Best Health - - CONTENTS - MEGHAN TELPNER is a nu­tri­tion­ist and au­thor @meghantelp­ner

This is­sue’s in­gre­di­ent for op­ti­mal health: el­der­ber­ries

AS BEST HEALTH CEL­E­BRATES A DECADE OF IN­SPIR­ing Cana­di­ans to rock their health, I be­lieve a se­ri­ously healthy cel­e­bra­tion is in or­der. All great things should be marked with grat­i­tude and cel­e­bra­tion, and all mile­stones ac­knowl­edged. Let’s up­grade how we choose to do this. Why not check the sugar-laden, ar­ti­fi­cially coloured drink mixes at the door and mark the awe­some­ness with a level of de­li­cious­ness and a healthy dose of good­ness for your body?

Mak­ing your own in­fused al­co­hol is an easy way to add a real dose of health to your bev­er­ages. This isn’t a health­wash­ing of cock­tails; this is le­git.

Tra­di­tional al­co­hol in­fu­sions used for medicine in­volve com­bin­ing mighty clean al­co­hol (I al­ways opt for or­ganic vodka) with an herb or a food of choice. One of my favourites is el­der­ber­ries. The medic­i­nal com­po­nents and f lavour from these im­mune-boost­ing berries in­fuse into the al­co­hol, which can be used as a tinc­ture or mixed with cock­tails.

In the spirit of cel­e­bra­tion – while ward­ing off up­com­ing cold and f lu sea­son – we’re look­ing at im­mune-pow­ered, Cana­dian-grown el­der­ber­ries and the best way to take our medicine.


El­der­ber­ries are small, bluish pur­ple berries that are grown across Canada. The best place to pick them up is at your lo­cal farm­ers’ mar­ket. You’ll need to re­move the stems, which can be a lit­tle te­dious, but here’s a trick: Freeze the berries on the stems and give them a lit­tle shake and they’ll come free. (If fresh isn’t an op­tion, you can find them dried at your lo­cal health food store.)


El­der­ber­ries are rich in an­tiox­i­dants and have long been used in treat­ments for the in­fluenza virus. They also stim­u­late cy­tokine pro­duc­tion, which helps re­duce inf lam­ma­tion and im­prove im­mune func­tion. This im­mune func­tion has also been shown to re­duce the symp­toms and du­ra­tion of colds among air trav­ellers, so it’s def­i­nitely a sup­ple­ment you’ll want to add to your travel kit. They’re a mighty source of vi­ta­min C and should be part of any im­mune-boost­ing pro­to­col or cold and flu pre­ven­tion plan.


El­der­ber­ries can’t be eaten raw like blue­ber­ries or rasp­ber­ries; in­stead, they need to be pro­cessed in some way – ei­ther cooked or tinc­tured. You’ll of­ten find el­der­berry served up as a tea or in herbal tea blends specif­i­cally for im­mune health or cold and flu for­mu­las. I of­ten cook el­der­ber­ries down into a syrup with turmeric, gin­ger and honey and add them to fizzy water for a mock­tail. You can tinc­ture el­der­ber­ries with vodka (hello, cocktail mixer!) and add it to your own Cana­dian-in­spired cocktail or take it as a tinc­ture for cold and f lu pre­ven­tion. An al­co­hol­based in­fu­sion takes five min­utes to pre­pare and four weeks of pa­tience un­til it’s ready. If you’ve been hear­ing all the trendy news about drink­ing vine­gars and shrubs, you can eas­ily swap the vodka for ap­ple cider vine­gar and fol­low the same process. b

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