Pregnant women love cocktails. I know, I know, we aren’t supposed to indulge when we are creating whole humans inside of our bodies (which is a wee bit complicated and delicate of a process). But what’s a girl to do when she’s hot or cold, hungry or nauseated, craving a tasty treat, and standing around feeling big and awkward at a holiday party? Pull out her clunky non-toxic water bottle and slug some back to round out her gallon for the day? Hover around the hors d’oeuvres all night? That would surely help her blend in and feel comfortable. Enter the mocktail: improving the lives of pregnant and postpartum people at parties everywhere. These drinks taste indulgent, look great in fancy glasses, and they’re alcohol and sugar free. They also happen to be nourishing and/or help to address some common pregnancy discomforts!
This holiday season, try one (or all) of the following recipes for pregnancy-friendly mocktails. You don’t have to be pregnant or nursing to enjoy them. They’re also great for kids, elders, or anyone who wants to choose a delicious, health-supporting alternative beverage when faced with all of the alcohol and sugar that our culture seems to associate with celebration.
Ginger Hot Toddy (quick)
Yield: 1 cup (can easily be multiplied for bigger batches)
1 tsp fresh grated ginger (or ¼ tsp powdered)
1 tsp – 1 Tbsp honey (to taste)
Tiny pinch of powdered clove (it’s easy to overdo…a tiny pinch is really a tiny pinch!)
Splash of lemon juice
Mix all ingredients together in a mug or other heat-resistant vessel. Cover and steep for a few minutes, then strain into your desired fancy cup (with a handle, it’s hot!).
Ginger Hot Toddy (slow – but more flavorful)
Same ingredients as above, but simmer ginger and cloves together in the water for 5-15 minutes, cover and steep for 5-15 more minutes, then strain. Add honey and lemon afterwards. Chopped, dried ginger can be used for this method, just use half as much.
Yield: 4-6 servings
½ cup chopped fresh ginger root (or ¼ cup dried, or 2 Tbsp powder)
3 cups water
½ cup honey
Lemon juice to taste
Simmer ginger root in water until water is reduced by half. Strain out ginger root and let mixture cool slightly. Add honey and mix thoroughly. Let cool completely. Pour a few teaspoons of this spicy-sweet ginger concentrate in glasses of seltzer water (it’s easier to mix if you pour the concentrate into the seltzer, rather than the other way around). Add a squirt of lemon juice to taste. The concentrate will keep in the fridge for about a week.
Pregnancy benefits: Ginger can be very effective at quelling nausea. Lemon and honey, especially together, can help balance electrolytes and counteract mild dehydration. Lemon juice has potassium, which can alleviate mild muscle cramps by balancing tissue minerals. If it’s fresh lemon juice, it’s also rich in Vitamin C, which boosts immune systems that are naturally toned-down during pregnancy.
Yield: 4 -6 cups
3 cups whole milk (organic if possible)
1 cup heavy cream (organic if possible)
6 egg yolks (fresh, free-range, and organic if possible)
⅓ cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground nutmeg (freshly ground is tastiest)
Pinch of sea salt
Mix milk, maple syrup, and salt together and heat in the top of a double boiler to just below boiling (very hot to the touch). While that is heating, beat egg yolks until they are uniform. When the milk mixture is hot, pour a small amount (about ½ cup) into the egg yolks and beat until combined, then pour another small amount and beat until combined (this is called tempering and will allow the yolks to combine with the hot milk and then cook without getting grainy…who wants scrambled egg nog? Not me!). Next, pour the egg yolk mixture back into the double boiler with the rest of the milk mixture. Stirring constantly, heat until it has thickened slightly and will coat the back of a spoon. Be careful not to overcook it, but if you do, pour the mixture through a strainer when you’re done to get out any chunks of cooked egg. While this is cooling, beat the cream until thickened but still pourable. Once the egg and milk mixture is cool, stir in the vanilla and nutmeg. Then slowly fold in the whipped cream. Top with another sprinkling of nutmeg.
Variations: If this feels like too many steps, you can simply combine the cream with the milk in the beginning. If you have weighed the risks and benefits of consuming raw egg yolks during pregnancy and you feel confident in the quality and freshness of your eggs, you can simply blend all of the ingredients together, which is much faster, but the result will not be as thick and creamy.
Pregnancy benefits: Milk and cream, for those who digest them well, and when they are from clean sources, can be very nourishing. Milk is rich in calcium, which pregnant people need to build baby bones, maintain healthy muscle contraction and relaxation, and support immune and nervous system function. Milk also has protein, which pregnant people need a lot of, and which is often absent from cocktail parties. Cream is full of fat, which provides a lot of energy. One of the kinds of fats in grass-fed cream is Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), which is important in growing baby brains. Egg yolks are also full of healthy fats, along with vitamins A and D, and a host of B vitamins, all of which are needed in increased amounts during pregnancy and play important roles in healthy fetal development. Eggs also have some protein.
Pomegranate Rose Elixir with Key Lime
Yield: 1 cup
¼ cup pomegranate juice (look for a 100% pomegranate juice, not a blend. It will be more expensive, but it goes a long way)
2 tsp rose water
1 tsp key lime juice (regular lime juice will work, but key lime juice is way more delicious and makes it extra fancy)
1tsp – 1Tbsp honey (to taste)
Pomegranate fruits and/or lime slice for garnish
Pour pomegranate juice, rose water, key lime juice and honey into a glass. Mix well until honey is completely dissolved. Add seltzer water and mix again, gently. Garnish with pomegranate fruits and/or lime slice.
Pregnancy benefits: Pomegranates are very high in antioxidants, which help protect the body against the normal stresses of pregnancy, and protect baby against toxins. Rose water is cooling, calming, and aids digestion.
Mexican drinking chocolate (with our without dairy)
Yield: 4 cups
3 cups whole milk (or almond milk)
6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (or the darkest sweetened chocolate you can find)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch cayenne (more if you like it spicy)
½ cup maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons creamy almond butter
Mix milk, chocolate, maple syrup, cinnamon and cayenne together in a pot. Heat over medium-low heat, stir frequently until chocolate is melted and everything is combined. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract and almond butter. Blend with an immersion blender to fully combine and froth up (or put it all in a regular blender once it’s cooled a bit to combine).
Variations: Omit the cayenne if you are feeling hot, or if you’re experiencing heartburn. Almond extract can be substituted for the almond butter, in which case no blending is needed. As with all chocolately drinks, topping with whipped cream is a delightful flourish.
Pregnancy benefits: Chocolate is rich in magnesium, a mineral that many of us are deficient in. Magnesium can help with sleep issues, constipation, muscle cramps, and anxiety. Along with magnesium, chocolate contains several other minerals and is high in antioxidants. Cinnamon also has antioxidants, helps to balance blood sugar, and can reduce inflammation. Antioxidants help to protect the body against the normal stresses of pregnancy, and also help protect baby against toxins. Almond butter has calcium, healthy fats, and protein.
Yield: 1 cup
10-15 fresh mint leaves (reserving 2-3 for garnish)
½ tsp molasses
1tsp – 1Tbsp honey, to taste
Optional: candy cane for garnish (contains refined sugar)
Muddle (mash together with a blunt object like a wooden spoon) mint leaves, molasses and honey. Pour seltzer water over mixture and stir to dissolve honey and molasses in water. Garnish with mint leaves and candy cane if desired.
Pregnancy benefits: Peppermint aids digestion and can help quell nausea. Molasses is rich in iron and B vitamins, important for both the pregnant person and growing baby. CAUTION: Peppermint can worsen heartburn.
Thanks to Homegrown Doula, nutritionist, and mama Chloe Liberman for these fantastic recipes!