There’s no doubt that a warm drink is one of our favourite ways to warm up on a cold day. But we usually tend to go for the same drink day after day, whether we are headed to our pantry or our favourite coffee shop. Not to mention that 500 mL/16 oz of some coffee drinks and teas easily contain 30 g of sugar or more, and plenty of caffeine. Of course that is fine on occasion. But considering that the American Heart Association recommends a daily sugar intake of no more than 37.5 g for men and 25 g for women, trying something different might be good for more than just changing up our routine.
1. Hot Cacao
Replacing that tin or packet of hot chocolate with cacao powder will allow you to control the sugar and restore the nutrients in this childhood favourite. What’s the difference? The nutrients. Cacao, the main ingredient in chocolate, is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. It has a bitter taste, like dark chocolate, and lacks the additives that are typically found in instant and coffee shop hot chocolate. Better still, raw cacao powder contains enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber and more. Looking for an easy recipe? Try Joy McCarthy of Joyous Health‘s recipe for Spicy Hot Chocolate below. Any if anyone has a good substitute for white hot chocolate, please let me know.
2. Masala Chai
A mixture of black tea with Indian herbs and spices, “masala chai” translates from Hindi to mean “mixed-spice tea.” Originating in India, chai has gained worldwide popularity to the extent that it can be found almost anywhere that coffee or tea is sold. Even Oprah has her own special blend. But don’t be fooled by chai’s health halo – if you plan to order a chai or chai latte from your neighborhood coffee shop, that drink could easily have over 40 g of sugar. Instead, buy chai tea bags, loose tea or a sugar-free concentrate and make your own. That way you can enjoy all the antioxidant, inflammation-fighting, and immune and metabolism boosting benefits of chai without the drawback of two days worth of sugar.
3. Savory Tea
Savory teas don’t get much press or blog coverage, but they are definitely worth trying. Fans of the Love with Food snack subscription box have already been introduced to one of the more well-known savory tea brands: Millie’s Sipping Broth. Unlike bone broth, these savory sachets are vegan. I received the Indian Spice Vegetable Sipping Broth and was pleasantly surprised. The tea basically tastes like low-sodium bouillon cubes, or low-sodium Lipton soup broth. In fact, the taste is so similar to soup base that I actually ended up using most of them to flavor my rice by adding one or two tea bags to the pot while the rice was boiling. The end result was delicious. But, I digress. Sipping on a savory tea is a great afternoon pick-me-up and snack substitute. However you enjoy them, these broths are delicious and a great way to keep warm without consuming a ton of sugar or salt.
4. Bone Broth
Marking the height of popularity with the opening of broth counters in major cities throughout North America, bone broth, bone stock, or simply broth has undeniably earned its place on this list. Now available in latte and k-cup format, broth has grown so popular that merchants are offering products that merely look like broth, but lack the healthy ingredients responsible for this liquid’s celebrity status. The original savory tea, bone broth shot to food-stardom because this collagen-rich liquid reduces inflammation, cures leaky guts, nourishes the immune system, strengthens bones and promotes radiant hair and skin. Rumor has it that bone broth can also help your children finish their math homework, but more studies are needed. Regardless, and whether you choose to make it yourself, buy it hot from a store front or bottled from a grocery store, bone broth is one healthy drink that packs a ton of nutrients and tastes delicious at any time of day.
5. Golden Milk
For this list, I saved the best for last: golden milk. Also called turmeric tea, this Ayurvedic recipe really surprised me as a healthy, cold weather beverage. Why? Because I didn’t expect a drink whose main ingredient is turmeric to be so delicious. Turmeric is more readily associated with curry and face masks than anything I would have thought to consume as a drink. Thankfully, my curiosity got the better of me, which, let’s be honest, isn’t difficult when it comes to food and beauty products. I ordered Gaia’s Golden Milk, which probably took less time to arrive than it did for me to decide to drink it. Much to my delight, it turned out to be the perfect cold weather drink.
There are many reasons to drink golden milk. First, golden milk is fairly easy to make; simply mix cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and peppercorns with coconut milk, honey and coconut oil. Gaia’s recipe uses turmeric, black pepper, vanilla, ashwagandha, cardamom and dates, which I mix with coconut milk, honey and coconut oil. Second, the chemical curcumin gives turmeric its yellow colour, plus antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. Not the mention the other health benefits from its good-for-you ingredients. Third, the taste. It is slightly sweet and creamy, and leaves me feeling calm and relaxed. Golden milk is also a satiating drink, which is probably a consequence of being milk-based as opposed to anything having to do with the other ingredients. I also experienced a lingering warming effect that was comforting in the midst of the falling temperatures. Now that I’ve opened my first jar of the season of this comforting, golden tonic, I’m waiting for coffee shops to do for golden milk what they have done for masala chai (hopefully sans the additional sugar).