Archive | April 2014

Ayurvedic Roast™ vs. Teeccino®: A Taste-Off!!

For those of you who tuned in last week, you read my glowing review of the organic herbal coffee alternative, Ayurvedic Roast™. And I mentioned that I had, in the past, tried Teeccino®, the reigning “champ” so to speak in the world of coffee alternatives. Now, as in the world of sports, you can only remain a champ so long as someone better doesn’t come along and take the title from you. I mentioned that I read online that “a blind taste test was conducted comparing Ayurvedic Roast™ with the top three coffee substitutes on the market (of which I’m certain Teeccino was included). Over 200 people tasted all four herbal coffees, with Ayurvedic Roast™ being chosen as the best tasting by the highest percentage of participants.” But since it had been years since I’d tried Teeccino, I thought it was only fair to do a current taste-off now that I’d discovered a viable contender.

ARvsTC
So I went out to Wild By Nature in Oceanside, NY to pick up a bag of the Teeccino and selected their Vanilla Nut flavor so that it would be the closest flavor in comparison to the French Vanilla Ayurvedic Roast from last week’s review. Taste aside, there are a few obvious differences in the two…While Ayurvedic Roast has a slightly higher cost, it is Certified Organic, is nut-free (which could be important for those with nut allergies), and contains the added benefit of a few key Ayurvedic herbs. Both Ayurvedic Roast and Teeccino are naturally caffeine-free, vegan, and are similar in calories per serving (approximately 20), with very little sodium, sugar, and carbohydrates (0-1% each).  I made an a handy little table summarizing the differences and similarities below…because honestly, who doesn’t love a table 😛

Ayurvedic Roast™

Teeccino®

Retail Price per 11oz

$12.95

$9.99

Caffeine-Free

Yes

Yes

Certified Organic

Yes

No

Nut-Free

Yes

No

Contains Ayurvedic,
Antioxidant Herbs

Yes

No

Ingredients

Organic roasted barley, organic roasted rye, organic roasted chicory, organic ashwagandha, organic shatavari, organic brahmi, organic french vanilla flavor.

Roasted organic carob, organic barley, organic chicory, dates, almonds, organic dates, natural vanilla extract, natural nut flavor, figs.

 

Once I got home, I set out to further examine the contents and did a visual comparison of bags’ contents:

grindscomparison

I found the Ayurvedic Roast to be visually more comparable to coffee, whereas the Teeccino looked a bit like potting soil. As for the smell test, Ayurvedic Roast was the winner yet again. It was again more “coffee-like” with a milder, more natural vanilla smell. In contrast, the Teeccino had an artificial alcohol-like smell that I did not find very appealing.

But, the most important thing to me (and I’d imagine, to the average consumer) is taste. So, just as I had done for last week’s review of the Roast, I brewed the grinds using my drip coffee maker and about 1 rounded tsp of grinds per cup. At this stage of the experiment, the two brews were about the same color and looked similar when poured straight from the pot into a cup.

blackincupcomparison

As you can see, they are visually similar, but one thing I noticed is that the Teeccino seemed “thicker.” Almost like how coffee that’s been sitting too long on a burner gets. Anyway, as I prepared for the taste-test finale, I added my usual almond milk creamer and a bit of coconut sugar to the Teeccino and…well…I wasn’t very impressed. As I suspected, the sludgy nature of the Teeccino left my coffee looking too dark. I think I even added a bit more creamer to try to get it lighter, but here was my result:

withcreamercomparison

While the Teeccino was less visually appealing at this point, I still tried to be optimistic and closed my eyes for a taste test….And as I expected, I was very underwhelmed. Actually, I couldn’t even finish the whole cup. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was I didn’t like about it, but the words “chemical-y” and “artificial” came to mind.

The Winner?  Ayurvedic Roast   …  by a LANDSLIDE, in my opinion.

photo 2(1)

Ayurvedic Roast™ for the WIN!

Basically, if you’re looking for a delicious coffee alternative, spend a few extra dollars for something that actually tastes like coffee.  Nothing against Teeccino personally, but I just don’t think the taste comes even close to what I consider good tasting coffee. Maybe it got so popular because, until recently, it was the best tasting option available. Or maybe because they have more marketing manpower. I don’t know…but their stuff isn’t very delicious, if you ask me.

The good news is, if you’ve tried Teeccino and actually like it, well then, your mind is going to be freaking BLOWN when you get your mitts on this Ayurvedic Roast!  Seriously.  Don’t just take my word for it though…order a bag or sample online and try it yourself. (You’re going to want to order the 11oz bag thought…trust me…because it’s fantastic and 1 oz sample will not be enough).

More people need to find out about this Ayurvedic Roast, if you ask me. I’ve actually contacted the company and am going to see if I can help get it into some stores in my area. If you try it and love it as much as I do, you should do the same!

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Ayurvedic Roast™ Review: I can’t believe it’s not coffee!

Hi all! So in case you missed it last week, I elaborated on my absolute love of coffee yet my desire to find a caffeine free alternative that could help me cut back 0r (gasp) even quit caffeine. Well, one day…maybe…haha…but at least cut back. In case you missed the post in which I shared some of the negative (sigh) effects of long term caffeine consumption, check it out here.

I should mention that I’ve tried Teeccino and Pero, two fairly well known coffee substitutes. While they weren’t bad, I didn’t find them comparable enough to be able to replace my beloved java. Sort of like how I feel about chai…it’s good, but it’s not coffee.  So after scouring the internet for other options, I came across this brand called Ayurvedic Roast that had glowing reviews for tasting the most like coffee. I read that “a blind taste test was conducted comparing Ayurvedic Roast™ with the top three coffee substitutes on the market (of which I’m certain Teeccino & Pero were included). Over 200 people tasted all four herbal coffees, with Ayurvedic Roast™ being chosen as the best tasting by the highest percentage of participants.”  On top of that, the stuff brews just like coffee. You can boil it, use a regular drip coffee maker, a coffee or tea press or espresso machine.

My interest was, understandably, piqued.

The info on the site was impressive. It’s 100% certified organic, GMO-free, non-acidic, vegan, and naturally caffeine free. Its unique formula is comprised of barley, rye, chicory root, and includes three antioxidant, adaptogenic, and immunity-enhancing organic ayurvedic herbs: Ashwagandha (an anti-oxidant that boosts the immune system, eases anxiety, helps regulate blood sugar, and can help lower both cholesterol cortisol levels); Shatavari (helps with mood, digestion, and fertility); and also Brahmi (which helps maintain mental clarity, increase circulation, and improve thyroid function).

photo 1(1)

So I ordered a bag of the vanilla and, after talking to a gentleman at the company about my plans to review the coffee for my site, had a bag of the original flavor included for a comparison. It’s reasonably priced, and I was very eager to see if it lived up to the hype from the site and other reviews I found online…but tasting is believing.

When my package arrived, I was somewhat skeptical (as any die hard coffee lover would be) but very excited. Upon opening the packages, both the vanilla and original smelled coffee-like out of the gates…the vanilla marginally more so. And the grounds looked coffee-like. So far I was pretty impressed.photo 5

photo 4

Look pretty coffee-like to me!

I decided to brew it as I normally would…using my drip coffee maker. I used about 1 rounded tsp per cup, as I normally would with coffee grounds.

photo 3

Very impressed with the dark, coffee-like color! To the naked eye, I wouldn’t know it wasn’t coffee!

As it brewed, I was very impressed with the coloring. And as I poured it into my cup and added a bit of coconut sugar and homemade almond milk creamer (the way I normally have my coffee at home), I was pleasantly surprised at how much it looked like my usual coffee!

photo 2

Straight out of the pot

photo 1

With my almond milk creamer and coconut sugar…Looks yummy!!

Looked good. Smelled good. But now for the real test…the TASTE test…

DELICIOUS !!!!!! Wow! I was seriously blown away. Taste-wise, I prefer the vanilla (marginally) over the original, but then again, I also like flavored coffee. Either way, both taste so much like coffee that I almost wouldn’t know the difference if I hadn’t made it myself.

photo 2(1)

You’re looking at a VERY satisfied customer! I can’t believe it’s not coffee!

And as the day went on, I felt surprising very alert, even with no caffeine!  And because I can prepare it just like I do my coffee, it feels the same as far as my morning ritual!

If you’ve ever considered cutting back on caffeine, or even if you haven’t and just want to try a healthy, yummy drink, I HIGHLY recommend trying Ayurvedic Roast. So far, it’s available only online, but I feel so excited about the product that I’m going to see if I can help get it into some stores around me.

Hmmm…now that it’s getting warmer, I may have to try it iced as well 😉

Cheers!

Ciao for now!

-E

Caffeine…things that make you go “hmmm”

As you may have gathered by now, I love coffee. I love the smell, the taste, the ritual of drinking it in the morning. I love coffee shops, getting together with friends or a date for hot cup of java. So why bother with a coffee substitute when the real thing tastes so good?

Well, there’s a lot of debate out there about whether or not coffee is healthy for you. Especially in the abundance we Americans (especially New Yorkers ;-)) drink on the daily. Processed mainly through the liver, caffeine has a relatively short half-life. This means it takes about five to seven hours, on average, to eliminate half of it from your body. So if you’re having 2 cups in the morning and one in the afternoon, that’s almost like being (at least mildly) caffeinated round the clock.

Renowned physician Dr. Mark Hyman wrote a detailed article on the ways that caffeine (cumulatively and in excess) could have a negative impact on one’s health:

  • The caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines, your stress hormones. The stress response triggers cortisol and increases insulin. Insulin increases inflammation and this makes you feel lousy.

  • Habituation to caffeine decreases insulin sensitivity, making it difficult for your cells to respond appropriately to blood sugar. High blood sugar levels lead to arterial deterioration and increased risk of mortality related to cardiovascular disease.

  • Unfiltered coffee has the highest amount of beneficial antioxidants yet also leaks the most diterpenes into your system. These diterpenes have been linked to higher levels of triglycerides, LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and VLDL levels.

  • The helpful chlorogenic acids which may delay glucose absorption in the intestine have also been shown to increase homocysteine levels- an indicator for increased risk of cardiovascular disease which tends to be elevated in diabesity.

  • The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heart burn, GERD and dysbiosis (imbalances in your gut flora).

  • Addiction is often an issue with coffee drinkers and makes it really difficult to rely on the body’s natural source of energy. Ask any coffee drinker about how it feels to withdraw from coffee, and you will mistake their story for that of a drug addict’s…

  • Associative addictions trend with coffee – who doesn’t immediately think of warm, frothy sweet cream and sugar when they picture coffee? Surely the business of coffee has inspired a culture addicted to the sugary, fatty tastes of what has become more of a meal then a drink…Enter the beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte

  • 5-HIA, an organic acid and component of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the happy chemical) seen in the urine tends to be elevated in coffee drinkers which means they may be at risk for lower levels of serotonin synthesis in the brain. Serotonin is necessary for normal sleep, bowel function, mood, and energy levels. It is a vicious cycle as caffeine can disrupt sleep and promote anxiety and depression.

  • Elevated urinary excretion of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium have been noted in coffee drinkers. An imbalance in your electrolyte status can lead to serious systemic complications.

  • Constituents in coffee can interfere with normal drug metabolism and detoxification in the liver making it difficult to regulate the normal detoxification process in the liver. Another issue to be aware of with coffee intake is how certain medications such as levothyroxine (thyroid) as well as tricyclic antidepressants are poorly absorbed, making symptoms curiously worse for patients.

Now, I like a caffeine buzz as much as the next person, but I have questioned whether or not my daily coffee consumption is helpful or harmful. Especially when I’ve read information like what Dr. Hyman and other health professionals have said about too much caffeine. I don’t think caffeine is the worst thing I could put in my body, but I certainly file this information under “things that make you go hmmmm.”

So what’s a coffee-lover to do? As I mentioned, I love so much about the coffee drinking experience.  Decaf coffee is over-processed and, in my opinion, just gross; and hot tea doesn’t cut the mustard…But I’d love to find something that I could substitute even if just here and there to drink less caffeine over all.

What if there was something out there that tasted like coffee and still gave you the energy boost but without the caffeine crash and the negative effects like insulin resistance, elevated triglycerides, etc??

I know it sounds too good to be true…but I searched high and low and much to my surprise (and excitement!) I found such a product!! Stay tuned, because a writeup and review of this delightful drink will be coming very soon 🙂

Ciao for now!

-E

Liquid Armor Coffee

The time has come for me to post the much anticipated (at least I’d like to think so) recipe for my delicious, and relatively nutritious, Liquid Armor Coffee!!  As I mentioned previously, this is my modified take on the over-hyped BulletProof ® coffee that has Paleo enthusiasts, cross fitters, and even just us regular folks who love a tasty cup of joe, going crazy and jumping on the buttered/oiled coffee bandwagon.

So, in case you haven’t come across the heavily promoted (and in my opinion, overpriced) recipe for this coffee that will, metaphorically, protect you from being pumped full of encapsulated explosives…here’s the scoop. Basically, you need to buy the coffee that that the BulletProof® head honcho endorses. It’s around $20 for a 12 oz bag because it’s organic and low in mytotoxins, which supposedly will make you feel better than any coffee you’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about paying extra for healthy foods if it’s going to make a significant difference, but to be honest, the coffee I buy for $6 to $8 at Trader Joe’s tastes great and makes me feel pretty darn good, and who’s to say what level of mytotoxins is in your average cup of coffee, particularly if you buy organic. That said, I will at least give credit to the Bulletproof site for mentioning tips to finding the highest performance coffee in your city if you don’t want to pay for the stuff they market on their site.

photo 1

Can you tell I love this place? haha

Anyway, the special, pricey beans are part of the deal…another ingredient you “need” is a special MCT oil (Medium Chain Triglycerides…just scientific jargon for healthy fats) that is supposedly 6x stronger than coconut oil.  Well, at $30 for a 32 oz bottle, it’s also about 6 times more expensive than the organic, deliciously flavorful coconut oil I get at old reliable Trader Joe’s. Coconut oil is loaded with health benefits all on its own, …so I personally don’t think it’s worth the upgrade.

And lastly, the original recipe calls for 1-2 tablespoons grass-fed, unsalted butter or ghee. I’ve tried my Liquid Armor using both options (unsalted butter & ghee) and I didn’t care for it. I prefer mine with straight up coconut oil, but you’re welcome to experiment and find what you like.

Now for the big reveal…my Liquid Armor Coffee Recipe!

What you’ll need:

1-2 Tablespoons organic coconut oil (can use 1 Tbsp coconut oil & 1 Tbsp unsalted butter or ghee, but I prefer just coconut oil)
8 oz freshly brewed coffee (use filtered water and, ideally a French Press, but I usually just use a regular drip coffee pot and mine tastes delicious)
Blender (I use NutriBullet)

photo 5

I always use this coconut oil, and this is one of my favorites of Trader Joe’s coffee.

The instructions are very simple:

1. Brew coffee and add to blender (yes, while hot)
2. Plop in coconut oil (and, if you would like to try it, unsalted butter or ghee)*

photo 2

Steps 1 + 2…. I know what you’re thinking…Oil? In my coffee??? But what about my milk? creamer? How will I get it the right caramel-y color??

3. Blend 20-30 seconds until frothy.
Just a tip that with the NutriBullet, sometimes the cap feels stuck after you turn it over. I think it’s a combo of heat and pressure buildup while blending. I find that turning the blender over (lid facing up) and letting it set for 30    seconds or so before opening usually does the trick!

picstitch

It will turn a lovely, creamy caramel color…and check out that foam!! 🙂 ❤

4. Pour into your favorite mug/to-go cup and enjoy an awesome tasting cup of coffee with latte-like foam that will make you feel satisfied, focused, and energized 🙂

And there you have it!

Trust me, I was skeptical myself…but now that I’ve made it, I’m hooked. It’s so delicious, natural, and satisfying, but you’ll never know unless you try it. Don’t worry, you can always go back to using the Almond Milk Creamer you just made from my recipe, but this offers a decadent and healthy variation 😉  *You can also add in some cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or sugar (I like brown or coconut sugar), but try it first as is because it’s so yummy, you probably won’t even want to mess with it.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your blender, give it a whirl, and let me know what you think!

Ciao for now,

-E

Homemade, Raw Almond Milk Creamer

Time for another recipe! I know I promised I’d let you in on my Liquid Armor coffee concoction…and I will…but first, I wanted to share with you my latest discovery/creation: Almond Milk Coffee Creamer.  It’s so easy to make, and it’s 100% natural…no added chemicals, preservatives, or processed sweeteners. Plus, I find that the store-bought almond milk in my coffee never turns it the right color. I like mine to be a deliciously smooth caramel color. So after stumbling on a few recipes online for homemade almond milk, I decided to tweak it a bit to make a more concentrated, creamier…um…creamer!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup raw almonds (preferably organic), soaked in water 6-10 hours and rinsed well

  • 1-2 cups filtered water (for blending)*

  • High-powered blender (I used a NutriBullet)

  • Nut milk bag (<- click to go to eBay link where I ordered mine. You could also use a fine strainer or cheese cloth, but I highly recommend getting a nut milk bag…They’re inexpensive and work great!)

*As an aside, you could use this same recipe and make regular almond milk (rather than creamer)…just increase the water to 3-4 cups.

Instructions

  • Measure almonds into a bowl and add enough water so that the almonds are completely submerged. Let soak 6-10 hours.

photo 1(1)

These just finished soaking…left them on the counter for 8 hours with the bowl covered in plastic wrap.

  • After the almonds have soaked, drain the water, rinse with purified water, and drain again.

  • Combine soaked, rinsed almonds & 1-2 cups filtered water (less water = more concentrated, creamier almond milk) into a high-powered blender. Again, I used a NutriBullet and, to clarify, I used the “extractor blade” (pictured below …because you are essentially “extracting” the milk from the almonds…as opposed to the other “milling” blade typically used for milling grains, grinding fresh herbs and chopping nuts. (again, I used NutriBullet)

    nutribullet blade

    NutriBullet “Extractor” Blade

photo 2(1)

  • Blend until very smooth and creamy.
photo 3(1)

Isn’t this awesome!?! It’s like magic 🙂

  • Position the nut milk bag over a large bowl or container (I like using a square one so I can easily pour from that to another container to keep in the fridge as my creamer), then pour the blender contents into the bag to strain.

    photo 4

    This is the gloriously creamy Almond Milk that will come out of the bag 🙂

  • Squeeze the bag well, until only dry/damp almond pulp remains in the bag. (You can keep the the leftover almond pulp in a container for another recipe…like Paleo Banana Fritter Bites!!)

photo 5

Leftover almond meal from the nut milk bag! I use it as is to make my Banana Fritter Bites…one batch makes me about 3 servings of the fritters!

Transfer the almond milk to a sealed container (I used a rinsed out Coffeemate container that my roommate had, but anything you can pour from will work), and store in the fridge for up to a week.

coffee creamer container

And there you have it! The stuff is delicious and nutritious 🙂  I haven’t tried adding anything to the creamer yet, but I’d imagine you could play around with adding things like cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. If any of you make it and try some variations, please feel free to share!

Ciao for now!

-E