Healthier Holiday Drinks

December 8th, 2012

The holiday season is upon us and many of us are busy baking, cooking and all-out preparing for special events and gatherings. We often spend hours menu planning and recipe perfecting for appetizers, entrees and desserts, but may give little thought to beverages. Beverages can make or break a gathering and while it’s important to have family favourites on hand it is also a good idea to have healthy, sugar-free options available as well. After all, when we do not pay attention to the sugar and fat present in beverages the calories quickly add up!

Yesterday, I joined the CTV Edmonton Morning Live crew to discuss healthier holiday drink options. Check out the segment “Tips to Cut Calories” clip here and read below for more information and recipes.

Here’s a quick label reading tip that can help you better visualize the amount of sugar and fat present in food.

4 grams of sugar = 1 tsp. (5 ml) of sugar


1 can (355 ml) of regular soda has on average 140 Calories including 40 grams (10 tsp.) of sugar.

4 grams of fat = 1 tsp. (5 ml) of fat


1 cup of full-fat eggnog has on average 360 Calories including 23 grams (5.75 tsp.) of sugar and 20 grams (5 tsp.) of fat.

Given the amount of sugar, and sometimes fat, present in beverages it’s a good idea to choose healthier alternatives. Here are a few ideas…

Revamp your water. Make is sparkling. Add citrus. Add pomegranate. Try Crystal Light or another sugar-free flavouring such as Mio.

Enjoy Tea. There are so many teas and they can be enjoyed hot or cold. Try a warm spiced blend, or a mixed berry on a cold evening. Add a little Splenda, or honey if you need a touch of sweetness.

Opt for diet soda. By switching out one can of regular soda for the diet version you’ll save 10 tsp. of sugar and nearly 150 Calories.

Get your milk hot. Not a fan of cold milk? Why not warm it up and add a little shot of espresso or instant flavoured coffee. An 8 oz. latte made at home with low-fat milk will have less than 3 tsp. of sugar and 9 grams of protein.

Limit alcohol. The average regular beer has 150 Calories, and a 5 oz. glass of wine is about the same. Hard alcohol adds calories even quicker as it is often mixed with soda or another sweetened beverage.

Add cinnamon. If you’re making a spiced holiday beverage add cinnamon; a natural blood sugar regulator so it is not only delicious, but packs a nutritional benefit too.

Homemade Hot Cocoa

  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1-2 packets of Splenda sweetener (to desired sweetness)
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat mixture in a saucepan or in a microwave until desired temperature is reached. Mix well. Substitute 2 oz. dark chocolate if dark cocoa powder is unavailable. Yields one serving.

Hot Apple-Cinnamon Drink

  • 2 cups spiced or black tea
  • 1 small apple, shredded
  • 1 cup 100% unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. Splenda

Heat mixture in a saucepan or in a microwave until desired temperature is reached. Mix well. Substitute 1 cup of 100% cranberry juice for a more tangy drink.

Happy holidays.