Healthy substitutions elevate holiday drinks

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Too often during the holiday season, people only think about the calories that they’re eating, not the calories they’re drinking. That makes it easy to overindulge because drinks go down so quickly.

But there are ways to approach holiday beverages that are both delicious and heart healthy.

For instance, instead of hot mulled wine or hot apple cider, Penny Kris-Etherton, a nutrition professor at Penn State University, suggests using hot tea instead. Hibiscus tea can replicate the color and acidity of red wine without sugar or alcohol.

It’s festive and has no calories. To make it even more special, add fresh fruit to give sweetness and flavor. A lemon peel or even leftover apple peels can add a fruity touch with little effort.

To keep from feeling deprived from favored traditional drinks, “try and simulate the original recipe as much as you can,” Kris-Etherton said.

For instance, dilute eggnog with fat-free or low-fat milk infused with cinnamon sticks and ground nutmeg. Or use sparkling water or sugar-free seltzer water in recipes, which mimic the sparkle of sparkling wine without the alcohol and calories.

For a special New Year’s cocktail, blend fizzy water with blended and strained cranberry or pomegranate seeds. Be sure to use showstopper garnishes, such as lemon slices, rosemary or other fresh herbs and fruit.

For those who want to drink alcoholic beverages, Kris-Etherton said to always remember moderation. A tip to remember to help with that is to put away any bottle immediately after serving. It cuts down on unnecessary seconds.

“Put it out of sight,” she said.

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