October 30, 2011

Vanilla- Maple Hot Cocoa and a Good Read

My decision to go vegan was never a difficult one, and the transition was completely painless.

HOWEVER, my decision to give up caffeine was a totally different story.  It was both difficult and painful!

So, why did I want to give up my beloved cup o' Joe in the first place? Well, for starters, I had begun to notice some of the side effects of my addiction:  Specifically:

  • when I didn't drink my latte first thing in the morning I would have en excruciating headache by 10:00 a.m.;
  • around 2:00-3:00 p.m. I would experience a rapid energy slump;
  • I was visiting the ladies' restroom more than normal following my caffeine consumption (I will spare you the details!); and
  • perhaps most disturbing, I was dependent on my latte fix every day...sometimes more than once a day.

I finally decided to give up caffeine while I was training for my yoga teacher certification at Satchidinanda Ashram-Yogaville this past spring.  It was a natural decision to go-for-it while I was there because the ahsram doesn't actually serve caffeine at all (therefore, it would never be a temptation to cheat!).  Sadly, but not surprisingly, within one day of being caffeine-free I had a constant headache that didn't diminish for about two weeks. Owww!

This picture was just too cute to pass up!

Needless to say, I didn't do my headstand in yoga class for a few days...

But after those two weeks I emerged feeling fantastic! 

  • I no longer had withdrawal headaches;
  • my energy was constant throughout the day;
  • my restroom visits had noticeably diminished; and
  • best of all, I didn't feel the need for my caffeine fix!

As of today, I haven't had caffeine in over six months!

Confession:  Once I week my girlfriends and I meet for coffee.  I always order a decaffeinated, almond milk latte.  Although it is labelled "decaffeinated," all coffee still has a small amount of caffeine.  So, in that respect, I have had some caffeine these past few months.  However, I believe in balance in all things, and having this time with my girlfriends each week is worth the trace amounts of caffeine!

Regardless of my no-caffeine intake, I still need something warm and comforting to start (and frequently end) my day.  Enter vanilla-maple hot cocoa!

Vanilla-Maple Hot Cocoa
Serves 1

1 T unsweetened cocoa (I prefer Ghirardelli)
1 C + 3 T unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 T maple syrup (I prefer 1 T, but I don't have much of a sweet tooth these days)


  • Add cocoa and 3 T of milk to your mug, and whisk together.
  • Add remaining milk and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Add vanilla and maple syrup, and whisk together.
  • Microwave an additional 1 1/4 minutes.
  • Enjoy! (pastry and/or book optional)

I make other variations of this hot cocoa as well (can you say peanut butter?!), but that recipe will have to wait for another post!  Recently, this simple vanilla-maple concoction has been my go-to.

As many of you know, I also LOVE a good read!  A couple of months ago I discovered novelist Kate Morton.  In the last couple of months I have read all of her books, and her latest, The Distant Hours, has been my favorite!

An editorial review summarizes the book as follows:
A letter posted in 1941 finally reaches its destination in 1992 with powerful repercussions for Edie Burchill, a London book editor, in this enthralling romantic thriller from Australian author Morton (The Forgotten Garden). At crumbling Milderhurst Castle live elderly twins Persephone and Seraphina and their younger half-sister, Juniper, the three eccentric spinster daughters of the late Raymond Blythe, author of The True History of the Mud Man, a children's classic Edie adores. Juniper addressed the letter to Meredith, Edie's mother, then a young teen evacuated to Milderhurst during the Blitz. Edie, who's later invited to write an introduction to a reprint of Raymond's masterpiece, visits the seedily alluring castle in search of answers. Why was her mother so shattered by the contents of a letter sent 51 years earlier? And what happened to soldier Thomas Cavill, Juniper's long-missing fiancé and Meredith's former teacher? Despite the many competing narratives, the answers will stun readers.
Literally, I received this 600-page book on a Monday afternoon, and by Friday I was finished.  It was so good that in-between all of my teaching, cooking, and cleaning, I couldn't put it down!  If you like a good mystery, driven by gothic romance and intricate family dynamics, you will adore this book!

Question of the Day:

What is your idea of comfort?  Obviously mine is hot cocoa and a good read...

Ally and Bo


  1. So glad you are indulging once a week for our girl time! Our almond milk is about to expire.. I'm going to have to try your cocoa! :)

    PS Im loving your blog posts!

  2. Oh you SO should! It is yummy, and honestly, how could you go wrong with cocoa and maple syrup?! I am so happy you are reading! See you Wednesday :)