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Blackberry Brandy

By Cheryl Forberg
Image of Blackberries
Whether it's a weeknight happy hour, a Saturday night party or the height of the holiday season, it can be hard to avoid consuming cocktails and wine. Many cocktails and alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories and not much else of nutritional value. Just a few drinks can break the bank of your calorie budget.

Some of the most traditional beverages are packed with loads of calories and fat. Take good old eggnog: per cup it has 343 calories and a whopping 19 grams of fat (11 g saturated fat). A Long Island iced tea has 789 calories, and a white Russian has 425 calories. Even a non-alcoholic grande eggnog latte made with nonfat milk at Starbucks is loaded with 450 calories and 18 grams of fat (11 g saturated)!

So, how do you make the best of the year round festivities without completely going overboard or depriving yourself? Here are some dos and don'ts of holiday drinking:
  • Do drink conservatively. Limit yourself to one or two drinks interspersed with water and healthy nibbles over a period of time.
  • Do drink a big glass or two of water prior to drinking anything alcoholic. A recent study published in the journal Obesity compared weight loss for two groups of dieters; the group that consumed two cups of water prior to meals dropped more pounds. Water not only makes you feel fuller; it provides your body with the hydration it needs for optimum function.
  • Do choose wine when you drink alcohol. Wine has calories, but no fat - and it contains health-boosting antioxidants. A 4.1-ounce glass of champagne has 78 calories, while a 5-ounce glass of red wine has 127 calories and contains the powerful antioxidant resveratrol. Just make sure you're drinking a single serving; the large capacity of some wine glasses can hold 12 ounces or more (that's at least 300 calories)!
  • Do try a wine spritzer (wine mixed with sparkling water) as another festive drinking option. You'll cut the calories in half and still get some of wine's beneficial antioxidants.
  • Do opt for sparkling water or club soda with a slice of lemon or lime if you need to have a drink in hand at the cocktail party. No one will know it's not a gin and tonic!
  • Do learn how to make allowances for fun indulgences. Just make sure you balance the excess calories with an additional walk or extra time at the gym.
  • Don't choose creamy drinks like eggnog or Irish cream liqueurs, which are loaded with calories and fat.
  • Never drink and drive!
I created this recipe with the abundance of juicy sweet blackberries that are available now. Though most gardeners like to preserve their summer supply of berries into jars of jams and jellies, I'm not a big bread eater. I wanted to experiment with different ways to enjoy my berries and this blackberry brandy recipe was born. The recipe below is refreshing and festive, perfect for a holiday punch. To make it alcoholic, add 1 ounce of your favorite clear spirit (gin or vodka).

Blackberry Brandy
Yield: About 3 cups or 1 1/2 pints or 24-1 ounce servings
Image of Blackberry Brandy
2½ cups ripe Blackberries – lightly rinsed
2 cups Brandy (approx.)
½ cup Agave Nectar

  1. Fill a clean 1 quart canning jar with the berries.
  2. Add agave nectar. Add 2 cups brandy (or less; whatever reaches top of jar with ½-inch space. Screw cover of jar on tightly and shake gently.
  3. Label and date jar. Place in a cool dark place for one to two months, shaking occasionally.
  4. Strain through a very fine strainer and then transfer brandy to a decorative bottle.
  5. Enjoy straight up, on the rocks, over fresh berries or as a syrup added to carbonated water.
Nutritional information (per one 1-ounce serving):
Calories 60
Fat calories 0
Total fat grams; 0
Sat fat grams, 0
Cholesterol mg 0
Sodium mg 0
Total carbohydrates g 5
Fiber g 0
Protein g 5
Vitamin A IUs %; 0
Vitamin C % 2
Calcium % 0
Iron % 0
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