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Morning beverage?

I would like to know if you can give me some recommendations for a good morning drink for my wife that doesn't have a ton of sugar, but still has some "pick-me-up" to it. She doesn't drink coffee or tea, an likes hot chocolate, but is looking for other options as well (she has only ever had Swiss Miss, btw). She's not much of an adventurous eater, but I can usually persuade her to try new things. I was actually embarrassed when she asked me if I could give a recommendation, because I am usually good at unique food ideas (unique to her at least).

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    1. re: missfunkysoul

      Thanks for the suggestion, but I fear it's too much like tea (which she hates). She'd love to have the health benefits of say, a green tea, but just can't stand the taste.

      1. re: madgreek

        I drink a lot of hot apple juice/cider...100% juice, no added sweetners or other ingredients. Though I'm not much of a hot tea drinker either, at least on it's own, I do drink a lot of tea in the winter time using apple juice as the sweetner(2/3 tea:1/3 apple juice, or 3/4 tea:1/4 apple juice). You can heat the apple juice in the microwave to add to the tea. You can use regular tea, or decaff, or for me herbal teas, such as lavender, chamomille, peppermint, etc. I also often will have hot tomato juice or V-8. I buy neither. I make my own in the blender 1/2 gal at a time using low sodium canned products, organic whenever available. Hot milk with a tbsp(or to taste) of organic honey, and a drop of vanilla extract is also another favorite(you can also add a "chunk" or morsels of your favorite chocolate to this....again, to taste).

    2. How about yogurt mixed with fruit and other stuff? I don't know if that's the direction she wants to go; really more like a meal than a drink, but if you add some brewer's yeast, for example, the B-vitamins really do give you a good pick-me-up without caffeine.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bat Guano

        I love yogurt! Unfortunately, my wife doesn't like it, or any similar fermented milk product, like sour cream, also she doesn't like cottage cheese cream cheese, ricotta, etc. It's a wonder she even likes milk-lol!

      2. I like the hot cider idea! Lots of variations come to mind (cinnamon, maple, etc).

        Other ideas:
        1) vanilla drink: any kind of milk (dairy, soy, rice, almond) with vanilla extract and optional sweeteners (honey, splenda, molasses, maple syrup) - BTW: the last two sweeteners contain lots of healthy minerals
        2) chai isn't much like regular tea: make it with milk, and you've got a tasty treat
        3) grain drinks: like Horlicks, Inca, etc. They taste better than you'd think.
        4) banana cinnamon (great energy boost), or banana peanut: use any milk and add banana & peanut butter (and/or cinnamon), blend - and enjoy!

        1. May be too sweet but there are quite a few varieties of "syrup teas" that can be found in asian groceries. These are not true teas, so do not have the tea flavor.
          These drinks are intended to be served hot.
          Some examples are
          Honey Ginger - semi spicy ginger and honey mix
          Citron - Light citrus flavor - can be sugar or honey for sweetener
          Honey plum - Plum and honey mix

          Some other asian options
          toasted barly
          toasted corn
          ginseng (not the ginseng/tea mix)
          han royal
          solomon's seal

          1 Reply
          1. re: hannaone

            I like the Ottogi Samhwa Honey Jujube Tea, found at HMart--

          2. Kefir is great in the mornings, and if blended with frozen blueberries, provides a good dose of antioxidants. It can also be blended with frozen strawberries, bananas, raspberries, etc. and is great with fresh when they're in season. If you don't want to go the smoothie route it can simply be sweetened with honey or agave nectar or flavored with vanilla. I actually really like it straight up at room temp. Chocolate soy milk is another option since she likes hot chocolate. I like the Silk Soy Slender which is lower in calories and fat, but my SO prefers the full fat version.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ArikaDawn

              I was just going to suggest kefir. Or horchata (though probably not in the winter).

            2. This doesn't fit your low sugar requirement by any means, but it seems to fit right in with your wife's tastes. Swiss Miss now makes a hot chocolate with as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. I think its called Pick Me Up.

              1. How about Gogurt or one of the other yogurt drinks?

                1. I've been getting into homemade cocoa made with almond milk and a little sugar lately.

                  I also like to steep fresh ginger and lemon with a little honey. No caffeine, but it's a good pick me up.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: corgette

                    I like the Nestle Sugar-Free Hot Chocolate packets. Luckily, they are free at work and I add to my coffee.

                    The best part is the added calcium - I think it's 30% of RDA. And it tastes pretty good. Drinking it on it's own, you get a nice pick-me-up without the sugar crash later.

                    You can purchase this in canisters at the grocery store.

                    1. re: swissgirl

                      Do you add the whole packet or just part of it? I'd never thought of that before and it's a really good idea. Does it taste kinda like a cafe mocha?

                      1. re: sunkissedbabe43

                        I use half a packet per mug of coffee, which is about perfect. It is my version of a cafe mocha - I don't spend much money at or time driving to coffee places. Luckily, work provides the coffee and hot chocolate free. It's not gourmet but I like it.

                        In the 90s before the Starbucks phenom, a boyfriend got me to like coffee by adding hot chocolate mix, and milk. Since then, I've grown to like coffee on its own. But I do like Cafe Mochas, just not all of the sugar. The Sugar Free Nestle is the best sugar-free hot chocolate I've discovered (plus the calcium is a nice bonus).

                  2. costo used to stock a low carb/sugar free protein shake mix that was a chocolate coconut flavour, and even though i'm not much of a milk drinker, i liked it.

                    1. If her only exposure to hot chocolate is Swiss Miss, might we also assume that her only exposure to coffee is via Folgers or Maxwell House (or instant?). If so, I'd suggest getting some good coffee and trying again. Like something from Intelligentsia or Stumptown or Counter Culture. About as big a difference between drinking jug wine and a 1er cru.

                      1. I'm not sure if you only want hot beverages, but I have a glass of cranberry juice every morning. I get the ocean spray light (made w/splenda) so it is low in sugar. I find that the tartness helps wake me up.

                        1. Since giving up coffee as a morning starter, I have a glass of V8 juice, spiked with horse radish and a dash of worcestershire sauce. Works for me , but if she's not an adventurous eater it may be a hard sell.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: currymouth

                            Looooooooove this. Though I usually do salt, lime and tabasco.

                            1. re: piccola

                              I do the salt also, as well as hot sauce but tabasco is just too sour for me, have to try the lime next time. thanks

                              1. re: currymouth

                                Well, it's just a dash of Tabasco. I'm not picky when it comes to hot sauce - I just try to keep it to one bottle/type at a time.

                          2. How about Friendship Tea? It's a bit Sandra Lee, and something of a testament to my midwestern / southern upbringing -- but I still like it! There's not enough tea flavor for her to object to, probably, it's really pleasant served warm, and she'll get a bit of a pick-me-up from both the caffeine and sugar.

                            Recipes here: http://www.seedsofknowledge.com/frien...

                            Friendship Tea Mix

                            18 ounces Tang drink mix
                            1 cup instant iced tea
                            2 cups granulated sugar
                            1 package powdered lemonade mix
                            1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                            3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

                            Mix and place into a covered jar or other container. For hot tea mix 2/3 tablespoon to 1 cup of hot water. For iced tea mix substitute cold water and pour over ice.

                            p.s. This isn't particularly healthy, if you couldn't tell from the ingredients list...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: cimui

                              my mother used to make a mix like this when I was a kid, altho I'm not sure she added lemonade mix. Anyway, we called it Russian Tea, and the OP could easily make it s/f, if his wife was willing to try it. :)

                            2. doesn't like black tea? How about cinnamon tea, cinnamon sticks boiled in water? (enjoying some right now, but it is evening so I spiked it : ) Can do the same with ginger

                              Here in China the to-go winter morning drinks are hot soy milk with sugar or to-go cups of congee that we slurp through a big straw.

                              1. Might bust on the sugar content, but I grew up on Horlicks and Ovaltine as a warm morning drink for a pick me up during cold winters. Closer to her favouring hot chocolate, but she must like malt. We used to also dissolve either in a hot cup of tea, add a raw egg in it, stir it up and down the hatch ... but that's for another post ...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: morefuuud

                                  Ovaltine from Asia or Switzerland (called Ovomaltine) isn't as sweet as the North American version.

                                  I think that is probably why Ovaltine is often made with sweetened condensed milk and hot water in Hong Kong.

                                2. Fruit smoothies always hit the spot in the morning. A good combo is pomegranate juice mixed with orange, add strawberries or blueberries, ice and blend. Very healthy and lots of anti-oxidants too.

                                  One drink that I sometimes make in the morning is hot caramel milk - delicious - and a nice change from hot chocolate. It does have a 4 tsp of brown sugar however - but that's not too bad in comparison to Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate! Heat some milk in a mug in the microwave. Add 4 tsp brown or light brown sugar and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. Stir well and enjoy.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Sra. Swanky

                                    Smoothies are great.

                                    You/she might want to make them with some greens added for extra nutrition. It doesn't negatively affect the taste at all (although it can change the color a bit). Spinach (especially baby spinach) is a great way to start because it's so sweet. Beets and their greens are also a wonderful addition to fruit smoothie.

                                    Someone else mentioned miso which is another good morning option. You can make it from paste or buy it in instant packets (just add hot water!).

                                  2. While I was undergoing chemo, DH would make me Earl Grey Tea with honey each morning to get me up. He would climb back in bed and we would watch the morning news and drink our tea together. The "together" is much more important than the tea. It's become a daily tradition now. In the winter sometimes he makes Mexican hot chocolate that's sweet and spicy.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Pampatz

                                      I agree completely - the "together" far outweighs anything else. :o) Glad you both continue the tradition and best wishes for continued good health & wonderful moments.

                                    2. Celestial Seasonings makes a bagged tea called Roastaroma that was their caffeine-free answer to coffee in the '70s: roasted barley, roasted chicory, roasted carob, cinnamon, allspice, and Chinese star anise (that's right off the box). I like it with skim milk. It's not very spicy and doesn't really taste of cinnamon, and the more tea you use in the cup the stronger and richer it is. I have a huge Dunkin' Donuts travel mug at work, and I throw in a couple of Roastaroma bags and refill it with hot water and milk all night. Keeps me warm, but if I need to wake up I have diet AriZona green tea energy drink in the fridge!

                                      I also like cool drinks in the morning. 100% cranberry juice is great; also grapefruit juice (or any juice you like) mixed roughly half-and-half with seltzer. I tried cold coffee and seltzer once, but the Garb-All got most of it. I'll stick with juice!

                                      1. If she likes savory, try a simple miso soup. The dashi (dried mushroom/seaweed/fish broth) can be pre-made & reheated by the cup. Once hot, just stir in miso to taste. A very simple preparation & satisfying way to get going for the day. Good for her too! If she is new to miso, start with a lighter colored one - usually the lighter the color, the milder the flavor.

                                        1. I would say either a White Russian or a Screwdriver. Both are excellent moring drinks...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: mm151

                                            mm151 we my friend are cut from the same cloth

                                          2. OK, everyone will hate me for this but... ice cold Diet Coke. It's got snap and bite, a nice hit of caffeine, and the carbonation really cuts through the morning breath.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: KevinB

                                              Kevin, you bring back fond memories of dragging myself to morning lectures, sitting in the back row and cracking open a Diet Coke. Great kick-start to the day. Nowadays it's ice water with lemon, and a good coffee a couple of hours later.

                                            2. Has your wife tried any of the other types of tea?
                                              or herbs
                                              mint, jasmine, lavender, rose, lemon verbena steeped .

                                              1. penzey's makes a great hot cocoa powder.

                                                1. Category 1 (Preferable - Alcoholic):
                                                  1. Bloody Mary
                                                  2. Whiskey
                                                  3. Beer
                                                  4. Irish Coffee
                                                  5. Screwdriver

                                                  Category 2 (Not Preferred - Non-Alcoholic):
                                                  1. Coffee
                                                  2. Tea
                                                  3. Diet Coke
                                                  4. Water
                                                  5. Smoothie

                                                    1. Why don't we try working backwards. What kinds of things does she like (i.e. favorite flavors and spices), and what kind of "pick-me-up" is she looking for?

                                                      As for tea, I wouldn't dismiss it entirely. There are all kinds of tea, and the flavor can vary a lot depending on how its brewed. Most people, for example, make the mistake of brewing green tea with boiling water, which makes it bitter. If you brew it with water that's hot but not boiling (130-160 degrees) it's much smoother.

                                                      Another option is to start with something that contains a small amount of tea and build up her taste. Something like a weak chai. I understand because there used to be almost no hot beverages I liked, but slowly developed a taste for fine teas.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        Ruth has an excellent point. While I'm not a fan of black tea, I enjoy herbals quite a bit and find that mint tea provides a nice pick me up.

                                                      2. For a hot drink, something like spiced apple juice might work, or a blend of apple and cranberry.

                                                        Japanese Barley tea may be far enough away from tea to be worth while - it's got a light, toasted flavour, and is good hot or cold.

                                                        Flavoured milk, hot or cold? I'm thinking cinnamon, vanilla, orange, that sort of thing.

                                                        There's also herbal teas - peppermint, chamomile, etc, or ginger tea (aka hot water and ginger) which is an excellent warming winter drink.

                                                        1. How about Abuelita - the Mexican hot chocolate that Goya makes? The tablets come 6 to a package and melts very quickly in milk. A nice change from regular hot chocolate.

                                                          1. Every night I set my coffee maker to start at 5:45. I don't put any coffee in it. The carafe keeps the water hot for an hour- until 6:45, then it starts to cool down. I get up at 7:00 and put a teaspoon of honey and a slice of lemon in a mug, and top it with my hot water.

                                                            Here are 102 reviews of this drink, a la Paula Deen's recipe for peas.