If you like coffee, the best way to indulge in it is to drink it plain or combine it with ingredients that are good for you. With this in mind, I created a recipe for a coffee frappuccino, or smoothie if you so like, to do just that.
Forget homogenized high pasteurized milk and refined sugar – this drink contains none of that. By combining coffee with healthy ingredients, I wanted to make the most of the delightful indulgence that is my morning drink.
Read on to find the recipe, as well as some information about coffee and coconut milk (both found in this frappuccino), the reasons why you should actually drink it. Coffee lovers – this is for you!
This article is not aimed at providing medical advice and does not claim to have cited the latest known studies in all cases.
Coffee – the Morning Saver
Most people enjoy a shot of caffeine when they start their day, or, if you are anything like me, you simply enjoy the taste of coffee in a lovely cappuccino, latte, or frappuccino – the caffeine isn’t that necessary (apart from days when you wake up feeling like you walked into a wall, when decaf simply isn’t an option and you want the health benefits that come from the caffeine).
There’s something about drinking a delicious drink whilst starting your day. Preferably sitting in the sunshine, in front of your MacBook while going through the day ahead and contemplating the lovely assignments lined up.
If you happen to be in a cold office, gray clouds hovering in the horizon and the day ahead looking like something that should be nominated for “most boring day ever”, your cup of Joe might be the only thing to cheer you up. Because who can resist smiling at least a little when the aroma of coffee is hanging about in the air?
Coffee has gotten a bad reputation because of people’s tendency to over indulge in it, combine it with stress (and sometimes extravagant amounts of sugar too) and end up with stomach ulcers. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of coffee though – in fact, those who drink coffee live longer than those who don’t. At least according to one study and I am fond of this particular study. If you love coffee you will be too.
The truth is, coffee has many health benefits and a lot of Americans stray so far from a healthy diet that they get more antioxidants (those are good for you) from coffee than any other food. If you eat a healthy diet that shouldn’t be the case as all fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants, but nonetheless: there are plenty of antioxidants in coffee.
Antioxidants are only one of many health benefits though. In the text below you can find some more.
Coffee reduces stress
It’s no wonder that you might want to start off your day with a cup of Joe when looking over the tasks ahead – in an experiment with sleep deprived rats, researchers found that the smell of coffee helped reduce stress. They didn’t research other causes for stress.
I also read somewhere (I cannot remember where) that a study showed that just the smell of coffee would increase people’s creativity. In fact, coffee consists of over 800 aromatic compounds. That’s no small feat!
Coffee can potentially help prevent and lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
According to one study, coffee drinkers have 31-80% less risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Various studies show slightly different numbers, but there seems to be a connection between the amount of caffeine consumed and the reduced risk.
Coffee and the liver
For those who drink alcohol, according to one study, coffee helps prevent alcoholic cirrhosis. Just one cup a day was seen to lower the risk by 20%. A higher coffee consumption might yield even higher protection – one source suggests that 4 cups or more per day lower the risk by a whopping 80%. It is also thought to lower the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Coffee may also help prevent liver cancer – one study showed that those who consume coffee regularly have up to 40% lower risk of contracting it.
Coffee can provide for skin cancer prevention
Studies suggest that women who drink three or more cups of coffee a day are much less likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.
Coffee and other types of cancer
One study found that the risk of death from oral cancer was reduced by 50% when drinking four or more cups of coffee per day.
Another study found that drinking four to five cups of coffee per day reduced the risk of colorectal cancer by 15%.Yet another one revealed that women who drink four or more cups a day lower their risk of endometrial cancer by 25%. There is also evidence to suggest it lowers the risk of prostate cancer.
Type II diabetes – coffee works wonders
It appears that drinking four or more cups a day can reduce the risk of developing Type II diabetes by 50%.
It can postpone and reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
Studies show that people who drink coffee have up to 60% reduced rates of Alzheimer’s. It also showed it delayed the onset of the disease by two to four years.
Coffee makes you happy and smart
If you are anything like me, some days, after having a cup of coffee you feel like you can take on the world. Superman has nothing on you. This is apparently not because I’m in love with coffee personally – studies show coffee actually affects your brain in such a way that makes you feel happy.
It’s great if you have some problems lined up, because coffee, although it might not solve them, makes you look upon them differently – through the lens of happiness.
A study carried out at Harvard showed that women who drank four or more cups of coffee per day were 20% less likely to become depressed. This wasn’t because of the caffeine alone – coca cola also has caffeine in it, but this seems to trigger depression.
Another study showed that people who, again, drank four or more cups of coffee per day were 53% less likely to commit suicide.
Other results suggest caffeine improves reaction time, vigilance, attention and logical reasoning. How much caffeine you need for this is unclear. If you overdo it, you will become jittery instead, so chances are it’s individual.
Coffee ups athletes’ performances
According to one article in the Huffington post: “Caffeine increases the number of fatty acids in the bloodstream, which allows athletes' muscles to absorb and burn those fats for fuel, therefore saving the body's small reserves of carbohydrates for later on in the exercise.”
It also releases adrenaline, which is part of the fight or flight response. This seems to lead to athletes performing better and also enduring much more. It also seems to help aid burning fat in general, which is great if you are trying to lose weight.
Should everyone drink coffee?
It depends; if you are pregnant you need to limit your intake of caffeine. Have a look around as different sources say different things – some seem to think that one cup of coffee per day is OK, others don’t. New findings have a different perspective as well, so check the latest findings.
Coffee, like anything else, should not be over-consumed. Getting the jitters will not make you concentrate better – in fact, it can lessen concentration, especially if you have ADHD.
Personally, I love coffee, but I’m sensitive to it. If I have the right amount, I become blissful; if I overdo it (and for me one full shot of espresso can sometimes be overdoing it), I will shake and be unable to think straight, sometimes for hours on end.
Coffee consumption can also irritate the stomach – it has a laxative effect and also works as an acid, so it does not work great with stomach ulcers and similar conditions.
As this article shows, coffee has a lot of health benefits, but that’s not to say that you should drink it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, drink eight cups a day, or combine it with tons of cow’s milk and sugar. As with anything else, you have to use your own judgment.
Coconut oil is a great addition
Now, coconut oil is a very different substance from coffee, but it has been labelled a miracle product by many. Coconut milk, which is used in this smoothie I make, doesn’t just consist of coconut oil, but it seems the oil is what has been studied the most where health is concerned and for good reason – it seems it has many health benefits.
However, coconut water contains a lot of electrolytes, so many in fact that in blood transfusions it’s been used as a substitute for blood plasma. Electrolytes are important as they help hydrate the body. Athletes often drink sports drinks with electrolytes in them, as do people who have suffered heavy fluid loss due to stomach upsets.
The good news is – coconut water is all natural and readily available in most supermarkets in America, including Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
Alzheimer’s disease and coconut oil
As mentioned, coffee might help prevent, or at least postpone Alzheimer’s and studies so far provide positive results for coconut oil doing the same, albeit potentially in different ways.
The brain uses fat as fuel and if it is no longer capable of turning glucose from carbohydrates into fat there is a problem. Now, I don’t know all the technicalities of this, but it seems that when eating coconut oil the brain can use it for fuel (the ketones) and thereby lessen the effect of Alzheimer’s.
Studies in this area are preliminary, but I have heard two accounts of people trying it on relatives suffering from Alzheimer’s and the results were outstanding – they literally got the “real person” back. They weren’t entirely cured, but symptoms lessened drastically.
A study is currently under way as a doctor in America had the same experience when trying it on her husband, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Results will hopefully be available this year.
Ketones and epileptic seizures
Similarly, it’s been shown that kids with epilepsy who eat a lot of fat and very little carbs might have fewer seizures. This is again to do with the ketone count in the blood stream. It seems the brain fares well getting fat instead of carbs to use for fuel, as the carbs need to be turned into fats first otherwise.
Coffee may increase the speed of your metabolism
Contrary to popular belief, as coconut contains a lot of saturated fat, it doesn’t make you fat. In fact, the opposite is true. One study found that 15-30 grams of MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut oil) per day increased 24 hour energy expenditure by 5%.
It may also help suppress your hunger, making you consume fewer calories every day without even trying. This has something to do with the energy it gives you consuming the coconut fat.
It has also been shown that coconut oil is beneficial in helping to reduce harmful belly fat. Now isn’t that sweet? Eating a fat that doesn’t make you fat? Naturally, you shouldn’t eat only coconut fat all day long though – as with anything moderation is advised.
Provides good cholesterol, and changes the bad
One small study showed that coconut oil can help raise the good cholesterol in the body (HDLs) and change the “bad” cholesterol (LDLs) to a benign type.
Wait, there’s more that can help you
Consuming coconuts also provides you with antioxidants and coconuts are antiviral, anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic, meaning they help fight off bacteria, viruses, fungi (including yeast infections) and parasites. For this reason, coconut oil is also used for the skin and not just for cooking – it’s an excellent make-up remover and helps keep the skin soft and free from fungi.
It’s the perfect body lotion for women’s private parts during their menstrual period, as it helps prevent dryness and yeast infections.
Another reason to cover yourself in coconut oil, is that it helps to block about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Now combine that with coffee’s ability to help prevent against skin cancer and you have a good formula. In fact you can probably make your own sunblock:
“Antioxidants such as vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin E), flavonoids, and phenolic acids play the main role in fighting against free radical species that are the main cause of numerous negative skin changes. Although isolated plant compounds have a high potential in protection of the skin, whole herbs extracts showed better potential due to their complex composition.
Many studies showed that green and black tea (polyphenols) ameliorate adverse skin reactions following UV exposure. The gel from aloe is believed to stimulate skin and assist in new cell growth.
Spectrophotometer testing indicates that as a concentrated extract of Krameria triandra it absorbs 25 to 30% of the amount of UV radiation typically absorbed by octyl methoxycinnamate. Sesame oil resists 30% of UV rays, while coconut, peanut, olive, and cottonseed oils block out about 20%.” (Source: NCBI; PMC, US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health)
People also use coconut oil as a mouth wash – so-called oil pulling – rinsing their mouth for about twenty minutes at night (you have to learn to multi-task with this one or you will get bored). This supposedly helps prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria, improving dental health and bad breath. Don’t spit it out in the sink as it can clog it.
The coffee frappuccino recipe
This frappuccino combines coconut milk with coffee, raw honey, banana, cashew nuts and cacao. In other words: talk about a super food smoothie! It’s bursting with health benefits.
If you like having it as a smoothie before the gym, I suggest you up the amount of cashew nut butter used to increase the protein and maybe add some almond nut butter as well.
A raw egg is also an excellent source of protein (make sure to get it from a safe source to avoid salmonella and wash it thoroughly and dry it before opening it as bacteria often sits on the shell).
Protein powder can be great, but personally, I could never stand the taste of it. The best one I have found, however, is Sunwarrior’s raw protein powder.
If you want a raw version of the smoothie, blend some young coconut meat with coconut water in a high power blender and substitute for the coconut milk. Also, use raw cacao and raw cashew butter.
For the frozen liquids, you can use ice cube trays to make it easier. In that case you don’t really have to thaw them beforehand.
- 1 sliced, frozen and slightly thawed banana
- 165ml (5.6 fluid oz) can of coconut milk, frozen, slightly thawed (so as to get out of can) (if you exchange this to the carton bought coconut milk that is used as a milk substitute it won’t be as creamy)
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp of strong coffee (can add more to taste), frozen and slightly thawed
- 1 tbsp cashew nut butter
- 1 tbsp cacao
- 1-2 tsp raw honey
Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender (I use a Ninja, but recommend a Vitamix. For this smoothie any blender will do however, even a good food processor, so long as it doesn’t get too chunky – the smoother, the better). Serve immediately.
Coffee and coconuts both have incredible health benefits. So do nuts, raw honey, bananas and cacao (raw cacao has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of all plants), although they aren’t discussed in this article. If you are curious, you can google this, but rest assured this is a great smoothie to kick-start your day, especially before a work-out.
Like everything else though – vary it. If you always have a smoothie to start your day, also include berries and other fruits in it from time to time to ensure you eat a varied diet.