Kelly Leveque offers up a healthy recipe you try at home.
December tends to be the busiest (and booziest) time of year. You may even have more holiday parties on your calendar than usual—hey, now that we’re living in a post-COVID vaccine world, you have to make up for lost time, right?
Part of getting into the celebratory spirit is cheers-ing with something festive. But what should it be? A fizzy glass of prosecco? A red-hued cranberry cocktail? Brandy-spiked eggnog? If you’re toasting with health in mind, certainly some options are better than others. Special seasonal cocktails are often high in sugar—just like seasonal coffee beverages and holiday cookies.
Want something a celebrity nutritionist would approve of? Be Well founder, nutritionist and health coach Kelly Leveque, who has worked with Emmy Rossum, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba and Chelsea Handler, among other celebs, shares an easy cocktail recipe that’s full of good-for-you ingredients and has no sugar whatsoever. Keep reading to find out how to make it yourself.
Kelly LeVeque’s Thai Chili Cocktail
- 1/2 serrano pepper or Thai chili, sliced (remove the seeds to make the drink less spicy or adjust the amount to your heat preference)
- 3 to 5 drops of NOW Real Food Organic Monk Fruit
- 1/2 oz. (15 ml) fresh lime juice
- 2 oz. (60 ml) carrot juice
- 1 oz. (30 ml) soda water
- 1/.5 oz clear alcohol such as vodka or tequila (or omit, for an alcohol-free drink)
- Tajin chili lime seasoning (to rim the glass)
- Rim the glass with Tajin chili lime seasoning.
- Muddle the chili with the monk fruit and lime juice. Add it to the glass.
- Pour the carrot juice and alcohol into the glass. Top it off with a splash of soda water.
What Makes This Cocktail a Healthy-ish Choice
If you’re going to drink alcohol this holiday season, LeVeque recommends going for a clear spirit (like vodka, gin or tequila) instead of alcohol that also contains fructose—like rum or dessert wines. “The reason is that you will already have to metabolize alcohol in your liver and if you add fructose to that, it will double down on the amount of detoxification that the body has to do,” she says. LeVeque says that a clear alcoholic spirit with a squeeze of citrus and splash of soda water is easier on the body.
You’ll also notice that her drink has carrot juice in it. Carrot juice is linked to supporting the immune system, which is especially important this time of year. This is because it’s high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and beta-carotene. Vitamin C helps keep the immune system functioning properly and also helps with cell production. Beta-carotene also helps with cell function and production. Vitamin A supports immunity by stimulating the production and activity of white blood cells, which protect the body against infections.
This is all in stark contrast to sugar, which is linked to lowering immunity. It’s one ingredient that is not included at all in the cocktail recipe. Instead, LeVeque swaps it out for monk fruit, a natural sweetener. “Monk fruit is probably my favorite alternative sweetener,” she says, adding that natural sugars like coconut sugar, date sugar, maple syrup, molasses and honey are all less harmful to the body than traditional sugar and even have health benefits.
LeVeque says that she favors monk fruit because it has a slightly lower glycemic index than regular sugar, which means that it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels as quickly. “It also contains minerals, including calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, manganese, as well as more antioxidants than honey,” she says.
Of course, even with healthy-ish cocktails like this, she says moderation is still important. Nothing with alcohol can truly ever be considered 100 percent healthy. And you can always omit the alcohol in this recipe too—it tastes just as delicious without it.
However, if you do want to imbibe, this is one cocktail you can feel pretty good about. It gives a whole new meaning to celebratory spirit, that’s for sure!
- Kelly LeVeque, founder of Be Well, celebrity nutritionist, health coach and author of Body Love
- Supplementation of a Low-Carotenoid Diet With Tomato or Carrot Juice Modulates Immune Functions In Healthy Men. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism.
- Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients.
- Effects of Carotenoids On Human Immune Function. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.
- Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System. Journal of Clinical Medicine.
- Dietary Sugar Lowers Immunity and Microbiota That Protect Against Metabolic Disease. Cell Metabolism.