By Stephanie S. Saunders
Who doesn’t like a good cocktail during the holidays? Sure, spending 3 days straight with your extended family might have something to do with it, but beside that, nearly everyone likes to let loose at this time of year. And there are plenty of occasions to do so. From the office holiday party to the lighting of the menorah to the various eve and morning festivities, there’s no shortage of celebrations that can involve libations.
Unfortunately, most holiday cocktails tend to give the double gift of too much fat and too many calories. One cup of eggnog has 343 calories and 19 grams of fat! It’s a meal in a cup, with a ton of added fat and sugar. Then there are the hot chocolates, mulled ciders, and traditional grogs that chase away the winter chill but help you hang on to the pounds. And don’t forget about all the themed mixed drinks that make parties a bit more fun while making your waistline a bit more full. So how do you enjoy the fun of the holiday season without having to hide behind bulky sweaters till July? Here are 8 fun drink ideas that are lower in fat, calories, and sugar than their original versions.
- Pumpkin Pie Martini. Yeah, I know. It’s as good as it sounds. There are several pumpkin liqueurs on the market, which are convenient, but add a ton of calories. By using the actual squash, you get the flavor without the calories—and, believe it or not, a little fiber in your drink.
- 6 oz. vanilla-flavored vodka
- 6 oz. canned unsweetened pumpkin
- 4 oz. fat-free condensed milk
- 4 oz. unsweetened almond milk (or fat-free milk)
- 4 Tbsp. pumpkin pie seasoning
- Ice cubes
- 6 crushed reduced-fat vanilla wafers
Place vodka and pumpkin in a bowl, and stir until pumpkin has dissolved. Stir in condensed milk and almond milk. Add seasoning and stir well. Dip rims of glasses in crushed vanilla wafers. Pour liquid over ice into glass and enjoy. Makes 6 servings.
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat 105 2 g 1 g 6 g <1 g <1 g
- Grog. Its rich history dates back 400 years, when it used to be rationed out to sailors at sea. The big babies wouldn’t drink their scurvy-preventing dose of lemon juice straight, so the powers that be dressed it up with a little rum. Since the additional ingredients only serve to make it that much tastier, it stands to reason that being “three sheets to the wind” was fairly common.
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1 whole lemon peel
- 1 whole orange peel
- 4 Tbsp. sugar
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 10 oz. water
- 4 oz. golden rum
Place lemon juice, lemon peel, orange peel, sugar, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 15 minutes, remove from heat, and slowly stir in rum. Pour though a fine strainer into mugs; place one of the cinnamon sticks in each mug as a garnish. Makes 4 servings.
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat 118 <1 g <1 g 14 g <1 g <1 g
- Gingerbread Toddy. In cold weather, a hot drink can warm you up faster than a Snuggie®and an electric blanket. This hot toddy will make you feel warm while it makes you think you’re eating gingerbread cookies. Yummy.
- 1 oz. brandy
- 1 oz. gingerbread liqueur
- Juice from 1 lemon wedge
- 8 oz. hot water
- 1 cinnamon stick
Pour first four ingredients into a preheated mug in the order listed. Garnish with a cinnamon stick as a stirrer. Makes 1 serving.
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat 155 <1 g <1 g 11 g <1 g <1 g
- Holiday Hot Chocolate. You can obviously buy no-sugar-added hot chocolate in packages and do this the easy way. But you’re no slacker. You can make homemade hot chocolate instead, which makes your house smell amazing and impresses your friends and family.
- 4 cups evaporated fat-free milk
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- 1/2 cup baking chocolate
- 2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sugar (or use 1/3 cup agave)
- 6 oz. Frangelico® liqueur
- 6 miniature candy canes
Combine evaporated milk, fat-free milk, chocolate, vanilla, and sugar in medium saucepan and heat on stove over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in Frangelico. Pour into mugs and garnish each with a small candy cane. Makes 6 servings.
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat 340 16 g 2 g 45 g 6 g 3 g
- Peppermint Martini. This is perhaps the simplest and tastiest low-calorie cocktail out there. Just three ingredients and a bit of candy cane. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
- 9 oz. vanilla vodka
- 9 oz. peppermint schnapps
- 3 oz. fat-free condensed milk
- 6 miniature candy canes
Place all liquids in a martini shaker with ice. Shake and pour into glasses. Garnish each with a candy cane. Makes 6 servings.
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat 232 1 g <1 g 13 g <1 g <1 g
- Mulled Apple Cider. Nothing makes a house smell more like Christmas than some mulled apple cider—except maybe those overpriced candles constantly being advertised on TV. And this cider tastes better, so take that, Glade®!
- 8 cups apple cider
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 navel orange, peeled and sliced crosswise
- 1 2-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, cut into 6 slices
- 4 oz. light brandy
In a large saucepan, combine cider, cinnamon stick, cloves, orange, and ginger and simmer mixture for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add brandy to pan. Stir, then strain mixture through a fine strainer into a heatproof pitcher. Serve warm. Makes 6 servings.
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat 202 <1 g <1 g 37 g <1 g <1 g
- Blitzen’s Bliss. Given that Blitzen is the final reindeer in the lineup, he probably gets knocked around a fair bit by the sleigh over the course of Santa’s travels on Christmas Eve. But once they’re done circumnavigating the globe, Blitzen comes home and has a few of these, and it’s all good. Not only does he feel better, but since they have just 130 calories apiece, he doesn’t feel all bloated for his Christmas dinner the next day.
- 2 cups pomegranate juice
- Juice of 2 limes
- 8 oz. vodka
- 1 tsp. peppermint extract
- 12 ice cubes
- 4 Tbsp. chopped mint leaves
- 6 miniature candy canes
Place first four ingredients in shaker with ice. Shake and pour into individual glasses. Sprinkle each with mint and garnish with candy cane. Makes 6 servings.
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat 130 <1 g <1 g 11 g <1 g <1 g
- Sangria for Santa. Santa really appreciates the cookies and milk. But after hundreds of years, he’s over it. Want to be on the “nice” list next year? Get a little naughty. Leave some sangria by the fireplace for Santa.
- 10 green grapes, halved
- 4 fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 peach, pitted and sliced
- 1 bottle white or red wine
- 1-1/2 cups white grape juice
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 2 sprigs fresh mint
Place fruit and wine in a large glass pitcher. Add juice and brandy and stir gently. Add mint and stir gently once more. Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve straight or over ice. Makes 6 servings.
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat 183 1 g 1 g 14 g <1 g <1 g
So you’d like to have a “cup of cheer” this holiday season, at least now you can enjoy it without having to wear your baggy Santa outfit for the entire month of January. Happy holidays!