Jan 16, 2014 10:52AM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
It is now January and you know what that means…it’s that time of year, again. The time when people shun burgers and fries and hit up the salad bar in hopes of honoring at least one New Year’s resolution: to be more healthy. Being healthy, however, isn’t all about deprivation. You can still indulge from time to time. The key is making the right choices.
When it comes to imbibing beer, wine, or cocktails, there are tons of ways to be smart and make good health choices. Nicole Morrissey, a registered dietician and healthy eating cookbook author, spends her days trying to get people on the right track, health-wise. Her first suggestion, of course, is moderation.
“For women, limit alcohol intake to one serving per day,” she says. “For men, up to two servings per day. Give consideration to portion size, as a recommended serving is generally much less than a restaurant portion of the same beverage.”
The key is to look at and read labels, as is the trick with any sort of diet modification. Check out the size of a serving and measure, measure, measure. Don’t just eyeball and assume that you’re pouring one cup of wine. Get out a measuring glass and really get it right. But don’t forget about the other things you are putting in your mouth. “Consider your intake when you drink and after you drink,” Morrissey recommends. “If you tend to drink while dining, keep portions of food under control, as well.”
Cocktails, wine, and beer tend to go hand in hand. If you’re planning a big night with lots of delicious foods, cut out a cocktail or two. Or instead, go easy on the apps and cheesy dips and choose hearty veggies if you want to have that extra glass of white wine.
Being healthy, however, isn’t always about calculating calories, even when alcohol is involved. While the affects of alcohol on health has been debated widely, the health properties of fruits and veggies is somewhat set in stone. You can shovel fruits and veggies in by the truckload but why not also consider mixing some of them into your cocktails? “Drinks like daiquiris made with real fruit certainly offer a nutritional edge so long as the calories remain in check,” Morrissey says.
Consider using fresh fruit purees, sans any additional added sugar, as a base for your cocktail. Already sweet fruits, such as peaches, pears, or melons, don’t need any additional help from sugar and would benefit from a good squeeze of lime or lemon to cut through their natural sweetness. If you really want to go healthy, skip the salted or sugared rim altogether. Also consider passing on the soda or sugar-laden mix-ins and try seltzer water instead. It gives your cocktail a great fizzy edge while still holding up on flavor.
Finally, when playing around with cocktails at home, be sure to keep balance in mind. Citrus and herbs are bold and sometimes need a little sweetness to cut the acidity. Typically, that sweetness comes from sugar or simple syrup. Instead of adding a ton of sugar to your cocktail, start small with just a tiny amount. You can always add in more sugar if you need it, but most of the time your cocktail will taste just fine without the extra sweetness.
If you’re trying to keep to a healthy eating plan, try one of these cocktails on for size.
2 1/4 cups pomegranate juice
2 1/4 cups vodka
1 cup lime juice
3/4 cup Grand Marnier
1 Tbsp sugar
Mix pomegranate juice, vodka, lime, Grand Marnier, and sugar in a large pitcher. Fill a shaker with ice, add 1/2 cup mix and shake until it is frosty. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with lime zest.
Raspberry Vodka Spritzer
1 ounce raspberry-infused vodka
1 cup plain seltzer water
Splash of cranberry juice
Splash of lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake until well combined. Strain into a frosted glass.