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Healthy hot drinks to cozy up with!

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. (John Steinbeck)
Autumn's coming to an end, and there's a certain chill in the air. Many are claiming that a cold snap has finally arrived. Mornings are darker, cooler and a hot cup of that special something feels like about the only thing that can entice you out of your warm, blanket-laden bed. I like to think of hot drinks as warm hugs... over-the-top, maybe, but I've found some of the healthiest hot drinks to warm up your insides and boost your immune system as well (sometimes hard sell just works better than warm hugs).

Choose your weapon:
Coffee
Great news - coffee contains antioxidants and when consumed in moderation (about 3-5 cups a day), it has many health benefits including protection against Parkinson's disease, liver disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. Black coffee is the healthiest option or with skim, low-fat milk or unsweetened almond milk and a teaspoon or less of sugar.

Hot chocolate
One cup of this rich, decadent drink has twice the amount of antioxidants than one glass of red wine and five times more antioxidants than a cup of tea. Mix up one cup of skim, low-fat milk or unsweetened almond milk with one tablespoon of cocoa powder or cacao powder (the unprocessed form of cocoa powder that retains all the antioxidants). Add 1 teaspoon of sugar, stevia or honey to achieve the desired taste. A pinch of red chili powder or cayenne pepper will enhance the taste of chocolate and also boosts your metabolism. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to add these benefits: antioxidants; anti-inflammatory properties; reduces risk of heart disease; regulates metabolism and energy use; helps fight bacterial and fungal infections.  

Tea
Black, green, white and oolong tea all contain amino acid theanine which helps you fight stress (stress can cause a weakness in your immune system). Drink any of these teas to bring on mental calmness with the right kind of alertness.

Lemon & Honey Tea
My Grandmother introduced this to me and I drink it whenever I have a cold or flu symptoms. She grew all her fruit and veggies and still has a vibrant and very fruitful lemon bush. Simply squeeze some fresh lemon juice, add some honey and some hot water (about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of honey and 1/2 cup hot water). It's a great drink for soothing sore throats and honey also has antibacterial properties that prevent infections. Lemon juice is packed with Vitamin C and the hot water and lemon combination flushes the liver and kidneys of toxins.

Hot toddy
Traditionally this drink was a natural remedy for colds, aches and pains. The concoction usually contains whisky, scotch or bourbon which works as a decongestant. To make a simple hot toddy, use the Lemon & Honey Tea recipe and add 3 tablespoons of bourbon (or scotch or whisky) and a pinch of cinnamon.

There's something therapeutic about sipping hot drinks during the colder months. It makes you relax and almost forces you to stop and just breathe. You have to drink slowly and no one can rush around with a hot drink - it's like running with scissors - it's just one of those unwritten laws. Take your time to unwind with your cuppa-something and warm up with these healthy concoctions or experiment with your own. 
by Lystra Bisschop 

Sources:
Longe, J. (2004). Natural Standard Patient Monograph: “Cinnamon.”  The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, second edition.
Higdon,J. (2005). Coffee The Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Information Center.
Higdon,J. (2005). Tea The Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Information Center.
Godman, Heidi. (2015) Cocoa: a sweet treat for the brain. Harvard Health Publications.

Blog Disclaimer:  This blog is for information only and is not a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.  Please consult your doctor before starting any exercise or diet program. I am not a registered dietician, nutritionist or fitness instructor. Nor am I qualified to provide medical or nutritional advice. I accept no responsibility or liability for any problems you may incur as a result of reading this blog. I love to live a healthy lifestyle and blog about it.