Food,  Substitutions in the Kitchen,  Using Garden Vegetables

Coffee Not Working For You? Try Okrafee!

Steaming hot coffee in a turqoise mug.

I LOVE COFFEE! I really do. Ask anyone that knows me…I’d rather have a good strong black cup of coffee over just about anything else that you could or would offer me.

BUT time has brought some health issues that coffee does not co-exist very well with; or at least to the degree that I have habitually consumed it.

First it was LPR (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux) or silent GERD. Coffee is acidic and the caffeine relaxes the muscle between the esophagus and the stomach allowing acid and pepsin into the esophagus. This is not a good thing!

So I tried various replacements for coffee because just skipping the routine and having water didn’t start my day. Part of the coffee habit is the brewing, aroma, sipping, and carrying something warm around in a mug. By no means is that all of it. The coffee flavor is what I crave..the stronger and more bitter, the better.

So I tried various replacements for coffee.

First, I tried just switching to DeCaf Coffee. Still acidic and still a small amount of caffeine PLUS I just do not like the taste of Decaf. It just doesn’t have that rich fullness that comes from the first sip of morning java. My husband likes 1/2 regular coffee and 1/2 decaf, ground coffee mixed together and brew.

After DeCaf, I found an herbal coffee that comes in different flavors. I endured it for a while. One flavor was more like coffee than the others but still did not satisfy the coffee craving.

One day recently while doing a search for coffee substitutes, I came across some articles about the shortage of coffee to the Southern States during the Civil War. By 1840, The United States imported over 190 million pounds of coffee, with New Orleans being the second largest importer in the United States. When Abraham Lincoln declared a blockade to all the Confederate States shortly after the states had seceded.

Confederate soldiers and families began to look for alternatives to coffee. Different roots and vegetables were tried, looking for something that was close to the taste of coffee, including trying chestnuts, rye, sweet potatoes, carrots, wheat, barley, dandelion, and chicory. One that was tried is Okra Seeds.

Okra is another thing that I love the flavor of. In fact, Okra is a standard vegetable in my garden. It’s a staple at our house; steamed, griddled, grilled, fried, gumbo, pickled, vegetable patties that include it, raw baby okra in salads, and dehydrated as a crunchy snack. So when I read about Okra Seeds being used as a substitute for coffee, I had to try it.

To start with, you’ve got to have a source for Okra seed, so if you don’t have Okra in your garden, look around and see if your neighbor does. If that’s not a possibility and you want to try it before growing a bunch of Okra, you can buy a pound of seed for less than $10 on Amazon.

If you’re harvesting seeds, wait until the pods are drying to the point that the pods are splitting and the seeds rattle within the pod. You will need to “shell” the seeds. The seeds will be a dark, dark green, almost black looking.

Next pour about 1/2 cup of the seeds into a pan and place over medium heat, stirring as they heat up. When the seeds begin to “pop”, you will want to put a lid on the pan and shake back and forth, similar to popping corn. Heat and shake, reducing the heat a little bit and cook until the seeds are dark brown.

Place about 2 Tablespoons of roasted seeds per 12 to 16 oz desired coffee outcome. Grind in a coffee grinder until similar to ground coffee. Place in a French Press and pour the boiling water over the grounds. Sometimes when I need a little caffeine pick-me-up, I include 1 tsp of coffee grounds.

Steep for 4 minutes, pour up and enjoy. It’s really, really good AND the closest I’ve found in taste similar to fresh brewed coffee!

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