light and fresh Piña Coladas

by Kristina Sloggett

in cocktails, Cooking Light, Gluten Free, recipes, Smoothie, Vegan

We had a few days of rain and cold recently – I actually had to turn on the heat one night, and I saw the neighbor had built a fire. Oregon is using her prerogative to change her mind…

now we are back to sunny! As the temperatures return to warm glimpses of summer, we move back outside. We grill, we lounge in the sun, we have Happy Hour at Home. We get creative with cocktails, and this time of year, the cooler and lighter the cocktail, the better.

This version is lower in saturated fat and calories than it’s traditional counterpart. Which means you can have two, right?

Creating a lighter version of a Piña Colada came from the June issue of Cooking Light magazine. I am more than beside myself thrilled to be working with them as a member of Cooking Light’s Bloggers Connection. One of my favorite magazines and first subscriptions years ago, I admire their promotion of great tasting food that is also healthy. Aside from the essential indulgence, that is my philosophy as well.

This recipe has a couple steps that are make ahead. I prepared those components the day before, and it was well worth it – fifteen minutes worth of work the night before, another few minutes to blend these together. Perfect for a patio party, or a Thursday.

light and fresh Piña Coladas

adapted from Cooking Light

dairy, soy and gluten free, vegan, no added sugar

serves 4

1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
11.2 ounces coconut water (small container)
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cubed
2 cups ice
3/4 cup rum

In saucepan over medium heat, combine flaked coconut, water and milk. Simmer until it just bubbles (do not boil), about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer to covered container and refrigerate (I cooled overnight).

Quarter pineapple lengthwise, reserving 1/4 for garnish (slice garnish into wedges). Remove skin and core from remaining 3/4 pineapple, chop into cubes. Arrange on baking sheet and freeze until firm, at least one hour (I froze overnight).

Strain coconut mixture, pressing/squeezing to save as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. 

Combine frozen pineapple, ice, and rum in blender, process until smooth. Add coconut mixture and continue to blend. Pour into glasses and garnish with pineapple wedge.

Tart and sweet, fruity and cool. Cheers, here’s to summer!


{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) May 24, 2012 at 5:35 am

I LOVE Cooking Light and it was one of my first magazines I remember buying for myself! This looks perfectly refreshing for summertime! Congratulations on the gig! That’s awesome!


2 spabettie May 24, 2012 at 8:18 am

me too – the first food mag subscription I ever had! thank you, I am excited to be working with them!


3 Heather (Where's the Beach) May 24, 2012 at 5:50 am

MMMMM I could soooo go for one of those today sitting down at the beach. Perfect!


4 spabettie May 24, 2012 at 8:18 am

I wish I could send you one! wait, no, deliver you one! 😉


5 jobo May 24, 2012 at 6:37 am

WOW that looks good and I normally don’t even LIKE pina coladas, but I have started to really like coconut, so I think I would like these!!


6 spabettie May 24, 2012 at 8:19 am

rum is not usually a drink I like, but these are good – not too sweet, you know?


7 Heather @ Better With Veggies May 24, 2012 at 6:50 am

Mmmm…you know I always love a good cocktail and these look delicious. It’s amazing how much lighter cocktails are when you make them from scratch, instead of using a mix too!


8 spabettie May 24, 2012 at 8:16 am

ew, and taste so much better than a mix too! I’ll take naturally sweet and fresh any day…


9 Nichole May 24, 2012 at 6:54 am

I like pina coladas, AND getting caught in the rain:)

Great recipe, puts me in the mood for 5 o clock!


10 spabettie May 24, 2012 at 6:58 am

oh I was hoping someone would sing that. you rock.


11 Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy May 24, 2012 at 7:37 am

yes, here’s to summer! that looks SO yummy and refreshing! thanks for sharing!


12 spabettie May 25, 2012 at 10:28 am

Cheers to summer! this weekend is the start of the Rose Festival in Portland – which is usually when it really starts to feel like summer, you know? Hope you have a great weekend!


13 Heather (Heather's Dish) May 24, 2012 at 8:09 am



14 spabettie May 24, 2012 at 8:15 am

these would be perfect with YOUR dishes today, right? 😀 still waiting for my ice cream delivery…


15 Averie @ Averie Cooks May 24, 2012 at 8:16 am

GREAT recipe! I love pina coladas but sometimes those mixes are even too much for me. And anything with coconut milk is automatically fabulous!


16 spabettie May 25, 2012 at 10:29 am

coconut milk = fabulous… I wholeheartedly agree!


17 Jess May 24, 2012 at 8:29 am

OMG I am so excited to try this one, pinning it RIGHT now so I don’t forget! I love a good pina colada in the summer but hate all the added sugar, this version is so much healthier and REAL. I love that!! YUM.


18 spabettie May 25, 2012 at 10:26 am

you will LOVE this one then, Jess! naturally sweet and fresh. wish I could enjoy one with you – Cheers!


19 Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty May 24, 2012 at 10:03 am

All I can say – YUM!!!!!!!!

Add in some strawberries and you have my favorite drink!! :)


20 spabettie May 25, 2012 at 10:25 am

oooh, strawberries would be great in this – I’ll remember that next time!


21 Allie May 24, 2012 at 11:06 am

Dark rum + pineapple juice is a summertime fave–when I want something sweet, cold and am too lazy to make a full pina colada :) Tasty and refreshing–because yup, healthy(ish) options can still taste good!


22 spabettie May 25, 2012 at 10:23 am

yes, this one does! I’m not typically a rum drinker, but this is good!


23 Tommy May 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm

these look perfetto dahlink! I love your creativity, mazel on the new job! XO t


24 spabettie May 25, 2012 at 10:21 am

thanks, T. I would love to have you guys over for a Pina Colada happy hour…


25 May 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

When Moira is all grown up I am having cocktail hour every morning. This seems like the perfect drink to start the day.


26 spabettie May 25, 2012 at 10:21 am

this sounds like a grand idea. by then there will be a way to quickly transport myself up there to join you!


27 Eileen May 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever made a pina colada with actual fresh pineapple instead of canned! I can just imagine how much better the fresh pineapple will be…


28 spabettie May 25, 2012 at 10:19 am

oh, Eileen you need to! it is SO much better… that natural sweetness is great.


29 RecipeNewZ May 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm

This is a wonderful drink! Coconut, pineapple and rum – how much more perfect and tropical does it get ?!
Thank you for sharing this recipe on RecipeNewZ. It was very popular on our site today and as such was featured on our brand new Facebook page:
p.s. We can’t wait to see your next post :-)


30 spabettie May 25, 2012 at 10:18 am

thank you for featuring me! it is always fun to see so many people get excited about a recipe – as I did when I first saw this one!


31 Ashley F. May 25, 2012 at 6:14 am

Oh cocktails, how I love thee. These look epic – Memorial Day weekend seems like the perfect excuse to try these out! Lovely as always my dear!


32 spabettie May 25, 2012 at 10:14 am

absolutely a perfect time to make these – someone said last night that cocktail season is officially beginning. I didn’t know there was a beginning…


33 Cara May 25, 2012 at 8:33 am

I love all of your cocktails, you alcohol goddess, you! I am SO making these into popsicles now. Eeeeeeeeeee. And I will eat them while watching Family Feud and Vowel Movement :)


34 spabettie May 25, 2012 at 10:13 am

I totally support the making of Pina – Pops. Colada Pops? I don’t care what you call it, I want it.

and I REALLY want there to be such a thing as Vowel Movement.


35 Char @ May 25, 2012 at 9:39 am

mmmmmmm I could go for one of these right meow…and it’s not even 10 am yet!

I wasn’t a big fan of pina coladas until I went to Mexico. Did you know they add a shot of Kahlua to their pina coladas?? Sooo good! Not enough to take over the taste and make the whole thing chocolate, but just enough to add something. SO GOOD! I want one really badly now…lol.


36 spabettie May 25, 2012 at 10:12 am

WHAAAT?? I spent a whole month in Mexico last December, and not once did I have a pina colada. I need to go back now…


37 Natasha May 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Hey Guuuuurl…
Got your messages..:) Missin’ the personal touch…and it came just in time…I started a new job, we rescued an 8 yr old 92 pound lap dog LOL…my heart is still aching…especially at night…there is much to tell and I promise to before the weekend is out…in the interim – I’m in my pj’s nursing a glass of vino tinto, and wish I was double fisting my cocktails as I drool over this AMAZING concoction of yours! :0 xo


38 spabettie May 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I am missing you! glad to know things are okay for the most part. I know you are mourning – I hope you are also celebrating the wonderful life she did have!

can’t wait to catch up and hear all about everything! much love to you all XXO


39 Nora @ Natural Noshing May 26, 2012 at 11:45 am

I am totally transported to a beach with this one – Oh how I wish it’s wasn’t 40F and rainy right now…I might just make this today so I can feel like it’s almost summer…yummmmmmm!


40 spabettie May 26, 2012 at 2:27 pm

so weird – we are alternating between overcast and blue sunny skies here… it’s warm, though, so no complaints. hope your rain stops soon, and have a great weekend!


41 Cookin' Canuck May 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I love the idea of a lighter pina colada. This is definitely one to put into the summer cocktail rotation!


42 spabettie May 30, 2012 at 7:45 am

you must! the flavors are not lost…


43 Robin May 30, 2012 at 9:48 am

I made these this weekend, and WoW what a knockout! My mother-in-law couldn’t stop bragging about them…I made two batches…so easy and so refreshing…LOVE…this recipe is going to Lake Erie with us this August!


44 spabettie May 31, 2012 at 10:31 am

so happy you made them, Robin! how can they NOT be a hit, right? a perfect cocktail all summer long!


45 Ed June 4, 2012 at 7:52 am

Is the flaked coconut sweetened? I have both kinds, so I’m not sure which is best to use!


46 spabettie June 4, 2012 at 10:03 am

I used unsweetened – but either would be fine. I didn’t add extra sweetener to my version, so if you like sweet, use the sweetened? Cheers!


47 Susan Bill June 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm

best colada I have ever tasted, thank you!


48 Alisha July 10, 2012 at 10:50 am

we have made these several times already this summer! I make double batches and reblend for ready to drink! 😀


49 spabettie July 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm

so happy you are enjoying them, Alisha – Cheers!


50 Chris Ortiz July 11, 2012 at 7:58 pm

so what’s the calorie count for this “lighter” version? looks like a lot of work! I like my traditional frozen concoction, but am looking to lose weight, so am interested in a drink w/fewer calories — or will have to do an extra hour of Zumba!


51 Korin July 25, 2012 at 10:42 pm

YUM! glad I found your site (through cooking light!!)


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