Chaga Mushroom Tea Latte

I’m going to be completely honest and admit that there are many mornings you will find me at my favourite coffee joint in the drive-thru line up patiently waiting for my soy latte. I have a well rehearsed repertoire of excuses in my head to justify my “need” for a fancy take-out drink:

– I was up all night with a sick child and I desperately need a coffee today
– I worked out really hard this morning and I deserve a reward
– I’m going to start eating right and working out next week so I’d better get my treats in today
– I stayed up late working so I need a coffee to make it through the day
– It’s a holiday (insert any occasion here – including Ground Hog Day!) and I need to celebrate with a coffee
– I’m meeting a friend and I can’t be rude and not join her when she is drinking her coffee
– It’s Monday and I need to pick myself up for the week
– It’s Friday and I need to gear up for the weekend

Trust me, I could go on and on but I’ll spare you. Needless to say I really enjoy a nice tall latte filled with steamy soy milk and sugary add-ins to start off my day. But being something of a health nut- I am also well aware of the negative effects of indulging in this particular treat (not to mention that it costs $6 a pop!)

Although the pros and cons of coffee have been hotly debated I know for myself that I feel much healthier and my gut, skin and pocketbook are much happier when I stick to all-natural homemade concoctions. And yes I can see you rolling your eyes through my computer screen – but some of my concoctions really do taste great!

Because I’m a full-on food nerd, I was totally thrilled to find this bag of Canadian Chaga Mushroom pieces on a recent trip to my local health food store. This potent and unique superfood is “a slow-growing mushroom that develops on living birch trees, obtaining nutrients from its host and making them available to us.” Chaga is considered the most nutritionally dense tree growth in the world and is revered in ancient Chinese medicine as being the “king of plants“. Studies have shown Chaga to be the single most concentrated source of antioxidants known to man and it has anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting and cancer fighting properties. Wow!

The cool thing about these mushroom chunks is that you boil 1/3 of a cup of them in a liter of water and just let them steep like tea. Afterwards you strain out the chunks and you will be left with a mild-tasting dark brown liquid that you can add to soups, smoothies, tea, coffee or just drink it straight up. And since the mushroom is so potent – you can actually reuse the chunks several times!

chaga

This morning I added 1 heated cup of the Chaga tea to 1 cup of boiling water and blended it together with 1 tbsp. raw sesame seeds, 1 tbsp. hemp seeds, 1 tbsp. maple syrup, 1 tbsp. Dandy Blend, 1 tbsp. cacao powder, a small chunk of cacao butter and 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract. Voila! Yummy coffee drink that has a ton of health benefits! (I also added a cupful of the tea to our morning smoothie)

So for today, I am skipping the fancy take-out coffee and sipping my Chaga Tea Latte. One day at a time right? As for tomorrow – if you happen to see me in the drive-thru line just give me knowing nod and a wave…..because trust me, I’ll have my excuse ready ; )

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Wintertime Cashew Cream Lattes

I’ve started a new wintertime ritual of beginning my day with rich and creamy coffee-less lattes. Most mornings I’ll whip up a brilliant creation at home… and of course there are other days when my toddler wakes me up 3 times during the night calling for his soother and I haul my butt out of bed for a 6am workout that I hit the nearest drive-through for something highly caffeinated!

My go-to homemade latte usually involves my Vitamixer, hemp seeds and some Dandy Blend but lately I’ve been experimenting with a variety of different nuts to come up with the perfect rich and creamy latte consistency. Cashew Cream is my new favourite ingredient in because it mimics real cream but is actually made from raw cashews that have been soaked overnight and then blended into a smooth texture. Soaked nuts are much more digestible than plain raw nuts and they are a fantastic source of protein. And did you know that cashews are also rich in magnesium and can help alleviate depression, anxiety and insomnia?

cashew cream latte

Homemade coffee-free lattes are also a great place to hide your favourite supplements. You simply pop them into the blender with your other ingredients and they are undetectable in your delicious morning drink.  I often toss in my Vitamin C and at least 2 caps of one of my two favourite Jing Herbs mushroom blends – either  “Peaceful Spirit” or “Great Adaptor.”

These lattes are ideal for cold winter mornings. They are hearty, creamy and delicious AND they are packed with goodness and nutrition. These recipes make enough for 2 big mugs of latte goodness so throw some into a container to heat up later in the day or share it with someone you love. And be sure to save any left over cashew cream for tomorrow’s latte…or for the amazing Cream of Mushroom soup recipe that I’ll be posting soon!

Cashew Cream

cashew cream latte - mason jar
1 cup raw cashews
2 cups water

Place cashews in a small bowl and cover with water. Let soak in the fridge overnight.

cashew cream latte - cashews in bowl
In the morning, drain and rinse cashews. Place in a high-powered blender and add 2 cups of water (or more or less depending on how think you like your cream). Blend for 1-2 minutes until smooth.

Chocolate-Mint Cashew Cream Latte
1 cup cashew cream
1 tbsp coconut milk
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
4 pitted medjool dates
2 drops of edible peppermint oil (I use Living Libations)
Supplements of choice (optional)
3 cups boiling hot water

Place all ingredients in a high-powered blending and blend for 1 minute until smooth.

Maple Cinnamon Cashew-Cream Latte
1 cup cashew cream
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp maple sugar or syrup (more or less depending on desired sweetness)
1 tbsp Dandy Blend
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Supplements of choice (optional)
3 cups boiling hot water

Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend for 1 minute. Enjoy!

Coffee Substitute That’s Just Dandy

One of my own personal struggles along the road to wellness has been my addiction to coffee. With 3 kids, there have been times when I have been so freakin’ sleep deprived that I honestly thought I could live solely on coffee and chocolate. And there is something comforting about the warm embrace of a coffee shop – the aromas wafting invitingly out the front door, the baristas who know me by name, the way they write “Lori” on my lovely take-away cup and the caramel on the creamy white foam that tops my favourite latte. Ahhhhh…….

However as I have learned more about diet and nutrition I had to consider that caffeine is an addictive drug. It stimulates the central nervous system by tricking the brain into releasing excess adrenaline and even small quantities cause nervousness and can put us on a roller coaster ride from a blissful high to the inevitable low that follows quickly afterwards. Not to mention all of the refined sugar that is heaped into and on top of my beloved lattes.

But don’t worry – I have found the very best substitute on the market. Dandy Blend is the only herbal coffee replacement to feature both the health benefits of dandelion root and the rich, full-bodied flavor of real coffee. It’s made of water-soluble extracts of roasted roots of dandelion, chicory and beets and the grains of barley and rye. It’s also gluten-free because the gluten from the grains is extracted during processing AND it contains over 50 trace minerals in each cup. But the best news of all – there are absolutely no headaches or other withdrawal symptoms when you switch from coffee to Dandy Blend! I’ve even got my parents and my confirmed coffee addict brother-in-law drinking this stuff (no small feat).

dandy
 
Instead of trying to quit coffee cold turkey maybe we could start to consider those specialty coffee drinks as treats rather than an everyday necessity. What if we got a super funky coffee mug (or reusable take away cup) and made our own coffee and lattes at home using Dandy Blend? Would you be willing to give it a try?
Here are a few of my favourite ways to enjoy Dandy:

Straight Up Coffee Substitute
1 heaping tbsp Dandy Blend (more or less depending on how strong you like your coffee)
½ tsp cinnamon
2 cups hot water
1 tbsp almond milk (or non-dairy beverage of choice)
1 tsp honey (or sweetener of choice- agave, maple syrup, stevia)

Measure Dandy Blend and cinnamon into a large mug. Add hot water and stir. Stir in milk and sweetener as desired.

Dandy Latte
1 tbsp Dandy Blend
2 tbsp raw hemp seeds
2 tbsp raw cacao powder (you can use the nibs but they will give it a grittier texture)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp maple syrup 
4 cups hot water

Place all of the ingredients into a high-powered blender and blend for 1-2 minutes. Serve hot. You may want to adjust the sweetness depending on how much sugar you are used to in your latte. You could even drizzle a bit of agave over the top to replicate a caramel latte.

dandy latte

And what about the kids? Dandy Blend is perfectly safe and healthy for little ones and I sometimes make up my own homemade hot chocolate using 1 tsp Dandy Blend, 2 tbsp raw cacao powder, 2 tbsp maple syrup and 2 cups almond milk. Whisk together in a pot on the stove and gently heat.

I order my Dandy Blend online at Upaya Naturals where you can get a small bag to try it out or be like me and pony up for the big 2 pound bag.
Come on – give it a try! As my grandpa used to say “it’s just dandy!”