From tantalizing your taste buds to supporting your gut, vinegar uplifts your alcohol-free cocktail experience.
When I am crafting my mocktails, one of my favorite ingredients to use is vinegar. While vinegar is typically associated with savory dressings and marinades, its unique flavor profile and health benefits make it an excellent addition to mocktails.
Vinegar adds that extra ‘je ne sais quoi’
The tangy and acidic nature of vinegar adds a depth to mocktails that I often find is missing with simple combinations of juice and carbonated water. When mixing up a non-alcoholic cocktail, replicating the piquency of the alcohol can be a challenge. I’ve found that adding as little as a teaspoon of vinegar (per serving) to a mocktail adds a complexity that no amount of lemon or lime juice can replicate.
Vinegar is an inexpensive way to up your mocktail game
Non-alcoholic spirits, cocktails and mixers are blowing up, and they are not cheap. I’m not going to lie, I enjoy my $7/can, pre-made, adaptogenic, non-alcoholic cocktails. I don’t necessarily want to spend that everytime I want a booze-free sip. I value the high quality ingredients and complex formulation of these products. I also love finding inexpensive ways to create delicious and complex mocktails. With some extra effort, I could buy a 32oz bottle of apple cider vinegar for $7, and a few simple ingredients and concoct over 150 mocktails at home.
Boosts your health while satisfying your palate
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is the most celebrated vinegar for its health benefits such as, digestive support and blood sugar regulation. Raw apple cider vinegar ‘with the mother’ is a naturally fermented food that contains beneficial microorganisms, making a happy gut microbiome. ACV’s natural acidity can help raise stomach acid levels which support your body’s ability to break down food.
Research has shown that the acetic acid in ACV slows the release of glucose in the bloodstream and supports muscles in using glucose more quickly. When drunk in close proximity to a meal (ideally before), it blunts the glucose spike typically seen when consuming sugars and starches.
Oh so many options
There are so many types of vinegar to play with. The basic vinegars are apple cider, balsamic, rice wine, champagne, and white wine, each offering its own distinct taste. If you’d like to add more flavor and complexity, you can try a flavored vinegar that has been infused with fruits, herbs or vegetables.
If you’re looking for an easy vinegar-based mixer, shrubs are a great place to start. A shrub is a centuries old recipe for ‘drinking vinegar’ that typically consists of vinegar, fruit, herbs, and sugar. Mix a few tablespoons with some carbonated water for a simple non-alcoholic beverage.
Two tips on using vinegars in mocktails
-Experiment with Flavors: Try different types of vinegar to add unique touches to your mocktails. They will each have different sweet/sour profiles depending on the type of vinegar and brand.
-Balance the Acidity: Vinegar is very tart! Find the right ratios of vinegar and other flavors (sweet, bitter, salty, etc) to create a balanced drink.
-Start with a little. You can always add more!
While vinegar is not necessarily as sexy as the latest non-alcoholic spirit, I believe that it deserves a prominent place in your at-home mocktail recipes. Vinegar’s flavor, accessibility, nutrient profile and versatility makes it a must have for any non-alcoholic bar cart.
Want to learn how to craft delicious mocktails? Join one of Lila's public classes. You can also make non-alcoholic cocktails with your team through a corporate team-building workshop.
Did you know that blood sugar imbalances can affect your mood? Riding steep rises and falls of your blood sugar can lead to mood swings, fatigue, and even anxiety and depression. Hop off the blood sugar roller coaster with these 3 tips to balance your blood sugar and support your mental health.
#1 Eat Balanced Meals & Snacks
Aim to include a mix of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein in each meal and snack. This combination of nutrients helps slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, preventing blood sugar spikes and crashes. In my nutrition practice, I have found that my clients have had the hardest time integrating enough protein. Make sure you find protein sources that you enjoy and feel easy to integrate, whether it is animal or plant based.
#2 Move Your Booty!
Regular exercise can help balance blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone that helps transport glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into the cells for energy. By increasing insulin sensitivity, exercise can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve overall mental health.
Another blood sugar & movement tip: go for a brief walk (15 min) after a carbohydrate heavy meal. This is a great way for your muscles to use excess glucose and inhibit a steep glucose spike.
#3 Find Ways to Destress
Many people are surprised to learn that blood sugar spikes can be caused by factors other than food. Stress can cause blood sugar levels to rise by increasing the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Find stress management practices that work for you, such as gardening, making art, or yoga. Doing something that gets you into a meditative state doesn’t necessarily have to be sit down meditation!
Mental Health Awareness Month is around the corner. Check out my featured mental health workshops designed to help your corporate team connect and improve their mental health all while enjoying tasty treats.
1. Your freezer is your BFF
Your freezer is one of the best waste reducing tools you have at home, learn how to use it!
Try making foods you would normally purchase from the store. Investing a bit more time cooking can save waste from food packaging. Products like nut milks, hummus, and granola can all be easily made yourself. Make it fun! Schedule a date night or friend hangout and choose one item you both regularly purchase from the grocery store and make it together.
3. Vote with your $$$
Maybe you are too busy to take on a DIY food project, but you can use your $$$ to support companies that value sustainability while you shop for groceries. Consumers can increase the number of sustainable food companies in the industry, increasing market demand. Purchase products that use sustainable ingredients, support regenerative agriculture and offset their carbon footprint. This doesn’t just apply to food! Choose sustainable companies to purchase home goods, clothing and more.
What’s the difference between a mocktail and an elixir?
An elixir is a functional beverage that is intended to support the physical and/ or energetic body. While a mocktail is a mixed drink that is meant to mimic the presentation and complexity of a cocktail minus the booze.
To make it a little complicated, some mocktails could also be considered elixirs if they contain functional herbs or super foods.
Can I buy mocktails in a store?
You bet. There is a rapidly growing collection of companies making non-alcoholic cocktails and ingredients. Most of these can be found online, specialty stores and some liquor stores.
Some of my current favorite ready to drink non-alcoholic cocktails are: Ghia, De Soi, Curious Elixirs (Number 2).
There are also a growing number of non-alcoholic spirits, aperitifs, wines, beers and mixers. I will do another post about the variety and different uses of these since it’s a big topic. A great one stop shop for all things non-alcoholic beverages is Boisson
Can I buy elixirs in a store
Yes! You’ll often find these online, at grocery stores, juice shops or cafes.
A few of my current favorite ready to drink elixirs are: Rebbl, Recess, and GT’s Kombucha ‘Alive’ line.
There are also a number of powders/mixers brands available to add to water, milk, coffee or tea to make a simple elixir. A few examples are: Four Sigmatic, Navitas and Rasa.
You can also purchase liquid herbal extracts known as tinctures to add functional and energetic benefits to whatever you are drinking. One of my favorite brands is Anima Mundi for their combinations.
Can I make mocktails and elixirs myself?
Absolutely! It’s fun, easy and delicious to make mocktails and elixirs yourself. Host an in-person or virtual corporate workshop to learn to make these tasty and healthful beverages with your team. You can also attend one of my public classes or host a private class with a group of your friends.
-Mocktail workshop details
-Elixir workshop details
Make memories and sweet treats with your team for Valentine’s Day.
Why should you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your team?
Valentine's Day is known for romantic dinners, expensive chocolate and bouquets of roses, but that’s not the right vibe for work. Since V-day is all about love, it’s a great chance to show your team some appreciation with a fun event and some sweet treats.
Instead of passing out store-bought candies, treat your team to an experience that facilitates connection and makes memories together.
Best Valentine’s Day Events for Work:
Share the love and appreciate your colleagues with a fun virtual event. Cute and festive ingredients kits shipped to each participant.
Today I got a reminder that 7 years ago I hosted my first corporate kombucha workshop at frog' s SF office. I had been teaching public kombucha classes since 2012, but this was my first time in the corporate world.
I carried jingling boxes of jars with kombucha brewing organisms sloshing around inside into the hip loft-style building. I served samples of my homemade kombucha and led attendees through the fermentation process. The group was warm and enthusiastic. I had no ideal that this would be the start of something big.
Today I am also celebrating 1 year of having my very own workspace. It’s my office, packing warehouse, test kitchen, creative laboratory and in-person event venue. Having a physical space to run my business is the only way I have been able to scale in the way I have been able to. I have created over 25 different food, beverage and nutrition workshops ranging from kombucha brewing to non-alcoholic happy hours to zero waste kitchen hacks. Just in 2022, I taught 115 corporate team-building workshops and sent 2,000 packages for my team-building classes.
I love my job so much. It doesn’t mean it’s not hard or scary to run my own business, but it sure is worth it. A few of my favorite things are: connecting with people around food and nutrition, facilitating team-building around things I love, being creative everyday, sending people cute packages, learning constantly, and being really organized (I love organization!).
Thank you to all the teams who have booked workshops with me over the last 7 years. I couldn’t do this without you! Excited to see what 2023 has in store. I have lots of great things brewing.
Who said being healthy can’t be fun and taste delicious? Kick off 2023 by making tasty recipes with your coworkers while learning practical nutrition tips to use all year round.
Celebrate the new year sans booze! Host a Kombucha Brewing Workshop where your team will learn how to make their own ‘booch that will delight their taste buds and their gut microbiome.
Book an Elixir Happy Hour and make delicious (non-alcoholic) beverages packed with superfoods and herbs that naturally support your health and elevate your mood.
How it works:
-Choose from the list of Classes with Kits that cater to your team’s interests.
-Each participant receives an ingredient kit with all food items. Free US shipping.
-Lila will host a 1-hour long live workshop.
-Make featured recipes during the workshop with your team.
-An inclusive alcohol-free event. Also friendly for vegan and gluten-free folks.
-Foodie teams who want to learn easy at-home fermentation.
-Health-enthusiast groups who want the inside scoop on superfoods and herbs.
Workshops available virtually or in-person in the Bay Area.
Event planning made easy:
-Check out all of my offerings or just the holiday themed ones.
-Fill out my contact form with your event details.
-I'll help you choose an event that fits your budget, team size and interests.
-Reserve your preferred date and time (sooner is better, December time slots will fill up).
-Enjoy a fun and tasty stress-free virtual event with your team!
-Lila or one of her culinary team members will be the host. They hop into the Zoom room early to make sure everything is good to go and to greet early birds.
-The host welcomes participants as they enter into the Zoom room, reminds them of materials needed and has an ice breaker question in the chat.
-The host gives an intro and engaging background on the recipes
- Participants make the featured recipes! Along the way, your host will engage participants by asking people questions, encouraging attendees to show their culinary creations and prompting folks to share anecdotes or stories. The host will give nutrition and culinary tips as people are making the recipes.
-Quick group photo!
-After everyone makes the recipe there is time for a culinary show and tell. Attendees turn on their cameras if they wish and show what they made.
- Q + A time! Participants can ask questions related to any of the ingredients, recipes, nutrition/culinary topics or whatever is on their mind!
-Host wrap up and time for socializing
*Customization is always available! Also note that certain events have additional activities, such as trivia.
Strawberry Infused Vinegar & Summer Mocktails
(Makes 40 1tbsp servings)
-1 1/2 cup organic strawberries, cut into quarters. You can even include the green tops!
-2.5 cups unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (with the "Mother"), or a little more if needed to cover strawberries
-Optional: replace ½ cup of the strawberries herbs like rosemary, basil or mint.
-1 quart jar
-An additional quart jar or a 32 ounce glass bottle
-Wash jar and lid thoroughly with hot water and soap.
-Wash and cut strawberries into quarters. Add them into your jar along with the optional herbs. -Cover strawberries with the apple cider vinegar, leaving 1/2 inch of space between the liquid and top of lid.
-Before placing the lid on the jar, cut a square piece of parchment paper to place on top of the jar before you screw the lid on. This prevents the lid from rusting due to the acidity of the vinegar. Label the jar with the date and the contents.
-Place jar in a cool (ideally dark) area that is out of direct sunlight and allow to infuse for 2-4 weeks. Agitate (aka shake) the jar every few days to prevent mold growth.
-After the vinegar is infused to your liking, strain out the strawberries and pour vinegar into another clean jar or bottle. Label and store in the refrigerator
Note: If your strawberry vinegar starts to mold at any time, or show signs of fermentation such as bubbling, cloudiness or sliminess, discard the product.
Herby Cold Cucumber Gazpacho
(Gluten-free, vegan, dairy free, nightshade-free, paleo, AIP, keto)
This soup is perfect for a hot summer day. I have been very into drinking my vegetables recently and have made this soup 3 times in the last week. This recipe (like most of my recipes) is very flexible so add more of what you like and leave out the cilantro if it tastes like soap to you!