As our mornings and evenings take on that anticipatory chill of autumn, we welcome back warm comfort in a mug. While most of us head straight for the coffee, no matter the season, there are so many other yummy options. If you are sending yourself or others off to school or work or just a full day, consider a few more nourishing drinks to help start your days off right! Or ease you into a warm slumber. All of these are kid-appropriate and alcohol and (virtually) caffeine free.
Chai is traditionally made with black tea. But you can come up with your own blend that includes green tea. Or no tea at all. My kids love a chai-like herbal concoction that is great for immunity boosting during those cold and flu plagued winter months. You can make your own blend and it will have a wonderful chai flavor if you be sure to add cinnamon (sticks or pieces), cardamom pods, peppercorns, ginger and clove. You could also try it with red rooibos tea for a different touch. Search for a few recipes online and put together a blend that works for you. You can even add a few medicinal herbs, as any flavors will be disguised by the other strong flavors.
Egg nog isn’t just for the holidays. If you have sources of milk and eggs you trust, it can be an extremely nourishing food. Warm or cold, combine one or two egg yolks, one cup of milk, sweetener to taste (I prefer honey or maple syrup) and a little vanilla and nutmeg. This can even be a great morning meal, not just a drink. Don’t do dairy? Try substituting coconut milk for an equally nourishing change.
Coconut milk can be the base for many other wonderful warming drinks. Try it with cocoa powder and sweetener for a wonderful hot cocoa. In our house, we make instant cocoa mix for winter outings using coconut milk powder as the base. Blend batches of the milk powder with half as much sugar (I use rapadura) and a little less cocoa than sugar. Take a thermos of hot water and when you’re ready, mix about 3 tablespoons of mix with 2/3 to 3/4 cups water for yummy cocoa goodness without all the artificial ingredients, corn syrup, and fillers. Even if you’re not on the go, this could simplify your mornings. Having a big batch on hand might make it easier for your kids (or you) to make cocoa on a rushed morning or a relaxing evening.
How about warm apple cider or juice? One of my fall favorites is real, unpasteurized apple juices and ciders. In general I’m not an apple juice drinker, but I love this stuff! Gently warmed with cinnamon, cloves and maybe allspice, this is a wonderful fall treat!
Another favorite cold weather drink is a combination of apple juice and chamomile tea. Brew chamomile in apple juice and added water with your favorite winter spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves). Any herbal infusion is great warm. But winter favorites for kids might be chamomile, peppermint, ginger and cinnamon. Or any combination! For something extra warming, try a Cinnamon-Milk infusion. Take very warm milk and add a cinnamon stick to steep for about ten minutes. Add sweetener and drink. YUM! Remember, you can try this in coconut milk, as well.
If your kids enjoy chocolate milk, try molasses milk. The thick molasses may require a whisk or stick blender to blend it into the milk. This looks like chocolate milk, so doubtful kids will usually try it. Molasses is a great sweetener compared to white sugar. Made from what’s stripped out to make white sugar, molasses contains potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, and many other nutrients and minerals, including chromium, which is necessary to metabolize sugar, but removed from white sugar. Just one teaspoon of blackstrap molasses contains 100% of the RDA of chromium.
Now you have ideas for several warming drinks your family might enjoy. So it’s a matter of getting them made, especially during rushed mornings. As with all things, establishing the habit is the biggest obstacle. A few tips to make that easier include preparing all ingredients at night so the morning requires less searching through cabinets. You could even put everything in a pot and set it outside in the cool night air or in the refrigerator. Then all you need to do is grab the pot and set it on the stove in the morning. Another option is the crockpot to keep the drink warm overnight or throughout the chilly day. If you have a coffee maker, perhaps you can keep teas, infusions and ciders warm with it. No matter which drinks you share with your family, they are the perfect accompaniment to balloon fiestas, corn mazes, apple orchards, ski trips and any memories your family makes.