Tasty guilt-free new year food

If you are giv­ing up al­co­hol for the month, Heather Dougherty has some ideas

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - LIFE & LEISURE -

HERE we are again, it’s early Jan­uary and the idea of giv­ing up the booze for a month seems not just pos­si­ble, but almost at­trac­tive: no hang­overs, cut­ting down your calo­rie in­take and staunch­ing the flow of money from your wal­let to the pub or wine mer­chant; you can see the ap­peal.

How­ever, as well as be­ing the launch­pad of New Year res­o­lu­tions, Jan­uary is the long­est month of the year.

I know, other months also have 31 days, but they just aren’t as long as Jan­uary – fact.

In re­cent years the no­tion of Blue Mon­day, fall­ing on the Mon­day of the last full week of Jan­uary, has taken hold. This is sup­pos­edly of­fi­cially the most de­press­ing day of the year.

By my cal­cu­la­tions, this will fall on Mon­day Jan­uary 26 this year – though it might de­pend whether you count Sun­day as the end of the week, in which case Blue Mon­day will be on Jan­uary 19.

It mat­ters not; the whole thing is almost cer­tainly en­tirely spu­ri­ous and at best a bit of pseudo-sci­ence.

But it doesn’t take much imag­i­na­tion to ap­pre­ci­ate how the com­bi­na­tion of short days, cold weather and a gen­eral feel­ing of, how shall I put it, be­ing skint, will tend to weigh on one and con­trib­ute to a gen­eral feel­ing of mis­ery.

Whether on Blue Mon­day or not, many peo­ple who had be­gun Jan­uary with the in­ten­tion of stay­ing off the de­mon drink will fall off the al­co­hol­free wagon be­fore the month is out.

In case this could be you, would you like some good news?

I don’t think any­one should worry about not man­ag­ing to lay off the drink for a month.

There is no firm med­i­cal ev­i­dence that an en­tire month of abstinence is the best way to boost your liver health.

Our liv­ers need time to re­cover from al­co­holic (and rich food) overindug­lence. But even the most sorely abused liv­ers have done all the re­cov­er­ing they are go­ing to do in 3-5 days.

Ab­stain­ing for a month is much more about prov­ing to our­selves – and oth­ers – that we can do it.

Might it also even be just a teensy weensy bit ma­cho?

But the smooth run­ning of the uni­verse hangs on the premise that where there is good news, there is also bad news: dear reader, our liv­ers would ap­pre­ci­ate a few al­co­hol-free days, not just ev­ery month, but ev­ery week. I’m not diss­ing the idea of dry Jan­uary – and any­one who has signed up to Can­cer Re­search UK’s month­long Dry­athlon and will raise money for char­ity as a re­sult of their tem­per­ance is to be con­grat­u­lated.

How­ever, I don’t think those of us who still have a drink or two in Jan­uary should be made to feel like fail­ures.

I’d like to pro­mote the idea of a light, rather than com­pletely dry, Jan­uary.

Per­haps it should be damp Jan­uary? Or per­haps not

Non-al­co­holic drinks I like, OK, not the long­est list in the world I ad­mit, but here goes:

Lemon­ade punch

This is re­fresh­ing, not too sweet and

feels quite healthy

2 pints of strong tea Juice of 3 le­mons ½ cup of sugar Sprigs of mint 1 pint of ginger ale

Cool the tea and add the le­mon juice, sugar and mint. Add the ginger ale just be­fore serv­ing. (Orig­i­nally pub­lished in Vogue Cock­tails, pub­lished 1982)

Mulled ap­ple juice

It’s com­fort­ing to have a warm, and warm­ing, soft drink in the win­ter months.

1 litre ap­ple juice Strips of orange peel 1 cin­na­mon stick Sugar or honey, to taste

Put the ap­ple juice, orange peel and cin­na­mon stick in a pan and warm gen­tly for 5-10 min­utes. Sweeten, or not, to your taste. (Orig­i­nally pub­lished in Good Food Mag­a­zine, 2009)

More tips from Heather at www.red­wine­an­drose.co.uk

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