Did you know it’s perfectly possible to trick your mind into thinking you’re enjoying a sweet drink by simply adding ‘sweet’ spices? Fragrant spices such cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom are usually associated with sweet treats, so when you stir them into a warm beverage, you get all the pleasure of a sweet drink but none of the calories.
- ‘Sweet’ and milky
Experiment with adding a pinch of your favourite ‘sweet’ spices to a warm cup of milk or cocoa. For something different, try replacing low-fat dairy milk with unsweetened soy or almond milk.
- Home-made chai latte
Add a pinch or two of ‘sweet’ spices to a pot of your favourite English breakfast tea along. Brew for a few minutes and pour over a splash of lo-fat dairy, or sugar-free soy, almond or oat milk. Create a little atmosphere by serving this traditional Indian brew in a pottery beaker.
It looks like chocolate and, with its natural sweetness, is as tasty as chocolate; yet carob contains a fraction of the calories and is high in fibre and hunger-quenching protein. Stir it into milky drinks as you would cocoa and enjoy it as a wind-me-down before bedtime. It’s delicious without sugar or, if you want to add a little sweetness, stir in a pinch or two of stevia extract.
As the cooler months arrive, don’t forsake refreshing drinks as a wind-down after brisk exercise or in place of a sugar-laden alcohol beverage.
- Tofu smoothie
Silken tofu offers all the creamy satisfaction of ice-cream or full-fat milk without the sugar. Made from soymilk, it can be purchased fresh from many Asian food outlets or in convenient long-life packets from supermarkets (look for the brand Mori-Nu). Blend the tofu with crushed ice and your favourite fruits (banana and berries are good combos) or vegetables (baby spinach or kale work well). The more tofu you use, the thicker the smoothie.
- Guar thick shake
Texture can be as satisfying as sweetness, and nothing creates a thicker, smoother shake than a half teaspoon of guar gum blended into the beverage. Whether you’re making an iced-coffee or real-fruit shake, forget the sugar and go for the guar gum. Guar gum can be purchased at health food stores and, increasingly, supermarkets. Top tip: keep the blender running while you add the gum powder. This distributes the gum evenly throughout the shake.
- Home-made kombucha
Nothing is more refreshing than kombucha, a fermented drink made with black or green tea. While many of the popular commercial varieties are sweeter than you might want them to be, home-made kombucha can be fermented until almost all of the sugar has been used up. To find out how to make this delicious drink, check out our beginners guide to kombucha for details