Step aside hot chocolate. There’s a new brew!
Do you ever get that mid-afternoon craving for something sweet, but don’t want to eat junk food or grab more coffee? There’s a new brew in store for you! I recently partnered with Cacao tea to try this delicious, nutritious tea.
Cacao tea (also known as chocolate or cocoa tea) is a 100% natural tea which is brewed from cacao husks (known as cacao shells). It is a loose-leaf style tea which, when steeped in boiling water, results in a delicious tea that tastes like chocolate.
Cacao husks have been used to brew cacao tea for thousands of years, starting with the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations up until recent time. In fact, as discussed in their article regarding the history of cacao, tea made from cacao husks was a favorite of George Washington’s wife Martha Washington, the First Lady of the United States hundreds of years ago.
Cacao tea has a delicious chocolate flavor and natural sweetness without added sugar or calories. In addition, cacao tea is gluten and dairy free. As a result, cacao tea is an excellent replacement for caffeinated tea and coffee and a great way to satisfy your chocolate cravings.
As described in detail in their article about the health benefits of cacao, cacao husks are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, which studies have shown have a number of health benefits. In addition, cacao husks are rich in the compound theobromine, which is a mild, naturally occurring stimulant similar to caffeine with a gentle, slow-release effect.
Cacao tea can be made in a variety of ways depending on your preference!
To ensure that the full flavor of the cacao husks is released into your tea, we recommend using boiling water and a longer steep time. We recommend using a French press to brew 2 teaspoons of cacao tea per 250ml of boiling water. Allow the tea to steep for 6 to 8 minutes, or longer if you prefer a stronger brew.
If you don’t have a French press, it is recommended that you use a tea ball strainer or infuser. If you use this method, please ensure that the top of your cup is covered with a lid or other cover during the steeping process. For best results, the water needs to stay as hot as possible during the steeping in order to extract the best flavor from the cacao husks.
For those who enjoy very strong brews, boil 2 teaspoons of cacao tea per 250ml of boiling water on a stove for 7 to 10 minutes, or longer if you prefer an even stronger brew.
While Cacao tea has a natural delicate sweetness, you can increase the sweetness by adding your preferred sweetener to further enhance the chocolate flavors of the tea. Honey or cocoanut sugar provides an excellent complement to the flavors of cacao tea.
Cacao tea can be enjoyed either black or with any milk of your choice. Almond milk makes a delicious addition to cacao tea.
Finally, another reason I love this tea is that Cacao tea has a beautiful social mission. They donate 15% of profits to charities that supply healthy meals to families in developing countries. Support their charitable mission by mentioning them on social media! @cacaoteaco #cacaoteaco For more information, or to purchase cacao tea,check out: http://www.cacaotea.com
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Gone are the days of Barbie lunch boxes and Dora thermos. I have teen age girls now. In 12 years of being in school, they have never bought their lunches. Not because I didn’t let them. I was lucky that they typically liked what I packed in their lunch and never had to deal with chicken nuggets or pizza. We saved those battles for dining out.
These days are different. One has gone through a vegetarian phase while the other is suffering with orthodontic pain having had her braces tightened. It was easy to pack their lunches when they were little. But until they are able to drive and spend money on groceries (no times soon, unfortunately), we parents are still in charge of what goes in their lunch boxes.If your child does have braces, it can make eating a really unpleasant experience (for both of you)!
Here are a few ideas if your child has braces since they can’t live on just fruit cups!
- Yogurt- if your child will eat Greek yogurt, this is a lower sugar option with a thicker texture. It has more protein, which will fill them up between meals. If they’re not fond of Greek yogurt, get them traditional, blended yogurt without fruit chunks.
- Bean or lentil soup- this is a great option for both the vegetarian and kid with braces. It’s high in fiber and protein and you can make a big batch and freeze it if needed. Soup can be pureed or further processed to make “chewing” easier.
- High calorie supplements- I am normally not a “meal replacement” person, but if your kid absolutely cannot chew, this will get therm through the morning until they can resume oatmeal or toast. Ensure Plus, Boost or a store brand will do in these cases. Try different flavors to keep things interesting.
- Fruit cups- get a variety- applesauce, fruit cocktail, diced peaches or pears, etc. Pineapple not welcome right now!
- Nut or seed butters like Justin’s or 88 Acres. While your child might not be able to chew toast, soft crackers like saltines might be tolerated OK with a smooth nut butter.These come in convenient pouches that can be packed in your child’s lunch and eaten as part of a meal or for after school snack.They’re a great source of protein and healthy fat.
- Pudding- yeah, I recognize this is “dessert”, but when your child needs calories, let them eat what they can!
I may not be wild about super muggy weather that makes my hair big and frizzy, but I love the season of summer. I love that my girls are not on a super strict schedule and we can be outside more often. I also love that I can wear a different tee shirt every day.
Summer also inspires my creative sense. There is so much beautiful produce to enjoy, and not just for eating. From cherries to zucchini, food is my muse! I love coming up with different food pun tee ideas. They are printed locally by DIY printing in Walnut Hills. https://www.diyprintingshop.com/index.html Once printed, I spend at least one weekend a month at farmer’s markets and they are also placed in few small gift shops around the city including Jackson Whitacre, https://jacksonwhitacre.com/pages/contact-us Lamppost Cheese, http://lamppostcheese.com/ Kennedy Heights arts gift shop https://kennedyarts.org/ and the Civic Garden Center https://www.civicgardencenter.org/.
I am also proud to support Cooking for the Family in OTR, a program that helps those suffering food insecurity, learn to cook. https://www.sfsministries.org/our-ministries/cooking-for-the-family/ 10% of sales to go this program every quarter. Just $10 sponsors someone to take a 5-week cooking series. How cool is that?
Bada bing is my latest tee! Like the others, it is a soft, unisex gray tee that goes with pretty much anything. If you’re a cherry fan, you must treat yourself to one. https://soundbitesnutrition.com/product/bada-bing-short-sleeve-unisex-t-shirt/
Check out the other designs inspired by summer’s produce. You’re bound to find something you love to eat, and wear. https://soundbitesnutrition.com/shop
If you’ve ever had a conversation with me or have heard me speak, you’ll recognize that I really hate food waste. Brought up by 2 parents that lived through the Depression era, you didn’t leave a pea on your plate in my house. Did you know that 40% of the food in the US ends up in a landfill? That is unacceptable! I don’t want to contribute more food waste.
Our frig is often full of food because my husband and I both love to cook. But, we either make too much or I bring home what’s left from a food demo. You can typically find noodles, fruit, rice, beans or some other item just waiting to go bad. This morning, I decided to create something out of the chopped cucumbers and cilantro left from a Saturday class. I had a pineapple that was overdue to be cut and some watermelon, berries and grapes from last week. Here’s what transpired:
1 cup chopped cucumber (1/2 of a cucumber)
1 cup fresh pineapple
1 cup watermelon, cut into 1″ chunks
1/2 cup grapes
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 tsp. honey
Place cucumbers, fruit and cilantro in a bowl and toss.
Whisk together lime juice and honey.
Drizzle over fruit, toss and serve.
Makes 8 (1/2 cup) servings.
I admittedly have a brown thumb and am not known for my gardening skills. We have minimal sun coupled with lots of deer, so the stars do not exactly align for a garden. But, if you give me a few crops, I’ll make you dinner!
I picked up a basil plant at my local hardware store and with the grace of lots of rain this season, it has thrived. I recently paired some cherry tomatoes with torn romaine, fresh spinach, basil and a simple dressing and VOILA! A new salad was born.
This salad can be made with any greens and other veggies can be added. I am a fan of kalamata olives and feta cheese, but bleu cheese would go well here, too.
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
2 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup pitted/chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 red onion, cut into rings
1 handful washed, torn fresh basil
1/4 olive oil
1/4 balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt/pepper to taste
Place the greens, basil, onions, tomatoes, olives and feta cheese in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar and mustard together. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Toss and serve.
Makes 4 servings.