Bill Boch/Stockbyte/Getty Images; Larry Gatz/The Image Bank/Getty Images By Cynthia Ramnarace
It's summertime, and the cocktail sipping's easy. But which drinks are most likely to derail your diet?
Frozen Margarita vs. Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri
You're craving a tall, frosty, frozen cocktail. But do you go for the pink or the green? Which is worse?
Worse: Frozen Margarita
The daiquiri wins only if it's made with real strawberries, says Joan Salge Blake, R.D., nutrition professor at Boston University and author of Nutrition and You . "If they're using real strawberries, and a fair amount of them, you're actually going to get some fiber," says Blake. "You actually may get full from having it, which could make you eat less once dinner arrives." Even if your bartender doesn't make his frozen drinks from scratch, some, but not all, pre-made daiquiri mixes have real strawberries . Ask your mix master what she uses. Recipe: Berry Daquiri
Gin and Tonic vs. Peach Bellini
A mix of gin, tonic and a squeeze of lime or a cocktail made of sparkling wine and peaches? Which is worse?
Worse: Gin and tonic
Neither are a terrible choice, says Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D., nutrition expert and co-author of The Carb Lover's Diet . But the bellini's real peaches help it edge out a win over the gin and tonic. "They're both fairly low in calories but with the bellini, you get the antioxidants and some vitamin A from the peaches," she says. There are a lot of bellini recipes out there, but Largeman-Roth recommends keeping yours simple with just pureed peaches, the wine and as little added sugar as possible. Recipe: Peach Bellini
Fruit Smoothie vs. Coffee Frappe
It's scorching outside and you need a cool midday drink. Do you go with =a frozen blend of fruit or a mix of coffee, milk and ice? Which is worse?
Worse: Coffee Frappe
It looks so harmless: Just an icy form of your morning coffee, right? Wrong. Frappes are often made with whole milk and lots of it. And then there's the added sugar. The smoothie is sweet, too, but most of that comes naturally from belly-filling whole fruit. But because smoothies can be caloric bombs, "always order the smallest size and go for ones with simple names, like banana strawberry," says Largeman-Roth. The fancier the drink the more added calories. If you've got to have some java, you're much better off ordering a black iced coffee and adding your own fat-free or low-fat milk and a moderate amount of sugar -- or none at all). Recipe: Fruit Smoothie
Hard Lemonade vs. Watermelon Martini
You can buy bottled hard lemonade or make it yourself with vodka, lemonade and simple syrup. A watermelon martini is a mix of pureed watermelon, vodka, simple syrup and lemon juice. Which is worse?
Worse: Hard Lemonade
Commercially made hard lemonade has 30 grams of sugar and 220 calories per bottle, making it the loser. If you go easy on the simple syrup, the martini comes in at just over 100 calories -- 3 ounces of watermelon delivers a mere 30 calories while a shot of vodka has 70. The watermelon also has fiber, which will help fill you up. "With the hard lemonade, people end up drinking a lot of them because they don't taste like they have alcohol in them," says Largeman-Roth.
Iced Mocha vs. Thai Iced Tea
Iced coffee with a shot of chocolate syrup or a sweet and creamy Thai Iced Tea? Which is worse?
Answer: Thai Iced Tea
"The Thai iced Tea is worse because not only does it have a lot of sugar in it, it has condensed milk on top of that," says Largeman-Roth. Condensed milk is actually milk mixed with sugar, and just 2 tablespoons of it has 130 calories and 3 grams of fat (2 saturated). Most Thai Iced Tea recipes call for adding even more sugar to that! "Order the iced mocha but skip the whipped cream on top," Largeman-Roth says. "And if you make it yourself, use dark cocoa which will give you antioxidants."
Pina Colada vs. Strawberry Daiquiri
Both are classic fruity summer cocktails, but which is worse?
Worse: Pina Colada
"The pina colada has a ton of sugar and saturated fat from the cream of coconut," says Largeman-Roth. Both are calorie losers, though, delivering more than 200 calories per cocktail. So try to keep yourself to one serving. A lighter version of the pina colada can be made at home with light cream of coconut.
Lemonade vs. Iced Tea
Tangy lemonade or fresh-brewed tea? Which is worse?
The lemonade is the loser because you have no choice -- you have to add sugar. The tea, on the other hand, is perfect on its own. Brew your own easily by throwing a few teabags in a pitcher of water and letting it sit overnight in the fridge. Try herbal varieties such as mint or raspberry tea and you'll have a great-tasting zero-calorie, antioxidant-rich drink. Making your own lemonade is also really easy -- all you need is a juicer -- and you can control how much sugar you use. If you've never made either from scratch, give it a try. "Because anything from a mix is pretty junky," Largeman-Roth says.
Tom Collins vs. Mint Julep
Tom Collins is a mix of gin and soda made from high fructose corn syrup and lemon juice, then topped with a maraschino cherry. A mint julep, a southern classic, combines bourbon, mint leaves and sugar. Which is worse?
Worse: Tom Collins
This was a tough contest, says Largeman-Roth, since both drinks are pretty similar -- alcohol mixed with a sweetened soda. But those maraschino cherries make the Tom Collins the loser. "It's basically a candied and preserved cherry with added dye," says Largeman-Roth. And, she says, cherry syrup is often added, to the drink, too, for even more calories. Recipe: Mint Julep
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