Red, White, and Sip


Holidays are a time to celebrate, and the Fourth of July is no exception! But you shouldn’t feel the need to sacrifice your health (or hard-earned beach bod) every time you attend a BBQ or go to a party. There are plenty of healthy and tasty alternatives to traditional BBQ fare – check out our posts on healthy BBQ tips from last year, including a recipe for delicious burgers. And don’t forget that healthy drinking is a huge part of healthy eating. Scroll down for a few of my sip tips and favorite, low-calorie cocktail recipes. Salud! 

Smart Drinking

Okay, so maybe drinking isn’t necessarily part of a healthy diet, but if we’re going to indulge (be honest) we can at least be smart about it. By following some good drinking habits, such as those listed below, we can enjoy ourselves fully.

TIP 1: Have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink and slow down. Alcohol is a toxin, therefore your liver will always try to eliminate it first, bypassing food to process the alcohol. When you drink water, you give your liver a chance to “catch up,”plus there is no end to the benefits of water.

TIP 2: Ditch the added sugars. Mixed drinks (typically 12oz) are extremely caloric because they are loaded with sugar in addition to alcohol. For reference, a Dark & Stormy or a Margarita can range from 350 to 600 calories, respectively. Is that really worth it? By nixing the sugar, you will not only cut calories but also be able to taste the strength of the alcohol, which naturally slows you down.

TIP 3: Get creative with natural flavors. Using fruits, naturally sweet herbs, or flavored seltzers instead of sodas can add that tinge of sweetness or bite without the calories! My favorite flavor boosters: basil, mint, rosemary, cucumber, lemon, lime, lemon/lime zest, or orange slices.

Bloody Beer

An alternative to a vodka Bloody Mary. Who said you can’t get your veggies in a cocktail?!

Ingredients per drink:

  • 6 ounces of beer such as Modelo Especial, Presidente, Aguila, or even Budweiser
  • 4 ounces of V8 (my pick is the spicy hot, low sodium)
  • 1 twig of rosemary
  • A few slices of cucumber
  • Stick of celery
  • 3 drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)

Instructions: Pour beer into a cold glass or frosty mug with ice. Make sure to add beer at a 45-degree angle to avoid foam. Add garnish and Tabasco. Top off with V8 juice.  Mix and sip. Calories: 95 per drink. 

Spicy Paloma. Recipe and picture revised from Cookie & Kate

A fresh, spicy cocktail made with grapefruit juice and tequila – a fancified version of the traditional Mexican cocktail typically made with grapefruit soda.

Ingredients per drink:

  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice (about 1 lime, juiced)
  • ½ teaspoon light agave nectar
  • 1 thinly sliced Serrano round (1/8th to ¼th inch wide)
  • 2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice (juice from less than 1 grapefruit)
  • 1.5 ounces tequila, silver or blanco
  • 1½ ounces grapefruit-flavored club soda or plain club soda
  • Salt rim and garnish
  • 2 teaspoons kosher and/or sea salt
  • Lime wedge, for lining the rim
  • Small grapefruit wedges, for garnish 

Instructions: Prepare your cocktail glass by running a lime wedge around the edge of the glass and rolling the edge of the glass onto the salt. Fill the glass with ice. Then, in a mixer, muddle together the lime juice, agave nectar and one small slice of Serrano pepper. Pour in the grapefruit juice, tequila, and shake. Pour the blend into your prepared glass. Top off the cocktail with club soda. Garnish with a small wedge of grapefruit. Calories: 140 per drink.

What’s your favorite healthy cocktail? Share with me! And Happy 4th!

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN 

Edited by Tamara Cabrero