What is a healthier alternative to coffee?

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There’s something comforting about a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate when it’s the beginning of Spring but the snow is still piled up around us and there’s a chill in the air — especially when it’s the end of March but it looks and feels like December!

I’m definitely feeling done with winter here in Minnesota. How about you?  

But before we give in and pour that first (or third) cup of coffee of the day or treat ourselves to a hot chocolate, let’s consider if either is the best choice for nourishing and taking care of our bodies.

Some people with anxiety are more prone to the agitating effects of coffee and some very sensitive people may even find the caffeine in chocolate to be too stimulating.

Psst! I’ve included a hot carob “chocolate” recipe below.

My recipe uses carob, but both cacao powder or chicory root granules are also healthier options to coffee, and work well with this recipe.

I know I don’t tolerate chocolate after about 3 pm. I once had chocolate at 9 pm and was wide awake until well after midnight! Not good.

Luckily, there are healthier alternatives to coffee AND the sugary hot chocolate you may be used to. These beneficial alternatives include carob, cacao, and chicory.

Now let’s find out why these three “c’s” are healthier alternatives to coffee — I know you, like me, want to be informed before you start making changes. So, let’s take a look.

Carob is first up as a nice alternative to coffee and chocolate. One of the main reasons is because it doesn’t contain caffeine. It does has a definite chocolate-like flavor and is something I recommend to clients who may be looking for a healthier alternative or who can’t tolerate coffee or chocolate.

Carob is also used as a replacement for cocoa in the autoimmune protocol because chocolate/cocoa/cacao comes from a bean which is inflammatory for those of us with autoimmune disease.  

Research shows that carob may actually have calming effects. It is also antioxidant rich, contains the polyphenol gallic acid which has been shown to help metabolic syndrome, has chemoprotective properties, and helps with digestion.

Sounds pretty fantastic, doesn’t it? But what does all this mean? Let me break some of those terms down for you.

Polyphenols are micronutrients that we get from plant foods. They contain a lot of antioxidants and potential health benefits. It is suggested that polyphenols improve or help treat digestion issues, weight management problems, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and cardiovascular diseases.

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Cacao is up next, and is also a delicious alternative to coffee if you can tolerate chocolate but want a healthier option. Raw cacao is similar to cocoa as in it is made from the same bean, but unlike cocoa it is made from unroasted cacao beans preserving more of the beneficial properties that are lost to the high heat used to produce cocoa.

Both copper and zinc (which work best together) are present in cacao. And, cacao is high in magnesium which many of us are deficient in. Added to a smoothie in the morning, it can give you a boost of nutrients with all the appeal of chocolate.  

Chicory is last, but not least. It has long been used as a coffee alternative as it has no caffeine, but a similar rich, roasted, and bitter flavor. Chicory is also brewed like coffee (no need to put away that coffee maker!). It comes from the root of the chicory plant which has prebiotic fibers to help feed those beneficial bacteria that live in your gut, helping your immune system work properly.

Other prebiotic foods include apples, bananas, berries, broccoli, cabbage, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, kale, onion, and root veggies.

Here’s the recipe for you to try:

Hot Carob “Chocolate”

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup of boiling water

  • 1 Tbsp carob powder (or cacao)

  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

  • Coconut milk (full-fat canned)

Instructions:

  • Boil the water, add carob (or cacao) and cinnamon and top with coconut milk and stir until combined.

  • The carob tends to settle at the bottom after a bit so you’ll need to stir it about half way through drinking.

  • Note: If using chicory, brew the chicory in water first, and then stir in cinnamon and coconut milk.

Serves: 1

Enjoy!

If you are looking for more ways to nourish your body, take charge of your nutritional health, or better manage a chronic illness through diet, I’m your girl. Simply fill out this contact form, and I will be in touch soon.

In health,

Stephanie