Tis’ the season for an endless assortment of food and drink temptations! Tis’ the season for a self-check in motivation. I know there’s at least one person reading this that gets a little giddy when they see the infamous red holiday cups at Starbucks. I’ve honestly never tried their Pumpkin Spice Latte, Gingerbread Latte, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, or Peppermint Mocha, but know that millions of people light up in delight when these drinks appear on their menu around this time of year. When you sit down and think about it, do Gingerbread Lattes and Pumpkin Spice Lattes really sound that good? Or, is it the artificial flavorings and heaping spoonfuls of sugar that really make these drinks novelties? To throw a little psychology in the mix, is the rise in the popularity of these drinks due to the sheer “hype” behind these “limited time” offers? Could it be the subliminal messages of positive spirit and joy from seeing the red cup and knowing the holidays and family are right around the corner? Whatever your holiday food vice is, there’s almost always a substitution that can give you the taste you’re looking for without the trouble.
Before I get hate mail and comments from people who absolutely adore these drinks, let me first premise this post by saying “if you’re going to cheat, cheat smart.” You are not an awful person if you enjoy a holiday drink every so often. We’re all human and you’re wise enough to make your own decisions. All I ask is that you understand what you are consuming and make the conscious effort to think about what you put into your body before you consume anything, whether it be food or drinks. As stated above, are you really craving a pumpkin spice latte or are you feeling antsy for the holiday seasons and spending more time with family? Would a phone call home or to close friends do the trick instead? Maybe you just need some energy and the real answer to your problem could be a nap, taking a break from work, or doing something more entertaining.
Just How Bad?:
With names like pumpkin spice and gingerbread you’re lead to believe that these offerings are full of just a little sugar and spice and everything nice. To put things into perspective, I’ve listed some of the more interesting nutritional information regarding the drinks and lattes available. These are all in a 16oz serving container with 2% milk + whipped cream. Maybe this chart will make you think twice about chugging 50-60 grams a sugar at a sitting. If the numbers don’t do much for you, maybe it’s enough knowing that the drinks are not “naturally” flavored by any means. Along with the 50-60 grams of sugar included in some of these drinks you also get the “pleasure” of consuming artificial flavorings, preservatives (such as Sodium Benzoate and Citric Acid), and Xanthan Gum that are included in some of the syrups. Still thirsty?
|Peppermint Hot Chocolate||440||68||61||25|
|Pumpkin Spice Latte||380||51||49||150|
So how does a paleo god/goddess tackle the holiday drinks?:
Luckily, we have an awesome group of culinary artists in our midst that can help us tackle this toughie. A plain Americano style of drink (espresso with hot water) with a shake of nutmeg and cinnamon is all that I need, but for those looking for more adventure here are a few great options:
Option 1: George, from Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations, has created a delicious Paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte that takes a whopping 5 minutes of prep time.
1 cup coconut milk
1 ½ T. pureed pumpkin
2 T. organic vanilla extract
2-3 T. raw organic honey (optional)
½ t. ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
½ cup strong coffee
Pinch of cocoa powder
1. Brew 2 cups of strong coffee
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat coconut milk, pureed pumpkin, and honey until milk is steaming
3. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg
4. Fill bottom half of cup with milk mixture, then fill the remaining space with your coffee
5. Sprinkle with cocoa powder
Option 2: I must admit that eggnog does not sit well with me for texture and taste purposes, but for those of you who cannot imagine a holiday without this drink, Mark Sisson referenced a “Primal Eggnog” recipe that was sent in by one of his readers that you may want to take for a test drive:
4 beaten egg yolks*
3 cups of coconut milk, almond milk, or whole cream
1 t. maple syrup or sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
Ground nutmeg/cinnamon to taste
1 Mix egg yolks, 2 cups of coconut milk, almond milk, or cream, and sugar. Stir gently but constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens enough to cling to and coat the back of a spoon, about five to ten minutes. Be patient with this process – if you turn the heat up too high or don’t stir, the egg yolks might turn into scrambled eggs
2. Remove from heat and set the pot in a larger bowl filled with ice water (careful, so no water overflows into the eggnog!) and stir for 2-3 minutes then add the last cup of milk/cream and the vanilla.
3. Stir in brandy, rum, or whiskey at this point (if you’re feeling a little naughty this year)
4. Let the mixture cool down to room temperature then chill for a while longer in the fridge. The longer you let the eggnog chill, the thicker and more custard-like it will become.
Before serving, generously dust with cinnamon and nutmeg. If you can, buy whole nutmeg and grate it yourself (a microplane zester works great for this).
Option 3: Instead of adding a shake of cinnamon or nutmeg to a cup of your favorite drink after it is brewed, try sprinkling spices on the grounds in your machine or french press. Options include: ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, cloves or whatever spice you’re feeling!
Option 4: For those who include dairy: cold heavy cream whipped with cinnamon or other spices can provide a nice smooth addition. If you order this at a coffee shop, you have to be specific that it is heavy cream that you want to avoid being served half and half or actual whipped cream – you laugh, but it happens.
To wrap it up in a bow:
The holiday season encourages us to spend time with friends and family and give thanks. While food and drinks are a major part of holiday events, with a little planning and creativity you can avoid some of the major temptations. Alcohol is a whole different piece of the holiday puzzle and we can tackle that in another segment, if there is a request from the readers. Please feel free to share your favorite coffee or festive drink suggestions! Cheers!!
* I have to throw in caution with consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.