Healthy, Soothing Hot Drinks

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by Cherise James

On a dark, cold evening, I walk into my home with cold hands, cold feet and cold nose. The whole family is ready to chase away the chill with something hot to drink. If I ask them what they want, there will be a chorus of, "Hot chocolate!" So I don't ask because they don't need the sugar, but what can I offer them instead? Spiced apple cider is also a popular choice -- and quite healthful if you buy fresh cider and add the spices yourself. Sugar isn't necessary, just the tasty seasonings of your choice, like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. But even then, sometimes you just want something different.

Try Hot Ginger Lemonade. Take 1 ounce of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a teaspoon of fresh-grated ginger; add 9 oz. hot (not boiling) water. It can be sweetened with your favorite sweetener; honey is especially soothing for a sore throat, and real maple syrup is delicious -- or use a low-calorie sweetener, like Splenda.

For the holidays, mix equal parts of fresh apple cider, fresh-squeezed orange juice and cranberry juice, and add spices to taste. Don't boil it, just heat until steaming and serve. This makes a delicious and healthful party punch. For variety, you can use a spicy holiday tea like chai instead of spices, then add rice milk. For a creamier texture, blend soft silken tofu with one of the juices before everything goes in the pot. When you add creamy stuff, be careful not to let the mixture come to a boil, or it may break into a curdled state -- not the most appetizing sight. Oh, and for the same reason, don't use cow's milk or cream -- the acid in the juices will definitely curdle real dairy products.