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Sip smarter: Have a healthier happy hour

As the days get longer and the temperature climbs, you may find yourself looking to indulge in a cocktail as the sun sets or while sitting poolside. While many cocktails are high in calories – some have more fat and calories than a cheeseburger – there are simple swaps you can make to avoid packing on the pounds.

Remember to indulge sensibly – the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that women consume no more than one alcoholic beverage a day while men should keep their limit at two. Cheers!

  • Choose regular alcohol (vodka, gin, whiskey or tequila) and limit the liqueurs you drink – they can contain added fat and sugar.
  • Mixers can bump up the calorie count in your favorite drink, so order your beverage neat or on the rocks. If you want a mixer, choose diet soda, soda water or diet tonic. Drinks like pina coladas, margaritas, cosmopolitans and mudslides can contain hundreds calories, thanks to syrups, fruit juice, cream or sugar.
  • Alternate alcoholic beverages with water or club soda. Water keeps you hydrated, reducing your hangover symptoms, and you’ll still have a drink to sip.   
  • Cut calories by making your drink a wine spritzer or a shandy (beer with diet ginger ale).
  • Choose beverages with lower alcohol content. The higher the volume of alcohol, the more calories the liquor will have.
  • Watch your portion sizes. The following amounts are considered one serving size: 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces (or a shot) of 80-proof distilled liquor. 

For those occasions you choose to indulge in a sweet, higher-calorie cocktail, boost the health benefits of your beverage by using fresh fruit, agave or green tea, like in the recipes below, courtesy of Nancy Waldeck, a chef at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont.

Strawberry Rum Cooler

This strawberry rum cooler is full of fresh strawberries, which contain vitamin C and phytochemicals that may help prevent cancer.

  • 32 ounces of fresh ripe strawberries
  • 1 glass of ice cubes
  • 2 large limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon of agave syrup
  • 4 ounces of rum
  • Club soda
  • Strawberries and sliced limes for garnish

Place the strawberries, ice, lime juice and zest, agave and rum in the blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into 4 glasses and top off with club soda. Garnish with strawberries and lime.

Green Tequila Tea

Inspired by Long Island Iced Tea, this cocktail includes fresh citrus juices and green tea for added health benefits.

  • 3 limes
  • 3 lemons
  • 4 cups of brewed green tea
  • ¼ cup of orange liqueur
  • ¼ cup of tequila
  • 1 tablespoon of agave
  • Slices of lemon and lime for garnish

Juice the limes and lemons. Stir together the juices, tea, orange liquor, tequila and agave in a large pitcher. Fill glasses with ice and pour the tea into the glasses. Garnish with slices of lemon and lime.

For more healthy snacks, meals and desserts, browse the Recipe Index.

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