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This blog started as a way for me to share my recipes + culinary adventures, tips for vibrant health + happiness, thoughts on the latest developments in nutritional medicine + the low down on the Sydney wholefoods scene and beyond...

My 3 favourite coffee substitutes


I love coffee - the taste, the smell, the resultant 'hit'....  but I can't drink it every day. It makes me too wired and anxious and it effects my sleep. Sigh. So I've had to resort to a few other winter warming substitutes. Here are 3 of my favourites: Dandy latte

Dandelion root has a slightly bitter taste like coffee. For the nutrition benefits of dandelion root click here. I buy dandelion root either from OVVIO - The Organic Liefstyle Store or less frequently the Bonvit brand (sold at various organic/health stores and at Woollies supermarket). Bonvit is sold either finely ground or medium ground. The medium ground is much coarser needs to be infused in a bodum. Simply add 1-2 teaspoons in a bodum, pour in 1 cup boiling water and infuse. Pour into a mug and if desired add  milk and raw honey. The finely ground root can be made 2 ways:

1. like an instant coffee by simply adding 1-2 teaspoons in a mug and adding 1 cup of boiling water. Add milk and raw honey if desired; or

2. like a latte. This is my favourite as its richer/creamier and more akin to a cafe latte. Dissolve 1-2 teaspoons of finely ground dandelion root in a saucepan and add a small amount of boiling water to dissolve. Add 1 cup of whole milk, a good sprinkling of cinnamon powder and a sprinkling of vanilla bean powder. You can add some raw honey if you require some extra sweetness.

Heat gently until warm (do not boil) and blend using a hand held blender.

Pour into a mug. Dust with nutmeg and extra cinnamon powder on top.

When I served this recently to my friend Natasha she declared "This is the best milky drink I've ever had!!".  I think this is undeservedly high praise but the fact that our 3 collective children hijacked our dandy lattes shows that the drink is coveted by young and old.

Herbal chai tea

I grew up on a tea my mother would make with cinnamon bark, cloves and aniseed. I guess it's the Greek version of a herbal Indian Chai tea (without the black tea leaves). My mum calls it "Ygliganiso" (pronounced in a way that only someone with Mediterranian heritage could muster-  a sounds that comes from deep in the back  of your throat). Using my mum's tea as inspiration and adding a few more spices over the years I now make up my own blend as follows:

3x cinnamon quills (broken into small pieces)

½ tablespoon cloves

½ tablespoon aniseed

½ tablespoon star anise (broken into small pieces)

3 tablespoons fennel

3 tablespoons ginger root

4 cardamon pods

Mix spices and store in glass jar in cool place.  Add 1 teaspoon per cup into a teapot or bodum and infuse with boiling water. Serve with milk (for a milky chai tea, which I prefer), and if desired a little raw honey.

I typically serve this when friends/guests come over. It's always a winner at dinner parties after dessert. My kids love it in sippy cups with lots of milk to cool it down. I have found that this is sometimes the easiest way to get fluids into them in winter when they don't feel like drinking cold water. I find these herbs have a very calming effect on the nervous system so its a wonderful tea for children as well as adults.

Chilli orange hot chocolate 

I got this idea from Max Brenner a decade ago but of course I only use real chocolate (unprocessed fermented raw cacao powder). Orange and chocolate combine to make  a jaffa-like taste (remember those little orange balls from your childhood??).

In a small saucepan add:

  1. 1 cup of whole milk or coconut milk
  2. the rind from 1/2 an orange (use a lemon zester)
  3. 2 teaspoons raw cacao powder (I like the Loving Earth brand)
  4. a sprinkling of chilli powder (depending on how spicy you like it)

Heat gently until warm (do not boil) and blend using a hand held blender.

Pour into a mug. You can dust some extra raw cacao powder on top. My husband took a sip to try it this week then claimed it as his own. Typical.

I buy my organic herbs and spices from OVVIO- The Organic Lifestyle Store at  Paddington 5 ways or from an organic wholesaler. I try to buy organic herbs and spices as conventional ones are typically irradiated and /or sprayed.

These 3 drinks are also a great way of consuming non-diuretic beverages in winter when you just don't feel like drinking boring old cold water!! (note- dandelion root is slightly diuretic but less so than coffee).

So make yourself a cup of tea/hot chocolate.... and sit back and relax!! What are your favourite coffee substitutes??