Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tis the Season for Slimming Cocktails

Tall and slender. Bubbly and bright. Luscious and cool. Ah, the temptations of cocktail hour.

From retro whiskey sours and Kir Royals to trendy pomegranate martinis and green tea infused vodkas, the clever concoctions created by bartenders today offer a fantastic assortment of enticements long before the dinner menu even hits the table. So, the hospitable greeting, “Would you like to start with a drink?” introduces the first challenge to diners with an eye on calorie control when dining out. Got your eye on a shaken and not stirred martini? Here’s how to do the metabolic math on alcohol. The standard 1.5 ounce serving of 80-proof alcohol has 96 calories even before you add any mixers. Whether you're drinking a beer or a Bellini; the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories.
For example:
80-proof vodka (40% alcohol; most common) - 64 calories per 1oz
100-proof vodka (50% alcohol)-82 calories/1 oz
And it’s real easy to overdo it with alcohol calories. Here’s why. 1 gram of alcohol has 7 calories, compared with only 4 calories for a gram of carbohydrates or protein. There are 9 calories per gram of fat. So, even though you won’t find the number of grams of alcohol per ounce on a wine list, you get the idea that alcohol is a pretty concentrated source of calories.

But Green Tea is Healthy, right?
The restaurant’s bar often isn’t far from the kitchen these days and modern mixologists are borrowing from popular culinary trends. Enter the pomegranate martini. Sure pomegranate juice is super high in antioxidants and research does show that the kind of nutrients it contains can be heart healthy. But, most studies looked at the effects of 8 ounces of pomegranate juice per day for 45 days- not eight drops in a martini on a Friday night. Same goes for green tea infused vodkas or other concoctions including green tea in the recipe. There’s generally not enough to pack a health promoting punch. Enjoy the flavor. It’s a cocktail not a cure. Well, guess it depends what ails ya!

Dessert in Disguise
From frozen strawberry pina coladas to Key Lime pie martinis served with graham cracker cookie crumbs on the rim-they’re creamy, delicious and loaded with calories. If you must imbibe say hello to your liquid dessert! And goodbye to any other splurge items on the menu tonight. If you want to end the meal with a sweet drink, order a small (1.5 oz) after dinner liqueur like Grand Marnier or Amaretto, over ice and sip slowly for 120 calories.

Bottom’s Up?

400+ Calorie Splurge Club- It’s the fat in the cream that ups calorie counts.
Pina Colada (5oz), Chocolate Martini (5oz), White Russian (5 oz),
Eggnog with rum (8 oz), Hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps (8 oz)

300+ Calorie Caution Club – It’s the sugar in the mix that drives up calories.
Mojito (8oz), Margarita (8oz), Whiskey Sour (8oz), Mai Tai (6oz), Cosmopolitan (5 oz)
coffee or chocolate liqueur (4 oz)

200 and under Calorie Slender Sipping Club
Martini (2.5 oz): 160 calories -This is a small martini by restaurant standards!
Port wine (3 oz):128 calories – High alcohol content means high calorie content.
Bloody Mary (5 oz): 118 calories – Good source of vitamin A but watch the sodium.
Red wine (5 oz):120 calories- Higher alcohol reds will have more calories.
White wine (5 oz): 120calories-Sweeter whites will have more calories.
Champagne, Cava, Prosecco or other Méthode Champenoise wine (5oz): 106-120 calories- Is this why French Women Don’t get Fat?
Wine spritzer with sparkling water (5 oz): 100 calories – More hydration, same festive glass!
Spiced cider with rum (8 oz):150 calories- Hot beverages take longer to drink, too.
Vodka, Gin or Rum and tonic (8 oz): 200 calories- Order with diet tonic or club soda and save 100 calories.
Screwdriver (8 oz): 190 calories- Sub half of orange juice with club soda and cut 50 calories.
Mimosa (5 oz): 100 calories – About the same calories as Champagne alone but you get some Vitamin C in your drink.


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