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Better Than a Hot Toddy!

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3 healthful—and yummy—drinks to warm you up…

If cozying up with a steaming hot toddy is your idea of a perfect winter night, then here’s some news for you. That quintessential winter drink is not exactly the healthiest choice you can make. While the hot toddy’s shot of hard liquor may give an initial feeling of warmth, it actually lowers your core body temperature. Plus, the two tablespoons of honey used in many hot toddy recipes equals 34 g of sugar—or more than what’s found in a Snickers bar!

To perk up your cold weather repertoire: Try one of these healthful—and tasty—hot drinks…

CHILE HOT CHOCOLATE

Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, is chock-full of flavonoids, plant compounds with antioxidant properties that help protect you from heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. 

In addition, the red chile used in this recipe adds a pleasant, warming spice and is rich in the anti-inflammatory compound capsaicin, which researchers are now investigating for its possible ability to help boost metabolism.

Ingredients (makes two eight-ounce servings)…

1 small, dried red chile pepper (I like chile de arbol, a potent chile often found in Latin markets, as well as many supermarkets.)

1½ cups of unsweetened, plain plant-based milk, such as almond, rice or coconut milk (Substitute regular milk if desired.)

2 cinnamon sticks (Or powdered cinnamon to taste.)

2  ounces of dark chocolate, coarsely grated or chopped (The chocolate should be at least 70% cocoa with a low sugar content—less than 9 g per serving. You could also use sugar-free dark chocolate. For the best flavor, I recommend Mexican dark chocolate, such as Taza brand—available at natural-food stores or online.)

1 Tablespoon of agave nectar (This sweetener is a less processed alternative to highly refined sweeteners but should be used in moderation.)

What to do: To toast the chile, put it in a small pot and cook on medium for about one minute, until the chile begins to change color. Remove it, let it cool and grind the chile (including skin and seeds) in a blender, small food processor or spice grinder. Add the milk and cinnamon sticks to the same pot, and heat on low heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally, until hot and bubbly. Put the cinnamon sticks aside. Add the chocolate, agave and ground chile (start with half—it’s spicy, so you don’t want to overdo it), stirring vigorously with a wire whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is foamy. Serve piping hot with the cinnamon sticks.

HOT GINGER GREEN TEA

Green tea is good for your heart and brain, helps keep your blood sugar levels stable and has been linked to reduced risk for some types of cancer. What gives green tea all this disease-fighting muscle? You can thank the antioxidant compounds known as catechins. And if you’ve got an upset stomach, you’re also in luck. Ginger can provide natural relief from nausea, indigestion, upset stomach and motion sickness.

Ingredients (makes one eight-ounce serving)…

1 green tea bag

2 lemon slices (Wash the lemon peel.)

2 slices of peeled ginger

1 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon of honey (optional)

What to do: Place the tea bag, lemon slices and ginger in a mug. Add hot water, and let steep for three to four minutes before straining. If desired, sweeten with honey.

Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte

Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin A, which promotes healthy skin, teeth and vision…and vitamin K, which is needed for healthy blood clotting. Soy has been linked to heart health, and maple syrup provides antioxidant compounds.

To top it off, you’ll get a classic gingerbread flavor from the cloves, which are rich in the anti-inflammatory compounds eugenol and beta-caryophyllene. And cinnamon may help with blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Ingredients (makes two eight-ounce servings)…

3 Tablespoons of canned pumpkin

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

¼ teaspoon of ground cloves

1 Tablespoon of maple syrup

¾ cup of unsweetened soy milk

1 cup of brewed espresso (You can substitute strong coffee.)

What to do: Combine all ingredients in a small pot, and heat until bubbly.

 

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Source: Sharon Palmer, RDN, a registered dietitian based in Duarte, California, and the author of The Plant-Powered Diet and Plant-Powered for Life, from which the recipes in this article were adapted. Palmer is also the nutrition editor for Today’s Dietitian. SharonPalmer.com Date: December 1, 2015 Publication: Bottom Line Health