Ah, the joys of a Friday night. The stressful work week is over and it is time to call up some friends and unwind with cocktails. That is, of course, after exhausting two hours at the gym and skipping dessert to make up for all those empty, sugary calories in a few mixed drinks. Even worse, after just two highballs, the wooziness sets in and getting over a dreadful hangover becomes part of tomorrow’s to-do list.
These are just the consequences of hard-earned weekend indulgences, right? Wrong.
Believe it or not, there are ways to enjoy happy hour without the nausea or the regret. With a dash of creativity and fresh ingredients, guilty pleasures can transform into tasty, wholesome treats (as nutritious as alcoholic beverages can be). Go on, grab the blender, invite some friends over and delight in these taste bud “wow-ing,” healthy cocktails. Warning gentlemen readers, these delicious drinks may air on the side of ‘girly’.
(I envision the following recipes formatted online so that they are side by side, with a “vs.” in between.)
Instead of one margarita to go with…well, nothing, pair a mouthwatering watermelon daiquiri with mini black bean burritos or whole grain chips and salsa.
Dazzling Watermelon Daiquiri-
2 cups of watermelon (46 cal)
3 ounces tequila (194 cal)
Zero calorie sweetener
(preferably a natural brand made from stevia, like Truvia)
1 cup of low sugar orange juice (50 cal)
= 146 calories per serving
One traditional Margarita at 740 cal per serving (according to Forbes.com)
Mini Black Bean Burritos
- 1/2 cup black beans (90 cal)
- 1 mini whole grain tortilla (50 cal)
- 1 dollop reduced fat-sour cream
- salsa, any brand
- ½ sliced avocado (150 cal)
1 taco serving ~ 290 cal
1 watermelon daiquiri + two burritos < one traditional margarita——this could be an interesting pull out graphic. (1 watermelon daiquiri and 2 burritos is LESS than one traditional margarita!)
Think chocolate milkshakes and root beer floats are just for kids? Think again. Try these grown-up versions of your favorite childhood delights, bust out the board games and do a little dance.
Instead of a Mudslide cocktail made of Bailey’s and Kahlua at a whopping 566 calories for a six ounce serving, relish in a frothy chocolate “adult” smoothie.
Spiked Choconana Shake
1/2 frozen banana (40 cal)
1cup light chocolate soymilk (90 cal)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1.5 ounces of rum (64 cal)
= 194 cal
- This is drink is not super light, but it is high in cancer fighting antioxidants and energy-stabilizing B-vitamins. Remember, it’s about the health people, NOT the calories! Skip the rum to make it a refreshing snack.
“Big Kid” Root Beer Float
1.5 ounces root beer flavored vodka
8 oz. diet cream soda
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
Zero calorie sweetener to taste
= 64 cal
- Wow! With a drink this light, feel free to dive into something sweet, or add a scoop of light vanilla ice cream to make it decadent dessert cocktail. Want a completely flawless night? Snack on a platter of seasonal fruits and serve with dark chocolate fondue.
Skip the Lemondrop Martini and a side of small curly fries (topping over 500 calories) for a …
Luscious Lemon Lip Smacker and baked sweet potato fries.
1 on-the-go packet of Crystal Light lemonade flavored drink mix (10 cal)
1.5 ounces vodka (64 cal)
1 tablespoon of agave nectar or zero calorie sweetener
½ lemon to garnish, and rim with no calorie sweetener (Splenda or stevia)
= 74 cal. (Using agave nectar will add about 60 cal).
- This drink is low on calories, but it does contain aspartame, a controversial food additive said to have harmful effects. Although no concrete evidence exists that the Food and Drug Administration-approved sweetener is health hazardous, for a more natural approach, make this cocktail with fresh squeezed lemon juice. It may take a little more effort, but the result is a lighter, more succulent cocktail.
Baked sweet potato fries
* Recipe courtesy of Eatingwell.com
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into wedges
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss sweet potato wedges with oil, salt and pepper. Put wedges on baking sheet. Bake fries for 10 minutes, turn once and then bake again for an additional 10 minutes.
~122 calories per serving
* Recipes for dazzling Watermelon daiquiri, Spiked Choco-nana Smoothie and “Big Kid” Root Beer Float were inspired by the article, “Happy Hour How-To” in the August 2010 issue of VegNews magazine.
Article by Robyn Abree
Photography by Megan Kluttz