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Reimagining Drinks to Celebrate a Happy New Year

Karen Alexander, Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

December 22, 2020

Several studies indicate that alcohol is a cancer-causing chemical that increases one’s risk of at least six types of cancers. 1 Therefore, this holiday season, we would like to invite you to create a new tradition and encourage you to try new flavors while skipping or reducing your alcohol intake.

Spices and fresh herbs add exciting flavors to the culinary world, and they can bring a special touch to our holiday beverages while simultaneously benefitting our health. Several natural compounds in spices can protect our health by counteracting genes linked to chronic inflammation and cancer development.2

Spices have several mechanisms to prevent and fight against cancer. These mechanisms can regulate inflammation, regulate immune response, induce the destruction of cancerous cells, inhibit the activation of cancer-causing chemicals, reduce the formation of free radicals, inhibit proliferation, migration, and invasion of tumors, and sensitize tumors to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, among other benefits. 3,4, 5

Spices with cancer-fighting properties include turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger, cumin, saffron, coriander, dill, basil, caraway, basil, rosemary, fenugreek, anise, coriander, and vanilla, among others. You can find a detailed description of the mechanisms of action of each herb and spice in this review.

Create your own Mocktail combinations:

  • Choose a liquid: sparkling water, tonic water, seltzer water, ginger ale (example: Zevia), etc.
  • Add flavors: 100% juice (cranberry or orange or pomegranate), cold unsweetened tea, coconut water, citrus peels, slices of citrus, chopped fruit, etc.
  • Add spices: turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, coriander seed, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, anise, vanilla, etc.
  • Add fresh herbs: mint, peppermint, basil, rosemary, thyme
  • Add sweetener if desire: maple syrup, agave syrup, honey, stevia, etc.

The recipes of the week come from and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Nutrition properties of these recipes include:

Ginger: Has a blood-thinning effect, can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol6, joint swelling, and cartilage damage, and can accelerate recovery of muscle strength after intense exercise. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and has antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Ginger has anti-nausea effects as well.5

Turmeric: Has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. Turmeric can also improve cholesterol .5,7

Citrus: Flavonoids from a citrus peel are a great source of antioxidants, can improve cholesterol levels, and have anti-cancer properties.8,9

Black pepper: Has the ability to downregulate inflammation. 5

Cinnamon: Has antioxidants, may help to reduce cholesterol and blood glucose levels, and it may improve insulin action. 5, 10

Anise: Antioxidant effects.5

Mocktail 1: Zingy Turmeric Ginger Lemonade with Mint


  • 4–5 cups spring water
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ginger or 1 tbsp fresh ginger root
  • About 1/4 cup of lemon juice or juice 1 lemon
  • Lemon Slices
  • 2 –4 tablespoons maple syrup or raw honey (adjust to desired sweetness)
  • Optional: 1 tsp Lemon extract or lemon powder (such as true lemon)
  • Optional: Stevia to sweeten more if desired
  • Optional: pinch of black pepper to activate curcumin in turmeric
  • Fresh Mint leaves
  • Ice or crushed ice as needed
  • Directions

Bring water to a light boil on the stove.  Add in your spices and let it boil again for a minute, then reduce and simmer turmeric for 10 minutes. Remove from the stove and let it cool a bit. Next, strain the liquid to get rid of excess ginger root or spice powder. Strain with a mesh strainer or cloth. Pour the rest of the liquid into a pitcher along with your lemon juice, extracts, and sweetener of choice. Mix again so that the maple syrup and lemon juice are combined with the turmeric ginger brew.

Garnish with extra lemon slices, fresh mint, and store in fridge. Add ice if desired but be sure to note that it will dilute the flavor.

**Notes*- Simmering will extract the beneficial compounds from the turmeric and ginger

Mocktail 2: Ginger anise Mocktail


  • 1/3 cup (3 oz.) thinly sliced, fresh ginger
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 3 in. piece of stick cinnamon
  • 1½ cups cold water
  • Agave, maple syrup, honey or sugar*
  • 1 lemon, cut lengthwise into 4 wedges
  • To serve hot: 3 cups hot water
  • To serve cold: 3 cups cold seltzer or club soda


Place ginger, star anise, cinnamon and water in a small saucepan. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Cover and set aside to steep for 30 minutes. Strain hot ginger concentrate into a heatproof measuring cup.

To serve hot, divide hot concentrate among 4 mugs. Add 3/4 cup hot water to each, and sweeten to taste. Add lemon wedge to squeeze into hot gingerade.

To serve cold, cool ginger concentrate to room temperature. Divide among 4 tall glasses. Add 6 ice cubes to each glass, then pour in 3/4 cup club soda. Sweeten cold gingerade to taste, add lemon wedge to each glass, and serve.

Unused concentrate will keep, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for 3 days.

*If using sugar, combine 3/4 cup of sugar with 3/4 cup cold water in a small saucepan. Set the pot over medium-high heat and cook for about 3-4 minutes until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature, then use the syrup or refrigerate it, tightly covered. This simple syrup keeps indefinitely.

Makes 4 servings.

For Mocktail ideas visit:


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