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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Low Calorie

TIP OF THE DAY: Diet Ice Pops

paletas-taza-2-230

Turn diet soft drinks into ice pops. Photo
courtesy Taza.

 

Looking for something sweet, cool, and virtually non-caloric?

You can buy sugar-free or no sugar added ice pops from Edy’s or Popsicle. Or, you can make your own from your favorite diet soft drink.

It couldn’t be easier. Prep time is five minutes plus freezing time.

RECIPE: DIET ICE POPS

Ingredients

  • Diet soda, diet fruit beverage, tea (steeped to double strength, as with iced tea)
  • Ice pop molds
  • Optional: yogurt
  •  
    Preparation For 6 Ice Pops

    1. POUR 20 ounces of beverage into a large pitcher.

    2. POUR the mixture into the pop molds; freeze for 3 hours or until completely frozen.

     

    Variations

  • Tea. If you’re a tea fan, experiment with fruit teas, sweetened with noncaloric sweeteners or a bit of agave (which is twice as sweet as sugar or honey, so use half as much).
  • Mix-Ins. Add chopped fruit (fresh or frozen) or citrus zest; for example, diet raspberry soda with chopped raspberries or diet lemon-lime soda with lime zest.
  • Layers. Create layers of different flavors. Add the first flavor, freeze and add the next layer.
  • Yogurt. For a few extra calories, mix flavored, no sugar added yogurt with the beverage. Or, create a separate yogurt layer. We couldn’t find the No Sugar Added Creamsicles at our store, so we made our own with diet orange soda and vanilla yogurt.
  •  
    On a related note, you can also make flavored ice cubes by freezing your favorite diet beverage in an ice cube tray. Toss them into your drink instead of regular ice, and the melting cubes won’t dilute the flavor.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pan-Seared Fish, Crispy Skin

    Sear that skin until it’s crisp! Photo courtesy
    Pollen Restaurant.

     

    Fish is healthy, low-fat protein; we all should eat more of it. Grilled or pan-seared fish is at the top of the list many nutritionists suggest for making better changes in your diet.

    This is not news.

    The news is: the fish doesn’t have to be dull. You can prepare it exciting without a cholesterol- and calorie-laden butter sauce.

    Here’s how to keep it health and delicious.

    1. Sear the skin. Crispy skin is a treat, without being a no-no. Yes, there’s some fat—but far less than chicken skin.

    2. Use a very light sauce. Serve the fish in a bowl of broth (just a half inch or so). You can use clear stock, tomato-based broth or even vegetable soup. Another option: tomato sauce, like a chunky pasta sauce. Better brands, without added sugar, are very low in calories. We often use diced San Marzano tomatoes, straight from the can with some fresh herbs.

     

    3. Top the fish with healthy vegetables. Steam the vegetables or lightly sautée them in olive oil. Combine three different vegetables for more arresting color and flavor. Don’t forget the super-healthful cruciferous group, including, among others, bok choy, chard, kale and Napa cabbage. Or instead of a topping, use vegetables as a base with the fish on top (spinach is great as a bed), and hold the broth.

     

    4. Serve with whole grains, beans or legumes. A bed of barley, beans, brown rice, lentils or quinoa hits the trifecta: attractive, healthful, tasty. Or with a dollop of yogurt seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and maybe some grated cucumber, radish, and garlic. Perch it on a bed of greens with an assertive vinaigrette.

    5. Garnish with something artistic. Consider edamame, microgreens, snipped fresh herbs, sprouts, thin slices of baby radishes. Celery leaves are great for this purpose. Most people toss them out, but they’re an attractive and tasty garnish.
     
    HOW TO GET CRISP SKIN

    Crispy skin on a fish filet is a treat. Here’s how to do it.

    1. HEAT a heavy-bottomed skillet (cast iron is great, nonstick doesn’t work as well) until it gets very hot; then reduce heat to medium-high heat for several minutes before you start cooking.

     

    Get rid of the butter- or cream-based sauce. Photo courtesy Nobilio.

     

    2. PAT the skin fry with a paper towel before seasoning (season both sides). If the skin sticks to the skillet, either the skin is too damp or the pan isn’t hot enough.

    3. BRUSH fish with oil (canola or grapeseed) and apply an even coating of oil to the pan. It will smoke; that’s when you add the fish, skin side down. When the fillet curves upward, use a spatula to press it once and it will flatten out, ensuring full skin contact.

    4. COOK until you see a golden brown color on the edge of the skin. The fish will be about 70% cooked. Then, gently slide the spatula under the fillet and flip it; cook for a few more seconds. You want to flip it just once; flipping it back and forth impedes proper cooking.

    5. PLATE and serve.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Pineapple Coconut Smirnoff Vodka For A Low-Cal Piña Colada

    Great flavor with fewer calories: Pineapple
    Coconut vodka from Smirnoff Sorbet Light.
    Photo courtesy Smirnoff.

     

    The Smirnoff Sorbet Light vodka line is targeted to women who enjoy a regular cocktail, and would like to shave a few calories from each drink.

    The reduced calories are achieved by lowering the proof of the alcohol: The Sorbet Light line is 60 proof/30% ABV* while original Smirnoff (and most vodka) is 80 proof/40% ABV.

    We like a good flavored vodka: It’s like a cocktail without the extra calories. When we tasted new Sorbet Light Pineapple Coconut, it reminded us of one of our favorite drinks—the Piña Colada—without the extra calories of pineapple juice and coconut cream.

    Through the miracle of noncaloric flavor infusions, a shot of the vodka has all the satisfaction of fresh juicy pineapple combined with the luscious coconut. It’s not creamy, but to us, that doesn’t matter. It’s the pineapple-coconut flavor we crave.

     
    *ABV is Alcohol By Volume. Double the ABV to get the proof of any alcoholic beverage.

     

    If you want to “stretch out” the calories, add coconut water like Zico—60 calories for 11 ounces, 30 calories for half of that in your cocktail.

    You can mix up any number of cocktails. Here are some from Smirnoff. All of the recipes are under 150 calories.

    RECIPES

    RECIPE: PIÑA COCO SPRITZER

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.5 ounces Smirnoff Sorbet Light Pineapple Coconut
  • 2 ounces fresh orange juice
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • Glassware: rocks glass
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a highball glass with ice; add remaining ingredients.

    2. STIR and garnish with an orange half wheel.

     

     
    RECIPE: TROPICAL TREAT

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce Smirnoff Sorbet Light Pineapple Coconut
  • 2 ounces coconut water
  • 1 ounces pomegranate juice
  • Garnish: lime wheel or pineapple wedge
  • Glassware: Martini glass
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice, shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

      

    RECIPE: BLANK SLATE

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.5 ounces Smirnoff Sorbet Light Pineapple
    Coconut
  • 2 ounces coconut water
  • Glassware: Martini glass
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice, shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.

    2. GARNISH with an edible flower or a pineapple chunk.

     
    RECIPE: MANGO TANGO

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.5 ounces Smirnoff Sorbet Light Pineapple
    Coconut
  • 1.5 ounces Crystal Light lemonade (4 ounces
    water to one packet)
  • 1.5 ounces mango juice
  • Glassware: Martini glass
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice, shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.

    2. GARNISH with a mango slice.

     

    The “Blank Slate”: a low calorie riff on the Piña Colada. Photo courtesy Smirnoff.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Hearts Of Palm

    Back in the day when we still seriously dieted, we created what we called a luxury salad—absolutely delicious and “luxurious” because the ingredients were relatively costly:

    KAREN’S LUXURY SALAD RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • Artichoke hearts
  • Hearts of palm
  • Pimiento (roasted red pepper)
  • Sliced red onion
  • Black olives
  • White wine-olive oil vinaigrette
  • Optional: frisée, radicchio or other salad greens
  •  
    Preparation

    Just combine and serve!

     

    Hearts of palm. Photo courtesy Foodesto

     

    Whenever we’re feeling diet-minded—or simply want to detox from the rich foods we eat all day, we whip one up. If you can get to a club store, artichoke hearts and hearts of palm are more affordable.

    Hearts of palm are best chilled or at room temperature, and thus best with cold dishes. Add chopped hearts of palm to:

  • Green salads
  • Cold grain salads, such as barley, tabbouleh or quinoa salad
  • Vegetable salads
  • On skewers with water chestnuts, olives and cherry tomatoes
  •  

    Some people serve hearts of palm on a crudités platter with dip, or deep fried with dipping sauce. But that, to us, covers up the delicate flavor of the hearts of palm, which at best need only a light touch of vinaigrette.

    WHAT ARE HEARTS OF PALM

    Hearts of palm are the edible hearts of young palm trees. Palm branches are harvested and cut; the bark and leaves removed to expose the tender inner core.

    Hearts of palm have a smooth, firm consistency, a snap to the bite, and a flavor similar to artichoke; they can be used in as a substitute for artichokes in a recipe. They can be either white or pale yellow, depending on whether the palms are wild or cultivated.

    Hearts of palm have only 50 calories per cup, is a great source of dietary fiber and is a good source of protein, riboflavin, potassium and, vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper and zinc. The only caveat: They can be packed in water with a high sodium content.

    WHERE DO HEARTS OF PALM COME FROM?

    Due to poaching in Brazil, Ecuador is now the largest producer and exporter of hearts of palm. Costa Rica is the largest exporter of to the U.S, and Hawaii also produces some palm hearts.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Bare Fruit Apple Chips

    An apple never tasted better. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Our favorite packaged sweet snack, Bare Fruit apple chips has expanded the line to two new “flavored” chips. The lineup now includes

  • Chili Lime Apple Chips
  • Cinnamon Apple Chips
  • Fuji Red Apple Chips
  • Granny Smith Apple Chips
  • Sea Salt Caramel Apple Chips
  •  

    They’re as satisfying as candy—in fact, much more so, since they’re a guilt-free, all fruit and just 50 calories per bag. Each bag is the equivalent of eating an apple, so you also contribute to your recommended daily fruit and fiber servings.

    Caramel Apple is perfect for Halloween; all varieties of these naturally sweet chips (no sugar added but a special baking process caramelizes the apple’s natural sugar) are great for:

  • Dieter Gifts
  • Glove compartment, desk drawer, gym bag, etc.
  • Stocking Stuffers
  •  

    Here’s our favorite packaged salty snack, which also should be on your stocking stuffer radar: HalfPops, fiber-filled half-poppped popcorn that we like even better than conventional full-popped.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Fruit Salad Cocktail or Mocktail

    We love this idea of a “seltzer-fruit cocktail” from Polar Seltzer: refreshing and low in calories. The Worcester, Massachusetts-based bottler makes seltzer in numerous yummy, calorie-free flavors:

  • Year-Round Flavors: Black Cherry, Blueberry, Cherry Pomegranate, Cranberry Lime, Georgia Peach, Granny Smith Apple, Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Pomegranate, Raspberry Lime, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Strawberry, Triple Berry, Orange Vanilla, Vanilla.
  • Limited Edition Summer Flavors: Limited editions change yearly, but summer flavors have included Ginger Lemonade, Mint Mojito, Orange Mango, Piña Colada and Pineapple Passionfruit.
  • Limited Edition Holiday Flavors: What a great idea for calorie-free drinks! No wonder past flavors such as Boston Cream Pie, Butter Rum, Candy Cane, Cinnamon, Eggnog, Mint Chocolate, Pumpkin Spice and Vanilla Pear have sold out.
  •  

    The mixologists at Polar Beverages always provide cocktail and mocktail ideas for the different flavors. You can find them on the company’s website and Facebook page.

     

    Cocktail or mocktail with “fruit salad.” Photo courtesy Polar Seletzer.

     

    FRUIT SALAD COCKTAIL-MOCKTAIL RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 different fruits
  • Flavored seltzer to match
  • Optional: a shot of your favorite spirit or liqueur
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE fruits: wash, pat dry, slice as needed.

    2. FILL glass with ice cubes, seltzer and optional spirit.

    3. ARRANGE fruits at the top of the glass. The ice cubes serve as a base to anchor the fruit.

    4. SERVE with a straw and a cocktail pick or cocktail fork for the fruit.

     

    “Creamsicle” seltzer: Orange Vanilla seltzer
    with an orange wedge. Photo courtesy Polar
    Seltzer.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLUB SODA &
    SELTZER

    A Glossary Of Sparkling Waters

    Any effervescent water belongs to the category of carbonated water, also called soda water: water into which carbon dioxide gas under pressure has been dissolved, causing the water to become effervescent. The carbon dioxide can be natural, as in some spring waters and mineral waters, or can be added in the bottling process. (In fact, even some naturally carbonated waters are enhanced with more carbonation at the bottling plant.)

    Carbonated Water: In the U.S., carbonated water was known as soda water until after World War II, due to the sodium salts it contained. While today we think of “soda” as a carbonated beverage, the word originally refers to a chemical salts, also called carbonate of soda (sodium carbonate, sodium hydroxide, sodium monoxide). The salts were added as flavoring and acidity regulator, to mimic the taste of a natural mineral water.

     
    After the war, terms such as sparkling water and seltzer water gained favor. Except for sparkling mineral water, all carbonated water/soda water is made from municipal water supplies (tap water). Carbonated water was invented in Leeds, England in 1767 by British chemist Joseph Priestley, who discovered how to infuse water with carbon dioxide by suspending a bowl of water above a beer vat at a local brewery. Carbonated water changed the way people drank liquor, which had been neat, providing a “mixer” to dilute the alcohol.

    Club Soda: Like the original carbonated water, club soda is enhanced with some sodium salts.

    Fizzy Water: Another term for carbonated water.

    Seltzer or Seltzer Water: Seltzer is carbonated water with no sodium salts added. The term derives from the town of Selters in central Germany, which is renowned for its mineral springs. The naturally carbonated spring water—which contains naturally dissolved salts—has been commercially bottled and shipped around the world since at least the 18th century. When seltzer is made by carbonating tap water, some salts are added for the slightest hint of flavor. And that’s the difference between seltzer and club soda: Club soda is salt-free.

    Sparkling Water: Another term for carbonated water/soda water. It can also refer to sparkling mineral water, which is pumped from underground aquifers. Note that not all sparkling mineral waters are naturally effervescent. Many are actually carbonated from still mineral water. Some are lightly carbonated by nature, but have extra carbonation added at bottling to meet consumer preferences.

    Two Cents Plain: Another word for soda water, coined during the Great Depression, when plain soda water was the cheapest drink at the soda fountain.

    MORE TYPES OF WATER

    Check out our Water Glossary for the different types of water, including the difference between mineral water and spring water.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Thai Iced Tea

    WHAT IS THAI ICED TEA?

    Thai iced tea, known as cha-yen (cha is the word for tea), is served in Thailand, Vietnam, elsewhere around the Pacific Rim and in Thai restaurants in the West and elsewhere around the world. It is made from strong-brewed black tea and sweetened condensed milk, which adds body and creamy mouthfeel.

    The brewed tea can be enhanced with spices, such as cardamom, clove, nutmeg, star anise and tamarind. If you like chai tea with milk and sweetener, you’ll equally like Thai iced tea.

    For visual appeal, the deep amber tea and white condensed milk are swirled together or layered. The drink can be topped off evaporated milk, coconut milk, half and half or whole milk.

    The countries where it’s most popular are known for hot.steamy summers. Thai iced tea is a welcome refreshment—and a complement to spicy food. If your neck of the woods is as hot and steamy as ours is, it’s time to try the recipe.

     

    The milky swirl of Thai iced tea is a visual treat. Photo courtesy ArborTeas.com.

     

    THAI ICED TEA RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup black tea leaves (approximately 3 ounces)
  • Optional spices: cardamom, ground tamarind, nutmeg, star anise or others (cinnamon works for us), to taste
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or equivalent noncaloric sweetener)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk to top (you can substitute coconut milk, half and half or whole milk)
  • Ice
  •  

    Thai iced tea. Photo by Jeff Kramer |
    Wikimedia.

     

    Preparation

    1. STEEP the tea leaves (and any optional spices) in boiling water for 5 minutes. Strain out the tea leaves. Using an infuser (tea ball) makes this step easier.

    2. STIR in sugar while the tea is still hot, until dissolved; then stir in condensed milk.

    3. COOL to room temperature or ideally, chill in the fridge.

    4. ADD ice to tall iced tea glasses and pour in tea mixture until glasses are roughly 3/4 full. Slowly top off glasses with evaporated milk.
     
    VARIATIONS

    If you find yourself in the Pacific Rim, you can have what Americans think of as iced tea.

  • Dark Thai iced tea (cha dam yen) is simple iced tea without the milk, sweetened with sugar.
  •  

  • Lime Thai tea (cha manao) is dark Thai iced tea flavored with lime. Mint may also be added.
  •  
    If you’re looking for unsweetened iced tea in the Pacific Rim, you may be out of luck. It‘s the birthplace of sugar.

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF SUGAR

    Sugar is native to Southeast Asia, with three species seeming to have originated in two locations: Saccharum barberi in India and Saccharum edule and Saccharum officinarum in New Guinea.

    Originally, people chewed on the raw sugar cane stalks to enjoy the sweetness. Refined sugar appears around 500 B.C.E., when residents of what is now India began to make sugar syrup from the cane juice. They cooled it to make crystals that were easier to store and transport. These crystals were called khanda, which is the source of the word candy.

    Indian sailors carried sugar along various trade routes. In 326 B.C.E., Alexander the Great and his troops saw farmers on the Indian subcontinent growing sugar cane and making the crystals, which were called sharkara, pronounced as saccharum.

    The Macedonian soldiers carried “honey bearing reeds” home with them. But sugar cane remained a little known crop to most Europeans for the next thousand years, a rare and costly product that made sugar traders wealthy.

    In the 12th century, Crusaders brought sugar back to Europe from the Holy Land, where they encountered caravans carrying the “sweet salt.” Venice began to produce sugar in Lebanon to supply Europe, where honey had been the only available sweetener. By the 15th century, Venice was the chief sugar refining and distribution center in Europe.

     
    HOW MANY TYPES OF SUGAR HAVE YOU HAD?

    Check out the different types of sugar in our Sugar Glossary.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Deconstructed Crab Cake

    Save calories and carbs with a
    “deconstructed” crab cake. Photo courtesy
    Wild Mushroom Restaurant | Texas.

     

    Crab cakes are a popular item on menus nationwide. The crab is good for you, but the fat for sautéing is less so.

    You could place the crab cake(s) on a large bed of salad for a healthy offset. Or you could make these “deconstructed” crab cakes from Chef Jerrett Joslin of The Wild Mushroom Steakhouse in Weatherford, Texas.

    Chef Joslin takes the components of crab cakes and works them into an uncooked crab cake:

    DECONSTRUCTED CRAB CAKES RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • Fresh lump crab or other crab meat
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Aïoli (garlic mayonnaise) and/or chimichurri sauce for garnish; you can substitute chile, curry or other flavored mayonnaise
  • For The Salad

  • Baby arugula, cleaned
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon or lime zest
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE aioli, if desired (recipe).recipe)

    2. PLACE crab meat in a bowl, chopping as necessary so that it can be easily mounded. Add fresh parsley to taste.

    3. MIX 1 tablespoon of olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Use as needed to bind crab mixture so that it can be molded, using a metal mold, cookie cutter or table spoons.

    4. TOSS arugula with vinaigrette, just enough to lightly moisten.

    5. PLACE the crab cake on a plate, then top with He then arranges the ingredients on top of a bed of arugula that has been tossed with citrus vinaigrette.

    The result is a new take and presentation on the favorite dish. You can save calories by substituting a spicy vinaigrette for the aïoli.
     
    TYPES OF CRAB MEAT

    You don’t need to use the costliest jumbo lump crab meat: Use what you can afford. From most costly to least costly, they area;

  • Jumbo Lump or Lump Crab Meat
  • Lump or Backfin Lump Crab Meat
  • White Crab Meat
  • Claw Crab Meat
  •  

    The most expensive crab meat, jumbo lump, is beautiful to look at. But if it‘s getting mashed in a recipe, save you money and buy a less expensive grade. Photo courtesy Miller’s Crab.

     
    Here’s more on the different types of crab meat.

      

    Comments

    COCKTAILS: Save Calories With VitaFrute From VeeV

    Ready to drink, VitaFrute lower calorie
    cocktails reduce the sugar calories in
    cocktails. Photo courtesy VeeV Spirits.

     

    Typical mixed drinks can pack on the calories. The standard 1.5 ounce serving of 80-proof alcohol has 96 calories, which seems reasonable. But start to add mixers:

  • Cranberry juice cocktail (8 oz.): 136 calories
  • Light orange juice (8 oz.): 50 calories
  • Orange juice (6 oz.): 84 calories
  • Soft drink (cola, 7-Up, etc., 8 oz.): 100 calories, 25g sugar
  • Piña colada mix (6 ounces): 130 calories, 25g sugar
  •  
    But there are calorie-saving solutions:

     
    LOOK FOR REDUCED CALORIE READY-MADE COCKTAILS

    One easy way to control a sweet cocktail while controlling the calories is the new line of VitaFrute cocktails from VeeV Spirits, in Margarita, Organic Lemonade and Organic Cosmopolitan. The base spirit is VeeV, the world’s first spirit made from the superfruit açaí.

     
    Sweetened with low-glycemic agave nectar, cocktails are under 125 calories per serving. By comparison, a four-ounce glass of wine has 125-150 calories.

    The suggested retail price of VitaFrute is $13.99 to $14.99 per bottle. Learn more about VeeV spirit and VitaFrute cocktails at VeeVLife.com.

    Here are more tips to cut back on the calories in cocktails:

    HOW TO REDUCE THE CALORIES IN MIXED DRINKS

  • If you can, choose savory, not sweet, cocktails, such as the popular Bloody Mary and Martini.
  • Use calorie-free flavored club soda instead a soft drink mixer (lemon seltzer instead of 7-Up, for example).
  • Use club soda and bitters, or diet ginger ale, instead of ginger ale; and use the diet versions of other soda mixers (cola, lemon-lime, tonic water, etc.).
  • Use “light” or diet mixers: eight ounces of light cranberry juice have 40 calories, light lemonade has 5 calories, diet soda or diet tonic water has 0 calories.
  • Avoid premade cocktail mixes; there’s sugar hidden in everything, including spicy Bloody Mary mix.
  • Look at coffee- and tea-based cocktails such as a Chai Tea Martini or Espresso Martini; coffee and tea have zero calories.
  •  

  • Use low glycemic agave nectar or noncaloric sweeteners to sweeten cocktails.
  • Use sugar-free, calorie-free syrups from DaVinci or Torani to sweeten and flavor cocktails.
  • Try sugar-free mixers. We’ve tried Baja Bob’s Margarita and Sweet ‘n’ Sour mixes, but find that we prefer agave nectar and fresh lime juice for a Margarita, and fresh lemon juice and agave for a Whiskey Sour; .5 ounce of lemon or lime juice has just 10 calories.
  • Use fresh fruit and herb garnishes to add flavor and eye appeal.
  • Avoid creamy cocktails, whether dairy cream (Brandy Alexander, White Russian) or cream of coconut (Piña Colada). Substitute coconut water to add coconut flavor to a cocktail, or use coconut-infused vodka (see our next tip).
  •  

    VeeV, the açaí-based mother spirit of VitaFrute cocktails.

     

  • Try infused vodkas straight instead of a similarly-flavored mixed drink; UV Vodka has every flavor under the rainbow including chocolate, and Skyy Infusions’ 12 infused vodkas are a NIBBLE favorite (Pineapple vodka is our replacement of choice for the high-calorie Piña Colada). The infusions add no calories.
  • Dilute your cocktail with club soda or sparkling water (we’ve been enjoying wine spritzers since we were old enough to drink) to half and half, with a squeeze of lime juice.
  •  
    Finally, our favorite calorie-saving cocktail strategy:

  • Alternate cocktails with no- or low-calorie “mocktails”: noncaloric or low-calorie drinks, from club soda with bitters to a Virgin Mary.
  •  
    If you’ve got additional tips, use the Contact Us link to send them in!

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Sparkling ICE Calorie-Free Soda

    Crisp Apple Sparkling ICE, calorie-free, is a delicious substitute for sparkling cider. Photo courtesy Talking Rain Beverage Company.

     

    Sparkling ICE is a line of zero-calorie soft drinks—the company calls them flavored sparkling waters (*see the footnote below for the difference between soda and flavored sparkling waters—produced by Talking Rain Beverage Company of Preston, Washington. Located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, the source water is from a pristine artesian spring that originates in the Cascades.

    The sweetener is sucralose, the generic form of Splenda. The line is enhanced with vitamins and antioxidants. Perhaps it’s the mountain spring water, along with natural flavors, that has created such charming tastes.

    Spakling ICE is made in Black Raspberry, Coconut Pineapple, Kiwi Strawberry, Lemonade, Lemon Lime, Orange Mango, Peach Nectarine, and Pink Grapefruit.

    But for us, the star is Crisp Apple, which has the flavor of sparkling cider. We had to check the label to be sure it really was zero calories. What a great way to enjoy the taste of a crisp apple!

    Whether you want an apple or an Appletini, spare the calories and start with a bottle of Crisp Apple Sparkling ICE.

     

    You can check the store locator on the Sparkling ICE website, or head to Amazon.com, where all the flavors are sold.

    We’d prefer a case of Crisp Apple Sparkling ICE to most of the gifts we tend to receive. Friends and relatives, please take note!

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SODA AND FLAVORED, SWEETENED SPARKLING WATER

    Sparkling water is water that is carbonated, a process discovered in 1767 by an English chemist, Joseph Priestley. Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius added flavors (spices, juices and wine) to carbonated water in the late 18th century. This led to the evolution of soda fountains in pharmacies.

    In the early 19th century, American pharmacists added birch bark, dandelion, fruit extracts, sarsaparilla and other flavorings to the sparkling water, which was called “soda water” because it is made by infusing with carbon dioxide gas and bicarbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda) a stabilizing element.

    Soda fountains became ingrained in the popular culture—like today’s coffee bars—with many Americans frequenting the soda fountain on a daily basis (source: Wikipedia). In the 1970s, unsweetened, flavored sparkling water appeared: club soda, mineral water and seltzer. These bottled drinks are differentiated from sodas by their lack of added sweetener.

    There are different types of bubbly—fizzy-sparkling water:

  • Carbonated water is a broad term that encompasses all fizzy waters. The term is used interchangeably with sparkling water and soda water.
  • Club soda has a pinch of salt added to it. It can be sodium chloride (table salt), sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate.
  • Seltzer is totally salt-free, the sodium bicarbonate is left out. Seltzer is what you get when you carbonate water at home with a Sodastream or other device.
  • Mineral water is something completely different: It’s plain water with a sufficient level of dissolved minerals to differentiate it from spring water. See our Water Glossary for the different types of water.
  •  
    So what’s the difference between soda and flavored sparkling water? Soda (not club soda) is sweetened, flavored carbonated water; “flavored sparkling water” is sweetened flavored carbonated water; it can also be flavored and unsweetened, in which case it is also called flavored club soda.

    In sum, soda and flavored sparkling water are the the same thing.

    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE SOFT DRINKS.

      

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