Do you know what's in your favorite holiday drink?

December 15, 2010 5:04:56 PM PST
Warm, holiday lattes and hot chocolates are a welcome part of the season. Many of our Facebook friends told us on Wednesday morning that they love these seasonal drinks too. However, most of us have no idea just how fattening they can be.

They look and smell delicious, but how many calories do they contain and are they really good for you? Here's what we found:

The Holiday Spiced Sugar Cookie Blast from Sonic had a whopping 1,256 calories. That's more than a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese and large fries, but it's ice cream and you expect some calories.

But look at this -- a 20 ounce Sugar and Spice Latte from Seattle's Best has 790 calories. That's like eating two pieces of pecan pie!

A 20 ounce Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks has 700 calories -- the same as eating two pieces of chocolate pie.

The 20 ounce Eggnog Latte at Starbucks has 630 calories. You could have a large bag of movie theater popcorn for that!

Before you buy your kids a hot chocolate, the Peppermint Hot Chocolate at Panera Bread has 610 calories, so you may as well give them 11 chocolate chip cookies!

Where do the calories come from? Kelsey-Seybold Dietitian Ronda Elsenbrook blames the flavorings. They're basically sugar syrup with about 25 calories per pump. Some drinks have three to five pumps!

"You can select to add less and still get the flavor, and it won't be as sweet, but you can always add a sugar substitute if it's not sweet enough for you," Elensbrook suggested.

Switching from regular milk to nonfat in your latte saves about 70 calories. Drop the whipped cream and you save 200 calories right there!

Another tip: "Simply by going from a 20 ounce drink down to 16 -- or even better a 12 ounce -- between these two, you're going to cut your calories almost in half," Elensbrook said.

She suggests flavored creamers which give your coffee a boost for about 35 calories. To make a healthier hot chocolate, use a low-calorie packet mixed with non-fat milk, a five-calorie whipped cream and stir it with a candy cane.

You can make your own latte for less than 100 calories by frothing skim milk, adding coffee and spices.

Whether you're making your holiday drinks at home, or ordering from a coffee shop, if you chose non-fat milk, fewer pumps of flavoring and no whipped cream, that should save you at least 300 calories on any drink.

Eyewitness News' Facebook friend Lisa Simon sent us a great low-calorie wassail recipe. Simon combines 2 bottles apple cider, 1 liter ginger ale, 1 cup Red Hots, 12 cloves and 2 1/2 cinnamon sticks in a 40-cup coffee pot to make the hot drink.


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