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Making Changes and Mixing Mocktails

A recipe for success: Mixing mocktails helped this health-conscious yogi revitalize her energy while making a major life change

by Reyna Gonzalez

As a child, I loved watching old black-and-white movies, and one of my favorite stars was Shirley Temple. Like many others, I was drawn to her charismatic presence onscreen and wowed by her tap dancing. I loved all things Shirley Temple, so when I discovered in my teens that there was a cocktail named after her, I was determined to have one. Back then, I felt that ginger ale itself was a special-occasion drink, but the Shirley Temple—with the added grenadine syrup and the maraschino cherry garnish—now that was pure sophistication! The Shirley Temple was the perfect summer drink for me when I was a youngster, but as an adult, I felt that the drink credited as the “original mocktail”–a cocktail without alcohol—could use a splash or two of vodka. Hence the Moscow Mule, with ginger beer and vodka, became my favorite grown-up summer cocktail.

It’s still summer time, with the Labor Day holiday on the way, and there is nothing quite as refreshing and festive as a cocktail served over ice and garnished with seasonal fruit or the quintessential paper umbrella. Beer and wine are the norm in the cooler months, but cocktails take center stage in summer. The challenge is that they’re so refreshing that you might be tempted to have one too many. Another disadvantage is that cocktails can be high in sugar, from both the simple syrups used to sweeten them and the alcohol itself. For those who do not drink alcohol, a mocktail is a delicious and equally festive alternative.

Getting Into the Mocktail Mix

I began mixing mocktails in early 2018 when I decided to go alcohol-free. It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution; I was not “sober curious”; nor was I joining the growing Dry January movement that had started in 2014 in the UK.  That January, I had decided it was time to make changes and move on to the next phase in my life. Selling my home of 23 years was part of the plan.

If you have ever sold your home, you know that the physical and emotional work is stressful.  As a procrastinator, I knew I had my work cut out for me, and I was concerned that this endeavor was going to drive me to drink, literally. In turn, that would only slow the process down: I had learned that drinking alcohol slowed my mind as well as my movements, which I could not afford at this demanding time. If I was going to have any chance at success, I would have to go cold turkey. 

The seed of inspiration for going alcohol-free had been planted several months earlier, when a colleague of mine, Jennifer Rajala, took on an “Alcohol-Free Summer Challenge” on Facebook. I honestly thought that she was setting herself up for a summer filled with deprivation and no fun. She documented her journey on Facebook, sharing videos of herself mixing mocktails. I was delighted to see that she was clearly having lots of fun, not to mention that her skin was glowing.

Truthfully, I was curious. I had done an elimination diet in the past. It required avoiding several foods as well as alcohol, but that was only for 30 days at a time to reboot metabolism. The result was better sleep, more energy, and some weight loss. Still, a whole summer without my favorite cocktail, the Moscow Mule, didn’t hold any appeal.

I needed a bigger incentive to inspire me to take on such a challenge, which came when I met with the realtors that January. They walked through my house, with piles of memories of the last 23 years tucked away in every corner. The realtors said that it would take at least a year to declutter the house to prepare it for market. I was adamant that the house would be ready sooner, and with my desire to move quickly, I needed a clear head and laser focus. I now had incentive to go alcohol-free, at least for the time it would take to prepare my house for market.

For those who do not drink alcohol, a mocktail is a delicious and equally festive alternative.

I made my decision based on knowing that, with age, my body had become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. A couple of glasses of pinot noir with dinner would result in a restless night’s sleep and foggy thinking the next day. I was also aware that steady alcohol consumption could lead to weight gain. In contrast, not drinking alcohol would likely result in a variety of benefits, including improved sleep and concentration. But would this task be doable?

In January, avoiding my favorite cocktails was easy, as it was wintertime. But I had grown accustomed to having a glass or two of pinot noir with dinner. Giving that up would be challenging, because I found the process of decluttering very stressful, and the glass of wine at the end of the day was something I had looked forward to. 

Fun With Fizzies

I was determined to stay focused. As an Arbonne consultant since 2013, I had access to a variety of vegan supplements that provided me with nutrients and antioxidants. One supplement in particular helped keep me on task: the Energy Fizz Stick. Better known as a “Fizzy,” this powdered drink is formulated with Vitamins B6 and 12, chromium, coenzyme Q10 and green coffee bean extract. When mixed with water, this powder fizzes—hence the name—and becomes a refreshing and energizing drink. So Fizzies (or just a glass of plain water) replaced pinot noir at dinnertime.

By the time spring rolled around, the house was decluttered and we were down to painting and making minor repairs. But as warm weather approached, I yearned for my beloved Moscow Mule. The cool, spicy, sparkling drink with a hint of lime screamed summer to me, but I had come too far to be sidetracked and stuck to my Fizzies. Still, I craved more variety (at the time, Fizzies came in only two flavors) and fun.

Then I remembered my friend’s mocktail videos. Inspired by her creativity, I concocted some of my own. In my early days of mixing mocktails, the Fizzies provided the sweet and carbonated base, a key element in mocktails. The fun part was experimenting with different fruits and herbs to enhance the fizz drink. These refreshing drinks kept me energized and focused, and the house was ready for market at the end of May of that same year. What’s more, it sold in ten days!

To Drink or Not to Drink?

I felt a great sense of accomplishment, not only for being able to abstain from alcohol for several months, but also for being able to tackle the monumental task of decluttering a house in a fraction of the time that the professionals had estimated. I felt so good that I wanted to remain alcohol-free. What this would mean socially? I wondered.

Drinking alcohol is a social norm. Or so I thought until I read an article online entitled “Inside the Growing Trend of Low- and No-Alcohol Beverages” by Taylor Dunn for ABC News. In her 2019 article, Dunn reported that the non-alcoholic beverage market was expected to reach over $1.6 billion in sales by 2024. Furthermore, Dunn noted that conversations regarding low- and no-alcohol consumption on social media were on the rise, while conversations regarding casual and heavy alcohol drinking had significantly declined. Author Dunn quoted Devon Bergman, CEO of Social Standards, a consumer analytics company, who credited this shift to consumer focus on health and wellness. 

My friends supported my decision. Many of them embrace healthy lifestyle choices, and I peaked their interest in mocktails when I started to post pictures of them on my social media. I haven’t convinced anyone to go alcohol-free (yet!), but you might consider having a mocktail with dinner, instead of a glass of wine, from time to time.  It would be a great alternative that is fun, delicious, and beneficial.

. . . . you might consider having a mocktail with dinner, instead of a glass of wine, from time to time.

Whether you are choosing to go alcohol-free or looking for a new tasty and  festive drink to enjoy, there are a few key elements that go into mixing mocktails. The ingredients must be fresh, bold tasting, and varied to add complexity to the drink. Herbs, spices, freshly squeezed fruit juices, acidic juices, and sparkling water all add layers of flavor. When these are poured into a cocktail glass over ice and garnished, they will compete with the taste and presentation of any alcoholic cocktail.

While the taste of ginger ale in the Moscow Mule is still my go-to summer flavor, I also crave the taste of summer fruits like watermelon and pineapple in my mocktails.  Below I share three of my mocktail recipes using these summer favorites. Two recipes call for Arbonne products; however, I have included substitutes for these items. Perhaps these recipes will inspire you to try mixing mocktails on your own. Enjoy!

Reyna’s Mocktail Recipes

Watermelon Daiquiri Mocktail (serves 2)


1 cup watermelon, chopped into chunks

1 lime: juice one half and cut two round slices from the other half for garnish

4-6 ice cubes

6 oz water

1 packet Arbonne Energy Fizz Sticks, pomegranate-flavored *

2 oz sparkling water 

2 paper umbrellas (optional, but highly recommended!)


Blend the first 4 ingredients to a slushy consistency. Pour the Fizz Stick into the blender and pulse to blend into the slush. Pour into two wine or cocktail glasses and add 1 oz of sparkling water to each glass. Garnish with the lime rounds and paper umbrellas.

*If you don’t have the Energy Fizz Sticks, substitute with 1 oz pomegranate juice, up to 1 tbsp of simple syrup, and extra sparkling water.

Piña Colada Mocktail (serves 2)


1 cup frozen pineapple chunks

6 oz pineapple juice (use water instead to reduce the amount of sugar)

4 tbsp coconut cream

¼ tsp vanilla extract

dash of cinnamon

2 cherries (for garnish)


Blend all ingredients. Pour into two cocktail glasses. Garnish with cherries.

Herbs, spices, freshly squeezed fruit juices, acidic juices, and sparkling water all add layers of flavor.

Moscow Mocktail Mule a la Reyna (serves 2)


8 oz iced herbal tea (Arbonne’s Herbal Detox Tea is perfect)

2 tsp freshly grated ginger (or more if you want that mule to kick!)

1 lime: juice one half and cut two round slices from the other half for garnish

6 mint leaves: 3 finally chopped and the other 3 for garnish

1 packet Arbonne Energy Fizz Sticks, citrus-flavored **

2 oz sparkling water

**If you don’t have the Energy Fizz Sticks, substitute with the freshly squeezed juice of half an orange and up to 1 tbsp of simple syrup.


Combine the first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker (a large shaker cup can be used instead) and shake up carefully (the Fizz Stick is carbonated). Strain the liquid into two cocktail glasses filled with ice cubes. Add 1 oz sparkling water to each glass. Garnish with the remaining mint leaves and lime rounds.

A certified yoga teacher, Reiki Master, and an Independent Consultant with Arbonne International, Reyna Gonzalez enjoys sharing her love for healthy living. Reyna feels that while quarantine restricted her from her favorite activities, it did offer her a special time of reconnecting with her two sons and partner David. When restrictions are lifted, Reyna is looking forward to going back to playing tennis and dancing tango. You can contact Reyna through her website,

Photo credits: Summer Cocktails: ID 68575061 © Aas2009 |; Moscow Mule Cocktail:  ID 101989267 © Petr Goskov |; Lemonade With Fruit: ID 19725660  © Zybr78 |; Asian cocktail umbrellas: ID 534898 ©

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

On Stomach Bugs and the Joys of Turkey Pot Pie

Butter up your sour innards with this golden, feel-good dish

If I ever tell you that I just recovered from a bad stomach virus but that on the bright side I’d lost a few pounds, please throw me a dirty look. And if you ever tell me that you suffered with a bug and I say something cheerily like, “well, at least it’s a great way to lose weight!” feel free to kick me in the shins.

Happily, my shins are safe, because I promise not to say anything like that. There are few illness side effects more miserable, I think, than being unable to eat. Throwing up is painful, but not being able to appreciate the taste and texture of food is equally unhealthy. If you need to shed pounds for health reasons, I appreciate your plight; I need to lose weight, too. But let’s agree not to make it a big deal, nor punish ourselves for our enjoyment of food.

A few days after my recent illness, I celebrated my re-emerging desire for food with a rare turkey pot pie feast. The timing was ideal. I’d been yearning for a Sunday afternoon with little or no commitments (besides my late-morning Restorative yoga class), and as I was still tired and wobbly, I had no plans that weekend. My husband had done the grocery shopping the day before, and, hoping that I’d be up to pot pie come Sunday, I’d added the ingredients to our shopping list.

A downside to this dish is the time it requires to prepare. Nor is it politically nor calorically correct. It includes meat, dairy, butter (gobs of it), and if cooked as directed in the original recipe, will yield 850 calories per serving (not bad, actually; a store-bought cupcake can have 600 calories) with generous amounts of sodium, fat, and cholesterol (just to give you full disclosure) to boot. 

I think the plusses (veggies, protein, fiber, for starters) outweigh the drawbacks, especially if you only make this recipe occasionally. You can easily reduce the salt and substitute for the butter. And while the steps are numerous, they are basic, requiring no culinary talent nor the use of complicated things like food processors. You can break up the recipe, too: cook the turkey breast one day, make the dish the next. 

As you cook, the rewards will reach your nostrils well before the dish is done. Your kitchen (perhaps your whole house or apartment) will smell warm and wonderful. Your cats will be ever by your side in the kitchen as you work, for no other reason than to offer their unconditional love. The finished pot pie will last for many meals, and you’ll have bonus goodies if you use leftover broth, meat, and veggies for soup (I also freeze the broth to use as stock) and/or turkey salad. (The recipe calls for a 4 lb turkey breast, and since I can only seem to find smaller or much larger ones, I opt for the latter to get the extras.)

The post stomach bug pot pie feast felt so soothing that I vowed to make the dish again soon, and did so on New Year’s Eve. Calories be damned–I can’t think of a better dish to greet the new year with thoughts of healing and goodness.

Note: I clipped the recipe from First magazine years ago. My changes are noted for your consideration. If you don’t eat dairy or meat and substitute for these or any other preferences and needs, please let me know your ideas so I can share them here with other readers.

Turkey Pot Pie With Corn Bread Crust

1 carrot (or more, see below)

2 onions

1 turkey breast, 4 lbs

4 sprigs parsley

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper (I skip these and use Adobo instead)

2 lbs yams or sweet potatoes (I use 1 large potato and 1 large yam, and sometimes add 1-2 carrots for more vitamins and pretty colors) 

1 lb greens (ie, collards, kale, or spinach)

14 tbs butter (shhh, don’t tell the butter police!)

2 1/2 cups flour

3 cups milk 

3/4 tsp dried rosemary

1 cup cornmeal

3 tbs flaxseed meal (optional, but adds an extra bit of crunch and fiber to the topping)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tbs sugar (I never use it; the crust tastes delicious without)

1 egg

Peel carrot and cut into chunks. Quarter 1 onion and put in soup pot with turkey breast, carrot, parsley, bay leaf, 1 tsp salt (if using), 1/4 tsp pepper, and water to cover. Bring to boil. Simmer until turkey is tender, about 2 hrs. Remove turkey. Strain broth and return to pot.

When turkey is cool, discard skin, pull meat from bones, and cut into bite-size pieces. Peel yams/potatoes and cut into cubes. Add to broth and boil until tender, about 15 min. Remove yams; save broth. Trim greens and cut into shreds. Chop remaining onion.

Melt 8 tbs butter in a saucepan over medium heat. (Note: I use the soup pot.) Add onion and cook until soft, about 2 min. Add 1/2 cup flour and stir until bubbly. Gradually add 2 cups milk, 2 cups broth, rosemary, and seasoning to taste. Bring to boil, stirring; cook for 1 min.

Stir in greens and cook until wilted. Add turkey and yams (and/or other veggies of your choice) and pour into 3-quart baking dish. Heat oven to 400 degrees. 

Melt remaining 6 tbs butter. Combine 2 cups flour, cornmeal, flaxseed meal, and baking powder, as well as sugar and salt if using. Beat egg with 1 cup milk and pour into flour mixture with the butter. (I usually add some broth as well, adding more flavor and reducing the milk a bit.) Stir until well moistened. Spread batter over turkey mixture and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. 


Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Love, Oatfully

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “comfort food”? For me, it’s something warm and soothing–a bowl of homemade soup, perhaps. I also find nutty and grainy foods comforting: chunky peanut butter on a slice of whole-grain bread can cheer me up big time. This is the season for comfort food: tender turkey teamed with gravy, crispy stuffing infused with chestnuts and mushrooms, smooth pies and puddings. Ding! The Yum Meter just shot up to 11!

I sometimes use the image of “comfort food” to describe yoga, particularly the restorative practice I offer privately and on Sunday mornings (and some Wednesday evenings) at Yoga Haven in Tuckahoe.  Restorative yoga is reward without effort: with the help of sturdy bolsters and rolled-up blankets, we place ourselves in nurturing asana, then receive the benefits of the poses without expending muscular effort. Definitely high on the Yum Meter, and calorie-free to boot!

Some effort is required, however, to get a home-cooked, healing meal. I’ve never made a turkey, but I can share an easy recipe for a delicious and nutritious breakfast dish that will warm your tummy on a chilly morning.

I adapted the following recipe for oatmeal pancakes from one clipped from a book about 20 years ago. Soluble fiber, which is found in oat bran, oatmeal, and oat flour (oat bran has the highest soluble fiber content of the three), is a cholesterol-lowering champ, and these petite pancakes, with their tasty and textured oatmeal filling, pack a fiber punch.

A sprinkling of flaxseed adds an extra fiber boost. While I’ve only made the pancakes with whole seeds (I like the crunch) grinding the seeds first may be a better choice: several articles I’ve read note that whole flaxseed can pass through our system undigested, taking their benefits with them. Another option: substitute flax meal for the seeds.

Although my son grumbles when he’s served oatmeal cereal, he downs these pancakes with gusto. I love watching him enjoy a healthy meal, especially one that offers, to put it delicately, elimination-enhancing properties. So the next time you’re in the mood for comfort food, vote for oats–your body will thank you!

Oatmeal Fiber Pancakes

  • 3/4 cup cooked Old Fashioned oats (not the cooks-in-minute processed kind)
  • 3/4 cup oat flour (spelt flour also works really well)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed (see above note re: flax meal)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp pressed oil

Cook oatmeal and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix eggs and oil.

Add dry ingredients, one at a time; mix well.

Add water to moisten ingredients, but don’t let batter get runny.

Add oatmeal and mix well; add more water if needed.

Spoon small amounts of batter into greased frying pan (or use griddle)

Cook until golden and firm.

Makes about 20 small-size pancakes.

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Chocolate Kisses and Wishes

A yogini discovers, in an unexpected place, a guilt-free way to enjoy her favorite food

Hershey bar on plate

Can a passion for yoga and an obsession for chocolate coexist peacefully? Or will an essential thread of a yogini’s self-worth begin to unravel if she indulges in chocolate treats?

As a yoga practitioner and instructor, I often question how I live my yoga. The most recognizable component of yoga–the physical practice, or poses (“asana,” in Sanskrit)–is just the visible tip of a massive yogic iceberg comprised of tantalizing philosophical crystals that date back to ancient times. A key concept for yoga practitioners is non-attachment (in Sanksrit, “Vairagya”), described in The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali (one of the most important yoga texts) as a freeing of the mind “from craving for objects seen or heard about.”

The pioneers of yoga science were more concerned about desires for achievements and wealth than a yen for a Hershey’s kiss, but any desire can distract and trouble the mind, causing unhappiness.

I didn’t always desire chocolate as much I do now, yet it seems I’ve lived my life to its bittersweet tune. As a child, I walked with friends to the corner candy store, jingling the coins in my pocket and thinking about M&M’s.  The older I got, the finer the chocolate treats became. (Chocolate mousse, anyone?) The best dessert I ever had was the freshly made chocolate-chip cake served at a long-defunct restaurant on the Upper East Side back in the 1980s–a memory all the sweeter because I’d meet my best friends there after work for girls’ night out.

More recently, I’ve started pondering chocolate, craving chocolate, and guzzling the stuff. (I’ve tried blaming it on hormones, but that only goes so far.) So when my husband suggested a trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania, I was afraid–very afraid.  “The hotels give you chocolate candy at breakfast!” one of my students told me happily. Could I resist the temptation?

Before we left for Pennsylvania, my 10-year-old son, Harrison, read up on Hershey’s offerings. He was especially psyched about the Chocolate Tasting Adventure at Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction. “Taasting!” he said, savoring the word and its chocolatey implications.

Harrison had the right idea. A sticky-fingered, kid-friendly version of a wine tasting, the “adventure” blended bits of chocolate’s rich history (the Aztecs, we learned, drank a spiced, cocao-based beverage, believing it gave them strength) with tongue-teasing treats. Each participant received a paper bag filled with miniature Hershey’s bars, an illustrated placemat to arrange them on, and bottled water (the palate cleanser). No gobbling allowed! Bar by bar, we explored the chocolate jungle, observing each bar’s color, texture, and aroma. We tasted each bar with one small bite only–no chewing–allowing the chocolate to melt on the tongue. We were given suggested words to describe each bar’s distinctive flavor: Was it bitter or sweet? Smooth or granular? Earthy? Nutty? Buttery?

Mike and Harrison at Hershey

Enablers! My husband, Michael, and son, Harrison, tempt me with a Hagrid-size Hershey bar.

As I slowly ate, savoring flavors, sitting by my son’s side and enjoying his thoughtful expression, I realized that I was fully in the moment: joyful and content; not attached or expectant. Chocolate without worries–what could be better?

Post-Hershey, I’ve continued to make eating chocolate a fully aware, sit-down affair, and not a gobble on the go. If chocolate is your favorite food, consider trying the following routine for your next nibble.

  • Place a small amount of chocolate on a beautiful dish. Stay present. Don’t think about the chocolate you had the day or week before, or your expectations about the piece in front of you.
  • Lift the chocolate to your nose and inhale. How would you describe the scent?
  • If you are eating a solid piece of chocolate, hold it to your ear and break it in half. Notice the sound. The more milky the chocolate, the softer the sound will be. (Dark chocolate, you might notice, breaks with a wonderfully assertive snap!)
  • Resist the desire to devour. Take one bite only, and let the flavor bathe your tongue. How would you describe its taste?
  • Continue to eat, bite by bite, savoring your treat to the last.
  • When you are done, close your eyes and allow yourself to feel gratitude for the sweetness you just enjoyed. If you feel giddy enough to chant, do so: join your palms and sound “Yum,” letting the “mmm,” like the taste on your tongue, linger.

Like yoga, the cocao bean (from which chocolate is made) has been cherished since ancient times. They were born on different continents, so combining them truly yields the best of both worlds. And, like me, you may discover that you can have your calm–and eat your chocolate, too.

Thursday, October 7th, 2010
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