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Healthy Habits: How-Tos

Skinny Summer Cocktails

Order one of these smart choices the next time you’re out with friends.

Tis the season for summer parties and happy hours galore. Luckily, you don't have to abandon your social life to stay healthy: Even nutritionists have a drink from time to time, says Carolyn Brown, registered dietitian at Foodtrainers, a private practice in New York City. The key is to skip the blended drinks and sugary mixers, since they add calories and invite cavities. You're ordering a cocktail -- not dessert, says Brown. Check out some of her top picks.

1. Margaritas
Nothing says summer like a margarita, but they’re typically made with a sweet-and-sour mix that’s packed with sugar. Instead, try this low-cal substitute: tequila on the rocks with lime juice and a little bit of agave syrup. You’ll get the same flavor for a fraction of the calories.

2. Mojitos
Assuming they’re not made with a prepared mix (ask to make sure before you order), these cocktails -- which contain white rum, seltzer, lime, mint leaves and about 1-2 teaspoons of sugar -- are a great low-calorie and low-sugar option. Bonus: The fresh mint has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. To make your mojito even healthier, request that the bartender use half the normal amount of sugar.

3. Vodka Sodas
Since seltzer water is calorie-free, ordering a vodka soda will ensure you keep calories and added sugar at a minimum. For extra flavor, ask for a splash of cranberry juice and a lime wedge. Just make sure not to confuse a vodka soda with a vodka tonic: Tonic water contains almost as much sugar as flavored sodas do.

4. Light Beers
Not only are light beers waistline-friendly (about 90-120 calories each), but they have the added advantage of being preportioned. Since research shows that over-serving in bars is common, ordering a bottled beer is a great way to control the amount of alcohol -- and calories -- you’re taking in.

5. Wine
Wine (both red and white) contains heart-healthy resveratrol. For lower sugar content, choose a red wine or a dry white wine, such as a chardonnay or a pinot grigio. Just be sure to keep an eye on portion size too: Five ounces of wine is the standard serving size. (That’s about one-fifth of a bottle.)

6. Bloody Mary Cocktails
The tomato juice in these vodka-based drinks is a good source of vitamin C, folate, potassium and more. These cocktails are also low in sugar, unlike drinks that contain fruit juices or sodas as a mixer. Eat the celery and any other veggies that garnish the drink for added nutrition.

Robin Hilmantel is an associate editor at Food Network Magazine. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, USA Today and Maxim, among other publications. She is a frequent contributor to Completely You.

Also read: “5 Surprising Habits for a Healthy Heart” and “Brush Your Way to Better Sex”

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