Warm drinks and cold days go together like toast and jam. Hot chocolates, sweet milky chai, and bottomless cups of tea — could we ever bear the expanse of winter were it not for these life-saving elixirs bursting with comfort, sweetness, and joy?

Yet, for all of their charms and hygge-inducing abilities, so many of our favorite cold weather drinks are just brimming with refined sugars and all sorts of unsavory ingredients that certainly don’t do us any favors.

But fear not, dear reader —  it doesn’t have to be this way. Instead of being the vehicle for unnecessary refined sugars and dairy, these beloved drinks can instead deliver up healthy doses of herbs and spices that actually strengthen our immune systems and kindle our digestion. Sweetened with unrefined sources of sugar such as dates, maple syrup, or honey, they feel every bit as indulgent as their more traditional counterparts. Now put that in your mug and drink it! Read on for two perfectly delicious warming drinks to cozy up with this winter.

Golden Milk

With origins stretching into the ancient Indian system of medicine known as Ayurveda, golden milk is a regular panacea of deliciousness. Inflammation-calming turmeric and ginger have shown to benefit everything from joint and brain health to the digestion and cardiovascular system. This is a lovely after dinner drink as the warming spices support the entire digestive process. Just don’t skimp on the black pepper, as it has been shown to enhance the absorption of turmeric by seven to eight fold.

Ingredients

  • 250 ml milk of choice (coconut, almond, cow, etc.)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon ginger powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey (or to taste)

Instructions

  1. Place all of the ingredients except for the honey into a sauce pan and warm gently over moderate heat until the milk begins to steam.
  2. Turn off the heat, add the honey and whisk everything vigorously until frothy.
  3. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy.

Reishi Hot Chocolate

Reishi is a medicinal mushroom known as an adaptogen  — or an herb that normalizes and strengthens the body’s response to stress. Known as the ‘Herb of Good Fortune’, it has been used for over 7,000 years in Asia to slow the aging process and improve stamina and well-being. Offering support for the liver, cardiovascular system, nervous system, and immunity, Reishi is a wonderful tonic to introduce into your everyday routine — and what better way to do so than in the guise of a deliciously creamy dairy-free hot chocolate?

Ingredients

  • 250 ml just boiled water
  • 2.5 teaspoons cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon reishi mushroom powder
  • 3 – 4 medjool dates
  • 2 heaped tablespoons almond or cashew butter
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Blend everything in a hi-speed blender (making absolutely sure the top is secured) and then pour into a mug and enjoy. You can also use room temperature water if you are nervous about blending hot water, and then heat afterwards in a pan.

Writer Danielle Charles Davies holds a Bsc in Herbal Science from Bastyr University and completed the two-year clinical training program at the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism in Montpelier, VT. Her writing has appeared in Taproot, The Journal of the American Herbalist Guild, and Kindred Magazine, among others. She lives in Northern Michigan with her husband, two dogs and eight ducks. She blogs at www.bluemoonkitchen.com.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.