Shaking up old habits

Evening relaxation ... The five o’clock wine has gone online during lockdown, but that’s not...
Evening relaxation ... The five o’clock wine has gone online during lockdown, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers but this is usually when alcohol is consumed for celebrations and in the company of others.

People drink for different reasons — some as a ritual when they arrive home from work each night to help wind down, some due to loneliness and others to celebrate.

Sadly, the link between consistent over-consumption of alcohol and breast cancer is undeniable. The World Cancer Research Fund recommends that women consume no more than 1 standard drink per day, and have at least 2 alcohol free days per week. A standard drink is 10g of alcohol in whatever form that it comes. In New Zealand, 10g of alcohol is a 330ml bottle of 4% beer, a 30ml nip of spirits, 170ml Champagne and 100ml wine (less than half a cup not the fish-bowl sized glass we have become accustomed to!).

The research that studies the populations of people that live the longest (‘‘Blue Zones’’) have found that one of the factors these groups have in common is that they tend to have an alcoholic drink around 5pm each night, with family and friends. This tends to be wine, which often they have helped to make and it does not include preservatives. They do not get drunk and they are engaging in conversations with people who matter to them. This is a special part of their day.

Some alcohol is more reactive in the body than others and as such can cause headaches, redness in the skin or congested sinuses. The most reactive are beer, Champagne, cider, spirits (excluding gin and vodka) and liqueurs. The next most reactive are flavoured gins and vodkas and whiskeys, and plain-distilled gin and vodka, mixed with water or soda water are the most preferable.

As we come out of Level 4, it could be a good chance to try to break some old habits and see how you feel over the following days. You could go for a 5pm walk before dinner each night to wind down or try having sparkling water with fresh lime juice and ice in a wine glass while catching up with a friend via FaceTime or the phone. Virtual catch-ups are fulfilling and are a great way to stay in touch with people near and far.

On a different topic, I have noticed people seem to be heading back to the kitchen and making old favourites. Here is a healthier version of the chocolate crackles I remember making in the 1980s.

Chocolate crackles

2 cups rice bubbles/puffed rice

¼ cup maple syrup

½ cup shredded coconut

¼ cup cacao/cocoa

¾ cup melted coconut oil


Combine puffed rice, maple syrup, coconut and cacao powder in a bowl. Add coconut oil and mix until combined. Spoon into silicon muffin mould or paper cases and allow to set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. These delicious treats will store in the fridge for up to 3 days, provided they last that long.

Note: Puffed rice can be found in the health aisles and is gluten free. Rice malt syrup could be another sweetener alternative to maple syrup.

- Deanna Copland

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