The Perfect Coffee Substitute

In Search of the perfect coffee….substitute.

Coffee and I go way back. We’re the best of friends but recently we had to break up, and that was really, really hard.

I desperately needed something that would give the beginning of each day that intimate feel of a well-worn routine that gives

satisfaction every time. Tea doesn’t cut it for me.

One of my favourite café’s is a health nut’s paradise so I decided to head down there and see what they had to offer. My first hit of the Mayan Morning was love. It's not coffee but it's smooth, creamy and has a great kick. It’s also a cupful of super-food that ends up being a meal replacement as well.

 

Mayan Morning

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp soaked cashews
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted dates
  • 3 heaping Tbsp Cacao powder
  • 1 tsp. Maca powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (more to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (to taste)

Mix all of the ingredients in a vita mixer set to the 'hot setting'. Mixing takes approx. 7 minutes.

Enjoy this piping hot beverage!

For a quick look at how to make this superfood coffee-substitute, breakfast meal replacement, check out the video in the video library. 

I’ve run across other renditions of this drink under differing names, turns out it’s a raw food staple.

The ingredients in this libation are worth spending a bit of time on. Let's look at each one of them.

Cashews are a super food with surprising benefits…but make sure to soak them first!

Cashews

Cashews have high nutritional density. They are a beautiful source of unsaturated fats, protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

But there are drawbacks; nature has endowed them with both phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. These mechanisms protect nuts/seeds from being digested when passing

through the digestive tract of animals and birds. Thus allowing germination and a new generation of plants to arise. Makes sense right?

But for us, when we ingest raw nuts and seed the phytic acid binds to minerals in our gut causing irritation. Add the enzyme inhibitors and there is a decrease of absorption of nutrients overall. Our super-food can become a super-irritant and cause deficiencies. You've gotta soak your nuts baby!

The Benefits of Soaking

Don’t get me wrong we enjoy some benefits when we eat nuts/seeds but we can enjoy even more benefits by soaking the cashews in lightly salted water for 2-3 hours and then dehydrating them prior to use. This helps to remove the phytic acid and inactivate the enzyme inhibitors.

Soaking your nuts each day can be a bit of a pain. I simply soak a large batch for 2 hours and then dehydrate them on a low setting. This way I break down the phytic acid and the enzyme inhibitors leaving my cashews ripe for digestion.

A great resource for more extensive instructions and a timetable for soaking nuts/seeds can be found on the Radiant Health blog.

Health Benefits of Cashews

Cashews have a couple of great polyphenol antioxidants: phytosterols and phenolic compounds. Antioxidants eliminate free radicals which cause cellular damage, ageing and inflammation. All of these lead to chronic disease.

Cashews are a fantastic source of absorbable magnesium, which helps to build strong bones. Magnesium regulates nerve and muscle tone and balances calcium. Magnesium helps to prevent migraines, muscle spasms, high blood pressure and it promotes regular sleep patterns. Magnesium is a mighty mineral that we need to have in balance with calcium.

The healthy fat content of cashews unsaturated fatty acids) is beneficial for heart health.

Cashews are a good source of copper and copper is an essential mineral building block for the creation of enzymes. Enzymes are one of the essential keys to vitality since enzymes are involved in every imaginable chemical process within the body.

Additional health benefits from the regular consumption of cashews include the prevention of gallstone formation and prevention weight gain.

Dates

Dates are another incredible super health food. Dates have been a food source beyond known time.

Although they are high in natural sugar they are also high in; fibre, fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals including copper, magnesium and selenium. 

Dates improve digestive health, whether the complaint is constipation or diarrhoea the fibre in dates promotes digestive health and supports our gut probiotics. There is also research being done that suggests that dates support our immune system function. Being high in selenium they may help prevent cancer.

As a source of iron, they help treat and prevent anaemia. When we’re anaemic we feel a lack of energy and our days are hampered with exhaustion.

With their high mineral content, they support bone health. One of the historical benefits of dates is for pregnant women. In biblical times they were given to pregnant women. Scientific study now shows that consuming dates leads to a far more positive labour and delivery. This would suggest that they also play a role in hormone function.

Dates are considered a treasure by the wise shamanic tribes of the Andes where they are used as a staple for longevity.

Maca

Maca Powder is a super-food from the Andes. It's actually a member of the cruciferous family ie broccoli and cauliflower.

Maca is touted as a hormone balancer used to increase fertility in both men and women.

Balancing the sex hormones has more impact on our bodies than just fertility. We feel more ‘alive’ and our energy levels rise and we release more of the ‘feel-good’ endorphins.

Hormonal balancing is also going to have a positive effect on PMS, increased libido. It makes sense that Maca is heralded as an aphrodisiac when we’re feeling positive and alive along with an increased libido we feel far more open.

For men, balancing sex hormones leads to a healthier prostate and improved sperm production, mobility and volume, ie fertility.

With all of these hormonal impacts on feelings of well-being anxiety naturally subsides making Maca a natural anti-depressant

Balancing the sex hormones also impacts adrenal and thyroid function, 2 of our major endocrine glands. Good hormonal balancing is also going to lead to better focus and an increase in overall energy.

That energy boost comes without the jitters that caffeine can sometimes give.

Maca is shown to increase levels of the body’s master anti-oxidant glutathione. Glutathione is responsible for helping maintain liver function and it also improves immune function and disease resistance.

Hormones also play an important role in blood sugar levels. This is another area of impact with Maca powder; helping to regulate blood sugar and improve glucose tolerance.

A super spice that has been in use for longer than recorded history.

Cayenne

Cayenne is one of the world’s spices that has more health benefits than you can shake a stick at. It’s been in use for millennia, possibly over 9,000 years. Its medicinal properties aren’t limited to ingesting it, it's also been used as a poultice for skin issues and for targeting joint pain.

Here is a list of some of the conditions that cayennes is known to support:

  • Fibromyalgia,
  • Heart disease
  • Arthritis
  • Headaches
  • Inflammation
  • Gut health

Cayenne aids in detoxification and in stimulating circulation. It stimulates the flow of enzymes thus making it a great digestive spice.

As a pain reliever, it acts directly on the pain nerves and decreases their sensitivity, thus decreasing the sensation of pain.

One of the old herbal tricks of cayenne was as an emergency response to heart attack. Cayenne dilates arteries while breaking down clots and deposits along the arterial walls that narrow and decrease the flexibility of our arteries. Cayenne is a wonder for heart health.

It’s also a metabolic booster that decreases overall appetite by utilizing the absorbed nutrients more efficiently. With fewer calories

going in and better utilization, the natural outcome is weight loss.

All hail mighty Cayenne Pepper!

 

Cocoa

Historically Cocoa was hailed as a food for the gods. The Latin name for Cocoa, Theobroma literally means just that: food of the gods. In Mayan, Aztec cultures the cocoa was considered so important it was used as both a form of currency and as a unit of measure. In case you were wondering 400 beans equal 1 Zontil.

In Mayan culture, it was used for rituals such as marriage and betrothals. Chocolate as a token of love has a legacy that is millennia old! With its long and rich cultural history, it’s no surprise that the health benefits of raw cocoa are multitudinous.

It is rich in flavonoids, vitamins & minerals, specifically iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc. We’ve already mentioned iron and magnesium but manganese is something you might not be familiar with. Manganese is present in every cell in the body and is a component of enzymes. Among other things, it's required for the formation of cartilage and bones and it functions as an antioxidant.

Zinc is necessary for the production of new cells and is a key for developing healthy immune cells. Without enough zinc, our ability to fight disease-causing bacteria is severely compromised.

There are two primary flavonoids in cocoa; epicatechin and catechin. These flavonoids are powerful polyphenols that act as antioxidants reducing inflammation throughout the body. Some research suggests that they may fight cancer, promote heart health by lowering blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol and increase blood flow in the arteries and if that isn’t enough, raw cocoa may also counter the effects of ageing on the brain by increasing blood flow and oxygenation to the brain. Both of which counter dementia and allow one to think more clearly.

Raw cacao also contains phenethylamine, a neurotransmitter that lifts mood and acts as an antidepressant. No wonder chocolate makes us happy!

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is another of the ancient super spices with a history steeped in ancient Egypt. Although it comes from the inner bark of a tree it is in fact classified as a spice.

Perhaps most well known are cinnamon’s effect on appetite and regulating blood sugar. Cinnamon is a boon to diabetics and pre-diabetics. Cinnamon mimics the action of insulin causing cells to uptake more sugar from the blood. In fact, cinnamon decreases the pre-diabetic condition of insulin resistance. Cinnamon also slows the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugar by interfering with numerous digestive enzymes.

Cinnamon benefits the brain by protecting it from neurogenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. There are compounds in cinnamon which inhibit the build-up of a nasty protein called tau. Tau is found in the brains of Alzheimer's suffers. It also normalizes the levels of neurotransmitters and improves motor function, which is a boon to people living with Parkinson’s disease.

There is also some research being done on Multiple Sclerosis and the effects of cinnamon which is showing some promising results. The active pathology in MS is the exposure of brain and spinal tissue to the effects of our own immune cells, MS is an auto-immune disease that attacks the nerves. Cinnamon is capable of strengthening the blood-brain barrier and the spinal blood barrier thus preventing these immune cells from directly attacking nerve tissue.

Early studies also show that cinnamon may protect us from cancers by disrupting the formation of blood vessels in fast-growing tumours.

Cinnamon is also a detoxifying spice. It is a powerful antioxidant, rating as one of the top 7 antioxidants in the world and it also promotes the activation of various detoxifying enzymes.

As a potent antibacterial agent, cinnamon is well-known. It’s also antiviral and an antifungal. I think that antifungals are a key component in maintaining an internal environment that doesn’t support disease-causing bacteria and viruses. These effects are very apparent in cinnamon essential oil. In ancient times cinnamon oil was one of the successful essential oils in fighting the bubonic plague.

 

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