The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek RD, LD.
Coffee has been a part of my morning routine for nearly 30 years. Its dreamy aroma, rich flavor and brain-boosting and energy-lifting qualities keep me coming back for more. A few months ago, however, I decided to cut back on my “three-cup-a-day” habit to make room for more “functional” beverages to support my health.
Maybe you’re looking to cut back on caffeine due to a medical condition, or perhaps you are caffeine-sensitive, and those jittery side-effects have you hunting for an alternative drink to naturally boost your energy levels.
No matter the reason, these three beverages with exceptional health benefits will fuel your body with natural goodness.
Navitas Matcha Tea
Heinen’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Todd Pesek, MD, taught me about the magic of matcha years ago, but I never made it a habit until now. In fact, it was the cancer-fighting properties of matcha that motivated me to get serious about adding it to my routine.
Matcha is green tea leaves in powdered form. It’s full of antioxidants from the catechin family (specifically EGCG, or epigallocatechin gallate), which helps prevent oxidative damage in the cells and protects against chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
All green tea contains caffeine, but it’s the presence of L-theanine that makes matcha so unique. L-theanine is an amino acid known to promote a balanced mood and feelings of well-being. It also increases your ability to focus without nervousness or agitation, making matcha an ideal coffee alternative.
To prepare, heat one cup of water to a brisk simmer. Sift a half teaspoon of matcha powder into a small bowl, then pour ¼ cup of water into the bowl and, using a bamboo matcha whisk or small kitchen whisk, whisk quickly from side to side and top to bottom until the matcha is dissolved and the water is foamy. Add the remaining water, whisk again, and enjoy!
Note: Matcha tends to have an earthy flavor that can take some getting used to. Add a teaspoon of raw honey if you’d like!
Four Sigmatic Mushroom Powder
Four Sigmatic Lion’s Mane Elixir is a caffeine-free powder that mixes well with hot water, plant-based milk or your favorite smoothie. It has a smooth, earthy taste like herbal tea.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms look like furry little creatures with white strands of “hair,” just like the mane of a lion. As a functional mushroom, Lion’s Mane is known to support cognition, focus, creativity and productivity.
Dandy Blend is a caffeine-free herbal beverage and coffee alternative with a rich, bold and creamy flavor similar to coffee. It’s made of only five ingredients: roasted barley extracts, roasted rye extracts, roasted dandelion root extracts and roasted chicory root extracts.
What makes this a functional beverage is the powerful ingredient dandelion root, which may help with liver and gallbladder detoxification. It’s also rich in inulin, a type of fiber that supports the growth and maintenance of healthy gut bacteria.
Note: If you are following a gluten-free diet, the company reports that their water extraction process removes the gluten from the barley and rye. The product is also third party tested to support this statement. If you are gluten sensitive or have Celiac disease, please exercise caution and speak with your healthcare provider before drinking Dandy Blend.
Functional foods are foods that offer benefits beyond their nutritional value. Whether your goal is to give up coffee or improve the quality of your diet, these three beverages can support your health and energy in a clean and natural way. If you’re undecided on which one to try first, my vote is for matcha!