Ever been to New Orleans? If you have, you’ve also probably been to the famous Café du Monde, in the heart of the city’s French Market area. And if you’ve been to Café du Monde, you’ve likely enjoyed a cup of chicory coffee: regular coffee mixed with chicory root.
It tastes very similar to regular coffee, perhaps a bit sweeter (especially if you’re used to a dark roast) and it’s a tradition, especially when mixed half and half with milk, in Louisiana and other French-speaking areas of the world.
But today we’re going to take that French culture prize one step further and make it truly Paleo by eliminating the coffee and using a few other tried and true Paleo tweaks.
I know there are going to be a few of you out there that are panicking right now: “is she gonna tell me I can’t have COFFEE? IS SHE NUTS???” As hard as it is for many people to cut refined sugars out of their diet, coffee is the last straw for many people. And if you just can’t bring yourself to cut it out now, I understand.
But in the meantime, read this blog and the recipe, give it some thought, and make it a goal to work towards. Because as great as you think coffee makes you feel, it’s not really the best addition to a Paleo diet.
The thing that makes you love coffee so much is the caffeine. It’s a stimulant. It gives you a nice little buzz in the morning or afternoon when you’re feeling drowsy. Of course, too much can upset your stomach and make you feel jittery. But sometimes after the buzz goes away, you’re left feeling twice as groggy, and need another cup.
And after you’ve been drinking it for a while, the same amount won’t do the trick anymore… so you have to drink more for the same effect. And God forbid you don’t get your daily cup or three because here comes the sluggishness, grumpiness, and headaches that are only cured by – you guessed it – more caffeine.
Look, folks, it’s a drug. It’s totally legal and fairly cheap – unless you’re addicted to Starbucks and you have to put 5 adjectives before and after the word “coffee” when you order. In that case, you probably need a second mortgage to support your addiction. But I digress. Like I said, it’s a drug and most Americans are addicted to it. And the whole point of Paleo is to purge those kinds of toxins from your body. So I’m going to urge you to do whatever you can to ditch your coffee habit.
Some people go cold turkey and suffer pretty bad withdrawal symptoms for a few days. If you can’t handle that, I recommend stepping down your intake, and a great way to do it is to start mixing your coffee with chicory. Over the course of a few days or weeks, slowly go from mostly coffee and a bit of chicory, adding more chicory and less coffee at each stage, until you are finally drinking pure chicory coffee.
Some of you will certainly ask why you can’t just have decaffeinated coffee. I’ve got two answers for you. First of all, the process to decaffeinate coffee beans often involves a lot of chemicals that are really not a great substitute for caffeine. Secondly, chicory coffee is cool. What do I mean by that? Well, it has a long and interesting history that, unless you live in Louisiana, you’re probably unfamiliar with.
Chicory started being mixed with coffee in the 19th century in France during the Napoleonic Wars. Coffee was in short supply so roasted chicory root added to the coffee made the coffee supplies last longer. Since roasted chicory gives you nearly the same flavor and color as coffee, it was a good mix.
When the Civil War broke out in the U.S. in 1861, the Union blockaded supply ships from getting to most of the Southern ports, so Southerners, and, particularly folks in Louisiana who were already familiar with chicory coffee, began using more and more chicory as a substitute for coffee. It even became pretty popular among Confederate soldiers, who sorely missed a hot cup of joe on the battlefront.
So, give this recipe a try. It will give you a sweet, creamy, and cool treat, good at any time in the day because it won’t keep you up at night or give you jitters. If you must, start by mixing it with coffee, like they do in New Orleans. But just because you’re drink it like they do in New Orleans, don’t go stuffing your face with beignets at the same time!
(Make this next: Simple Paleo Hot Cocoa)
- For coffee
- ¼ cup grounded roasted chicory root
- 2 1/8 cups cold water
- almond milk, ice cubes
- For syrup
- ½ cup water
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 cinnamon stick or vanilla bean (optional)
- Rest of ingredients
- almond milk, ice cubes
- In a large jar place ground chicory and water.
- Mix to combine, cover with a lid and leave to steep for 12 hours, either in or out of the fridge.
- In a pot place water, honey and cinnamon or vanilla (if using) and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and discard cinnamon stick or vanilla bean.
- Place syrup in a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Line a funnel with few paper towels and set on top of a jar.
- Pour coffee into funnel to strain.
- Fill two 15 ounce tall glasses with ice.
- Pour 1 cup of coffee and 2-3 tablespoons of syrup (or to taste) in each glass.
- Pour in almond milk leaving about ½ inch at the top.
- Mix well to combine and serve.