Few things are as satisfying as a frozen lemonade or a big, icy soda when the weather gets warm. Problem: Those drinks are crazy-high in calories. Thankfully, there are lots of other yummy, sweet, and refreshing options. Mix up—or order—one of these summer drink ideas next time the heat is on and you won’t have to worry about your bikini-bottom muffin top.
Low-Calorie Summer Drink: the Creamsicle
Remember Creamsicles, those luscious orangey, ice-creamy pops from your childhood? You can get the same kind of taste in this dreamy low-cal drink from Jason McClure, head chef of Sazerac in downtown Seattle: Just mix one part orange juice with three parts diet cream soda or vanilla-flavored soda (McClure uses Dry Soda’s Vanilla Bean). Serve over lots of ice and, if you want to get fancy, drop in a pretty orange slice.
Calorie count: 30 to 75 calories for 8 oz., depending on the soda you choose
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Low-Calorie Summer Drink: Strawberry Daquir-Tea
Have you seen those Lipton Tea and Honey packets at the store? They’re like the powdered iced tea mix our moms used to drink, only way tastier and with fewer calories. (Just 5 per glass instead of 70.) Mix some up and drink over ice, or, if you’re feeling ambitious and have some grenadine lying around, try this mocktail dreamed up by Darryl Robinson, a.k.a. DR Mixologist, host of the Cooking Channel show Drink Up. Mix 4 oz. of the tea (about 1/2 cup) with 1 1/2 oz. of pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine for extra sweetness and some bright color.
Calorie count: About 50 calories
Low-Calorie Summer Drink: Grapefruit Sparkler
How about a drink that actually burns calories while you sip? Mix grapefruit juice with sparkling water and some sprigs of fresh mint. “This is my favorite summer drink,” says Natalie Jill, a sports nutritionist for Powhow fitness in San Diego. “It’s light, refreshing, very low in calories, and grapefruit even has slight fat burning potential, which is always a plus.” Serve it in a champagne flute for a fun and fancy brunch mocktail.
Calorie count: About 50 calories per 4 oz. of grapefruit juice
Low-Calorie Summer Drink: Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee
Sure, anyone can pour hot coffee over ice and come up with a watered-down version of a skim latte, but true iced-java lovers want the real cold-brewed kind because it’s sweeter and more flavorful. Cafes also charge a whole lot more for it. But you can make it yourself, says Dana Jacobi, a test-kitchen guru for Sweet’N Low. For each glass you want to make, combine 1/3 cup of coffee grounds with a 1 cups of water. Put the mixture into a glass jar (like a mason jar), stir, cover, and leave out on the counter overnight. Before drinking, pour the coffee through a large paper coffee filter, a sieve, or a strainer lined with a dish towel or cheesecloth. Serve over ice with 2 tbsp. of fat-free half-and-half and a zero-calorie sweetener and you have a waistline-friendly icy, creamy drink that says,”Take that, Frappuccino!”
Calorie count: About 18 calories per 2 tbsp. of fat-free half-and-half, no matter how much coffee you drink with it!
Low-Calorie Summer Drink: Pineapple Party Punch
If you’re watching your weight, you learn to be wary of anything with the word punch in it—that’s usually just jargon for “sugary” and “lots of calories.” But this one, from Lauren Schmitt, R.D., not only fits your low-calorie requirment, it’s also packed with vitamins. “You’ll get 40 percent of your vitamin C in one cup, which will help protect your skin from damage this summer,” she says. To make a big pitcher or bowlful, mix together 4 cups of pineapple juice, 8 cups of diet ginger ale, and 4 cups of fruit sorbet. Garnish with pineapple wedges if you’re feeling crafty.
Calorie count: 110 calories per 8 oz. glass
Low-Calorie Summer Drink: Lima-Colada
You know what calorie bombs piña coladas can be (250 for a small one—that’s a candy bar!). But how about a bikini-friendly lima-colada instead? That’s what Amanda Wittig, a nutrition coach at LifeTime Fitness, sips. She makes hers with a 1 1/2 cups of ice water, 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut milk, 2 tbsp. of lime juice, and 1/2 tsp. (that’s about 2/3 of a packet) of a calorie-free sweetener like Truvia or Splenda. “I love this drink!” says Wittig. “It’s so refreshing, and the vitamin C from the lime is great for post workout.”
Calorie count: 45 calories
Low-Calorie Summer Drink: Fruit Spritzer
For a quick, go-to drink for backyard barbecues—or just to keep in the fridge this summer—mix up a pitcher of spritzers made from half seltzer and half juice. Jennifer Kalinowski at Betty Crocker Kitchens likes using apple-grape-cherry juice in hers and—here’s the cute kicker—serves them with fruit ice cubes. What’s a fruit ice cube, you ask? Just what it sounds like: Drop washed grapes or cherries into ice trays, fill with water, then freeze.
Calorie count: About 85 calories per 8 oz. glass