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I endured 35 days without coffee.
It seemed like an eternity…The longest 35 days of my life!
I did it to challenge myself. I gave up coffee and chocolate for 30 days while some friends in the Vinnie Tortorich’s No Sugar No Grains Facebook group gave up dairy for 30 days. My challenge lasted longer than 30 days because I (stupidly!) offered to start my challenge over when someone new joined the 30 day “No Dairy Challenge.”
I’ve always been a “one latte a day” coffee drinker. Rarely would I have more than one. I brew my espresso at home, enjoying my double shot with cinnamon, vanilla extract and a blend of non-dairy milks (soy, homemade nut/rice, and a splash of coconut).
I wanted to try going a full 30 days without coffee to see if I really missed it. In the past, I’ve tried going a few days or even a week without it, but I always ended up going back to my daily habit. I believe it does take at least 30 days to rid the body of addictive substances and establish new habits.
No– It’s not that I thought I had a caffeine addiction. No one would consider my consumption excessive. I do nothing to excess! Balance is my middle name. It’s my astrological sign: Libra.
I may be different than some people. I don’t use coffee to wake me up, or give me energy. Actually– I enjoy my coffee the most when I can sit back and relax with it. I really look forward to my coffee each day. It calms me. I’ve called it “my sweet elixir.” (Read this previous post for proof!)
Even still– part of me wanted to find out if I would feel significantly better without the coffee in my system. The people who give up coffee for good always seem to hype it up! They feel soooo great, blah, blah, blah. I always wondered if that would or could ever be “me.”
I also think that sometimes it’s good to not always get what we want, right when we want it. It’s a form of discipline. It builds mental toughness. It rejects instant gratification…and entitlement.
(Nah!! It just sucks– let’s be honest!)
I gave up coffee and chocolate for 35 days. The chocolate part wasn’t so bad. Sure, I wanted a chocolate pick-me-up every so often. But it wasn’t a big deal.
As for the coffee– I really, really missed it!
The first 4 days were a breeze. No headaches. No adverse physical symptoms. I was not physically addicted to the caffeine, apparently.
On day 5 everything changed. From that day, onward, I wanted my latte. I longed for my latte. I don’t believe I wanted the caffeine, but I did want the taste…and the comfort.
First, I substituted with various herbal teas.
Next, I bought an 11 oz bag of Teeccino Maya French Roast Herbal Coffee. I started brewing the Teeccino grounds in my espresso machine just like I’d brew espresso. This was much better…more concentrated, more like coffee. I made Teeccino lattes. Not quite the same, but not bad at all. Decent!
After the 21st day without coffee, I seriously had a dream about coffee. Is that nuts, or what?
In my dream, I chugged a cup of black coffee. (Funny, because I never drink black coffee!) I was immediately pissed off at myself when I realized that I wasn’t supposed to drink it. I’d ruined the whole challenge! At that point in the dream, I was also getting ready to accept a latte that someone bought for me. It occurred to me (in the dream) that I might get really buzzed from the caffeine of 2 coffee drinks, since I wasn’t used to drinking any.
I woke up glad it was only a dream!
After the first 20 days, I stopped counting every single day. That made it easier because the days didn’t seem to pass as slowly as when I was counting each one. I settled in.
Instead, I figured out the day I could have coffee again, and focused on it:
September 16, 2013
Tomorrow is that day. I made it! I survived without coffee. Physically, I feel the same. For me, there was nothing magical about giving up coffee.
Was it worth the deprivation? NO!
I found out that my daily coffee really does keep me in my happy place. It makes my good life even better. It makes life’s frustrations a little more tolerable. Coffee is soothing. I just need it to feel…content. Balanced.
I’m so glad I did this challenge because now I know without a doubt that I don’t EVER have to do it again. I found out exactly what I wanted to find out. Awesome! That’s the payoff!
Coffee–> I do declare:
You and I will never be separated again!
15 oz can organic pumpkin
2/3 C non-dairy milk
*3 cubes applesauce (about 1/4 cup)
1 T organic canola oil
1/3 C organic brown sugar
1/3 C evaporated cane juice sugar
2 t vanilla extract
1/3 C each: millet flour, quinoa flour, brown rice flour, oat flour, rolled oats, garbanzo bean flour
2/3 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 C fine chopped walnuts
2 T ground flax
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/8 t ground clove
1/3 C non dairy chocolate chips (or raisins)
1 T cacao nibs (optional)
Raw sugar (coarse grain)
Blend the “wet” ingredients in the blender. Mix with the dry ingredients and fold in the chocolate chips and cacao nibs. Sprinkle 1/8 t raw sugar on the top of each muffin before baking. Bake in muffin liners at 350 degrees for about 23 minutes. Makes about 18.
*So that I always have applesauce on hand for low-fat baking, I freeze unsweetened applesauce in ice cube trays, then thaw a few cubes at a time.
Milk a bean, milk a grain, milk a nut, milk a seed, milk a drupe (yes, a drupe!), but please don’t milk an animal. When people consume milk from lactating animals, the first thing you should ponder is what is baby cow– baby goat– baby sheep– drinking? What happens to the baby animals? What happens to momma cow– momma goat– momma sheep when her overworked reproductive system stops being “profitable”? The bad news is that the answers aren’t pretty.
The good news is that non-dairy milk options are plentiful. It’s easier than you might think to wean off animal milk. There is no nutritional need for animal milk in the human diet!
Go to the non-dairy milk section of your local store and you’ll notice an ever-increasing array of plant milks: Soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, hemp milk, coconut milk..even flax milk! There are different brands of each type of milk. There are different varieties within the types of plant milks..like plain, vanilla, chocolate, unsweetened, fortified. If you don’t like one, try another. Find your favorite!
Holiday flavors (YUM!) – Pumpkin Spice, Chocolate Peppermint, Nog
Make your “own” milk: it’s easy to do and you needn’t endure a long pregnancy and painful delivery. It’s also less expensive than packaged milk and more eco-friendly. Personally, I don’t like the aftertaste of packaged almond milks but I love homemade almond milk. I encourage you to make your own nut and rice milks. Here’s how I do it…
First, make sure you have a batch of cooked short grain brown rice on hand. I make up a batch and freeze portions in 1/2 cup glass jam jars. One cup (dried) rice will make enough for 7 batches of milk.
You must use short grain rice! You don’t want your milk to have a gritty sediment, do you? What’s the difference between long and short grains? The answer is in the percentage of the starches amylose and amylopectin. (I first learned about them from chef Alton Brown…thanks, A.B.!)
Long grain rice has a higher percentage of amylose. Amylose makes the rice cook up dry, firm and separate. Amylose is insoluble in water. Rice milk made from long grains has more of a “gritty” sediment. The resulting milk is more watery, less creamy = not good!
Short grain rice has a higher percentage of amylopectin. It releases starch when cooking, resulting in a moist, soft and sticky grain. The resulting milk will be creamy without a gritty sediment = good!
On to the nuts…pick your favorite raw nut. I like to use Brazil nuts, but sometimes I mix it up and use cashews, almonds, or hazelnuts.
Nut Rice Milk (my own creation):
Soak 1/3 cup raw nuts and 2 pitted dates into 4 cups water for 4-8 hours. Blend the water, nuts and dates with 1/2 cup cooked short grain rice and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a VitaMix blender or other “sporty” blender. (I don’t know if it would work with a wimpy blender!) Frothy, healthy, affordable and delicious! I don’t strain my milk. I simply shake, then pour.
My personal favorite is mixing my homemade nut rice milk with packaged soy milk in a 50-50 ratio. That’s just me! You do what you gotta do…as long as you leave the animals alone!