Even More Healthy Reasons to enjoy your cup of morning Joe!

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I made this beautiful cup of coffee! #barristaintraining

 

Hello friends! I hope everyone is enjoying this lovely spring day! I definitely am. I started out the day as I always do, with a delicious cup of coffee. I’ve written about the health benefits of coffee previously, but recent studies that I’ve read made me think it’s worthwhile to revisit the topic with you, my lovely readers. I’ll conclude with my “recipe” for healthy coffee. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and read this post. It will be worth your while, I promise!

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Right now, as I write, coffee is being consumed!

 

New evidence has shown that coffee drinking may help minimize the risk of malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. In a study at Yale, researchers analyzed data from over 440,000 people, followed up with them 10 years later, and found that caffeinated coffee drinking lowered the risk of melanoma by 10%. If 4 or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day was consumed the risk was 20% lower. Decaf coffee did not change the risk of melanoma. It is thought that the reason for this is that caffeine protects against UV radiation.

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Coffee drinking Snap Chat to my girlies! Love my Epcot ball coffee mug!

 

In addition to protecting against melanoma, research shows that coffee drinkers may have a higher protection against other cancers like breast, colon, prostate and even liver. Coffee drinking also has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Harvard School of Public Health researchers gathered data from 3 different studies and found that study participants who increased their coffee intake by more than one cup a day, to be exact 1.69 cups per day over a 4 year period, had an 11% lower type 2 diabetes risk than people who did not change their coffee intake. Another study has shown that drinking coffee in moderation protects against heart failure (Moderation= 2 8 ounce servings per day). People who drank 4 cups per day had an 11% lower risk of heart failure, compared to those who did not.

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Coffee drinking Snap Chat back at me from Jac!

 

One of the coolest benefits to drinking coffee I’ve found is the study that showed evidence that drinking coffee may reduce mortality. That’s right, drinking 4-5 cups of coffee daily may reduce the risk of early death, even for those who drink decaf. Coffee drinking can also protect against developing Parkinson’s disease, lower the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver for alcohol drinkers by 22%, and lower the risk of developing multiple sclerosis. That’s some compelling evidence for drinking coffee, isn’t it?!

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Gorgeous cappuccino from Milktooth, one of my fave restaurants in Indy!

 

However, and I’ve said this before, sugar is one of the worst things we can put in our bodies on a daily basis, and excessive sugar leads to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer- the very things from which coffee protects us. So you cannot drink 4-5 sugary cups of coffee, and think you are doing something good for your body. That being said, I have developed a cup of coffee over the years that tastes like it’s bad for you, but is actually very healthy. I’ve shared it in past posts but it’s so good, it’s worth repeating.

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Coffee station at my casa!

 

First step, start out with good coffee. I have a Nespresso machine and make espresso by using Nespresso capsules. I pull a large espresso, but if you have a regular coffee maker use the best quality coffee you can and make a good sized cup of coffee, leaving room at the top for the other ingredients.

Second, I add 1 teaspoon of organic cinnamon and 1 teaspoon UNSWEETENED cocoa powder to the coffee and stir. I like the warm, spicy taste of cinnamon in my coffee and the cocoa powder adds a delicious, chocolatey flavor, without adding any sugar to it. Both these things are essential to a yummy cup of coffee for me, and add more to the healthiness of the beverage also. Unsweetened cocoa powder may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, is low in calories and contains essential minerals that support the heart, bones and immune system. Cinnamon also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, helps reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics, improves brain function, protects against Parkinson’s disease, and helps reduce the risk of diabetes. See? Delicious and healthy!

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Next step, I use my milk frother to whip Organic half and half with French vanilla coconut milk creamer. Remember that healthy fats are good for you, like half and half, so don’t feel guilty using it. It makes the coffee very creamy and rich. I use the coconut milk creamer for sweetness. I use about 2 tablespoons half and half, and 1 tablespoon coconut milk creamer. The coconut milk creamer only has 5 ingredients, all of them healthy, and 4 grams of sugar per tablespoon. No added sugar needed. I like using a frother because it makes the cream warm and frothy, but it isn’t necessary if you don’t have one, just add the ingredients into the coffee.

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Next goal is to learn how to make designs in my cappuccinos! 😉

That’s all there is to it, my friends! My coffee contains only 65 calories and 4 grams of sugar, provides so much protection for your overall health, and is delicious too! So drink your HEALTHY coffee, and know you are doing something really great for your body. It tastes so warm and comforting that it’s good for your soul too! Drinking healthy coffee will help you live a life of vitality-with Valerie! 🙂

This Will Start Your Day The RIGHT Way!

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Hello friends! I just finished this awesome smoothie and I had to tell you about it because it’s life altering! Now you might think, “Why is she so excited about a smoothie?” Well, I’ll tell you why. It contains one of my favorite things- coffee. I love coffee more than most things in life. It’s one of my three favorite liquids- water, coffee and wine. Coffee’s reputation has been totally rejuvenated these days, as it used to be universally vilified and the supposed source of all kinds of health problems. I’m very happy though that now coffee is known to be GOOD for you and can help protect against many heinous diseases like Parkinson’s, liver cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Coffee drinkers are also less likely to die than non coffee drinkers, like 8-15% less likely to die. That sounds good to me.

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Why is coffee so good for you, you ask? Good question! Here’s why, it contains chlorogenic acid, lignans, quinides, trigonelline, and magnesium which reduces inflammation and insulin resistance. It’s also the number 1 source of antioxidants in the American diet. Antioxidants are chemical compounds that fight the damage to your DNA caused by day to day life. Now most of the studies have been done on caffeinated coffee so researchers are not sure that the health benefits are the same for decaf coffee. And remember, we are not talking about the zillion calorie, full of sugar drinks from your favorite coffee shop, because we know that the damage caused by all that sugar far outweighs the benefits of the coffee. I’m talking about healthy coffee.  See my previous blog post, https://vitalvaldecap.com/2014/10/22/healthy-coffee-is-my-favorite-way-to-start-the-day/, for more information on how to have a healthy cup of coffee.

So that brings me back to my coffee smoothie- talk about healthy! I never really thought about coffee in a smoothie. I don’t drink smoothies very often because they are usually filled with things that aren’t very healthy, and they can really be quite calorie laden. I ran across this recipe on Prevention.com and what I liked about it is that it was lower in calories and sugar. It was also filled with ingredients I really enjoy so I thought, “What the heck, I’ll give it a try.” And I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with you today.

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Delicious Coffee Smoothie

  • 3/4 cup almond milk (or any milk of choice)
  • 1/2 cup cold coffee or coffee ice cubes
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • Pinch of salt

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The first thing you have to do is put a peeled banana in the freezer a few hours before you plan to make this smoothie. I always put my overly ripe bananas, you know the ones that no one wants because they’re black and smooshy, into a freezer bag and store them in the freezer until I need them. The second step is to brew a cup of coffee and put it in the fridge to cool. I pull a shot of espresso the night before I’m going to make this smoothie and put it in the fridge. You can make coffee ice cubes too but I don’t have any ice cube trays so that’s out for me.

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Next you add the first four ingredients (almond milk, coffee, banana, and cocoa powder) into the blender and whirl.

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Last, add the final ingredients (peanut butter and salt) and give it a second whirl to combine.

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And there you have it! The smoothie is sweet, but not too sweet, chocolatey, and the hint of salt from the peanut butter and salt really brings out the wonderful flavors of the smoothie. It’s also healthy for you at only 240 calories per serving, 7 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, and 11 grams of fat, it’s a great meal substitute. You get your meal and your coffee all in one, what could be better than that?!! Drinking healthy coffee smoothies will help you live a life of vitality-with Valerie!

 

 

Reach for the Stars-choose healthy drinks at Starbucks!

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This post is in honor of my daughter, Danielle, who has asked me a few times to write about making healthy drink choices at Starbucks. So, I did a little research, some based on my own experience, and compiled a list of what I consider to be the healthiest drink options. Now, remember that for me a healthy drink isn’t only a beverage that is low in calories, after all if that was the only criteria you could just order non fat, skinny everything and you wouldn’t need my help at all. No, for me a healthy drink contains little or no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, and has little or no syrups which often times contain chemicals and other yucky additives. I tried to consider a variety of tastes in putting together my list too, not just coffee (Jacqueline’s favorite), but tea choices too (Danielle’s fave) among others. There is even a smoothie on the list. Obviously you can order black coffee or a tea bag and hot water at any time as well, but remember it’s what you add to it that can turn that relatively healthy beverage quickly to a highly caloric, chemically laden danger zone. With that in mind, I included drinks that give you a little more to start with so that you don’t have to add many extras to it to get it to taste delish. So get ready friends, here it is!

Healthy Starbucks Beverages

My number one choice for you coffee lovers is cappuccino!

My number one choice for you coffee lovers is cappuccino!

1. Cappuccino- Tall, 2% milk, 90 calories, 3.5 g of fat, 9g carbs, 6g protein, 75 mg caffeine. Here’s why I like this one, first, because the milk gives you 6 grams of protein per tall sized (12 ounce) portion, second because there is NO SUGAR in this drink, but you can add Truvia (natural sweetener from the Stevia plant) which they have available at all Starbucks locations, and third because Starbucks always has cinnamon on their condiment bar. Cinnamon is a powerful spice that contains Manganese, calcium and antimicrobial properties, it’s a super spice so any time you can use it, definitely make that healthy choice. But besides that, it tastes really warming and flavorful so it will add deliciousness and health to your beverages, instead of using the syrups that add calories and chemicals. I love the foam of a cappuccino, and because of that foam this drink contains less milk than a latte thus saving you calories in the process. Cappuccino is my favor drink to order at Starbucks by far.

Number 2 is refreshing and delicious!

Number 2 is refreshing and delicious!

2. Teavana Shaken Iced Passion Tango Tea- Tall, 60 calories (sweetened), 0 calories (unsweetened), 15 g carbs (sweetened), 0 g carbs (unsweetened). I met a friend at Starbucks a few months ago and wanted an iced drink without caffeine (because I already had enough for the day that morning), I studied the menu carefully, utilized My Fitness Pal app on my iphone to check the calorie content of this drink, and then ordered it unsweetened. I figured if it had no flavor I would just add honey to it after I gave it a taste, but it didn’t need it because it was delicious unsweeted. It is a hibiscus, apple, lemongrass and passion fruit tea, and it’s as good as it sounds. The ice makes it so refreshing, and I just enjoyed the heck out of this drink. Definitely a great choice!

Chai yes, it is yummy!

Chai yes, it is yummy! Danielle’s favorite!

3. Chai Tea Latte- Tall, 190 calories, 2.5 g fat, 34 g carbs, 6 g protein, 20 % RDA for calcium. I included this one as a healthy option, even though it’s high in calories and carbs because the spices give it such a warm flavor and the milk adds a good bit of protein. I always recommend getting only a tall size of this drink since it’s fairly high in calories; a little bit goes a long way with this one. I always order 2% milk instead of non-fat because though I’d save calories with the non-fat milk, the additional fat in 2% milk allows the nutrients in the milk to be better digested. I also do not EVER order a skinny beverage at Starbucks because they use an artificial sweetener which is more dangerous than the sugar this one contains.

Jacqueline's favorite!

Jacqueline’s favorite!

4. Caffe Americano- Grande, 15 calories, 3 g carbs, 1 g protein, 225 mg caffeine. This drink packs a caffeine punch with 225 mg, which is why it’s Jacqueline’s favorite! The Americano is an espresso that has hot water added to it, which gives it the caffeine of an espresso in a more generous portion size. She orders it plain and then goes to the condiment bar to add a bit of milk and honey, and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon. Delicioso!

Chocolate smoothie with protein!

Chocolate smoothie with protein!

5. Chocolate Smoothie- tall, 250 calories, 45 g carbs, 40 g protein, 8 g fiber, 20% RDA of Calcium and Iron, 15% RDA of Vitamin C, and 8% RDA of Vitamin A. This smoothie is made with mocha sauce, banana, milk, protein powder, fiber powder, and ice. The original version of this smoothie is actually 320 calories, but I saved you 70 calories because you’re going to request for it to be made with a half a banana instead of a whole one, and double the protein powder (they’ll have to put it in a larger cup because the extra protein will make the amount of this smoothie grow a lot!) I included this one on my list even though there are a lot of calories and carbs because for a smoothie it has relatively few calories and it has LOADS of protein which makes it a possible meal replacement. You can request a shot of espresso to add caffeine to it if you need a pick me up also.

Iced green tea is good for whatever ails you!

Iced green tea is good for whatever ails you!

6. Teavana Shaken Iced Green Tea- tall, 60 calories sweetened, 0 calories sweetened, 15 g carbs (sweetened), 0 g carbs (unsweetened), 30-35 mg caffeine. This is a similar drink to the Passion Tango tea, but I included it because it has green tea in it which has antioxidants in it, plus it contains mint, lemongrass and lemon verbena. It also has a bit of caffeine in it due to the green tea so if you want caffeine this would be a good choice. Yum!

Now you’ve seen my choices for healthy drinks at Starbucks, in honor of my Danielle, but I hope it helps you too. There are healthier choices available if you’re careful and know where to look. Let me know how you like any of these drinks if you try them. Consuming healthy beverages will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

 

 

HEALTHY coffee is my favorite way to start the day!

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Coffee11This morning after a late night at the Fleetwood Mac concert, which was such fun by the way, I really needed my morning coffee. My coffee is a necessity to give me a much needed boost of energy in the morning. It’s also warm, homey and comforting to me. It really is a hug in a mug! I have previously spoken of my love for coffee and it’s benefits but today I want to talk about the stuff that goes into your coffee and how important it is to keep those things healthy. Otherwise, you can add HUNDREDS of calories to your coffee, and it can easily go from a healthy start to your day to a caloric wasteland. Besides being high in calories, some of the things you can add to your coffee can be downright BAD for your health, full of chemicals that can’t even be pronounced. I wanted to use this opportunity to save you all the calories and chemicals, and show you what I use so that you can benefit from my experience and drink delicious, HEALTHY coffee.

My coffee area highlighted by my Nespresso espresso machine!

My coffee area highlighted by my Nespresso espresso machine!

1. Start with high quality coffee- If you can find organic coffee, by all means use that. I have an espresso machine that I’ve used for the last few years. I really enjoy espresso but I recognize that many people don’t like the intensity of it, so use whatever works for you. But for me the first step is to use really good coffee/espresso that doesn’t have any artificial flavors or additives in it (artificial flavors=chemicals). Nespresso sells high quality, sustainably raised coffee in their espresso cubes. You put the cube into the machine and it makes delicious espresso.

I use an aeroccino or as I call it, a milk frother.

I use an aeroccino or as I call it, a milk frother.

2. Add REAL cream- I don’t use artificial creamers in my coffee. I will only use half and half, but the cool thing is that I use a milk frother. I pour the half and half into the frother, press the button, and it whips the milk up into a foamy deliciousness that makes me feel like I’m getting my coffee from a professional barrista! Of course I only use organic half and half also. I use an organic hazelnut half and half and add a splash of that to the regular half and half and whip them together so I get a bit of sweetness into the cream.

I use Mexican hot chocolate bricks to impart sweetness into my coffee!

I use Mexican hot chocolate bricks to impart sweetness into my coffee!

Organic hazelnut half and half adds a bit of sweetness to the cream.

Organic hazelnut half and half adds a bit of sweetness to the cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. NO FAKE SUGARS- As I’ve said in previous posts, artificial sweeteners are bad for your health in MANY ways. They are full of chemicals and are NOT a component of a healthy lifestyle. In an effort to keep the calories down and impart sweetness to my coffee, I use a small splash of hazelnut half and half as I said above, and I also shave a small amount of Mexican hot chocolate into my coffee. I use a very small grater and shave no more than a half teaspoon of it into the coffee before adding the cream. I let the chocolate melt into the coffee, and then I add the cream and stir a few times to combine everything without adding too much air to take the fluffiness out of the foam.

Spices like cinnamon add tons of flavor to your coffee and are good for you too.

Spices like cinnamon add tons of flavor to your coffee and are good for you too.

4. Add different flavors to enhance your coffee- Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom can really jazz up your coffee, adding a lot of flavor without adding calories. I add organic cinnamon to my coffee whenever I make it. Cinnamon is a healthful spice and has been said to help prevent diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and blood sugar spikes. It also is very warm and flavorful, and really complements the flavor of coffee. It’s a must for me!

There it is, all done and waiting for me to drink it!

There it is, all done and waiting for me to drink it!

Well, that’s how I make a perfectly delicious and healthy cup of coffee. The idea is to add layers of flavor so that you get an amazing taste without adding a lot of chemicals or calories. Coffee can help enhance your memory and workouts, as well as preventing liver damage, helping to lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, lessen our stress, and add antioxidants to our bodies. So I am perfectly justified in indulging in my morning cup of Joe, and I know it’s good for me too. Drinking coffee with healthy additions to it can help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!