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Can you believe we are days away from officially calling it summer 2018?

I am very excited, because where I live spring has felt, for most part, like the tail end of winter. Rainy, cold, a bit dreary. I am ready to set my sights on warm weather, the beach and outdoor eating.But what about the drinks?

Habits can be hard to break, and for many of us, summer equals cocktails on the beach and too many holiday excuses to count.Changing our eating habits can be one of the most significant ways to get healthier and lose weight but we also have to consider what we are drinking. It’s no secret, as women get older, alcohol becomes more and more difficult to metabolize and can lead to a whole host of health issues – heart disease, an increase in menopause symptoms, not to mention the extra calories.I have a great alternative to traditional cocktails. You could add a touch of vodka to this drink but seriously, no need to. This drink is delicious on its own, making it the ultimate “mocktail”

What Exactly Is A Shrub?

Shrubs have actually been around for ages and are so simple to make. They orginally began as a way to use up older fruit – the vinegar is a natural preservative. Although you can experiment with different vinegars, I like apple cider vinegar because it is fairly mild and also beneficial to your health.

At its most basic all a shrub takes is fruit, vinegar and sugar. The vinegar and sugar give the fruit a sweet yet tart taste. After you make your first shrub, you can play around with different fruits, herbs, and even add spices if you like. It can be a fun way to experiment with different summer drink options.Yes, shrubs are made with sugar. I know, we absolutely want to limit our sugar. But when you make the shrub, strain it and then add a touch of it to club soda, you are really not adding too much sugar into your drink. And besides, if you keep this drink alcohol free, you are winning half the battle.I am excited to experiment more with shrubs this summer and I will share more fantastic combinations as the season goes on. In the meantime, try my Strawberry Basil Shrub recipe and join me for my Healthy Summer Entertaining Cooking Class this June. We will explore interesting appetizers, side dishes and healthy libations.

Strawberry Basil Shrub Mocktail

Makes 12 servings

1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 large bunch basil, chopped coarse
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup organic apple cider vinegar
club soda
ice cubes
garnishes: sliced strawberries, basil, mint

Directions

1. Make the syrup: in a mixing bowl place the strawberries, basil and sugar. Mash down and combine well. Let the strawberry mixture sit for about 15 minutes.

2. Place the strawberry mixture into a glass jar and add the vinegar. Combine well, cover and refrigerate for about 3 to 5 days**.

3. Strain the strawberry mixture and transfer the a clean jar. Add 1 ounce of the syrup to about 3/4 cup of club soda and ice. Feel free to garnish with strawberries, a sprig of basil and mint.

**The syrup will keep up to one month in the refrigerator

** The longer you let the shrub sit the more intense the flavors become