A Cocktail for the Easily Hung-Over: The Kombucha-Rita Spritzer (Recipe)

I’m currently a few days into a Whole 30, so I can’t enjoy this drink for a few more weeks. Still, I wanted to share it in time for the 4th because it’s the most perfect summer drink. Throughout fall, winter, and a decent chunk of spring, I am happy to drink nothing but red wine. Once the temperature rises above 75° or so, however, I need something a bit more cooling. I have to be careful with white wine, which tends to be too sweet, and in general hard liquor also often leads to a migraine the next day (especially when it’s not clear).

Enter the kombucha-rita—

A drink I thought I invented but clearly did not. (Though mine is more of a traditional kombucha-rita/Nor Cal Margarita lovechild.)

Kombucha-Rita Spritzer

What makes this drink especially good for lightweights?

For starters, homemade kombucha has considerably less sugar than most mixers (including soda, juice, and even the innocuous tonic, which is often made with HFCS). Of course, this depends on how long you let your kombucha sit for the first ferment, how much fruit or fruit juice you add to the second ferment, and then how long you allow the second ferment to go before refrigeration. I like my kombucha pretty tart, so I tend to let the first ferment go for at least a week, I only add enough fruit to ensure it gets fizzy, and then I leave the bottles to the second ferment until they’re almost to the fizzing-over point (checking them for pressure every day to make sure they’re not going to explode). On top of that, the addition of sparkling water alongside the kombucha ensures you stay (relatively) hydrated, which is always a good idea for avoiding a hangover when drinking for an extended period of time.

Still, many believe there’s something intrinsic to kombucha itself that makes it a great choice for a mixer. As Eric Childs of Kombucha Brooklyn argues, the gluconic acid in kombucha works to detox the liver in a kind of “reverse-toxmosis.” I’m not versed enough in science to say whether that claim holds water, but I do know that I can enjoy three or four of these in an evening and wake up not feeling like garbage the next day. Regardless of the drink in question (wine, beer, cider, etc.), three or four is the point at which I’m pretty worthless the next day, so at least my own anecdotal evidence seems to support—or at least not go against—Childs’ claims.

Health claims aside, I actually drink they because they taste good! The tartness of the kombucha is perfect with tequila, and the sparkling water is effervescent and wonderful. So, the recipe already!

Kombucha-Rita SPritzer

  • 1 – 2 oz silver tequila (From spendy to steal, I recommend: Avion, Tres Agaves, or Monte Alban, which is surprisingly not bad for a $10 tequila)
  • 3 oz homemade or store bought kombucha (my favorites are strawberry and lavender blueberry)
  • 3 oz sparkling seltzer water (lime, lemon-lime, or unflavored)
  • fresh lime juice, to taste

To a half-pint mason jar or old fashioned glass, add ice (this is my favorite ice cube tray, and I promise it’s not at all over-hyped). Pour in your desired amount of tequila (I’m closer to the 1 oz end of the spectrum), plus kombucha, sparkling water, and fresh lime juice. Stir to combine and serve.

I almost feel bad calling it a recipe because it’s so simple! If you’re Whole 30ing, pregnant, or just don’t drink, you can simply leave out the tequila and still have something that’s fun to sip when you’re just tired of water. To change up the flavor you can try different sparkling waters, use lemon instead of lime, or even muddle some fruit or herbs in the glass (as I did with mint and mulberries above) before adding the ice and liquid. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite (somewhat) healthy cocktail?

On Foraging

Like most people who grew up playing computer games and watching television (Catz II and Buffy forever), this time last year I had absolutely no practical knowledge regarding the identification of most wild plants—much less their edibility or specific medicinal uses. It’s something that’s been interesting to me for quite some time, but as far as going outside and conclusively identifying a plant and then eating it, that’s not something I felt capable of or comfortable with.

Yet kind of like fermentation, once I got over the initial fear, all that hesitation felt a little silly. I dipped my toe into the word of foraging last summer, starting with mulberries. Mulberries were easy because they’re one of the few wild plants I did eat as a child. There was a big mulberry tree beside my great grandmother’s house, where we spent every Sunday afternoon, and I can remember standing under the tree and eating mulberries with my cousins until our hands and faces were dark purple.

A photo posted by Danielle (@graniellesutton) on Jun 7, 2015 at 1:21pm PDT

Mulberries are back in season here in Central Illinois, and I am trying to take full advantage of them while I can. (Also, have I really been here a whole year already?) I’d like to say it’s out of health-consciousness or environmental stewardship or a desire for connection with nature, and while all of those are certainly influential, I think the biggest thing for me is that it’s free food.


Fresh, organic, local food is not cheap. Even gardening—at least for someone starting with zero tools and terrible soil—can get expensive. In my dream life, we would grow the majority of what we eat and fill in the gaps at the farmer’s market—but that’s not my life right now. And I guess that’s where foraging comes in. Two gallons of local organic berries is a luxury not in my grocery budget, so when I discovered a fallen mulberry tree near our house recently, it was the greatest treat. Two pounds went into a buttery, gluten-filled mulberry pie, adapted from a blueberry pie recipe in Ashley English’s A Year of Pies. I froze another gallon and will be using them to flavor kombucha (lavender-mulberry and strawberry-mulberry <3) for as long as they last.

So, what’s your take on foraging—exciting or terrifying? what was your ‘gateway food’?

Friday Faves: Old Favorites & New Finds

It’s been a while since I pulled together a Friday Faves post, so I thought I’d share a few things I’m loving now that spring is (mostly) in full swing here in Illinois. A few of these are old favorites that I’ve recently rediscovered, while others are gifts that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise tried—thankfully my loved ones know I’m too practical and buy me the nice things I won’t buy for myself!

Spring Faves 15

  1. Natural Calm – Mostly because I kept forgetting to order more, I fell off the magnesium wagon for a couple of months, and I really started to notice a decline in my sleep quality, along with an uptick in feelings of anxiety. Since adding this back into my nightly routine, however, I’ve been feeling so much better. I’ve had excellent results with both the Natural Calm pictured above, as well as the Vitacost brand Natural Tranquility, which is slightly less expensive. (Heads up: You can save $10 on your first Vitacost order when you order through my Vitacost Referral link.)
  2. Coconut Oil – I’ve shared my coconut oil deodorant recipe, but coconut oil can really be used in so many wonderful beauty applications. Two that I rediscovered this week are in oil pulling and as an all-over moisturizer.
  3. PACT Wrap Dress – This one is a new find, and I can’t really take credit for it. Ben recently bought me this wrap dress in twilight grey (in person, it’s almost a periwinkle, which is even better), and it’s very breezy and super comfortable without looking too slouchy. Even better, PACT is Fair Trade certified and uses organic, non-GMO cotton. I am still culling my wardrobe and working on a DIY/thrifted/ethically-produced capsule, and I can already tell this dress is going to be a major player.
  4. Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon – Another one I can’t really take credit for. My sister Dawn got me this Burt’s Bees lip crayon in Niagara Overlook for Christmas, and although I’ve been wearing it pretty regularly since then, it feels particularly springy.
  5. Light Mountain Naturals Henna, Red – I used to color my hair with henna every month or so, but it kind of slipped my mind for a while and then I decided to see what my natural hair color was like. (It was fine.) In our recent move, however, I rediscovered two whole boxes of henna, so one afternoon when I had nothing to do I dyed my hair again, this time leaving out the paprika and lemon juice I used to use in hope of achieving a more subtle color. I’m really happy with the results! Subtle enough that most people didn’t notice it, and those who said anything at all commented on how healthy my hair looked. I had forgotten how much softer and more manageable henna makes my hair, and it’s nice to have something just a little brighter for spring! .

What are your current spring beauty favorites?

Garlic Mustard

Two New Friends: Garlic Mustard + Nettle

Apologies for the sporadic nature of my posts lately, but it finally feels like spring, so I’ve been spending as much time as possible exploring our new yard—planting onions, getting our compost pile started, and especially acquainting myself with the wild edibles. I was able to dip my toe into foraging last summer with plantain, serviceberries, mulberries, and elderberries, but because I didn’t move to the area until June, I’m learning that I missed out on some of the best spring foraging: garlic mustard and nettles.

garlic mustard

image via mhiller, flickr

Garlic mustard (alliaria petiolata) is a seriously invasive biennial in the Mustard family, Brassicaceae. Now that I know what I’m looking for, I see garlic mustard everywhere, and we’ve been eating it for weeks in salads, chopped up on pizza, and sautéed and scrambled into eggs. Despite that, I’ve barely made a dent in the garlic mustard patch in my yard, and I noticed it was flowering this week so, in order to prevent my yard from turning into a giant garlic mustard patch, I pulled up as much as I could to cook with this week.

Last week I also went on an edible/medicinal plant identification hike with the local herb guild. While we were mostly identifying, we were able to take stinging nettles (Urtica dioica)—another plant I’ve probably walked past hundreds of times and never noticed.

stinging nettle

This ladybug didn’t seem to mind the sting. Notice the violets, another new favorite wild edible, in the background.

If you’ve ever unwittingly grabbed or even brushed up against one with bare skin, you know why they’re called stinging nettles. Yet the stinging compounds (according to Wikipedia: acetylcholine, histamine, 5-HT [serotonin], moroidin, leukotrienes, and possibly formic acid) are neutralized when nettles are cooked or dried.

I was starving when we got back from our hike, so I immediately cooked some nettles in bacon fat and then scrambled them with some eggs. Maybe it’s because it was after 2 and I hadn’t eaten that day, but they were so, so good.

I then bundled several bouquets and hung them from the kitchen ceiling to dry (the above picture is what was left over), and then stripped most of the remaining leaves from the stems and boiled them in a big pot with water. I used the cooked nettles along with some garlic mustard to make a wonderful pesto that I’ve been eating on pizza and with eggs and chicken all week. I plan on sharing that recipe soon! I also saved the cooking liquid, storing it in a growler in the fridge to heat up for tea (like this wonderful nettle chai) throughout the week.

Have you found anything good while foraging lately? What are your favorite spring finds?

It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: forage respectfully and responsibly, and don’t eat anything you haven’t 100% identified.


Dry Skin Brushing

I love the idea that small changes to your daily routine can have a big impact on general health and happiness, and dry brushing definitely falls in that category. It’s something that doesn’t take much time or require a big monetary investment, yet—at least according to some sources—can go a long way toward promoting overall wellness.

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DeathtoStock_Creative Community7

Disconnected (Why We Chose Not to Have the Internet, For Now)

It’s not that we can’t get internet at our new place, or that it’s too expensive (though I’m not mad about paying one less bill every month). Still, after weighing the pros and cons, we decided to hold off on setting up a home internet connection, at least for now. Despite the inconvenience, after three weeks without internet I am glad to not have it. Here’s why:

Separating “Work” from Not-Work

As someone who “works from home,” this might seem like a deal-breaker. But I’ve found that working from home makes it really easy to develop bad habits—working in bed, working while eating lunch, working while marathoning Gilmore Girls. While a lot of people probably consider these benefits of freelancing, they are really inefficient and make it almost impossible to actually get anything done. When my attention is divided, tasks that should take a few hours can easily expand to fill an entire day, and then it’s time to go to bed. This makes me feel like I am living to work—a feeling I hate, and the reason I do not want a 9-5 job to being with. For my mental wellbeing, I really need a separation between work and not-work, and having to actually leave the house to get work done is an excellent way to facilitate that separation.

Promoting Productivity

Relatedly: when it comes to work I’m kind of a marathoner, and this has always been the case. In graduate school, if at all possible, I would schedule all my tutoring, teaching, coursework, and office hours for two or three days, and then leave the rest of my week open for non-work things. It’s not so much that I love working for eight hour stretches—what I do love is having entire days to do whatever the hell I want, whether it’s tool around in the garden, meet someone for coffee, read a book, work on my own writing, make kombucha or sauerkraut, etc.

more conscious consumption of television

Cable was free in our last apartment, but aside from that it’s been years since I subscribed to cable television, mostly because I’m really cheap but also because it’s too easy to  binge-watch hours of HGTV and because, more often than not, there’s really nothing on worth watching. Still, Netflix makes it way too easy to lose a few hours that would be better spent doing something else (thanks, autoplay). So, now we are renting movies and series from the library, which is free and also just inconvenient enough to curb binge-watching.

I’m sure I’ll think of more benefits as I continue to adjust, but for now I am happy enough with these. Now please excuse me while I  walk to the library to do my taxes. I plan to sit in the back corner so no one can see me weeping.

On a totally unrelated note

As I was turning this post over in my head while walking to the library today, it occurred to me that I could “clickbait-ify” the title into something like “5 Reasons I Said Goodbye to Home Internet” or “You Won’t Believe What When This Couple Said Goodbye to Home Internet!” And then I threw up in my mouth a little bit. Is anyone else really, really sick of clickbait titles?