8 Drinks I Love When I'm Dieting
I’m coming to you today from our place in Florida, to which I’ve fled because this year was just too full of celebration, and as a result, I am just too full of, well, fat. I’m hoping four or five weeks of hiding out may help me recalibrate and lose 15 or so. (And as always, I send up my thanks to the powers that be for my portable job, and to my in-laws for being such thrifty savers and leaving this house to me and Mister.)
Ever since menopause wrapped its sweaty hands around my throat, I’ve been thirsty. And when I’m not thirsty, I worry I’ll be thirsty soon. So now I live with a water bottle glued to my hand.
All that to say, when food becomes scarce, liquids become my lifeline. They tempt me out of bed in the morning, reward me for hitting the gym, fill in for wine with my high protein dinner, and give me comfort in the evening when I’m watching my home team lose the World Series.
I won’t lie: I miss booze. I’ve been a wine drinker for decades (even have a website, travel app and book about my love of Virginia wine), but what I really miss is a bad, bad, oh so bad habit I picked up last year at a fall harvest party: bourbon cocktails. A server slipped me a nice bourbon on ice with some Amaro Averna, a little brown syrup (brown sugar & Guinness), orange bitters and an orange slice. It completely changed my relationship with brown liquors (which, apparently, don’t all taste like, ew, Scotch).
However. That is a bad, bad habit. Bad. So now I use Mister’s trick and pour myself a diet root beer in the evening. It’s a tricky, tasty diversion.
Which got me thinking about all the liquid diversions I use when I’m in weight-loss mode; I thought you might find some of them helpful, too.
Do you have some liquid tips to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
Club Soda – Simple, refreshing, versatile. Club Soda (I prefer Canada Dry over Seagram’s or Schweppes) always adds a festive touch, so I usually save it for dinner or evening sipping. Mixed half and half with light cranberry juice and a squeeze of fresh lime, it’s a lovely reward at the end of a long day.
Tip: There is actually a difference between club soda, seltzer, and sparkling mineral water. Club soda is artificially infused with carbon and mineral salts; to me, it tastes the best of the three. Seltzer is also artificially carbonated, but without the added minerals. Sparkling mineral water is naturally carbonated from a spring or well.
Cardamom Iced Tea – The high cost of specialty teas drives me nuts, so I’ll sometimes buy herbs and spices and make pitchers of iced tea myself – easy peasy. Cardamom is a flavor I’ve grown to love in teas. It has a nice, clean smell (some compare it to eucalyptus) and a satisfying, rich flavor.
I just bring a smallish pan of water to boil, add 15 or so pods and let them steep for 10 minutes or so. After straining out the pods, add as much additional water as you’d like for the flavor you prefer. It keeps in the fridge for days, so you can sip on it whenever you want. If anyone can give me a good use for the used pods, please do! They smell so great, I hate to just toss them.
Tip: Cardamom is one of the spices that makes chai tea so lovely.
Pukka Peppermint & Licorice Tea – This tea is really special, and since I don’t think I could duplicate it myself, I go ahead and splurge on the bags. Always a red licorice kid, black licorice has grown on me over the years. Combined with peppermint, the licorice in this tea takes on an intense sweetness (without sugar) while giving you that cuddly, warm-all-over feeling as you sip.
PG Tips Tea – Okay, yes, I’m a tea-aholic. Coffee is chummy but tea is spiritual. And PG Tips is my hands-down everyday-tea winner. Sorry Lipton. You don’t see PG Tips much in the U.S., but it’s the go-to tea in England, where they know about these things. It packs a ton more flavor into the same-sized bag, but for some reason the bags come string- and tag-less, so you’re on your own to fetch it out of the cup.
Barq’s Diet Root Beer – Promoting the drinking of diet sodas while dieting has become somewhat verboten, what with all the dire, but possibly misguided, headlines about the risks. So if you are steadfastly against diet sodas, stick with it. If you believe that the occasional can won’t hurt you, check out Barq’s Diet Root Beer when you are craving that bourbon cocktail. It’s luscious.
Hot Cocoa – As with the diet root beer, this treat isn’t for every day. But when it’s cold outside, the wind is blowing, and ice crystals are fogging the windows, sometimes it’s all you can do to not whip up a quick batch of brownies or snickerdoodles. Try a low-cal version of cocoa instead. This recipe brings the calorie count down from 270 to 107.
Apple Cider Vinegar & Cranberry Juice
The health benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar have been all over the internet for awhile now, along with the usual cascade of cautions (can erode tooth enamel, impact the digestion and blood sugar of people with Type 1 diabetes, and possibly lower potassium levels). So as with all things, moderation is key.
My sister recommended this as a sprightly mocktail: one cup of cranberry juice, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice. It’ll wake you up, that’s for sure.
Tip: I'm betting she uses 100% cranberry juice with no sweetener; she’s pretty tough. I like to have some moisture left in my mouth after I take a sip of something, so I went with the diet Ocean Spray.
Fresh Ginger and Lemon Iced Tea – Sipping this just makes you feel all holier than thou. It's so healthy! That spicy, fresh ginger and the bright lemon – what’s not to love? All that vitamin C blending in with ginger's long and impressively ancient list of health benefits (say it with me now: it’s an anti-inflammatory, improves digestion, reduces nausea, and can even reduce muscle aches, among other things...).
To a large pot, add about 4 cups of water and a 3- to 5-inch piece of fresh ginger (sliced). I like mine pretty strong, so I use at least 5 inches. Add to that a whole sliced lemon. Bring to boil and then let it steep for 20-30 minutes; it’ll get stronger the longer it steeps. Strain into a pitcher; it keeps in the refrigerator for several days.
Tip: add a little sweetener if needed (I do).