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Try a healthier twist on a favourite summer cocktail

Margarita drink with lime, focus is on rim of glass, and salt

Try a modified margarita this summer for a refreshing low-carb cocktail.

Even though I’m sugar conscious and watch the amount of added sugars I eat, I still want to enjoy the occasional refreshing cocktail, especially now that summer is here.

I will state up front, that alcohol is by no means good for you and can lead to a whole host of unhealthy conditions and behaviours. Personally, I don’t tolerate it well. It impacts my sleep, moods and even one glass of wine can give me a slight hangover the next day.

But summer is here, and I do want to be sociable and have a fun cocktail every now and then.
So I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect low sugar, delicious summer drink. After some research, I’ve landed on a modified version of a margarita.

The standard margarita is typically made with tequila, triple sec, grand mariner (or another orange flavoured liquor), simple syrup, lime juice or a lime bar mix which is pretty high in sugar and other nasty additives and flavourings.

Preliminary research got me excited into thinking that a natural sugar (agavins) found in the agave plant, from which tequila is made, could lower your blood sugar. How exciting!

As I dug further, I came to find the agavins (non-digestible fibre in agave) that scientists found to reduce blood sugar and weight gain in mice, don’t actually exist in the finished fermented alcoholic beverage. Darn! It was all looking so good!

Despite my discouraging findings, my husband decided to do his own experiment to see the impact tequila had on his blood glucose levels.

After one modified margarita his blood glucose went from 4.5 to 4.3 and after two cocktails it went down even further to 4.1. This seems promising!

I realize this is not scientifically rigorous or medical-journal-worthy research, but take it for what it is. When compared with other alcoholic beverages and spirits, tequila is looking pretty clean.

I found in experimenting with the modified low carb margarita, that I can I can enjoy one, be in control, sleep fine and wake feeling good. But two definitely had me a bit too tipsy, affected my sleep and had me feeling a bit under the weather the next day.

Some other interesting tidbits to consider about tequila:

  • Some say it does not produce headaches the day after like many alcohols. But this is no justification to do multiple shots each night! Always use alcohol responsibly.
  • Look for “100% Agave” on the label to make sure it is pure.
  • Avoid “mixtos” fermentation which is usually not 100% pure but mixed with other alcohols to keep the price down.
  • Beware of gold coloured tequilas as the may have carmel colourings/flavourings added to them.
  • Tequila is gluten free and safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
  • Because it comes from the agave plant, it does have a slight hint of sweetness which makes it perfect in a cocktail as you don’t need to add in other sugars.

Michelle’s Modified Low-Carb Margarita

Ingredients (one drink):

  • 1 ounce 100% agave tequila (I prefer Patron Silver)
  • juice of 1 fresh lime
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Perrier or other sparkling water
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ice

You have a few options for mixing and serving:

  • Pour the liquid ingredients in a nice rocks glass over ice, stir and top with pinch of sea salt.
  • Pour all liquid ingredients in a shaker glass and shake, pour in a sea salt-rimmed martini or margarita glass.
  • Double it up and make a batch of frozen margaritas in a blender and pour into salt-rimmed margarita glass.

Happy summer. Please drink responsibly.

This post first appeared here in the  Halifax Citizen on Tuesday, June 30, 2015. 

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