Ahhh, the piña colada. It conjures images of tropical pool parties, sweet indulgences and that awful song (but we won’t talk about that).
It’s also a minefield of caloric disasters, what with the goopy mixes, creams, booze and sugar. Why, I had a college roommate who used to make a blender full of piña coladas with a pint of Häagen-Dazs, just to gild the lily.
The average piña colada is at least 500 calories, and if you have that many calories to sling around then go for it, but if you’d rather spend that currency on, say, a meal, we have an alternate plan — a piña colada spritzer.
The heart of my lighter drink starts with a piña colada base. I took a can of pineapple chunks and half a cup of unsweetened coconut flakes and blitzed them in my Nutri Ninja until I got the puree as smooth as can be. I used a half cup of that mixture as the base of my drink and refrigerated the rest. And I found all sorts of ways to use the piña colada base:
- Spread a little on top of chicken breasts with a dash of salt before baking for a tropical chicken dish.
- Add some to plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.
- Make a piña colada “cheesecake” by topping a small bowl of ricotta cheese and refrigerating a bit. (That was a great little snack.)
- A half cup of the base added to a cup of unsweetened coconut milk (in the carton, not the can) and some vanilla protein powder makes a great piña colada smoothie.
Okay, so back to the spritzer. I used LaCroix coconut seltzer to kick up the coconut flavor (plain seltzer is fine but coconut is next level!), but I found that the drink could use a teaspoon of agave to make it just perfect.
Because of the pineapple and coconut solids there’s a bit of texture to this spritzer, so if you’re looking for something even lighter, equal parts pineapple juice and coconut seltzer make a super simple spritzer.
(And after my little photo shoot with my drinkie subject, a shot of coconut rum was extra delightful.)
Piña Colada Base:
- 20 ounce can of pineapple, either chunks or crushed, with the juice
- ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut (you can use sweetened if you want it sweeter)
- ½ cup piña colada base
- 1 teaspoon agave syrup
- 8 ounces coconut seltzer
- To make the base: Process the pineapple and coconut until smooth. Transfer to a container and refrigerate the rest.
- To make the Spritzer: Add ½ cup pina colada base to a tall glass, add agave syrup and top with seltzer. The drink will foam up a bit from the seltzer so stir carefully.
- Makes 1 drink --- rum and tiny umbrella optional.
Do you like piña coladas? And getting caught in the rain? (Oh, I am so sorry…) —Gail