Drink to your health

| June 13, 2015
Clive Caines CaribDirect

Clive Caines Cultural Contributor

If like me you were brought up on homemade drinks then this list should mean something to you: Ginger Beer, Mauby, Sorrel, and Guinness Punch.

These drinks make me nostalgic for a time when it seemed that there was a wider variety of cold drinks and the business of thirst quenching didn’t begin and end with the names Cocoa Cola or Pepsi.

Making homemade drinks doesn’t fit with our “I want it now” approach, however it would be a shame if this creativity stopped being passed from generation to generation. I get that what our parents or grandparents did to produce drinks, grating – pulping and straining ingredients – is time consuming but there are so many gadgets around these days that preparation time can’t be too much of an excuse.

With the over consumption of fizzy drinks playing a major role in the rise of obesity and the health issues that this disease brings its a good idea to change your habits.In the UK there are 14,520 million litres of fizzy drinks currently being consumed per year, this works out at 230 litres per person. In the US the soft drinks market is worth 60 billion dollars, which according to a Gallup survey, is driven by the nearly half of all Americans drinking 2.6 glasses a day.  In the Caribbean, where it is difficult to get an overall picture as the research is generally done for individual islands, the most eye catching statistic is that the region, along with Latin America, has the highest number of diabetes deaths that can be linked to the consumption of manufactured soft drinks.

Diabetes isn’t the only issue that our love affair with fizzy drinks throws up: there’s also a deal of concern around the levels of caffeine found in most of these drinks. Where there’s a high level of caffeine consumption then problems such as palpitations, raised anxiety levels, irritability or insomnia are likely to follow. This suggests that we need to not only think about what we drink to quench our thirst but how much. If you are not clear about how much fluid you need to remain hydrated, then depending on whether you are male or female you’ll need between 1.6 and 2.0 litres of fluid a day. This amount of fluid can be made up of a range of drinks both hot and cold; though water or milk are the healthiest. Many people who have given up drinks high in caffeine or sugar opt for beverages like green tea, mint tea, tomato juice or cranberry juice; such drinks are not only refreshing but have specific benefits and that is what I want to concentrate on.

Before going into the video section I thought I’d look at the health claims made for the ingredients that I’m going to feature: mauby, ginger, soursop and sorrel. I’ve also included a recipe for a fruit punch but I don’t think I need to go into detail on the health benefits of not drinking alcohol from time to time.

Mauby:

Now I’ll happily concede that the claims for the health benefits of mauby appear to be more anecdotal than well researched. That said there’s no shortage of old folks that will happily tell you that mauby lowers cholesterol levels, is an aid for arthritis and being rich in vitamin C will ward off colds.

 

Mauby drink and bark. Photo courtesy www.snipview.com

Mauby drink and bark. Photo courtesy www.snipview.com

In terms of research it is worth considering a BBCCaribbean.com article that states, “mauby is useful in lowering blood pressure.” BBCCaribbean takes its information from the research findings of Trinidad-born Kwame Amin, a student at The City University of New York’s Borough of Manhattan Community College.However it seems to me that there is room for more research work.

Ginger:

The BBC ‘Good Food’ website provides a list of health benefits provided by root ginger, along with a staggering amount of information that would please anyone interested in plants or history. Since I’m more interested in ingredients that drinks can be made from I’ll focus on what ‘Good Food’ has to say about ginger tea and ginger beer, which is that they will help to cure the common cold, ease the effects of nausea, stimulate the circulation, soothe burns and soothe the stomach when digestion problems occur.

Ginger tea. Photo courtesy www.teamajesty.com

Ginger tea. Photo courtesy www.teamajesty.com

 

Sorrel:

By all accounts sorrel has been grown all around the world and used by many cultures for centuries. We all know that vitamins help many of the body’s functions so it is good to know that sorrel provides a good source of vitamin C, which wards off colds and helps strengthen bones. Sorrel can also help to stave off high blood pressure as it relaxes the blood vessels and arteries; however the fact that it contains antioxidants means that it’ll be most noted for its ability to help ward off cancer.

Sorrel drink. Photo courtesy mangosalute.com

Sorrel drink. Photo courtesy mangosalute.com

 

Soursop:

For me this fruit sounds unappealing yet the claims made for its ability to fight cancer suggests that it could be a real lifesaver. Just look at some of the research findings on the benefits of eating soursop: ‘The Cancer Center’suggests that soursop extracts can slow the growth of cancer cells or make them more susceptible to anti-cancer drugs. The ‘Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, states that“soursop compounds were found to be up to 250 times more effective in killing cancer cells than some chemotherapy drugs.”It must be said that studies into the benefits of soursop are only at the promising stage, there still needs to be research with human subjects to confirm its true cancer fighting potential.

 

Soursop drink. Photo courtesy www.fragrantica.es

Soursop drink. Photo courtesy www.fragrantica.es

Now for the usual video selection, as always I’ll be looking at the quality of the video, the clarity of the recipe explanation and the availability of the ingredients.

Recipe for Non-Alcoholic Caribbean Punch: Punch & Fruity Drinks 

Here’s something quick an easy to start with, the video is only a minute and a half long. While this video provides an alternative to drinking alcohol the amount of sugar inits ingredients might negate its health benefits; I suggest that you swap some of the ingredients for low or no sugar alternatives.

In terms of production values the video is nicely put together without unnecessary camera shots, good lighting and the sound being clear throughout. The presenter has a good manner about her but could have provided more information on the ingredients.

It might be difficult to find the different nectars mentioned but I’m sure that if that’s the case you’ll easily enough find alternatives in your local shop or supermarket.

Ginger

For this section I’ve included two different sorts of ginger drinks, one for the purist and one for the modern palate. Both of these videos come from Chef Ricardo who’s featured here from time to time. It can be taken for granted that if a chef/cook features in this section more than once then their videos have good basic production values.

As for putting the drinks together, there’s nothing that would cause anyone any difficulty and the method of doing so is well explained.

Lastly given that the ingredients are fairly basic and can be found world wide I can’t see that anyone should have any difficulty in finding them.

Caribbean ginger and cucumber drink

Old time ginger beer

Soursop Juice Drink

The Livity Tv is another name that I’ve not come across before, but as I’ve always said it’s a pleasure to discover the amount of people wanting to share information on Caribbean cooking.

The production values of this video, for me, have some concerns: the music used is annoying and doesn’t add anything to the images. Then there’s the lack of presenter’s voice, which is a shame as the video lacks personality. That said the images are well constructed and along with the graphics make it easy to follow the information.

 

Traditional Caribbean Sorrel Drink

Just in case you were wondering here’s the entry from Caribbeanpot.com; Chris does seem to be all over everything to do with Caribbean food and drink.

As usual the production values and presentation are of the expected standard, so there’s no issues with sound, lighting or camerawork.

Following Chris’s method of producing the sorrel drink isn’t going to be as quick given that the first stage of the process requires an overnight steeping. However while the production method might be time consuming it isn’t complicated. One thing though, this is drink that you can add your own sugar, Chris suggests that you use brown or white sugar but I suggest that you don’t over do it.

As for the ingredients the thing that might cause some difficulty is finding the sorrel flowers, these are not things that you’ll find in major supermarkets. Finding your flowers may involve a trip to a Caribbean food supplier but don’t rule out a whole food or vegetarian store; if you’re really struggling then you can try using the dried variety.

Don’t miss the Caribbean Food and Drinki Conference, Expo and Caribbean Knights After Party on July 10th, 12th and 18th. Click logos below for more details:

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We provide news and information for anyone interested in the Caribbean whether you’re UK based, European based or located in the Caribbean. New fresh ideas are always welcome with opportunities for bright writers.

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