Coffee Alternatives: Why You Might Want to Try Them and What to Try!

I don’t drink coffee. And not because I don’t like it. I LOVE it. And not because it isn’t healthy, it is.

The sad state of affairs is that when I drink coffee I get reflux and nausea. Every. Single. Time. But more than that. For me, it also leads to anxiety.

This is something I see commonly with my patients and clients. Yes, even with “just” one cup in the morning. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not vilifying your coffee. There are many benefits (I’ll get into that in another post). But if you have anxiety, headaches, reflux, fatigue, or high blood pressure it might be worth seeing what life is like without coffee. After all, you can’t make an educated decision if you don’t know how you feel without it. 

Here are some of the reasons that people tell me they drink coffee (and my typical counterargument for those who may do better without it.)

OK I had to put this in here. WHY WOULD ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND DO THIS?!

  • It’s delicious. (So are sour gummy bears, I don’t have those every morning.)
  • Without it they feel tired. (You don’t have a caffeine deficiency, something is making you tired and you should address that.)
  • It gives them an extra edge/they get more done. (So would cocaine. I mean it’s not going to be laced with fentanyl, and it’s legal, and has lots of benefits but if this is why you are drinking coffee ask yourself if that is ok with you? If so…good! If not, let’s look at why and what else can give more of an edge.)
  • If they don’t drink it they get headaches. (That’s withdrawal. Cutting down slowly will prevent this.)
  • The term “coffee alternatives” makes them cringe.
  • It’s a habit. (Is it a habit that is harmful to you? If so, there are lots of ways to break habits!)
  • They need it to poop! (Sure, yes. But you should be able to poop without coffee, let’s address your digestion.)
  • A family member drinks it and it’s too tempting not to when the smell is wafting through the house. (Fair…but a good enough reason? There are compromises that can be made here.)
  • A hot drink in the morning is soothing, part of a morning ritual. (There are lots of lovely drinks that can be part of a morning ritual.)

And these are all reasonable. Unless they aren’t. (more…)

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Cook This: Curried Coconut Quinoa Salmon Cakes with Cumin Aioli

I had some leftover salmon in the fridge and spent some time perusing my usual recipe haunts such as cookstr and epicurious for a salmon cake recipe to try. I made one and they fell apart (unfortunately trashed the link) and none of the other salmon cake recipes I found both fit my dietary requirements and looked remotely edible. Then I came upon a recipe for curried quinoa salmon cakes at The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen blog. I typically really like the recipes (they tend to be pretty hard core health food) on this website but these also fell apart. Then I found some random guy’s recipe blog, made a few changes and ended up with a delicious winner!

curried coconut quinoa salmon cakes with aioli photo

Mix:

•  2 cups cooked salmon, flaked. Avoid farmed salmon if you can.
•  1 cup cooked Quinoa
•  1 teaspoon curry
•  1/3 cup shredded coconut
•  1/2 stalk celery, finely chopped
•  1/2 leek cleaned and finely chopped
•  1 egg plus one egg white
•  1/4 cup mayonnaise, more if needed to hold ingredients together when you grab a handful and squeeze
•  2-3 TBSP fresh chopped parsley or basil if desired

Make into patties and pan fry. I used olive oil but if you’re going to heat to smoke point which would probably work best…I might suggest grape seed oil or actually, coconut oil since this dish already  has coconut in it. Yes, that’s what’ I’ll use next time, coconut oil. And please, don’t be stingy with the oil.

I served these with cumin aioli.

•  1/3 cup mayo. We use canola mayo because so many others have soy oil in them, and I’m not a fan.
•  1/2 tsp dijon mustard
•  1/4 tsp finely chopped or pressed fresh garlic
•  1-2 tsp ground cumin. If you have the wherewithal lightly roast fresh seeds on the stovetop then grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.
•  High quality olive oil to preferred texture. I like my aioli a little more runny when I put it on top of fish cakes.

We served this up with lemon walnut green beans. I’ll post that recipe soon.  The kid loved it all. We did too.

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Cook This: Crunchy Kale Chips

I fought this one for long—kale chips. Sounds awful delicious, right? I’d had them before. My husband would buy them at the coop and eat them as if they were going out of style. I thought they were ok but certainly not worth $8 a bag. Last weekend my sister came to visit and saw the piles of the leafy green deliciousness that we’d harvested (more about our garden project in another post) just sitting in the fridge. She talked me into trying kale chips. I’m so glad she did! The recipe took a bit of tweaking but it’s official: I’m a kale chip convert! I’ve eaten an entire head of kale a day for the last 3 days and it’s not looking like I’m letting up any time soon. And by the way…my kid loves them too!

They are a great snack that’s crunchy and salty without being fried or having a ton of unnecessary carbs. The nutritional yeast is a great source of B vitamins. If you want more snack ideas, or whether you should or shouldn’t snack, check out this post!


Ingredients

  • 1 head kale, any variety
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2-3 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • salt

What to do

  1. Preheat your oven to 300. If you have a convection function it will speed things up a bit.
  2. Take a head of kale, wash well, and tear into pieces about 3 x 3 inches.
  3. Spin in a salad spinner or lay out on a dishtowel to dry thoroughly.
  4. Once dry put in a plastic bag that you can use to shake up the kale with oil (I use the kind of bag that they provide at the supermarket for your vegetables), use about 1 TBSP+ of olive oil and 2-3 TBSP of flaked nutritional yeast. Shake shake shake.
  5. Pour out onto baking sheets in a single layer and bake for 15-20 minutes. I’ve found that one head of kale will fill about 3 baking sheets. The kale may need to be tossed or flipped midway if it’s still moist after about 10 minutes. It’s done when the pieces are crisp and crunchy and not moist. Don’t brown it though or it will get bitter!
  6. After pulling out of the oven, sprinkle with salt to desired taste.

Variations: I sometimes add cayenne to the yeast before you put on the kale, or use a different spice mix entirely. I’m going to try it this weekend without the yeast entirely and instead just use truffle salt. It may be a bit of an odd combination, We’ll see!

Enjoy,
Dr Samantha Signature siggy

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How Do You Trust Your Supplement Brand? Here is what to ask them…

Every time a new patient comes into the clinic I have ‘the supplement talk.’

Here’s the thing; no one is regulating the supplement industry. And it is indeed an industry, a big one at that. Does that mean that you can’t trust anything out there? No. It means that you need to be very careful about which supplements you buy. Just because something is expensive, doesn’t mean it is good. However, if something is very inexpensive (compared to other similar products) there is a pretty decent chance that it hasn’t been through stringent quality control. Why? Because it costs companies much more to test each batch of raw material that comes to their plants, and even more to test the final products.

So how do you know what is ok and what isn’t? As a physician, I work closely with a few companies that have stringent controls. But if you are just buying something at the store, don’t take the sales person’s word for it (they are usually trained by the companies directly), and don’t take the word of the product label either, do your own research.

Here is what I recommend:

Call the company and ask the following questions regarding supplement “X”.

1. Do you manufacture it? If no, you need to speak directly to the manufacturer. Some companies just label supplements produced by another company.

2. Do you test all raw materials that come to your plant for ingredient, contamination, and potency (if applicable?)

3. Do you test the product for quality post manufacture? If yes, is it random testing, or batch testing? And, is it done in house or by an independent testing company. Fair warning here, I did some consulting for a mass market brand where they would ‘shop’ the product having a batch tested 3 or 4 times before someone came back with the answer they wanted.

4. If I read you the batch number of the supplement “X” in my hand, can you send me a certificate of analysis. If you don’t feel 100% confident with their answers, go to another brand.

Here is a link about a lawsuit being brought against a number of high profile companies that were found to have PCBs in their fish oil. And as if that is not bad enough, many of them had statements on the labels stating that the product was “screened for PCBs” or “treated to remove PCBs.”

One online resource, the subscription site Consumer Lab does do random spot checks of many supplements. What they are trying to do is very important but the potential problem here is that just because one batch looks good doesn’t mean the manufacturer won’t change their raw materials supplier at any time, or even that the raw materials supplier is providing consistency in product.

The take home? My advice is to only by supplements from companies that have stringent quality control of their product and manufacturing from start to finish.

Yours in Health,

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