Coffee Alternatives

Coffee Alternatives

This past year I cut my coffee habit. Why? Because I didn’t like the way it made me feel. Despite reducing my coffee intake I was still experiencing a severe drop in energy every day, which I attributed to a caffeine crash. Each afternoon after lunch I would start yawning and feeling overall like my mind was in slow motion. On top of all that the acidity in the coffee was causing upset with my gut.

I was not sure what I would do to replace my beloved coffee habit. I loved the bitter taste of a nice black cup of coffee freshly brewed. I loved the aroma and the warmth of embracing a coffee mug and sipping slowly. With this year being the year of health I knew that whatever I replaced it with needed to to boost my mind and body, energize me (naturally), and have less acidity.

After much research online I made several trips to the local green grocer and purchased a few products from Amazon. I now have most of these products in my cabinet and ready to go so that each day I can pick and choose what I would like.

Crio Bru in French Press Tumbler with Frothed Nut Milk and Cinnamon

Crio Bru – I use this daily. This is the most cost effective and closest to actual coffee. Basically, this is roasted cacao beans that you use in a French Press which leaves you with a dark roasted aromatic flavorful beverage. The company makes a multitude of roast options. Thus far my favorites have been Uber Dark Spanish Roast and Ghana French Roast. They even have a Double Chocolate blend and a Sampler pack to dry different varieties. If you go down this path, I would strongly recommend a French Press tumbler, like this one from Presse. At $15 for a bag it’s similar to the price of coffee and will not be too much of a hit on your wallet. 1 bag has 23 servings, so depending on your habit you might be buying two bags a month.

Pure Cacao – Cacao is the raw, unprocessed version of cocoa. There are a lot of cacao options out there, many of which are blends with spices, supplements and super foods. For me, I would rather save some money and add my own spices and supplements so I go with Navitas Organic Cacao Powder. It has a bitter smooth flavor and is amazing in hot water, warmed nut milk, or even in smoothies. With 0% sugar and naturally occurring fiber, magnesium and antioxidants—amongst a whole bunch of other health-supportive nutrients – you can’t go wrong. And as a additive to the cacao I will typically add in cinnamon, turmeric, chili powder, or MCT oil. Yum! At $14 a bag on Amazon it has about 30 servings so it will last you one month. We frequently find this at local discount stores like Marshalls, T.J. Maxx or Homegoods though for about $4.99 a bag and we stock up!

Four Sigmatic Mushroom Blends – Four Sigmatic has a wide variety of offerings including caffeine based drinks, K-Cup options, and mushroom blends. I have enjoyed trying their mushroom blends of which they have three varieties – one for immune support, one for focus, and one for balance. Thus far my favorite has been the immune support blend, which is aptly labeled as Defend, but all the varieties have been good. Defend tends to be a smoother texture which I like and it has adaptogenic mushrooms (balance), vitamin C (immune support) and Cordyceps (sustained energy). The powder can be added directly to hot water, warmed nut milk or smoothies. It’s caffeine free and is 100% organic. At $26 for a 30 servings it’s a bit pricey, but is wholesome and delicious.

Tea – An obvious alternative! This one was a little less obvious to me because I was not familiar with making a good cup of tea. Because I like to drink my coffee black I would tend to just brew tea and drink it directly, but the result was typically a watered down semi-flavorful experience, which left a lot to be desired. However, one day at a local coffee shop I tried their red chai, which they made into a latte with nut milk and honey or maple syrup as sweetener. It was delicious. Within a few days I found this Republic Red Chai at a local general store and it’s been quite amazing. It has 50 servings for $15.

Handheld Frother – As a side note to the above coffee alternatives I have to make mention that having a handheld frother and some nut milk on hand will change your life. You can find a decent handheld frother for $10-$15 and if you take your nut milk (or even nut milk creamer) and froth it you can add it directly on top of your Crio Bru, cacao, mushroom blends, and tea. Blend in some cinnamon with the milk for a touch of amazing and you have really got yourself quite the powerful and delicious beverage.

Overall, my experience with swapping out coffee has been a good one. I have increased my health benefits, diversified what I drink, and found new ways to curb my appetite without a lot of calories or sugar.


Morning Vitamins

Morning Vitamins

Like all parents, we want our kids to be happy and healthy. We want to do whatever we can to help boost their immune systems and give them the nutrition they need. While diet is a major factor for immune health and nutrition we also choose to boost them with a morning vitamin routine that is mixed into a dairy free yogurt.

Our standard mix of vitamins for our toddler “Pickles” has been a mix of raw probiotic (1/2 TSP – 3/4 TSP), a multivitamin (2 TSP) and vitamin C (1 TSP). We supplement that with vitamin D3 and vitamin A when we want to give an extra boost (i.e. they were at a play group that week, or visiting someone who had a cold). We mix this all up with the dairy free yogurt into a reusable squeeze pouch (think “Go-Go Squeezes” you can get from the store).

For infants, like “Bacon”, we usually just do D3 drops initially, but gradually incorporate the other vitamins as his age reaches the recommended ages on the bottles.

When it comes to purchasing vitamins we have had good luck with using Vitacost. They are about the same price if not cheaper than Amazon and they have good quality brands like Childlife and Garden of Life. They also run a lot of sales and send coupons for free shipping and 15% off regularly. When you create an account with them they remember what you previously ordered and give you the option to quickly reorder. I love that.

With supplementing the kids’ diet with these vitamins we have not had a great deal of illness in the house. “Pickles” has been a sick with fever maybe three times? “Bacon” has been sick once. They get your typical allergies with seasonal changes but overall have had great health!

Hygge and Health

Hygge and Health

Happy New Year!

It’s 2022, yet still no flying cars. Who would have thought?

This year we are hoping to focus much of our time, effort, and money on hygge and health. We are excited about this focus because we feel it’s something we need in our lives to help combat our chronic stress. You see, much chronic stress has developed for us over the years because we have feverishly and compulsively reacted to the demands of each thought. This had led to packed schedules and an overactive focus on ‘getting stuff done’ to return to a place of peace in our lives. The problem with this approach, however, is that the more we get done the more there is to do. Thoughts are never ending.

Reflecting back on our lives over the past decade and a half we have always felt the need to have space to process, to think, to be. We have lost this in recent time and since our thoughts are never ending, and we cannot create more time, the best thing we can do is create space. In creating space, we want to create space that is cozy, relaxing, intimate. There is a word for this type of experience, it’s called hygge (pronounced hoo-ga).

Naturally, we did what any crazy person who is trying to learn to relax does – we grabbed books from the library and researched hygge a bit. We then crafted a list (see below) of both indoor and outdoor activities we could look to when we have space created and want to break out of constant churn of to-do’s and settle into something like reading a book out loud to the children while drinking a hot beverage or lowering the lights, putting the fireplace on, and building a blanket fort. This list would serve to function not as a to-do list but as an ‘at-a-glance’ worksheet to help us think differently since our brains are so stuck in automatic thought patterns that focus on action.

In order to build space into our routine, we deflected some of the items on our schedule that normally take up that space, let go of the guilt that accompanied by not doing those things, and adopted a mindset of flexibility (i.e. it’s late, but let’s let the kids be up another 30 minutes and not feel so much pressure about bedtime since we’re doing this thing as a family right now).

With regards to health, I have decided to alter my diet this year and adopt the diet the family has, which is gluten free, dairy free, and egg free. I have also decided to eliminate beer, go off coffee, cut back significantly on eating out (think greasy, non-quality food) and late-night snacking, and to focus more strategically on eating a diet that could assist my autoimmune disorder. I went through the cabinets, got rid of the food that did not align and began aligning the shopping list with my new go-to’s which includes items like fermented foods and drinks, chicken breast, bone broths, paleo granolas, tuna, salad, and yogurt.

The transition to adopt the GF, DF, EF diet wasn’t as hard as I’d assumed. I mostly ate that way at dinner because it was a family meal, I just had to adapt my breakfast and lunch staples and what I snacked on. Cutting the beer was emotionally difficult because I enjoyed it, but I didn’t always feel the best after drinking it anyways – I typically felt lethargic and tired. Learning to ‘want’ fermented foods has been more difficult, but with time I know these things will help my gut health and help me feel my best.

We’re also focusing throughout the year on making our own fermented foods, crackers, breads, etc. because it’s cheaper and healthier. We even tried making our own yogurt, but that didn’t turn out so hot. In addition to changing diet and making more of our own foods, we also are added more supplements into our routine – taking cell salts, apple cider vinegar, probiotics, and upping the kids’ daily vitamins. I even decided to get a manual treadmill for the basement (which was cheaper than my gym membership and gave me greater flexibility). In a truly hygge-esque moment that treadmill box has now become a fort for the kids and takes up 1/8th of our bedroom!

We’re excited for 2022. We know we won’t accomplish all this overnight and it’ll be a year long pursuit of making small changes regularly but having the focus on hygge and health helps to keep us focused as we make decisions each day.

We hope your year is full of anticipation and promise!