Tag Archives: Coffee

What Makes A Great Cup Of Coffee Great?

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If you are a coffee fanatic, you can attest to the myriad of taste varieties and characteristics this drink exhibits. Some come with earthy tones and sweet fruity aromas while others have floral and tea-like flavors. This spurs curiosity as to what really brings about this broad spectrum of savory experiences with the beverage. Besides, it would be interesting to find out how to bring your desired flavor profile into your home-made brew. So, what makes a great cup of coffee?

There are different factors that determine the taste of coffee in your cup. Though the origin and processing of the coffee bean contribute to its taste by large, the preparation method and handling while at home affects the outcome as well. Here are some of the ways you can ensure a great cup of coffee: Continue reading

Our Favorite Fall Coffee Drink Recipes!

One of the nice things about temperatures finally coming down and scarves coming out is that we can finally drink ALL THE COFFEE WE WANT WITHOUT SWEATING IN OUR LIVING ROOM. Not that it ever stopped us before. Trolling Pinterest, we found some amazing recipes you might want to try in your own home this fall:

For the Fancy Coffee Drinkers:
Caramel Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Whole & Heavenly Oven

pumpkin spice Continue reading

Are You Unnecessarily Severe with Yourself and Your Habits?

coffeepouring-300x169“All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.

– Samuel Johnson, as quoted in James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson

I often think about this remark by Samuel Johnson.

Because I’ve been so focused on habits over the past few years, during the writing of Better Than Before, people often talk to me about the habits they want to change.

And although I have so many strategies and ideas that I’ve identified to help people master their habits, to my surprise, I frequently find myself making the case against changing a habit. Continue reading

Your Guide to the Most Essential Kitchen Tools for Happy Cooking

A healthy kitchen calls for high-quality, efficient kitchenware. Here are a few of my favorites – you may recognize them from many of my recipes. Each of these is nothing short of an essential tool for my kitchen.

blenderBlendtech high-speed blender. It’s a pricey bit of machinery but it is well worth it. Like the Vitamix, it’s more expensive competitor, this blender pulverizes anything into a fine flour, dough or liquid without a ‘sandy’ texture. Makes the smoothest smoothies, grinds nuts into nut milk, and dough from dates and nuts. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use it at least once.

Coffee grinder. I grind everything but coffee with this. I grind nuts and seeds and make small amount of flour from oats and dried fruit. It is the equipment that I tend to give to my kids to use while they are “helping” me in the kitchen. Because the grinder will only grind if the top is on securely, it is totally safe in the hands of a 2-year-old. Also, it makes a great sound and has ultimate impact when you see it pulverize pumpkin seeds.

S_19402_LImmersion Hand Blender. I use this when I am making pureed soups. You can puree right in the pot without having to transfer the soup to a blender which makes it much easier and cleaner!. It won’t completely puree a soup with nuts in it. That you will have to do in the blender.

Mason Jars. In every size and shape. I use them for storing everything from dried goods to soups, sauces and nut milks. They are also cool looking so make a nice gift when filled with food and tied with a ribbon.

Non-stick ceramic pots and pans. I use Ozeri Green Earth. These are really incredible. They work like Teflon without the price tag and all the chemicals. These pans are free of PTFE and PFOA, and only cost ¼ of what the Teflon equivalent costs.

Good metal mixing bowls. Worth their weight in gold. I like having a set of 3 in small, medium and large.

Pyrex baking trays. I use them for roasting vegetables in the oven, cooking chicken in or baking cakes and brownies.

heart_springformSpring form pans. My newest discovery. Perfect for making any type of “no-bake” desserts. They come in cool shapes and sizes too. They can make you look like a professional when you are a first timer…

Juicer. There are a lot of juicers on the market. Unless you’re going to spend a ton of money on a cold press juicer then just an inexpensive one will do. I have the Breville Juice Fountain Plus. It clocks in at $100 with free shipping from Amazon which makes it affordable, but the downside is that if you use a juicer like this you have to drink it right away. Because of the way the juice is extracted, the enzymes start to break down within 15 minutes. Comparatively, the cold pressed juices can last up to 3 days in the refrigerator. The gold standard of cold pressed juicers is the Norwalk. I dream about this juicer but, sadly, it comes with a very steep price tag.

 

Originally posted on my website, Tapp’s Tips.

Antioxidants: The Superheroes of the Food World (Plus Recipes!)

chocolateWho loves chocolate? The best thing about dark chocolate is that it’s very rich in antioxidants. You’ve probably heard a lot about antioxidants, and many of you know what they do – but I wanted to take a closer look at why they are so essential to good health.

What is an antioxidant?

It may sound more like politics than nutrition, but antioxidants are like the superheroes of the food world, rounding up and shutting down the bad guys. The bad guys are called free radicals.

So what exactly are “free radicals” and why are they the bad guys? Simply put, “free radicals” are partial, destructive molecules. Molecules are supposed to be made up of pairs of electrons, but when a molecule has been damaged as a result of pollution, poor nutrition, pesticides, infection, stress, or just plain aging, it loses one of its electrons. These incomplete molecules wreak havoc on your system. They race through your body trying to steal an electron from complete molecules in order to complete themselves. The free radicals do an enormous amount of damage on their rampage. This is called oxidation.

Antioxidants are complete molecules that fly through your system with their little red superhero capes on, donating electrons to the incomplete molecules and stopping the free radicals in their path of destruction. No matter how many electrons these antioxidants give away, the remain stable, complete molecules. Is that a cool superhero power or what?

Think of an apple slice. It turns brown when it is exposed to the air. That is naturally occurring oxidation. If you squeeze some lemon juice on the apple slices the browning process slows down. That is because lemons contain a lot of Vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant. The antioxidants significantly slow down the oxidation process.

Where are antioxidants found?

Antioxidants are present in varying degrees in all fresh fruits and vegetables as well as meats, dark chocolate, whole grains, nuts, and even red wine. The more variety you eat, the greater your antioxidant levels will be. Eating a wide variety of foods including different  colors of fruits and vegetables will give you the best array of antioxidants.

Avoid dairy when eating antioxidant-rich foods; it can interfere with antioxidant effectiveness. Dairy is like kryptonite to antioxidants; it binds with them and reduces their potency. To ensure you get the full benefit of antioxidants, it is best to eat antioxidant rich foods away from any dairy. Have lemon or almond milk in your tea instead of milk, combine your fruit with a coconut kefir instead of dairy yogurt, and use a non-dairy milk in your smoothies to make sure these powerful little molecules have a clear and healing path.

Here are 3 antioxidant-loaded recipes – Enjoy!

 

Originally published on my blog, Tapp’s Tips.

Calling All Tea Lovers!

Red, black, green, and white! Oolong, rooibos, matcha… It all sounds very lovely and exotic. Tea can be so much more that a little bag with a string attached. Whether you’re a seasoned tea aficionado, a recovering coffee addict, or just have a mug that’s getting lonely up on the shelf, check out these articles from around the web. You’ll find tips, recipes, research, and more! What’s your favorite kind of tea? Tell us in the comments below!

Traditional chai is made with ginger, cardamom, and cloves. Mmm….

Chai: Simple Ingredients, Major Benefits (MindBodyGreen)

First thing in the morning, do you reach for the kettle or the coffee pot?

Coffee or Tea: Which Drink is Right For You? (Care2)

As though we needed science to be convinced of tea’s awesomeness!

13 Science-Backed Reasons Tea Is Awesome (Greatist)

What’s that about tea being awesome? Yeah, just can’t stress enough…

Tea Health Benefits: 8 Ways It Could Benefit Our Bodies (HuffPost)

And if you’re sick of drinking your tea and want to try something new… Green tea for deodorant?!

20 Unusual Uses for Green Tea (Yahoo! Shine)

photo by: thejbird

Is there a holistic treatment for addiction?

photo: Pink Sherbet Photography
What are you addicted to? We’re all addicted to something, right?

It’s a bold, but likely accurate, statement. In today’s episode of The Chopra Well daily series ASK DEEPAK, author Deepak Chopra, M.D. contends that addiction is essentially the memory of pain and pleasure. For the most part, human beings seek out pleasure and strive to minimize pain. Even when that which pleases us also brings us pain, the memory of pleasure calls to us over and over.

When I reach for my coffee mug every morning, what drives me is the memory of bitter and slightly sweet warmth filling my throat and shocking my system into alertness. I can also recall headaches, restlessness, and fatigue from days I skipped the java – things I would rather forget and bury under steaming mugfulls.

I do not intend to trivialize other, more serious addictions — addictions that destroy relationships and end lives. But there is a spectrum of addictive behaviors. Our task, according to Deepak, is to first commit to changing our behavior. Then we can begin to create new powerful memories to overcome the ones that shackle us to our addictions.

In the video, Deepak explains that memories are stored in our core consciousness as “seed consciousness.” That is why they can never be fully erased – although new research suggests there may be ways to chemically suppress negative emotions associated with painful memories.

Short of chemical intervention, there are only spiritual remedies for addiction. These remedies transcend modern medical and psychological treatments to situate healing in the sufferer’s own hands. We can thus tap into higher consciousness, expand our awareness, and witness the vast array of responses and behaviors that are available to us. Here’s how.

If you can’t get rid of the memory, Deepak suggests you overshadow it. Create a new memory that is stronger than the one causing the addiction. He outlines three steps that will set you on the right track to holistic treatment:

1.     Transcend addiction through meditation. Go beyond the field of memories to the field of pure potentiality, which characterizes the meditative state.
2.     Plant new seed memories of joy, love, and pleasure. Music, massage, aromatherapy, physical detoxification, and color therapy can be effective treatments. And remember, alcohol and all other substances are poor substitutes for love. Reach out to someone and work on developing meaningful relationships.
3.     Deepen your meditation practice. Explore forms of contemplative, self-aware, transcendent, introceptive, and vipassana meditation. Deepak assures us that through meditation we can begin to detach ourselves from toxic emotions and habits.

Other components of holistic treatment for addiction may involve creative expression, sacred dance, Ayurvedic nutrition, yoga, and exercise. Explore Intent Blog, The Chopra Center, and Deepak’s website for more inspiration.

By embarking on a holistic treatment plan, are we just substituting one addiction for another? Coffee for meditation. Alcohol for exercise. The key is to remain connected to “the source,” as Deepak explains, which is the soul or higher consciousness. As long as we remain conscious of our emotions and memories, without letting them control us, we stand a fair chance of living a healthy, free, and fulfilling life.

More Resources:

For a comprehensive, residential addiction treatment program, visit Paradise Valley Wellness Centre in Vancouver, Canada, partnered with The Chopra Center

Read Freedom From Addiction by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and David Simon, M.D., which covers medical and spiritual dimensions of addiction treatment.

Can I Reduce Physical Pain? Ask Deepak!

Motivation and Hardwiring the Brain | Ask Deepak!

Start your meditation practice TODAY with The Chopra Well’s daily show, THE MEDITATOR.

Is Tea the New Coffee?

There is a not so quiet revolution brewing all around us.  If you’re a coffee drinker, you may not have even noticed.  Tea is taking over, not only our imaginations, but it is changing the retail landscape as well.  Specialty tea shops are opening at a record pace, in response to growing demand.  Astute entrepreneurs are aware of the recent Agriculture Canada food-trends study, projecting that tea consumption will grow by 40 per cent by 2020.  That is a lot of tea!  And the U.S. Tea Association confirms this trend, seeing a dramatic rise in tea imports in 2010, up 10 per cent from the previous year.  This, in an economy where most industries are not faring so well.

This news is not too surprising to me, as I’ve always been a loyal tea only drinker.  Coffee has never captured my palate, although I do admit the aroma is often seductive.  Although I’ve taken a sip on several occasions to try it, I quickly return to tea.

 

Tea is associated with great history and ceremony.   After water, tea is the world’s most widely consumed beverage.  Its origins date back to Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, 2737 B.C., where it is reported that a leaf from a nearby tree, blew into a pot of water he was boiling.

 

When I think of the descriptions associated with tea – steeped, infused, restorative, contemplative, inner peace and calm – I might be inclined to call it the yoga of hot drinks.  In many ways, tea is the direct opposite of coffee.  Coffee is often linked to hectic schedules and energy rushes in the midst of stress-filled days. Tea is associated with comfort, slowing down the pace and with tradition and ritual.   Coffee stimulates. Tea calms.  While coffee disrupts sleep and can create an acid stomach, tea soothes and restores.  Coffee is percolated and guzzled, providing a buzz.  Tea is steeped then sipped, and can bring you back to your centre.

 

Branding consultant Bruce Philp has explained that everyone can find a way to engage and introduce tea into their lives.  “Tea is intimately social, it’s contemplative and the experience you have is enlightening.  That’s rarefied air – I don’t think there are many other beverages that can compete.”  High tea offers a celebratory and refined experience.  Afternoon tea offers an opportunity to take a moment out of our hectic day and relax.  And the comforting and consoling nature of tea, when we are either sick or melancholic, is well-known. 

 

Tea is fast becoming a staple of the health conscious as well.  Rich in antioxidants and providing a healthy boost to the cardiovascular system, tea is an ideal complement to today’s wellness movement.  Specialty teas are even showing up in coffee shops across North America.  Perhaps the most popular is green tea, as its numerous health benefits have been widely reported in the last few years.  Teas generally have a long and rich healing history in most cultures, with many herbal combinations available now for all that ails you.  When you check the names of some of the popular blends, you’ll see the wide range of health concerns they address.  From sleep problems to weight loss, immune boosting to stress relief, almost any health issue you face, has a tea available to help you.

 

Although there is an ongoing debate about the caffeine content of coffee compared with that of tea, according to the Tea Advisory Panel, tea contains significantly less caffeine than coffee.  Only ⅓ the amount when comparing cup for cup.  And, because tea contains approximately 99 per cent water, it is an important source of fluid and can count towards your daily recommended intake.

 

All tea is not created equal.  Black, green, oolong and white teas are derived from the leaves of the evergreen shrub, Camellia sinensis.  Herbal teas don’t have tea leaves but are created from herbs and spices. The most popular growth in retail tea shops is in the loose-leaf category, where consumers purchase their teas to take home and brew.  The range of varieties available is quite impressive. 

 

How do you create your own perfect cup of tea?  Use a teapot which you have rinsed out first with warm or hot water.  Start with fresh cold water and bring to a rolling boil.  Never add the bag or leaves to a pot of boiled water, but always pour your boiled water over the leaves or tea bags.  Generally one teaspoon of tea to four ounces of water is a good ratio.  Steep black and herbal teas for five minutes.  Green and oolong, three to four.  Apparently serious tea drinkers only add a mere touch of milk to their cup.  I’m a bit of a rebel here, as I choose to use organic cream (cream is generally a no-no) and much more than a touch, but I use no sweetener at all.

 

So, I admit that tea has become an important part of my daily ritual.  To add to my previous piece about the benefits of walking, I now take a purposeful walk each morning to my neighborhood Starbucks and patiently wait.  Not to order some complicated morning coffee, but to stand in line, quietly anticipating my daily cup of tea.  Make mine a chai.  In India, chai means tea.  Mine is a venté with one loose-leaf filter bag of organic black tea, perfectly blended with delicate and exotic spices.  Who would choose coffee with this rich treat available to start your day?  Apparently I’m not alone, as I’ve read that many confirmed coffee lovers now equally indulge in chai.  I leave the shop to finish my walk, sipping my cup of chai.  I feel in harmony with my surroundings.  I continue my walk in a state of peaceful inner calm.  All this, from a simple cup of tea. 

 

So which one appeals to your palate – tea or coffee?

 

Visit me at beverleygolden.com

 

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / dragonflysky

 

 

Weekly Health Tip: Functional Foods – How Do You Separate the Hype from the Health?

 

 

If you’re concerned with eating healthy, you may have heard about “functional foods.” Nutritionists and marketers use this term to describe foods that go beyond the basics of supplying nutrients to the body and appear to help ward off and combat certain chronic illnesses.

In a way, these foods are misnamed–they are far more than simply functional. The New York Times calls them “foods with benefits.” While many functional foods deliver real potential health benefits, consumers need to be aware of packaged foods that use the term mostly as a marketing tool. To make smart choices, you have to distinguish the products that offer more hype than health from the foods that may really make a difference.

 Traditional healthy choices are now healthier than ever. Your whole life you’ve probably been told that you need to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to stay healthy. Now researchers believe these foods are even better for you than initially thought. Fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in color, are among the top functional foods. Fruits such as blueberries and red cherries come loaded with antioxidants called flavonoids; and carrots, spinach, kale, and sweet potatoes are packed with antioxidants called carotenoids. These antioxidants play a role in reducing the risk of some types of cancer and heart disease by neutralizing free radicals, which are unstable atoms or molecules in the body that cause cell damage.

 Vitamins A, C, and E in many of these fruits and vegetables also act as antioxidants. Tomatoes, especially those made into processed tomato products like sauce or ketchup, have the added bonus of lycopene, a type of antioxidant that has been shown to bolster prostate health. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, have been linked to lowering cancer risk, and garlic and onions have demonstrated detoxicating effects on the body. Whole grains seem to offer protection against coronary disease.

 Fish, another functional food, also wards off heart disease and lowers blood pressure. Salmon, sardines, and tuna deliver high doses of Omega-3, also known as the “good” fat. The Omega-3 fatty acids in fish have hypotensive properties due to their stimulation of hormone-like compounds called “prostaglandins” which regulate the balance of salt retention and water excretion. This hypotensive effect is especially pronounced in individuals with hypertension, atherosclerosis, and hypercholesterolemia. Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce inflammation in the body that can damage blood vessels. When it comes to eating sea creatures, however, there is a catch. Many contain high levels of mercury and other contaminants, so follow the American Heart Association’s recommendation and try to eat fish at least two times a week, but don’t go overboard. For alternative sources of Omega-3, try beans, walnuts, and flax seed.

 Some “treats” pack an unexpected health punch. While you might expect fish, fruit, and veggies to be extra healthy, it may come as a welcome surprise to find that some “indulgences” are considered functional foods as well. Yogurt, red wine, and coffee have all been found to contain ingredients that appear to give the body a boost.

 Yogurts are creamy, versatile treats jam-packed with health benefits. It’s a great source of calcium, which is known to prevent osteoporosis and promote bone health. Yogurts also contain probiotics – the “good bacteria” we all need in our bodies to maintain our immune and digestive health. Probiotic foods can also help in the treatment of urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, and diarrhea.

 When it comes to red wine, you may now think of enjoying a glass at night as a way of helping your heart. Red wine is rich in flavonoids, as well as resveratrol, an antioxidant that some researchers believe offers protection from diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Resveratrol comes from the grape skins, and since red wine ferments longer with its skins than white wine, it has more of this palliative ingredient. Too much alcohol can be harmful to your health, so don’t overdo it. Try keeping your red wine consumption to a glass with dinner. For those who don’t drink at all, grapes and grape juice may offer similar benefits. Pomegranate juice, with its deep red color, is another alternative, offering more antioxidants than many other types of juice.

 Doctors have long warned about the risks of consuming too much caffeine, but recent studies have shown that drinking modest amounts of coffee may actually help fight cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. Note that drip coffees are thought to be healthier than unfiltered coffee drinks like lattes because the paper captures elements in the coffee that may raise cholesterol levels.

 The antioxidants in black tea also promote better health, and green tea is highly regarded as a major functional food. Green tea contains high levels of catechins, which are potent antioxidants shown to help lower cholesterol by blocking its absorption from the gastrointestinal tract as well as promoting its fecal elimination.

 Functional foods with “health” added.   You’ll also find the term “functional foods” applied to products that have ingredients added to them to increase their healthful potential. While marketers use this as a selling point, some of these products can have genuine benefits. Buttery spreads with added Omega-3 may promote better heart health than unfortified butter. Orange juice fortified with calcium may help fortify bones and fight osteoporosis, and the vitamin C naturally found in oranges may inhibit cancer. But don’t always believe the hype. Do your own research on packaged foods that tout better heart health or claim to fight cancer, and weigh the nutritional value against their unprocessed counterparts.  The actual orange fruit, for example, is still going to provide more nutritional value than most fortified orange juices, which are much higher in sugar and do not contain fiber to slow down absorption.

 Overall, functional foods that are unprocessed and unpackaged have more potential to improve your well-being. Also take a closer look at the labels on those “health”-added products to make sure you know what ingredients you’re actually eating and how much the product contains. Keep up with the latest studies and consumer reports to know which foods will truly help your body function at its best.

  For more about healthy food choices:

 

 

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