Healthy Holiday Drinks

December 6, 2009

It's truth that can be hard to swallow: A regular beer can be 150-200 calories - even Lite beer can top 100 calories. Five ounces of wine is 100 calories. And eggnog? Just 4 ounces is close to 150 calories.

Registered dietitian Debra Boutin says when it comes to holiday drinks, "Any time you see something that's thicker, more dense, you're automatically going to start thinking more calories, more sweetener, more fat. Any time you see something a little more thin, something you can see through, it's probably on the lower calorie and lower fat side."

Debra has some ideas for healthier drink, starting with a Pomegranate Spritzer.

"Pomegranates are filled with anthocyanins, which give them that beautiful red color, and that have antioxidant properties that are very, very healthy."

Add zero-calorie sparkling water, and finish with pomegranate seeds floating on top. Or you can try Debra's non-alcoholic basil lime fizz. Start with fresh basil, blend with water, a little sugar, and making soda to make a syrup.

"So, we've taken the basil syrup, the lime juice, and then we're going to top off the glass with some club soda water, to get that fizz."

For a warm holiday drink, try cranberry ginger cider. Heat apple cider, cranberry juice, orange zest, and ginger root. Strain and serve.

To finish off calorie-free - add fragrant cardamom seeds to your coffee.

One more tip: If you must have a high-calorie, high-fat holiday beverage, try using a 4-ounce glass, and sip it slowly. Then switch to sparkling water.

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Pomegranate Spritzer

Ingredients:
One part pomegranate juice 2 parts lemon, lime or some other citrus flavored sparkling water
Pomegranate seeds (for garnish)

    1. Combine pomegranate juice with the flavored sparkling water.
    2. Pour into clear champagne flutes.
    3. Place 2 to 3 pomegranate seeds on top of the drink as a garnish.
Basil Lime Fizz

Basil Syrup (prepare ahead of time)
Ingredients:
1 and ½ cups basil leaves
Enough water for blanching the basil leaves
½ c fine sugar
½ cup water
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda

Blanch the basil leaves for 10 seconds, and then put them in ice water. Squeeze out the excess water and combine the leaves with the sugar, ½ cup of water and baking soda in a blender. Blend until the ingredients form a dark green liquid. Pour the contents through a strainer. The strained liquid (basil syrup) can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Putting it together
Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons of basil syrup
2 Tablespoons of lime juice
Lime wedges

Pour the basil syrup and lime juice in a tall glass. Fill the glass 2/3 of the way with ice. Add club soda. Top with a wedge of lime. Serve immediately.

Cranberry Ginger Cider

Ingredients:
2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups apple cider
8 – ¼-inch slices of fresh gingerroot
½ teaspoon orange zest
Orange slices (for garnish)

Place all ingredients except orange slices into a large pot and heat to a simmer. Continue simmering for 15 minutes. Strain out gingerroot. Pour into a heat-proof cup and garnish the edge with an orange slice. Serve warm. This recipe makes about 4 cups.

Cardamom Coffee

Ingredients:
2 to 3 cardamom pods *
Fresh ground coffee (enough for one pot)

    1. Place 2 to 3 whole cardamom pods on top of the fresh coffee grounds.
    2. Brew coffee as usual.
Cardamom coffee is typically served black in small espresso cups. If you want to limit the caffeine, brew with fresh decaf coffee grounds.

* If you can't find cardamom pods, mix some ground cardamom in with the coffee grounds.

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