#337 Healthy Holiday Hooch!

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Health – what my friends are always drinking to before
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Holiday Hooch: 5 Holiday Favorites Made Healthier

By Joe Wilkes

It's the holiday season. Time for goodwill, brotherly love, and time spent with family, friends, and coworkers. And of course, it's time for an almost daily excuse to drink festive holiday beverages—from about mid-December to the bleary morning of January 1, when the first New Year's resolution of the day usually involves something about not drinking so much in the coming year. Here are some of the temptations that show up every year fresh off the naughty list, and some ideas to help make them a little bit nicer for your figure.

Festive Celebration

  1. Eggnog

    Naughty: The king of the holiday beverages. And what's not to love? The main ingredients are cream and sugar—which is why one cup of it contains 343 calories and 19 grams of fat. And that's before you add the liquor. My grandmother, who normally did not drink, kept a bottle of "flavoring" in the garage, so that once a year, the less abstemious could pour a shot of whiskey into their eggnog. Eggnog enthusiasts will argue whether rum, brandy, or bourbon is the proper additive, but whatever liquor you choose, it's going to run you an additional 64 calories an ounce. So now the cup of eggnog is up over 400 calories.

    EggnogNice: Buying low-fat eggnog will save you about 100 calories. Or you could try making your own eggnog from scratch; substitute skim milk for cream and egg substitutes like Egg Beaters for the eggs to reduce the fat and calorie contents. You can also go easier on how much sugar the recipe calls for; it's almost always more than you need.

  2. Wassail

    Naughty: The word "wassail' comes from the Anglo-Saxon wæs hæil, meaning "be healthy." Its namesake beverage doesn't quite live up to the advertising. Wassail is essentially hot ale and port or sherry with added sugar, fruit, and spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, and ginger. On the bright side, it is fat free. But it's still naughty! It's about 400 calories' worth of naughtiness, in fact.

    WassailNice: You could just have a regular pint of ale. A pint of Newcastle, my favorite, only has 187 calories for a pint. You could toss in a cinnamon stick to make it festive, I suppose. Otherwise, when making wassail, like everything, the best advice is to go easy on the sugar. Not to mention, excessive sugar is one of the main contributing factors to that post-holiday hangover.

  3. Mulled Wine

    Naughty: Also known as glögg or Glühwein, mulled wine comes from a northern European tradition of heating red wine, and adding cinnamon sticks, cloves, citrus fruits, and sugar or honey. The tradition of this holiday beverage is believed to have begun when old wine had turned bad and the spices and a spoonful or 10 of sugar helped the medicine go down a little easier. Mulled wine is lower in calories than wassail, about 270 calories a serving, and red wine has been proven to be heart-healthy in moderation, so it's got that going for it.

    Mulled WineNice: To make it even lower in calories, you could (all together, now) cut down on the sugar. If you use a sweeter, higher-quality wine, you won't have to dump so much sugar in to make it taste good. By using a more full-bodied wine like a Zinfandel or shiraz for your base, you'll get more wine flavor instead of cloying sweetness. Ask your wine merchant what a good wine would be for mulling. Then, let the no-calorie spices flavor the wine, and add a little sugar at the end if you really feel it needs it.

  4. Hot Buttered Rum

    Naughty: Well, I guess it stands to reason that anything that begins with the phrase "hot buttered" isn't going to be health food. And this drink, largely composed of rum, brown sugar, and melted butter, is no exception. There are various recipes for making it, usually involving some batter made of sugar, butter, and, sometimes, ice cream or regular cream, which is then mixed with some rum and boiling water to taste. A generous serving could set you back 500 calories and 20 grams of fat, half of which are saturated.

    Hot Buttered RumNice: Probably the easiest way to make this buttery beverage a little more figure-friendly is to add more boiling water and dilute the evil. Or, if you can live without the butter, you can make a hot toddy. A hot toddy is a bit of alcohol, like whiskey, brandy, or rum, with hot water poured over it. You can add other ingredients like lemon juice or spices (nice) or a little sugar or butter (naughty). This should take the chill out of your bones nicely without overinsulating them with weight gain.

  5. Peppermint Patty

    Naughty: This is a drink known by different names, but it's basically "hooched-up" hot chocolate. I once temped for a couple of days at a morale-challenged company, where the office alcoholic kept a bottle of peppermint schnapps in her file drawer to "flavor" the office-supplied hot chocolate in the afternoon. Truth be told, it was quite tasty (don't judge me; it was a really bad temp job) but not the most calorie-friendly beverage. Hot chocolate has about 300 calories and 18 grams of fat (11 grams saturated), and the shot of schnapps adds another 125 calories or so, depending on the brand.

    Peppermint PattyNice: Like almost every recipe, the secret to making things healthier lies in making more of it yourself. As the gift baskets from vendors stack up around the Beachbody® offices, there are lots of packets and tins of instant powders, each one having more sugar than the next. The more you can resist the convenience of the instant sugary powders and mixes, the more you can control how much sugar goes into your drink. For example, for hot chocolate, you can substitute skim milk for whole milk, and add unsweetened cocoa powder or melt in some dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. Then, if you're going to hooch it up, add the schnapps before you add the sugar. Schnapps and most liqueurs already contain enough sugar to effectively sweeten your drink without it being sweet already. Plan ahead, and you can create beverages that are filled with flavor instead of sugar and empty calories.

Of course, if you really want to cut the calories, you could "virginize" all these drinks, as the alcohol adds a lot of the calories. In 2 weeks, we'll offer some other ideas for hot beverages that will ward off the winter chill without the booze. Next week, the newsletter will be off for the holidays, but it will return the following week with new fitness and nutrition ideas. In the meantime, the entire newsletter staff and Beachbody family wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season.

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Joe WilkesIf you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Committing yourself to a healthy lifestyle can mean big weight loss. Just look at November's Team Beachbody Game® winners. Erica S. and Jay B., November's $10,000 winners, lost an approximate combined 116 pounds! They danced their way to fitter, healthier bodies with Shaun T's Hip Hop Abs®. Erica S. and Jay B. have also used P90X® and Turbo Jam®. But these two winners haven't only been rewarded with weight loss. They won big—$10,000 big—for their commitment to health and exercise. And six others were also rewarded for their inspiring weight loss stories. Check out November's Team Beachbody Game Winners!*

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The party life worked for Erica S. when she was younger, but gradually, she found that heavy drinking and no exercise were taking their toll. She spent most of her time drinking, eating, and sleeping. When she committed to getting fit, however, she didn't just exercise—she changed her whole lifestyle. Gone were her party days and in was Hip Hop Abs! She stopped drinking and learned who her real friends were. Now, she's lost almost 50 pounds! "I can dance now, and I have overcome my addiction to the bottle. That is my biggest accomplishment since starting Hip Hop Abs and joining the Beachbody family!" See her story . . .

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Related Articles
"Why You Might Be Losing the Battle of the Bulge"
"5 Tips for Healthier Eating"
"8 Fitness Myths"

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Holiday Food IQ!

By DeLane McDuffie

Some people are literally scared of food. Yep. Believe it or not, some people dread the holiday season because they "know" they'll pig out and gain weight. Holiday food gets a bad rap. Food can't defend itself from folks grabbing it and munching on it. If this were a court of law, holiday food would need a character witness. Many of the good qualities of holiday food are underreported. Stand up and testify on behalf of the voiceless and defenseless, and match the holiday food with its understated trait(s).

  1. Sweet PotatoesSweet potato – Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes have come up a lot in recent articles that I've perused. That's probably because they're freakin' delicious. Growing up in the South, a group dinner could run the risk of being shut down if there were no sweet taters in, at least, a 5-mile radius of Grandma's kitchen. A baked sweet potato (with skin) contains a ridiculous 769 percent of the recommended daily value (RDA)** for vitamin A. In addition to being low in sodium, it also has 65 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. That's right! No scurvy for you!

  2. Pecans – Protein: Whether you pronounce it "pea-cans" or "puh-cahns," pecans are unsung heroes in the fight for food R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I've heard people vilify pecans because of their association with . . . um . . . pecan pie. As an advocate for pecan rights, I resent that statement. First of all, pecan pie is just that—pecan pie. Sugar's the enemy, not pecans. One cup of pecans contains 10 grams of protein, 42 percent of the RDA for fiber, 15 percent of the RDA for iron, and about one-third of the zinc that Uncle Sam recommends that you get on a daily basis. While their zinc battalion is helping your body fight off colds, pecans are also arming you with an arsenal of vitamins and minerals, and are also low in cholesterol and high in unsaturated fat. Take that, pecan (pie) haters!

  3. Milk and CookiesMilk and cookies – Fiber and vitamin D: Santa leaves a gift for you every year, right? Why not leave him a gift of your own? Instead of contributing to Santa's impending heart attack, why not slide him some heart-healthy food? Give the man a fighting chance. He's already breathing in smoke and fumes from all of that chimney exploring. Instead of those extra-sweet cookies that you usually bake for him, bust out some low-sugar oatmeal cookies. Fiber is his friend. Be his new Rudolph, and guide his sleigh to a new, healthier way of life. Don't forget the glass of milk. Make it low-fat or skim milk. A cup of milk has about 25 percent of the RDA for vitamin D, which is a scarce commodity, and is only naturally present in a few foods. That's like drinking sunshine.

  4. Fruitcake – Iron: Uh oh. I can hear you now: "How dare he bring up . . . fruitcake?" Yes, it is high in calories. But it doesn't have to be that way. One slice of fruitcake packs a respectable 11 percent of the RDA for iron. That's a start! As you know, the "fruit" part of a fruitcake is good for you—raisins, currants, cranberries, apricots, and cherries, just to name a few. But you can always make the "cake" part of a fruitcake more nutritious, too. Use egg substitutes instead of eggs. Use unsweetened applesauce. Don't use as much molasses this time around. Throw in some heart-healthy walnuts or some "chestnuts roasting on an open fire." Okay, I'm not so sure about the chestnuts. I've never tried it. But you can. That's the whole purpose of a fruitcake anyway. It's the palette of holiday culinary creativity.

  5. White Russian DrinkWhite Russian drink – Low fat: This holiday favorite has been known to give some holiday partiers an early exit. But if you're planning to make a grand exit of your own, you might as well do it with a little less guilt . . . and gut. I've seen White Russian recipes that have as much as 800 calories. Yolki! That's a whale of a drink. While you're mixing that 1-1/2 ounces of Kahlua or coffee liqueur and 1-1/2 ounces of vodka, try using 3 ounces of fat-free half-and-half, instead of that nice, thick whole milk or cream. Also, try substituting the 1-1/2 ounces of cola with a diet cola. That should cut down some of those calories and fat. And as always, drink in moderation. That way, the youngsters won't find you passed out under the tree on Christmas morning, drooling on the circuitry of their video game console.

**Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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