BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

When it comes to the holidays, people realize how easy it is to over indulge with food. They also need to watch what they’re drinking.

Too often, only food is considered when people cut calories, said Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition professor at Penn State University and volunteer for the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee. That makes it easy to overindulge as drinks go down so quickly.

But there are ways to approach holiday drinks that are both delicious and heart healthy.

For instance, instead of hot mulled wine or hot apple cider, Kris-Etherton suggests using hot tea instead. Hibiscus tea can replicate the color and acidity of red wine without sugar or alcohol.

It’s festive and has no calories. To make it really special, add fresh fruit to give sweetness and flavor. A lemon peel or even leftover apple peels can add a fruity touch with little effort.

To keep from feeling deprived from favored traditional drinks, “try and simulate the original recipe as much as you can,” said Kris-Etherton.

For instance, dilute egg nog with fat-free or low-fat milk infused with cinnamon sticks and ground nutmeg.

Cranberry fizz drink

Or use sparkling water or sugar-free seltzer water in recipes, which mimic the sparkle of Champagne without the alcohol and calories.

For a special New Year’s cocktail, blend fizzy water with blended and strained cranberry or pomegranate seeds. Be sure to use showstopper garnishes, such as lemon slices, rosemary or other herbs and fresh fruit.

For those who want to drink alcoholic beverages, Kris-Etherton said to always remember moderation. A tip to remember to help with that is to put away any bottle immediately after serving. It cuts down on unnecessary seconds.

“Put it out of sight,” she said.

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