Warm Beverages in Cold Weather – Fresh Tastes by Bev

By Bev Laumann, Author of A Taste of The Good Life: A Cookbook for IC & OAB


Remember how comfortable it was to curl up with a good book and some hot chocolate on a rainy afternoon? Or how hot mulled cider just hit the spot on snowy evenings? Well, all is not lost just because we have IC. We can still have some darn good imitations of favorite cold weather beverages. Here’s a variety of spirit-soothing drinks to cozy up with on blustery winter days. These recipes were all found (or invented) by creative fellow IC patients.

Yummy Drinks to Warm Up


This uses fructose-sweetened carob chips, which are available at many health food stores and specialty markets. You can also ask your grocer to carry them for you. “Chatfield’s Carob and Compliments” is one good brand (Dist. by American Natural Snacks, St. Augustine FL 32085-1067 USA).

  • 2 Tbsp. sweetened carob chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • milk, to fill cup
  1. Place carob chips and 3 Tbsp. of milk in a cup and heat in the microwave until chips melt and milk boils. You may have to stir a bit, and squash the chips.
  2. When about 2/3 of the chips are melted, add vanilla and more milk to make one cupful.
  3. Heat to desired drinking temperature.
  4. Some softened chips will remain on the bottom, and when you drink most of the cup, you can just add a little more milk and vanilla and reheat for a quick refill.

Serves 1. (If you can’t find sweetened chips, use the unsweetened ones and add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of sugar).

Finding carob chips: If your local store doesn’t carry carob chips, here are two places to find them: Sunspire makes unsweetened carob chips and, along with other carob products, they are available for online purchase through ShopNatural (www.shopnatural.com). American Natural & Specialty Brands makes wonderful sweetened carob chips marketed under the brand “Chatfield’s”. If your local store doesn’t carry it, you can check out the manufacturer’s web site to track down a local distributor, who can then refer you to a local or online source where you can purchase them. Their web site is www.ans-natural.com.


This recipe uses unsweetened carob powder, which is available at many health food stores. This recipe is a little different from some in that it uses vanilla to round out the carob flavor.

  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened carob powder
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. In a small saucepan, mix together the sugar and carob powder.
  2. Stir in 1/4 cup of the milk and place over low heat.
  3. Cook and stir until carob and sugar is completely dissolved.
  4. Add the rest of the milk and increase heat to medium while continuing to stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
  5. When it becomes sufficiently hot to drink, add vanilla to a large mug, then pour in the hot milk mixture.

Yummy! Serves 1.

— recipe courtesy of Sharon R., Cerritos California


  • 1 mug of pear juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  1. Mix ingredients together and heat in the microwave til hot.

The trick to making this drink bladder-friendly is to avoid ingredients like ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or citric acid which may be added to canned or bottled pear juice. Many brands are mixed with white grape juice too (which is more acid than pear juice). Manufacturers add acid to enhance flavor and inhibit the growth of spoilage-causing organisms that may have escaped the pasteurization process. IC patients have differing levels of toleration for these acids. Try baby-food pear juice. Gerber’s makes a good one.

Most IC patients have no trouble with cinnamon however, if you have an allergy to cinnamon or are sensitive to it for any medical reason, see the November 1999 Fresh Tastes column for more on various kinds of cinnamon. Try substituting ground coriander or cardamom in this recipe, adjusting the amounts to suit your taste.


This recipe uses a barley-based coffee-substitute powder that the manufacturer states has “no caffeine or tannic acid.” Made entirely from barley, malt and chicory, it has no coffee beans in it at all. (The term “malt” just means any grain which has been sprouted). Similar beverages are made by a variety of companies, and most of these grain-based products are available at health food stores and specialty markets, as well as some supermarkets.

  • 2-1/2 tsp. coffee-substitute granules (more or less, to taste)
  • 2 tsp. carob powder
  • 1 small pinch cinnamon
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • cream (or milk)
  • sweetened whipped cream (optional, for topping)
  1. Mix the coffee-substitute granules, carob powder, and cinnamon in a cup or mug.
  2. Add warm water, brown sugar, vanilla and enough cream to almost fill the cup.
  3. Heat in microwave until pleasantly hot, then top with whipped cream before serving.

Serves 1.

— recipe courtesy of Alisa K.

One small bit of advice: If you discover that even the barley-based coffee substitutes bother your bladder, explore the possibility of an allergy to barley or a sensitivity to malted barley products. Allergy-testing has been of value to some IC patients by conclusively identifying foods that are not on the IC diet, but give them bladder problems nonetheless. Malted barley products (as a flour or as a sweet sugary syrup) are added to many foods. The processing of this substance may create small amounts of a nerve irritant. The amount ingested matters, so sometimes you might get away with it, and sometimes might not. But luckily, there are many IC people whose bladder can tolerate the barley-based coffee substitutes just fine, so it’s worth trying.


Most herb teas have no caffeine, which is great news for IC bladders, but they may have some other irritating ingredients. Rose hips (fruits of roses) for instance, are frequently added to give herb teas a flavorful “bite”. Dried rose hips contain large amounts of natural ascorbic acid (vitamin C) among other things– up to 140% of the RDA of vitamin C per ounce. Some IC patients are quite senstive to it. Of the mint offerings, spearmint is kinder to the digestive tract than peppermint. Peppermint may upset your stomach if you drink lots of it exclusively and constantly.

Most people find that a brand containing only dried spearmint or peppermint leaves makes a bladder-friendly cup of tea. If you can’t find pre-packaged tea bags, you can buy a small metal tea ball and loose mint leaves at some specialty markets. Here are two bladder-friendly offerings that are marketed nationally:

Bigelow “Afternoon Tea” Peppermint Herb Tea- contains only peppermint leaves.

Celestial Seasonings Peppermint Herb Tea- contains only peppermint leaves.

And of course you can always grow your own mint and dry the leaves– mint grows like crazy in any moist slightly shady area and the leaves can be dried in the microwave (see my cookbook for more info on this technique.)


Here is another herb tea that, if not adulterated with irritating ingredients, is reputed to soothe the gastrointestinal tract. Some IC patients find it bladder-safe too. Chamomile contains some flavonoid compounds that are natural anti-spasmodics. If you are allergic to ragweed though, experiment carefully. Chamomile is related to ragweed and chrysanthemums. Allergic cross-reactions are possible.


Anise and cardamom are good bets to experiment with if you want to make your own herb teas. Sue H. steeps ground coriander (enclosed in a packet of coffee filter paper) or whole coriander seed in a tea ball to make a soothing hot drink. Some IC patients find that marshmallow root tea (sold in health food stores) is very calming and soothing to the bladder.


A little bit of almond extract and a teaspoon of sugar in hot water can be tasty. A teaspoon of honey stirred into in a cup of hot water is a soothing favorite of the IC Network’s founder, Jill Osborne. A pinch of brown sugar and a couple drops of anise extract can also enliven a cup of hot water (try it with Postum or decaf low-acid coffees too).