As the holidays approach and winter looms on the horizon, creating a nourishing, cozy environment with seasonal drinks does not mean compromising health by adding more sugary treats to the list. This year, California residents (of legal age) can enhance the calming and medicinal qualities of the following healthy beverages by adding cannabis to the recipes.
Though high CBD is recommended for these warm fall and winter drinks, several strains of cannabis can be added to help address holiday stress, insomnia and the inflammation that may come from overindulging in sugary treats. However, it is important to note that the effects of cannabis can vary greatly when ingested instead of smoked. Cannabis users should understand their body’s tolerance before adding infused oils or tinctures to food or beverages, and should adjust the recipes accordingly.
Sugar-Free Hot Cocoa
A winter favorite is hot chocolate, of course, which can be easily made sugar-free by using cacao instead of chocolate powder. The benefits of cacao are many; the unprocessed version of cocoa that makes common chocolate bars is considered a superfood.
A recent study on the benefits of cacao and dark chocolate conducted by Loma Linda University concluded that “the flavonoids found in cacao are extremely potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, with known mechanisms beneficial for brain and cardiovascular health,” something that chocolate lovers can celebrate this holiday season with this rich creamy recipe. Although cacao does have some caffeine, the high levels of magnesium offer a soothing effect, particularly when high CBD infused oil is blended into the drink.
2 cups: coconut, almond or cashew milk
1 heaping tbs: Powdered cacao
1 tablespoon: *Cannabis-infused coconut oil
Optional: honey or maple syrup or a dash of cinnamon to taste, dollop of coconut milk cream
Directions: Whisk together nut milk and cacao over low heat in a small saucepan until warm (do not boil or scald). Stir in coconut oil until blended. Remove from heat, add optional sweetener and whisk until a layer of froth forms. Add to cocoa mugs and dollop with coconut cream and a dash of cinnamon or sea salt. Serves 2.
Spiced Apple Cider
Infusing herbs and spices into hot apple cider is a great way to support circulation and keep warm on cold winter nights. Fresh ginger also aids digestion and calms inflammation, is affordable, and can be easily found in the produce section at most grocery stores. Some research suggests that cinnamon can also help regulate blood sugar, and the added citrus in this recipe lends to a boost in Vitamin C intake.
8 cups: unsweetened, unfiltered apple juice
1 each: Lemon and Orange (sliced)
4-6 Cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon: Fresh ginger, chopped, grated or sliced
1 tablespoon: Cloves
1 tablespoon: Star Anise
Optional: cardamom pods, peppercorns, allspice
Directions: Combine all ingredients except cannabis tincture in a pot and simmer (do not boil) on low heat for 30 minutes or more. Alternately, add all ingredients except tincture to a crock pot, turn on low heat for several hours (bonus: this will make your house smell wonderful). Strain, add a few drops of tincture per cup, sip, enjoy. Serves 8.
A less traditional but no less popular warm beverage for the holidays is Golden Milk. Known for its healing properties like fighting depression and inflammation, research shows that curcumin, a medicinal compound found in turmeric, is enhanced by adding a pinch of black pepper to this soothing, creamy drink. Curcumin has also been proven to address symptoms of arthritis, which tend to flare up with cold weather and resulting drops in barometric pressure. Golden Milk is a delicious, healthy addition to enhance the coziness of the season.
1 can: coconut milk
1 cup: almond or oat milk
2 tablespoon: powdered turmeric
½ teaspoon: powdered ginger
½ teaspoon: powdered cinnamon
Small Pinch: ground black pepper
1 tablespoon: *Cannabis-infused coconut oil
Optional: dash cardamom powder, honey to taste
Directions: Whisk together milks in a small saucepan over low heat. Slowly add all powdered herbs until blended and stir occasionally for 10 minutes (avoid boiling). Add coconut oil and whisk until oil is melted and the golden milk is frothy. Add honey to taste. Serves 2.
*For recipes calling for cannabis-infused oil, there are many brands available at local dispensaries. Find instructions on making your own cannabis-infused oil here.
Disclaimer: The cannabis plant produces more than 80 different cannabinoids, or cannabis compounds. These compounds can have unexpected effects. Always check the math, measure carefully and be especially sure to not overdo it.