Did someone just say Alcohol?! Yes, that’s right, today I’m talking all about my favorite Alcoholic Beverages. Cheers!
Happy Friday, I hope you have been having a fabulous week! I don’t know what it is about Fridays but it makes me want to turn the music up to 11. I also may dance around a bit while doing meal plans and every other task I haven’t accomplished yet this week, perks of working from home I guess.
This week on my Friday Favorites edition, I wanted to talk about my go-to Alcoholic Beverages. As a dietitian, you may think that I have zero fun, only eat healthily and rarely, if ever, indulge. For those who know me, they know this is far from the truth. I strive to eat as healthy as possible most of the time but I also like to strike a balance and enjoy the finer things in life like wine, chocolate & cheese.
Alcohol can fit into a healthy lifestyle but should be enjoyed in moderation and with your health and goals in mind. Please consult a physician and/or dietitian if you are concerned about your health.
How Can Alcohol Fit Into a Healthy Diet?
I get asked all the time, can I have alcohol as part of a healthy diet? My answer, as you can probably imagine is “it depends”. For some people who have goals such as weight loss, hormone regulation, athletic performance, improved gut health, etc. alcohol may not be the best idea.
However, for those that are happy with their health status, notice no ill effects from it, have good sleep and also have a good relationship with alcohol (aka can moderate or are not dependent on), alcohol can fit in. Now, this is not to say that to be healthy you need or don’t need alcohol. It’s not that black or white. It means that alcohol can fit in, within reason.
I figured I’d share a bit about my favorite beverages and why. I’ll come back another day with the pros/cons of alcohol, sit tight. Anywho, I tend to shy away from any sugary beverages. The sugar is a recipe for a hangover, a blood sugar crash, and unwanted weight gain if done on the regular. Choosing the type of alcohol can make all the difference. However, more importantly, quantity and what else you are consuming with said beverages can really make or break your health around alcohol. Let’s be honest, after a few drinks the “YOLO” mentality can set in and suddely a whole box of pizza sounds like a good idea (hint: it’s not).
My Favorite Alcohol Beverages
Remember this is not me telling you to go out and drink these beverages, instead it is a peek into what I drink and why. I usually don’t drink throughout the week as I find I need a few more hours of sleep after I drink to feel refreshed. I don’t have that luxury (hello 5:30 am alarm) on weekdays. However, when I do drink, I try to drink smart (See below).
Alrighty, here are my favorites! These are listed in no particular order, just beverages that I enjoy and are my Friday Favorites this week.
I didn’t always like wine. I used to smell my parents’ wine and turn my nose and gag. It was too strong of a smell and taste for me to wrap my head around. That was until I was exposed to the wineries in the Finger Lakes region (albeit not always the best wine) in college and I started to change my tune on wine.
I found that I hated anything sweet and eventually found my cup of tea was dry red wines. When it comes to wine, I like a bold flavor, with some hints of fruits like cherries but I prefer it to be dry as possible. I have a friend who is a wine guy, so I’ve been lucky enough to try some excellent wine over the past few years (Thanks Brian!) and I’m excited to learn more one day. If you’re in the Albany area I recommend going to Empire Wine they know their stuff and they are well priced. When there I always ask for recommendations and they have yet to steer me wrong! (Thanks Matt!) (Not in Albany? Don’t worry, they ship!)
Favorites: Cabernet Sauvignons & Malbec, and occasionally a Sauvignon Blanc in the summer
I remember the first time I had a cider in college, it was a Woodchuck. It was so sickeningly sweet that I couldn’t finish it. At that point in my life, I would’ve much preferred to have a beer. So I wrote off ciders for a while figuring they were all sugar-loaded drinks just asking for a next-morning headache. Beer started to make me feel not so great (bloat, indigestion, foggy brain) so I stopped drinking it a few years back. I was left with wine and mixed drinks for the time being.
Then something happened over the past few years. Craft hard ciders started popping up. It makes sense considering we live in Upstate NY where apples grow like weeds around here. My local beverage shop (Westmere Beverage) use to have 2 shelves of cider, now when I go in it’s like I’m a kid in a candy shop. There are so many to choose from and so many dry ciders with no sugar added, my dream!
I much prefer the drier ciders. When it’s too sweet I cannot handle it. Luckily many craft ciders have realized that and there are so many flavors and varieties, watch out craft beer! I have a few go-tos and am even doing a 26-er Nine Pin challenge right now with a bunch of friends. We meet at Nine Pin Cider’s Tasting Room every 2 weeks for the entire year to try a new cider, I’ll write a mid-way wrap up post when we get halfway!
Kombuch-what? Kombucha is tea fermented with sugar and usually has flavors added to them. Kombucha is on the rise as a health food/beverage. Why? Because it is loaded with probiotics which can be good for gut health. I love all the flavors and love combining my drinks with kombucha. Some kombucha is alcoholic (look on the label) so sometimes I just replace a drink with an entire kombucha. It feels like I’m cheating the system but I dig it!
My favorite combo is mixing a cider and a kombucha 1:1. We call this the “Lilogna” as a combo of mine and my friend’s last names. I bring the cider, she brings the booch (Kombucha) and we make our famous Cider-booch cocktail, delicious!
Margaritas might be one of my favorite summertime cocktails. However, as with the theme with all these drinks I hate when they are super sweet. I tend to stick to a Margarita on the rocks (with salt of course) and ask if they have a less sweet option. I also opt to make them myself so I have control over what goes in them, yeah I’m annoying like that.
Favorites: Skinny(hate this term but means they don’t use a mix usually) or Homemade Strawberry Jalapeno Margaritas
Other Mixed Drinks
The above drinks are my go-tos, however when at weddings, parties, restaurants or bars, I like to have some other options in case the wine stinks, the cider is sweet and I need something tasty and not hangover-inducing. I also love a good Sunday Brunch cocktail so make me a Bloody Mary and we will be instant friends 🙂
Favorites: Bloody Mary, Gin & Tonic, Vodka Soda, Greyhound, Moscow Mule (if not incredibly sweet),and Mojitos
How to Drink Smart
You did’t think I would leave you without some tips on how to drink smart, did you?! HEre are some tips and tricks to make sure alcohol (done so in moderation) is not sabotaging your health.
- Don’t overdo it, know your limits.
It is easy to go overboard with alcoholic beverages. When out, limit yorself to 1-2 drinks and stay away from anything sugary. If you are someone who likes to track your intake, I generally count 1 oz. of alcohol as ~6-7g carb (it’s not scientific or perfect, but it usually does the trick for my clients).
- Drink water and lots of it.
My rule of thumb is for every cocktail or drink I have I must have an equal or larger glass of water before & after it. It cuts back on the volume I drink and keeps me hydrated. You’ll thank me for this rule later.
- Stop drinking so close to bedtime.
Your body metabolizes alcohol first (over food) and it doesn’t happen in one minute. Give yor body enough time to process alcohol before going to bed (at least 1-2 hours). You’ll sleep so much better and feel well rested the next morning (that is if you get ENOUGH sleep).
This one is tricky. Don’t go popping pills just yet. However, when you drink, it depletes your body of some vitamins and minerals. Not to mention, can leave you dehydrated. I recommend you replenish with water, fruits, vegetables and if needed electrolytes. I also make sure to not miss my Magnesium and will sometimes also take a B-complex.
- Rest Up! & Eat Well.
Drinking too much, eating garbage, AND staying up late is a surefire way to feel like crap forever. If you’re 21 and in college, maybe not but I can promise you at almost 30, it’s a huge NO-NO. If you are going to drink, you should make sure you are eating healthy, getting to bed and respecting your body’s need for extra sleep, hydration and nutrients. Don’t be an idiot when it comes to drinking, end of story.
Okay, time for the weekend, let’s get this party started.
Now I want to know what are yor favorite beverages? (Non-alcoholic beverages welcome).