The Skinny on Agave & Some Cool Low Cal Cocktails

How often has this happened…?

Something gets the reputation for being “healthy” and suddenly there’s a bandwagon to jump on, a fad to join in on. Recently, agave nectar has snuck its way in to one such a phenomena.

In this case, the allure probably has to do with the fact that this sweetener is “natural.” It comes from a plant so it must be healthy and therefore let’s load up on it, right?! Unfortunately folks, like so many “too good to be true” realizations, the premise that agave is nature’s greatest free-for-all is false.

Sure, agave makes a sweet switch-out for honey or as a mix-in for margaritas (and it’s no surprise – agave is made from the same plant used to make tequila,) but its calorie count is no less than any other sweetener.

The verdict? Use in moderation – just like you would honey or any full-calorie sweetener. But just because you can’t go nuts for the nectar doesn’t mean a few summer cocktails aren’t just the ticket to cool things down on hot summer nights.

I’ve stirred up a few luscious libations and tested them out on a few friends willing to help out a pregnant mixologist! Check ‘em out and chill out.

And never fear, fellow pregnant pals (or anyone who isn't too spirited about spirits,) I've included a few delicious drinks for you too!

Sangria:

1 magnum bottle cabarnet sauvignon (You can use any red wine, but cab has a nice jammy flavor that’s a great starting point for fruity flavors.)

½ cup Splenda simple syrup *see below will do (1/2 cup granulated splenda, 1/2 cup water, boiled til Splenda dissolves.)

1 cup of flavored vodka (I like peach, Absolut Apeach, but Abolut Ruby Red, Mandarin, Mango or Citron would work too.)

½ liter of Sprite zero, but using the full liter couldn't hurt, it'd just make it bubblier.)

Fresh squeezed lime juice to taste

Top off with 50% Less Sugar Tropicana just to make it slightly cloudy

Helpful tip, I kept my fruit separate, wheras some folks toss all of this together. Diced apples (skin on is cool), kept with diced limes and an orange. The citrus will keep the apples from going brown too fast. Guests spoon in the fruit and pour the drink over it. This recipe yields a lot of drink, so it might keep a day or so longer. If you leave fruit in the drink sitting there, the alcohol will absorb in to the fruit, making it ferment and give you a nicer buzz than you intended... Plus, it will also break down and get pretty unsavory.

Margaritas

1 ounce Patron

½ ounce Cointreu

Juice of ½ or 1 whole lime (to taste)

Top off with Sprite Zero

Again, this is too taste. If you like a little fresher lime, go for more juice, if not add more Sprite Zero.

Splenda Simple Syrup

Regular simple syrup is just that – simple. And the Splenda version is no different in that sense. However, when I tested this out, I found a little goes a long way. For the Sangria, for example, you’ll only need ½ a cup of granulated Splenda and ½ cup water. Simply boil until the Splenda is dissolved and – ta-da! – syrup!

A good idea is to make a batch of this in advance. Let it cool and fill a plastic squeeze bottle with it and then set it out at your next cocktail party. Your guests can create their own cocktail concoctions with it.

Also, try throwing in different seasonings while it boils to add to the flavor. Throw a whole stick of thyme in for a fresh flavor or grate some lime or lemon peel in.

Drink and Drive

…as long as you’re sipping on one of these scrumptious, alcohol-free mixers.

Throw a little of the thyme simple syrup in to a tall glass of seltzer, squeeze in some lime and you’ve got a drink so refreshing you’ll be chilled to the bone.

For a fresh take on a smoothie, blend seedless watermelon chunks, basil, lime juice and a little bit of seltzer to give it a nice liquid consistency.

But really, herbs are not only fresh additions for your food but for your drinks too! Play with flavors  and spices that will freshen up drinks instead of adding sugary mix-ins to them.


Heather Bauer, RD CDN
Heather Bauer, RD CDN

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