As the weather gets colder, it’s tempting to reach out for a steaming, warming drink of something hot and delicious each morning to start your day. These drinks, which are a staple of companies like Starbucks, Dunkin, and Costa Coffee, are all delicious, and are released in new flavors almost every year. Some of Starbuck’s popular offerings this fall include the legendary Pumpkin Spice Latte, Salted Caramel Mocha, and the tea-based Chai Latte. While delicious, these drinks generally average around 400+ calories for the Grande, which is almost a fourth of the calories that the average woman should be consuming in a day.
If you’re looking to start the season a little healthier, here are some suggestions for drinks that will warm you up without adding excessive calories to your daily diet.
1. Ginger Tea
If you’re looking for a drink that’s soothing, warming, and healthy all in one go, you should definitely be brewing up some ginger tea this fall.
Ginger tea in its simplest form is just ginger that’s sliced and boiled in water until the liquid is pungent and spicy. There are tons of companies that sell bagged or loose ginger tea, but the simplest way is to buy a knob of ginger from the grocery store and make it from scratch. You don’t even need to peel the ginger — that’s how easy it is to make. A handful of ginger slices will make a strong tea, or you can use fewer for a less potent brew.
Ginger has tons of Vitamin C and magnesium, and has been shown to help reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and improve blood circulation. Sweeten it with a bit of honey and enjoy!
2. Herbal Tea
Another easy beverage to whip up if you’re feeling cold weather coming on is a cup of herbal tea. There are so many options out there, but generally herbal tea is anything that isn’t technically a tea leaf, and should more properly be called an infusion, rather than tea. Any herb or leaf can be included in herbal tea.
Some of the most popular include chamomile flowers, which are full of antioxidants that can help prevent the growth of cancer cells; echinacea, which has been used for centuries to prevent colds; and rooibos, which is a fermented South African herb that has flavonoids that have been shown to have cancer-fighting properties. Pick out your favorite, and brew it each morning for a relaxing, soothing start to the day.
3. Green Tea
Another popular choice for many people as the days get colder is green tea, which is made from steamed leaves from the camellia sinensis plant. It’s incredibly popular all over Asia and has risen in popularity across North America over the last few decades.
Although some people have written off green tea in the past because they dislike the teas that they’ve been served in sushi shops and Chinese restaurants, there are tons of options that all have their own unique taste. If you’re looking for something sweeter, reach for a green tea with dried fruit like peach, papaya, or mango, which imparts a delicate fruity taste. Many people drink their green tea unsweetened, but you can add a little honey, which complements the tea’s light flavor.
Coffee has gotten a bad rap in the last few years, with studies that advise against drinking this rich beverage because of its role in contributing to elevated blood pressure and impaired sleep, and potentially linking it to cancer-causing compounds. However, new research prompted the World Health Organization to take coffee off of their list of possible carcinogens just last year.
This new research has found that moderate coffee consumption (which means limiting yourself to less than four cups a day) has been linked with a longer lifespan, due to its role in reducing cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, and Parkinson’s disease. If you want to keep your coffee consumption on the healthy side, try and drink your one to three cups in the morning, and avoid sweetening it with too much sugar or artificial sweeteners.
5. Non-Dairy Milk Latte
Many people reach for lattes in the fall and winter months because of the winning combination of caffeinated tea or espresso that’s given a sweet boost from milk and sugar. The average plain latte is made up of a single shot of espresso topped with at least double the same amount of steamed milk, plus a layer of foamed milk on top.
There are 190 calories in the average Starbucks latte when it’s made with regular two percent milk, but if you replace the dairy milk with almond milk, you can cut out 90 of those calories. Many people are choosing to replace dairy milk with non-dairy alternatives like almond and soy milk because of its reduced environmental impact, but it’s also a great way to add calcium to your diet without adding calories. If you’re set on having a latte, you can immediately make it healthier by using a non-dairy alternative.
6. Hot Apple Cider
One way that you can warm yourself up this fall without adding a ton of processed sugar to your diet is by making your own spiced apple cider. It’s available from tons of coffee shops, but it’s surprisingly easy to make at home, and much cheaper too. Plus, this way you can control the added sugar, and spice it exactly to your taste. The easiest way to do this is to gently heat a jug full of cider in a pot along with cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and orange slices. Once the mixture is gently bubbling, ladle it into mugs and enjoy!
7. Mexican Hot Chocolate
Mexican hot chocolate is traditionally made using a whole chocolate bar which is made with the traditional spices, so all you need to do is melt the mixture with a bit of water or milk. You can use non-dairy milk to make this a healthier option, but even if you choose to use milk, it’s still a much healthier option than most prepared hot chocolate mixes, which often included a large percentage of white sugar and artificial flavorings.
Mexican hot chocolate is quite intense because it doesn’t have any added sugar, so all you get is the rich taste of chocolate along with the warming spices of cayenne and cinnamon. Traditionally, Mexican hot chocolate is made by melting the chocolate bar into the water or milk, and it’s finished by whisking the mixture with a molinillo, a wooden tool that helps add air to the mixture to prevent it from being too heavy.
8. Cardamom Honey Milk
If you’re looking for a sweet beverage without too many added calories, you can replicate the flavors of a latte with none of the added caffeine or sugar by gently heating milk with flavors like cardamom, vanilla, or rose. Allowing these spices to infuse into the milk makes a soothing hot beverage with all of the taste of a latte, but none of the additional calories.
There are tons of recipes for different milk infusions online, or you can whip up your own using a flavor profile that suits your taste. Use non-dairy milk alternatives for a beverage that’s even healthier and lower in calories.
9. Hot Toddy
If you’ve ever been sick around someone of Irish or Scottish descent, chances are you’ve been offered a hot toddy to help ease your pain and cure your ailments. The typical hot toddy is made with either hot water or tea, to which a healthy squeeze of lemon, spices, and a spoonful of honey are added. Then, a shot of whiskey is poured into the mixture. The hot toddy is thought to be beneficial because of the Vitamin C from the lemon, the soothing power of the honey, and the numbing quality of the alcohol.
10. Hot Spiced Wine
Mulled wine is a staple of Christmas market across Europe and has been drunk during the cold weather seasons since the 2nd century. There are tons of different recipes for mulled wine that vary by region, but they all start by gently heating red wine with various spices including cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom until the mixture is fragrant. Before the alcohol is burned off, the mixture is taken off the heat and served, sometimes with an additional shot of alcohol like rum or fruit liqueur.