Our blogger’s doctor said she had to reduce her alcohol—and sugar—intake. She got help from a surprising often-found-on-salad source.
It’s fair to say that I love beer.
I will drink just about any alcoholic thing from Vermont or Belgium. I rejoiced when I beat the 200-beer challenge at our favorite restaurant last year. The challenge entailed trying 200 different beers in a year—yes, my name is on a plaque on the wall. And my friends freaked out when I went to Paris recently and…drank the beer, because according to them, I was supposed to drink the wine.
And it’s not just me—my husband and most of my extended family drink. Beer is everywhere, always in our fridge, with lunch or dinner or when we eat out. It’s hard to avoid, and an easy entertainment option during long, boring New England winters.
Before you stage an intervention, let me say that I don’t drink to excess—I don’t much care for being drunk or even buzzed. I just like the taste. Sours are my thing. Give me a kriek lambic and I’ll give you my heart.
But that has to change. Recently, at an annual physical with my doctor, she mentioned a link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. She pointed me to a study showing that postmenopausal women who increased their alcohol intake over a five-year period had a higher risk of breast cancer, and another study that examined the impact of prediagnostic alcohol consumption in breast-cancer patients. Spoiler alert: It’s not good. In fact, there’s solid research linking the consumption of alcohol with breast cancer risk. There’s a history of breast cancer in my family, so that revelation scared the you-know-what out of me.
My doctor suggested cutting drinking to every other day, so I started to look around for interesting beverage alternatives on “non-drinking days.” To make things even more complicated, the alternatives had to be low sugar, because my doctor wanted me to cut down on that, too.
That meant no soda and no fruit juice. First I tried all the usual unsweetened and low-sugar drinks—water, green tea, fancy cold-brew coffee. I should have bought stock in various seltzer companies. All of them were all fine, but got boring after a while. You can’t drink iced coffee three times a day. Well, maybe YOU can. Not me.
But one day, at the grocery store, I picked up some apple-cider vinegar for a recipe. There, on the back of the Vermont Village Organic Apple Cider bottle, were two little words that changed my life: Haymaker’s Punch.
The recipe on the label, a mix of apple cider vinegar, raw honey, ginger, lemon and spring water, sure sounded good to me (and better than seltzer, sorry not sorry). Also called switchel, Haymaker’s Punch was a popular thirst-quencher among colonial farmers in the seventeenth century. It is believed to have a number of health benefits, too: apple-cider vinegar may promote digestion, lower blood sugar, and even help you lose weight—and ginger is an anti-inflammatory.
I mixed everything up in a Mason quart jar and let it sit overnight. Reader, it was delicious. Tangy and tart and slightly sweet, with a tiny kick from the ginger, it’s my new go-to for non-drinking days. Have I convinced you to try it? I hope so. Here’s the recipe.
Vermont Village Haymaker's Punch
1/4 cup Vermont Village Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
1 teaspoon lemon
- Combine all ingredients in a quart-sized container.
- Fill remaining container with spring water.
- Shake well.
- Let sit overnight for the best flavor.
Tracy’s tip: If it’s still too strong for you, dilute with more spring water. And lots of switchel recipes sub in maple syrup for honey, so feel free to try that.
Haymaker’s Punch sent me down the apple-cider vinegar rabbit hole. I’m now experimenting with all kinds of non-alcoholic fermented drinks, including shrubs—fruit-based syrups you can use to flavor seltzer as well as mocktails—and I’m even considering making my own apple-cider vinegar and fermented fruits and vegetables. Yum. Incidentally, if apple-cider vinegar is not your jam, there are plenty of other interesting recipes to try—check out our roundup of trendy drinks and our tips for making your own infused water.
So, if you’re a beer lover like me, take heart—there are healthy alternatives! I won’t win the next beer challenge, but if there are any apple-cider vinegar contests out there, I’ll go for the gold.