Everybody knows that coffee and its potent caffeine rush is not good for you, but for those of us who love it, it is a difficult thing to give up.
I find that it’s more than the caffeine that is addictive — the intoxicating aroma, the sweet childhood memories it arouses of my Nanny whose home always smelled of freshly brewed coffee, the snugly mornings I have to myself with my cuppa and my writing, the visits with friends and family sharing together over our cups of coffee. These are a few experiences that make life so sweet for me.
I’ve decided I don’t want to give up coffee completely, and have instead compromised by limiting my consumption to only a couple times a week. In between my real coffee days, I like to drink a healthy substitute that is satisfying in a different way.
Roasted dandelion root coffee has a similar color and bitter taste as does coffee and it can be sweetened and lightened with cream in just the same way, too. Plus, in contrast to the way coffee can deplete the body of valuable nutrients and injure the stomach with its acidity, dandelion coffee actually nourishes your entire body, especially your liver.
To avoid a caffeine headache on my non-coffee days, I brew my dandelion coffee together with a bag of green tea, which contains a bit of caffeine in addition to a whole slew of anti-oxidants and other things that are good for you. I really like the flavor this adds, too.
There are other healthful herbs that can be added as well, and I plan to experiment with some of them soon. Roasted chicory root, I hear, adds a wonderful flavor, and there are other nutritious and medicinal root herbs that can be added to make the brew even healthier and/or to address specific health issues. I’ll post different herbal “coffee” recipes here as I work with them.
Instructions for roasting your own dandelion roots
Gather dandelion roots, as described in my previous post. Wash them completely to remove all dirt. Then chop them into chunks and put in a food processor or blender. Pulse the processor to chop the roots coarsely into a meal. Spread this onto a cookie sheet and put into a 250 degree oven for several hours. Leave the door of the oven slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape.
This process will dry the roots completely and then they will begin to take on a rich color as they roast. Stir them with a spatula every now and then to assure even drying. When they are about the color of regular coffee, they are done. Cool and then store the roasted dandelion roots in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
Use a about a spoonful per cup of water to make your “coffee”. Put into a tea ball, place in a coffee mug, and pour boiling water over. Cover with a saucer and let steep for 10 minutes or so. Remove the tea ball and enjoy as you would regular coffee, adding cream or sweetener as desired.
If you’re not quite ready to dig your own dandelion roots but still want to try this, you can buy dried dandelion root from a health food store or Mountain Rose Herbs. They will already be chopped fairly small, and all you have to do blend them a bit finer and roast them to that rich coffee color.