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Coffee Alternatives

If you’re not partial to caffeine, and are wondering what to drink instead of coffee or tea in the morning, some energizing alternatives include chicory root and maca. Chicory root coffee, a New Orleans staple, comes from a root that’s related to dandelion as well as sharp salad greens like radicchio, frisée, and endive. (Bonus points for wondering if you should pronounce it “en-dive” or “on-deeve” in your head just now. The answer, according to the canonically authoritative website: “en-dive” is for curly endive, the disheveled-looking leafy variety, while the elegant “on-deeve” is reserved for the smooth, tightly packed Belgian endive variety.)

Chicory root has sometimes been added to coffee as a tastes-somewhat-like-it filler to help people extend their supply of the more expensive bean. In addition to water, warmth, and taste, chicory root is a rich source of inulin, a kind of insoluble prebiotic fiber that your beneficial gut bacteria absolutely adore. Long prized as an herbal remedy, chicory root’s health benefits have begun to attract scientific attention as well.

Chicory root’s bitter taste can wake up your appetite and trigger the secretion of bile. At the same time, it has also been used to counter the stimulant effects of coffee, as it can induce relaxation and calm in those who consume it. (That sounds like the best of both worlds to me!)

Another plant that makes a fine morning pick-you-up beverage is maca. This root from the cruciferous family, originally from the Andes, has become popular since rumors of its aphrodisiacal properties began circulating on the internet. While this purported effect may not be entirely welcome at 7:30 in the morning when you’re trying to wake up, get the kids dressed and fed, and hit the freeway — or home office desk — by 8:15, there’s more. Maca may also improve mood and brain function, both of which can come in handy when your twins demand an all-potato-chip breakfast, and you are wondering what you did with your keys. (Not that I would know anything about that!)

(Excerpt from The Food Revolution Network)

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