8 Healthy Cocktails for Your Thanksgiving Menu

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition
A pair of hot toddies with fresh fruit and cinnamon

You don’t have to forgo your traditional Thanksgiving champagne cocktail, eggnog, holiday party punch or warm mulled wine before a roaring fire just because you’re dieting.

While the empty calories in alcohol can be problematic when you’re trying to lose weight, it’s actually easy to fit the occasional drink into a healthy lifestyle plan. You just need to be smart about it.

Choosing Cocktails Low in Calories and Sugar

When selecting your Thanksgiving cocktails, choose the options with the fewest calories and the least amount of sugar. A glass of dry white or red wine, such as Chardonnay or Shiraz, fit the bill, as does light beer. A serving of many hard apple ciders, though they’re fairly high in sugar thanks to their fruit base, are under 150 calories and can be made even lighter when turned into a spritzer with some calorie-free seltzer (a Nutrisystem Free Food). Among the hard liquors, gin, rum, tequila, Scotch, Bourbon and vodka are all only about 100 calories per 1.5 ounce serving. Just skip the flavored varieties with their added sugar and calories.

Drinking Alcohol on Nutrisystem

Before you indulge, familiarize yourself with Nutrisystem’s take on alcohol. If you just started the plan, wait a week or two before you add alcohol. After that, make two servings of alcoholic beverages a week your max, preferably not all on the same day. Replenish the fluids you lose when drinking by pairing your alcoholic beverages with water.

On Nutrisystem, one serving of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, four ounces or a half-cup of wine and one shot or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.

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Consider Cocktail Add-Ins, Too!

Add-ins count. So, if you use fruit or 100% fruit juice to mix your Thanksgiving cocktails, this will count towards your daily SmartCarbs. Free Foods include fresh herbs, lemon and lime juice, zero-calorie sweeteners, club soda, seltzer water and sparkling water. Dairy products and protein powder are considered PowerFuels. Check the Nutrisystem Grocery Guide to learn how to count a specific ingredient on your plan.

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Best Thanksgiving Cocktail Recipes To Try

1. Hard Cider

Three glasses of apple cider surrounded by fresh apples

Cider says autumn and this increasingly popular alcoholic version is made with fermented fruit (usually apples) which ups its sugar content, but it’s generally lower in alcohol than beer. It doesn’t have to be a calorie bomb though. Crispin Pearsecco contains just 140 calories in each 12-ounce serving, while Angry Orchard Stone Dry clocks in at 150 calories. You can lower those calories by cutting it with seltzer and enjoying half. Better yet, turn to a hard cider seltzer like City Roots Cider Spritz, a brand of “seltzer-like cider” that clocks in at 97 calories with only one gram of sugar. Some astute label reading will make this drink an option while you’re losing weight.

2. Eggnog

A glass of creamy egg nog topped with cinnamon

If it’s not the holidays without eggnog (with its heavy cream, milk and eggs, a total diet-buster), you can keep it on the menu if you follow our slimmed down recipe, which counts as one PowerFuel and two Extras per serving.

Simply mix two cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk with two eggs, one tablespoon of honey, four to five drops of liquid stevia sweetener, the contents of one vanilla bean, half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg in a blender. Blend for 60 to 90 seconds until frothy, then pour the eggnog mixture into a small pot and turn your heat to low. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, making sure to stir the mixture frequently. The mixture should be warm and steaming, but not bubbling (otherwise the eggs will scramble!).

Once you remove the pan from the heat, allow your eggnog to cool slightly, then pour into a pitcher or jar. Chill it overnight in the fridge to allow it to thicken. If the mixture has separated, blend it again for 30 to 60 seconds.

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3. Thanksgiving Morning Mimosas

A freshly poured mimosa glass surrounded by oranges

Champagne is a dieter’s dream. A four-ounce glass of a dry variety (look for the word “brut” on the label) is only 85 calories, according to Medline Plus. Dry wines have less sugar. Feel free to splash some orange juice (which also comes in a “light” version with less sugar) into your glass for a Thanksgiving morning Mimosa, or add a few berries for a festive touch.

4. Hot Toddy

A pair of hot toddies with fresh fruit and cinnamon

This is the drink you turn to après ski—or après family post-dinner hike—to help you warm up. Some people swear by this comforting beverage as a symptom-easer when they have the sniffles. We just think it tastes good.

To make a healthier Hot Toddy, tart with seven ounces of hot black tea, to which you add one Tablespoon of sugar-free honey, one teaspoon of lemon juice, one teaspoon of ground cinnamon, one teaspoon of ground cloves and one teaspoon of ground nutmeg. You can stop there and count this as one Extra, or you can add a short or splash of whiskey for an extra kick. Count this as one of the two alcoholic beverages you’re allowed each week.

5. Skinny Bloody Mary

A pair of Bloody Marys with fruit and vegetable fixings

What’s a holiday brunch without a Bloody Mary? It’s practically a veggie smoothie. This cocktail is easy to lighten up since it’s pretty light already.

You can make four delicious cocktails starting with two cups of no-salt added tomato juice or low-sodium vegetable juice, to which you add two Tablespoons of lime or lemon juice, one teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, half a teaspoon of prepared horseradish and a few drops (to taste) of bottled hot pepper sauce. Pour the mixture over ice in glasses and garnish with celery sticks.

If you stop there, this recipe makes four Bloody Marys at 24 calories each, which count as one Vegetable on Nutrisystem. You can add a few shots of vodka to taste (remember, one shot equals one serving of your maximum two servings of alcohol a week).

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6. Mulled Wine

Glass of mulled wine infused with fruit and spices

Like a hot toddy, this heavily spiced hot drink is oh-so-comforting on a cold, blustery day. And it’s easy to make for a crowd!

To make mulled wine for Thanksgiving, start with a bottle of dry red wine, such as pinot noir, merlot or a Spanish red. One bottle is about 25 ounces so this recipe makes six servings of four ounces each. Pour it into a pot, then add your flavor boosters. This mulled wine recipe from Gimme Some Oven uses a whole sliced orange, two cinnamon sticks, two star anise and eight whole cloves. We recommend using six to eight drops of liquid stevia instead of the sugar or honey (adjust to taste after you finish heating the mixture). If you like the flavors, add some ginger or cardamom. Simmer on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes to blend the flavors. Don’t boil it or all the alcohol will evaporate!

7. Sparkling Pomegranate Punch

Glasses of sparkling pomegranate punch

No need to avoid the punch bowl at your holiday party if you’re serving this lightened-up version of a tart-sweet pomegranate punch. Simply mix 2.5 cups of seltzer and two cups of pomegranate juice together. At this point, this “mocktail” is 67 calories and counts as one SmartCarb per serving (the recipe makes four servings). Add champagne or another sparkling wine such as prosecco (four ounces are only 85 calories) for four and garnish with lemon twists.

8. Light Moscow Mule

Copper Moscow Mule mug with garnish

This 80-year-old cocktail is enjoying a new surge of popularity (as are the copper mugs it’s usually served in). Remarkably easy to make with just 98 calories worth of vodka (1.5 ounces), a Mule is simple to slim down by using a reduced sugar version of ginger beer such as Q Light Ginger Beer (only 40 calories in 7.5 ounces). You only need five ounces of the ginger beer and the juice of one lime squeezed in and some lime slices for garnish. This recipe makes one serving.

Looking to get healthy and lose weight this holiday season? Get started with Nutrisystem today! >

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