Health Crush Contributor
No One Wants to Feel Deprived During the Holiday Season!
It’s almost impossible to say no to pernil, casseroles, tamales, and all the trimmings. But alongside those hearty holiday dishes come some equally heavy and sugary cocktails. Since giving up dessert is not an option, it’s a relief to know there are easy and enticing traditional holiday cocktail recipes with healthy twists.
There is much deliciousness in Latin holiday drinks; yet a glance at the basic lineup of Ponche Navideño, coquito, mojito, and the festive margarita reveals the culprit of high sugar content.
Why it’s Worth Giving Your Traditional Cocktails a Healthy Spin
Processed sugar is not our friend. This rings particularly true for Latinos who have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.
Even if you do not have diabetes, consuming loads of sugary beverages impacts your health negatively. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sugary beverages are the largest source of sugar and one of the top calorie contributors in the U.S. diet. But sugar is not the only problem with these sweet liquid treats.
Another offender is cholesterol. Whether you call it coquito, ponche crema, or rompope, this decadent Latin eggnog recipe is chock full of fat and cholesterol. A ½ cup serving (an amount no one sticks to) gifts you with 300 calories, 9 grams of fat (6 of which are saturated fat), and 70 mg of cholesterol. So, with 1 cup (2 servings) you have reached nearly one- third of your recommended total caloric intake, and have capped your daily allowance for saturated fat and half of your cholesterol, all before taking the first bite of dinner.
With almost half of the U.S. Hispanic population not being aware that they have high cholesterol, it’s important to cut fat and cholesterol wherever you can. Making simple changes to your holiday cocktail recipes is the easiest and quickest way to lower saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugar consumption without losing the fun factor.
4 HEALTHY VERSIONS YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY COCKTAILS
Some healthy alternatives can make a big difference in the flavor of your favorite holiday cocktail, but not with these tried-and-true sugar, egg, and dairy substitutes. There is no need to feel like you’re sacrificing this holiday season. So pass the lechon, and ¡Salud! with healthier holiday cocktail recipes!
1) Christmas Punch
This drink is not as caloric as coquito, but it is usually sweetened with brown sugar. Try to reduce your glycemic index, and avoid rising blood sugar, try real maple syrup or brown rice syrup. Both sugar alternatives are very sweet, and have the qualities of caramel that combine perfectly with cinnamon and the fruits that are traditionally used to flavor the punch.
If you choose real maple syrup you will get additional benefits, since studies have shown that it has anti-inflammatory properties.
The aforementioned sugar substitutes will also richly sweeten this classic cocktail, but without changing its color. Fortunately, there are many clear and tasty syrups with a better nutritional profile than granulated sugar.
The easiest option is that of agave syrup. This super-sweet nectar (which is made from the same plant as tequila) has a glycemic index five times lower than regular sugar.
This does not mean that the agave is low in sugar; It should still be used sparingly. If you could get the yacon syrup, this would definitely be the sugar substitute! Native to the Andes in South America, yacon root is boiled to extract sugar.
This syrup has the lowest glycemic index of all natural sugars, and studies have shown that it is a natural probiotic. This means that it helps promote healthy intestinal bacteria and improve your immune system, beneficial for everyone! When mixing the ingredients for this simple cocktail, always remember to use fresh limes. These enhance the flavor and are an excellent source of vitamin C, calcium, iron and fiber.
3) Coquito / rompope / cream punch
This holiday favorite needs a complete overhaul, and can be easily compatible with the ingredients, cream and condensed milk. Fortunately, there is coconut milk and coconut palm sugar!
Not only will you reduce your cholesterol and sugar content, but you will intensify your flavor with sweet nutty and tropical coconut flavor, plus you are being extra creamy.
This cocktail has the simplest healthy substitute of all. There is no need to use previously made margarita mixture when you can use fresh or frozen fruit. Try using a frozen mix of mango, raspberries and frozen or fresh strawberries. Not only your cocktail has a lot of power and flavor to combine with the decorations on your table, but it will also be full of vitamin A, C, potassium and calcium.
Frozen fruits are a deep-frozen process at the moment of maximum quality and are often sweeter than fresh fruit. In addition, they are ideal to obtain that perfect melted medium consistency.