Healthier hot drinks to sip this winter

Healthier hot drinks to sip this winter

This winter, cozy up with a warming, alcohol-free drink. Nancy Waldeck, a chef at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, shares her favorite tips and recipes for tasty, healthier winter beverages.

“Warm drinks are comforting during cold weather,” says Waldeck. “They also are often a part of enjoying time with friends and family. A small amount of caffeine in coffee and some teas can be good for us. Just like anything else, the key to enjoying warm drinks is moderation. Coffee and tea of all kinds have a host of beneficial side effects, just as long as we don’t overdo it.”

How to make hot drinks healthier

Here are some Waldeck-approved ways to add a dash of fun or lighten up your go-to winter drinks:

  • Tea: Add a cinnamon stick, or try an herbal tea. “Some herbal teas are like having warm fruit punch, without the sugar,” she says.

  • Coffee: Add a dash of vanilla to your milk—it makes it instantly French vanilla-flavored. But limit flavored and sweetened coffee drinks. “Almost all are loaded with sugar, calories and unwanted fats,” she says. “A good way to balance your love of coffee drinks is to start by cutting down the additional ingredients by a quarter. Ask for two shots of syrup instead of three or four. Try a coffee without the whipped cream. Or order a drink that’s new to you and ask for it to be made with fewer additives. That way, you’re not adjusting something you’re used to drinking—it’s a brand-new taste.”

  • Apple cider: “You can buy just the cider without any additional sugar or other ingredients,” she says. “You can also make it better for you by filling your cup with one-third hot water and two-thirds cider. Add a cinnamon stick and voila! It tastes awesome.”

  • Hot chocolate: “It’s often thought that hot chocolate is hard to make, but if you follow an easy recipe like the one below, you can make it quickly, deliciously and just a bit better for you,” she says. “Make a double recipe and keep the rest in the fridge. Then remove, stir well, pour the cold hot chocolate into a mug and microwave it for a yummy treat.”

“You don’t have to stop enjoying winter drinks,” says Waldeck. “Just take a moment to reflect on how and what you’re drinking.”

Read on for her favorite better-for-you winter drink recipes.

Hot chocolate

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup water

  • 3 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 3 cups milk (can use oat or almond milk)

  • 6 ounces dark (at least 70%) chocolate

  • 3 tablespoons raw sugar

Bring ¾ cup of water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa and stir until smooth. Add milk and return to a simmer. Whisk in the chocolate and sugar and cook, whisking frequently, until mixture is smooth and creamy and chocolate is melted, about five minutes.

Serves: 4

Optional: Top your hot chocolate with chocolate cherry bark (recipe follows).

Chocolate cherry bark

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3.5-ounce) 70 to 90% dark chocolate bars

  • ½ cup chopped dried cherries

Melt the chocolate in a pan. Pour the melted chocolate on a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle the cherries over the chocolate and place in the fridge until the chocolate hardens. Break the bark into pieces and top each cup of cocoa with a small piece of bark.

Warm and spicy cinnamon hot chocolate

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup water

  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder

  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 3 cups milk of your choice

  • 6 ounces dark (at least 70%) chocolate

  • 3 tablespoons raw sugar

Bring ¾ cup of water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa and stir until smooth. Add milk and return to a simmer. Whisk in the chocolate and sugar and cook, whisking frequently, until mixture is smooth and creamy and chocolate is melted, about five minutes.

Serves: 4

Check out more recipes and nutrition tips from Cancer Wellness experts.

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