The Brewing Debate – Is Coffee Good Or Bad For Your Health?

 

I am NOT going to take away your sacred coffee*; even I am not that cruel (in most cases). For most people, regular, moderate coffee consumption is not harmful to your health. This is where the * comes in. Some people are sensitive to caffeine and should limit or choose decaf. Too much caffeine can contribute to insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, gastrointestinal issues, and heart rhythm concerns. Pregnant woman and those with blood pressure issues should check with their doctor.

 

Like all things, I believe coffee is best enjoyed in moderation; the key word in the sentence might be ‘enjoy’, since providing enjoyment is what coffee does best!

 

I don’t suggest that people can keep drinking coffee simply for the pleasure it brings but also because a spate of recent studies have shown that drinking a couple cups of coffee a day isn’t bad for you. In fact, there’s lots of evidence to show that coffee is actually good:

  • Coffee can lower your risk of diabetes
  • Coffee can lower your risk of several kinds of cancer
  • Coffee can lower your risk of depression
  • Coffee can lower your risk of stroke
  • Coffee can lower your risk of heart failure
  • Caffeine (in the form of coffee) is linked with a delayed onset of Alzheimer’s disease

 

Additionally, the benefits of coffee can extend beyond what the studies show, to the psychological, societal and cultural benefits of the world’s most popular beverage.

 

For millions of people, including myself, the morning’s first cup of coffee is a comforting and much-looked-forward-to ritual, one that can make dragging yourself out of bed and commuting to work a little bit more bearable.

 

The strong, distinct aroma of coffee brings pleasure, which increases dopamine in your brain (which has been correlated with happiness and health). The sight of a coffee shop can often bring a feeling of relief. There’s an element of touch: gripping a hot cup of coffee on a brutal winter’s day, or the chill of a delicious iced coffee. And for true enthusiasts, even the sound of the beans grinding can invoke delight.

 

Finally, that social element of coffee is unparalleled. Coffee appeals to our sense of serving and being served. Offering someone a cup of coffee and receiving a cup of coffee has become kind of a universal symbol of hospitality

 

HOWEVER, before you order that extra-large triple latte, keep in mind that more experts agree it is best to limit your intake to one to two cups a day. Also, use common sense – excess sugar, creams and syrups in those fancy coffee drinks are not recommended.

Clean Sticky Date Cupcakes

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My absolute favourite dessert is Sticky Date Pudding! My beautiful friend Julia Edwards made these sugar, grain, gluten and dairy free (and most importantly, GUILT free) version for me.

Ingredients For Muffins
Butter, Coconut Oil or Olive Oil
10 Tablespoons Water
12 Dates
1 ½ Ripe Banana, roughly chopped
2 ½ -3 Tablespoons Coconut Flour
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Essence
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Honey (optional)
½ Teaspoon Baking Powder

Ingredients For Ganache
5-6 Dates, chopped
½ Orange, juice only
3 Tablespoons Almond Milk (coconut milk or water substitute well)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
1 Teaspoon Honey
Fresh Berries For Garnish

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 185°C.

2. Grease muffin tin and set aside.

3. Heat the dates and water in a small saucepan over low heat until the dates break down and thicken. Use a fork to mash them together and set aside.

3. Place the coconut flour, egg, banana, vanilla and baking powder in a blender or food processor and mix well until well combined and aerated.

4. Add the dates to the banana mixture and combine. Evenly distribute into the ramekins. Cook in the oven for about 20-22 minutes.

5. While the muffins are in the oven, place the sticky date ganache ingredients in a small saucepan over a low heat and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the dates break down. Mash with a fork and whisk until thickened. Set aside.

6. Allow the muffins to rest for 5 minutes before removing them to a serving plate. Scoop a dollop of sticky date ganache paste on top and garnish.

A Good Egg

Eggs… Are they good for you, bad for you, or somewhere in between?

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I’ve often wondered why eggs get so controversial in the first place.

I guess a lot of it has to do with cholesterol. A large egg contains about 185 mg of cholesterol. And since the Heart Foundation recommends a limit of 300 mg per day, eat two eggs and you’ve exceeded that limit.

So, eggs are bad then?

There happens to be a problem with the Heart Foundations recommendation. It assumes that when you eat more cholesterol (from eggs and other animal foods), your blood cholesterol increases. Assume that and, of course, it makes sense to eat fewer eggs. Your blood cholesterol would be lower. Your heart and arteries would stay healthier for longer.

But here’s the Heart Foundation’s dirty little secret: Your body doesn’t work that way. Indeed, the research consistently and reliably shows that the cholesterol you eat has very little impact on how much cholesterol is in your blood. You see, your body makes cholesterol (lots of it, in fact). Every single day you produce between 1 and 2 grams of it on your own. (That’s 5-10 times the cholesterol in a large egg.)

The interesting twist… when you eat more cholesterol from foods like eggs, your body produces less of it. And when you eat less cholesterol from foods like eggs, your body produces more. That’s because you have a cholesterol “set point.” Think of it like a thermostat that’s largely determined by your genetics, exercise habits, and stress. Funny enough, diet plays a surprisingly small role.

And here’s another thing… cholesterol isn’t so bad for you anyway. In fact, cholesterol happens to be one of the most important nutrients in your body. It’s in every cell membrane (outer layer). It’s a requirement for growth (in infants and adults). And it’s required for the production of many hormones.

Then why do so many people tell you to avoid eggs?

Simple: egg paranoia has been based on the old assumption that eating the yolks will raise blood cholesterol (and increase your risk for artery and heart disease). And even though the research has disproven the hypothesis – for most of the population – the medical community has been slow to reverse recommendations.

Researchers have looked at the diets of hundreds of thousands of people. And they’ve suggested that consuming eggs every day is not associated with cholesterol problems or heart disease. (There’s only one possible exception here: diabetics and the 0.2 percent of the population with familial hypercholesterolemia. More research has to be done to confirm this.)

Interestingly, in controlled trials where people were instructed to eat up to three eggs per day while on a weight loss diet, good things happened. These folks lost weight, decreased inflammation and either maintained or improved their blood cholesterol levels. (They were consuming 555 mg of cholesterol every day from eggs alone!)

Bottom line: Unless you have diabetes or a rare genetic disorder, eating a few eggs every day is not bad for you.

Apple & Cinnamon Muffins

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Ingredients

1 Apple, Diced

1 Cup Almond Meal

1/4 Cup Coconut Oil

3 Eggs, Whisked

3 Tablespoons Coconut Flour

2 Tablespoons Rice Malt Syrup

1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda

Pinch of salt

Directions

1. Combine all dry ingredients

2. Add wet ingredients and mix well

3. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes

Spanish Inspired Chicken

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This meal was a ‘it’s late, I’m hungry, I can’t be bothered’ kind of dish. It took 15 minutes to cook, and that included enough time clean up before sitting down to eat… BONUS.

Ingredients

1 Chicken Breast, diced

1 Spanish Onion, diced

2 Teaspoons Spanish BBQ Spice*

1 Can Tomatoes (Cherry tomatoes or diced)

1 Bunch Asparagus, chopped into 1/2cm lengths

1 Bunch Broccolini, chopped into 1/2cm lengths

*I bought this in the spice section of Coles. It is all natural, just a blend of different herbs and spices

Directions

1. Sautée onion in olive oil in a medium sized saucepan until soft

2. Add the chicken and stir until all sides are white

3. Add the Spanish spices, then the canned tomatoes and stir

4. Add the asparagus and broccolini, then cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes until chicken has cooked and sauce has thickened slightly

I served this dish with cauliflower rice, but you could also have it as is or with zucchini noodles. This made two Laura-sized serves… Aka definitely enough for two or three people or leftovers for lunch. >

Mediterranean Vegetable Couscous

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This meal works great as a side dish for your favorite meat or poultry, or on its own as a vegetarian or vegan meal.

Ingredients

Vegetables (I used carrot, red onion, zucchini, eggplant, capsicum)

Olive oil

Fresh Thyme

Salt & Pepper

Cauliflower

Directions

1. Roughly chop vegetables of choice into similar sized pieces

2. Combine in a baking tray with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and fresh thyme leaves

3. Bake for 50 minutes or until lightly golden in an oven at 200 degrees celcius

4. Process cauliflower until small ‘couscous’ texture

5. Microwave for 2 minutes

6. Place cauliflower couscous not a serving plate then add the roasted vegetables

Cashew Crusted Chicken

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This is becoming a staple in my diet! I have an aversion to grilled chicken breast… It bores me. But this has just changed the game completely.

Ingredients

Chicken Breast

Raw Cashew Nuts

(Optional sauce)

1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard

1 Teaspoon White Vinegar

2 Teaspoons Honey

Directions

1. Process cashew nuts until crumb sized

2. Cut chicken breast in half lengthways and roll each part in cashew crumbs

3. Heat some oil in a frypan over medium heat and cook chicken in both sides

(Optional sauce)

1. Combine sauce ingredients and serve with chicken