Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Healthier Happy Hour

Tomorrow is Canada Day and Canadians will be celebrating the summer in many different ways. With the increased heat often comes an increase in the consumption of chilled beverages. Whether or not you are choosing to have alcoholic drinks, beverages are often an easy way for calories to sneak into our diets. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, but the amount in your drink depends on the amount and proof of the alcohol, the type of mixer used, and the size of the drink.

What is considered to be a standard drink?
12 fluid ounces of regular beer (~144 calories; light is ~ 100 calories)
5 fluid ounces of wine (white is ~ 100 calories, and red ~ 105 calories)
1. 5 fluid ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits (~ 96 calories)
(American Dietetic Association, Adult Beverage Consumption, 2008)

You can lighten up your drinks by choosing a calorie free mixer (such as club soda), using a garnish for added flavour (lemon, lime, mint, frozen berries), using just a splash of juice for flavour and colour, having a wine spritzer, and making drinks from scratch rather than from pre-made mixes which can be high in sugar, etc.

Here are some "lighter" versions of classic drinks from Registered Dietitian Cynthia Sass:
Slim Vodka Seltzer — 100 Calories
1 shot vodka
¾ cup all natural lemon lime seltzer
Lemon & lime wedges
Fill glass with ice. Add shot then seltzer and garnish with fruit.
Bloody Mary Light 175 calories
1 shot vodka
1 cup 100% spicy vegetable juice
1 large celery stalk
Fill glass with ice. Add vodka and juice and garnish with celery stick.
Slender Sangria 185 calories
5 oz wine
½ cup 100% fruit juice blend (like cranberry/blueberry/grape)
¼ cup diced apple and oranges
Stir juice into wine. Pour over ice and garnish with fruit.
Pina Skimlata 220 calories
1 shot rum
½ cup (4 oz) 100% pineapple juice
¼ cup skim or plain organic soy milk
¼ cup frozen banana slices
Fresh pineapple wedges
Add rum, juice, milk, banana and ice to blender. Whip until smooth. Pour into glass and garnish with fresh pineapple.
If you want more inspiration, many websites offer low calorie cocktail and mocktail recipes such as fitness magazine.

As always, if you are consuming alcohol, please do so responsibly (and do not drink if you are pregnant or have been advised not to based on a medical condition). Moderate drinking is considered to be one drink per day for females and two per day for males because of differences in weight and metabolism. The spacing out of drinks is also important - you shouldn't save up to have a week's worth all in one day! Space your drinks an hour apart and consume water in between to help quench your thirst.

Steph Wheler