Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hot Beverages for Cold Days

As we are phasing out of fall and drifting into winter, there's a definite need for beverages that warm us from the inside out. However, not all the options out there promote good health. You know which ones I mean... Hot Cocoa with marshmallows, Coffee, Tang, any powder in a packet that says "just add hot water." The main things to avoid in these things are 1) artifical colors and flavors and other additives, 2) Sugar, 3) Caffeine, 4) Pasteurized, homogenized Dairy products with their added hormones and antibiotics.

Hopefully I don't have to explain the reasons why we wouldn't want artifical colors and flavors and other chemicals in our food. Sugar and Caffeine each warrant their own post. Suffice it to say for now that both suppress the immune system, tax the adrenal glands, and lead the body into an acidic state, which opens it up to all kinds of illness and disease.

There. Now, don't get all distressed about not being able to enjoy these common comforting "cuppa"s. There are all kinds of delicious alternatives that not only don't do damage, but do promote good health and well-being:
Herbal tea: Herbal teas contain no caffeine and are very satisfying, comforting beverages. These are a few of my favorites (I recommend organic):
  • Peppermint (soothes the stomach and promotes relaxation and calm)
  • Licorice (excellent for your poor, overworked, underpaid, adrenal glands)
  • Chamomile (also soothes the stomach and relieves anxiety)
To "spice" things up a bit, try the recipe for a soothing peppermint tea-based chai on Elana's Pantry.com: Soothing Chai.

Herbal "coffee": Herbal coffees are made up of a combination of roasted roots, grains, and dried fruit like dates and figs. They may not taste exactly like the real thing, but they are caffeine-free and definitely give the same impression as coffee. You can even add some coconut milk for a vegan "cream." I think the following ones are especially delicious.
  • Mountain Rose Herbs Herbal Coffee: (Gluten-free!) Comprised of roasted Dandelion root, Chicory root, roasted Carob, and Maca powder. 100% organic too.
  • Teeccino: Comes in all kinds of flavors. Comprised of things like roasted barley, dates, figs, carob... depends on the flavor. I like Mocha, but there are so many I have yet to try! Check out their website: http://www.teeccino.com/. It has all kinds of information about why you should switch from caf or decaf to "no-caf." If you sign up for their newsletter, you'll get a free sample in the mail, plus a coupon for $1 off your first purchase!
Rooibos: Rooibos is an African red tea. It is very high in antioxidants, AND it's caffeine-free!!!According to Mountain Rose Herbs' website, it's also high in Vitamin C, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Sodium, Copper, and Manganese. --Not bad for a soothing evening treat. It comes in all different varieties-- sometimes as a blend, sometimes with spices added. I especially like my loose-leaf vanilla rooibos. For a Thai-style hot tea, try a plain version with some coconut milk and maple syrup to taste. AMAZING:

1 bag Rooibos tea
1/8 cup coconut milk
1-2 Tbsp maple syrup

Steep tea first for 3-5 minutes. Then add coconut milk and maple syrup as directed, or to taste. Enjoy!!! (Serves 1)
Hot Lemonade: Originally from the book The Master Cleanser, by Stanley Burroughs. The recipe I have actually calls it "German Warfare," and basically says it'll cure what ails you. I drank cups of it when I had a sore throat, and found it to be both soothing and effective. Here's the recipe for one serving:

2 Tablespoons of organic lemon Juice (about 1/2 a Lemon)
2 Tablespoons of Organic grade B maple syrup
1/10 Teaspoon Cayenne pepper powder
Ten ounces of filtered water
Combine first three ingredients. Then, I add hot water to make a tea. It is so soothing and satisfying-- especially if you have some kind of cold. If you want more information about the benefits of this combination, check out the book: The Master Cleanser. It's not a huge investment: about $6.

Pumpkin Latte: The blog "The Nourishing Gourmet" has an excellent recipe here. It's dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, and caffeine-free! Why go to Starbucks or Caribou Coffee when you can make a healthier and less expensive version at home?

Russian Tea: The Whole Foods Market recipe collection has a great healthy version of a childhood favorite, Tang.

Blackstrap Molasses Tea: Organic Blackstrap Molasses is really some kind of superfood. It's really high in minerals and has been said to reverse graying hair! Why not give it a try? If it works, let me know!

1 Tbsp, or so organic blackstrap molasses (to taste)
8-10 oz hot water
Coconut milk (as cream)

Serves One. Also: blackstrap molasses goes really well added to your herbal coffee. It has a nice subtle sweetness. If you want it sweeter, add some honey to taste.

Warm Coconut Milk Egg Nog: Okay, so this is really supposed to be chilled in the refrigerator for an hour or two, but... I couldn't wait! ;o) Turns out, it's especially good while it's still hot~! Yum...

2 egg yolks (from free-range chickens)
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Heat, but do not boil, coconut milk and honey. Beat egg yolks and vanilla in a small bowl. Add half the milk mixture to the egg yolks and stir. Add back into coconut milk and stir. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and will coat the back of a spoon. Add the spices, and cool until... it doesn't burn your mouth. Pour in dainty little glass punch cups (or whatever you have), and sprinkle with nutmeg. Enjoy!

And of course there are infinite varieties of Spiced Hot Apple Cider. A word of warning though: conventionally-grown apples have one of the highest rates of pesticide residues. Buy ORGANIC.

Enjoy these hot beverages for the cold days ahead. Do you have any to add? Let me know if you give one a try!

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