For Nutrition Month, League is asking pros from our Health Marketplace to offer tips on how to encourage your team consider nutritious alternatives to morning coffee—all month long. Because we know you can’t have a healthy business without a healthy team.
Don’t worry, I’m not here to tell you that coffee is the devil, or that you should stop drinking it altogether. I’m a huge proponent of everything in moderation, and coffee is no exception. We’ve all heard of studies that have shown that there may, in fact, be some health benefits to drinking coffee, including protection from Parkinson’s, liver disease and Type 2 Diabetes. Coffee may also improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression. On the other hand, too much coffee can also be hard on the body—it’s acidic, speeds up digestion, and can leave us feeling dehydrated, jittery, and anxious. Not to mention its negative effect on our sleep.
For many coffee drinkers, it’s less about the actual coffee and more about the morning routine—or simply having something warm to sip on. So while I’m not suggesting you cut coffee out completely, why not try swapping one of your daily cups for these nutritious alternatives?
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Matcha may just be the perfect substitute for coffee. While it contains less caffeine (one third, to be exact), it still provides a decent boost of energy without the coffee-associated jitters or caffeine headache. Instead, it helps create a state of calm alertness and promotes relaxation. High in antioxidants and chlorophyll, matcha also acts as a powerful detoxifier. And bonus, it can also help with weight loss by stimulating our metabolism.
Matcha comes as a finely ground powder, and can be prepared very simply in your own home with a blender, or for the more traditional, with a matcha whisk and bowl. Combine 1 teaspoon of matcha powder with 1 cup of hot water (or nut/coconut milk) and blend on low for 10-15 seconds. If you find the taste too bitter, a little maple syrup or honey will add a touch of sweetness to each sip.
2. Healthy Hot Chocolate
If you’re a fan of chocolate, figuring out a healthy way to consume it for breakfast is a pretty fantastic discovery! In this version of healthy hot chocolate, we’re combining cacao (the raw, unprocessed form of cocoa) with maca (not to be confused with matcha) for an energizing coffee substitute. Besides being delicious, cacao is the highest plant-based source of iron, and is extremely high in antioxidants and magnesium—great for energy as well as a healthy brain, nervous system, bones and teeth. Maca is an earthy, sweet tasting root that comes from the mountains of South America, and is known for helping our bodies adapt to stress, increasing energy and stamina, and improving memory, focus and even sexual function.
To make this healthy hot chocolate, combine 2 tablespoons of raw cacao with 2 teaspoons of maca, 1 cup of nut/coconut milk or water, and a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup, then heat on the stove and stir.
3. Turmeric Latte
You’ve no doubt seen turmeric lattes popping up everywhere you go. While they may be the new trendy drink at cafes, they’re actually super simple to make at home. Turmeric has long been praised for its anti-inflammatory properties, but did you know that thousands of studies have found that its benefits are actually on par with pharmaceutical medications? Pretty impressive for a spice that people have been adding to curries for centuries. So with the goal of consuming turmeric any chance we can get, why not use it to create a delicious morning drink?
To make a turmeric latte, or “golden milk” as it’s sometimes referred to, combine 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric with half a teaspoon of cinnamon, a quarter teaspoon of ground ginger, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup or honey, a pinch of black pepper (to help your body absorb the curcumin in the turmeric) and 1 cup of nut/coconut milk. Heat on the stove and stir.
The perfect cozy morning beverage, chai is a combination of caffeine (black tea) and stimulating herbs (ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, cloves and black pepper)—which makes it a great option for a subtle energy boost. Chai also helps stimulate circulation and digestion, combats nausea, and reduces gas and bloating. Chai is particularly perfect for the colder seasons because of the warming properties of the herbs.
For a super simple chai, you can combine a pre-made chai mixture with hot nut/coconut milk, or if you have a little more time on your hands, there are a lot of homemade chai recipes to play around with like this one from My New Roots.
Whether you’re a coffee fan who doesn’t love some of the effects it has on your body, or if you’re simply looking to switch things up in the morning, you’ll want to try these nutritious alternatives—each with their own health benefits.
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PRO TIP! If you’re looking to “get things going” in the morning, warm water with lemon works wonders, as it stimulates digestion while helping the body’s natural detox process. Plus, it’s a great way to hydrate first thing. Give it a try and see for yourself.