This is nothing new: I have a total love/hate relationship with coffee. I adore the taste of it so much so that I'm a complete snob about it. I'd actually rather go without than have a bad batch. But I know it's not good for me (even though it's so freaking good) and I certainly feel better overall once I get over the hump of headaches and general malaise that come with quitting. It's just the quitting part I don't like. And the inevitable switching to tea. Tea is great when you want tea, but when you want coffee and drink tea instead, it's like kissing your sister.
So when I learned about this health-food product called Dandy Blend, a roasted herbal coffee substitute, my interest was piqued. It's made from edible plants but from the rousing endorsements on their website, you'd think it was comprised of rare truffles or foie gras or crack itself. Here are some actual testimonials:
"I love coffee's flavor. Finally, I can HAVE MY CAKE AND EAT IT TOO!"
"Dandy Blend helped my bladder condition!"
"...the only beverage product on the market that has truly replaced my coffee (french roast!) habit."
"Dear Dandy Blend, I, I, I LOVE YOU!!!"
You get the idea. I skeptically read all these reviews and thought Ok, settle down, people but then my eye caught this headline: CYNDI LAUPER LIKES IT. Upon clicking further, I learned she was quoted in the NY Times saying, about Dandy Blend, "It makes you feel like you're drinking coffee." That's all I needed. I ordered it on the spot and anxiously (no doubt due to multiple cups of coffee) awaited its arrival. Two days later it came.
I opened the box to find the Dandy Blend package. It featured a giant yellow dandelion on the front (complete with spiky leaves) and said The goodness of dandelion in an instant! I didn't know there was anything good about dandelions at all. Aren't they like the scourge of nature? The poster child of weeds? But I gave it a shot, waiting with anticipation for it to change my life. David came home from work just then, to Dandy Blend mayhem. I was taste-testing it both hot and cold, with a variety of milk substitutes, seeing how/if I liked it. Have you ever tried to convince someone to accept something while you're simultaneously trying to convince yourself? It doesn't usually go well.
"Try this!!" I said, handing him an iced, almond-milk version with what I'm sure was a wild look in my eyes.
"What is it?" He said skeptically, looking the glass up and down.
"It's Dandy Blend!"
"Ok. Am I supposed to know what that is?"
"It's a coffee substitute but before you write it off, it's actually pretty good and it's REALLY good for you--there are like a million health benefits."
"Um..." Shit. I suddenly forgot the multiple pages of them I read when I placed my order. "I think it's meant to be great for blood sugar? and there's no acidity? so it helps alkalize the body? All disease comes from inflammation, you know, and coffee just acidifies your system, making it worse...." I kept half-heartedly trying to sell it. "Cyndi Lauper loves it."
"What's it made of?" He held the glass up and looked at the murky brown liquid.
"Dandelions, for one."
"Yeah. They're really great for you."
"The weeds?? Are you serious?! Those things are my mom's nemeses. She used to throw a fit when she saw one in our yard."
"So...she'd take it personally if we were drinking them?"
"Dandelions..." he shook his head "...I don't know."
"Well, there's other stuff in there too."
"Like what?" He was getting impatient with me.
"Chicory, beets, barley..."
"Oh, well when you put it that way."
"It's actually not too bad." I was getting defensive.
"That sounds like a rousing endorsement."
"Well, just taste it!"
He reluctantly took a sip and shrugged. "It's okay. But not great. What does Cyndi Lauper know?"
I have to concede that the Dandy Blend really does go down easily accompanied by one of these cookies.
But you know what goes with these cookies even better? A CUP OF COFFEE.
Peanut Butter Chocolate-Chip cookies
makes a little over 2 dozen
adapted from averie cooks
These cookies are gluten-free, nearly grain-free altogether and crazy good. They are more on the chewy side so if a crispy peanut butter cookie is your jam, these aren't for you. The original recipe has no flax or GF flour at all but I liked it better when there was a bit more body to the cookie. (<----------I can't believe I just wrote that.)
1 cup peanut butter*
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 cup flax meal (ground flax seeds)
1/4 cup gluten-free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill but any all-purpose one will do)
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (BTW, Trader Joe's vegan ones are pretty great and melty)
*make sure your peanut butter is "no-stir" like Skippy or Jif. Traditional natural ones don't work here. I prefer the MaraNatha brand that you can find at Whole Foods (or sometimes even regular grocery stores). Just make sure it says "no-stir"--you don't want the separating kind. Bonus: these types all have salt added so no additional salt is needed in the cookies.
Preheat oven to 350F unless you are chilling the dough (see note below). In an electric mixer, cream the peanut butter and brown sugar for about 3 minutes or until no longer gritty. Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Sprinkle in the baking soda, flax and flour. Mix. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips. Because of the lack of flour, expect this batter to be a little more oily. This is normal. To avoid the spreading of the cookies while they bake, you can chill the dough (in plastic wrap) for an hour up to overnight but if you're like me and need them stat, the spreading is no biggie. Drop dough by 2 Tablespoonfuls leaving them about 3 inches apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. You may need to press the chocolate in there if it's not wanting to stick easily. Bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a rack. Or to your face.
P.S. I drank coffee while writing this post. God help me.