Holiday Beverages That Are Light and Right

From the WebMD Archives

Ready to raise a glass for the holidays without raising your calories? From eggnog to a 70-calorie cosmo, you can make it light, festive, and still enjoyable.

Check out these lighter versions of seasonal favorites:

A healthier eggnog: “If you want to make healthier eggnog, use egg substitute instead of eggs, fat-free milk instead of whole milk, sugar substitute in place of sugar; and leave out the alcohol,” says Jim White, an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesman.

Festive Pomegranate Champagne : One part liqueur and 3 parts champagne, this recipe rings in the holiday with 165 calories per serving and less than a gram of fat.

Cinna-Nilla Hot Cocoa : This recipe cuts fat and calories by using nonfat dry milk powder and fat-free French vanilla nondairy creamer. Calories: 70 per serving.

For another variation on cocoa, White recommends using unsweetened almond milk, which has fewer calories per serving than skim milk and has no cholesterol, saturated fat, or sodium.

Liquor: When it comes to hard liquor, gin, rum, or vodka will run you 50-60 calories per ounce. One ounce of crème de menthe, on the other hand, is 185 calories.

Cider: Simmer your favorite apple juice with orange zest, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks, White says. And nix the alcohol if you want to cut calories.

Champagne, sherry, and port: All three are lighter choices than a glass of wine or light beer. It doesn’t hurt that they look festive.

Iced mocha : This alcohol-free recipe calls for fat-free half-and-half, low-fat milk, chocolate syrup, and sugar substitute. It’s 90 calories a serving.

70-calorie cosmo : Replace the vodka with shochu, a smooth Japanese spirit. Pour 2 ounces, and splashes of diet cranberry juice, fresh lime juice, and orange juice into a martini shaker.

Light gin and tonic : Replace the tonic with sugar-free tonic, or go even lighter by using seltzer water and a splash of lemon or lime juice to keep it tart but smart. Only 75 calories!

Mimosa: Kick up the bubbles and make it less sweet. Use 3 ounces of orange juice instead of 6 to save 42 calories.

Other tricks: Dilute your cocktail or wine with club soda, White says. A wine spritzer, for example, typically calls for adding an ounce of club soda to 3 ounces of wine.

Want to stay under 100 calories per serving? Stick to a 12-ounce light beer or a 4-ounce glass of white wine.


Holiday Drinking Tips

Alcohol adds empty calories, White says. It also makes you more likely to make poor food choices.

His advice:

  • Have a healthy snack before drinking, so you don’t get tipsy right away.
  • Decide how many alcoholic beverages you will have in advance, and stick to that number.
  • Remember that “drinking in moderation” means no more than 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.
  • Know how to read the label on a liquor bottle. The higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories.

One last, but classic, piece of advice: “Remember to keep everything in moderation,” White says.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD on December 11, 2013



Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Helpful Tips for Healthy Holiday Parties.”

Middle Tennessee State University: “Analyzing the Beer Belly.”

National Center for Biotechnology Information: “Cinnamon and Health.”

Jim White, RDN, ACSM, HFS; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesman.

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