Over the winter I’ve been falling in love with sour foods. Citrus are the easiest to identify: lemons, limes, grapefruit - but also cranberries, vinegars, and fermented and pickled foods. I’ve always eaten too much sugar and soda, so when I wanted to stop consuming (at times) 10 or 20 times the recommended amount of sugar every day, I went sour. What I found wasn’t unpleasant, as you would normally think these foods are, it was a whole new sense that I had never explored, and I’m so glad I did.
The biggest way I consumed sugar in the past was in very unnoticeable ways - too much fruit at breakfast, a soda at lunch, too much chocolate at dinner, and adding sugar to each meal I had throughout the day. Even without added sugar, fruit has a ton of sugar already in it. But fruit is the ‘best’ way to eat sugar, it’s got infinitely more vitamins and nutrients than any candy bar or packet of ‘healthy’ sugar. So I wanted to keep with it, without having to add any sugar at all.
I did it through slowly lowering the amount of sugar in each drink every day until there was nothing left. At first I drank soda. Then I drank a juiced grapefruit, a packet of sugar, and some carbonated water. Now I drink some version of this photographed drink (recipe below) most mornings. Then if I want something really sweet I’ll add an orange, pear, apple, or a couple of dates to whatever I’m eating/drinking.
Now, instead of vegan processed mayo, I add curried sauerkraut or minced sour pickles to my sandwiches. Instead of sugar & sweet garlic in my pasta sauce, I add balsamic vinegar and a little salt. This still doesn’t account for late-night chocolate binging, which I’ve done throughout my whole life, but it does remove a ton of sugar for the rest of my day, and I call that a success.
Not only does all of that make me feel better physically every day, but it also tastes great. Working in the sour foods over time especially helped me learn to love their unique and bold flavors.
This drink is something I make almost every day. To make this quick and cost-effective I buy a big bottle of unsweetened, plain cranberry juice once every month or so (Trader Joe’s has it for $5 a bottle!) and then juice a bunch of grapefruits for the week and store it in an old glass iced tea bottle.
Make sure, if you use any store-bought juice, that you get just a pure juice or juice concentrate. ‘Juice cocktails’ usually have a ton of unnecessary ingredients and added sugar. I love cranberry juice because it’s really good for you and it gives all the drinks I make a great, bright pink color. If you want something less sour but unsweetened, go for blueberry juice.
For this drink:
- 1 large ruby red grapefruit, juiced
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cranberry juice
- (to help you transition, try adding 1 medium orange, juiced, for more sweetness)
Juicing is really easy with the right equipment. I use a simple, large glass citrus juicer, a small funnel, and a mesh strainer. The funnel and strainer can be used for a ton of different things, including making tea.
Pour the cranberry juice into your glass. Cut the grapefruit in half and juice it. Put the funnel in your glass (if you need it) then the strainer over top. Pour the juice into the strainer and let it pour into the glass. Use a small spoon to stir the pulp around to get all the juice out. Top the drink with lots of ice and sip up!
This drink goes really well with a hot, understated dish, like cashew cheese stuffed shells or balsamic chickpeas.
In this issue of Chickpea, we also featured 5 drinks that incorporate whole lemons, ginger, cranberry, and much more, to expand your tastes. You can get it right here!