Monday, November 7, 2016

Chicory Root as a Coffee Substitute

I swear to the heavens above every other day there is some new study about how coffee is either really good for you or the cause of all the problems in your life.

While I side with a much less dramatic version of the latter option, this post is more focused on an option for those who either want to stop drinking coffee for whatever reason, or just want to decrease their overall consumption. Or for those who want to enjoy a cup in the late evening without staying up all night thinking about past mistakes or scenes from horror movies that feature ghosts and/or aliens.

While I used to never drink coffee regularly, due to my time in Armenia and surprisingly Germany, I became a lot more accustomed to a morning Armenian/Middle Eastern/Turkish/Greek style coffee (no one can get offended!) and really like adding some cardamom pods in there (Syrian style?). While I never get any of the notorious caffeine-withdrawal headaches when I don't drink it, coffee still usually makes me more hyper (in a negative way), makes my heart beat faster, leaves me super dehydrated, and I become a non-stop peeing machine. 1/84 times I become slightly more focused and productive though, just like in the commercials.
"You gonna die"
I do, however, like the taste of coffee. And since I know many people who feel they are addicted to it, or want to enjoy it late in the evening without becoming an owl, I am going to highlight chicory root as a substitute.

A friend had mentioned chicory root to me a while back, and it always stayed in my head. It is caffeine-free, helps with digestion (stimulating flow of bile), supports healthy intestinal flora via inulin, and is anti-bacterial. Apparently it grows like a weed and is found in Armenia, too!

In terms of taste, smell and even appearance, it is one of the best coffee substitutes I have ever tried and you can modify it easily to make it stronger/weaker/sweeter/more bitter. You can prepare it like a tea or add it to your coffee machine. I've found it at a health food store and in a Russian market a friend recommended for Georgian spices. Here are the types I found:
The first one is similar to instant powdered coffee and has some cowberry and blueberry in there, making it more mild than the second one. You can legit make this one as a tea with no steeping necessary (1 heaping tbsp to one mug, stir, and voila!). The second is from the health food store and requires a little steeping if made tea-style. Both, however, are a-okay for coffee machines.
When I use the coffee machine, I add one spoon for each cup of water (powdered: heaping, non-powdered: a little less) and add cinnamon and cardamom. It is absolutely perfect and although I have had some fails when I go too wild with experimenting, when made right it tastes exactly like coffee. Only my dad did not get fooled but it was because I added too much cinnamon that time and he knew something was up. I will trick him.
You can enjoy it plain like this (look at that colour!) or add what you usually add to coffee. In my case, it is Silk's coconut milk, which I am a little obsessed with (I wish this was a paid advertisement). Soon I will just use oat or almond milk! Not today, though:
So good. And whether you crave coffee for its taste, out of habit, or for the kind of addiction that makes you buy weird coffee-themed mugs, chicory root is the best substitute I have ever come across. Just experiment a little and find your perfect recipe!

Note: When buying chicory root, make sure to check out the ingredients! It is sometimes added to coffee to enhance the flavour, which of course means it is not caffeine-free!

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