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It has happened slowly over the last year or so, as my body and my health has continued to shift and improve, but I have developed a pretty solid morning habit that involves a quality cup of organic coffee shortly after I rise. I have come to find that this morning routine serves many purposes for me, personally, but most importantly, I find it’s a really beautiful morning ritual, something that I greatly enjoy and always allow myself the space to honor and totally embrace, no matter where in the world I am.
Often I am asked “is coffee good for you?” As you can probably imagine, my answer to this question is quite similar to how I respond to many other food and health related questions and that is – “it depends”.
By now we’ve all seen the trendy boosted coffees. Coffees with butter and other oils. I believe Bulletproof Coffee was the first to really put it on the radar of the public eye. This trend has truly blown up in recent years, Bulletproof and Dave Asprey have built an entire diet, lifestyle and brand surrounding their coffee. We have also all heard the varying reports, one day we read research that says coffee is good for us, the next day we read it’s bad! I truly hate the demonizing of whole foods, so rarely is it so cut and dry. Well, of course this is said with exceptions, hydrogenated oils and shit tons of sugar – those (and a few obvious others) deserve demonizing. But well-meaning coffee, let’s just all agree that the answer to “Is coffee good for me?” – should simply be “it depends!” I can say that when I choose to drink coffee, which isn’t necessarily daily, I opt for this boosted version, to maximize my morning brew’s full potential.
Since I have begun seeing clients as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I am so grateful for my longstanding experiences with and my love for food. I am constantly asked the question “If I shouldn’t eat this, then what can I have, instead?”. I love having answers to this question.
I firmly believe that changing diet and lifestyle has to come from a place of both education and confidence. If I meet with a new client and tell them to stop drinking several Cokes daily, but don’t explain why, I can’t really expect them to want to make this change. Why would they? They are both chemically and emotionally attached and possibly even addicted. If I can take the time to explain the effects that the high levels of sugar are doing to their insulin resistance, if I can talk through the reasons why high fructose corn syrup is terrifying and explain the affects this one drink can have on their blood sugar, digestion, mineral absorption and so on, I have a much better chance of getting them on board for the long haul.
It will forever irritate me how many “pumpkin spice” flavored foods do not contain even the smallest amount of pumpkin. I don’t get it. If it’s just cinnamon and other spices, why not call it “spiced BLANK” instead. Most irritating is the fact that Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattes are always fixing to suck me in. From time to time, I find myself in a weakened state, tempted and really thinking about ordering one! Ultimately, I simply remind myself how much sugar (a Grande contains over 50 grams of sugar) it contains. Then I think about the fake coloring (Class IV Caramel Coloring), the creepy “natural” and artificial flavors and the hidden dairy in the syrup by way of sweetened condensed milk (so vegans, you are getting hit with dairy, even if you order it with non-dairy soy milk). The list of reasons not to order one just goes on and on. I myself haven’t had one of these drinks in well over 5 years, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t think about it from time to time.
So, what’s a fall-loving, pumpkin-craving girl to do about all this scary Starbuck stuff? Well, she has to make one for herself. (OK, I will stop talking about myself in the third person now! Sorry.) I opted to first make a tasty homemade Pumpkin Spice Almond Milk, using my tried and true method of making delicious nut milks at home. Though this delicious, seasonally-inspired treat is super amazing on it’s own, in smoothies or as a creamer, it’s even better served warm and added to a steamy latte, like this.
Many of you already know that I generally try to avoid most ALL dairy in my diet, but what you may not know is that I made the switch a long time ago to nut-based milks, even before I stopped consuming dairy in other places. The difference in how I feel consuming a plant-based milk versus regular dairy milk – is incredible. I find myself less bloated, I feel lighter and I can tell that it requires much less on my digestive system to process than cow’s milk dairy.
Most of you know, I generally prefer to make my own almond milk whenever I can, but there are times when our schedule is just so crazy – when we are traveling, we have house guests or I am just bogged down with work. When life gets busy like that, it usually means stopping to make my own almond milk, just isn’t in the schedule.
I am not one for coffee much anymore, now-a-days I only have it when I am craving it, when we have an insanely early morning of travel or when I am somewhere with an exceptional brew – but generally that’s only about once or twice a month, at most. I used to drink it regularly, an every morning ritual type of thing. It was more of a habit than anything. Though, I really didn’t like feeling like a slave to my habit, getting a headache if I just wasn’t in the mood to drink it. These days, I prefer to start my days with a mug of warm lemon water, usually followed by a hot tea with my breakfast, after my morning yoga.
Last month during my yoga teacher training, by around the second week – the 3 hours of driving to and from Venice Beach during rush hours and the 12+ hour days of being gone, then getting home to cook dinner, study, and get my work done – started really taking their toll on me. It was wildly different than my usual days of working from home, staying in my PJs until 2pm, if I chose. I was trying to take hot tea with me on the drives in the morning, but I realized we didn’t have any good travel mugs and I find drinking scalding hot liquid from glass jars while driving in heavy traffic to be insanely stressful. Since I was also making a smoothie every day for breakfast and drinking that on my drives, I decided to combine everything into one. An energizing green smoothie to help get my day started right. A little boost of caffeine before our daily 3 hour morning yoga practice and our 6 hours of lectures, was just what I needed.
This time of year, I am all about the familiar comforting flavors of the holiday season. Gingerbread, cinnamon rolls, egg nog and of course, chocolate and peppermint, etc. The Starbucks Peppermint Mocha used to be one of my favs, but I just really don’t love all of those sugary syrups and other junk, plus since I prefer to avoid dairy, my only option there is soy milk, which I really don’t like drinking, either. That said, those flavors are the perfect way to get me in the holiday mood. We have been known to go out of our way to get peppermint mochas, just to sip on while we pick out our tree or check out the holiday lights. It’s holiday perfection in a cup!
Though I am not a regular coffee drinker these days, I do enjoy a cup of joe – now and again. It’s a nice treat once in a while, but I love not being a slave to the caffeine like so many regular coffee drinkers. I only drink it when it sounds good, not because I have to. I find I enjoy coffee and coffee drinks so much more since I tend to indulge only about once a month or so.
This holiday season, I was determined to recreate the classic Peppermint Mocha, so that I could enjoy it guilt-free. Dairy-free, refined sugar-free, made with high-quality ingredients! I am super happy with my homemade version, I like it better than any that could come in a cardboard cup with snowflakes on it. It’s thick and creamy, rich in chocolatey goodness and it has just the right amount of peppermint flavor. Read the rest of this entry »
Some of you may recall seeing this recipe before, I shared it in the spring of last year during one of our busiest travel seasons. After sharing my tips for traveling with a restricted diet last week on the Free People Blog BLDG 25, I thought it would be great to share one of my favorite recipes for traveling with the readers over there. These Road Trip Energy Bars are one of my go-to treats to make and bring along on every trip. They travel well and they are super simple to make. Read the rest of this entry »
I wrote this recipe up back when we were still in Buffalo staying at my parents house but I never had the time to make them while we were there. Both of my parents and Mark are coffee-aholics. Man do they love their coffee. Me, I could take it or leave it these days. I probably drink 2-3 cups a month, at most. Most times it is part of a super early wake up call for an event or on a long road trip. I love the way coffee tastes, but I don’t always like how it makes me feel. I don’t like the caffeine jitters or the burny, acid bitterness of some cups of joe.
Mostly I like the smell of coffee and the culture surrounding it. Yeh, I know that’s weird. I love coffee cups and mugs, local coffee shops, french presses, pour over coffee, fancy organic fair trade beans, and yes, I even love cookies meant for dunking in coffee. That is exactly what I think of when I think of biscotti. That crispy, crunchiness is just begging to be dunked into coffee.
All the nights at my parents house when the three of them would fill up their mugs, add their splash of cream, grab a sweet of some kind and then come out to the living room to watch the evening news. I felt kinda left out. Sometimes I would have a cup (then have a terrible time getting to sleep that night), sometimes I would have some tea and other times I opted for another glass of wine! I should have made these cookies when I was staying there, they could have added dunking these yummy cookies to their evening ritual and I would have dunked mine into Mark’s hot cup of java.
I was inspired to combine orange and dark chocolate in these biscotti because my mom LOVES that flavor combo. So do I. Just the smell alone is so delicious. Looks like I’ll just have to make these for my parents when then come visit in June! (Which by the way, I cannot wait for) I originally wanted to make these with cocoa nibs, but was unable to find any at the stores locally, so I just went with dark chocolate chunks, I cannot wait to get my hands on some cocoa nibs and make these again!
Do you drink coffee? What is your favorite thing about coffee?
[print_this]Grain-Free Orange, Almond & Dark Chocolate Biscotti – Gluten-free + Vegan
Makes 12-15 cookies
- 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (tightly packed)
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (or tapioca starch)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds or other nut
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks, mini chocolate chips or cocoa nibs
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
In your food processor￼ combine the almond flour, arrowroot powder, salt and baking soda. Process until all of the ingredients are well combined. Then pulse in maple (or honey), orange juice and orange zest until the dough forms a ball. Fold in chopped almonds and chocolate chunks by hand.
Dampen hands and form the dough into a log approx 10″ long and 2″ wide on the parchment paper￼lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool for 1 hour. Turn the oven to 250º F.
Once fully cooled cut the log into 1/2-inch slices on the diagonal with a very sharp knife.
Spread slices out on a baking sheet cut side down and bake at 250° for 10 minutes then turn over and bake another 10 minutes on the other side. Turn off the oven and let them sit inside the oven on the baking sheet until cool.
Once cooled they should be nice and crispy. Serve with coffee, tea, ice cold almond milk, etc. Also, you’ll want to consider sharing these with friends or you will likely eat the entire batch yourself. In one sitting.
In stepping into a coffee shop next door to the yoga studio I go to here in Long Beach the other day, to grab a juice, I saw something called a Mexican Mocha on the menu. I was intrigued but didn’t order it since I knew it would be loaded with sugar and other stuff I try to avoid, but I was definitely curious, so I asked. It is basically a mocha, which we all know is a sinfully delicious drink where coffee meets hot cocoa, but this one comes with some additional spices, which can vary based on coffee shop and some even add in almond extract/flavor. In looking around online, most Mexican Mochas include cinnamon and some also chipotle or cayenne for a little extra kick.I have had a Mexican style hot cocoa with those spices, but never with the addition of java. Sounded pretty delicious. Although, I drink very little coffee these days, I was still excited to try the flavor combination and I was inspired to have a little fun with it.So, I created these simple to make no-bake cookie balls. They are grain-free, vegan and sugar-free. If you are sensitive to caffeine, no worries, you could leave out the espresso and then you would just have Mexican Hot Cocoa Cookie Balls. Oh and either way, if you really wanted to go crazy with the chocolate, you could even dip them in some melted chocolate or add some mini chocolate chips.I think what I like most about these cookie balls, unlike the other no-bake cookie balls I have made in the past, is that normally I use uncooked oats and although they make for a really nice texture, I find oats in that state to be quite hard to digest. So I experimented in making these without any grain and I just added in the chia seeds to give these a little crunch and to also add some of that healthy Omega-3 Oil to this treat.These are a nice little sweet treat, with just a little hint of a coffee and spice kick, which are an extra added bonuses.
[print_this]Mexican Mocha No-Bake Cookie Balls (grain-free, gluten-free, vegan + sugar-free)
makes about 18-20 cookie balls
1 /2 cup raw organic cashews
5-6 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup blanched almond flour (I like Honeyville)
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon chia seeds
dash or two of ground chipotle powder (optional)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon instant Espresso powder (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Add the cashews and dates to your food processor and pulse a handful of times until it becomes a chunky crumble.(see below photo)
Add in the almond flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, spices, espresso powder, chia seeds and vanilla. Process until it is a fine crumble, almost sand-like.
It may seem to try to roll, but you will be surprised. Put a bit of the mixture into your hands, roll it around, it should come together into a ball. If it seems a bit too dry and crumbly add a bit more water or if you want it a bit sweeter, maybe a little maple syrup. Don’t add too much though, you don’t want it to get to soggy.
Roll the mixture onto ball and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Refridgerate for 30 minutes or so to firm them up. [/print_this]