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Can Wine Be Diet-Friendly?

Let's be honest here. Wine (and other alcoholic beverages) are one of the first items to get the boot whenever we see larger numbers on the scale. I speak from personal experience, and I also know several girlfriends who abstain from enjoying a glass of vino the same day those skinny jeans start feeling a bit too tight.

But according to a new study, we might have had it all wrong — or at least a bit wrong. In a 2010 study done by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, almost 20,000 women age 39 and older were monitored for several years. The women who consumed 30 grams (1/4 cup) of alcohol per day or more gained less weight than the ones who did not drink at all. And even more interesting was the fact that red wine, in particular, helped keep their weight in check.

Sure, the age group was very specific and we really don't know how this would apply to younger women, but it does shed some light on the fact that we might be misjudging wine. If you like wine, you are not alone. In a 2012 Gallup poll, 52 percent of women (and 20 percent of men) in America said that they preferred wine over beer and hard liquor.

So, should you be drinking wine? That is entirely up to you. I am a big believer that wine is absolutely fine and healthy in moderation. What's more, wine is a much healthier alternative to sugar-and-calorie-laden cocktails.

The folks at Skinnygirl™ Cocktails sent us some lower calorie wines to sample. Since summer is now officially started, we were excited to try a few light refreshing drink recipes during a LIVESTRONG.COM Friday happy hour with the team in our office.

"It's refreshing and crisp," said Crissy, our editor who tried the Summertime Sipper (Moscato, slice of pear, and soda water).

While many of the men on our team were not as keen on the concoctions, the women - for the most part - had favorable comments.

"I never would have thought to combine red wine and lemon-lime sparkling water," said Cate, our photo editor who tried the Tinto de Verano (Summer Red). "This recipe makes red wine more of a summer drink."

The drinks we made were about 100 calories each when made with Skinnygirl™ wine.  However, you can make these recipes with any wine, although they might be a bit higher in calories. Here are three wine cocktails to try out and some tasty little appetizers you can pair with them — just remember that the key is to drink in moderation.

3 Summery Wine Cocktails

1. Summertime Sipper

4 oz moscato wine
splash of soda water
slice of pear, peach or mango for garnish

1. Chill a bottle of moscato wine.
2. Pour chilled wine into a glass with a little crushed ice.
3. Top with soda water and garnish with fruit like fresh pear, peach or mango.

2. White Wine Slush

5 parts glass white wine
2 parts frozen lemonade (make it ahead of time, or use your favorite store bought kind)
1 part soda water
lemon peel twist for garnish

1. Blend ingredients with crushed ice.
2. Pour into a flute glass.
3. Finish with soda water and garnish with a twist of lemon.

3. Tinto de Verano (Summer Red)

4 oz red wine
lemon-lime sparkling water
lemon peel twist for garnish

1. Fill a half a wine glass with ice.
2. Pour wine into the glass.
3. Finish with lemon-lime soda and garnish with a twist of lemon.

3 Tasty Appetizers to Try

 1. Minty Mango Salsa  

1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet red pepper, diced
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilis
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. minced fresh mint leaves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1. In a small bowl, combine the mango, sweet red pepper, chilis, onion, lime juice, mint leaves and ginger.
2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

 2. Blueberry Almond Crostinis  

1/4 cup light ricotta cheese
1 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
3/4 cup blueberries
4 slices whole grain bread, toasted
2 tbsp. sliced almonds, toasted

1. In a small bowl, combine the light ricotta cheese, honey and lemon zest.
2. Slowly mix in the blueberries. Cut each toasted bread slice diagonally into four equal pieces, and divide blueberry mixture among bread pieces.
3. Sprinkle with toasted almonds.

3. Balsamic Caprese Skewers

cherry tomatoes
mozzarella balls, patted dry with a paper towel
basil leaves
balsamic vinegar

1. Using bamboo skewers, first place a cherry tomato, then a large basil leaf followed by a mozzarella ball.
2. Continue these steps until you have the amount of skewers you want.
3. Arrange them on a platter and sprinkle with a bit of pepper.
4. Serve with balsamic vinegar or drizzle over top. Tip: drizzle right before serving so that your basil leaves don’t wilt.

What are your favorite summer cocktail and recipes? Leave a comment below and let me know.

- Luz Plaza

Follow Luz on Twitter @luzplaza

>> Read more of Luz Plaza's articles here! <<

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