7 Healthy Takes On Popular Holiday Beverages

Healthy Twists On Your Favorite Holiday Drinks

By Brianna Steinhilber, Associate Editor

At the first sign of chill in the air, seasonal holiday drinks take over coffee-shop blackboards. From peppermint mochas to pumpkin-spice lattes, who can resist a cup of the steaming, sugary goodness? Unfortunately, the standard coffee-shop beverage contains loads of calories and sugar -- a major holiday buzzkill! Luckily, these seven delicious homemade versions are more nice than naughty. Drink up!

To give you a choice, we opted for either coffee or espresso in our lattes -- if you want the buzz, swap in the espresso for brewed coffee in any of these recipes!

Caramel Macchiato
Popular all year round, but especially delicious during the winter months, a caramel macchiato is traditionally made with sugary caramel sauce and topped with fattening whipped cream (a medium clocks in at over 400 calories!). This make-at-home recipe has all the buttery-rich goodness but cuts back on artificial flavors with a homemade vanilla syrup and just a drizzle of sugar-free caramel sauce.

You'll need:
2 tablespoons vanilla syrup (recipe below)
½ cup of fresh espresso or dark-roast coffee
1 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon sugar-free caramel sauce
Vanilla syrup: 1 cup water, ¾ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: To make the vanilla syrup, combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let cool and add vanilla. Place in refrigerator. Brew espresso or coffee and froth milk. If you do not have a coffee machine with a frothing attachment, use a handheld frother. Add coffee, milk, and vanilla syrup to mug. Top with caramel sauce.
Skinny Peppermint Mocha
The minty, chocolaty combo is a holiday favorite, but coffee-shop recipes sport more than 50 grams of sugar! Enjoy the sweet, refreshing flavor -- but ditch the sugar crash! -- by swapping flavored syrups for real peppermint extract and sugar-free chocolate sauce.

You'll need:
2/3 cup of coffee
1/3 cup skim milk
2 drops of peppermint extract
2 tablespoons of sugar-free chocolate syrup
Whipped cream (optional)
Crushed mints or candy cane for garnish

Directions: Brew coffee and pour into mug. Stir in milk, peppermint extract, and chocolate syrup. Top with 1 to 2 tablespoons of whipped cream (optional) and crushed peppermints or candy cane.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Indulge in the fall favorite guilt-free with this healthier take on the seasonal staple. Pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and cayenne make for a drink with all the sweetness and spice of the standard treat but with just a fraction of the fat and calories.

You'll need:
1 ½ cups skim milk
½ cup of dark-roast coffee
1 ½ tablespoons canned pumpkin
½ teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice or cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of cayenne
Agave (to taste)

Directions: Combine 1 cup of milk and all other ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir until simmering, making sure spices and pumpkin dissolve. When mixture is at a low boil, remove from heat and pour into a mug. Froth remaining ½ cup of milk and add to mug. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.
Skinny Eggnog
Eggnog is the go-to celebratory winter drink. But, traditionally made with whole milk and heavy cream, it's far from figure friendly! This slimmed-down take on the creamy favorite keeps the thick texture and rich flavor but cuts back on unnecessary fat: a holiday sip your taste buds and your waistline can celebrate!

You'll need:
2 cups skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Freshly grated cinnamon, for garnish

Directions: Heat 1 ½ cups milk and vanilla in a saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar, and cornstarch in a large bowl until combined. Gradually add the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Place back into saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly until eggnog thickens, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add remaining ½ cup of milk. Pour into pitcher and chill until ready to serve. Garnish with cinnamon.
Makes 6 servings
Caramel Apple Spice
This cider-inspired treat will be a hit with adults and kids alike. Sweet apple juice and comforting brown sugar make for the perfect indulgence to warm you up on cold winter nights!

You'll need:
½ cup water
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 ½ cups apple juice
1 tablespoon sugar-free caramel sauce

Directions: Bring water, brown sugar, and cinnamon stick to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and discard cinnamon stick. Add in apple juice and sugar-free caramel sauce. Pour into mug and serve.
Cinnamon Dolce Latte
This homemade cinnamon dolce syrup rivals coffee-shop versions in taste, but with just four natural ingredients, it makes for a smart treat you can sip guilt-free. Store the extra syrup in the fridge and add it to your morning coffee for a festive seasonal pick-me-up!

You'll need:
½ cup dark-roast coffee
1 cup skim milk
3 tablespoons Cinnamon Dolce syrup (recipe below)
Ground cinnamon, for garnish
Syrup: 1 ½ cups of water, 5 tablespoons of brown
sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Directions: To make the syrup, bring the water to a boil and then add brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract; stir until sugar is melted. Brew coffee and pour into mug. Froth milk and add to coffee. Add 3 tablespoons of syrup to mug and top with cinnamon.
Pumpkin Spiced Hot Chocolate
Whip up this delicious seasonal take on hot chocolate and you'll be more popular than Santa! The entire family will love the rich and creamy drink, which has a hint of pumpkin spice and a chocolaty taste that isn't overwhelmingly sweet.

You'll need:
1 ¼ cups skim milk
½ cup pumpkin puree
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Whipped cream, for garnish
Sugar-free chocolate syrup, for garnish

Directions: Heat milk, pumpkin, vanilla, and spices in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and add the chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate has melted. Pour into a mug and top with whipped cream and a tablespoon of chocolate syrup.

"7 Healthy Takes on Popular Holiday Beverages" originally appeared on Everyday Health

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