Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 9.43.15 AMI don’t usually pay much attention to the “Food Days” that come up, but, when I saw that today was National Popcorn Day, first thing I thought of was the Ethiopian coffee ceremony. I probably could come up with an excuse to talk about coffee any day of the week, but, this is a unique tradition worth checking out:

Coffee, or Bunna, is taken with plenty of sugar (or in the countryside, salt) but no milk. Often it is complemented by a traditional snack food, such as popcorn, ambasha bread, or cooked barley. In most parts of Ethiopia, the coffee ceremony takes place three times a day – in the morning, at noon and in the evening. It is the main social event within the village – a time to discuss the community, politics, and life in general. Transformation of the spirit is said to take place during the coffee ceremony through the completion three rounds of drinking: ‘Abol’ (the first round), ‘Tona’ (second round) and ‘Baraka’ (third round).

There’s also nice blog post on how to make the the popcorn offered with the above ceremony located here:


This article today on Reuter’s says that coffee is actually okay for diabetics. Not too long ago it was thought that coffee could be harmful to patients with diabetes. I personally remember modifying  hospital menus so that coffee did not appear on the diabetic menus. It really is amazing how nutrition information changes, but, at least research is being done. As I am a big fan of coffee, I am glad to see it.

Here’s the article and the link:

Coffee seen OK for diabetic men

Tue Jun 02 16:28:10 UTC 2009

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – There’s reassuring news for coffee lovers with type 2 diabetes. Drinking even fairly high amounts of coffee does not raise the risk of developing heart diseases in diabetic men or increase their risk of dying early, according to a brief report in the medical journal Diabetes Care.

Although research involving people in the general population has suggested no harmful effects on the heart from drinking coffee, there’s been little information about any effect in people with diabetes, Dr. Rob M. van Dam and colleagues point out. Recently, however, there has been evidence suggesting that coffee consumption may impair diabetics’ ability to process glucose.

To look into this, van Dam, from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues studied data on 3497 diabetic men who were followed from 1986 to 2004. None of them had cardiovascular disease at the outset, and they all completed several dietary questionnaires during follow-up.

The researchers found that consumption of coffee, even four or more cups per day, did not significantly increase the risk of heart disease or the odds of dying during the study period, compared with subjects who did not drink any coffee.

The same held true whether or not the subjects smoked and regardless of how long they had had diabetes.

“Our findings do not support the hypothesis that habitual caffeinated coffee consumption increases risk of cardiovascular events or mortality among individuals with type 2 diabetes,” the authors conclude.

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, June 2009.

A somewhat decadent addition to my morning brew

A somewhat decadent addition to my morning brew

I have to come clean about a product I recently found in the “Ethnic” food section of the local supermarket. It’s called La Lechera, and essentially its condensed milk. But, what sets this particular product apart is that it comes in a squeeze bottle!

We have used condensed milk in recipes before, and sometimes there is surplus. I have experimented by putting some in my coffee in the past, and I have to say, its a match made in heaven. By now, you have probably figured out that I like my coffee sweet. It’s definitely one of my vices, especially as a nutritionist, but, I’m not willing to compromise on this one.

My Former Favorite Coffee Addition

My Former Favorite Coffee Addition

My usual coffee sweetener is Nestle Coffeemate sugarfree creamer, and while this has a lot less calories than La Lechera (30 calories vs 130 calories for 2 tablespoons), it has about 14 ingredients, which lately I have felt is just too many for one’s coffee sweetener. Not to mention the Coffeemate liquid contains Acesulfame Potassium, and there has been some question as to this sweeteners safety.

I will admit, I don’t get too caught up in the safety of artificial sweeteners. I try not to give my kids anything with artificial sweeteners, but, I also understand that they can improve quality of life for people with diabetes, or those watching their weight. And clearly, I am willing to use them for my coffee!

Anyhow, if you have ever tasted condensed milk, it is really delicious. It’s a perfect balance of creamy and sweet (maybe too sweet?), but with the squeeze bottle you can use just a touch of it to add that delicious flavor. The added bonus is that it only has two ingredients, milk and sugar, and those are easily recognizable.

I am definitely mindful of how much I am putting in my coffee, especially since the calories can definitely add up. Afterall, if I wanted to have a fattening coffee drink, I could always make a trip to Starbucks.

What’s your moring beverage ritual? Do you like your coffee sweet or take it black? Or do you have tea?