With the passing of Thanksgiving, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve crossed over into “holiday territory” here in the Great White North! From the seemingly overbearing, tacky holiday decorations (which, guilty as charged, I just so happen to LOVE) to the rich, delicious foods, the holiday season is synonymous with indulgence in EVERY sense of the word. Especially when it comes to alcohol can you say “goodbye summer body”?!
But wait before we all collectively dust off our elastic waistband pants from the deep depths of our closets, there are a few tips to keep in mind while still enjoying everything that the holiday season has to offer.
Yes, you read that right keeping your diet on track doesn’t necessarily mean having to give up ALL alcohol in social situations, although of course moderation is still key! If you are going to be enjoying a few, festive drinks over the next few months, here’s the smartest way to let loose while not throwing your diet away!
Soda Pop & Diet Soda Pop
Step AWAY from the pop can. The reasons to avoid pop in any and all forms are positively ENDLESS. High in calories, artificial sugars, phosphoric acid, caffeine, corn syrup need I go on?
Pop essentially has ZERO nutritional value whatsoever, and the combination of caffeine, sugar and sodium can lead to dehydration over extended periods of time. Thinking of opting for the “low calorie” diet pop? Don’t go there either! Aspartame? No thank-you!
Energy drinks and alcohol are NOT a good mix. Not only are energy drinks loaded with caffeine and other unknown stimulants, but the caffeine masks the depressant effects of alcohol causing people to feel as though they can drink (or handle) even more alcohol than they should be able to.
Sugary Fruit Juices Made From Concentrate
Fruit juices are high in sugar. Sugar leads to hangovers and health problems. Fruit juices are therefore also not a great match for alcohol in the mixing department! It’s just that simple. When it comes to sugar content, fruit juices and pop aren’t all that different. Not to mention, these fruit juices are typically so diluted that you’re often not actually consuming any real “fruit” at all.
Naturally Sweetened Soda
Natural soda pops like Zevia or Natural Sparkling Waters offer up a great “go-to” for mixes! Zevia is a zero-calorie, all natural soda that is naturally sweetened with Stevia as opposed to chemical or more toxic sweeteners. Bonus points because Zevia is also Non-GMO, zero calories and clear in color.
The natural sweetener Stevia itself is a plant which naturally contains the zero-calorie sweetener in its leaves. I’m thinking that Zevia’s lemon-lime twist or tonic water varieties would be a great, natural alternative for alcohol mixes!
Muddled Fruits and Lemon or Lime Juice
So simple, yet so good! Muddled fruits or lemon and lime juice is sometimes all you need for the perfect, pop of fresh flavor! By adding fruits and citric juices, you’re also amping up the nutrient value of what would otherwise be an extremely nutrient void concoction.
If you’re going to go for the real fruit route, watermelon slushies are particularly delicious! Simply blend watermelon with ice in a blender and add your alcohol mix! Squeezing lemons and limes with water and an alcohol mix can also create a nice, neat and clean flavor.
I know what you’re thinking… mojito? REALLY?! All that simple syrup & added sugar, how could that possibly be good for you?! Well, I have a “better for you version” that will blow your mind!! Strawberry Jam & Lime Mojito! I’m sharing the recipe below, but I essentially swapped out the sugary simple syrup with organic, naturally sweetened jam! I ALSO used sparkling water/Zevia tonic water in place of club soda, and went heavy on the mint leaves! It is SO good!
Moderate amounts of wine, particularly red wine, has recently become quite notorious for is health benefits. Seeing as it’s loaded with antioxidants, like resveratrol, which may have heart healthy, anti-cancer & anti-aging properties (more research needed!!), it’s no surprise that a red wine sangria filled with fresh fruits is part of this list!
Hot Tip: Use natural, sparkling water with lemon or limes in your sangria to cut down on the calories and sugar that’s typically found in your traditional sangria recipes (use in place of concentrated juices!!!).
White wine often takes a back seat to its more nutrient dense red counterpart, but truth be told, white wine can definitely hold its own in the “healthy alcohol department.” It contains its fair share of antioxidants too, you know! And since mimosas essentially consist primarily of sparkling white wine or champagne, if you’d like to pay a small fortune, I decided to add mimosas to our “healthy cocktail” list today!
Be sure that you’re adding organic, natural orange juice to this cocktail and throw in an orange slice for good measure while you’re at it (we could all use that extra vitamin C).
We’ve all been there hot sun, breezy beach, pina colada in hand. Pure bliss. Not so fast there’s a reason why this tropical cocktail tastes so good – it’s loaded with calories and saturated fats, thanks to the hefty portion of coconut cream and milk!
Not to mention, the sugar rush you’re practically guaranteed to experience with all of that pineapple juice. Did YOU know that a traditional pina colada has MORE calories than a Big Mac! GASP… the horror!
With its high level of both sodium and simple sugars, this cocktail is most definitely no Bueno. Salt on the rim, sodium and simple sugars in the mixers – a mojito is essentially a recipe for sugar spikes and weight gain. Skip the margarita next Cinco de Mayo and opt for my “better for you” version of a mojito! See below!!
It pains me to add this festive cup of creamy goodness to the “worst cocktails for you” list… but it just cannot be denied. Cream, sugar, eggs, milk the list of undesirable ingredients regrettably goes on, and on, and on, culminating to roughly 367.4 mg of cholesterol and 13.3g of fat per serving. Yowza.
The good news? I HAVE been seeing some non-dairy, no-egg, plant-based alternatives floating around a few grocery stores here and there! Could a “better for you” nog be just over the horizon? Stay tuned.
Best Hard Alcohol
Believe it or not, tequila tops the list for being one of the healthier hard liquors out there. No, you’re currently not under the influence of tequila, & yes you absolutely read that correctly. True tequila is derived entirely from the blue agave plant which contains again; a natural sweetener that has shown in some studies as having the ability to lower blood-glucose levels.
PLUS, the mere fact that tequila is on the sweeter side of things means that you don’t have to load up on the sugary mixes. A little lime & natural soda can go a long way here folks…
Vodka or Gin
Fun fact of the day: drinking clear liquors like vodka or gin will lower your chances of developing that nasty, dreaded morning hangover. Side note: Hands up if you’ve personally experienced “self-incriminating” evidence that would contradict the above statement :P.
However it is TRUE, lighter liquors contain lower concentrations of congeners (a toxic compound created during the fermentation process) than darker liquors. This, along with sugars, is typically what leads to a hangover! Clear liquors are ALSO more likely to contain fewer calories than their darker counterparts!
Worst Hard Alcohol
Whiskey, Brandy & Bourbon
Bad news for all of you country loving, cowboy boot rocking, whiskey, brandy and bourbon drinkers out there! These three have made it to the list of outlawed liquors today and HERE’S why! As mentioned above, darker liquors contain higher concentrations of the toxic compound congeners helloooo hangover! Bourbon, in particular, has 37 times more congeners than vodka!
Okay so now that we’ve got all of the nitty, gritty technical stuff out of the way as promised, here’s my “Better For You” Strawberry Jam Mojito Recipe! Today, I’m simply sharing a mocktail recipe and leaving the rest up to you… stay safe and drink responsibly!
Strawberry Jam Mojito
Serves: 2 cocktails
- 4 tablespoons of strawberry organic fruit spread
- 4 tablespoons of lime juice
- 2 sprigs of mint
- 6 strawberries
- Zevia Tonic Water
- Limes – to garnish
Place the fruit spread, mint & strawberries into a glass/mixer to “muddle” –
- Add the lime juice to the mixer
- Fill two separate cups with ice
- Add equal amounts of the muddled fruit spread, mint & strawberry into each glass
- Fill the remainder of glass with the club soda
Let me know if you give this a try!!!