Food Forum

Chicory is Better Than Coffee

Chicory is made from the root of a beautiful blue flower that is akin to the Dandelion.  When this woody root is granulated and roasted it looks and almost smells exactly like coffee.  And what is more, when you put it into your coffee maker, it comes out as dark and black as coffee.  In the cup, it has a wonderful roasted aroma and taste that really is not much like coffee but is quite palatable on its own.

And Chicory has zero caffeine and much less acidity that coffee.  It also has many health benefits that coffee (despite all the recent Starbucks financed “studies”) cannot aspire too.  Here’s an abridged listing of benefits:

  • High in triglycerides
  • Improves cholesterol levels
  • Prebiotic
  • High-fiber
  • Recommended for people with diabetes
  • Helps to remedy diarrhea, constipation and IBS
  • Helps to remedy eczema
  • Relieves gas and bloating

Many people these days have never heard of chicory – it is something of an old-fashioned herb that our grandparents and great grandparents would have known about.  People drank a lot of it during World War II in the US when coffee, like most imported foods were rationed and chicory could be grown and supplied locally.  It was the same in the Old South during the civil war and later.  Chicory and dandelion root and even other herbs and roots were resorted to as replacements for coffee and tea.

Chicory is still a ‘thing’ in New Orleans and a deep part of their history and tradition that they still celebrate.  A mixture of Chicory and coffee is still produced commercially in New Orleans and in many parts of Europe, particularly in France.  In fact, you can probably find at least one brand of chicory/coffee mix if you look hard enough in some grocery stores in the US (and there’s a good chance it’s produced in New Orleans).

But now here’s the new thingChicory mixed with Tea.  About a year ago I tried a commercial brand of Chicory and tea and absolutely loved it.  It enabled me to break free from coffee which I felt was hurting my teeth and my stomach and keeping me up at night.  Both Chicory and tea have many health benefits, fewer detriments than coffee and each lends to the other, in terms of taste, depth, complexity and interest.  They are a winning combination if ever there was one.

And here’s the next bit of good news.  Chicory (and tea) are both way, way cheaper than coffee. A 1 pound bag of ground, roasted Chicory, at about $11, goes farther than hundreds of dollars worth of coffee.  A tablespoon of Chicory will produce as much or more strong black liquid than 1 cup of coffee grounds.  And black tea (adding back a little caffeine if you prefer it) also goes a very long way and doesn’t have to reach the same darkness and strength as coffee.

So, how’s that? A wonderful new taste in your morning cup, much better for you than coffee, and it leaves a little more change jingling in your pocket.  Life is good.

A Morning Cup of Chicory blended with tea

The Power and Protein of Pecans!

Time for Pecans to take bow

(Say Hello to Nut Meat and Goodbye to Animal Meat)

I want to talk about Pecans today for a number of reasons — but mainly because pecans, like most other tree nuts, are a powerful source of protein.  Most human beings thrive on rich varieties of protein and it is therefore an important issue.   In fact, in regards to vegans and vegetarians, protein has long been an important but sometimes contentious subject and even a source of debate and criticism from those who produce or consume animal products.

This debate doesn’t derive from any real lack of protein in the vegan diet, but rather public misconceptions about protein itself and where it comes from.  Sadly, there are a lot of people who criticize, and even refuse to participate in Vegan/Vegetarianism all because of what they just don’t understand about protein. 

In western culture and particularly the US, conventional mainstream thinking has always decreed that animal meat is an absolute necessity for providing protein in the human diet.  “They” would have you believe there is nowhere else to turn for protein other than meat and a few dairy products, but that is just plainly wrong.  And this is after the old USDA nutrition hierarchy chart has long been discredited. 

Even so, our government is still publishing this chart shown below (Meat shouldn’t even be on there!) and it is easily found on the internet. Most modern day nutritionists dispute the hierarchical placement and balance of food types shown in this chart.  For the last 20 years it has been almost universally recognized that vegetables, fruits, and other whole unprocessed foods should make up the largest share of the daily diet – yet what I call the JPW (Just Plain Wrong!) chart still prevails at the USDA.

The old USDA Food Chart
(red mark-ups are mine)

It has long been well known that there are many other sources that far outdistance meat and dairy as sources of protein, such as:  Nuts, seeds, all kinds of beans, lentils, soy products, and even the lovely green peas people eat all the time.  Other forms of high quality protein can be extracted or made from familiar sources like wheat and yeast and hemp.   

That dumb USDA chart has done nothing but mislead generations of Americans who are now more overweight and unhealthy than ever because of such government presented fallacies – but more on that at another time.

Plainly, many people are still to be disabused of the false notion that animal meat and dairy are the only sources for protein.  That idea is very far from the truth and one proof of that is the wonder of good ole pecans.  Pecans, in particular, are a tree nut powerhouse and a nutritional boon that far outdistances meat or any kind of dairy product. 

Unlike animal meat, these delicious morsels of Protein don’t have to be cooked first, and the trees that bear them don’t have to be slaughtered

Just one ounce, hardly a handful of pecans provides 3-5 grams of protein, along with dozens of other vitamins and minerals.  And that same ounce of pecans will also provide 3 grams of fiber, but only 1 scant ounce of sugar.  And they provide all of that wonderful protein and fiber without the cholesterol, saturated fats, and other indigestible and unneeded properties of animal meat (which provides no fiber!).

Pecans not only provide more and better protein per ounce than meat, they also supply heart healthy unsaturated fats, and are a great source of antioxidants, and other immunity boosting and inflammation fighting nutrients.  In fact, many studies have linked pecan consumption to the prevention of coronary heart disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer and even more diseases and deficiencies beyond that.  There is no form of artery clogging animal meat that can ever stand up to those claims to fame!

It’s time to say good bye to animal meat and hello to Pecans and all their healthy relatives and friends that should be filling up the Food chart!

Want more health benefit information about Pecans? Here’s a good recent source from Natural Food 11 Impressive Benefits of Pecan Nuts

And here are some great Pecan recipes to get you started from a site I found called The Go Vegan Club: Heart Smart Pecan Recipes

Want to buy healthy fresh harvested pecans directly from a grower? Here are some growers who are ready to ship to you today:

Swift River Pecans (Texas)

Hudson Pecan Company (Georgia)

NM Pecan (New Mexico)


Great Home made granola doesn’t have to be clumpy

I was just in the grocery store the other day, looking around for some bran flakes (that were not full of chemicals and added sugars) and I happen to glance over at the boxes of granola which filled up shelf after shelf.  I picked up a few of the granolas and looked at the ingredient lists.  As usual, they had sugars, and sweeteners, and syrups, and high fructose this and that listed all over them – along with chocolate chips, vanilla chunks and all kinds of “frosted” whatever. 

In short, most brand name granolas sold in grocery stores these days are simply re-packaged kiddie cereals (not much better than Captain Crunch and Froot loops) with a few bran flakes and flax seeds thrown in.  And they do work hard at fooling people into thinking they are getting something ‘healthy.’  The front of the boxes will be screaming about “NON-GMO!!”  and “1 GRAM OF FIBRE! In every bowl!” and lot’s of other hooey that does nothing to mitigate all the sugary crap that is listed on the back of the box.

America, it is time we stopped handing our money over to brand name granola makers (they are godawful expensive to boot!) and started making our own granola.  It’s the only way to know for sure that you are getting something that isn’t stuffed with hidden sugar, sodium, and a load of other chemicals that the defunded and gutted FDA no longer as the ability to regulate.

And by gosh, it is EASY to make your own granola!  Buy your own ingredients and throw them together in your own kitchen and Wah Lah! You’ve got granola! No baking, boiling or any sort of kitchen machinery required.  And it will taste great, be less expensive, and won’t rot your teeth and expand your waistline with all their added surgars. 

You can probably find all the ingredients you need at a regular grocery store, but you might want to go to their healthfood/bulk sales section for some items.

Try This:  Becca’s Better than Store Bought Granola

2 cups –      Cornflakes (try to find some that don’t list fructose on the back. They’re around)

2 cups –      Bran Flakes (organic if possible)

1.5 cups –   Oatmeal, (organic if possible) uncooked and not instant

1 cup –       Pecan pieces

.5 cup –      Almond shaved or slivered

2 tbl Spn – Flax seeds

.5 cup –      Raisons, if you like them

Last ingredient – get creative:  See anything else that looks healthy, tasty and compatible with corn flakes?

Throw it in there.

Then you just put all the above listed ingredients in a big bowl – leave ‘em dry! – and stir them up a bit.  If you want a little added sweetness try stirring in a few tablespoons of brown powdered monkfruit; it clings to the flakes nicely.

Then pour the mixture into a goodsized jar and decanter so it will be ready for use. 

And guess what you just did?  You just made granola! And it is ready to eat right now.  Grab a bowl full of your new creation, pour over it whatever kind of milk you like (almond, soy, coconut, any will work) and you are ready to enjoy the healthy, less expensive fruits of your not-very-much labor.   Think of it — Less sugar, more change jingling in your pocket, and a sense of accomplishment – all from one nifty bowl of homemade granola.  Now how trendy is that?!

It’s Time for A Cookie Revolution

Yes, today I am leading the charge against prepackaged over-processed sugar disks – what most people call “cookies” – that are filling the grocery store shelves near you!  Sure, everybody loves cookies.  They come in an endless variety of flavors and types, sizes and shapes.  Just about anything can be made into a cookie (even the IT industry has come up with their own version).    But the problem is that corporate food producers have long been stuffing their innocent looking cookies with tons of sugar, sodium, and a host of preservative and flavoring chemicals. 

And the truth is (as the corporations have always known) none of those addictive, unhealthy additives have ever been necessary.  That’s right.  None of that has ever been necessary for making perfectly wonderful cookies that are not the enemies of your health.  And they also don’t need the fancy wrapping or the jacked up prices.  (it’s always about money, isn’t it?)

I have already revolted against store bought cookies a while ago and begun making a whole range of my own – all from one basic recipe that has 3 (count ’em 3!) basic ingredients only!  Yes I did say just 3 ingredients can form the basis for making at least a dozen different kinds of cookies.  I found a similar basic recipe in a vegetarian cook book a few years ago and it was good for a starter, but it had a couple more ingredients than the basic three.  I got rid of those other ingredients, just didn’t need them.

And here’s another thing:  you not only don’t need the jacked up additives and sugars of store bought cookies – you also don’t need eggs, or milk, or butter, etc. – no dairy! You just don’t need it (whether you’re vegan or not).  You can easily make some marvelous cookies without any of that.  Yes you can!  And here’s how:


3 Ingredient Plus Cookies

(drum roll please)

2-4 over ripe bananas

3 cups of oatmeal (or 2.5 cups of any denser sort of flour)

1 cup water (or however much needed to combine the bananas and oatmeal to the consistency you like)

Plus – whatever… (see suggestions below)

And that’s it folks.  Mix it up in a big bowl and then with just these 3 ingredients you are ready to spoon out large or small dollops onto a cookie sheet (nonstick spray makes easier clean up).  The cookies will bake to a golden firmness in a 280 degree oven after about 20 minutes.  The bananas provide all the creaminess, oils, and sweetness you’ll need. (Scrap the dairy products for sure!)

But Wait!!  You say you want cinnamon cookies?  Then, in the mixing bowl, add cinnamon to the three basic ingredients. You like extra spicy?  Then add cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, anything you have.  Must have chocolate chips or cocoa powder? – put ‘em in there.  And how about nuts?  Pecans, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, they will all work fine.  And if your sweet tooth isn’t satisfied, toss in a little stevia, monkfruit, or whatever sweetener you like.  You could add blueberries, cherries, even apples or some apple sauce (in fact, the apple sauce could replace the bananas if you prefer.)  Pumpkin puree could also join with or substitute for the bananas… and the variations can go on, and on…

The point is, that you can make just about any kind or flavor of healthy delicious cookies that you would like – without the hype, without the chemical additives, without the expense, without the sugar or the dairy products.  And these are excellent cookies full of healthy nutrient dense ingredients.  You won’t be losing a thing.  

Isn’t it great to find out you don’t need what you have been led to believe all your life that you did need?  It’s only cookies we’re talking about here but that is a small sense of freedom. And many great things start small.

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