‘Tis the season of parties, toasts and celebrations! New Year’s Eve marks a celebration to remember the past year and welcome of the year to come. Who doesn’t love another excuse to share food, festive cocktails and laughter with loved ones? We know from Part One of my Holiday Series, too many cocktails can lead to excess weight gain and dehydration. This can drain your energy, and keep your body from functioning properly during one of the busiest times of year. For Part Three and my final Grow with Nutrition Holiday Series post, let’s explore the importance of hydration over the holidays and five skinny cocktails (3 with alcohol and 2 without) for your “festive nice list” celebrations including New Year’s Eve.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

Hydrationhydrate is very important for immune health, skin health and overall wellness. Water is needed for a number of essential functions in the body. Fluids are necessary for most chemical reactions in the body to occur. It acts as a cushion for the nervous system, allows us to get rid of waste via kidney and urine production, and regulates body temperature by sweating. When we are dehydrated, it can result in impaired cognitive function, reduced physical performance, headaches and symptoms of fatigue. Over the holidays stick to water with and in between meals. Get enough restful sleep to stay energized, in a good mood and be primed for the final round of parties over New Year’s Eve. Now for my five skinny festive cocktails to celebrate the big night with!

#1 Festive Red Wine Punch

Punch is the perfect festive option for the busy hostess. And you can double or triple the recipe depending on the number of guests at your celebration.

Makes 6 servings with 95 calories per serving

One bottle of dry red wine, 500 ml club soda, 125 ml of fresh lime juice, frozen cranberries and orange slices to garnish.

Combine all liquid ingredients in a punch bowl over ice. Garnish with frozen cranberries and orange slices. Serve in short, clear glasses.

Why is Festive Red Wine Punch on the Festive Nice List?
2014 has been the year of the question, “Is moderate intake of wine beneficial or not?” As an expert in food and nutrition, I say there is still a large body of research including the Mediterranean diet data that shows red wine has positive health benefits including decreasing risk factors for heart disease (1).

#2 Merry Berry Cocktail 

This is my go-to favorite all year round! However during the holidays, I serve it in a martini glass with a fresh rosemary sprig for a festive look.

Makes 1 serving with 150 calories per serving

4 parts cranberry juice, 2 parts Vodka, ¼ part fresh lime juice, fresh cranberries, raspberries and rosemary sprigs for garnish.

In a shaker filled with ice, shake together juice and vodka. Add lime juice. Serve in a martini glass. Garnish with cranberries, raspberries & fresh rosemary sprigs.

Why is Merry Berry on the Festive Nice List?
Cranberries and its delicious health benefits!

#3 Hot Toddy

This drink gives me images of après snowshoeing, roaring fires and celebrating New Year’s Eve at the cottage.

Makes 1 serving with 90 calories per serving

1 bag chai tea, 30 ml (1 ounce) whiskey, boiling water, 1 teaspoon of honey, lemon wedge and cinnamon stick to garnish

Place tea bag in mug and add whiskey. Pour boiling water to fill mug. Add honey, lemon wedge and cinnamon stick. Let steep for 5 minutes.

Why is Hot Toddy on the Festive Nice List?
Chai tea is a form of black tea, and research shows that black tea is linked to lowering blood pressure (3). A helpful attribute during the busy holiday season!

#4 Mulled Apple Cider (sans alcohol)
This drink is perfect for a family focused New Year’s Eve Celebration and is a great option for the designated drivers in the crowd.

Makes 8 servings with 150 calories per serving

2 litres of apple cider, 10 cinnamon sticks, 15 cloves, 10 whole cardamom pods
10 whole allspice, 2 whole nutmegs, peel of 1 orange (pith removed).

In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients and stir. Simmer gently for 45 minutes. Let cool, then strain out the spices and discard. Refrigerate until ready to use (up to 2 days). Serve in a mug and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Why is Mulled Apple Cider on the Festive Nice List?
Cinnamon has a large number of studies supporting its positive effects on stabilizing blood sugars (4). This is beneficial to keep energized and maintain a positive mood around the holidays.

#5 Skinny Hot Cocoa (sans alcohol)

Who doesn’t love a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter’s night? Especially if you’re the designated driver or the host of the New Year’s Eve party.

Makes 2 servings with 100 calories per serving

500 ml 1% milk, 5 teaspoons cocoa powder, 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of honey, sprinkle of cinnamon and 14 mini marshmallows.

Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan and turn heat to medium. Continuously whisk cocoa powder into the milk until fully combined. Bring milk to a simmer and take off heat. Serve in a festive mug with 7 mini marshmallows and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Why is Skinny Hot Cocoa on the Festive Nice List?
When you make cocoa from scratch you avoid the additives such as trans fat in the processed type. I’ve been speaking, writing and blogging about cocoa for the past decade and promoting its antioxidant rich positive role for brain health (5). Increased cognition is a welcomed benefit during the busy and sometimes stressful holiday season!

Cheers! These five do-it-yourself festive cocktails made with lower calorie options and your favorite fruits and herbs are a great way to ring in 2015. Remember to drink water throughout the celebration and enjoy a small amount champagne at the traditional midnight toast. Finally, make sure you have a designated driver at all your holiday celebrations including New Year’s Eve. I’ve had fun sharing my Grow with Nutrition Holiday Series with you and I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts too.

Have a Wonderful Holiday Season, a Happy New Year and stay tuned for more entertaining and informative Grow with Nutrition Posts in 2015!


  1. Hlebowicz, J., Darwiche, G., Bjoergell, O., Almer, L. Effect of cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose, gastric emptying, and satiety in healthy subjects. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;85:1552-1556.
  2. Hodgson, J., Croft, K., Woodman, R., Puddey, I., Fuchs, D., Draijer, R., et al. Black tea lowers the rate of blood pressure variation: A randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013; 97: 943-950.
  3. Nantz, M., Rowe, C., Muller, C., Creasy, R., Colee, J., Khoo, C., et al. Consumption of cranberry polyphenols enhances γδ-T cell proliferation and reduces the number of symptoms associated with colds and influenza: A randomized, placebo-controlled intervention study. Nutrition Journal. 2013; 12: 161.
  4. Chiva-Blanch, G., Urpi-Sarda, M., Ros, E., Valderas-Martinez, P., Casas, R., Arranz, S., et al. Effects of red wine polyphenols and alcohol on glucose metabolism and the lipid profile: A randomized clinical trial. Clinical Nutrition. 2013; 32: 200-206.
  5. Francis, S., Head, K., Morris, P., Macdonald, I. The effect of flavanol-rich cocoa on the fMRI response to a cognitive task in healthy young people. The Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology. 2006; 47: S215-S220.