Coffee. Is it truly the devil in disguise, depleting our health with every cup? Or is it a wonder drink whose negative effects have been exaggerated in past decades? The debate rages on in scientific communities and the media. With a quick Google search, you can easily find a dozen articles to support your coffee habit backed up with scientific research, as well as a dozen articles pointing out side effects that seem reason enough to give it up. We're not here to tell you which way to go, but if you've been thinking of cutting back or nixing it altogether, there are some delicious alternatives. Slipping in a different drink now and again can also punch up your routine, which is never a bad thing. So consider sipping on some of these drinks instead of coffee to get your daily boost.
For Just a Little Buzz
Green and black tea both contain caffeine, which is why they're a great start for anyone who doesn't want to go cold turkey, or stop ingesting it at all. Containing less caffeine than your average cup of joe, these teas also provide serious antioxidant benefits and, like coffee, serve as a diuretic, which means they help you detox and stay on your bathroom schedule. Keep them healthy by avoiding the addition of cream and sugar. Mint leaves help spruce them up, as does a touch of almond milk.
Homemade Hot Chocolate
Over at Gala Darling's blog, we peeped an easy recipe for hot chocolate that sounds delicious and a lot healthier than the mystery powder we buy at the store. Use coconut milk, raw cacao powder and vanilla extract for a toasty, warm morning or afternoon pick-me-up.
Yerba Mate is made from dried leaves of a South American plant that's been used to make beverages by native inhabitants for centuries. According to Yerba Mate's site, this stuff packs the power of caffeine, the health of tea and the "euphoria" of chocolate into one beverage. Nice. It's packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, too. It's not as bitter as coffee and tends to cause fewer jitters.
According to Shape, this powder can be mixed with warm milk, like cocoa, and has a naturally sweet flavor. It has no caffeine, but will warm you up without giving you the post-caffeine crash most of us experience as post-lunch fatigue.
Get Juicy With It
Taking in beverages throughout the day is one way to keep yourself hydrated and energized, even if they're not coffee. Juices like prune, wheatgrass and pomegranate offer amazing health benefits, and their strong flavors are an acquired taste just like the black stuff you're used to downing. They can be sweetened up, of course, too. But for more antioxidant punch than caffeine, give one of these a go. If the idea of taking these plain doesn't thrill you, consider adding them into a smoothie with other good-for-you ingredients such as whole fruits and soy.
What's that? It's actually described as "herbal" coffee. And endorsed by Dr. Oz himself. This brand of beverage comes in dozens of flavors that will help you quit that hazelnut cream add-on, as well as your caffeine habit. Its site claims that this caffeine-free drink gives drinkers energy, though they admit they don't know how. But it also happens to be non-acidic, gluten-free and full of soluble fiber, which means it's ideal for people who have digestive issues and as a coffee-like alternative for pregnant women who choose not to drink coffee during their pregnancy.