If you answered “lose a little weight” then you are making a smart choice for the new year. More than 60 percent of adult Americans are considered overweight, so it is not surprising to find that weight loss is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions.
Though moderate and responsible alcohol consumption has some health benefits, such as anti-oxidents and benefits to heart health among those 40 and older, the truth is there is much to consider when choosing to “drink to your health”.
That’s partly because alcoholic drinks can be a sneaky source of empty calories. So if you are trying to lose a little weight and don’t want to give up on cocktails altogether, I’ve decided to offer a few guidelines towards healthier options from Kelly Fitzpatrick and the Great-ist website.
- Use only fresh-squeezed or 100 percent fruit juice to reduce added sugars. Fruit juice can still be a dangerfood, though, so sometimes it’s best to dilute it with water or ice to cut back on calories.
- Choose seltzer water over other carbonated waters to eliminate added sodium and other additives. For recipes that call for soda, skimp on portions, or opt for diet or natural (read: less added sugar) versions — though those can have their pitfalls, too.
- Make simple syrup with honey which, though sugary, has some added benefits, like a healthy dose of antioxidants. It also gives you better control of the sugar content. Any recipe that calls for simple syrup will use the following recipe: ½ tablespoon honey mixed with ¾ tablespoon warm water.
- Use whole fruit instead of sugar or flavored syrups. The fruit itself adds fiber, natural sugars, and vitamins.
- Choose light alcohol over dark alcohol. The dark stuff contains more compounds known as congeners, which can worsen hangovers.
- Limit yourself to one shot per drink. Multi-alcohol cocktails can pack in serious calories, so we kept ours to one shot (or 1 ½ ounces) each.
- Size matters — especially when it comes to consuming liquid calories. Keep all your drinks right around the 8-ounce mark.
- Choose nutritious ingredients. Ginger, coffee, and lemon are good flavorings. They’ve each got their own proven health benefits, even though they may not totally counteract the negative affects of alcohol. (Note: Too much alcohol and caffeine can both dehydrate — making hangovers even worse — so try to keep it at no more than one cup of Joe for the night.)
These are good tips. So I have taken them into consideration and have reworked three classic cocktails into healthier versions of themselves.
You can slash 100 calories off a Cosmopolitan just by making it a bit lighter. Typically a Cosmo will have 2 shots of vodka. But if you trade one of those shots for seltzer water, you’ll barely notice the difference.
Add 1 shot citrus-flavored vodka, 1 shot seltzer water, 1 splash cranberry juice, and the juice of 1 lime wedge to a cocktail shaker half filled with ice cubes. Cover and shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Mojito I know you love this Cuban cocktail, but hate the calories. Some mojitos pack up to 250 empty calories that come from processed white sugar. Cut the sugar out and make it barely sweet with just a touch of honey.
Fill a cocktail shaker with 1 cup ice. Add 6 lime wedges, 1 1/2 tbsp lime juice, and 2 tbsp torn fresh mint leaves. Muddle lime and mint with a pestle or a long spoon until well-bruised and fragrant. Add 1/2 tsp warmed honey, 2 ounces rum, and 4 ounces seltzer water; stir until mixture is well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice; garnish with mint and lime, if desired.
Tom Collins is the ultimate in sour cocktails. But somewhere along the line the sour got replaced with a calorie-laden commercial sweet-and-sour mix. It’s filled with all sorts of unpronounceable ingredients. So dump the mix and use fresh lemon juice for plenty of pucker without the worry.
In a shaker with ice, combine 1 shot of gin and the juice of 1 small lemon. Strain into an 8-ounce glass and top with seltzer water (about ¾ cup).
As a bonus here’s an original recipe from me. I followed several of Kelly’s guidelines and added some healthy veggies to boot. Happy New Year. GREG