Iced Coffee Essentials

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Summer is here, and there’s much to enjoy, including some fresh takes on winter themes. Take coffee for example─which ranks among the most popular American beverages. In fact, according to the National Coffee Association, the average coffee drinker in the U.S. consumes 3.4 cups a day. Well, what you love in winter can betransformed into an entirely new warm-weather treat. You guessed it, iced coffee! Beware, however, that while black coffee is virtually free of calories, it can rapidly morph into a saturated fat-laden “dessert” depending on the drink you choose. However, with these clever tips you can enjoy delicious iced coffee without expanding your waistline─or your arteries.

Watch the trimmings

Needless to say, some coffee drinks are richer than others. For example, cappuccino made with half and half can run from 120 calories for a 12-oz cup to 210 calories for a 20-ouncer. The plot thickens with lattes, which can reach 200 calories for a 12-oz cup to 340 calories for 20 ounces. Mochas take the cake, with up to 358 calories for 12 oz. and as high as 490 calories for a 20-ouncer. And the problem is, many people don’t factor in non-filling beverage calories to their day’s food total.

Go lean & mean

Fortunately, “skinny” versions of these drinks are widely available. Made with skim or low-fat milk, they’re still flavor-packed and satisfying, and you’ll likely find them even more refreshing than their densely rich counterparts. Soy milk lattes are another great option, since protein-packed soy froths up creamy with far less fat than whole milk. The fat soy does contain is heart-healthy and soy milk is cholesterol-free. If you love the heavier versions on the iced coffee theme, consider at least nixing the whipped cream if you’re not at your fighting weight.

Make your own

Creating your own iced-coffee can save you both money and calories. If you don’t have an espresso machine, fear not. Many foodies claim that cold-brewed coffee makes the best iced version since it’s far less bitter. Here’s how to make it: click here. Once you have the coffee, you can add soy, dairy or almond milk as you prefer. As for sweeteners, try replacing sugar with healthier agave nectar or calorie-free stevia for a scrumptious, slim treat. Experiment with vanilla and peppermint extracts or unsweetened cocoa powder for fun variations on the theme.

With these simple tips, iced coffee─regular or decaf─just may become your signature summer beverage. More good news? Most health professionals agree that coffee is healthy in moderation. Enjoy!

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