Sip smart from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.

By Kirsten Nunez
November 20, 2020
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Somewhere between layered casseroles and hearty pies, festive beverages have taken over the holidays. (We’re looking at you, pumpkin spice latte.) But there’s a catch: If you buy a seasonal brew at your local coffee chain, you’ll likely end up with a cup full of sugar—and an empty wallet. Want to save calories and cash instead? Check out these tips for making health holiday drinks at home.

1. Melt real chocolate for hot cocoa

According to Bansari Acharya, R.D.N., registered dietitian at Food Love, “pre-made [hot] cocoa is filled with added sugars and artificial flavors.” But by using real chocolate, she notes, you can enjoy the benefits of cocoa and customize your drink. Make hot cocoa with dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or even a mix of both.

2. Add peppermint extract for flavor.

Peppermint-flavored syrup may be cool, but it’s basically liquid sugar. The next time you’re craving a minty drink, add a drop or two of peppermint extract to hot cocoa or coffee. It’s the perfect hack for making a healthy peppermint mocha.

Yulia Naumenko / Getty
| Credit: Yulia Naumenko / Getty

3. Use real pumpkin puree in your lattes.

Listen, if you’re going to be trendy and sip on pumpkin spice latte—you might as well use the real thing. Not only does pumpkin puree taste amazing, but it offers fiber and antioxidants, according to registered dietitian Julie Harrington, R.D. As for that classic PSL flavor? Add ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, she says.

4.  Sweeten with whole ingredients.

Instead of white sugar (or artificial sweetener), reach for maple syrup or honey, suggests Harrington. Making a holiday smoothie? “Dates and bananas are great natural sweeteners,” says Acharya. And “while they still naturally contain sugars, they also [have] other beneficial vitamins and minerals.” Sweet.

5. Ditch the whipped cream.

We can hear you gasping from here but hear us out. Whipped cream is packed with added sugar and saturated fat, which can totally sabotage your holiday beverage. At the very least, try making whipped cream from scratch so you can control the sugar.