While there’s nothing quite like a hot cup of java to start your day out and give you that morning jolt of energy, drinking too much coffee throughout the day isn’t great for your health. Coffee does have its own particular benefits when consumed in moderation, but drinking more than three cups per day can cause a host of unwanted health problems. With fall in full swing and winter approaching, hot beverage season is upon us. If you’d like to cut your caffeine consumption but don’t want to give up your morning ritual, you’re in luck: here are some very tasty and healthy coffee alternatives that you can enjoy at any time of the day.
Used for thousands of years as medicine by the ancient Incans of Peru, maca is a radish-like root vegetable that grows high in the Andes Mountains and has become widely popular in North America due to its myriad health benefits, including improved endocrine system function and high nutrient content.
In addition to being a great health tonic, a hot drink made with maca is also quite delicious. Try mixing a couple of tablespoons of maca root powder into a cup of warm milk along with some raw honey and ground cinnamon. Run it through the steamer and you’ve got yourself a replacement for your regular espresso latte. If you want to just enjoy the malty, slightly nutty flavor on its own, try just mixing the root powder in a cup of hot water to make a tea.
When was the last time you enjoyed a good cup of hot chocolate without feeling guilty? A cup of cocoa will not only boost your winter warmth with a tasty treat, but can also makes for a fine health beverage. Cacao is another superfood from South America that contains large quantities of antioxidants, as well as minerals like iron, magnesium and calcium. It’s also a mild stimulant and mood enhancer that will help give you a bit of that kick you’re used to getting from your coffee.
To get a healthy cup of hot chocolate, you’re most likely going to have to make it from scratch though. Luckily, it’s not that hard. Just mix milk or non-dairy beverage in a post with equal amount of water, add raw cacao powder, cinnamon, vanilla bean paste, and raw honey, then heat gently and serve. See the full directions here.
This is a tasty warm winter beverage that’s is so healthy it’s currently being studied as a potential cure for cancer. Made from the weeds that no one wants on their lawn, dandelion tea is made from ground-up dandelion roots, and is often mixed with chicory or maca to give a taste that’s similar to coffee.
Dandelion tea is available at most health food stores or organic sections at grocery stores and either comes in powder form that you mix directly with water, or in a more traditional tea format—a tea bag. Either way, you can enjoy the slightly bitter, coffee-like flavor straight with water, or mix it with milk and honey and add steam for a great dandelion latte.
Chicory is the quintessential coffee replacement, albeit a quite inferior one. Chicory root was first cultivated in Europe as a coffee substitute, and has filled in for its superior cohort when it was scarce during hard times, such as during World War II, the American Civil War, and the Great Depression.
The roasted and ground-up root of a common blue wildflower, chicory is naturally caffeine-free and has a bitter, acidic quality to it that makes it taste a lot like coffee. The fact that it looks like coffee when brewed also helps to assuage any coffee cravings you might have. It’s the main ingredient in many of the grain coffee substitute drinks out there.
In many parts of Asia, green tea is a way of life and has rituals surrounding its preparation. You might want to incorporate into your own daily routine to benefit from its many health-enhancing properties, which include crazy amounts of antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties.
If you want to enjoy green tea to its fullest potential, first be sure to choose a high-quality tea and brew it using filtered water to avoid any unwanted flavors. You should also brew your green tea at a lower temperature than you would a cup of black tea; no hotter than 190 F. Be sure to never boil the tea itself and don’t steep it for too long. After three minutes of steeping, the tea begins to lose its flavor nuances. You can also try matcha green tea, which is essentially powdered green tea leaves that you mix into hot water. Matcha adds an additional antioxidant, detoxification, and energy boost to beverages like smoothies and juices.
We’re getting pretty far from coffee now, but in terms of healthy hot beverages to get your morning started right, nothing quite beats warm lemon water. Along with giving you a nice energy boost to begin your day, the rest of the health benefits of drinking lemon water are too numerous to list here. Let’s just say lemons are packed with nutrients and can improve or maintain your health significantly.
To make basic lemon water, simply pour some boiling water into a cup and mix in freshly squeezed lemon juice and a sweetener of your choice to taste, if desired.
Pre-Made Coffee Substitutes
If you want to avoid the caffeine but need to avoid disrupting your ritual as much as possible, perhaps give one of the many coffee substitutes that are out there a try. Some favorites amongst these coffee wannabes include: Caf Lib, Bambu, Teeccino and Ayurvedic Roast.
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