Every time summer rolls around, I start craving coffee. And not just any kind of coffee: iced coffee, coffee ice cream, coffee shakes; anything that’s cold, sweet and caffeine-jolted does the trick. Because when the heat rises, I rely on my cup of joe not just for a perk, but also to cool me down.
Still riding the wake of the first day of summer, we found no other time more appropriate than now to dive into this American favorite and find out just how healthy it really is for us, as well as how we can utilize it more adventurously in the kitchen.
What is coffee? For starters, coffee comes from an evergreen-like bush or tree that produces a coffee cherry, which typically holds two halves or ‘beans’ as we refer to them. However, sometimes a cherry only produces one bean, and when this happens the bean is known as a ‘peaberry.’ Peaberries are very rare and take on a unique flavor.
While coffee originated in Africa, it’s now grown in many parts of the world including Central and South America, Hawaii and even parts of Asia. Coffee can of course be found on just about every street corner in our country as Americans can’t seem to get enough of the stuff to fuel their busy, productive lives. I for one count a day without coffee as a total loss.
Health benefits: Coffee benefits are mostly linked back to its caffeine which can help you be more alert, lower risk of depression in woman and risk of prostate cancer for men, protect our bodies from Type-2 diabetes, and has even recently been linked to a longer life. Coffee also contains less than three calories and up to 100 mg of caffeine per cup, making it a nearly calorie free source of natural energy to help our bodies stay alert and perform better, both mentally and physically. Coffee also contains antioxidants, which we well know can help ward off certain diseases.
Cooking methods: While most people only venture to try coffee as a drink, the grounds can also be used as a rub for meats or to add flavor to baked goods (especially those containing chocolate). Stronger brews of coffee can also be added to hearty roasts and stews to provide more depth of flavor, as well as to homemade ice creams and frozen treats to bring the flavor of coffee alive in dessert-form. But for java lovers, any form of coffee is celebrated. And below are just a few more ways one can branch out and try coffee in a new form. Can you believe coffee-rubbed cheeseburgers even exist? I think that’s the first recipe on my ‘must-try’ list!
Coffee lovers rejoice! Now go forth and break out of your coffee mold and get cooking with this versatile – and healthy – ingredient. Your energy levels and taste buds will thank you for it.
June 24th, 2012