By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Every season has its seasonal drinks — for summer it’s the umbrella cocktails while winter’s delight is dark ales and peppermint mochas. With fall here, we’re starting to think about pumpkin and chai lattes and heavier cocktails and mocktails. To help you navigate the best and healthiest drink options, which will leave you feeling and looking great, I’ve outlined six tips to keep in mind as you choose a beverage.
1. Make the mulled wine or cider into a spritzer.
Mulled wine and cider are an all-time fall favorite, but it’s easy to consume a lot of these beverages. Plus, they can also be heavier in calories than other types of beverages, due to some of the additives that go into making them. Instead of having the mulled cider or wine as is, choose to have it with a little bit of seltzer for a spritzer and you’ll save yourself calories and sugar.
2. Skip the full fat, high calorie lattes.
We all love the classic fall pumpkin and chai latte, but they’re loaded with both calories and sugar. Instead, choose a pumpkin or chai tea and add your own milk and sugar – it will save you tons of calories and sugar that you will likely want to spend elsewhere (perhaps on a piece of pumpkin pie?). Not to mention that many of the pre-made latte mixes also contain artificial sweeteners that can wreak havoc on digestion and contribute to lack of satiety.
3. Use natural herbs and spices and ingredients to make tasty cocktails.
Choose a cinnamon stick, bitters, or herbs and spices from your cabinet like oregano, lemon or orange peel to flavor your cocktails instead of using pre-made mixers.
4. Drink lighter-amber beers.
Fall is a great time for new and different beers — but as the the cooler weather arrives, so too does the dark and heavy beer. These darker beers have more calories and carbs. I love these brews, and wouldn’t advise cutting them out entirely if you enjoy them, too. Do try to limit how many you drink.
5. Use fresh fruit as a mixer with your favorite hard liquor.
For example use pureed pear as a mixer for vodka, or a little bit of freshly squeezed cranberry juice instead of cranberry juice cocktail. Both of these types of mixers will add more nutrients while saving on calories and sugar. If you want to make these non-alcoholic beverages, mix with seltzer or a mineral water instead.
6. Make smart choices.
Like other indulgences, drinks need to be factored in with other higher calorie seasonal food items like candy apples, candy corn and more. Choose to make a choice between having a higher-calorie festive drink and something like a dessert item. Both require planning and consideration and can be had, but important to make sure to make a conscious choice when you will want to include either or both.
Want to know more mocktails? Click here to get more on mocktails that you might be able to include as a fun treat. Happy fall and healthy drinks!