Thinking about healthy beverage choices
By Julie Garden-Robinson
“Somebody doesn’t want us to have a mocha coffee, I guess,” my husband commented as we left a restaurant empty-handed.
I had coupons for two free special beverages, and the server had told us the machine was not working.
“I can save the coupons. Should we go back and buy some regular coffee?” I asked as we got into our vehicle.
I think he could tell I really wanted a mocha coffee.
“We can try another restaurant,” my husband responded. I was fine with that.
On the way, we narrowly avoided two vehicle accidents. My husband had quick reflexes despite the lack of caffeine.
Trying to collect my two free mochas nearly cost thousands of dollars in vehicle repairs.
“Now the sun is burning my retinas, and I won’t be able to see the restaurant,” my husband noted with exaggeration and a grin as we turned the corner and headed east.
“This is not divine intervention,” I said as I reached over and pulled down the sun visor.
“If the next place has a broken beverage machine, then I think you may be on to something, though,” I said as another car ran a red light, crossed our path and tested our vehicle’s braking capacity again.
“Actually, I think we might want to go home. Maybe we are supposed to cut some calories after this long winter,” I added as we reached the next restaurant.
The next place had a working machine, and I savored my 350-calorie mocha drink. I noted that I could have had a fairly substantial breakfast of eggs and whole- wheat toast for the same number of calories.
Beverages don’t fill you up the same way that solid food does. Having a protein source and whole-grain food in the morning helps tide you over until your next meal.
We definitely were wide awake after enjoying our rocket fuel-like beverages. I could have had them skip the whipped cream and chocolate syrup, but we did order medium-sized instead of large-sized beverages.
After I drank my mocha, I was energetic enough to run home along the side of our vehicle, but I restrained myself.
If we had one of these beverages on most days without balancing our calories from other sources or going to the gym for longer periods of time, we potentially could gain a couple of pounds a month, or more than 20 pounds in a year. We might need new wardrobes at that point.
Making healthful beverage choices plays a role in maintaining a healthy weight. Let’s review some tips adapted from www.choosemyplate.gov to learn more about choosing healthful beverages with lower calories:
* Drink water. Try water instead of sweetened drinks such as regular soda, and energy or sports drinks.
* Be guided by your thirst. We all have different fluid needs, and most of us get enough water from the foods we eat and the beverages we drink. A healthy body can balance water needs throughout the day. Pay extra attention to your water/fluid consumption if you are very active, live or work in hot conditions or are an older adult.
* Save money by ordering water more often when you dine outside of the home.
* Make water, low-fat or fat-free milk and 100 percent juice the easy options in your home. Keep these beverages cold and ready to grab in your refrigerator.
* Have nutrient-rich milk to get your calcium, vitamin D and potassium. Children ages 9 and older and adults need 3 cups of milk per day. Children ages 4 to 8 years old need 2 1/2 cups, and children 2 to 3 years old need 2 cups.
* Enjoy an occasional special beverage but trim the serving size. For example, select smaller cans, cups or glasses instead of the super-sized options.
* Use reusable water bottles as a convenient and environment-friendly option to stay hydrated.
* Be sure to read and compare the Nutrition Facts labels on food products so you know what you are getting.
All foods, including treat-type beverages on occasion, can fit in a healthful diet. Here is a recipe from www.dairymakessense.com for a mocha beverage that can be prepared as a cool or hot beverage. At 130 calories per serving, it has about one-third of the calories of a similar beverage from a restaurant, plus it has all nine nutrients that milk provides.
2 c. coffee
2 c. fat-free milk
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Brew two cups of French roast or espresso-style coffee. Pour coffee into a small saucepan with milk, cocoa powder, sugar and vanilla extract; simmer for five minutes. Let cool for five minutes; pour over ice in two large cups with lids and shake well before serving.
To prepare warm: After simmering ingredients, blend with a hand-held electric mixture to create a frothy top and carefully pour into coffee mugs. Makes two servings. Each serving has 130 calories, two grams of fat, 20 g of carbohydrate, nine g of fiber, 130 milligrams of sodium and 30 percent of the daily recommendation for calcium.
(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)