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We Pimped a Homemade Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte

By Abra Pappa for Nutritious America

Tis’ the season to consume many, many, many pumpkin spice lattes. A now ubiquitous beverage of fall, this Starbucks flavored java is loved the world over.

Last month there was a reported pumpkin spice syrup shortage at hundreds of Starbucks around the country; lovers of this beverage were outraged! It was the Pumpkin Spice LattePOCALYPYSE! Happily for the PSL fans (that’s what they affectionately call this fall beverage) the syrup was replenished and drinking resumed.


But wait! I am so sorry to burst your pumpkin bubble, but do you know really know what you are drinking? Espresso, steamed milk, and pumpkin spice syrup, yes, but what is in that pumpkin spice syrup? I for one, wanted to know. Starbucks isn’t terribly forthcoming about ingredients. Their website is extremely helpful with fat and calorie counts, but when it comes to actual ingredients one must dig deeper to come up with the truth.

I emailed them (which quite honestly, is very simple to do on their website) and asked for the ingredient breakdown. I received this:

Sugar, Condensed Nonfat Milk, Sweetened Condensed Nonfat Milk, Annatto (E160b, Colour), Natural and Artificial Flavours, Caramel Colour (E150D), Salt, Potassium Sorbate (E202, a preservative).

This list did not make a holistic nutritionist very happy. The first ingredient is sugar, then more sugar in the form of sweetened condensed milk, and numerous coloring agents and preservatives. Then the big whammy, under the guise of “natural and artificial flavors” are hidden health disastrous ingredients that legally do not have to be listed. Ingredients like Vanillin instead of Vanilla (synthetic vanillin primarily comes from wood pulp, a bi-product of the sulphite process. Yum!) are considered “natural ingredients.”

Well fear not pumpkin addicts, this is a truly simple and luscious drink to make at home. You will save calories, fat, and yucky franken-food ingredients, AND save yourself a pretty penny!

Consider the Pumpkin Spice Latte Pimped!
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Coffee Healthy Enough to Be a Prescription? Not Quite

Like millions of other coffee lovers, I rejoice at the sight of new research bolstering the health benefits of my favorite beverage. From increased alertness to improved workouts to better brain function, you really can’t go wrong with a cup of joe – or two – in the morning.

With new research surrounding the mysterious coffee bean, experts now believe we may be one step closer to elevating the benefits of coffee from good to prescription-worthy.

As reported by CNN, recent studies propose that it may be the antioxidants in coffee that give it its superior health qualities. This is because our bodies produce oxygen radicals that can damage DNA, but antioxidants work to prevent this damage. This is especially good news for U.S. coffee drinkers since coffee was recently found to be the top source of antioxidants for Americans.

Another major benefit of coffee comes from the caffeine, which can have positive effects on brain health and alertness because it binds to adenosine receptors which can slow us down and leave us feeling sleepy. No wonder one cup of joe alongside breakfast is the way so many people start their day.
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Coffee and Alcohol May Increase Heartburn

If you’ve ever experienced heartburn and were left stumped as to what the cause was, perhaps you should turn your gaze toward the bottom of your cup – your coffee cup, that is.

Experts from the University of California, Los Angeles, are suggesting that alcohol and caffeinated beverages can have a direct effect on heartburn. This is because a ring of muscle located between the stomach and esophagus called the “lower esophageal sphincter” can be temporarily affected by alcohol and caffeine in some people.

As reported by NPR, UCLA gastroenterologist Kevin Ghassemi, explained that this muscle is meant to be closed at all times except for when food is passing into the esophagus. But because alcohol relaxes it, it creates an opening. And when this happens, he says, stomach acid can come back up into the esophagus, which is reflux – which is what causes the burning sensation we experience with heartburn.

Furthermore, Ghassemi makes the link to caffeine as well saying, “The caffeine that’s in coffee or other caffeinated beverages also will relax the sphincter muscle.”

If you’re one of the lucky few who doesn’t experience heartburn after consuming caffeine or alcohol, consider yourself normal. Ghassemi points out that some people are naturally predisposed due to a “weak or faulty sphincter muscle.” This, he says, can often be influenced by being overweight or obese because it increases the risk.
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Coffee May Prevent Diabetes and Heart Disease, Study Shows

There’s now one more reason to get your morning fuel from coffee: it’s good for your heart, according to new research.

The study, published in an American Heart Association journal, comes from the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical. Based on their findings, researchers now believe drinking two cups of coffee a day will lower the risk for diabetes, which as a result lowers the risk for heart failure.

The size of your ‘two cups of coffee’ is important, however, and shouldn’t exceed more than 8 ounces. By keeping these parameters, researchers say people may be able to lower their risk of heart failure by as much as 11 percent compared to non-coffee drinkers. But if you exceed that 16-ounce a day limit, it may actually undermine the beneficial qualities.
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How to Cook with Coffee

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.
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