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Make Your Coffee More Flavorful

Flavored coffee sold in supermarkets has been flavored with either natural or synthetic oils and some even have at least fifty flavoring agents and preservatives. If you want to personally put flavor in your coffee, to try out other coffee flavors, or if your favorite coffee flavor is not available in the market, here are some ways on how to make your own flavored coffee.

You can add your flavor spices to your beans and store them together in a tightly sealed container for a few hours before grinding them. Note the temperature where you will store them because while you want the flavor to be infused in the beans, you do not want them to melt onto your beans. Do not keep them together for a prolonged period of time. If they are stored for a number of days, the spice might overpower the flavor of your coffee and when you grind them, you may have a cup of strong cinnamon flavored drinks with none of the coffee taste. If you are not planning on using the beans yet, take the spice out and do not keep them together any longer than one day so that when you do use your beans, the spice will not be too powerful.

While grinding, you can also add the spice at this time. Grind the beans together with the spice of your choice. Make sure that your spice will not overpower the flavor of the coffee as well. Make sure you get the right coffee to spice ratio or proportion because if you put too much coffee bean and not enough spice, it won't have any effect at all. Or if you put in too much spice, the coffee flavor will be completely lost. It will definitely be hard to correct the flavor and the taste later on. You will only discover it upon final preparation, with the taste and aroma. So be careful how much spice you add. You cannot physically separate them when they are already in powder form. Before you make a lot of batches of coffee mix, be sure to test out the mix first in a single cup of coffee.

There are other more obvious ways to flavoring up your coffee and you can even make your own flavored coffee at home. Add cocoa powder for that touch of chocolaty sweetness, add vanilla for a soft and velvety hint of flavor, or add hazelnut, cinnamon, irish cream for a little kick or nutmeg for a completely different and special taste. You can also add other powdered drink mixes or syrups to your coffee to create your own unique flavor blend. You can top your cold coffee with whipped cream, cinnamon or chocolate powder for both a delicious and a professional looking drink. If you want to spike your coffee, add liquor such as Kahlua for a great afternoon or evening coffee cup. Adding flavor to your coffee can be fun and can bring your taste buds a wonderful surprise.


Easy Hot Chocolate Recipes

Some foods bring you comfort. Others bring back childhood memories. Some warm up your body and bring your soul along for the ride as well. Some foods can even accomplish all three. For instance, there's nothing like a hearty bowl of hot soup to make an illness seem to just melt away. Not only are they healthy to eat, there's just something emotionally soothing about indulging in a bowl of soup when you're ill. In that same vein, chocolate always has been a favorite comfort food for young and old alike. It simply tastes delicious, and fun times are sure to ensue whenever chocolate is served. When you combine the best properties for these two comfort foods, a warm, rich cup of hot chocolate can really brighten your day, warm your soul, and bring back sweet memories of Grandma's delicious homemade cocoa. And nothing soothes winter's blues than a steaming cup of chocolaty goodness.

There are many options for hot cocoa. You can settle for store-bought instant cocoa, but there are small ways you can add a special twist on the old favorite and make lasting sweet memories. Here are a few simple ideas that will take only a few ingredients and a few minutes in the kitchen but will let you reap the warmth and goodness for hours.

For a rich and creamy batch of hot chocolate, add a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and your own measurement for cocoa (to taste) to 6 cups of hot (not boiling) water. Stir occasionally as it heats so everything mixes well and to prevent it from boiling. The final mixture should yield about 8 cups of sweet, delectable goodness.

Another great variation to try is Mexican hot chocolate. To make this spicy delight, add a pinch of ground cinnamon and chili powder to your usual hot chocolate brew and really heat up your day.

If you prefer white chocolate cocoa, make enough for 4 cups and add ¼ teaspoon each of cayenne pepper and ground cinnamon. This is sure to spice things up but won't leave a strong aftertaste.

No matter what the age, everyone enjoys a great cup of hot cocoa, not just for the taste but also for the feeling of comfort it brings. Science has proven that food can a have very real effect on how a person thinks and feels. A warm cup of cocoa in your hand can turn the gloomy rain, blanketing snow, or howling wind into a moment truly worth savoring. Holding a steaming cup of liquid chocolate can erase worry, boredom, and anxiety and fill your mind with happy thoughts and warm memories. Whether spicy Mexican, decadent white chocolate, or old-fashioned brimming with marshmallows, a cup of hot chocolate can work wonders on a cold winter day. So the next time the moment calls for hot cocoa, try one of these recipes. You will surely love them, and your friends and family will be thrilled with the flavorful twists. Have a warm chocolaty winter!


The Many Distinctive Styles of Gourmet Coffee Beans

Gourmet coffee beans are a popular beverage to enjoy, however, a huge number of people do not understand what the term gourmet means. They do not know the differences between the gourmet coffees and the average coffees which can be bought.

The term gourmet is often considered to represent a better quality product, which will command a higher price. Therefore, coffee that is classified as gourmet will be more expensive, with a better flavor. However, it's typically drunk because of personal taste, and although it may be gourmet, this doesn't necessarily mean that it is the best.

Many coffee drinkers will have their favorite variety of coffee, and it will be difficult to get them to drink any other style of coffee. Gourmet beans are a superior blend of coffee which has distinctive flavors and characteristics. This style of coffee is not traditionally drunk every day due to the high cost but is brewed for a special occasion or event.

The term gourmet is defined as any product which is refined and of a great quality; however, there are no restrictions as to who can call their products gourmet. Therefore, many different coffees are now referred to as quality coffees. Gourmet beans may be classified as such due to the unique growing situation and the difficulty in harvesting.

There are some very unusual coffee regions which are incredibly small, and produce great coffee. The coffee that is produced in these regions is often referred to as gourmet coffee beans. Some gourmet coffees are simply strange, and people pay high prices for them. The Kopi Luwak coffee is coffee which has been eaten and excreted by the civet cat. Although not appealing to everyone, this coffee is the most expensive in the world.

Another classification of gourmet coffee beans is the different flavorings which are typically included. The more effort and roasting, which have gone into the quality coffee, typically a greater price can be charged. The roasting process is a huge factor when considering the quality and taste of the quality coffees. The stronger the coffee the more expensive it will be and although this style doesn't suit everyone, many people enjoy dark, rich coffee.

For coffee connoisseurs deciding if the coffee is of gourmet standard is very similar to wine tasting. Although the coffee beans may have been harvested in the same place, the roasting process will often classify the coffee. Different roasting procedures will cause different flavors, and allow the coffee to be classed as gourmet beans. Understanding and tasting different coffees is essential, to be able to tell if it is a good quality.

There are huge numbers of coffee manufacturers producing gourmet coffee beans; however, coffee is a very personal beverage. What one drinker enjoys another may dislike, therefore, drinking and tasting the quality coffee is essential. Just because the coffee has a label claiming to be quality, and a price to make it look exquisite. These things do not necessarily make the gourmet coffee beans unique, distinctive or in fact, gourmet.


Is Smoothie Sabotage Ruining Your Diet? Avoid These 4 Biggest Pitfalls

Fruit smoothies are often advertised as a great healthy way to lose weight, or to supplement your diet with a nutritious drink. However, if you're not on the lookout for smoothie sabotage, these fruity drinks can do more harm than good. Fortunately, if you learn the right way to blend with this article, smoothies can remain an easy, tasty, AND healthy option for any meal of the day.

Smoothie mistake #1
The blender is NOT a calorie eliminator:
The biggest mistake people make with smoothies is forgetting about how many calories they can have. Just because the ingredients are a drinkable puree, doesn't mean that all the calories of the original fruits aren't still there. Would you eat a watermelon wedge, one and one half bananas, an orange, and a handful of strawberries in one sitting? Probably not...but with a smoothie many people eat that much, and more. (And then wonder why their calorie count is off for the day)

Let's solve it
Often, people drink a smoothie, and have something else such as a bagel half, a sandwich, or some type of snack because the smoothie alone won't satisfy hunger. Others drink a smoothie, and eat something soon after. Being liquid, it doesn't remain in the stomach as long as a solid food might. To solve the issue, you need protein and fiber. Both of these healthy items contribute a lot to the feeling of 'satisfaction'. However, you need to be sure you're getting fruit peels (apple, pear, peach, etc) for fiber, but not that many fruits have protein.

The solution?
It's all wrapped up in some tiny seeds. Chia seeds don't add a flavor to the smoothie (they taste like nothing) but they DO add complete protein (like that found in meat) and 2 kinds of fiber (soluble & insoluble) to help you feel full much longer. The more you add, the greater their effect, so you can stay satisfied until lunch. The fiber in chia isn't broken down by the body. It doesn't add calories, but it helps move food smoothly through the digestive system AND feeds beneficial (probiotic) bacteria.

Smoothie mistake #2
Too much sugar:
When looking over smoothie recipes, or a smoothie menu, first check to see if there's any added sugar or sweet ingredients. Things like high fructose corn syrup, cane juice, and even sweetened yogurts can sabotage your plans for health with a sugar overload. Fruits contain natural sugars too (which is fine) but you've got to balance them out with a veggie or two, so you can avoid a 'sugar slump' afterward. Sugars and sweet fruits may be fat free, but they add calories that don't do a whole lot for your health.

Let's solve it
First, always turn down a smoothie with any kind of added sugars. You don't need those for great taste, if you know what fruits to mix & match. Next, add some vegetables. Don't be afraid to throw a handful of spinach into a fruit smoothie. Its flavor is easy to eliminate with a sweet fruit (like a banana) and a strong fruit (like a strawberry, pineapple, kiwi, or raspberry) By mixing "sweet" and "strong" you can choose a vegetable and then eliminate its flavor so that all you get is that great fruit taste you love. Cucumber is good as well, since it is mild. When it is combined with fruits, usually you only taste the 'cool' component. If you use a powerful fruit like pineapple, you can also toss in some kale, and let the fruit do it's taste-fighting job.

Use fiber to slow the digestion of the sugars. Since fiber can't be digested, it gets in the way and slows down the conversion of carbohydrates into sugars. This is great, because it helps keep insulin from spiking (this causes the 'sugar slump') and helps the body digest the smoothie at an even pace that's more likely to keep you feeling full longer. Spinach, kale & chia seeds are easy ways to add lots of fiber to any smoothie.

Smoothie mistake #3
Budget busting smoothies:
Enjoying a healthy treat shouldn't break the bank. Store bought smoothies can get expensive, and, if you've discovered some of them have additives you don't want, it's time to look for a way to blend for less.

Let's solve it
Making your own smoothies at home is incredibly quick and easy when you use these tips--plus, you'll save money too. First, frozen fruit is always in season. Unlike canning, freezing preserves fruit without heat, so those healthy compounds and enzymes aren't broken in the flash freeze. Bags of frozen fruit like mango, melon, raspberries and more are almost always less than their fresh counterpart. Enjoy out of season fruits all year long by going to the freezer aisle. Take the next step by freezing your own fruit while it's in season, such as buying bags of cranberries (only available in fall) kiwis (a summer treat that's not in the freezer aisle often) or your favorite seasonal- only grape. You can also peel bananas, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze for a creamy smoothie without worrying about those pesky spots.

Time tip!
For a morning smoothie in a flash, fill the blender jar with a hand full of veggies, your favorite fruits, and a splash of non-dairy milk. Then, put it in the fridge. In the morning, just blend & go, you're ready to drink in under 30 seconds. That removes every excuse for skipping breakfast.

Pre-cut frozen fruit, pre-filled blender jars, easy spoonfuls of chia, and simple bags of greens means drinking healthy has never been faster and easier. Mixing at home means you're not paying a premium for someone to prepare something you could make in minutes. If you need a sweeter smoothie, you can sprinkle in some stevia powder before you blend. This sweet herb is much sweeter than sugar (to taste) but does nothing to insulin levels. Unlike artificial-chemical sweeteners, stevia won't make you feel hungrier. Customize the sweetness level with inexpensive stevia so that even kids with a sweet tooth can enjoy fruits and veggies every day.

Smoothie mistake #4
It's time to dump (unfermented) dairy. Keep dairy milk out of your smoothies. Alkaline foods fight inflammation, and dairy milk is an acid-forming food. Aren't oranges and lemons acids too? They start out as acidic, but as they're digested, they become alkaline. Dairy has no such advantage. Plant calcium (like in spinach, chia and kale) is also easier for the body to absorb. If you're going for the protein, you can use probiotic infused greek yogurt or fermented unsweetened kefir. (or even a scoop of vegetarian protein powder)

Let's solve it
Use milk-alternatives like rice milk, almond milk, cashew, or soy. (men should skip soy milk, as it has plant estrogens) If you want a creamy taste, add banana, or frozen banana. Greek yogurt with probiotics as well as kefir can also be used. If you want calcium, it's important to have other minerals with it, such as magnesium & the trace mineral boron. Consuming these minerals together greatly increases their absorption ability. Fortunately, the chia seed brings all 3 together in 1 tiny package. It's also got the omega-3 oils you need to absorb the fat soluble vitamin A in spinach or kale.

With these smoothie solutions, you can add great taste and great nutrition to your menu.
The flavor combinations are endless, and by using the prep-time tips there's no excuse to skip your fruits and vegetables. Think about how much better you could feel if you eat a whole salad worth of greens...before anyone else has even touched a veggie. Stay feeling full for hours with the fiber of the chia seed, and know that you'll never fall victim to smoothie sabotage with this great information.


Buying Organic Coffee

Organic coffee beans are a healthier and more natural alternative to regular coffee beans. Coffee is a $70 billion dollar industry worldwide making it the second most value commodity in the world behind crude oil. This sheer size of the industry's trade and ecological footprint means that coffee plantations have a huge environmental impact on the world. By only choosing organic coffee beans, you can play your part in reducing our impact on the natural environment.

As more and more consumers demand organic coffee products, large coffee companies like Starbucks are being forced to purchase their products from more environmentally conscious suppliers. This is having an impact in the subtropical regions of the world where coffee is grown. In large coffee growing countries like Brazil, Costa Rica and Columbia, the movement toward organic and environmentally-friendly growing practices has decreased soil erosion, pollution of waterways and even cut down on the amount of rainforest that is cleared to make way for coffee plantations.

The Benefits

Currently, non-organic coffee plantations are the largest agricultural users of fertilizers and pesticides. By only buying organic coffee beans, not only are you protecting your own health but you are also ensuring that the coffee you consume is only grown by the highest environmental standards.

Coffee is often cited in health and fitness publications for its health benefits, such as the high level of antioxidants and how it has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, Parkinson's disease and dementia. But to truly realize the full potential of its health benefits, it is important that you are drinking only organic coffee beans. The reason is that many non-organic coffee products are polluted with pesticides that are carcinogens and are toxic to your body. This prevents many of the beneficial elements of coffee from being effectively absorbed by your body.

Certified Organic Label

The presence of a "Certified Organic Label" gives you the assurance that the coffee is 100% free of synthetic chemicals and pesticides. In order to achieve certification, coffee growers have to meet stringent standards to ensure their farming practices are environmentally sound and do not contain any genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).

However, many coffee marketers have adopted the term organic because it increases their sales. This makes it important that you are vigilante and only support the coffee brands that hold their suppliers to the highest organic standards. The only way you can be sure that the coffee is organic is if the packaging contains a certified organic coffee label. The most common organic coffee certifications are:

- Global Organic Textile Standards
- USDA National Organic Program
- European Organic Regulations
- Organic Crop Improvement Association

If you aren't sure if a brand is certified organic, you can find a list of organic coffee suppliers and retailers at the Organic Trade Association's website.

In the future when you're in the supermarket or the local coffee shop looking for a cup of your favorite brew, look for one of these certified organic brands and then you can be assured you're drinking the best coffee.


Boost Your Health in a Refreshing Way through Iced Tea

Tea can be considered as one of the most loved beverages that you can find in the present world. Tea can be divided into many different types based on their properties and nature. Organic iced tea holds a prominent place out of them. Iced tea is associated with a variety of health benefits, which has contributed a lot towards its popularity. For example, it is filled with vitamins, anti-oxidants and many other elements that have the potential to bring positive effects to your body and health. In addition, it has the ability to create a rejuvenating effect in your body and keep your skin away from the signs of aging such as wrinkles.

The taste and flavor of organic iced tea is different from all the other tea varieties available out there. It is planted and processed without the assistance of any synthetic chemicals or pesticides. Therefore, you will get the chance to enjoy a refreshing cup of tea that is loaded with many healthy ingredients. Moreover, its nutrients can assist you to stay away from many illnesses.

From the clinical studies, it has been identified that organic tea is rich in polyphenols. In other words, it is filled with anti-oxidants that can bring in a lot of health benefits to your body. They will give your body the ability to fight free radicals and eliminate them from your body. Since free radicals and other associated molecules can create a significant damage to your body cells, you need to get rid of them as soon as possible in a healthy manner. Organic iced tea is the best solution available for that. You can enjoy the benefits of organic iced tea by consuming it for few weeks.

Medical experts also claim that the regular consumption of organic iced tea reduces the chances of cancers and heart disorders. It not associated with any caffeine, so you can consume with a hassle free mind. Organic iced tea is also beneficial for dental health. You can stay away from many dental infections and this fact has been proven from experts in the world. You can put a stop to gum infections, tooth decays and halitosis in a convenient manner.

The overall effectiveness of your immune system can also be increased by consuming organic iced tea. This will increase the ability of your body to fight against harmful illnesses such as heart diseases, cardiovascular ailment and so forth. Last but not least, organic iced tea is the best option available to lose weight in a healthy manner. You can stay fit, maintain the proper shape of your body and be healthy by consuming it on a regular basis. However, you need to be careful in order to purchase organic iced tea from a reputed manufacturer in the world.


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