Summer is here and what better way to cool off than with a cold, refreshing cocktail!? Problem is, before you even touch an appetizer, you can consume hundreds, if not thousands (yes, thousands!) of calories from alcoholic beverages alone. Obviously, it all depends on how much you drink, but it also depends on what you drink.
Some of the most popular alcoholic beverages are also the worst ones for you – calorie-wise, anyway! Take a look at the calorie contents of these popular drinks…(These are just average sizes and calories. Some restaurants offer massive sizes, extra mix-ins, and even extra alcohol, which can all add up to nearly 1,000 calories!)
Long Island iced tea (8 oz): ~700
White Russian (2 oz vodka, 1.5 oz coffee liqueur, 1.5 oz cream): ~400
Chocolate martini: (6 oz): ~500
Margarita (8 oz): ~300
Pina Colada (6 oz): ~400 calories
Mai Tai (6 oz) : ~350
Sip on a few of these and before you know it you could have gulped down anywhere from 600 to 1500 calories! And let’s not forget the appetite increasing side-effect of alcohol, or the lowered inhibitions. Before you know it that plate of nachos is sounding pretty good, and your diet? What diet?
Maybe you’re thinking “So what? It’s okay to eat nachos and have a cocktail here and there”, and yes, you may be right. But far too many of us indulge more than just “here and there”, especially in the summer. And that extra 1500 calories – even just once a week – can add up to a 1-pound weight gain every 2 weeks! Making simple tweaks to your cocktail hour can make all the difference to your waistline. Here are a few tips:
1. Alternate alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks to save calories. After every alcoholic beverage you consume, have a glass of water or club soda. This will not only help you save hundreds of calories, but will also help you stay hydrated and keep hangovers at bay.
2. Stick with low-calorie mixers. Opting for club or diet soda instead of regular will save you nearly 100 calories. Fruity, mixed drinks are loaded with sugar and fat, so instead of ordering a margarita which can have up to 400 calories, order tequila with club soda and lime for about 100 calories instead. And choose light beer over regular; before you know it you could save a couple hundred calories.
Some mixers that won’t pack on the pounds include:
Diet soda or diet tonic: 0 calories
Club Soda: 0 calories
Orange juice (6 oz): 84 calories
Light orange juice (8 oz): 50 calories
Light cranberry juice (8 oz): 40 calories
Light lemonade (8 oz): 5 calories
Coffee, tea: 0 calories
Baja Bob’s sugar-free margarita or sweet ‘n’ sour mix: 0 calories
Lemon or lime juice (1/2 oz): 10 calories
DaVinci or Torani’s sugar-free syrups: 0
3. Skip the mixer altogether. Try ordering your favorite spirit or one of the new flavored liquors on the rocks. They don’t contain all the added sugars, and you’ll probably drink it slower than you would a fruity cocktail.
If you’re really watching your weight, you’re best bet is to order a vodka with diet coke or club soda – not tonic. People often make the mistake of ordering tonic instead of club soda, thinking its low in calories. In reality, a gin and tonic has nearly 200 calories.
There are many low calorie mixers out there that you can use to make a lighter version of your favorite cocktail. Crystal Light makes a margarita mix, as well as new appletini and mojito flavors. BajaBobs.com has tons of different mixes from margaritas to mudslides! In the meantime, here are a few recipes to whip up at home!
2 large limes, cut into pieces (reserve one piece)
2 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups water
1/4 to 1/2 cup light rum
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
Quartered limes and/or mint leaves (optional)
1. In a blender combine lime pieces, 2 cups water, and 2/3 cup sugar. Cover and blend about 30 seconds or until limes are chopped; do not puree. Strain through a sieve into a large pitcher. Mix in 2 cups additional water. Cover and chill for 1 to 12 hours.
2. Stir rum into lime mixture. Moisten the rims of 8 glasses with the reserved lime piece; dip rims in sugar. Divide mint among glasses. Use a wooden spoon to press mint into the bottom of each glass; press firmly to release flavor. Fill glasses with ice cubes. Pour chilled lime mixture over ice and mint leaves. If desired, add extra quartered limes and/or mint leaves.
Makes: 8 servings. Per serving: 95 calories
1 bottle red wine
1 1/2 cups club soda
1 cup Trop50 orange juice
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 small orange, peeled and chopped
Half an apple, chopped
Half a banana, peeled and chopped
1. Place fruit in a large container that will not stain easily (like a glass pitcher or a high-quality plastic one). Cover fruit with wine and cranberry drink, and stir. Cover and refrigerate for at least 10 hours.
2. Once ready to serve, add soda and stir. Pour and be sure to get a nice amount of fruit in each glass.
Makes 7 Servings. Per Serving (1 cup): 125 calories
Blended Raspberry Cocktail
1/2 cup ice or several ice cubes
8 ounces Minute Maid Light Raspberry Passion or Crystal Light Rasberry
1 1/2 ounces vodka
Combine ingredients in a blender. Garnish with several fresh raspberries.
1 shot vodka
1 cup 100% spicy vegetable juice
1 large celery stalk
1. Fill glass with ice. Add vodka and juice and garnish with celery stick.
Tropical Mango-rita Slushie
1 cup Diet V8 Splash in Tropical Blend
1/2 cup frozen unsweetened mango chunks
2 shots (3 oz.) blanco or silver tequila (the clear kind)
1/2 tsp. Crystal Light Lemonade powdered drink mix (1/4th of an On The Go packet or 1/16th of a tub)
2 cups crushed ice OR 5 – 8 ice cubes
1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Serves 2. Per Serving: 134 calories
1 ounce Godiva chocolate liqueur
1 ounce vodka
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1 teaspoon Hershey’s Syrup Lite (for lining rim of glass)
1. In a shaker, combine chocolate liqueur, vodka, and milk with crushed ice. Shake to mix. Pour into glass.
2 1/2 cups chopped fresh or frozen (not thawed) strawberries, (about 12 ounces)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 cups ice cubes
3/4 cup coconut-flavored rum, such as Malibu (see Variation, above)
1. Combine strawberries, sugar and lime juice together in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add ice cubes and rum and blend until frothy. Transfer mixture to a pitcher and serve.
Serves 6. Per Serving, Calories: 112