America’s favorite java jumpstart packs powerful perks beyond an energy boost. Ongoing research shows that it may be protective against many medical conditions including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and even cancer.
Although coffee itself is good for you, what you do to it — adding refined sugar, artificial sweeteners and fat-filled creamers — can do a lot of damage. Unless you’re the type that likes plain black coffee, you want your energy elixir to taste good, too. Don’t worry — there are ways to enjoy all the flavor without the negatives.
Swap the sugar. Have a sweet treat by using natural, minimally processed sweeteners. Try maple syrup, agave nectar or raw honey. Coconut sugar gives a pleasant hint of caramel flavor. Superior zero-calorie options include monk fruit and stevia.
Boost it. Maximize benefits and enhance flavor with nutritious and delicious additions like spices, extracts, powders and healthy fats. Try: Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, pumpkin puree, cocoa powder, peppermint or vanilla extract, dark chocolate
Cut the creamer. Replace fatty commercial creamers with lighter (but still creamy) choices. Try 1 percent or skim milk, or non-dairy options like coconut, soy, almond or cashew milk.
Know your limit. Caffeine affects everyone differently. You may get the jitters, notice your heart beating fast, or have stomach issues if you overdo it. Be mindful of timing, too. Have your last mug at least six hours before bed.
Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte
- ¾ cup brewed coffee, preferably organic
- ¾ cup milk (I use 1% dairy, but coconut or nut milks will work, too)
- 1 tbsp. pumpkin puree
- ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp. pure stevia extract or powder (or other natural sweetener of choice, to taste; 2 tbsp. pure maple syrup works great)
- 1 pinch sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender cup. Blend until well-mixed and frothy. Heat as desired. (Pour into saucepan and warm up on stove while stirring with whisk or pour into serving jar or mug and heat in microwave.) Enjoy!
Throw everything in the blender cup the night before and store in the fridge until morning. (Because who wants to measure everything out when you can barely open your eyes?) Then all you have to do is blend and heat when you’re ready to enjoy!
LJ is a health and wellness writer, fitness trainer, mom of three boys, and proud coffee addict.