Five alternatives to a latte: No caffeine, no milk, no sugar, no problem

My world is sadly Starbucks-free right now, and as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been missing Starbucks like mad. I think I attained addiction-levels with mochas, because even though I knew they contained everything that is the worst for my particular stomach, I still drank them!

Deprivation is really just an opportunity, though, right? There are a lot of things to drink that don’t involve sugar, milk or caffeine. I’ve complied a list so that I can return here and look at it for inspiration when I crave things.


I’ve talked about the health benefits of water before, but I have another story to add. The other week I totally had an episode of gout (it’s a common side-effect of chemotherapy). Yeah, THAT gout, the one that should only happen in England in the mid-18th century because water wasn’t potable. At any rate, the best cure for gout is to drink more water. I started paying close attention to the 40 ounces a day rule, and I haven’t had gout since. (Thank god, gout sucks!)

Price: Water is awesome and (for the most part) free.

2. TEA.

Black and green teas are antioxidants, which is why I stayed away from these during chemotherapy (I wanted the drug to hang out in my body for as long as possible). Now that cancer is gone, I have a cup of these every now and again to help my body metabolize any harmful chemicals that might be hanging out. This article talks about studies that prove that rats who drink tea tend to have less cancer. I try not to overdo it, though, due to the caffeine. Caffeinated teas are also dehydrants!

Herbal teas/infusions/tisanes are my favorite thing to drink. They fill the need for something warm and nurturing, and I like the meditation involved in boiling the water and steeping the tea. I’m not a tea snob — I don’t have looseleaf herbs and a tea ball — but I do like certain brands of bagged teas better than others. My favorite supermarket tea brand is Twinings. They spend little on packaging, but the herbs are very fresh, and they’ve made a few killer blends that I quite like. My favorite is pure peppermint, which apparently helps to relieve nausea and muscle spasms, and chamomile, which helps to relieve indigestion, insomnia, and cold symptoms. More information about the health benefits of various teas is here.

Kate adds: “Try yerba mate, which I loooooove with a little vanilla non-dairy milk of your choosing, and brewed with a packet or two of ginger tea.” Thanks, Kate! It isn’t technically tea, but actually a variety of holly, and I’m planning to read more about it

I’d add a bit about iced tea here, but I haven’t really gotten into making it. Anyone have a good recipe to share?

Price: Modest. Unless you buy the good stuff.


This is a good article about how to pick fruit juice that has few additives, no sugar, and 100% juice.

The most important bit of advice is to read the label, of course, and make sure it doesn’t have any of the following wording:

If you see the words “drink,” “cocktail,” “beverage,” or (in the United States) “nectar” anywhere on the label, this is code meaning that it could contain as little as 1% fruit juice. According to FDA regulations, anything that contains more than 0% fruit juice can be called “fruit juice,” but must also be labeled “drink,” “cocktail,” “beverage,” or “nectar.”

The only problem is that this stuff is EXPENSIVE. There is a very realistic discussion going on about how buying “health” food is something that only the upper-middle-class can really afford to do. But what’s the solution? Perhaps it’s to compromise and buy the least-crappy product at the most reasonable price for one’s budget.

Of course, given a bit of time, there’s always the option of making one’s own juice! These recipe ideas from A Beautiful Mess have sugar, but they also look awesome for summer…

Price: Modest. Unless you buy the good stuff.

(Image from Threemanycooks)


The way my husband makes smoothies turns them into something that’s not technically a drink — they’re more like a healthy glass of pre-digested salad. OK, I admit that this that isn’t selling it, but it’s a perfect way to get nutrients. My husband’s “Chunky” smoothie recipe goes like this:

Use a blender! Put in two bananas, a handful of spinach, a cup of plain lowfat organic yogurt (optional for those avoiding dairy), a few teaspoons of bran, a few pieces of ice, and some other seasonal fruit (like strawberries, right now). Then he starts to blend, adding orange juice until it’s all smooth. The final color is a fabulous shade of chlorophyll green.

This magic drink kept my iron levels up through pregnancy as well as during chemotherapy.

Christi adds: “For smoothies, frozen fruit can be cheaper than fresh fruit, and I don’t know that the difference is that noticeable in a smoothie.” Good point!

Smoothieweb seems to have a plethora of recipe ideas.

Price: Seasonal fruit is cheaper!

(Image from Making This Home)


Mmmmm, hot apple cider. I saved this for last because I just realized that it’s not on a disallowed list. This might even replace lattes as my go-to indulgence for those days when I need something awesome to drink. I like that this recipe uses maple syrup, but I like this recipe even better because it uses ginger and no sweetener at all.

Price: I prefer to buy the cider that is cloudy instead of clear, and organic. That makes this an indulgence! But it’s still cheaper than a daily mocha.


Got any more alternatives to a cup of dairy with sugar and caffeine? I wanna hear ’em!

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