all year around)

  • Feta cheese crumbles (for more substance and because cheese makes everything better)

  • Capers (a beautiful, briny flavor bomb)

  • Lemon juice and zest (for added brightness just before serving)

One-Dish Mediterranean Chicken
one-dish chicken.JPG
Vertical Chicken.jpg

The awesome thing about this recipe is that you could basically look at the photos and understand how to make it, no recipe required. Just layer everything together and I promise it will work! It would be great served with your favorite whole grain, alongside some potatoes, or on top pasta. Customize it by mixing up the vegetables!

One-Dish Mediterranean Chicken

Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to share photos on Instagram and tag me (@LeanneRayRDN) so I can see your awesome creations.


One-Dish Mediterranean Chicken

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 6 servings | Prep time: 10 minutes | Bake time: 30 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes

ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast

  • 1/4 cup jarred pesto

  • 2 Tbsp capers

  • 1/4 cup feta crumbles

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes

  • 1/2 lemon (zest and juice)

  • salt & pepper to taste

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Coat a rectangular baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

  3. Lay chicken breasts on a sturdy cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and pound to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into 6 pieces. Season the chicken with salt and pepper then transfer to baking dish.

  4. Spoon about a teaspoon of pesto on top each piece of chicken, then spread to cover as much of each piece as possible. Next, evenly distribute the capers and feta on top each piece of chicken. Add the tomatoes to the baking dish and scatter them evenly around the bottom of the pan. Drizzle the tomatoes with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

  5. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (an instant read thermometer should register 165 degrees). Add the juice and zest from the lemon just before serving.

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