Special beverages like creamy eggnog, mulled wine, and punch are part of the holidays.
There also are some healthier versions. For Honey Hot Chocolate, honey is added to unsweetened cocoa, mixed with water, and cooked over low heat to make a syrup; then the chocolate mixture is stirred into hot low-fat milk. It's an alternative to the higher-calorie version.
For Honey Mulled Cider, apple juice and honey are mixed and then boiled with cinnamon sticks, ground ginger, and slices of lemon and orange laced with whole cloves.
To make Pineapple Punch, combine 2 1/2 cups pineapple juice, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup honey, and 1 lime (thinly sliced); refrigerate until ready to serve. Then add 2 cups sparkling water and serve in 4 glasses.
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups hot low-fat milk
Cook's note: Chocolate syrup may be prepared in advance and stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. For single serving hot chocolate, stir in 1/4 cup chocolate syrup into 3/4 cup hot milk.
In small saucepan, combine honey and cocoa; mix well. Stir in water; cook over low heat 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Set aside until ready to serve. To serve, stir chocolate mixture into hot milk.
Yield: 4 servings
1 large lemon, cut in half
1 medium orange, cut in half
16 whole cloves
4 cups apple juice
1/2 cup honey
4 cinnamon sticks
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Cut two slices ( 1/4-inch thick) from each lemon and orange half. Insert whole cloves into slices; set aside. Squeeze juice from remainder of fruit halves into medium non-reactive saucepan. Stir in apple juice and honey; mix well. Add cinnamon sticks, ginger, and reserved fruit slices. Bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Serve immediately in heat-proof bowl.
Yield: 6 servings
At any time of the year, if you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Sip your drink slowly. Mixed drinks containing fruit or vegetable juices will probably have less effect than straight alcohol. Avoid red wine if you are prone to headaches.
The National Headache Foundation recommends eating honey, which supplies fructose, a sugar that helps the body metabolize the alcohol ingested. Liquids rich in minerals and salts offer relief from dehydration caused by alcohol consumption; this includes sports drinks, water, or a cup of broth or bouillon.
Eat greasy food before consuming alcohol; fatty foods may help to cause alcohol absorption to take longer.
Champagne Fooler is a headache-free recipe. Chill 4 glasses. Mix together 11/3 cups apple juice and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Add 12 ounces club soda and stir to blend. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.
Zingerman's Deli will hold a honey tasting called Honeys with Grace at 7 p.m. Jan. 4 at the Deli at 422 Detroit St. in downtown Ann Arbor. Grace Singleton, managing partner at the deli, will lead the tasting, which is $20 per person. For reservations, call 734-663-3400.
By now, most consumers know that trans fats are not among the desirable fats in the diet. The American Institute for Cancer Research reminds us that all U.S. food labels must list trans fats by Jan. 1, 2006.
Most trans fats are formed when food manufacturers, seeking to prolong the shelf life of products such as cookies, crackers, snack foods, and other processed foods, add hydrogen to vegetable oil. This process, called hydrogenation, causes the oil to become and remain solid at room temperature. Margarine and shortening are examples of hydrogenated oils found in most American homes.
Trans fats have been shown to act like saturated fat by increasing levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol) in the blood, which increases risk of heart disease.
Other fats found on the Nutrition Fats label are total fat and saturated fat: both have recommended limits listed on the panel which allows an individual to compare the amount of fat found in a given food to his or her total recommended daily fat intake.
There are no recommended daily limits for trans fat on the label. The AICR Guide to the Nutrition Facts Label recommends treating trans fat as any other form of saturated fat.
For example, if a box of macaroni and cheese lists 1.5 grams trans fat and 3 grams saturated fat in a single 1-cup serving, the resulting number is 4.5 grams. For those consuming a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet, it is advised that total daily intake of saturated fat be below 20 grams.
The AICR Guide to the Nutrition Facts Label, a 14-page leaflet, is free and can be ordered by calling 800-843-8114, ext. 451 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.