Café Coffee |Good or Bad?

I went from drinking coffee “light and sweet” occasionally, to not at all, to now black, sometimes 3 a day (or night.) What is the phenomenon with coffee and caffeine? Well, for one– in the Western World we want to accomplish everything and then some; preferably accomplished “yesterday”. Caffeine helps the illusion that we are superheroes that can accomplish more in a day, in a shorter period of time, with precise focus. Sometimes that is exactly what it is though; an delusion.

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Let’s recap some of the benefits of coffee…Say HELLO to Caffeine. Did you know that coffee is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world? Coffee can improve energy levels through the caffeine content, it can also help burn fat as it is a appetite suppressant. Several studies show that caffeine can boost the metabolic rate by 3-11%. Some essential nutrients are found in coffee as well; one cups contains Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) 11% of the RDA, Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) 6% of the RDA, Manganese and Potassium: 3% of the RDA, Magnesium and Niacin (B3): 2% of the RDA not to mention it is loaded with antioxidants.

In a study involving nearly 20,000 individuals; people who consumed at least four cups of coffee daily had a 64% lower risk of early death compared to those never or rarely consumed coffee…four cups!

Now that we have talked of some of the benefits; be mindful of how much you consume, when you consume it, and whether your body has become accustomed and reliant on coffee. The reduction in risk was more significant once people reached the age of 45, which means it may be even more beneficial to consume coffee as we age. Also it is not advised to consume large amounts of caffeine while pregnant; limit yourself to 1 cup or less during pregnancy.

Coffee is coffee right? Wrong–bad quality coffee can have a lot of impurities in it; which can cause sickness, headaches, etc. This can happen if your coffee is made from beans that have been over ripped or otherwise ruined. Even one ruined bean can make your cup toxic. If you invest and buy high quality, speciality coffee you don’t have to worry about this.

Another thing to consider is if you have high cholesterol please choose filtered coffee! Coffee beans contain cafestol and kahweol, two ingredients that appear to raise LDL cholesterol levels. Filtering the coffee traps most of the LDL, but cafestol and kahweol are found in espresso, turkish coffee, french press and scandinavian style “cooked coffee”.

Keep in mind that decaffeinated coffee still contains caffeine. Say what!? Typically an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee can contain anywhere from 75 to 165 milligrams of caffeine; whereas decaffeinated coffee contains an average of 2 to 7 milligrams per cup.

Like anything; balance is essential to reaping benefits, become resilient to absence not co-dependent. With that being said…my cup of black coffee was delicious this morning! Coffee is often loaded with “hidden” calories, try adding almond, or coconut milk that is unsweetened. Cream contributes about 50 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon! Most importantly; avoid sugar in your coffee; a teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories. It may not sound like much, but if you add two, three, five teaspoons to your brew and drink a few cups per day, the calories add up!

More importantly for me; the good far outweighs the bad since I drink my coffee black or with a splash of unsweetened almond/coconut milk. Coffee aids in a boost of happiness for me, not to mention is a big social factor–in a few hours I am meeting  a friend at a local café to share stories of her recent mission trip in Africa, and catch up before I leave for Asia in a few days (I will already be back in Thailand when this publishes!)

Ps. Pro-tip: I started to notice a discoloration in my teeth from consuming coffee last year so frequently in Thailand; I now drink both hot, or iced coffee through a straw! Slerrrrrrrp, cheers!

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Sugar Addiction | Vegan Donuts

Artisanal donuts and cupcakes are the newest trend; starting only a few years back now, with words like “vegan” and “gluten free” they are more acceptable– but are they healthy?

While these sweets are admittedly delicious; choosing a dairy, egg, and/or wheat-free donut doesn’t necessarily make it any healthier! Dang, just when I felt better about the indulgence I just had…twice.

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Each donut could cost you up to 300 calories which is the same in a regular glazed donut; so while like most things it is important to remember balance, nothing holds more true than indulgences. One donut will not make you fat; just like a salad for lunch every day will not make you skinny.

When I do choose to indulge in donuts, cupcakes, baked goods, and galore; I am sure to choose quality (often pricey) options that I know are not filled with vegetable or canola oils, refined sugars, and other low grade ingredients.

There’s nothing healthy about a fried donut, no matter how much matcha and wheat grass are in it! Baking donuts also just another step towards a more health conscious treat, rather than frying in oil.

I must admit; being a foodie, I’d live close to a miserable life with these certain indulgences removed completely from my lifestyle. While most statements like “Just live a little, it won’t kill you; it’s just one!” are somewhat true; it seems people always find a way to rationalize, be the exception, and most of all– consciously oblivious. They know things are harmful for their bodies, they know they are addictive and only a temporary state of bliss; but they don’t know how to stop.

The key is slowly, and not taking it away; but rather introducing more healthy options. The more healthy conscious lifestyle changes you add into your day, the less likely your old un-healthy habits will return. Remember they are not gone forever though; I still some nights struggle with thinking about devouring an entire bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups, or a jar of Skippy peanut butter– I reach for Teddie Natural peanut butter instead; happier in the long run knowing the few ingredients, rather than temporary happiness that hydrogenated oils provide us.

So once a month; on an early Sunday morning, get up before the rest of the house–turn the oven on, and start baking some sweet treats to remind us of life’s sweet precious moments!

Basic Recipe:

  • 50 g (¼ cup) vegan margarine
  • 120 mL (½ cup) almond/coconut milk unsweetened
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 250 g (2 cups) gluten-free all purpose baking mix
  • 100 g (½ cup) caster sugar (or Stevia)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Eating for Energy

The best way to lose weight FAST is to jump on a fad diet.

…True. but it is not sustainable; you will be miserable and constantly feel deprived like you are missing out, eventually you will gain back if not all, sometime more weight than you started with making the experience temporary– and not a healthy lifestyle.

The unhealthy cycle:

  • Your initial motivation then wears off
  • Rebel, Revert, Binge
  • Gain even more weight
  • Depression and unhappiness

    eatingout

    So what can you do about this?

    Don’t fall into the trap! The understanding of the elimination of either carb or fat; comes down to the process of elimination. As long as your calories IN, are less than the calories out (being burned through exercise and daily energy) you will start to see change in your overall body composition and loss of body fat.

    This is why it is important to be aware of what you are putting into your mouth; common thinking patterns are; “I can’t go out to dinner with friends because everything at a restaurants is unhealthy.” While these days; this statement is more correct than not, it certainly is not true.

    Choosing lean protein options in restaurants such as chicken, fish, eggs, quality lean beef/bison is possible! Don’t be ashamed to request your meal to be to be cooked in olive oil over vegetable oils or butter. Every restaurant has a vegetable or salad option (the key is to how it is prepared, again asking to be cooked in olive oil or steamed. Dressings are the other calorie dense, highly processed additives to be mindful of.)

    Unprocessed foods take longer to digest which means a steady flow of energy (glucose) through the day. Ever wonder why “everyone is so tired” these days?
    What you put in; doubles what you get out! Food for thought, literally: It takes your stomach at least 15 minutes to tell your brain that it’s full. In a Western world; especially America, where faster is better and meals are eaten on the go, in the car, and as fast as humanly possible– it’s no wonder we can’t listen to our bodies when they tell us we are content to stop eating.

    A few of my favorite types of cuisines are Asian, South American, and Mediterranean. The options are endless with ingredients like fresh vegetables, quality protein, healthy fats like avocados and olives! Truly food of the Gods; I feel amazing picking on a little of this, and a little of that, as opposed to stuffing my face to the feeling of discontent. Fruit pairings with cheese are one of my favorite snacks! I will be the first to admit; I love indulgence, I love food, and hate how my body feels after.

    A perfect example of this would be last weekend when I went to the local Greek Festival; I had an amazing day with family, you can see it vlogged here: The Announcement You’ve Been Waiting For but to say that I overate is an understatement. The food was AMAZING; I had everything from spanakopita, grilled octopus, gyro, and more…to baklava, cookies, and Greek Coffee which is the same as Turkish Coffee (much like our espresso here in the states.) The coffee is served with the grounds. I opted to have mine unsweetened, or sketos (pronounced SKEH-tohss.)

    The moral of the story is; on the car ride home the food coma was induced, and my consciousness began to dissipate. To the point of when I got home, at around 7:00pm I took a nap! My body just couldn’t handle all of the sodium and sugar intake and it went into recovery mode. Now I understand why siestas (an afternoon rest, or nap) are so common!

    I realize in my photos above; flour tortillas are pictured, and while recently I have made the effort to eliminate almost all processed food– I am still at the stage of occasionally making an exception. For the reason stated earlier of balance. I am stubborn; I want what I can’t have, and if I tell my body I can’t have chocolate–suddenly I am dreaming of swimming in a chocolate fountain. Likewise; with any other ingredients–if I quickly claim “I no longer eat refined white flour” I will be the first one in line for a cupcake. However; through reputable Netflix documentaries, reading nutrition based articles, and really meditating on the idea of what these processed foods have begun negatively effecting our minds and bodies– I see myself slowly, naturally, making these changes.

Plant the seed; and watch it grow, with anything in your life–Knowledge and understanding is the first step towards change. Don’t jump into anything health related; make small changes daily until you are closer to the place you want to be.