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Celebrate a Healthy Cinco de Mayo This Year!

The origins of Cinco de Mayo remain a mystery to many. While some believe it marks the day of Mexico’s independence much like July 4th, it actually commemorates Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. In Mexico, the celebrations are a much quieter affair, but in the U.S., May 5th has evolved into a huge party honoring Mexican-American culture with parades, Mexican folk dancing, and mariachi music. Cities like Los Angeles, Austin, San Antonio, Chicago and Washington, D.C. hold some of the biggest celebrations in the country.

It’s also a celebration filled with traditional Mexican dishes like mole, tacos, enchiladas and burritos, not to mention beer, margaritas and more. In fact, more Americans drink beer on Cinco de Mayo than Super Bowl Sunday or St. Patrick's Day! However, all this indulgence comes at a price. Many cocktails are loaded with sugar, which can add up quickly and cause health concerns. Not to mention that heavy alcohol consumption can also become a health risk.

If you’re looking to indulge in all the food and drink on Cinco de Mayo, there’s a way you can do so with a healthier mindset. One such healthy option is guacamole, which is laden with nutrient-rich avocados. Avocados, largely grown in Mexico, are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and free of sodium, sugar and cholesterol. They are also considered a “nutrient booster” by helping increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, K and E.

In addition to loading your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables, don’t forget the spice. Mexican cooking doesn’t shy away from chili, which actually has many health benefits. Jalapeno, habanero, cayenne and other chili peppers are high in capsaicin, which can help you lose weight, lower cholesterol, and help you lead a longer life. Not a fan of spicy foods? Other spices and herbs like oregano, mint, garlic and cilantro offer equally wonderful benefits, not to mention tastier food without all the fat and calories.

Perhaps the most powerful spice in your cabinet is turmeric, commonly used in Indian curries. Turmeric, which has an earthy, peppery taste, and has high levels of curcumin - a compound giving the spice its signature golden yellow hue. Curcumin offers powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and has been linked to improved heart and brain health, digestion, immunity, better skin and stronger bones. Some call curcumin the best natural supplement out there!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, try this recipe combining ginger and turmeric for a refreshing and antioxidant-rich take on a traditional margarita. Don’t forget to enjoy in moderation. Cheers!

Turmeric and ginger margarita

Servings: 1 cocktail

2 ounces Tonic water
1-ounce ginger-turmeric simple syrup*
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3-4 fresh mint leaves

*For the ginger-turmeric syrup:

Combine 1 cup of water, ¾ cup sugar and 4 inches of peeled and sliced fresh ginger root in a small saucepan.

Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook until sugar dissolves. Let steep for at least 10 minutes.

Add 1 teaspoon turmeric powder and stir until incorporated. Strain syrup through a coffee filter and store for later use.

For assembly: 

Prepare the rimmed glass by combining 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric and 2 teaspoon salt on a small plate.

Wet the top of a rocks glass with a wedge of orange and dip it into the spice mix.

Add several mint leaves to a cocktail shaker and add the tonic water, lime juice and ginger-turmeric syrup.

Add ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds, then strain over ice in the rimmed rocks glass.

Garnish with an orange wedge and optional mint sprig.

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