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Chill out with these lower-cal concoctions

When it's hot outside, sometimes nothing hits the spot like an icy-cold frozen drink.

But as delicious and satisfying as these beverages can be, smoothies, iced coffee beverages, and other frozen sippers can also be full of calories.

The best and healthiest way to quench your thirst is always with refreshing, zero-calorie water. But there's nothing wrong with having a smoothie or other yummy frozen drink to perk up your lazy afternoon or energize your morning -- as long as you know how to choose one that won't wreck your diet.

Homemade Thirst-Quenchers

When you make a smoothie yourself, there's no question about the ingredients. Toss together any combination of fruits, ice, 100% fruit juice, and a little fresh or frozen yogurt for a delicious and nutritious frozen drink (when journaling, simply count each component used to make your single-serve smoothie.)

For example, you can make a great breakfast or pre-workout drink with one serving of fresh fruit, 4 ounces of fruit juice, and 4 ounces of low-fat yogurt. My favorite quick and easy summer smoothie combines a banana, orange juice, and vanilla yogurt. Adding yogurt contributes protein that makes the smoothie more satisfying; it can double as a quick, refreshing meal.

Coffee-lovers can get the taste of the fancy cold drinks found at coffee shops for a fraction of the calories and cost. Make double-strength coffee and let it come to room temperature. Pour the coffee over a tall glass of ice, add 1/2 cup skim or low-fat milk plus artificial sweetener or a teaspoon of sugar, if desired, then top with a tablespoon of light whipped topping and a dusting of cocoa. The only ingredient you need to journal is the milk (and sugar, if you use it).

Cruising the Dairy Aisle

When there's no time for a homemade concoction, you can find all sorts of individually packaged, convenient drinkable yogurts in your grocery store. In the past year, the yogurt drink market has expanded dramatically.

Most of these products cost $1-$2, and have from 60-260 calories per container. Many provide a healthy dose of protein and calcium, and are virtually fat-free. Artificially sweetened yogurt drinks, with fewer sugar calories and total calories, are marketed as "light."

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