Sunday, October 30, 2011

Low Carb Holiday Beverages

When you think of beverages during the holidays, typically those beverages are 'spirited' with alcohol. Unfortunately, alcohol is considered taboo on most low carb diets, typically because alcohol turns to sugar, even if the label says zero carbs. But there are ways to reduce the total carbs in some of our favorite festive drinks. Let's take a look at a few ways to enjoy your holiday spirits with a few less carbs.

Giving Egg Nog A Chance

This is one holiday favorite that often gets the thumbs-down on a low carb diet. But, what is the main ingredient you're trying to avoid? Of course, the rum comes to mind, but surprisingly, rum is not high in carbs or even sugars. The alcohol is known to turn into sugar when ingested, but this is not a beverage that is considered high in carbs or one that you would drink a lot of.

So, where does the fear of egg nog's high carb status come from? It's the creaminess, of course. This is an easy fix. Use low carb milk products like almond milk or even whole cream. Find a recipe you like and tweak it to fit your own personal taste. In my experience, most recipes use too much rum, so start with less, which is another way to cut back on the alcohol-sugar that many low carb diets warn against.

This is another case of thinking before using a recipe. There are often ways to reduce sugars and carbs in a recipe when you just take a minute to look at the labels. Many people would assume that using skim milk would improve the recipe to be healthier. However, if you are eating, or in this case drinking, a low carb diet, you'll learn that low fat often means high carb. Remember, read the labels and tweak your recipes accordingly. That way you can enjoy many of your favorite holiday beverages without guilt.

After Dinner Irish Whiskey Coffee

Enjoying a cup of coffee after dinner is a nice treat and a familiar tradition after a big holiday feast. But, for special occasions we often like to dress our coffee up a bit with a little cream and a splash of spirits. Never fear. Your treat can be low carb if you watch your ingredients.

Whiskey is carb-free, of course, but remember, the alcohol itself does turn into sugar in the body, so limit yourself. Use a nice, rich coffee, decaffeinated or not, and fill a large mug, then add the whiskey. You will probably add less than the recipe calls for if you taste the coffee before adding more. Now, again, the trick is in choosing the cream. Go ahead and put a big dollop of whipped cream on top. The carbs are just about nonexistent and the sugar is relatively low, but the calories are something to be aware of. However, you aren't going to have more than a dollop, so enjoy.

Cocktail Time Tricks

If you like a traditional cocktail, like a Tom Collins or a Cosmopolitan, for instance, you'll have to rethink using the sweet ingredients. The easiest way to make these kinds of beverages low carb is to replace any sugar with artificial sweeteners. There is really no way around it.

Using unsweetened lemonade, cranberry juice, or other mixes will give you the ability to add just the right amount of artificial sweeteners. Sweeten your cocktail with artificially sweetened powdered drink mixes like Crystal Light instead of sugar to make the carbs and calories easier to calculate. Remember to taste before sweetening, as I have time-and-time again noticed that most recipes call for too much sweetener, no matter if it's artificial or regular sugar.

Wonderful Wine

A nice glass of wine with dinner is a classic holiday treat. Unfortunately, this is one alcohol beverage that contains carbs, both from sugars and the alcohol. No matter what kind of wine you drink, white, red, or rose, you will be getting a couple grams of carbs in a small glass of wine; small being about a 3 to 4 ounce glass. Considering that most wine glasses hold a lot more than that, you have to be careful and measure.

Even though many wine lovers argue that red has more carbs than white, or that white has more carbs than red, the truth is it's all about the same. With the exception of sweet or 'dessert' wines, which have a great deal more carbs than either red or white table wines. If you want to reduce the total carbs in your wine beverage, there is the option of adding a low carb 'wash' such as a sparkling water and turn your wine into a spritzer served over ice. Toss in a few berries or fruit to make the spritzer more beautiful.

Sure, you can enjoy a spirited beverage during your holiday feast, as long as you measure, tweak the recipes, and pay attention to the ingredients. Don't expect your beverage of choice to be entirely low carb and diet friendly, but with a little common sense, you can enjoy the spirit, and the spirits, of the season.

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