5 Quick Low-Calorie Hot Drinks

5 Quick Low-Calorie Hot Drinks

If you're trying to avoid unhealthy sugary flavored lattes for diet and health, try a homemade low-calorie hot drink instead. These five warm beverages are super easy to make and can help you beat seasonal blues or soothe a scratchy throat. As bonuses, you probably have most of the ingredients already, and making drinks at home will save you some money at the pricey coffee shop. 

1. Twisted hot chocolate

Just pour out the packet and add water, right? Not quite: A few additions raise the bar on this classic. Pour 1 cup of nonfat milk (almond, goat, cow, soy, coconut…) into a mug and microwave it for 1-1/2 minutes. Slowly add 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, no more than 3 packets of artificial sweetener and a drop each of vanilla and peppermint extract. Stir. Sip. And, while you're taking it in, think about substituting cinnamon, chili or cayenne powder or citrus zest for the peppermint next time. (It may be a long winter.)

Cocoa flavanol (a naturally occurring antioxidant) reduced mental tiredness and improved minor cognition in a trial published in 2015. And a study article in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that regularly consuming small amounts of cocoa could be a strategy for lowering blood pressure. Look for cocoa mixes listing dark chocolate as the first ingredient.

2. Apple soy chai latte

A homemade chai tea concoction that rivals a barista pro's? No problem. Steep chai tea for 5 to 10 minutes; meanwhile, in a small saucepan, warm 1 cup of light vanilla soy milk, 1/2 cup of apple cider, 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring until foamy. Add the tea to the pan and mix. Pour into a large mug, and garnish with cinnamon stick. Voilá!

While you can make this sans cinnamon, you may not want to skip it. Cinnamon has been shown to improve cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation.

3. Spiced apple cider

Hankering for a sweet treat without the comfort carbs? This drink is as easy (and as tasty) as apple pie. Simmer 1 quart of apple cider with orange zest, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks -- plus any typical pie spices, like allspice, nutmeg, cloves, even ginger -- in a large pot for 5 minutes. Your kitchen will smell divine -- and it's only 100 calories per cup.

Apples contain quercetin, an antioxidant that can help ward off neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease. Other evidence supports a possible therapeutic role for quercetin in the treatment of hypertension.

4. Pear and spice almond milk

While this warm smoothie sounds fancy, it couldn't have a much plainer recipe. Simply high-speed blend a cored pear, vanilla-flavored sweetener (to taste) and 1 cup of almond milk. Pour the mix into a mug, microwave and sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.

Everybody knows pears have a peel -- wash it, but don't remove it. Eating skins avails you of the vitamins and minerals concentrated just below the surface. According to recent research supported by the Pear Bureau Northwest, fresh pear consumers ate more potassium, vitamin C, copper, magnesium and dietary fiber than non-fresh pear eaters. The average pear provides about 24 percent of the daily value of fiber. Fiber works to prevent many chronic diseases and can aid in diabetes management.

5. Turmeric and ginger tea

This feisty brew is sure to tease out your oomph and counter winter ho-hum -- perhaps clear your sinuses too. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to boil. Add 1/4 teaspoon each of turmeric and ground ginger, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in a splash of low-fat milk and strain the tea into a cup. To balance out the slight bitterness and pungency of the spices, add sweetener, honey or maple syrup to taste.

The medically active component from turmeric, curcumin, has been widely used to treat inflammation. Ginger can help alkalize your body (i.e., even out your pH level) to support organ health and overall wellness.

Conclusion

With their sense-stimulating and organ-supporting effects, these drinks give new meaning to the term "mood food." Let them comfort and nourish you. You deserve it.

About the author:

Jennifer G. Kirker is a writer/editor based in and around New York City. By day, she copywrites pharmaceutical marketing materials. By night, she crafts blog entries and stories for her young daughter. She cooks, explores new neighborhoods and binges TV series for fun.