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Breakfast, Lifestyle

Coffee Free One Year Later

Coffee

Last February I decided to give up coffee. I had been a coffee drinker since I was 12 years old and I guess I could be considered a bit of a snob when it came to it. I always used fresh ground, high quality beans and brewed with an expensive coffee maker. I loved going to local coffee shops and treating myself to a good cup of pour over.

Why I Decided to Quit Drinking Coffee

I didn’t like the idea that I felt like my body depended on coffee. I didn’t feel awake in the mornings unless I had several cups. It was often hard for me to fall asleep at night and I wasn’t always getting the most restful sleep. I clenched my jaw during my sleep almost every night, which I learned was probably due to my caffeine dependency. I also suspected my coffee drinking habit was the reason my blood pressure was slightly elevated.

How I Did It

Once I decided I wanted to stop drinking coffee I had to figure out how I was going to do it. I told myself I was going to start with just trying to go without it for one month and see how I felt after that. I picked February as the month to start because it’s so short! I knew I still wanted to drink something warm every morning because I enjoy the ritual and allowing for a little “me time”  is always nice. I did some Google searches to find out what other people did and what some good coffee alternatives might be.

What Alternatives I Tried

After some internet searching and shopping around, I landed on a few different alternatives I wanted to try: Teeccino (a brand of herbal coffee alternative drinks), matcha, dandelion tea, and black tea.

Teeccino: I really enjoyed drinking this brand and thought it tasted great, but it was more expensive than drinking coffee everyday. It’s also something that isn’t available where I regularly do my grocery shopping, so it would mean making a special trip to the co-op or Whole Foods every week. 

Matcha: I found a large bag of powdered matcha for a good price at Costco. I also happened to have a matcha brewing kit that I had received as a Christmas gift, so I even had a special whisk for mixing it. I love the flavor of matcha, but I found making it to be a little fussy and time consuming for the mornings.

Dandelion tea: I had heard from many people that dandelion tea is a good coffee alternative because it has a similar strong, bitter taste. I tried the Traditional Medicinals brand and really enjoyed the flavor, but it was also on the more expensive side and not available at my regular grocery store. 

Black tea: There is such a wide variety of black teas available and I like them all. I mainly drank chai, English Breakfast, and sometimes Earl Grey during the switch. I can find these teas in large quantities at my regular grocery store, so I end up spending about $0.04 a serving. 

My New Morning Routine

I start my mornings by brewing a cup of black tea, usually chai or English Breakfast. This means I am still consuming a small amount of caffeine every day, but not nearly as much as when I was a coffee drinker. I only drink 1-2 cups of tea a day, but I used to drink 4-6 cups of coffee a day! I also like to unwind with a cup of herbal tea in the afternoons or evenings. 

Benefits

I decided to keep going after the first coffee free month because it was so easy! I didn’t feel any caffeine withdrawal symptoms and I was falling asleep faster at night. My sleep was also more sustained and more restful. Overtime, I noticed less soreness in my jaw due to less clenching. I no longer get that jittery feeling after drinking too much coffee. My blood pressure levels are lower now. I am also spending less time getting ready in the morning since I no longer have to clean the coffee machine, grind the beans, and wait for the pot to be ready.

One Drawback

I am using single use tea bags which does create a little waste. I am able to compost the tea bag itself, but they often come wrapped in plastic. I try to buy tea with less packaging when I can and sometimes brew loose leaf tea in a reusable mesh strainer when I have time. 

How I Feel One Year Later

Since I am getting more and better sleep, I feel great! Giving up coffee was something I didn’t think I would be able to do. For weeks after I gave it up, I would crave it every time I smelled it. I no longer have those cravings and I am happy with the benefits I have seen in my health and lifestyle since switching to tea. I have a well stocked cabinet full of tea choices so I am never bored! It was much easier than I thought it would be to give up coffee and I’m glad I resolved to try.

Breakfast, Budget-friendly, Recipes

A Quick Alternative to Cooked Oatmeal: Cold Oats

When I was a little kid, I thought I loved oatmeal cookies. It turns out I actually loved oats.

My dad would make oatmeal cookies every weekend over the winter. One night while he had his head turned, mixing the dough, I stealthily abstracted a handful of raw oats. That moment was nothing short of revelatory. Until then I thought oats could only be eaten cooked. To my surprise I liked them more plain than boiled or even in cookies.

I’ve loved raw oats ever since.

In fact, that’s what I still eat almost every morning. The recipe is simple:

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup Uncle Sam cereal
1/2 cup soy milk (unsweetened, unflavored – I prefer Trader Joe’s brand)
1/2 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup  blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 small banana, fresh, sliced very thinly

Cold oats - Oatmeal

I love the smell of cold oats in the morning!

I don’t like adding sweetener, but if you do, maple syrup would probably work best.

If you’re using frozen fruit, either let it thaw on the counter for about 30 minutes or microwave briefly. One cup of frozen fruit takes 90 seconds in our microwave.

Alternatively, you can just eat a few handfuls of rolled oats raw for an even quicker breakfast! I sometimes do this, and it’s still satisfying. Food doesn’t always need embellishment.

If you are interested in something more elaborate, Rip Esselstyn has an excellent alternative at his Engine 2 website here. There is more prep time required for this one, though. I like mine because I can have it ready in just a few minutes, which is great for those busy mornings.

Are there any foods you prefer raw over cooked? Let us know in the comments!