Holiday drinks can be warm and steaming or cool and sparkling. And they can bring comfort and joy.
But even if you're just sipping, calories can add up quickly. So here are some ideas for beverages that are low in calories — while still fun and festive.
Heavenly hot chocolate. Choose a low-fat, low-sugar product. You might perk up your cocoa with a little instant espresso, a dash of sugar-free hazelnut syrup, or two or three drops of vanilla extract.
Coffee with a twist. Give your morning brew a cheery lift. Add a cinnamon stick and a little grated nutmeg. You can also spice up ground coffee before brewing — try sprinkling it with cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg.
Toasty spiced tea. Take the chill off with a cozy mug of herbal, black, green or chai tea. For extra flavor, try steeping your tea water with added spices first. For example, simmer plain water for a few minutes with cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, anise seeds or black peppercorns. Strain the water — then make your tea as you normally would.
Twinkling delight. Mix up a toast-worthy treat of sparkling water or unsweetened flavored seltzer with juice. Choose 100 percent cranberry, pomegranate, apple or other variety. Add just a splash. Or try a blend that's 1/3 juice to 2/3 water or seltzer.
Water filled with wonder. Add colorful sliced fruits or sprigs of fresh herbs — or both — to plain water. Chill to infuse the flavors. You might try mint, strawberries, oranges, cherries, mango, pineapple or kiwi. Or make your own unique combos: kumquat and tarragon, fresh ginger and pear, cucumber and rosemary, basil and lemon.
Jazzed-up soda. Brighten up your favorite diet soda or sparkling water with citrus wedges, pureed fruits or ice cubes made from a juice that goes well with it.
For your slumber's sake ...
You may choose to avoid caffeinated drinks after midday. For example, in the afternoon and evening, decaffeinated coffees and teas may be an option.*
*For most healthy adults, caffeine in moderation — roughly 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) a day — is probably OK. Keep in mind that some people may be more sensitive to caffeine's effects and should have less. Pregnant women are typically advised to consume less than 200 mg of caffeine a day. Talk with your doctor for specific advice on caffeine intake.
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© 2013, United HealthCare Services, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
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