We’ve all been there. After groggily hitting the snooze button and savoring that extra three minutes of sleep, it's time… you've got to wake up. If you’re super diligent and can head out to bright eyed and bushy tailed, you won’t have to worry, but others might be reaching for a cup of java as soon as they wake up. With staggering statistics, such as over 20 million Americans drinking up to six cups of coffee per day, it’s clear that you might want to reconsider your next trip to Starbucks.
There’s mixed research about whether or not coffee is actually good for you, with ongoing studies and new reports coming out every other month. According to Lori Zanteson for Today's Dietitian, drinking tea can actually lower your risk of heart disease and stroke by up to 20%. So we’ve rounded up a bunch of nutrient-dense options instead of coffee that you can sample. If you've gotta have your latte, stat, make sure to listen to some of these tips from The Pilates Dietitian, who says to opt for coconut or almond milk instead. Another option she recommends is to pick a type of tea, but add steamed coconut milk or almond milk for a healthier version of a tea latte. But if you’re looking to make the switch completely, check out fifteen of the top drinks to try instead of coffee.
According to the Washington Post, “Kombucha is a fermented tea made by adding a culture of bacteria and yeast to a solution of tea, sugar, and sometimes fruit juice and other flavorings.” The unique beverage offers tons of health benefits to boot, including a bunch of probiotics which act as a huge immunity booster. If you're really interested in the drink, try a little do it yourself project and brew your own Kombucha at home. The Kitchn has a great Kombucha recipe to make your own batch. The tea does contain a small amount of alcohol, usually less than 1%, which is a result of the fermentation process. For ingredients, you'll need a cup of sugar, eight bags of black or green tea, two cups of starter tea from a batch of kombucha, and one scoby per fermentation cup. If you'd like, you can even add extra flavors like chopped fruit, fruit juice, honey or herbs and spices for extra taste. Once you make one batch, it'll be so easy to make it again. If it's your first time making Kombucha, remember to follow all of the instructions carefully. If you’re in a hurry and on the go, you could always try to buy a bottle of pre-made Kombucha from the store. The team over at Thrillist tried every single alcoholic Kombucha at Whole Foods and ranked them, if you’d like to take a look!
14 Watermelon Juice
Whoever said that watermelon is just for summer? Bring that fun, summery vibe with you no matter where you go. One of the best things about watermelon is that it has a high water content, making it a perfect way to stay hydrated no matter the season. Treat yourself after a tough workout, or bring a bottle along while you spend a day in the sun. If you want to spice things up a little bit, try adding a bit of mint for an added bit of refreshing flavor.
Hours of hiking can make you parched, and you'll feel so refreshed after a sip of delicious watermelon juice. If you’re worried about sugar content, make sure to read the label in advance so you'll be all set. It's the best option if you love watermelon, but don't want to deal with the hassle of making a mess at home. Let’s face it, cutting a whole watermelon can be an ordeal, so save time by trying a bottle of watermelon juice instead. You’ll still receive all the health benefits of a couple slices of watermelon, no napkins required.
If you're feeling adventurous and want to try making a batch of your own, check out this recipe from Cookie and Kate. All you'll need is a small watermelon, a lime, and a blender to make this magic potion of goodness. Slice your watermelon in half and scoop out all of the innards, then blend it until it's completely liquefied. Then, squeeze a whole lime and blend again. That's it, you're all set! Make sure to store in a pitcher or try over ice to get the maximum freshness.
13 Kale Juice
Soft drinks like soda have enormously high amounts of sugar, which is a gigantic no-no if you're trying to be healthy. Opt for a nutrient dense drink like a kale juice. Coffee shops have been getting hip to the trend, so make sure to read the menu carefully at your local café. Or, you could always try hitting up a juice bar that specializes in delectable options. If you’re going the do it yourself route, try out a kale apple ginger juice. Food Babe has an awesome kale juice recipe which needs one bunch of kale, half a bunch of celery, cilantro or parsley, a cucumber, lemon, a thumb of ginger and a green apple for extra sweetness. You'll need a juicer for this method, and start by juicing them in order, starting with kale, cilantro, celery, ginger, cucumber and then lemon. Make sure to stir thoroughly and then you'll be all good to go!
12 Beet Juice
Beets have an amazing list of health properties. And no, we are not talking about the canned ones usually found during Thanksgiving. According to Today's Dietitian, beetroot juice can help to decrease blood pressure and even help boost athletic performance. When timing cyclists, the findings suggested those that had beetroot juice actually could have better performance with events from five to 30 minutes. Wow, that is really a huge difference in time. The blood red color might be offsetting at first, but it’s so packed with antioxidants and nutrients, it's totally worth it. Don't worry though because even if you can't get over the color, just keep your eye on the prize and think how cute this new drink would make in your newest Instagram post. You can also just make your best healthy vampire impression and forget blood, drink beet juice instead. Although I don't drink beet juice as much as I should, I do enjoy the rich flavor and slightly thick texture is a great alternative to mixing up my usual kale routine.
11 Lemon and Hot Water
Sometimes the most simple things in life are the absolute best. You can't even make things easier when it comes to this recipe. All you need is your favorite mug and first fill it up with boiled hot water. Slice a quarter of a lemon and squeeze it into the cup. Mix slightly with a spoon and you're all set. If you still feel like you need some variety, you could also add a teaspoon of honey for an added bit of sweetness. Or, if you prefer a more tart taste, add half of a lemon instead of a quarter. Wake up feeling refreshed as ever. Yoga Journal explains how this practice originates from Ayurvedic philosophy and the belief that the first thing you eat or drink every morning will set your mood for the entire day. The benefits prove that it’s totally worth it, and Yoga Journal adds, “The warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis—the waves of muscle contractions within the intestinal walls that keep things moving. Secondly, lemons and limes are high in minerals and vitamins and help loosen ama, or toxins, in the digestive tract.”
10 Ginger tea
Ginger is one of those herbs that has a long list of health benefits. To reap the full benefits, try drinking a cup of hot ginger tea. It compliments well after a meal and is known for cleansing your palette. You’ll get a quick immunity boost and you’ll also benefit from the ginger. If you’ve ever experienced the uncomfortable symptoms of stomach indigestion, you know first hand how unpleasant life can be. Opt for a cup of ginger tea to help cope by settling an upset stomach.
9 Green Tea
A personal favorite, green tea or matcha, is a delicious alternative to drinking coffee. With a dizzying array of health benefits, it's definitely worth the swap. There's a whole world of green tea to choose from, way beyond the Tazo blend from Starbucks.
In the July 2016 issue of Today's Dietitian, green tea took center stage. Drinking green tea can lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol and even lower your risk of developing colon cancer. Although you definitely shouldn't trust any types of tea that'll make you lose weight dramatically, green tea does affect the weight loss process in a positive way. We definitely recommend exercise, a balanced diet, and an overall healthy lifestyle, though! If you're still clutching to your cup of coffee in despair, don't worry. Green tea is a great alternative, and Today's Dietitian writes, “An 8-oz cup of green tea averages about 25 mg, and can represent about one-third to one-half the amount in one cup of brewed coffee.” If you're itching for a latte version of the beverage, try a green tea matcha latte.
One of my personal favorites, echinacea tea is one immunity booster that is not to be missed. Not everyone has heard of this supportive and energizing tea, but the benefits can actually help with the common cold. Any natural way to help get rid of that terrible feeling you get when the temperature starts to change is definitely something we stand behind! Echinacea is a popular herb which was originally used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes. According to the University of Maryland, “One study of 95 people with early symptoms of cold and flu (such as a runny nose, scratchy throat, and fever) found that those who drank several cups of echinacea tea every day for 5 days felt better sooner than those who drank tea without echinacea.” Studies and research about echinacea are still ongoing, but you can try a delicious cup for yourself with Echinacea Plus tea from Traditional Medicinals.
7 Yerba Mate
You might be thinking, yerba what? Yerba mate has been used for herbal medicines in South America for years, and there's been ongoing research about the benefits of the beverage. There's different ways to try the drink in a traditional form, including a gourd which allows you to get the most nutrients out of it. Usually, yerba mate is sipped through a metal straw placed inside a gourd, or calabash. There is a little filter on the end to block out any leaf fragments. Other people have also used a French press to create their own yerba mate at home. Yerba mate boasts nutrients like xanthines, which contain caffeine and are also found in coffee. It also has a significant amount of caffeine, which is sure to give you that morning buzz. Other places cite that drinking yerba mate can boost energy levels, lower the risk of heart disease, and help you focus better.
A popular drink in India, chai is a delectable option instead of coffee. Chai, which rhymes with pie, originally comes from India. A black tea, the drink is often served with a combination of spices, like cardamom, cinnamon or ginger, some milk or a sweetener. Drinking chai is a common cultural practice in India, and it's steadily becoming more popular in the West. If you'd like to try some at home, you can often find some chai tea concentrates at the local grocery store.
Laura Ligos, over at The Sassy Dietitian, warns that many store-bought chai tea concentrates often include way too much sugar. She suggests to try making a version of your own with her Homemade Chai Latte recipe. Ligos also mentioned that the use of cinnamon can help with controlling blood sugar levels, while ginger can help ease stomach discomfort. Making things from scratch is always fun, and you're able to control exactly what ingredients you'd like to put inside. For a fall take on the trend, try a delicious pumpkin spice chai tea from The Real Food Dietitian. Paleo, prima,l and dairy-free, this is one warm beverage that looks too good to pass up.
5 Carrot juice
Full of carotenoids, this nutrient dense juice is a great choice. Go Ask Alice explained the benefits of drinking carrot juice, stating that, “Carrots also work as a sort of cleanser for the liver, and when consumed regularly, can help the liver excrete fats and bile.” There is more to it than just improving your eyesight! Try it out for yourself with this super simple Carrot Apple Ginger Juice recipe, requiring only three ingredients and a juicer machine (easy peasy). Carrots are rich in Vitamin A, which is known for helping eyesight and also providing potassium. We all know the old saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, so get on it with this delicious juice. We mentioned the health properties of ginger a bit earlier, but remember, it can help reduce inflammation and help with digestion. Check out the full recipe here, provided by Reboot Nutritionist Stacy Kennedy.
4 Infused Water or Cucumber Juice
If you're constantly on the go, you're probably at a way higher risk of becoming dehydrated. Save yourself the stress and try drinking an infused water, by mixing different types of fruits with a glass of water. Gemma Sampson from the team at Dietitian Without Borders suggests mixing citrus fruits, berries or melons or even vegetables like sliced cucumber into your water. For a quick recipe when you're on the go, slice up a cucumber and add a little bit of crushed mint to your water bottle. It'll certainly be refreshing and you won't have to deal with extra additives or sugars. The Organic Dietitian also has a great recipe for a Cucumber Lime Electrolyte Refresher that you can try as a sports drink replacement. Or, try out the Mean Green Cucumber Juice recipe for another way to stay hydrated and off the java. Cucumbers have high water content, so you won't have to worry about being parched.
3 Coconut Water
Ah, coconut water. You have probably already envisioned yourself on a beach somewhere enjoying the freshness of the natural juices out of a coconut that was probably just taken from a tree right in front of you. Lucky for you, you do not need to be on vacation to enjoy the amazing benefits of drinking coconut water, although being on the beach doesn't hurt. By now, you’ve probably spotted tons of coconut water options popping up everywhere. There’s loads of talk about how the beverage is a great post-workout choice, specifically for its high levels of potassium. According to the Dietitian's Digest, coconut water can help regulate blood pressure and may reduce muscle cramps. There are a ton of options these days to choose from, but if you’re being mindful of sugar intake, beware of the flavored versions. Sometimes you can spot various flavored coconut water types, including flavors like mango, pineapple or even chocolate, but often times these versions are very high in sugar. MindBodyGreen calls coconut water a great low-calorie option, touting potassium, copper and lots of antioxidants.
2 Chia Seed Drink
1 Pumpkin Smoothie or Juice
Pumpkin spice lattes are a perennial favorite, but why not mix things up by trying a Pumpkin Smoothie or Hogwarts-inspired Pumpkin Juice? Dietitian Debbie has a delicious Pumpkin Spice Smoothie that meets PSL lovers in between. First, she pureed a pie pumpkin from a local store and used coconut cream peanut butter, banana dates, and a teaspoon of cinnamon for this delicious drink.
Jessica and Stacie from The Real Food Dietitians created a nutritious version of the trend with the Gut Healing Pumpkin Spice Latte. They shed some light on some surprising facts, did you know a grande Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks packs over 50 grams of sugar? That's a lot! If you seriously must have your coffee but need a healthier alternative, try out this recipe for yourself. Holly Larson, another Registered Dietitian, came up with a yummy looking Pumpkin Juice recipe. Fans of Harry Potter will go crazy over this one. She blended a small pie pumpkin, sweet potato, apples, fresh ginger and cinnamon powder for this fall favorite. This season, skip the Starbucks line and be sure to try some of these delicious drinks instead of coffee!