1. Toast to Your Health With Delicious Alcohol-Free Hot Drinks
The weather outside may be frightful, but comforting hot drinks will not only keep you toasty — they can actually be good for your heart. With ingredients that promote cardiac health, these variations on seasonal beverages are made without alcohol. And that means they’re appropriate to drink even if you have a heart condition like atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that affects millions of Americans. “You’re definitely in jeopardy if you have atrial fib and drink alcohol,” says Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, author of Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum’s Heart Book. “If you have atrial fibrillation, alcohol can be toxic to the heart.”
With healthy ingredients like dark chocolate, cinnamon, ginger, and pomegranate juice, these cocktails are so delicious, you’ll never miss the booze. They do contain sugar, though, so it’s still important not to overdo it. “The key word for the season is moderation,” says Dr. Steinbaum.
2. Healthy Mulled Cranberry Cocktail
This jewel-colored cranberry drink from Martha Stewart fills the kitchen with delicious aromas as it simmers. To prepare it, simply flavor cranberry juice with a little ground cinnamon and cloves, bring the mix to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. In a separate small saucepan, combine the whole cranberries with sugar, cinnamon, and a splash of water. Once the berries burst, let them cool, and then thread them on decorative toothpicks to use for a fun garnish. “Cranberry juice is a good source of antioxidants, which may decrease your risk of heart disease,” says Keri Gans, RDN, author of The Small Change Diet.
3. Luxurious Dairy-Free Hot Cocoa With Dark Chocolate
What’s better than a steaming mug of hot chocolate, like this one from Oh She Glows, when the temperature drops into the single digits? Prepare a heart-healthy version by subbing in a plant-based milk — such as almond, soy, or hemp milk — that’s low in saturated fat. These all work well if you have high cholesterol and you’re looking for a dairy substitute for your cocoa. You could also use fat-free cow’s milk or 1 percent milk.
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Make your cocoa with dark chocolate for an added health boost. “Dark chocolate is high in bioflavonoids, which help to decrease blood pressure,” Steinbaum says. If you feel compelled to top your cocoa with whipped cream, make it fat-free.
4. Easy Spiced Apple Cider With Cinnamon
For this treat from All recipes, wrap whole cloves and whole allspice in a small piece of cheesecloth and add it to a saucepan of apple cider along with a few cinnamon sticks. Set on a stove burner and turn the heat to low; the spices will bring out the flavor of the cider as it warms up. Once it’s steaming hot, discard the allspice, cloves, and cinnamon sticks, pour the beverage into mugs, and garnish with more cinnamon sticks. “Apple cider is packed with antioxidants, which are good for our hearts, and it’s rich in vitamin C and a good source of potassium, too,” Gans says.
But that’s not all: The cinnamon has perks as well. “It’s good for heart health and has been known to lower blood pressure,” says Steinbaum.
5. Low-Fat Eggnog That’s Alcohol Free
A rich cup of warm eggnog like this one from Cooking Light makes a perfect healthy nightcap, and when you make it from scratch, you can control the ingredients and make it alcohol free. By using a can of evaporated low-fat milk, you ensure that your eggnog will be thick and creamy, without the extra fat. Combine this with fat-free or 1 percent milk, along with a little sugar and a pasteurized egg, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until very hot. Add the vanilla extract at the end of the cooking process to ensure a vibrant vanilla flavor in your hot drink. Serve in mugs, sprinkled with a little ground nutmeg.
Although the egg has been a subject of controversy, lipid expert James A. Underberg, MD, a cardiologist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center in New York City, says that because of its low cost and all the good things in it, “the egg is actually pretty darn good for you.”