To many, that morning cup of coffee is a ritual—an obsession, even. A solid 80 to 185 mg of caffeine per cup can kick start a morning, and it’s got even more benefits beyond the jolt. Each day 100 million American adults drink the elixir that’s been linked to improved mood, a lower the risk of some cancers, and increased calorie burn Effects of breakfast and caffeine on performance and mood in the late morning and after lunch. Smith, A.P., Kendrick, A.M., Maben, A.L. Health Pyschology Research Unit, School of Psychology, University of Wales College of Cardiff, UK. Neuropsychobiology, 1993; 26(4):198-204. Effect of coffee ingestion on physiological responses and ratings of perceived exertion during submaximal endurance exercise. Demura, S., Yamada, T., Terasawa, N. Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, Kanazawa University. Journal of Perceptual and Motor Skills, 2007 Dec; 105 (3 Pt 2):1109-16. Coffee consumption and prostate cancer risk: further evidence for inverse relationship. Shaflque, K., McLoone, P., Qureshi, K., et al. Nutrition Journal, 2012 Jun 13; 11(1):42.. Think coffee has no place past the mug? Here are some sneaky ways to get it into any diet.
1. Energy Smoothie
When iced coffee doesn’t do the trick, blend some Joe in a smoothie. Try a “ban-offee” version by blending ¾ cup of cooled coffee, a frozen banana, ¼ cup milk (of your choice), and a touch of maple syrup for a jolt with banana's superfood powers. Extra perk: The potassium in bananas helps to replenish electrolytes lost from a night of boozing The major electrolytes: sodium, potassium, and chloride. Terry, J. Journal of Intravenous Nursing: The Official Publication of the Intravenous Nurses Society, 1994 Sep-Oct;17(5):240-7..
2. Coffee Muffins
Get ready for coffee cake’s younger and cuter (pre-portioned) cousin. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees, and spray a muffin pan with cooking spray. Mix 1 cup of strong, cold coffee, ½ cup sugar (or another sweetener), 2 eggs, and a cup of plain yogurt. Add 2 ½ cups of whole-wheat flour (or instant oats!), and two teaspoons of baking powder until just combined. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Mocha “Puddin’’
Mix up a cup of plain yogurt with 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, and a tablespoon of instant coffee, and whip it up ‘til the coffee dissolves. Sweeten it to taste, and add some vanilla extract for an extra zing. Top the mock pudding with some nuts or berries!
4. Coffee Rub
The dark acidic tones of coffee pair well with dark meats like duck, beef, and lamb. Rub freshly ground coffee beans (the darker the roast, the more potent the coffee flavor), with a touch of coarse pepper on to a meat of choice. Pro Tip: Throw it all in a plastic bag and shake it around for a mess-free even coating.
5. Perky Marinade
Coffee’s not just for sweet stuff. Soak some steak in coffee for an hour or more before it hits the grill for tender, smoky meat without the not-so-glamorous nutrition stats other marinades have.
6. Balsamic Coffee Reduction
This tasty glaze is an easy and delicious addition to any salad (and especially tomato and mozzarella based ones). Combine 1 cup of coffee, 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt, and the zest of a lemon to a small saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon. Drizzle away!
Mix up a milk of choice, a teaspoon of instant coffee, and a touch of agave nectar (or preferred sweetener) in w bowl. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds (empty cups will do, too) and freeze. After freezing for an hour, insert popsicle sticks, and continue to freeze until solid (about another hour or two).
8. Pick-Me-Up Oats
Prepare one serving of plain ol’ oatmeal (or a whole pot if you’re cooking for the week). Mash up half a banana with 1 teaspoon of instant coffee, a splash of vanilla extract, and ¼ cup milk. Add the oats (or a hefty scoop from your big pot) and stir to combine. Heat for 1-2 minutes, or eat it chilled when the weather’s hot for a high fiber breakfast that’s been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels, aid in digestion, and improve metabolism Can dietary oats promote health? Welch, RW, Human Nutrition Research Group, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK. British Journal of biomedical science, 1994 Sep;51(3):260-70..
9. Raw Energy Bars
Toss a handful of favorite nuts in a food processor and pulse until it reaches a fine sand-like texture. Add a few chopped dates, 2-3 tablespoons ground coffee beans or instant coffee, and a pinch of sea salt and pulse until the mixture begins to come together. Slowly add a few drops of water until the mixtures becomes a little doughy. Spice it up with some mix-ins: shredded coconut, cocoa powder (packed with antioxidants, or cacao nibs are great options Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease. D., Katz, Doughty K, Ali A. Yale University Prevention Research Center, Derby, Connecticut. Antioxidants & redox signaling, 2011 Apr 7.. Scrape the mixture onto a pan lined with parchment paper and press it flat. Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.
10. Chocolate Covered Beans
We mean the espresso kind, not lima. Grab a good dark-roast bean, and a good quality chocolate (milk, dark, or a mixture). Chop up the chocolate, and microwave on low, stirring every 10 seconds until completely melted. (Tedious, but worth it!) Pour the beans into the chocolate and remove one-by-one with a fork, drop the dipped beans onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Keep ‘em separate, otherwise you’ll have coffee bean clusters! (Or, you know, go buy a bag of pre-covered beans.)
11. Coffee Cubes
Keep that iced coffee strong as steel by using coffee ice cubes to keep it cool. Simply fill an ice cube tray with cooled coffee, and freeze. Pop out the frozen cubes and let them melt into your coffee, and say goodbye to watered down coffee.
12. Coffee Granita
Granita, Granada. We know you might not believe us, but this one only has two ingredients. Brew up some coffee and add agave nectar to taste. Taste it before freezing (you’ll want it a little sweeter and stronger than normal drinking coffee). Pour the coffee into a shallow baking pan, and pop it in the freezer. Pro tip: It’s easier when the liquid is only about an inch deep. Every 30 minutes, use a fork to scrape the icy coffee into crystals, until all of the coffee is crystallized.
13.Banana Coffee Ice Cream
Ice cream in 4 ingredients. ‘Nuff said. But just in case, here are the instructions: In a blender or food processor, combine 2-4 ripe frozen bananas, 2-4 teaspoons instant coffee (depending on how strong you like it), ½ cup chopped dark chocolate (optional), and 1/8 cup almond milk. Pulse until the mixture gets going, and then blend until smooth. (Note: You may need closer to ¼ cup milk if the blender is having a hard time pulsing up the ingredients.) Pour into a Tupperware container (about 1 quart in size) and freeze to harden up the ice cream before scooping!
14. BBQ Sauce with a Buzz
Combine ½ cup ketchup (we recommend choosing a low-sugar, low-sodium brand), ½ cup brewed coffee, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and ½ a teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until it thickens up. Stir in ½ teaspoon each of black pepper, balsamic vinegar, and low sodium soy sauce.
15. Coffee Cocktail
This list simply would not be complete without a cocktail. For a late night pick me up, combine ¼ cup chilled espresso, 2 tablespoons of rum (white or spiced), and 1 tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk (it’s just a little). Shake well and strain into an ice-filled glass.