Healthy, soothing hot drinks

Nothing beats a hot drink on a cold winter day. It’s getting to be that time of year. The problem is most people grew up on drinks like hot chocolate and coffee-flavored sugar water.

If you have a home espresso machine, there are many things you can make yourself that won’t give you insulin shock. First of all, black coffee is virtually calorie free. Not only that, but caffeine helps boost metabolism. The problem is the coffee most people drink doesn’t resemble anything fresh or high quality. If you know where to look it can be just as cheap as Dunkin’ Donuts. Buying in bulk from online suppliers is convenient and much cheaper than paying $10 a pound in a store.

www.coffeebeandirect.coms a great place to find great coffee that will blow your mind and not your wallet. Try the Dark Celebes Kalossi for a rich, buttery cup of joe. A five pound bag will only cost you around $30.

Tea is also a great drink for a cold day, but much like coffee most people have never tasted anything close to high quality, fresh tea. Once again, you can save money by buying in bulk online.

www.goldenmoontea.coms a great place to start. Try their Sugar Caramel Oolong for a low calorie explosion of smooth caramel. Adding fruit juice to hot tea is a nice way to flavor it. Try hot green tea with blueberry juice, or black tea with acai juice for a lightly sweet health drink. Fruit juice in tea is great because you only have to add a little to get a full flavored drink.

Most milk based drinks in places like Starbucks are dense with calories and sugar (usually high fructose corn syrup). The White Mocha is probably the worst. I’m not a fan of sugar free syrups because when it comes down to it, they’re just chemicals never meant to be consumed by humans. You can always use skim, low-fat, or soy milk. If out at a coffee shop, try a mocha with skim milk and only one or two pumps of syrup (one for a small or medium, two pumps for a large). Steaming 3/4 skim milk and 1/4 eggnog is a great tasting base to add expresso to. You can also request this recipe at most coffee shops during the holiday season.

A simple way to make hot cocoa is to heat milk, and mix in chunks of semi-sweet chocolate in as it heats. You’ll need to stir it pretty well, but you’ll get plenty of chocolate taste without a lot of sugar. If you really want to go heath extreme, simply use unsweetened cocoa and some stevia or honey for sweetness.

The possible variations of all of these drinks are endless.

Part of good health is finding pleasure in what you consume. Worry and stress contribute more to bad health than a bad diet, so it’s important not to be too puritanical about the things you enjoy. Balance is important and my advice is to not deprive yourself completely of calorie rich drinks. Remember, the point of these hot drinks is to relax. Watch what you drink throughout the holiday season, but on Christmas morning make yourself a high calorie, high fat, eggnog latte with a few extra shots of espresso of course. Or maybe add some good whiskey or irish creme to your coffee for flavor. (Buy Caroline’s Irish Creme, it’s about half the price of Baily’s and tastes better.)

Happy Holiday!