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Bend, OR - October 27, 2012

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!)

The verdict?

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.

Then, I discovered Teeccino.  I started off buying Teeccino Vanilla Nut Herbal Coffee Tee Bags.  They’re tasty, but in a full cup of hot water, they’re still very much like tea.  Too watery.

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!

Coffee Cups - IMG_2383

I created this dish as a healthier alternative to the packaged vegan taco meats that I’ve used in the past (like Yves Meatless Ground Taco Stuffers and Soyrizo).  For sure,  they are delicious (YUM!), but they’re also highly processed (BOO!).  I’m striving to use more whole foods.

Tempeh is a fermented, whole soy food.  My favorite brand is Turtle Island Foods.  The Organic Five Grain flavor contains (organic) non-GMO soybeans, millet, brown rice, sesame seeds, apple cider vinegar, and rhizopus oligosporus starter culture.

Tempeh can have a bitter edge, so it’s best to cut and steam the pieces of tempeh for about 10 minutes before using.  I like tempeh best when it has a chance to soak up flavors from a liquid-based marinade or sauce.  The black spots are molds that are supposed to be there.

Steaming the tempeh.

Steaming the tempeh.

Chopped steamed tempeh.

Chopped steamed tempeh.

INGREDIENTS

1- 8 0z “block” or “cake” tempeh, thawed, steamed and chopped

20 crimini mushrooms, chopped or sliced

6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and minced
1/2 red pepper, chopped

Dash garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/2-1 t chili powder
1 t oregano
1 t cumin
1 1/2 t salt-free fajita seasoning blend (contains paprika, onion, garlic, black pepper, oregano & cumin)

2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T tamari
1/4 C tomato paste
3/4 C water

Chopped Crimini Mushrooms

Chopped Crimini Mushrooms

ASSEMBLY

While you’re steaming the tempeh, chop the veggies.  Keep the mushrooms separate, but you can combine the garlic, onion, carrots, jalapeno, and red pepper in a bowl.  Combine the spices.  Combine the wet ingredients (vinegar, tamari, tomato paste & water.)  After the steamed tempeh cools, chop it.

I used 2 large saute pans, each on medium heat with a little coconut oil.

In the first pan, saute about half of the veggies, half of the spices and all of the mushrooms.

Sauteed crimini mushrooms, veggies & spices.

Sauteed crimini mushrooms, veggies & spices.

In the second pan, cook the other half of the veggies and spices with the chopped tempeh and wet ingredients.  The liquid marinade will soak into the tempeh.  Cook down some of the liquid, but not all.

Tempeh, veggies, spices and liquid marinade.

Tempeh, veggies, spices and liquid marinade.

Finally, combine the two.  Portion in 1 cup sized wide mouth freezer jars.  Makes 6- 1 cup servings.

Tempeh Mushroom Taco Filling

Tempeh Mushroom Taco Filling

Eat this filling with your favorite taco fixings, in tortillas or as a salad.

Don’t forget the Pinto Bean Dip!

NSNG = No Sugar No Grain

"There are those who are appalled because I am so vocal about injustice, yet I am equally appalled by their silence." Lujene Clark

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