I love coffee. I do. I don’t particularly love soda, thanks to my mom who did not allow that crap in our house, when we were growing up (but did drink cola in secret at times). I do love Old Jamaica Ginger Beer though and that is pretty loaded with sugar too. As you most likely already know, soda is the devil and coffee can be evil too, if you consume large amounts. So let’s just try and quit that stuff. Are you with me people?! No? Well, you might change your mind once you read all the delicious alternatives.
Water: I am kidding. There is nothing delicious about water. It’s boring and I hate it. If you do like it though, good for you. Drink loads. I probably should too.
Sparkling water with stuff in it: By “stuff” I mean berries, lime juice and lemon slices, cucumber and mint leaves and the like. Just google “DIY spa water” and you will find loads of combinations. Still, I get bored with these pretty easily and during winter I only enjoy warm beverages anyway.
Fresh fruit juices: These do taste great. But on the other hand, they are high in naturally occurring sugars (fructose) and therefore not the best choice if you want to avoid sugar cravings or lose weight. However, they are about four thousand three hundred and two times (totally made-up number) better than soda and commercial fruit juices. They might be high in (natural) sugars, but they are also packed with antioxidant vitamins, other types of vitamins and fiber. Of course, if you make fruit juices only out of bananas and add a ton of yogurt and maple syrup, you are not exactly doing your health -or waistline- a favor. One banana is enough. Add dairy-free milk alternatives, nuts, avocado, berries, citrus fruits, mangoes, kiwis, peaches and so on. The bigger the variety of fruits, the greater the health benefits.
Green juices: This is the grown-up version of fruit juices. Add to your regular fruit juice a handful of baby spinach or even kale (only if you have a high-speed blender or juicer, otherwise it’s a traumatic experience). You can also add tomato juice, cucumbers, parsley and herbs. Kids can enjoy green juices too, if you add a banana or coconut milk, to mask the “healthy taste”. Virgin Mary counts as a green juice in my book, despite the color.
Herbal Infusions: This category is my absolute favorite, as it contains a great variety of aromas and tastes with added health benefits.
- Tea: Tea is a great alternative to coffee, as it can keep you alert, but it does not excite or cause jitters the way coffee does. However, a cup of tea late in the evening can cause me to lose my sleep, but not all people are that sensitive. Tea is rich in antioxidants and is considered a great protection against cancer. There is specifically ongoing research on the benefits of green tea, when it comes to our body’s defense against inflammation and cancer.
- Chamomile: It has a really mild, sweet, pleasant taste and it is made of flowers. How cute is that? It is also very beneficial if you are feeling stressed and have difficulty sleeping. And if you can not drink it all, you can apply it on your skin and hair, as it has a soothing effect. You can even dip cotton balls in chamomile and make compresses for your eyes, if they are irritated due to allergies or too much screen time.
- Nettle: I have written extensively about the health benefits of nettle tea here. To summarize, it is loaded with iron, it’s great for your kidneys, skin, joints, thyroid and so much more (go read the article).
- Peppermint: It’s absolutely refreshing and wakes you up almost as efficiently as coffee. But instead of stressing you out, it keeps you alert but relaxed. It has also been traditionally used as a great digestive aid and it is believed to help reduce hormone-related skin problems, like acne. Keep in mind that if you are breastfeeding, you should consume mint tea with caution, as it might reduce milk production.
- Sage: This is a tea that breastfeeding moms should definitely avoid. Unless you are in the process of weaning, in which case go ahead and have loads. Sage is a great help if you want to strengthen your immune system during winter months. It soothes sore throats, helps fight congestion and it is even believed to be beneficial for diabetes patients (at least that is what a 2006 research on mice showed). Oh, and it is rich in antioxidants, so it will help you stay young for ever (not really, but it helps age gracefully I guess).
- Licorice: I know this one is a love or hate one, but if you hate licorice sweets, don’t be too fast to hate on the tea as well. I hate the candy, but love the tea. It’s worth giving it a chance, as it has a high content of anti-inflammatory substances, it contains Glycyrrhizic acid, that helps fight off depression, it is antispasmodic, which means less menstrual and digestive cramps. Keep in mind though that if you have heart issues, you should avoid licorice, as it can cause high blood pressure. Other long-term effects of consuming this root include fluid retention and cataract. This does not mean that you should not enjoy the occasional cup though!
- Ginger: It protects you from cancer, from Alzheimer’s, from colds and it boosts your mojo. What else could you ask for? Ok, here is more: it eases morning sickness and travel sickness. It helps restore sore muscles. It relieves heartburn. It improves blood circulation. It relieves gas. And it even helps clear your sinuses (being spicy and all). Does that sound like the perfect drink for a bloated, sick pregnant lady with a stuffy nose? That’s because it is.
- Greek Mountain Tea (Sideritis aka Ironwort): I am a bit emotional writing about this one, as my childhood summers are filled by the smell of mountain tea drying in my grandparent’s basement. My grandfather still gathers it every year from the mountains around the village. Sideritis has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and it has been proven (by actual university research) to prevent colds, flues and even allergies, thanks to its antimicrobial properties. In spite of its name, it is not a tea and does not contain theine.
- Valerian Root: To be honest, Valerian root stinks. It does. There is no way around it. Well, maybe if you mix it with other herbs or some lemon and stevia? I don’t know. But what I know is that it does relax you deeply and puts you to sleep. Don’t take the precautions lightly and do not drive or operate heavy machinery after consuming Valerian root tea.
- Lavender: This is a milder, but much better tasting option, if you need to relax. Lavender is also known to help with digestive issues such as spasms and colic pains as well as migraines.
Spiced Milk (Dairy-free works perfectly well): To make spiced milk, you simmer it with the spices of your choice. Cardamom, turmeric and saffron are popular choices and traditionally consumed in India as well as parts of Africa as digestive aids. These particular herbs have anti-inflammatory properties and are loaded with antioxidants. They strengthen your immune system and can help fight off a cold much faster. Nutmeg and cinnamon are other great additions with similar benefits.
I would love to read your own suggestions and ideas either in the comments section or our facebook page 🙂
P.S.: Now that you are reading this, I am still on holidays. That’s a scheduled post, so if all hell broke loose and I seem to keep writing about herbs and unicorns, it’s just because these posts come from the past.