Friday, April 26, 2013

Why I Wrote a Book on Joe...and Stayed Skinny!

The Writing Gourmet

The Healing Powers of Coffee is featured in the beginning of the cover story.

One snowy winter morning, I followed my everyday ritual. I entered the kitchen and brewed a cup of steaming hot coffee. While Mr. Coffee did its job, I fed my Brittany duo and let them outdoors. Then, I poured French Vanilla Roast into a 12-ounce white mug and embraced it, bringing the java back to bed with me. My daily coffee fix is like connecting with a forever friend: reliable, exciting, comforting— always there for me.
After a sip or two of java juice, I tuned in to CNN and retrieved my e-mail. On this particular day, I got an idea. (It’s true. Coffee boosts brainpower and the creative process.) I e-mailed my book editor. My words were short and sweet: “Just thinking a tea book to go with the honey book seems like it would work well. What do you think?” His quick response: “Actually, I was thinking of a coffee book since coffee gets a bad rap. Is that a crazy idea?” I typed a one-line answer and clicked send. “Not at all. It was my second choice.” Like one coffee tree seed, this was the beginning of creating a book on coffee.
During the creation of The Healing Powers of Chocolate, I included a chapter titled “A Cuppa Coffee and Chocolat.” So, I wasn’t a stranger to coffee and its virtues, past and present-day. A while later I sent a follow-up e-mail to my editor. Blame it on the coffee and its caffeine, proven to increase alertness.
“Coffee may be hotter than tea and deserves attention,” I noted, and continued on as if I were creating the back cover of a book in progress. “Studies show it can help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes; help reduce body fat and unwanted body weight—and increase longevity. Plus, coffee is used in health spa treatments and dozens of home cures and recipes. In moderation, coffee is another superfood and is teamed in cooking/baking with vinegar, olive oil, chocolate, and honey.”
As a West Coast native I felt a connection to the potential book topic. After all, I grew up during the Bohemian Beatnik era, which hit the San Francisco Bay Area, where I lived; and in Seattle, Washington, a place where the coffee giant Starbucks originated, growing into a trend that swept the nation and world. These days, coffee, a new health food, is popular for its multitude of coffee roasts, flavored coffees, organic coffee, specialty coffee drinks—hot and cold—and so much more.
It was no surprise that by mid-March the news arrived. The idea of writing a book about coffee and health had come full circle. While I was enjoying my morning cup of Starbucks’ Sumatra coffee I was notified by my editor, Richard Ember, that The Healing Powers of Coffee was to be my fifth Healing Powers book. I celebrated with a second cup of java juice.
Like vinegar, olive oil, chocolate, and honey, coffee is derived from nature. All five superfoods contain powerful antioxidants and boast versatile uses. The fascinating thing about my journey into the wide world of coffee is that I discovered that coffee is the second most popular commodity in the world.
So like a coffee tree, I began to flourish. The exciting part of my journey is that I discovered that coffee is more than just a beverage to wake up to in the morning. This time around, I’m enjoying a Kona coffee, a slice of gourmet coffee cake, and I just finished a coffee facial.
In The Healing Powers of Coffee I’ll show you how and why this natural beverage from tree to cup will open your eyes to the amazing powers of the coffee tree and its treasures to make your life more complete.

The Healing Powers of Coffee (available at most online bookstores)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Skyler's Scoop: The Real Poop on Puppy Power

My Puppy is Growing Up
The Writing Gourmet

This AM I discovered my beloved Aussie Skye is morphing into a canine! Remember the "dog box"? Well, at 4 1/2+ months my pup is beginning to rebel. We have compromised. At night, when I turn off the lights he will sleep in his home for about four-five hours till he barks, "I have to go do my thing!" And outside we go.
Then, it's time (from 3-4 AM) to crawl into bed with mom, Simon, my senior Brittany, and Zen, the 3 year old Siamese fearless kitty.
Today, I was in a deep sleep and forgot that my new addition was part of the pack on the bed. Suddenly, I woke up thinking, "Uh, oh, where is he?" No worries. He was asleep on his back to the right of me, kitty to the left, and Simon at my feet. And that's not all...

The Dog Tooth Fairy has been here more than once. I never have watched a pup's teeth fall out and adult teeth erupt, one by one. Read: I have too much spare time. But this time around I have been doing just that. I was impatient with an incisor but no problem. It's coming in nicely! He is wagging his tail-less bum. But note, my hands do look like I have the some sort of spot disorder because of his teething. Yes, Skyler has toys--20 something of squeaky balls, bones, rope gadgets, and, of course, an assortment of my socks. I tried a new tactic to nip his nips in the bud. I scream out loud, "OUCH!" It works, sort of. But I lost my voice yesterday. 

So, all of Skye's puppy shots are done! That means, it has been socializing time. Last weekend I took my blue merle puppy to a busy outdoor shopping mall and we met  people, all ages, all genders. He rubbed paws with elbows and passed with flying Aussie colors. True, he's not an in-your-face Britt, but for a somewhat aloof to strangers breed he did very well. Good dog! And he did get into all of the attention--as did Simon--as well as the long walk.

Brown-Eyed Boy. NOT! I admit that I asked vets, vet techs, psychics, breeders, and friends: "What color will my boy's eyes be?" The consensus was amber. A few folks said brown. But the update is: Hazel! He is holding awesome Aussie hazel eyes with a bit of marbled gray in the left eye. And that works for me. 
But now, my next concern is: How much will puppy weigh as an adult? Every single human I meet look down at my pup's Saint Bernard-sized paws and mumble, "He's going to be BIG" and "He's going to protect you."  I feel like I'm living with cute lizard that may turn into an alligator... So for now, I will still pick up puppy (23.5 pounds; if he hits 60 he will be more than half my size) and enjoy my bundle of fluff a bit longer because he is growing up.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wake Up To The Amazing Perks Of Coffee

 Nature’s Surprising Superfood
Cal Orey
The Writing Gourmet

Wake Up To The Amazing
Perks Of Coffee

It’s the ever-popular beverage we can’t live without—yet few consume it without some guilt. But the wonderful truth is that coffee has abundant health benefits. Coffee boasts more antioxidants than cocoa and tea, and even more than renowned antioxidant-rich fruits like oranges and blueberries. In fact, there are hundreds of healing compounds in coffee.
Recent studies have shown that coffee consumption can significantly decrease or reduce
the risk of many conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, asthma, cancer,
cardiovascular disease, dental caries, diabetes, gallstone disease, and liver disease. Here are eight common health ailments and DIY at-home coffee cures. Savor the different roasts, blends, flavored coffees and drinks that can be your best friend. But caution, consult your health care practitioner before putting to work any coffee cure.

1 DEPRESSION (Lose the gloom and doom): You may be one of the 10 percent of Americans experiencing a melancholy misery. No one is immune. The 21st century comes with a mixed bag of stressors, including from love problems or lack of love to money matters or no job.
What Coffee Rx to Use: Try a 12-ounce cup of medium roast (City) and dark roast (Italian or French) two times each day. Better yet, make that organic java. Add milk and dark chocolate.
Why You’ll Be Perked Up! There is light at the end of the dark tunnel for gloom and doom times. Drinking a couple of cup of coffee can boost mood. Also, adding milk, a mineral that can calm nerves and muscles, plus dark chocolate, which contains tryptophan, can help lessen anxiety and stress (which often are linked to depression).
2 FATIGUE (Get a pick-me-up) If you’re dragging your feet complaints may be more than less. After all, we need energy to work and play and enjoy life. If fatigue is due to lack of shut-eye or burning the candle at both ends, or trying to adapt to seasonal changes, coffee may come to your rescue.
The Coffee Rx to Use:  Order a 16-ounce café mocha (with dark chocolate flavoring and dark chocolate shavings) at a coffee shop or make your own at home. (See recipe Seize the Day Café au Lait.)
Why You’ll Be Perked Up!:  It’s a fact: Caffeine boosts your mental and physical energy. Dark chocolate contains theobromine, like caffeine has as stimulating effect on the central nervous system. Anadamide aka the “bliss chemical” occurs naturally in the brain and when released to our brain receptors can boost good feelings.  Millions of people every day get a jump-start in the morning by drinking a cup of coffee (or two) to enjoy that jolt so they can get a move on.
3 FLU (Shake the aches and painsGetting and staying bright-eyed and energized is good, and life without aches and pains due to a quick onset of the dreaded flu is great. During the fall and winter the flu can hit you suddenly and it’s not fun to be out of commission, especially when life is calling for you to participate. But if the flu visits you there may be a way to say goodbye faster.
The Coffee Rx to Use: Try one 12-ounce cup of medium roast (for its antioxidants) and hold flavorings, cream, and sugar. Add lemon or orange slices and honey. Repeat in moderation as needed. Also, drink plenty of water, herbal tea, and fresh juices.
Why You’ll Be Perked Up!: Coffee is a super pick-me-up which will give you the energy that’ll help you to feel better. It contains the component quinic acid—and this is what gives coffee that sour acidic taste. It’s a natural compound found in apples, peaches, and pears. It’s also one of the primary ingredients in the Tamiflu formula—the stuff that people take when the flu hits home. Tamiflu is a pricey prescription medicine that is known for shortening flu symptoms. And remember, coffee also contains anti-inflammatory properties—key to fighting pain, which could be a godsend if you’re fighting the flu.  A bonus: Citrus is immune-boosting and honey is antibacterial to help prevent a respiratory infection.
4 HANGOVER (Say goodbye to the “ugh”)  Avoiding getting the flu is probably easier than falling victim to a killer hangover. Paying the price of a headache after overindulgence of booze can and does happen from celebrating or escaping woes. Then, your body has to deal with feeling terrible.
What Coffee Rx to Use:  Try one 12-ounce cup of medium roast coffee with one tablespoon of honey and an aspirin.
Why You’ll Be Perked Up!:  Coffee contains caffeine so if you team it with an aspirin it can work faster to help cure a headache. A cup of coffee paired with an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory painkiller may do the trick, blocking the headache compound culprit—acetate. Also, honey is rich in fructose and enzymes—which can boost metabolism of alcohol so you can shake that headache. 
5 HEADACHE (Stop the pain cold):  Hangovers are self-induced by overindulgence in alcohol, whereas, headaches are triggered by a mixed bag of reasons. Ironically, caffeine—found in coffee—is a one common trigger to headaches—but it can also help to make the pain go away.
What Coffee Rx to Use:  A cappuccino or café mocha, can be helpful, too, due to its magnesium, which can help alleviate headaches. Also, keep your coffee intake steady and timely.
Why You’ll Be Perked Up!:  The link between coffee and headaches is a tricky one. New York Headache Center’s Dr. Alexander Mauskop, M.D., says that when drank infrequently in small amounts, regular coffee (not decaf) can be helpful in treating tension headaches. “This is because caffeine has some pain-killing properties, gets to the brain quickly and helps in the absorption of other medications,” he explains. But note, if you’re predisposed to having headaches, the limit is one cup a day, adds Dr. Mauskop.          
6 JET LAG (Perk up to a smooth post flight):   Jet lag happens when we disrupt our normal “circadian” rhythms that help us wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night. Drinking coffee helps counter the effects caused by jet lag and helps us to function normally by improving our ability to communicate and to boost our short-term memory. So, when we have to take a jet plane can java juice help us get through the imbalance of your body and mind?
Coffee Rx to Use:  Drink small amounts (2-ounce or 4-ounce) of medium roast brew on a regular basis during the day both at your new destination and also when you return home.
Why You’ll Be Perked Up!: Caffeine, a primary ingredient in coffee, can help you to fight the jet lag blues, thanks to the hypothalamus gland, the main control center of the body clock in the brain, by shifting into a patter that fits in with the time zone of our destination.  
7 WATER RETENTION (Blast the bloat):  Bloating can hit when you’re upset, are PMS-ing and retaining water, during the “pause” thanks to shifting hormones, and even when you’re eating the wrong foods. Not only is bloat frustrating when your stomach is too puffy to wear your skinny jeans or favorite dress, but it’s also often uncomfortable.
What Coffee Rx to Use:   Try an 8-ounce cup or two of black medium roast with a slice or two of lemon. Drink a glass of water for a double effect. Also, pair a cup of coffee with a piece of fresh water-dense fruit.
Why You’ll Be Perked Up! Drinking bloat-busting lemony coffee, a natural diuretic because of its caffeine, citrus, and water content, will help alleviate pesky water retention that causes bloating. Plus, the potassium in fruit can help counteract unwanted sodium and bloat, too.
8 UNIVERSAL EMERGENCY AID (Savor the buzz): Wanting to rid of water weight before a holiday event may seem like an ER time, but a real emergency can rock your boat. Blackouts, earthquakes, and severe storms can make it seem like your world has ended as you once knew it. Before or after, a cup of coffee may seem like godsend to help you feel normal and hang in there.
What Coffee Rx to Use: Opt for a 12-ounce cup of instant coffee (flavored is a good choice).
Why You’ll Be Perked Up! Coffee is comforting and energizing. These perks will help you keep awake and able to keep on top of the latest news, and help you stay calm but prepared. Plus, if you don’t have electricity, instant coffee (water heated on a gas stove) will provide you with that much wanted java jolt.

Did You Know?... Hot coffee may keep away a Superbug? Research shows that drinking a steaming hot cup of joe may lessen developing MRSA bacteria in your nose. That’s right; your nose knows that there may be antimicrobial properties in coffee that may be linked to lowering the risk of carrying MRSA bacteria in your nasal passages.

Seize the Day Café au Lait
* * *
2/3 cup low-fat (2 percent) milk                                 2/3 cup hot, brewed French or ounce 2 teaspoons chocolate-flavored                                               other dark roast) coffee
syrup                                                                           Grated chocolate, or freshly
1/8 teaspoon almond extract                                      ground nutmeg (optional)
            In a small saucepan combine the milk, chocolate syrup, and almond extract until blended. Bring just to a boil over medium-low heat.Pour the milk mixture and coffee simultaneously into a French café au lait bowl or large coffee cup. Top with grated chocolate or freshly ground nutmeg, if desired. Serve immediately. Makes 1 serving.
(Source: Courtesy: Coffee Science Organization.)
Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Coffee (Kensington)

Chocolate Power for Mother's Day

By Cal Orey  
The Writing Gourmet

 “My chocolate fantasy would be that I could eat all the chocolate in every conceivable form that I could possibly ever want and it wouldn’t do anything bad to my body or my skin or my disposition. Actually, it would have no calories at all.” --Helen Gurley Brown

Surprise. Chocolate, straight from Mother Nature’s cocoa plant, is used in posh health spas for body treatments: wraps, mask, massages. I talked to some of the well-known spa retreats, from Calistoga, California, to Reno, Nevada, and other regions around the globe to find out how chocolate works and why it is used. Chocolate soaks, bean polish, scented massage, scrubs, and wraps are part of chocolate treatments at resort spas in America and worldwide. Here, take a look at some chocolate bliss straight from The Healing Powers of Chocolate.

Chocolate Spa Beauty Treatments
Eating chocolate can make you feel better, but treating your body from head to toe with chocolate beauty treatments can make you look better, too. It’s not just a gimmick or a pampering treat—chocolate contains the real deal to help nourish your hair, skin, and nails, and much more. Chocolate treatments also soften skin, enhance your blood circulation, and zap stress and anxiety.
Indeed, there are also some all-natural compounds in chocolate that can make your skin feel silkier and even more youthful. After all, you know by now that chocolate is antioxidant rich, which is ideal for fighting free radicals in our environment, stress, and again. All-natural cocoa teamed with other natural plant extracts and essential oils can help exfoliate, soften, and even make your skin look firmer and glow.
And this is why some progressive spas around the nation and world include chocolate in their pampering spa treatments. Here, take a look at just some of the popular treatments. Prices will vary depending on the spa, region, and season. (Chocolate beauty products can be found on the Internet. Companies to contact include and .)
Chocolate Body Masque
This is ideal for couples who can enjoy the steps in a private room: Choose the chocolate body masque. Apply the warm chocolate body masque. Relax on a steam table. Feel the aromatic steam. An attendant will also apply a facial cleansing/moisturizing during your treatment. Finish the treatment with a special shower gel and shampoo.
Chocolate Facial
A mask can contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, while chocolate does its job and the sweet aroma soothes your body, mind, and spirit.
Chocolate Hydrotherapy/Cocoa Bath
Wonder what it would feel like to dip into a bathtub filled with chocolate silk bubbles? You’ll soak in a tub of warm water and enjoy the chocolate aroma of the pure cocoa, lush oils, and silk proteins moisturizing your skin from your feet to your neck.
Chocolate Pedicure
After a pedicure and before the nail polish is put on your nails, a chocolate powder paste is heated and the warm concoction is put on both feet—top and bottom. After 10 or 15 minutes, once chocolate potion has dried, it is peeled off much like a facial masque. This, in turn, gets rid of dead cells, dry skin, and closes pores.
Chocolate Scrub/Massage
This popular treatment can be used with ground cocoa beans mixed with essential oils.
Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Wrap
A chocolate fondue wrap is a sensual and soothing delight. But if you’re looking for something a bit more exotic, a treatment pairing chocolate and real strawberries, pure shea butter, and organic cocoa will be the ultimate body treatment.

Pamper Yourself In Chocolate
If you think chocolate spa treatments are just for fun, think again. Today’s spas offer a wide variety of pampering and healthful chocolate-related regiments, for all budgets. And more people—both men and women—are discovering the beauty benefits of chocolate.
In fact, you can even get the same treatment right at home. I have a drawer full of chocolate based beauty treatments that promise to pamper the body from head to toe. In other words, it is the next best thing to getting spa’d without spending a lot of money.
Before you get started, the night before, make this recipe and cut up seasonal fresh fruit chunks. Put in the fridge for the following day—your special beauty day.
Chocolate Fondue
1/2 cup half-and-half
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or pistoles
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped or pistoles
¼ teaspoon vanilla
Marshmallows, pound cake, or brownies, peppermint sticks, strawberries, bananas, raspberries, or apricots.
In saucepan, bring cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted. Stir in vanilla until smooth. Pour fondue into a serving bowl or individual cups. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed. Dip the goodies!
(Source: Lake Champlain Chocolates)
[Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington)]
BIO:  Cal Orey is an accomplished author and journalist specializing in health, nutrition, science, and pets. She is the author of The Healing Powers series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. The intuitive is a phone psychic for three international networks. She lives in northern California. Visit her website at .