Please help me welcome the author of Skinnytinis, Teresa Marie Howes to A Buckeye Girl Reads as a part of the Chick Lit Plus blog tour!
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Teresa Marie Howes is a health enthusiast, expert skinny mixologist, avid runner and published author. Backed with a formal education with degrees in both nutrition and business and over a decade of professional experience consulting in the weight loss industry, she certainly knows the “right” things to do when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. She is also well versed in the challenges that an active social and travel calendar can infringe on ones best efforts to do these “right” things. As it turns out, what’s “right” isn’t always “realistic” and that’s where her personal experience plays a key role. She has battled out the conflict of “right” and “realistic” in the bars, on the road and on vacation for 15+ years – and now in her mid-thirties and at a weight less than she weighed in high school, she’s feeling pretty confident in her strategies and is eager to share them!
What was the inspiration for the book?
Every since I graduated from high school, I found myself naturally fascinated by health and wellness. I also grew up to be a goof ball of an adult who truly loves a night on the town with friends, a fine martini before dinner and a smorgasbord of cocktails when I’m on vacation. I’ve often touted, “I’m not drunk, I’m just awesome!” This was always balanced with a modestly healthy diet plan and a good deal of physical activity, as I am an avid runner. However, when I hit my thirties and I found myself on the beach in Antigua in December, I was so dissatisfied in my own skin, yet struggling with the burning vacation desire to always have a drink in my hand. For this trip, I opted to cut out ALL sugar from my drinks. This left me with few options as we were on a remote portion of the island. Then I discovered in my toiletry case a bottle of airborne. Mixed with 8 oz of water only had 5 calories and a delicious, tangy orange flavor – and VIOLA – the concept of SkinnyTinis was born!
Leveraging creative low calorie mixers and combining with high quality alcohol satisfied my vacation needs and kept me from growing in my bathing suit at the same time. When I got home, I found my ingenuity so impressive, I developed a slew of interesting drinks using zero calorie sweeteners, low calorie juices, sports drinks , spices, coffees, creamers, skim milk, rice milk, extracts – essentially anything low calorie I mixed up with booze and tested to see if it was tasty. These all commonly became known as SkinnyTinis amongst me and my friends.
At the time, nobody was talking about calories and alcohol – it was one or the other – all or nothing. The concept was so original I was prompted by friends, family, co-workers, strangers (essentially anybody who had a drink in their hand and a cared about their weight) to “write a book.” And so that’s exactly what I did. And to this day, SkinnyTinis will continue to exist as the first of its kind. The first tool that taught social drinkers how to enjoy all the fun of a delicious cocktail, but with 50% fewer calories!
How did you decide what drinks to put in it?
It was all trial and error. We must have tested hundreds of recipes in 2008. I had a series of “tasting parties” and we would tweak recipes a few times over before we decided we had a good enough product to share. I divided the recipes up into several categories and wanted to provide a good variety. So the book features 30 SkinnyTinis (5 oz with 2 oz booze). 25 of these are original recipes and 5 are remakes of familiar classics (AppleTini, Chocolate Martini, Cosmo, etc). There are also an additional 20 Skinny Cocktails (5 oz with 1 ½ oz of booze). Of these 15 are remakes of familiar classics (Margaritas, Pina Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri, etc). Lastly, there are an additional 20 recipes that can be ordered when you are out on the town. Ten that are standard, easy, low calorie good picks. The other 10 all feature ingredients the bartender should have on hand, but you may have to be descriptive, as he won’t know them by title. I am a vodka drinker, so most recipes feature vodka. But I did also provide recipes that feature rum, tequila and gin, so there is defiantly something for everyone – and all with 50% fewer calories!
How involved were you with the recipes?
I was the creator of each recipe and present at all tastings. But I always had a few friends around to help tweak the recipes. In fact there are a few in the book that I don’t absolutely love, but they were so popular at tasting parties, I felt inclined to include them in the book. Because of the in-depth review and consideration that went into each SkinnyTini, I feel very confident all the recipes that were selected as finals!
What was the hardest part of writing a mixology book?
Honestly, it was realizing that “tasting parties” aren’t real parties. There is a lot of insight and patience involved in perfecting a cocktail. If you invite too many tasters and serve up full cocktails, the evening is wasted from a recipe perfection standpoint. People know now for the most part that this is some seriousness in the initial tasting, but if we make it through 2 cocktails and end up with great recipes, then we let the fun begin. But I’ve never been able to get more than 3 in a night.
Where to find Theresa: