Is alcohol Paleo? Many people aren't sure how alcohol fits into a Paleo lifestyle. I recently found a new cookbook called "Paleo Happy Hour: Appetizers, Small Plates & Drinks" by Kelly Milton and it intrigued me because of the way my husband and I like to go out and eat. We don't like to go out to a big fancy dinner very often because we used to come home "stuffed" afterward! We eat at home 90% of the time because I love to cook and I like knowing what's in the food we eat. With that said, every once in a while, we like hitting a "happy hour" early, having a drink and sharing a couple of appetizers; having a "mini date" that includes being home before all the "young" folks even think about going out! I can remember the days of heading out in San Francisco at about 11pm….what!? Ahhhh, to be young again!
I'm only kidding because I love my age of 42 better than any age yet!! I wouldn't trade it in for a younger me if I could. If you take care of yourself, you can feel better as you age, not worse. So, what does this cookbook say about drinking alcohol? Strict Paleo says no to alcohol. It is also something you should avoid if you're really trying to lean out. But other than that, the cookbook is "in defense of drinking" and so am I! A bubbly glass of champagne just makes me smile :) My husband and I live in the wine country and are members at Gloria Ferrer winery and love it! With that said, I want to share some info about how to make healthier alcohol choices…because some drinks are FULL of sugar and unhealthy ingredients that can put a damper on your healthy Paleo lifestyle! According to the book, here are some drink choices that are Paleo friendly...
- Best Choicesthese are not derived from grains and contain no added refined sugar: Tequila (from the agave plant), Rum (from sugarcane), Vodka (from potatoes)
- Good Choicesthese are not derived from grains but have a higher carbohydrate content: Wine, Gluten-free Beer, Champagne
- Acceptable Choices these are derived from grains, but are gluten-free: Gin, Vodka, Whiskey, Scotch, Hard Cider*
- Not-So-Great Choices these are gluten-free but high in sugar: Liqueurs, Dessert Wines (port)
- Alcohols to Avoid these may contain gluten, dairy or added sugar: Beer, Wine Coolers, Pre-mixed cocktails (margarita, mudslide, pina colada, cosmopolitan)
*Some varieties of hard cider contain gluten and are higher in carbohydrates and sugar.
- Best Choices: Freshly squeezed juice (lime, lemon, orange)
- Acceptable Choices: 100% whole fruit juice (not from concentrate), Coconut milk, Coconut water, Honey (as a sweetener)
- Mixers to Avoid: Soda (regular and diet), Fruit juice with added sugar, Grenadine and other flavored syrups, Pre-made mixers (margarita, mudslide, pina colada, cosmopolitan)
What to Order When You're "Out On the Town":
- Best Choices: Wine, Gluten-free Beer, Dirty Martini, Champagne :) , Tequila with soda water and lime wedges
These choices are "Best" for one reason: you can order them as is. No special requests when the bar is crowded and loud;)
- Good Choices: Vodka cranberry or screwdriver (ask the bartender to substitute soda water for half the juice to lower sugar content), Cosmopolitan (asks the bartender to hold the Cointreau/orange liqueur), Mojito (ask the bartender to go light on the simple syrup), Hard cider
These are healthy choices if you can bond with the bartender and you trust they will be accommodating.
- Bad Choices: Beer, Margarita, specialty sweet drinks (pina colada, daiquiri, Long Island iced tea, rum and Coke (regular or diet)
Beer contains Gluten and these other choices are loaded with sugar. They also can contain dairy, corn syrup, food coloring and artificial flavors.
Ok, so now you can "Cheers" to your Paleo friendly cocktail choice! Now let's not ruin it my ordering happy hour Mozzarella Sticks!….here are some food choices that are Paleo friendly...
Look for meat or seafood…seared ahi tuna, sliders (without the buns), shrimp cocktail. Don't be afraid to order from the full menu either…side salads (watch out for the unhealthy dressings), soups, or order a Paleo entree.
Another good tip is limit yourself to 2 drinks and drink a glass of water between the two…this will help you stay hydrated and you'll wake up feeling bright and bushy tailed the next morning… Unlike those mornings after those late nights dancing in San Francisco in my 20's!! I'm too old for that anymore!
"Is Alcohol Paleo" is a personal decision...I hope this gives you some useful tools to use in that often "un-Paleo" world out there!! CHEERS!