Two glasses of coffee with cinnamon sticks

How to Spice Up Your Coffee This Holiday Season

The holidays are back and it’s time to spice up your beverages! That includes your regular cup of joe. Wondering how to do this? Fear not. From Moccocan spiced coffee to cinnamon brews, we have the best recipes for you to put the kick back into your caffeine hit.

Cinnamon Brew

This is a tasty coffee makeover that adds fragrance to your brew. The trick is to add powdered cinnamon to the coffee grounds before you start brewing. The end result is a warm spicy drink that will kickstart your morning.

Ingredients

  • For a 6-9 cup serving: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon will do. 
  • For a pour-over coffee: About 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon for every 16 ounces of water.

Instructions

  1. Mix the spice into the coffee grounds in the filter. For a more aromatic brew you can also add a little nutmeg into the brew; mix the nutmeg grounds and cinnamon in the ratio 1:1.
  2. Add sugar or cream and adjust to taste. A more exotic taste can also be achieved by substituting cinnamon with ginger grounds. You can also experiment with a mixture of cardamom and ground ginger for a more herbal taste.

Vanilla Syrup   

Vanilla is one of the easiest spices to come by. With a little know-how you can turn your coffee into flavored drinks using these beans. Vanilla extracts will do for either hot or cold coffee; it can also come in handy when brewing your own cappuccino or latte. 

Ingredients

Vanilla beans (one or several will do depending on your serving)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

The trick here is to dissolve vanilla (extract and the insides) in your sweeter before adding it to your coffee. 

  1. Split the bean long-ways and pour out the insides, scrape off to get every ounce of the creamy spice.
  2. Place the scrapped vanilla insides in a pan, add sugar and water. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved or turned into thick slurry. 
  3. Remove the creamy mixture from heat and add the vanilla extract to enhance the taste. Let the mixture cool down completely.
  4. Use a fine sieve to remove the beans’ fragments as you transfer the slurry into a serving (pourable) container. 
  5. Use the extract to your taste whenever you need to sweeten your coffee. 

The mixture can last for up to 2 weeks by keeping it cool it in a fridge 

Mint Syrup Coffee

Cold brew coffee with mint and sugar

Mint will not only flavor your drink but it will also leave your kitchen with a sweet, fresh fragrance. This delightful recipe calls for a herbal mint of your choosing. We recommend sprig leaves which are known to be highly concentrated with the minty aroma. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 10 sprig mint leaves

Instructions

  1. Heat the water to boil and add sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the leaves and let them steep in the mixture as it cool down. To get all the flavor by ensuring the leaves are completely submerged.
  3. After 3-5 hours, remove the leaves and store the liquid in a lidded container.
  4. Pour to taste whenever you crave a cup of coffee.

The mixture is good for up to a week if kept cold in a fridge.

Spiced Eggnog Coffee

Adding eggnog in your coffee will add a little over 100 calories to your drink, but the taste is well worth it. Take a cup of this creamy delight in the morning; this will do for most of your energy needs during the rest of the day.

Ingredients

  • A few teaspoons of eggnog
  • A pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the nog in a sauce pan and cook while stirring (do not let it boil)
  2. Add a pinch of nutmeg if you desire.
  3. Pour in a cup of black coffee and you are ready to go.

The drink can be taken with whipped cream for a more holiday feel

Moroccan Spiced Coffee

A touch of African coffee could be the warming up your body needs this holiday. This Moroccan brew ups your coffee’s flavor by adding a bit of peppery taste. Yes, that’s right… ground black pepper corns can be added to beverages. The brew is made spicier by adding freshly ground cardamom, cloves and cinnamon into the mix.

Ingredients

Ground coffee to your taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • A pinch of ground green cardamom seeds
  • 1 cup roasted coffee beans
  • Hot milk, sugar or cream as desired

Instructions

  1. Mix the freshly ground pepper, cardamom ginger, cloves and coffee beans in a blender. Whirl the mixture until it’s finely ground.
  2. Boil 4-5 cups of water.
  3. Pour milk in a saucepan and heat it but don’t let it boil.
  4. Pour the coffee plus spice mixture into the filter and pour the boiling water over it to extract the different flavors. Continue adding the water slowly allowing it to drip through the coffee grounds.
  5. When using a French press: pour the coffee plus spice mixture into the press pot. Pour in the boiling water and let the mixture steep for about 5 minutes. Bring the plunger down and serve.
  6. Add milk and sugar or cream as per your desire.

Spiced up White Coffee

Eggnog with cinnamon stick

A cup of white coffee can be made more enjoyable by adding a few simple spices. The recipe for this requires a one-time serving for a small gathering. Think of this recipe as a better alternative to chocolate flavored coffee. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves
  • A pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

  1. Warm the milk over medium heat (do not let it boil)
  2. Add the spices and stir to make a thick cream
  3. Whisk the mixture if you wish to make a light froth
  4. Pour the cream in a serving container and let your guest add it to their cups of black coffee.

The mixture will not last even when put in a refrigerator; serve all of it in one sitting.  

Almond Spiced Coffee Blend

Not everybody is up for milk; if you’re lactose intolerance or if you simply enjoy animal products, almond milk will do for a cup of creamy coffee. While you are it why not spice it up with a few ground flavors.

Ingredients

  • Almond milk to your taste
  • 2 teaspoons roasted ground coffee
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • A pinch of nutmeg and cardamom 

Instructions

  1. Add 8 cups of water to your coffee maker 
  2. Add coffee and the ground allspice 
  3. Brew as per machine instructions and use a paper filter to get rid of spice fragments
  4. Add almond milk and sweeter to taste 

Spiced Marmalade Coffee

Bring out the holiday cheer by making some fruit-spiced coffee. Orange marmalade in particular will add a citric-taste and sweet aroma to your brew. So the next time you are at the farmers’ market, be sure to pick up a few ripe oranges ready for marmalade coffee. Add some spices to your shopping list and let the holidays come to life.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup ground coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup of marmalade
  • 3 cups of water

Instructions

  1. Mix the ground cloves, cinnamon and coffee and place them in your coffee filter. 
  2. Add the marmalade into the coffee in it semisolid form.
  3. Add water and let the mixture brew as per instructions.    
  4. Stir before serving to ensure that the marmalade is well dissolved and thoroughly blended 

Honey Spice Latte

A cup of latter with a small jar of honey

By combining several spices you can create a magical latte. In addition to sugar, add a little honey to your coffee. Honey is packed with amino acids and several other minerals that are extremely beneficial for your metabolism. If you have a sweet tooth you can add some molasses; this will also give the brew a richer texture and add on flavor. 

Ingredients  

  • 1/2 cup ground coffee
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • A pinch of cloves

Instructions

  1. Mix the spices, sugar, honey, milk and molasses in a saucepan.
  2. Cook the mixture over medium heat while stirring for consistency (Do not let it boil). Remove from heat and blend the mixture for a few seconds until it’s foamy.
  3. Add the ground coffee to 5 cups of water in your coffee maker and brew as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Pour the coffee brew into five cups and divide the spicy mixture among them. 
  5. If whipped cream is your thing, use it to garnish this homemade latte.

Cinnamon Mocha Coffee

This is one of those brews that can be quite expensive at your local cafe. So instead of spending precious dollars over just a single cup, consider buying a few spices to brew a serving worth at least 5 cups. 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup ground coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cocoa 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Mix the sugar, milk, cocoa, and vanilla in a saucepan.
  2. Cook the slurry in medium heat for about 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure the granules and milk get to blend completely. 
  3. Mix coffee and ground cinnamon in your coffee filter and 4 to 5 cups of water. Brew the mixture according to your liking or the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Serve the hot milk mixture and pour in the cinnamon spiced coffee 

Thia drink can be garnished with whipped cream or with a few cinnamon sticks.

Tips for Better Coffee

Using the recipes above you can whip up a few spices and really go beyond the ‘coffee with cream and sugar’ routine. However, to get the best out of your coffee brew, here are a few tips and tricks to spice it up further:

  • Make patterns on your latte; this is a fun way of getting people into the holiday mood. If a barista can do it, why not you?
  • It takes time for hot coffee to cool down, so when you are pressed for time, just make a ‘cold power’ brew.
  • Use ‘Robusta’ coffee when going for maximum caffeine brews – ‘Arabica’ packs about half the caffeine levels of the former.
  • When using ‘drip’ to make coffee, first run hot water through the coffeemaker to heat it up before you start brewing- this makes the end result more desirable.  
  • Prefer French press over drip coffee when you want a strong brew.

The Take-Away

You can make your coffee time more memorable by adopting the above recipes. These are coffee brewing methods that are meant to make your drink spicy, strong and flavored. Some of the spices that will help you in this include cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, peppercorn, cocoa and nutmeg. To enhance the taste of your brew, you can go with natural sweeteners such as honey and molasses. If minty is how you like your cup then try freshly ground green sprig leaves and to cap it all, consider making your coffee fruity by adding some orange marmalade.

Woman gardening outdoors

Tips For Growing Your Own Organic Produce

You say you’re not the type for organic gardening. People who grow their own organic vegetables are the kind of people who practice yoga. They throw away their razors and change their names to Persimmon or Rutabega. They listen to new age music and Joni Mitchell. They replace all their tight-fitting clothes with sack-like hemp items. You would never fit the bill. Although it may be tempting to find some plausibility in this scenario, it is actually quite far from reality.

Organic gardening is actually one of the most practical things you can do. It’s the healthiest and cheapest way to produce food for your family; the transcendental meditation and is optional. If you’re thinking of growing your own organic produce, here are some tips for keeping it real.

Gardening

Green Manure
Green manure is a way to grow plant material while improving the quality of the soil. It’s usually planted in the winter and grows a few weeks before planting season. It retains nutrients while it grows, until it’s cut down and turned into the soil. Winter rye is a good source of green manure during the winter because it clamps onto the soil to prevent erosion. Comfrey is another excellent green manure option, which helps to add minerals, such as nitrogen and phosphate to the soil.

Compost
Compost is a nutritious humus made from rotting organic material, like grass clippings, wood chips, vegetable or fruit scraps. In fact, you can add anything organic to the compost pile to provide extra nutrition to your plants. Compost can be added directly to the soil and turned under, or you can leave it on the top of the bed and let the worms come and do the work for you. Using compost prevents water erosion and disease. You can make your own compost pile by setting aside a bin and adding organic material at regular intervals, adding it to your vegetable garden bed when the older material becomes finished.

mother and daughter

Mulching
Mulching is a way to slow down the growth of weeds while keeping the soil from dehydration. Although almost anything that provides cover for the bare ground between your vegetables can be used for mulching, organic materials will degrade slowly and add nutrients to the soil. The best organic materials for mulching include dry grass, wood chips, and hay. Spread a few inches of mulch onto areas of bare soil to keep sunlight from reaching the ground and drying the soil.

Companion Planting
Strength in numbers applies to the gardening world as well. Companion planting is the planting of certain types of herbs, flowers, and vegetables together to fight off disease and pests and provide nutrients to one another. Although herbs are the most regularly used for companion planting, there are certain vegetables that should be planted apart or together. For example, planting tomatoes with carrots will make your carrots turn out smaller than usual. Garlic is a natural fungicide that can fight off a large number of diseases and pests. In fact, garlic can even improve the flavor and production of certain vegetables. Beans are an excellent companion choice for corn and grains because they enrich the soil with the nitrogen necessary for these plants to thrive; melons and squash work well with corn as well, because their broad leaves provide the soil with the shade necessary for keeping the corn moist.

Are you going organic? Let us know what you’re doing to make your garden grow!

Woman with healthy skin

Foods For Healthy Skin

Why is it that some women always seem to look great? Obviously, there are some who invest in designer wardrobes, top of the line haircuts and treatments, manicures, pedicures, the list goes on. But there are some women who seem to need none of that stuff. No matter how simply they’re dressed, or how little effort they’ve put in, they just seem to shine. It’s the skin.

According to a PMC study on mate choices and facial preferences, healthy skin is one of the most important determinants in picking a mate. The study finds that, “there is a large and obvious selective advantage in detecting healthy partners for social exchange and mate choice” and people are “more willing to reciprocate trust from healthy looking social partners than from social partners who are unhealthy looking.” The research goes on to explain that, “skin health may be a particularly useful marker of current health condition,” and we all want to be attractive, right? Jessica Wu, MD and author of , “Feed Your Face,”says, “My conclusion is that naturally gorgeous skin often starts with your diet.” So let’s dig in!

1. Walnuts
Eat walnuts? If you do, you are eating the only nut that has a significant level of omega-3 fatty acid. That’s great news if your not too keen on fish, which also contains loads of the nutrient. Walnuts have alpha-linolenic acid, which protects from eczema, plus they’re great on froyo and ice cream.

2. Kale
Kale is a powerful source of both lutein and zeaxanthin, which are nutrients that neutralize free radicals from UV light, and can even safeguard against wavelengths that penetrate sunscreen. Just one cup of these mean greens give you 134% of you daily vitamin C and 133% of your daily vitamin A, both of which are known for their skin firming properties.

3. Rosemary
According to a study done by the International Journal of Epidemiology, the regular consumption of four or more herbs per day, such as rosemary or thyme, was known to reduce the risk of melanoma by 60%. These herbs contain large amounts of antioxidants and block the sun’s free radicals before they cause damage to the skin.

4. Almond Milk
Since Dr. Wu says, “Research shows dairy is highly inflammatory, which means it will aggravate acne, wrinkles, and rashes;” it is suggested that almond milk is used as a more skin-friendly alternative. Use it in your coffee and on cereal for better skin health.

5. Soy
A study of middle-aged women in Japan found that those who ate 40 milligrams of an isoflavone found in soy had improved elasticity and fewer lines in their skin when compared with subjects who received a placebo. The isoflavone, known as aglycone is effective in preventing collagen from breaking down, thereby decreasing the chance of sagging and wrinkles. You can get your 40 mg dosage in 1 oz. of dry roasted soybeans, 3 oz. of tempeh, or 6 oz. of tofu.

Got some more info on healthy skin food? We love to hear your comments. Let us know if you’ve tried any of these and what you think.