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Simple Superfood Coffee Substitutes

Giving up coffee is never the hard part. It's letting go of the ritual of indulging in that warm and bitter beverage to jumpstart your energy in the morning that's the hard part. And a coffee substitute? Well that can sound unappealing! But what if it was a coffee substitute loaded with superfoods?

natural_coffee_alternatives_picWe grow addicted to caffeine for its energizing compounds, but it's a relatively easy addiction to overcome. A coffee substitute can be a great help in stepping us off of the caffeine, but while keeping the relationship with the warm and bitter dark brews we crave. And it can be consumed throughout the day without the jittery effects of caffeine.

Making your own coffee substitute is quite easy and can even be cheaper than your morning cuppa Joe!

If you haven't yet given up coffee—or do not ever intend to—but just want to tone down the caffeine, adding a bit of grain coffee to your brew is a great way to get the flavor and less of the caffeine.

Here are several ways to make your own coffee substitute with superfoods:

Roasted Barley

Barley is a versatile and inexpensive superfood grain that we know mostly as an ingredient in soups or as an alternative to rice or quinoa. It's loaded with potassium, protein, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B-6. Did you know that it also makes a pretty delicious coffee substitute, too?

Pour uncooked barley onto a cookie sheet and into the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir it frequently. The barley should start to get dark brown. Be careful not to burn it. Once done, let cool and then grind in a coffee grinder. Use one teaspoon for every cup of "coffee" you intend to make.

Roasted Chicory and Dandelion

dandelion_and_chicory_root_make_good_natural_coffee_substitute_picA bit harder to find and maybe even more expensive, chicory and dandelion also make terrific coffee substitutes, particularly when blended together.

If you can find dandelion and chicory root, sometimes they already come roasted. If not, you can roast them yourself, following the same directions for the barley.

Chicory is a good source of vitamins K and C, and dandelion root is a powerhouse, too. It's loaded with vitamins A, C, D, and B complex as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon.

Of course, you can brew all of it together, too. If you like the barley flavor the best (my personal favorite), use a 2:1 ratio of barley to chicory and dandelion. Or switch them around and see what tastes best.

Optional add-ins

Carob is best known as a chocolate substitute (of course, until we realized chocolate was actually healthy!). But did you know it's also a great coffee substitute, too? These days, carob powder can be a bit difficult to get your hands on, but there are plenty of places online to buy roasted carob powder. By itself, it tastes a bit like a weak hot chocolate, but mix a teaspoon in with your barley, chicory, or dandelion? And you've got a richer, smoother flavor for your grain coffee that's now a great source of calcium and iron.

If you like your coffee on the bitter side, consider adding in some dried citrus peels. You can easily dehydrate orange, grapefruit, or lemon at home. They're also sometimes available in herb shops or bulk spice sections of co-ops. Add about half a teaspoon to your brew for a slightly bitter taste.

cinnamon_improves_metal_function_and_tastes_great_picMaca, a Peruvian superfood root used to boost energy and balance hormones, is also a nice addition to a coffee substitute because of its bitter and sweet taste. While a bit more expensive, it's worth the investment because of its health properties. Maca is high in minerals including calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc, as well as amino acids, essential fatty acids, fiber, and protein. While it comes in many forms, you'll want a good maca powder for your coffee substitute. Add one teaspoon to your brew.

Flavors like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg also add a bit of balance to the bitterness and are worth exploring if you like a sweeter coffee.

Yes, absolutely you can always add chocolate to your coffee! Just add as much to your coffee substitute as you would the real thing.

Image: Jill Ettinger

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