Is coffee good for you? Does anyone really know for sure?
Coffee has long been controversial due to high levels of acidity, and, of course, because of the caffeine. The acidity can be harmful for some people with digestive problems, while caffeine is essentially an “upper” that can cause heart palpitations for some people when they drink large amounts. Some studies in fact show that drinking large amounts of java (some studies say more than five cups a day) can increase the risk of stroke, heart attacks, and other cardiac problems.
That said, other studies do show that it can help to prevent a large range of diseases and health problems. Studies have shown that it helps to prevent everything from Alzheimer’s Disease to some forms of cancer, as well as diabetes and Parkinson’s Disease. Some studies looked at decaf while others looked at caffeinated coffee; some studies involved ingesting large amounts of java….so it’s hard to draw any conclusive results from many of the studies.
I have to wonder if the effects of caffeine vary widely from person to person given that some people are up all night with tremors after only a cup, while other people drink it black, practically by the gallon, with no ill effects.
So, coffee…health food or foe? Is it, like many things, good in moderation? I hope so!
I knew onions had some health benefits, but when I did the research, I couldn’t believe how many health benefits they might offer.
Though I couldn’t find a statement from the WHO (World Health Organization), several sources state that the WHO promotes the use of onions to treat lack of appetite and prevent atherosclerosis (a condition that occurs when fatty material builds in the arteries, sometimes completely blocking them). Onions and onion extracts are also used in some parts of the world to treat coughs and colds, asthma, and bronchitis. They appear to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, they may inhibit tumor growth and bone loss, and they can control blood glucose levels. If that’s not enough, they can help with sinus problems (helping to drain mucus from sinus cavities), and some people use them topically for antifungal/antibacterial treatments. Wow – now that’s a superfood!
I’ve always been fascinated by nutrition and the positive effects that food can have on our health. We’ve all heard about blueberries being a super food, and know we should eat more fish. Interesting….but I’m especially fascinated when I learn about lesser-known health benefits of foods (including herbs and spices). For instance, cinnamon has many incredible qualities beyond its comforting, warm flavor.
Eating cinnamon can actually help to control your blood sugar levels. This study also showed that it can also help control levels of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and total cholesterol. I love cinnamon, so how to incorporate more into your diet? A friend once suggested I sprinkle it in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches -it sounded strange, but it was great (I’m now allergic to peanuts, but it’s equally great with sunflower seed butter, which I now eat) – almost anything that you would eat with peanut butter is great with cinnamon. Cinnamon is also a great addition to french toast batter, just sprinkle a little in with your milk and eggs. Try sprinkling it on fall/winter veggies like squashes, sweet potatoes and pumpkins - it’s a great pairing whether you are roasting, pureeing, sauteeing or incorporating the veggies into a soup. Cinnamon is a great addition to baked goods, too. I recently made some raspberry-oat muffins that included cinnamon and it added a wonderful depth of flavor to my muffins! It’s great in other baked goods, too - add it to brownies for Mexican brownies, or hot chocolate for Mexican hot chocolate. (You can heat the milk on the stove with a cinnamon stick in it for great flavor). You can even sprinkle some in with the ground coffee in your coffee maker to brew cinnamon flavored coffee!
Check back in the next few weeks as I talk about onions, coffee, and other foods!
September 14th, 2009 in Books
I read The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School a couple of years ago…so while I’m a little rusty in terms of reviewing it, I feel it’s fully deserving of a blog entry. First of all, I should clarify, I didn’t read it, I listened to it. The audio version of Kathleen Flinn’s book caught my eye at a bookstore as I was on the eve of a new job that I wasn’t looking forward to starting. The book looked inspirational, so I splurged and bought it.
I was so glad I did. First of all, the story was read by Cassandra Campbell who did a wonderful job of reading the story with appropriate emotion, but without exaggerating voices and emotions as some audio book readers are wont to do. There was something calming and rhythmic about the way that she read the cooking scenes in particular – her descriptions of chopping, slicing, and dicing were downright calming on my commute.
Moreover, the book itself has a perfect balance that many foodie memoirs lack. Flinn found the right balance of sharing details of her personal life without giving too much intimate information, while still making this a true foodie book.
After getting laid off from a successful job in London, Flinn decided to pursue her dream of going to Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. She had always dreamed of going to Paris and of attending culinary school, and the way in which she pursued it is truly inspiring. Her path is not always an easy one – not every recipe is successful, but it makes it all the more rewarding when she does master a tecnnique, a sauce, or a dough. She has a charming way of telling a story, and I was delighted to discover her blog and website while working on this entry – she is equally candid online and her posts remind me why I respect her as a foodie and writer. Best of all, it seems like there are more Flinn books in the works!
A health practitioner once tried to get me to give up coffee for the sake of my sensitive digestive system…and I managed for awhile, drinking green or black teas in my travel mug on the way to work in the mornings…but it just wasn’t the same. A friend teased me when I waxed poetic, explaining to her that coffee was a whole sensory experience…not just the taste, but the aroma and the feeling I get drinking it (I may have been a little overzealous in my defense of coffee).
I still enjoy a good cup of coffee…for me, it’s more comforting than drinking tea, despite the fact that I get jitters if I drink too much of it. But, I also get pickier about coffee as I get older. Too many places serve up really bitter coffee that tastes of burnt beans, while other places serve up watery brown liquid. So when I find a coffee or espresso-based drink that I love, I’m really hooked.
Such is the case with Soufflés in Newburyport. They’re located in downtown Newburyport and, while small, they use their space well to display the kitchen essentials and gadets, cookbooks, and other kitchen supplies that they sell. They also sell some wonderful coffee drinks to go at the registers. I’m sure they’re all good, but I’m so addicted to the iced mochaccinos there that I have yet to try anything else, though I’m sure I will expand my espresso horizons and try their hot drinks come winter. They also offer several baked goods by the register including cookies, bars, and biscotti that are typically very good, and taste fresh (many are made by local bakeries).
Souffles’ iced mochaccino is a perfectly balanced blend of chocolate, espresso and milk so that the result is creamy, slightly sweet, with a pleasant espresso flavor. They only come in one size but you can order it with one or two shots of espresso. Even with low-fat milk (they don’t usually offer skim) the result is rich and creamy – the perfect way to start a weekend day!