Trade calorie-packed, seasonal coffee drinks for these healthier brews

By Tiffany Tse
December 21, 2012

Nothing tastes better on a bone-chilling day than a piping hot beverage. The problem is many popular coffee shop concoctions hide loads of calories in whipped cream, fatty flavored syrups, and sugary toppings. These warm bevvies, stripped of unnecessary calories and saturated fats, offer deliciously healthy alternatives made with good-for-you ingredients.

Skinny Peppermint Mocha


Slash calories by replacing sugary syrup with peppermint extract and skipping the whipped cream on top. The boost of intense minty flavor in this mocha is balanced out by dark chocolate syrup and nonfat milk.


1/2 c. coffee

2 drops peppermint extract

1/3 c. nonfat milk

2 tbsp. dark chocolate syrup


Brew coffee of your choice (or use one package of instant coffee) and pour into a mug. Stir peppermint extract and chocolate syrup into the coffee. Taste and adjust to your liking. Stir in nonfat milk.

Makes one serving.

Voli Hot Cocoa


On a chilly day, cozy up to this vodka-spiked hot cocoa that'll only cost you about 161 calories. This vanilla-infused vodka offers a smart alternative to richly flavored-but calorie-heavy-alcoholic mixers. Cheers to that!


1 1/2 oz. Voli Espresso Vanilla Vodka

1 packet dark hot cocoa mix

8 oz. hot water


Pour all ingredients over Voli Espresso Vanilla and stir. Garnish with a sprinkle of cocoa powder.

Makes one serving.

Hot Cinnamon Coffee


When plain black coffee just doesn't cut it, enhance your java with a generous infusion of ground cinnamon. The aromatic spice is high in fiber, calcium, and iron. Plus, it adds so much flavor that it can be used as a replacement for sugar.


1 c. coffee

2 tbsp. ground cinnamon

2 tbsp. nonfat milk

1 tsp. brown sugar, if desired


Brew coffee of your choice. Mix in cinnamon and milk. Adjust to your liking. Add brown sugar if desired. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Makes one serving.

Matcha Milk


Matcha, a green tea popular in Japan, is the base of this warm, creamy drink. The nourishing tea is said to provide a plethora of health benefits, including increasing metabolism and reducing cholesterol levels, all while tasting perfectly delicious.


1 tbsp. matcha powder

1 c. hot almond milk

1 tsp. agave syrup (or other sweetener)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cinnamon or nutmeg, if desired


Blend matcha powder with milk. Stir in agave syrup and vanilla extract. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg if desired.

Makes one serving.

Spiced Cider Punch


Allow this cider to simmer on the stove on a cold day, and you'll be rewarded with a richly flavored, naturally sweet drink. It's steeped in spices like cinnamon and cloves, which are nutrient-dense sources of fiber and vitamins.


1 c. unsweetened apple juice

1 c. water

1/2 c. orange juice concentrate

1/2 c. lemonade concentrate

1 tsp. brown sugar

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

2 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks


Combine the first seven ingredients together in a slow cooker. Tie cloves and cinnamon sticks in a cheesecloth bag and place in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 3-4 hours or until fully heated. Remove spice bag. Garnish with additional cinnamon sticks if desired.

Makes about two servings.

Spicy Pumpkin Latte


Pumpkin lattes are a seasonal favorite at most coffee shops, but you can concoct your own low-fat version at home with this easy-as-pie recipe. Agave syrup and soy milk promise lots of full-bodied flavor without breaking the calorie bank.


1 c. coffee

1/3 c. soy milk

2 tbsp. agave syrup

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice


Brew coffee and pour into a mug. Add soy milk. Stir in agave syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Garnish the top with pumpkin pie spice if desired.

Makes one serving.

Wee One's Hot Chocolate


Indulge in a mug of hot cocoa with Catherine McCord's healthy twist on the cold-weather classic. The mom and model, who launched Weelicious in 2007, substitutes agave for sugar in this chocolate drink, so it's not loaded with empty calories.


1 c. skim, low-fat, whole, soy, almond or rice milk

2 tsp. agave

1 tbsp. chocolate cocoa


Bring the milk to a near boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer. Whisk in the agave and cocoa until thoroughly combined. Serve.

Makes one serving.

Kewl Masala Chai Tea Latte


Masala chai is full of antioxidant-rich spices such as fennel seeds and cardamom pods, so quench your thirst with this creamy tea latte, the creation of iCarly actor and KewlBites founder Reed Alexander.


3 c. water

1 tbsp. fennel seed

1 tsp. fresh gingerroot, finely grated

15 whole cloves

14 whole allspice

9 whole green cardamom pods

2 pink peppercorns

4 cinnamon sticks

2 bags unflavored, decaffeinated white tea

1/2 c. nonfat skim milk

Honey or other sweetener, to taste, if desired

Foamed nonfat skim milk, for garnish, if desired


Pour water into a medium-sized saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat on the stovetop. Place the fennel seed, cloves, allspice, cardamom and peppercorns into a mortar and lightly crush with a pestle. Add the crushed spice into the simmering water. Add the cinnamon sticks and gingerroot. Stir. Recover and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in the white tea leaves. Reduce heat to low and simmer 4-5 minutes. Stir in the milk. Remove pot from heat and pour tea through a fine strainer to capture and discard cooked spices and direct liquid into a large teapot or heatproof pitcher, or evenly divided into two serving mugs. Add honey or other sweetener, if desired, and garnish with foamed milk. Serve.

Makes two servings.

Healthy Eggnog


Made with whole eggs and heavy condensed milk, most eggnogs sneak hundreds of extra calories into your diet. Give this festive brew a nutritious makeover-without sacrificing its signature velvety texture-by incorporating skim milk and stevia.


1 egg yolk, beaten

1/4 c. skim milk

1 tsp. stevia

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Ground nutmeg to taste

1/8 c. light whipping cream


Beat the egg yolk, skim milk and stevia in a bowl. Pour in a pot and cook over medium heat. Stir in vanilla and ground nutmeg. Right before serving, beat light whipping cream into the mixture until soft peaks form. Sprinkle with ground nutmeg.

Makes one serving.

Hot Lemon Tea


Dress up a steaming mug of green tea with a splash of lemon juice and vanilla extract. The sweet and tangy combo is refreshing, plus freshly squeezed lemon means your bevvie is bursting with vitamin C.


1 green tea bag

1 c. hot water

3 tbsp. lemon, juiced

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. agave syrup (or other sweetener) Cinnamon stick, if desired


Steep tea bag in boiling hot water for 4-5 minutes. Discard tea bag. Stir in lemonade concentrate and vanilla extract. Slowly stir in agave syrup, adjusting to your liking. Garnish with cinnamon stick if desired.

Makes one serving.