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Showing posts from 2017

Baby, it's Cold Outside

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Today, December 28, 2017, the temperature in Montclair, NJ, is 12 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not only below freezing, but it’s also a shock after a beautifully hospitable and warm fall and a mild winter---at least until now.  
So what else is there to do besides drink hot drinks indoors? In fact, I’ve been drinking lots of hot, healthy coffee indoors (and out)---at the ice skating rink, with friends at cafes, alone at home, and at the office (of course).

Coffee increases the perception of likability
So the obvious takeaway is that hot drinks in cold weather make us feel better. However, there’s more to hot coffee-cold weather arithmetic than physiologic comfort. In one study, conducted at the University of Colorado, researchers recruited 41 undergrads, who were primed with either hot coffee or iced coffee before walking into the testing site. 

They were then asked to complete a personality impression questionnaire, in which they were given information about a particular individual (Person A…

5 Things I Never Knew About Coffee

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My friend, George B. (aka, the man on a quest for the best coffee in New Jersey), celebrated his birthday last week by having a private get-together at Java Love, in Montclair, in which Kristine Petrak, co-owner of Java Love Coffee Roasting Company, led us in a mini-course entitled “Coffee 101.”

So, we all know that coffee is good for us, right? We know that drinking coffee decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cirrhosis, brain cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and death, in general. But, there’s a whole other side to coffee, besides drinking it for one’s good health. Here are 5 things I learned about coffee that I never knew.
#1-Coffee can only grow in what is known as the “bean belt’---the area between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The best locale should have moderate sunshine and rain, with steady temps around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. (Guess I won’t be able to grow coffee in my background no matter how hard I try!)

#2-Coffee grown at higher altitudes has the …

Fall is National Coffee Drinking Season

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It's been more than a week since we all celebrated National Coffee Day (September 29th). I say celebrated loosely, because for me the celebration basically focused on brewing K-cups at work, and drinking coffee to keep going so I could meet all of my deadlines for the day.

I wrote a lot of copy, but, alas, none of it had anything to do with coffee, except that one generic Facebook post that read like tens of thousands other posts: "Happy National Coffee Day!" (with the requisite link to all of the places that had coffee deals that day, including a lot of good BOGO offers, and some food add-ons (thank you Dunkin' Donuts for that awesome pumpkin donut). 

And thank you to all of the other places that had deals that day---Tim Hortons, Peet's, Wawa, McDonalds, Cinnabon, Starbucks, and Krisy Kreme. I've never been to Krispy Kreme, but I have to nod my respect in their direction. Krisy Kreme acknowledged that one day is simply not enough time to celebrate coffee---…

Drinking lavender coffee in the Shenandoah Mountains

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And so just like that, summer is over. Whereas 2 weeks ago, we were braving temps of barely 80 degrees to go to the pool or hang out in seaside locales, this weekend,  the ponchos are out. I’m planting mums and shopping for school lunches. Summer’s a wrap. It’s a done deal.
The last weekend of summer---Labor Day weekend---tends to be the last hurrah of the summer for lots of people. We ended up going to Shenandoah State Park, which was established in 1935 by park planners looking to transform a motley patchwork of forest, fields, orchards, and private tracts of land, into a park preserve.  They succeeded. This beautiful park, located in Virginia, is like an outdoors United Nations, with people from all over the world coming to marvel at the vast beauty of our American landscape.

As we drove along Skyline Drive, from one overlook to the next, and decamped from our car for various hikes, I never expected to find coffee….but I did. We stopped in at Lewis Mountain Lodge, which functions…

Drinking Cuban coffee in the land of dinosaurs

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The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in NYC is a local treasure. The kids never get tired of marveling at the huge dinosaur replicas (the original bones are stored in the museum’s archives---they are too heavy for display) or watching 3-D movies to pomder the mysteries of the universe while listening to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s soothing baritone.



Earlier this month, another mom and I took our kids to AMNH to spend the day seeing all the IMAX movies and special exhibits.  I was surprised to see a new offering---CUBA! This ambitious exhibit not only explores the astounding biodiversity of Cuba, which in reality is an archipelago comprised of more than 4,000 islands, but it also looks at Cuban society and history in a way that illuminates the beauty and brilliance of the island’s culture and people.
There are huge installations of streetscapes in Havana replete with graceful arches, Spanish charm, and splashes of color everywhere. The presentation is so big and so rich that I wan…

Beach-bound: Discovering Rook in Monmouth County

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This weekend, we ventured down to Monmouth County with the goal of visiting friends in Middletown and venturing to the beach---weather allowing.

In fact, the weather was on the cool side---OK for the heated pool, but not so much for the gusty, cold beach, where the surf was already rough early in the day. 
So amidst all of the fun, we decided to amp up the happiness with coffee from Rook Coffee , a Monmouth County-based coffee shop founded in 2010, with a dedicated roastery that promises "great coffee and over-the-top service."
So I tried it, and guess what. They delivered. I had a hot coffee that was soothing and elevating at the same time, no bitter aftertaste and just hot enough. My friends also enjoyed their coffees. Here we are celebrating our good coffee-drinking experience.

You can see how much we like it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9C5U5q1pAI


What is it about Rooks?

I was curious about the name Rook. The logo reflects the simple elegance of the rook, a crow …

Why do we cherish summer so much---and new findings from the EPIC study

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During college, I went through my “dystopian phase.” My book list included Orwell’s “1984,  Zamyatin’s “We,” the “Waiting Seed” by Anthony Burgess, and of course, Huxley’s “Brave New World.” Huxley’s dystopian vision was truly a watershed moment in American literature----so much so that we routinely use the phrase “brave new world” in everyday lexicon.
But Huxley was no one-book wonder, he was famous for his proto-countercultural essays, as well as his novels. When I heard about Huxley’s “After Many Summers Dies the Swan,” I wasn’t excited to read it, as much as fascinated by the poetry of the title.
The book is about a 60-something, super-wealthy Hollywood exec, who has a much younger mistress and wants to live forever. When I learned the plot, I immediately understood the title. When we think about our lives, we think about summer in meta-terms.
Summer is pure magic (except when it sucks because it’s too hot)---especially if you live in the northeastern U.S. or some other northern…

A good gut feeling about coffee---and how to treat difficult intestinal infections

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It’s hard not to go down a rabbit hole if you google ‘fecal transplant.’
There’s so much to explore—so many questions to answer. Where does the ‘good’ poop come from? (Other people with healthy microbiomes.) How is it stored? (Different ways—but it should be fresh upon transfer.) How is it transplanted? (Note: Although fecal transplants are generally performed in clinical settings via enema, colonoscopy, or other methods, there’s a burgeoning DIY community.)
Fecal transplant, also known as fecal microbiota transplant (FMT), is intended to reinvigorate the body’s microbiome---the community of thousands of different types of bacteria that reside in the gut.
It’s true: Good health starts in the gut. In fact, the body’s microbiome is the epicenter of our immune system and implicated in everything from obesity, to chronic diseases, to severe gastrointestinal distress and illnesses, to mental illness. Metaphorically speaking, it’s a question of the balance between the good and the bad---bac…

Are you longing for longer telomeres? Drink coffee

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Years from now, it will be clear that 2017 was the beginning of a golden era of genomics. Scientists can now visualize what’s going on in our bodies on a cellular level---with a genomic dimension.
One popular application of this growing knowledge base has been trained on understanding the aging process and attempting to slow it down. Telomeres, the caps on the end of a strand of DNA, are an important biomarker for aging.


The longer they are, the better, because they can better protect chromosomes from being damaged. The longer they are, the longer it takes to get to the DNA---probably one of the reasons that people with longer telomeres live longer.
Numerous studies have shown a link between healthy lifestyle habits (exercise, sufficient sleep, eating lots of vegetables, etc.) and longer telomeres, while stress, smoking, obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise are associated with shorter telomeres.
Researchers, who analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study, have determined that …

Life according to Rachel: Coffee first

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I was in the park taking a walk last week, and I ran into my friend, Rachel. Rachel is a fellow mom, and also a major force in brand marketing, vlogging and blogging at Truly Rachel about motherhood, fashion, lifestyle and DIY. To say the least, Rachel is dynamic.
Rachel is high energy. It's true, she’s smart, but I know one of her secrets to being so successful and healthy. Take a look at her shirt and you’ll know too.
"BUT FIRST COFFEE" (I liked the shirt so much I was tempted to ask her for it on the spot.)
Rachel’s all about good coffee and lots of it. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that she and I are pretty evenly yoked when it comes to sipping the dark brew and enjoying the roasted green bean.
Fortunately, it’s making us healthier. In fact, coffee is now known to decrease the risk of various types of cancer, in addition to cirrhosis, Alzheimer's disease. diabetes, and even suicide.
I’ve put together an infographic showing how many cups of coffee you need …

The best part of wakin' up is Folger's in my cup. Really?

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Admittedly, my blog has been moribund lately, compromised by the rapid rush of one ‘real life’ event after another. Nonetheless, I’m still drinking lots of coffee, and I feel better than ever.  But because of a recent coffee-related epiphany, I felt compelled to blog---so thanks for being here today.

First let me just say, coffee by any other name is---coffee. After all, regardless of the brand, the chemical structure of coffee remains intact, along with the healthy polyphenols and other cholinergic acids that contribute to coffee’s healthy effects.
That’s a good thing, considering the fact that I am an avid coffee-drinker, who happens to now be on a considerably more rigorous budget than before. In fact, if you asked me a year ago if I would be writing a blog post praising Folger’s, I would be highly doubtful.
But crazier things have happened.


Folger’s is good. Is it worth waking up for? Yes, it is. Plus I have to wake up anyway. A year ago, Folger’s was some random brand with re…

How much coffee is too much?

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If faced with the question, “How much coffee is too much?” many people would rephrase the question:
“Can you ever drink enough coffee?”
The answer, of course, is that how much coffee a person should drink is a completely individual matter. However, the science shows that the most profound clinical benefits of coffee, including living a longer life, don’t kick in until daily consumption hits the three-to-four cup per day level. In general, the benefits start to drop off at five cups per day, and by day six, the law of declining marginal utility is in full effect.
A group of researchers decided to take on the ‘how much is too much’ issue by conducting a retrospective population-based study.  The data was extrapolated from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study.  The team looked at roughly 40,000 subjects between the ages of 20 and 87. Results were published in Mayo Clinical Proceedings. 
The results showed that 28 cups of coffee per week was the absolute threshold for healthy coffee co…