Warming Winter Beverages

It’s finally time to switch off and unwind for Christmas! What better way to settle in to the festivities than with a cosy warming beverage? Simply allowing yourself to relax and enjoy yourself can do wonders for your mental and physical health.

Relaxing means destressing and giving your body and mind time to recuperate. Minimising stress is essential for mental wellbeing and is even believed to promote longevity. However, you may find it difficult to take time out to focus on your own happiness, especially if you tend to prioritise other people or things such as work! Luckily, practising self-care can be as easy as making yourself a cup of tea. The basic act of preparing a comforting drink and enjoying it without distractions gives you a chance to slow down and have a moment to yourself. Here is some inspiration for your next festive brew:

Rich Drinking Chocolate

– ½ cup milk of choice
– 40g dark chocolate (at least 75% cocoa content)
– optional: ½ tablespoon light brown sugar, cinnamon

This one’s for the chocolate addicts who need something thicker and richer than a regular hot chocolate! Swap your usual sugar-loaded, processed hot chocolate powder for this healthier yet more indulgent recipe. Dark chocolate is a good source of fatty acids and antioxidants, and may be protective against cardiovascular disease. Make sure your chocolate is fair trade and organic and use a non-dairy milk to keep the recipe vegan.

Heat your milk in a small saucepan and once warm, whisk in the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and make sure the mixture doesn’t boil. Add sugar for extra sweetness or cinnamon for a festive kick.

Moroccan Spiced Coffee

– ¼ cup freshly roasted coffee beans
– 1 cup boiling water
– freshly ground black pepper, grated nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cardamom seeds, ground clove, cinnamon

To give your cup of coffee a flavour boost, grind your beans with the spices until everything is finely ground. Then, simply prepare your coffee as normal either using a filter or a French press.

Indian Chai

– ½ cup milk of choice
– 1 cup cold water
– 1 bag of black tea (preferably Darjeeling)
– 1 tablespoon golden brown sugar
– ¼ inch piece fresh ginger, cut into thin rounds
– 1 cardamon pod
– 1 clove
– ½ cinnamon stick
– ¼ teaspooon black peppercorns

Preparing a traditional chai tea requires a few extra steps than your typical builder’s brew, but the extra effort pays off and the process can be therapeutic and almost meditative! Combine the ginger and spices in a small saucepan and crush the spices with the back of a spoon. Add the water and bring to a boil before reducing the heat to medium-low, partially covering the pan and simmering for 5 minutes. Next, take the pan off the heat and add the tea bag. Allow the tea bag to steep for 5 minutes then discard and add the milk and sugar. Finally, bring the tea to a simmer over a high heat and whisk until the sugar dissolves. To serve, strain the chai into a teacup.

Cinnamon and Turmeric Spiced Golden Milk

– ½ cup milk of choice
– ½ cup water
– ½ cinnamon stick
– ½ inch ginger, unpeeled and thinly sliced
– ½ tablespoon local raw honey
– ½ tablespoon coconut oil
– 1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns
– Ground cinnamon

Turmeric, ginger and local honey make this an immune-boosting treat. Turmeric and ginger have anti-inflammatory properties and local raw honey provides natural allergy relief. Black pepper aids the absorption of turmeric as well as adding a spicy kick. Whisk your milk, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, honey, coconut oil, pepper and water in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until all the flavours have infused (approx. 5-10 minutes). To serve, strain into a mug and top with some ground cinnamon.

Mulled Apple Juice

– 1 cup freshly pressed unsweetened apple juice
– ½ cinnamon stick
– Peel of ½ orange
– Peel of ½ lemon
– ¼ inch fresh ginger, grated
– 1 tsp local raw honey

For a non-alcoholic mulled wine alternative, add all the ingredients except the honey to a small saucepan and simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes until the flavours have infused. Stir in the honey, adding more if extra sweetness is desired, then strain the mixture into a mug.

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Warm Pumpkin Smoothie

– ½ a small pumpkin or 3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
– 1 cup milk of choice
– Pinch of vanilla
– ½ teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon maple syrup

If you find the weather too chilly for a cold smoothie, how about a warm one? Pumpkin soup isn’t the only way to enjoy pureed pumpkin! To make your own pumpkin puree, halve your pumpkin and remove the seeds before placing cut-side down on a lined baking tray and roasting for about 30-50 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. After cooling, scrape out the flesh and puree in a food processor. To make your warm pumpkin smoothie, bring your milk to a boil in a small saucepan and then turn the heat down to medium and add the rest of the ingredients while stirring. Simmer for a minute then serve in a mug.

Warm Beetroot Juice

– 1 beetroot
– 3 carrots
– 2 apples

This healthy concoction will provide you with a range of vitamins and nutrients. Apples, carrots and beetroots are all seasonal ingredients for this time of year, making this the perfect winter drink for a warming health boost. Peel the beetroot before juicing in a juicer with the carrots and apples. Pour the juice into a small saucepan and heat on a low heat for a couple of minutes until warm and then serve in a mug.

Savoury Nourishing Broth

Instead of throwing away your leftover vegetables and meat, save all your scraps to make a homemade broth which you can either use for cooking or simply enjoy on its own as a warm drink! Simply cover your leftover ingredients such as onion, carrots, celery stalks and garlic with water, add herbs and then bring the water to a boil. Skim off any foam that floats to the top and then cover and turn down to a low simmer. Cook for 3-4 hours before straining the liquid and seasoning. Serve in a mug and store the leftovers in a glass jar for up to 3 days in the fridge. The beauty of this recipe is that you can use any leftovers you have lying around and you can flavour your stock to suit your personal palette. Moreover, minimising food waste is one step towards leading a more sustainable lifestyle!

+ related articles: December Seasonal Ingredients  / Five simple ways to eat more sustainably
+ words: Yasmin Razzaque