What a Dietitian is Drinking this Holiday Season

Not all cocktails mix-ins need to be unhealthy, come learn a dietitian’s top picks.

Let’s face it, most of us are going to drink when we celebrate this holiday season, but there are ways to enjoy yourself without ruing all of the progress you’ve made in class. Alcohol contains calories (about 7 calories per gram to specific) so when it comes to making cocktails, aim to add mixers that don’t have calories. Here are some of my favorite cocktail mixers that keep me drinking merry, but looking bright the next day.  

Let’s talk healthy cocktail mixers.

Sparkling waters/flavored water

If you are thinking a vodka tonic is a healthy, low-sugar option, think again! Just one can of tonic contains 32 grams of sugar and an extra 130 calories. But seltzer water, club soda or sparkling waters, on the other hand, contain zero calories.
Examples: Seltzer, club soda, fruit-infused carbonated water

Unsweetened teas with flavor

Flavored iced teas are a great base for cocktails because they have zero calories (unless added) and contain antioxidants. Think of your go-to Starbucks venti iced passion tea but with a kick. Sounds fun, right? Super great for hot weather and when needing something a little refreshing. These mixers pair well with a sweeter alcohol like whiskey or if using vodka, add a little natural artificial sweetener such as stevia drops to round out the taste and not be too bitter. Also, these drinks don’t just have to be cold. Try a healthy version of a hot toddy in the recipe below!
Examples: Passionfruit tea, green tea, and ginger tea.

Kombucha

Kombucha and alcohol is one of my favorite go-to drinks and the combination inspired this post. The low-sugar and naturally carbonated probiotic drink packs just the right amount of flavor and fizz without all the calories. It also contains vitamins and minerals so that should cancel out all the bad stuff right? As a registered dietitian, I am going to tell you that is not true but this still is a better choice.
Examples: Ginger kombucha, berry kombucha, or mint or lavender kombucha.

Low calorie, low sugar juices

Not all juice is high in sugar and can be a great additive to cocktails and any of the mix-ins already stated. Citrus is your best bet with lemon, lime, and grapefruit as well as veggie juices such as fresh pressed juice, green juice or store-bought tomato juice.
Examples: Lemon (regular and Meyer), lime, grapefruit, all greens and fresh ginger juice.

Natural, no-sugar cocktail mixers

It is not easy to find an all-natural, zero-sugar cocktail mix but thanks to the rise of some natural artificial sweeteners and the brains of two ladies in New York, BeMixed cocktail mix was born. They took the skinny girl margarita idea and made it even better!
Example: Be Mixed Cocktail Mix, 3 25 oz. bottles, $33.00 + S/H


Make your cocktails shine and top it off with zero-calorie flavorings.

Aromatic herbs

What is better than infusing cocktails with earthy and aromatic herbs? All of a sudden you can take your basic vodka club soda and make it a whole new drink. Next time you are at the bar, ask if they have any herbs to add to your cocktail and thank me later.
Examples: Rosemary, thyme, cilantro, and lavender

Spices

Spices, like herbs, are zero calories and take your cocktail from zero to one hundred.
Examples: Cayenne, jalapeno, ginger, turmeric, and pepper.


 

Bartender’s Note:

Don’t use bitters when it comes to low sugar drinks. This will just enhance the bitterness more and decreasing the natural sweetness.

So when you are choosing libations this holiday season, opt for these cocktail mixers and flavor enhancers instead. We are sure you won’t be missing the sweet stuff and thank us later for a less intense hangover.  If you are hosting a party of your own, we have a few recipe ideas for you below that are low sugar but also fancy enough for a party.

 


Recipes: 

Spicy and Stormy

Short glass with 1 oz. light rum, 1 oz. fresh pressed ginger juice, and seltzer water. Add a piece of ginger to the short glass.

Booch N Bourbon

In a short glass, add 1.5 oz. bourbon, 4 oz. ginger kombucha and stir. Add a large ice cube. Garnish with candied ginger and a orange slice.  

Citrus Pomegranate Hard Iced Tea

In a highball glass, add 8 oz. of unsweetened pomegranate iced tea, 1 oz. fresh lime, ¼ cup pomegranate arils (seeds) and 1- 1.5 oz. vodka.

Green Tea Hot Toddy

In a pint glass, add 8 oz. hot brewed green tea, 1 oz. bourbon, and rosemary shrub. Optional to add 1-2 drops of stevia.

Be Mixed Cilantro Skinny Margarita

In a short glass, add 4 oz. Be Mixed Margarita Mix  and 1 oz. tequila and cilantro to a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour over ice.  Garnish with a lime wedge or dip your glass in salt and cayenne pepper for a spicy kick with each sip.

 

Gabriella is a registered dietitian living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She currently works in corporate wellness as well as manages her own private practice, Macrobalanced by Gabriella Vetere, RD, where she counsels clients on health and wellness, creates content and recipes for her blog, and serves as a nutrition media spokesperson. She enjoys all things fitness from lifting heavy weights in the gym to hitting the barre. Nothing is off limits as long as sweat is involved. When she is not cooking or sweating, she is playing with her dog Maui, a lively German Shepherd. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.