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Tips to lighten up those warm fall sips

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Rosemary Weaver, MPH, RDN, LDN, Clinical Dietitian at Northwest Community Healthcare Wellness Center

Fall is officially here and thoughts turn to cozy sweaters and yummy, hot drinks that celebrate the season. Unfortunately, many of these tasty sippers are loaded with fat, sugar and calories. For example, a typical coffee shop version of pumpkin-spice latte (small size) made with 2% milk and whipped cream is 380 calories (with 52 grams of carbs and 14 grams of fat).

Here are some ideas to lighten up those delightful warm drinks, whether purchased in a coffee shop or made at home:

Specialty coffee drinks

  • Buy the smallest size possible.
  • Limit to one “pump” of any classic sugary syrup or request sugar-free syrup.
  • Choose a skim (or skinny) made with steamed non-fat milk.
  • Skip the whip. Save the whipped cream for a rare treat instead of a regular splurge. Less whip or no whip will save you 80-100 calories in most drinks.

Hot chocolate

  • Nix the peppermint stick (extra sugar) and opt for a drop of peppermint extract instead.
  • Make hot cocoa with skim milk, 1% milk or low-fat plant milks, such as almond or soy.
  • Opt for using dark hot cocoa powder and get the benefit of a few more phytonutrients.
  • Use fat-free whipped topping vs. full fat whipping cream.

Apple cider

  • Dilute spiced cider with 1/4 cup hot water to decrease total calories. Or, make “cider tea” by diluting mulled cider 50/50 with cinnamon-apple or pear tea.
  • Use real apple cider (100% apple cider without added sugar), not sugar-sweetened liquid or powdered apple cider mixes.
  • Add mulling spices in a tea filter bag to cold cider and simmer to add flavor without calories (consider whole cloves, whole anise, dried orange peel, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom.)
  • For a nutrient boost, warm a quart of cider with a 2” piece of peeled fresh ginger (coarsely chopped) and float peeled, fresh orange (sliced cross-wise) on top.

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