Friday, November 2, 2012

Clean Coffee Concoctions

It was hard to decide what to post this week. Hurricane Sandy (Superstorm Sandy...? Tropical Storm Sandy...? What are we calling it now?) hit the East Coast this week, and while southern Virginia didn't suffer nearly as much as our friends up North, we did get hit with a nasty bout of teeth-chattering cold this week. It rained, it poured, I think I saw sleet at one point. It's not easy for the Alaska girl to admit that she was freezing, but in a place with as much wet-cold as Virginia, it happens fairly often.

Because of the rain and the cold, this past week was spent mainly fantasizing about warm bowls of soup, healthy portions of comfort food, and steaming cups of coffee. While soup is always on the menu for me (what better way to trick myself into eating my veggies?), comfort food is an automatic danger zone for a Celiac, and most forms of coffee other than "black and hot" threaten my Paleo/ML preferences. Just try to order anything clean besides a tea in a Starbucks.

What's a freezing, transplanted Alaskan to do?

Apparently, she starts a blog.

I told my students this past week that if they can't eat breakfast before they come to class then they at least need to get some coffee in them. They all recognize their teacher's steady commitment to caffeine, as they see me with my travel mug every day in class. I'm loyal to my addictions, and I tend to be a bit of a purist. If you have good coffee beans then you don't need all that other crap. Coffee can be a bit like drinking wine. You can knock back a sugary cocktail, full of syrups and other tastes, very easily. But there is a ritual to coffee as there is to wine, and the reward for being able to drink your coffee black is a widening of the palate and a deeper appreciation for the choices that you are making.

Yes, good coffee doesn't need all those other things. But sometimes it wants them.

For this blog, to combat the cold weather, I present to you:

Paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte

Clean Mint Mocha

This is our Bialetti espresso maker. It's wonderful, it's simple to use, and I have started drinking much less coffee since getting it (quantity, not occurrences). The coffee is much stronger and blends better with other drinks than my usual coffee from my coffee pot. We purchased ours at Target after Cameron talked me into it. It was around $30, and makes 6 shots at a time.

I strongly recommend that you grind your own beans. You can get a coffee grinder at Wal Mart for less than $10. Seal the beans in an airtight container and grind only what you need. It adds another thirty seconds to your coffee-making time, and your coffee will immediately taste much better.

For both of these recipes I use full-fat coconut milk. If you do not have coconut milk, you can use whole milk, but I suggest that you add some heavy whipping cream since it will not be creamy enough on its own. Full-fat coconut milk in the can will be in most grocery stores' "Asian" section, near the ramen noodles.

Let's begin with the Clean Mint Mocha

1 cup full-fat coconut milk (or whole milk + whipping cream)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons agave or maple syrup, or equivalent sweetener

Measure out a cup of your coconut milk and heat in a small pan.

Once the coconut milk begins to simmer on the edges, measure out 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder into a mug or small bowl and add 4-5 tablespoons of the heated coconut milk to the powder. Keep the coconut milk on a low heat while you mix the powder into a smooth, creamy, cocoa paste.

Make sure the paste is free of lumps, then add it all into the heated coconut milk. Measure out your peppermint and vanilla extract and add to the pan, along with as much sweetener as you would like. I don't like my coffee painfully sugary, so I use 2 tablespoons of agave or maple syrup. Don't use artificial maple syrup- the taste will not be good and you'll no longer have a clean coffee treat.

Stir the ingredients together and allow them to all come up to heat. You can simmer them all together to help kill the "extract" taste of the peppermint, but I would not let it really get rolling or it will become a very thick coffee drink. 

Once it has simmered for a few minutes, take that loveliness off the stove. Pour about a quarter cup of strong coffee, or two shots of espresso into a coffee mug and top it off with the chocolate and peppermint milk. So much wintry goodness!

For the Paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte, the instructions are nearly the same.

1 cup full-fat coconut milk
4 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1/2 tablespoon vanilla or almond extract
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
2-3 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
garnish with cinnamon sticks or powdered cinnamon

Heat the coconut milk in a small pan, add the pumpkin puree and bring up to temperature. Once the milk starts to simmer, add the extract. Vanilla will help to bring out the spice of the pumpkin, but almond gives a nice, smooth taste. Use one, or both! Allow to simmer for a few minutes and stir in the agave syrup and the spices. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top, or add a bit while the coffee is coming up to temperature. Pour a quarter cup of strong coffee or two shots of espresso into a mug and top it off with the pumpkin spice milk. Move aside, Starbucks!

There's nothing in your day that these beauties can't help you get through!

If you want some more clean options, try these homemade coffee creamers from Deliciously Organic.  Her stuff is fantastic!

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