It’s summer, right? Light Pina Coladas (seriously!)

Okay, so this might be a little premature given the temperature, but since Memorial Day has passed and kids are on their way to summer vacation…I think it should be adult-summer-vacation time, too. Nothing says summer like frosty drinks on the porch, on the boat, in the sun….and nothing screams vacation like a Pina Colada (mini-umbrella optional). However, if you’re anything like me, Pina Colodas are on your official cannot-touch-my-lips list…or for-actual-vacations-only, because a typical fruity colada can set you back about 400-500 calories…yes, for the drink alone! Since I am one who likes to eat, as well, I’d rather not spend that huge ratio of daily calories on a beverage, no matter how delicious.

However, the wonderful folks over at Cooking Light must have felt my distress, because they have come up with an ingenious, light (yes, not even light-er, it’s actually light!) method for whipping up a Pina Colada….coming straight to your next backyard barbecue,  pool party or lakeside rendezvous!

The trick here is that it does take some advance planning, because you’re actually “making” your own coconut milk (boiling a few ingredients together and refrigerating at least 4 hours). So while it’s certainly not complicated, it’s a small effort – but it’s well worth the small effort for huge payoff.

Light Piña Coladas


  • 2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated fat-free milk
  • 2 cups cubed fresh pineapple
  • 2 1/2 cups ice cubes
  • 3/4 cup gold rum (such as Bacardi Gold)
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons light agave nectar
  • 8 fresh pineapple slices


  1. Combine 2 cups coconut and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and cook until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil), about 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
  2. Arrange pineapple in a single layer on a baking sheet; freeze at least 1 hour or until firm.
  3. 3Strain coconut mixture through a sieve over a medium bowl, pressing coconut with the back of a spoon to remove as much milk as possible. Discard solids.
  4. Combine pineapple, ice cubes, rum, juice, and agave nectar in a blender; process mixture until smooth. Add milk mixture, and process until smooth. Serve with pineapple slices.

Sidney Fry, MS, RD, Cooking Light 
JUNE 2012

Yield: Serves 8 (serving size: about 2/3 cup)

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 158
  • Fat: 1.2g
  • Saturated fat: 1g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 0.1g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.0g
  • Protein: 3.5g
  • Carbohydrate: 18.6g
  • Fiber: 1.1g
  • Cholesterol: 2mg
  • Iron: 0.4mg
  • Sodium: 57mg
  • Calcium: 124mg



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