Caffeine, while very helpful to wake people up in the morning, however when used in excess, it can have some pretty harmful side effects. Personally, caffeine doesn’t impact me the way it does for most people (a blessing and a curse since I can enjoy a cup of coffee at night, but can’t use it to wake up), so I drink it because I enjoy the taste of coffee. Coffee is one of those comfort, cozy drinks, but I do know the dangers that it poses if I don’t drink it in moderation.
When consumed in excess, caffeine can cause heart palpitations, increased feelings of anxiety, and jitters – I mean, think about it – caffeine is a stimulant! It makes sense that our body would go on high alert and have it’s systems to into double-time when we consume too much. These effects can cause many people to want to give up drinking, or relying on coffee, but what if you’re similar to me and love the taste? How do you get your coffee fix?!
Fortunately, there are a few plants that we can use as coffee alternatives. The first is Chicory (Chicorum intybus), which is a common coffee alternative, especially in New Orleans where it holds cultural significance. The second plant is Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)! The root of these two plants can be roasted and used similarly to coffee beans and even taste very similarly to coffee!
Dandelion root not only doesn’t have the caffeine in it like coffee beans do, but it also provides some nutritional and medicinal benefits! The root is a wonderful hepatonic and digestive bitters, meaning that your liver, stomach, and intestinal tract will thank you!
Below are two of my favorite ways to get Dandelion Coffee into my diet
This is one of my favorite summer drinks to make and can be made in a big pitcher and refrigerated for later. Simply boil your hot water and pour over your roasted dandelion roots. Typically, I add enough roots to decoct in 24 oz. water in my French Press. Allow to steep until the roots sink to the bottom and the color of the liquid looks like dark coffee.
Strain and pour into a pitcher. Add Brown sugar and Oat milk to taste. Refrigerate until serving. You can also make “coffee” cubes, by pouring the dandelion decoction into an ice cube tray, then freezing. Fill your glass with coffee cubes, then pour your latte overtop! This prevents your iced drink from becoming diluted as standard ice cubes melt.
Pour all liquid into a saucepan and simmer. Add dandelion root and continue to heat on low for an hour, or until it becomes a rich coffee color and is the desired taste. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Strain out dandelion root and pour liquid and stir in rest of ingredients. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer into your ice cream maker (I use a CuisineArt Ice Cream Maker). Turn machine on and run for roughly 20 minutes, or until the mixture becomes an ice-cream consistency. Immediately scoop into a container and freeze your coffee ice cream until serving. Typically makes 8-10 servings.
Add chocolate chips, caramel sauce, fudge ribbons, seasonal herbs (cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc…), or even foraged spicebush for added flavor and pizazz!
Marissa Jacobs (The Art of Ecology) does not diagnose, treat, or prescribe, and nothing said or done should be misconstrued as such. These tips are designed to educate and support general well-being.