Monthly Archives: March 2014


Are you like one of the 157 million Americans who start the day with a java perk-up? coffeeAre you one of many who get their fix at Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks or some other drive through and leave the preparation to someone else? Depending on the size, flavoring, “latta” and “cino” you choose you could spend over $4.00 per perk-up.  Furthermore, many people don’t realize that the added flavoring, sweetener and cream ratchet up the calories to as much as 1050 calories if you choose a Large Frozen Caramel Coffee Coolatta with cream or 520 calories if you choose a Venti Double Chocolaty Chip Frappaccino blended with cream.  Is it possible to get that java jag in a less expensive and less caloric way and yet still not compromise the flavor and experience?

Java Joy

I am a bit of a coffee snob, albeit not a true connoisseur since I do enjoy a little sweetener and light cream in my cup of joe.  However, this does not detract from my “udder” experience of coffee bliss and I do prefer my coffee over any I’ve had at Starbucks or some other barista while travelling. coffee grinder I believe the freshness of the grind and the right blend of beans for my taste buds, combined with my personalized touch for sweetener and dairy creates a most fulfilling java joy.  I bought a Cuisinart 12 cup coffee grinder machine that allows me to put my preferred combination of whole beans in the machine and grinds them freshly for each pot of coffee.  The model that I prefer is one Cuisinart makes that has the coffee shoot separate from the water reservoir so that I can make multiple pots without steaming up the coffee shoot area.  My machine has lasted for over 4 years, is easy to clean, has a timer and allows you to adjust the strength of the brew.

Java Bean

Creating your personalized java joy experience starts with having the right ingredients and accouterments.  Some people like a medium roast, others prefer a peak or dark roast.  The longer the roast, the more oily and and less acidic the coffee.  coffee beansDarker (longer) roast coffee will have a more bitter, even slightly burnt flavor to it.   The darker the roast, the harder it is to distinguish it’s place or origin and the process of roasting becomes the focus.  I prefer a medium roast bean mixed with about a third of a flavored bean for just a hint of added flavor enhancement.  My preference is French vanilla but sometimes I like Irish cream or one of the jazzier flavors.  I mix my two blends ahead of time and keep them in a large container.  I spend about $14 on a pound of flavored coffee that I get at a local coffee roaster and most of the time I get my unflavored coffee from Trader Joes or Home Goods where I can buy a pound of Hawaiian coffee for about $8.00.  My mixture of two pounds of coffee beans will last me over 3 weeks.  I make a 12 cup pot of coffee daily for my husband and myself which amounts to 10 cents for an 8 oz cup of java.

Java Enhancement

In 2 Tbsp there are 25 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.  I put 1 tsp in my coffee.

In 2 Tbsp there are 25 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. I put 1 tsp in my coffee.

I do like a little bit of sweetener in my coffee but I use Truvia, a non-artificial sweetener made from the Stevia plant.  I also like about 1 teaspoon of half and half in my coffee but I use a low fat version in order to reduce the saturated fat and calories.  Last year I discovered a cheap way to top my coffee with froth using a frother I found on Amazon (and also in many specialty kitchen supply shops).  frotherIt just needs some vigorous pumps from my hand and it turns a few tablespoons of skim milk into a thick topper I can swirl in my drink to further enhance my java joy.  Sometimes I might even grate some fresh nutmeg or sprinkle some cocoa powder on top of that lovely froth.

Your Java Vs My Java

With the Truvia, half and half, and skim milk, my 16 oz cup of Java costs me about 24 cents at most. It has about ten calories all coming from the one teaspoon of cream and two tablespoons of skim milk.  If you are going out to buy your cup of Joe, I bet you are spending between $2-4 each time and getting many more calories in your serving unless you are drinking it black.  If you are one of the “latta” or “cinno” lovers you are getting at least 500 calories in your 16 ounces of java.  Over the course of the week that is a 3500 calories or one pound of fat.   Think about the calories you could save and enjoyment you could get from creating your own barista experience.  Why not “havajavalikenootha” by creating your java own experience today and save money and calories at the same time?



Is Your Home a Safe Zone or Torture Chamber?

Oops, I gave in.  Last week’s blog happened to me.  I am living proof that the TV, in cahoots with the remote control, sends out sub-conscientious messages… “You want something to eat.  Your mouth is not satisfied.  It doesn’t know what it wants.  Go out to the kitchen and forage.”  Empty Stacy'sIn my case, I knew those Stacy’s chips I had bought for a presentation was in my office, hidden under other food labels to use in my discussion.  I knew those lightly salted, crispy square chips were exactly want my mouth wanted right then.  I found them and brought them out to my TV room trying to ignore my husband’s look of disdain, knowing he had just proofread last week’s blog the day before.   I opened the bag and smelled that delightful freshness and began to enjoy everything I anticipated as my show resumed.  Thank God I had bought the smaller bag that was next to the 15 serving bag.  And thank God my husband’s silent drooling convinced me to handover the bag.  My home became a torture chamber last week, instead of the safe zone it has been for most of the past 5 years all because I allowed one of my favorite chips to come into the house for my presentation.  I could have picked Doritos or even Frito’s and I would have ignored the sublime messages, since those do not trigger the same cravings.  But no, Stacy’s was on the end cap and in my purview and I thought I was past those days of temptation.  I thought I could handle bringing them into the house.  But what was I really thinking?  Were they going to just disappear into thin air after my presentation?  Well, quite frankly, I had not thought that far ahead.  My planning ended at getting them to the presentation, not to what was I going to do with them when the presentation was over.

Torture Chamber

Of course I talk a bit tongue and cheek about this.  Is gluttony really the worst of the seven deadly sins?  Will John Doe from the movie, Seven, come after me?  And really, isn’t a sloth worse?  Just the word “sloth” conjures up some bad breath, foul smelling, greasy haired, oily faced, stained finger-nailed person. No seriously, in the grand scheme of things pigging out on 500 unneeded calories isn’t a life changer.  But what happened last week confirmed what I know about myself.  When foods I really enjoy come into the house, they are a temptation to me.  It further reinforced how I feel my best, both physically and mentally, when I make my house a safe zone.  I know there are people who can keep tempting foods out of sight at home and manage to ration them over the course of the week.  But I also know that there are people who bring in ice cream, cookies, chips and candy on a regular basis.  These are short term pleasure foods that become habits, a source of mindless eating and weight gain.  I had eaten 520 unnecessary calories.  If I had done this every night it would have amounted to a pound’s worth of food by the end of the week.  How would that serve my desire to feel energetic, look my best, perform my best during the day and help me to be around and really enjoy my grandchildren?

Safe Zone

I choose to make my home a safe zone.  For the most part I make my sweets and muffins count by using only whole grains, fruit (and even flax seed!) and I make just enough servings to last one or two nights.  If I go out to eat, then I might get a serving of those crispy, salty, crunchy delights.  I know they are too tempting for me to resist when they come into my house, so most of the time they don’t make it into my cart.

My presentation went well and I showed my empty, paper stuffed, Stacy’s chip bag and explained that a very large mouse overcome by sublime TV messaging had eaten them.  And then I told them the real story.  Thank God john Doe was not in the audience.

Remote Control

TVWe all know the routine.  The alarm sounds, our eyes open but our brain tells us, please just a little more sleep.  It’s too early to get up. You tell yourself you shouldn’t have stayed up so late to catch the end of the show or the game.  Then there is the adrenaline rush as you remember you have to get to work for an early meeting.  You jump into the shower as you start to put on your mental armor for the day.  You only have time to grab a coffee without spending a second of time thinking about what you will eat the rest of the day.  You get through work picking at office temptations, grab a take out meal somewhere and plow through the rest of the day. You come home tired, forage through the cabinets and frig to scrape together a meal and plunk yourself down on the couch to just “veg out”, unwind and munch.  And thus starts the cycle.  Yes, the cycle starts with the evening of TV.  I have just one question to ask.  Do you control the Remote or does the Remote control you?

The TV Glaze Causing a Daze

The average person watches between 4-5 hours of TV a day.  Most of the hours are watched during the evening with 63% of Americans waking up on weekdays not feeling rested.  But what are the ramifications on the body?  There are many.

1.  If you come home and eat dinner around 6 or 7 pm and then watch TV until 11 or midnight, it is natural to feel hunger pangs 4 hours after a meal.  And food choices that time of night are not going to be for a bunch of crunchy broccoli or celery.  No, it’s going to be most likely chips of some sort, crackers, ice cream or a sleeve of cookies.  Before you know it that bag, box or carton is empty and you’ve consumed over 500 calories or more.  And were you even fully aware of the mindless munching?  Do this seven times a week and that amounts to a pound of junk weight.

How many servings are in this small bag - there was a bigger bag of Stacy's chips!

How many servings are in this small 8 oz bag?

2.  Now, after consuming this hefty serving of salty crispy, sweet crunchy or creamy sweet delight you head to bed and lie down….  Imagine what that does to your esophageal sphincter.  The contents in your stomach knock on the upper doorway of your stomach, not the doorway nature intended, and some of those acidic contents ooze into your lower esophagus, perhaps even getting as close to your trachea and cause inflammation where there should be none.

There are 8 servings here.  If you ate the whole bag that would amount to 1040 calories!

There are 8 servings here. If you ate the whole bag that would amount to 1040 calories!

Over time this can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), that is a precursor to esophageal cancer.  And if the contents are climbing to your airway, the acidity can exacerbate asthma symptoms.

3.  The National Sleep Foundation states that artificial light from the TV stimulates alertness by keeping the body from making the sleep promoting hormone, melatonin, interrupting ones natural sleep cycle.  People who stay up late wake up exhausted and feel tired during the day because they’ve interrupted their circadian rhythm and have not had the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep that 99% of people need to maintain concentration during the day.  So not only are they tired but they are less productive.

Why Not Remove The Remote Control For Some of the Week Nights?

Think about shifting this cycle.  Why not come home, sit down for 5 minutes and just breathe some deep cleansing breaths and center your thoughts.  Go out to your kitchen with the purpose of really fueling your body with what it truly needs for peak performance:  some lean meat or fish, a hefty portion of veggies (how about some broccoli now?), and a nutrient filled starch with some real purpose.  One that has natural fiber, perhaps some potassium, and other nutrients, like a sweet potato, some whole wheat pasta or some quinoa.  Keep the TV off, find some delightful, soulful music, perhaps some Aretha Franklin or Buddy Guy, light some candles and experience your dinner.  If you live alone then have a friend come over and join you.  Have some nice conversation, connect with the people at your table.  Then after you’ve cleaned up dinner go out to your den and either play a game, read a book, perhaps do a hobby like knitting or a puzzle and truly relax.  Enjoy a cup of herbal tea to avoid that desire for something more.  When it’s nine or ten, and if you notice you want that little “something, something” GO TO BED!  Yes, retire to your bedroom, and hopefully there is not a TV in there, and read in bed or lie there and focus on your breath.  Perhaps repeat the loving kindness meditation:

May I be filled with loving kindness,
May I be well
May I be peaceful and at ease,  
May I be happy

And then notice how you feel when that alarm goes off in the morning and how much more productive you will be during the day.  It is worth making the remote control remote, at least some days during the week.