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Friday, August 14, 2009

Summer Cocktails: How to Enjoy the Party Without Looking Like a Flotation Device

By Stephanie Saunders

Why do we spend all year doing P90X® or Slim in 6® to look good on the beach, only to sabotage ourselves with summer cocktails? The answer is that's it's fun and social, and it even makes us feel a little bit better about being scantily clad.

Cocktails

Thanks to the dozens of different diet crazes, we are all abundantly aware of carbs, protein, and fat, and we all have different opinions on which is the most evil. But we forget that alcohol has calories too, specifically 7 calories per gram—more than carbs or protein and almost as much as fat. What does this mean for you? It means that it's a challenge to burn off alcohol, especially when it's mixed with yummy sugary ingredients.

The most obvious solution is abstinence, but what fun would that be? Since we cannot remove the alcohol from the recipe, let's remove the excess calories from some popular summer drinks. Here are six summer cocktails and recipes to make them waist friendly.

1. MargaritaMargarita. The enemy in the margarita is the margarita mix. There are "light" versions out there, but the taste is less than extraordinary. Here is another option that will cut your calories in half without sacrificing flavor.

Ingredients:
* 3 oz. light limeade (either the Minute Maid® version or your own, made with limes, water, and a sugar substitute)
* Lime juice (one lime)
* 2 oz. tequila
* 1.5 oz. triple sec
* Ice

Either pour over ice or blend with ice. Add salt to taste. Sip while pretending you are on a beach in Mexico, and you look amazing in your swimsuit.
* Calories before: 435
* Calories now: 180

2. Cosmopolitan. The sneaky trickster here is regular cranberry juice, which should be called sugar with cranberry flavoring. This light version uses only one type of alcohol, which drastically cuts your calorie count.

Ingredients:
* 3 oz. light cranberry juice drink
* 1 oz. raspberry vodka
* Squeeze of lime
* Lime twist, as garnish

Shake together with ice. Strain ice cubes and pour into fancy fluted glass. Look incredibly trendy and thin at the same time.
* Calories before: 413
* Calories now: 98

3. Tipsy Arnold Palmer. Sweetened bottled versions of lemonade and iced tea can be pretty loaded with sugar. However, if we brew our own iced tea and squeeze our own lemons, with a bit of sugar substitute and 2 ounces of vodka, we can make a really tasty cocktail that doesn't have so many calories. Or, the light Minute Maid version and some diet iced tea will work for the domestically challenged.

Ingredients:
* 3 oz. light lemonade (or juice of one lemon plus 3 oz. water and sugar substitute)
* 3 oz. diet iced tea (or 2 teabags steeped in 3 oz. water)
* 2 oz. vodka
* Sprig of mint (optional)
* Ice

Pour over ice. Stir. Enjoy. Just don't try to play golf after two of these.
* Calories before: 156
* Calories now: 71

4. Strawberry daiquiri. Nothing says vacation like a drink that a little umbrella will stand up in. Sugar, yet again, is the culprit. Try this version for a vacation flashback that will be reminiscent of the good times, and not of how you ordered seconds of dessert.

Ingredients:
* 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
* 1 Tbsp. lime juice
* 1.5 oz. light rum
* Sweetener to taste (depends on how sweet the strawberries are)
* Ice

Throw it all in a blender, and let the good times begin. Please don't consume so many that you try to drink the umbrella.
* Calories before: 299
* Calories now: 118

5. Piña colada. Done correctly, it is the taste of summer. If not made well, a piña colada will taste like someone served you suntan lotion in a glass. This recipe uses actual fruit and skim milk to replace the sugar and cream.

Ingredients:
* 7 oz. canned chunk pineapple, including juice
* 2 packets artificial sweetener
* 1 tsp. imitation coconut extract
* 1 cup skim milk
* 1 cup ice cubes

Blend well, garnish with a small plastic monkey, and mentally escape to the Caribbean.
* Calories before: 297
* Calories now: 146

6. White wine/light beer/champagne. These all seem fairly obvious and don't require recipes, but they're worth mentioning. White wine has about 100 calories in a 4-ounce serving. And it's rather refreshing on a summer day, especially if you add a blast of club soda to make it into a spritzer. Beer comes in very light versions now, and some contain fewer than 70 calories. Champagne is not only fantastic with brunch, it also is around 100 calories per serving. With all of these, just be sure to measure your amounts so you don't end up with a splitting headache the next morning.

And there you have it. A handle on your summer cocktails, without adding to your love handles. Now get out that swimsuit and let summer be the party it was meant to be!

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