According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the summer of 2022 is going to be a scorcher all over the US of A. Fans and air conditioners will be working overtime, so do not be surprised when electrical grids going down becomes a habit. Besides craving cool air, most of us will be craving cold beverages to bring body temperatures down.
Iced coffee, iced tea, lemonade, soda, water, flavored carbonated water, aka seltzer water, and soda will be the go-tos. Better keep those freezers stocked with trays of ice though; they will keep if the freezer is not opened too often with a power outage. Then I got to thinking, dangerous, I know, about these cold drinks that contain caffeine, and how they affect body temperature.
First off, how does caffeine work in the body? Researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University in Corvallis, wrote in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition (March 2006): “Coffee drinking may help prevent type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and liver disease, including liver cancer. And it doesn't appear to significantly increase heart disease risk or cancer. Caffeine can improve memory, decrease fatigue, improve your mental functioning; it can improve your short-term memory and speed up your reaction times.”
I have been a coffee and tea drinker since my university years. Getting up at 5am, to catch a Long Island Railroad train to New York City, it was not unusual to see most folks with a New York Times or New York Post inserted under the arm. In one hand was a brief case, or book bag for students, and a cup of steaming coffee or tea in the other. Once into Manhattan, lining up at the local deli was the norm, to get a breakfast sandwich, and you guessed it, another cup of coffee. This was the city life of an “early bird”. After finishing university, it was off to work in the city, and the morning routine did not change much. During the sweltering summer months though, hot coffee or tea was replaced by iced, or soda; bottled water was not a fad yet in the 1970s and 1980s.
Now what is the downside to caffeine? It does raise blood pressure, and while mildly, for some, that is enough to cause harm. Increased blood pressure, plus stress from ordinary life, equals heart disease just waiting to take over. Remember that study I quoted before? Coffee itself may not increase heart disease itself, but your lifestyle could be the contributing factor that activates it.
Caffeine is also, like anything else in reality, addictive; it will cause anxiety, insomnia, and overall stimulation of the brain. Stopping cold turkey? A person will go through withdrawal symptoms similar to alcoholics or drug users.
I have a favorite mug that holds up to 2 cups of liquid. First, I put in a teaspoon, maybe two, of sweetener.
Second is a ¼ cup of creamer or half n’ half.
Third is the fun part; as the coffee is poured in, it mixes with the sweetener and cream to create this lovely, frothy mocha colored, drinkable confection.
So, you have decided to avoid caffeine altogether by avoiding drinks containing it. What about food though; do you know exactly what contains caffeine? It is naturally found in tea leaves, cocoa beans, coffee beans, guarana, and kola nuts. Yerma Mate, a popular health food item, contains it, as well as green tea which is good for digestion. But a fan favorite is chocolate!
How much caffeine is in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of different types of chocolate?
100% cocoa chocolate: 240 mg of caffeine — the equivalent of 2.5 cups of regular coffee
Bittersweet chocolate (55% cocoa): 124 mg of caffeine
Milk chocolate (33% cocoa): 45 mg of caffeine — around the amount of caffeine in a cup of
White chocolate – only contains cocoa butter with 0% caffeine
All in all, what you put inside your body, whether as a food or beverage, is a personal choice. As with any item, moderation is the best gamble. Have questions? Research by reading, asking others about their experiences, and, perhaps, do some experimenting of your own. What can happen? You will definitely find out what suits you, amount and taste wise, the best. Like I said, personal choice. I drink coffee and tea, hot and cold; I eat chocolate, but you won’t ever find me spitting tobacco juice on a clean floor. Personal choice.
…and for those wanting a recipe containing coffee and chocolate, I did not forget about you.
These cookies can be made with espresso, a flavored coffee made strong, or Kahlua (the alcohol will bake off, and just leave the coffee flavor).
½ cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
5 Tbsp. coffee or Kahlua
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ tsp. baking powder
Hershey chocolate kisses
Preheat oven to 375F. Use nonstick baking sheets, or spray with nonstick baking spray (contains flour).
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth; add eggs one at a time, then the coffee; mix until smooth and creamy.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder; add to the creamed mixture and mix thoroughly.
Use a teaspoon to place mixture onto cookie sheets; bake for 10 minutes. While still hot, insert a chocolate kiss into center of each cookie. Let cool.
Makes 2 dozen cookies.