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Often, apéros are synonymous with crisps and peanuts, sodas and commercial fruit juices, beers and cocktails. Couldn't these moments shared with friends or family be an opportunity to set up new, much healthier and tastier apéro habits?
Freshly cold-pressed vegetable juices are ideal for quenching your thirst. They are hydrating and full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and anti-oxidants. These juices can contain small amounts of fruit (no more than 20-30% of the total drink), spices (ginger, turmeric, etc.), greens and aromatic or medicinal herbs.
Flavoured waters are also an excellent way to change and put some pep in your glass. There’s a vast choice of vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits you could be going for. Fruit kefirs or kombuchas are also excellent alternatives, which, in addition to being tasty, contain natural probiotics that are beneficial for the intestinal microbiota. Fans of fermented ginger will appreciate the famous "ginger beer", a fermented ginger drink, and if you like ginger, it is delicious and refreshing. Non-alcoholic beers (if they have no added sugar and are organic whenever possible) can also be part of the offering.
Finally, suppose you want to drink alcohol. In that case you can enjoy a glass or two of a good red wine, which will provide polyphenols that are natural anti-oxidants and cardiovascular protectors (if consumed in moderation). The wine should preferably be organic and free of sulphites. Ensure you avoid pesticides; they are very common in conventionally grown vines and harmful to your health. One or two craft beers can also do the trick, knowing that we are lucky enough to have many regions that are home to high-quality craft breweries. If aperitifs are very regular during the summer, several times a week, you should take care to limit alcohol consumption. Conviviality should not be synonymous with alcohol, but with the pleasure of being together and respect for each person's choice of drinks.
Unfortunately, traditional crisps and other fatty peanuts are far too popular at cocktail parties, whereas it is easy to prepare a healthy and much tastier selection. Most commercial crisps brands use flavour enhancers such as glutamate, which is powerfully addictive: that's why once you open the packet of crisps, it goes down in no time.
You can start by cutting up various vegetable sticks: carrots, cucumbers, radishes, celery, cauliflower florets, etc., and preparing a variety of tasty dips. You can also prepare pizzas with a dough made from vegetables such as grated courgettes or crumbled cauliflower, and top it with vegetables of your choice and some quality cheese. It’s a great way to enjoy a meal without ending up with a bloated belly. Summer rolls, refreshing and perfectly healthy, always look great on the table. Vegetable pickles, a staple on Anglo-Saxon and Indian tables, made in sweet vinegar-based brine, flavoured with spices and aromatics, are a healthy and tasty recipe as old as time. Traditional crisps can be replaced by vegetable crisps from sweet potatoes, beetroot, carrots, and kale, if they are organic and don’t contain harmful flavour enhancers. Serve toast with spreads like hummus, guacamole, tapenade, tzatziki, aubergine and tomato caviar, etc., or cheeses such as goats’ or sheep cheese or halloumi. Make sure you choose quality bread made with wholemeal flours and sourdough. Roasted legumes, such as roasted chickpeas, are also a good option. As for oilseeds, peanuts, almonds, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, etc., it is important to buy them organic, unroasted and unsalted. You will then benefit from all their good fatty acids without the addictive side when they are roasted and salted. Take your guests on a culinary tour and bring the incredible flavours of Mexico to the table with tacos or quesadillas, celebrate Italy with tomato basil bruschettas, or Greece with halloumi toast topped with honey and rosemary or oregano, revisit the Middle East with falafels, Thailand with spring rolls, Morocco with a zaalouk, or Spain with tapas.
It’s best to try to cook as much as possible at home, using unprocessed ingredients. If you don't have the time and prefer to buy, don't go to the first shop you come across, but go to a shop stocking organic food, where you can choose the most natural ingredients possible, and look carefully at the labels (on a label, the fewer ingredients listed, the better, and above all, without flavour enhancers and other binding agents).
Since we eat with our eyes first, we should put great care into the presentation of the dishes! Everything we're sharing with you here is based on the principles of naturopathy and holistic approaches to health and is not exhaustive, of course. So, try to adopt these guidelines to make the most of your apéros this summer while taking care of yourself and your guests, and above all, channel your creativity, invent and play with colours, scents and flavours!