How To Build A Healthy Mocktail

Everyone can join in on the holiday cheers with virgin cocktails on hand. Even sans alcohol, these sippers can get heavy on calories and sugar. This holiday season build a healthy mocktail using these simple guidelines.

Build a healthy mocktail using these simple guidelines, and let everyone join in on the holiday cheer.

The Base

Even minus the alcohol, virgin drinks can get heavy on calories and sugar, so it's important to choose ingredients wisely.

Juice: Most mocktails are made with juice, which sets the flavor tone. Whether you choose apple, orange, grapefruit, pineapple, grape or cranberry (or make a combo, like cranberry and orange), use 100% fruit juice.  (In case you're wondering: As a general rule of thumb, ½ cup of 100% juice has about 60 calories.)

Nectars: Nectars -- like mango, peach or apricot -- can be used in place of or together with 100% juice. Read the ingredient list to make sure you choose a nectar without high-fructose corn syrup. (Nectars also run about 60 calories per ½ cup.)

Milk, Coffee, Tea: Other good options for the base include milk (opt for low-fat), coffee and tea. Tea works especially nicely with a variety of juices.

No-Alcohol Sparklers: If you want a mocktail to have fizz, add seltzer (which is calorie- and caffeine-free) instead of soda. Some juices also have sparkling counterparts (think apple cider). Check the ingredient list to make sure you choose a sparkling juice made with the actual fruit, since many are made with sugar.

The Add-Ins

Garnishes and spices: Enhance the flavor of mocktails by adding fruit, vegetables, herbs or spices. Skewered fruit (try grapes or berries) add a gorgeous hue while also boosting the antioxidants. Spices like ginger and nutmeg add zing. Fresh herbs, such as mint, work well with fruit-based drinks.

Sweeteners: To add sweetness, avoid dumping loads of granulated sugar into the mix. Whip up simple syrup, a 50:50 mixture of sugar and water that's boiled for a few minutes until the sugar dissolves. Agave is another sweetener that dissolves well in liquids.

The Vessel

Oftentimes a simple mocktail goes a long way if you serve it in the right glass. Use martini glasses, Champagne flutes, or goblets to up the fun factor and enhance the holiday spirit. To prevent younger ones from spilling, have straws on hand and let them sip out of fancy glasses.

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