Temperatures are rising, and that means bathing suit weather, beach vacations, and backyard BBQ’s. This is the time of year when cocktail hour becomes an all-day affair and your blender works overtime to keep you and your friends hydrated with your favorite adult beverages. While having drinks by the pool is a fun way to kick back and relax, the calorie-filled concoctions can wreak havoc on your healthy eating.
One of the first tips that we hear when we begin to take accountability for our health is to avoid ‘drinking calories’. Beverages like soda and juice are filled with hidden calories and sugars. The same is true of the fruity drinks we love to imbibe in the summer. There are some simple steps you can take to enjoy a refreshing cocktail without consuming unwanted calories.
Eat First. When we drink, our blood sugar drops. This can lead to hangover symptoms like fatigue, nausea and shakiness. To prevent this from occurring, eat a meal beforehand that includes healthy fats like nuts and seeds, lean protein like fish and turkey, and healthy carbohydrates. Some good meal ideas are: lentil and vegetable soup, whole wheat crackers with low-fat cream cheese, tomato and smoked salmon, and scrambled eggs on whole-wheat toast.
Add Extra Ice to your Drink. Ice cubes serve double-duty when counting calories. Not only will an icy blended drink keep you cool, it is also a sneaky way of cutting calories. To keep the consistency of your frosty beverage thick, be sure to pulse the ice first before blending.
Choose Natural Flavors. When mixing up your summer beverages, choose smart summer ingredients such as berries, melon and fresh herbs. Keep in mind: a 1 1/2-ounce shot of tequila or vodka has about 100 calories. Creamy or sugary mixers can easily add hundreds more.
Stick With One Type of Liquor. Cocktails with multiple types of liquor in them, like a Long Island iced tea, can cause calories to add up fast. Also, the overwhelming taste of several liquors in one drink will make you want to add more sweetness to mask the harsh taste.
Avoid Using Diet Soda as a Mixer. Studies have shown that people who chose diet soda as a mixer had an 18 percent higher blood-alcohol levels than those who used regular soda. Why is this? The body treats sugar like food. Food helps alcohol enter our bloodstream more slowly, which prevents intoxication.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Alcohol is extremely dehydrating. The effects are even worse in summer, when our likelihood of being dehydrated from outdoor activities and time in the sun is greater. If you know you will be drinking alcohol, be sure to drink plenty of water beforehand. *Tip: Drink 8 ounces of water for every cocktail you have.
Looking for some lo-cal, tasty drinks to help you beat the heat and satisfy your cravings? Here are some of our favorite healthy and delicious summer cocktails. Recipes courtesy of fitnessmagazine.com
Blueberry Lemon Breeze
Muddled blueberries and agave nectar sweeten this elegant seasonal spirit. While the recipe calls for champagne, club soda is a less caloric substitute.
- 10 blueberries
- 3/4 ounce light agave nectar
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice
- Splash of champagne (about 1 ounce)
In a shaker, muddle* together blueberries and agave. Add the gin and lemon juice, and then shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain contents of shaker into a martini glass and then top with champagne. Garnish with 3 blueberries on a cocktail stick.
*A muddler is a bartending tool used to grind ingredients. If you do not own a muddler, a wooden spoon will work just as well to mash up your fruit.
Nutrition Information: 205 calories per serving
Strawberry-Citrus Vodka Cocktail
This sweet-tart beverage may become your favorite way to enjoy summer’s best fruit. Muddle a pitcher’s worth of strawberries and mint in advance to quench thirsty crowds without breaking a sweat.
- 2 strawberries
- 1 sprig of mint
- 3/4 ounce light agave nectar
- 1 3/4 ounces citrus vodka
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice
In a shaker, muddle together mint and strawberries, and then add the remaining ingredients. Shake vigorously with ice for 20 seconds. Pour entire contents of shaker into a tall glass. Be sure to include all of the mint and strawberry pulp.
Nutrition Information: 259 calories per serving
Piña Colada Cooler
Have a tropical getaway without leaving home with this refreshing, bubbly twist on an island favorite.
- 1 1/2 ounces coconut flavored rum
- 3 ounces pineapple juice
- 4 ounces sparkling water
- 1 tablespoon cream of coconut lite (found in the drink mixers section of many supermarkets)
Pour ingredients over ice and stir.
Nutrition Information: 165 calories per serving
Frozen Lime Margaritas
A lite twist on a summer favorite, these delicious margaritas are sure to be a hit at any barbecue or pool party.
- 12 ounce can frozen limeade concentrate
- 2/3 cup tequila
- 1/2 cup light orange juice or orange liqueur
- 4 cups ice cubes
- 1/2 medium lime
- Coarse salt
- Orange slices
In a blender container combine limeade concentrate, tequila, and orange juice. Cover and blend until combined. With blender running, add ice cubes, one at a time, through opening in lid, blending until mixture becomes slushy.
Cut a thick lime slice; cut slice in half. Rub slices around rims of eight glasses. Dip rims into a dish of coarse salt to coat rims. Pour mixture into prepared glasses.
Nutrition Information: 122 calories, 22g carbs per serving (10 servings per above recipe)
Spiked Pomegranate Lemonade
Club soda adds a welcome fizz and cuts the sweetness of this summer sipper. Pomegranate juice is an excellent way to incorporate antioxidants into your summer cocktail.
- 1 1/2 ounces lemon/lime vodka
- 1 1/2 ounces lemonade
- 1 1/2 ounces pomegranate juice
- 4 ounces club soda
Combine all ingredients.
Nutrition Information: 136 calories, 10 g carbs per serving