Julie Whittington, RD

Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian

Stay warm with a festive hot and healthy beverage

Brrrrrrr.  Baby, it’s cold outside!

As we trek about in the cold days of winter (well, not officially the Winter Solstice until December 21…but it is still cold!), one of the ways we can stay warm and comfortable is by warming ourselves with a festive hot beverage!  Ah, how nice it is to warm up with one…the warmth of the cup feels good in our hands and the little sips of warmth help to ease the chill in the air.  The festive flavors warm our hearts, as well, as we think of holiday traditions and all good things that come with them!

However, before you grab that super sweet double latte, consider some healthy alternatives.  They still do the trick – they warm you up and taste so good – but don’t trick your body into unintentional weight gain or that crash and burn later after coming off the caffeine and sugar highs.

Here is a list of delicious, aromatic hot beverages that are actually fairly (if not highly) nutritious!  Make goals to trade out high caffeine and high sugar options in exchange for one of these:

Make hot cocoa with milk* and 1-2 spoonfuls of natural cocoa powder.  For example, Ovaltine is a great brand with no artificial flavors or sweeteners.  Plus it is a great source of 12 vitamins and minerals.
Drink your coffee with milk.  Lattes are made with espresso and steamed milk.  Cafe au lait (at Starbucks it is called a Caffe Misto) is coffee with steamed milk.  Usually, the latte has more milk than the cafe au lait. Skip the sweet syrup and instead sprinkle cocoa powder or cinnamon on top.
Simmer apple cider on the stove.  Add a cinnamon stick or a pouch (or tea ball) of mulling spices.  It will fill your house with elegant aromas.  Pour 4-6 ounce servings and achieve a big dose of vitamin C, too!
Drink hot tea.  Try chai, African red bush (rooibos) and green tea.  Many delicious holiday teas are available at your local grocers.  Look for Celestial Seasonings’ Candy Cane Lane green tea, Gingerbread House tea and Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride tea.  With no sugar and no calories, these naturally sweet holiday teas make any occasion warmer!  Try steeping the Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride tea in a mug of heated vanilla soymilk and water (1/2 and 1/2).

*Select the type of milk based on your eating plan

Remember, although adding milk adds calories, it also adds protein, vitamins and minerals.  The addition of milk will make a beverage more filling.  The exception is if you use a milk alternative like almond or coconut milk – neither have much protein (usually about 1 gram per cup).

Stay warm with these hot beverages.  And, enjoy the festive season!

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