Cold Brew Iced Coffee Plus Iced Hazelnut Mocha

20160518_071810Summer’s just around the corner, despite unseasonably cold weather in the Northeast. (It was warmer on Christmas than it was on Easter this year in the Philadelphia area.) I find myself perfectly ready for the transition from hot morning coffee to iced morning coffee, and as my 35th birthday is tomorrow, I figured I’d treat myself a day early.

Cold brew iced coffee is super easy to make. A good friend of mine gave me a cold brewed coffee recipe and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I finally got to give it a shot this week!

Start with a high quality coffee you’d drink: you can grind your own or you can use pre-ground, as long as it’s a good coffee. A medium roast works just fine. I used Melitta Hazelnut Creme, because it’s one of my favorite coffees. You need:

Cold Brew Coffee

  • 1/2 cup ground coffee
  • 1 quart of water
  • coffee filter

I have good tap water so I used that, you can used filtered or spring water if you prefer. Combine the coffee and water in a bottle (I used a paper towel to form a funnel to get the coffee inside this old orange juice bottle) and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Then filter the coffee through a standard coffee filter. Keep in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to a week. To use for iced coffee, simply pour over ice and add your favorite accoutrements, such as sugar and cream. To use for hot coffee, dilute slightly with water and warm in the microwave.

Here’s how I used it this morning:

Iced Hazelnut Mocha

  • 1 cup cold brew coffee
  • Ice
  • 2 tbsp Hershey’s Lite Chocolate Syrup
  • 2 oz. milk of your choice (I used Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Cashew Milk)

20160518_071635In a large glass, add ice.

Layer chocolate syrup, cold brew coffee, and milk and watch the beauty of the swirl.

Stir together (or don’t) and enjoy!

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Do you like iced coffee? What’s your favorite way to enjoy it? Let me know in the comments!

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Andrea Wonders: What the heck are Aminos? Part II – Non-Essentials

In Part I – Essentials, I told you all about essential amino acids and why supplementing them just isn’t necessary for your average Joe or Jody.

Non-Essential Amino Acids

Non-essential amino acids aren’t quite as present as essential amino acids in food, so these non-essentials may be more beneficial to supplement. Even so, intake should be limited to times when your body’s reserve is at risk of being used for less useful purposes, such as when you train hard. Magazines will have you believe that you should take these supplements all the time, regardless of need, but sometimes those magazines are owned by the same companies as the supplements they’re pushing.

  • Glutamine – already in the body in large amounts and passes easily through the blood-brain barrier to aid memory recall and concentration. Converts to glutamic acid once inside the brain which is essential for brain function and mental activities. Helps regular nitrogen in the body and is one of the main genetic building blocks. Helps reduce lactic acid, which is important for athletes. But the body is already FULL of it, so unless you’re in a competition-level cut phase, it’s simply not necessary. Found in all high-protein foods.
  • Arginine – used as an addition to many supplements for aiding nitrogen-retention, thus facilitating muscle protein synthesis. AKA, it helps build muscle. It boosts the immune system and the activity of the thymus gland, which produces T-cells, which makes it a good supplement choice for anyone recovering from a major injury or for those with HIV. Helps muscle mass gain while limiting fat storage, so great for those trying to bulk. Found naturally in whole-wheat, nuts and seeds, rice, chocolate, raisins, soy.
  • Carnitine – not technically an amino acid, but thrown in because it has similar structure. Not involved in protein synthesis, unlike other aminos, but instead transports long-chain fatty acids. Improves the antioxidizing effect of vitamins C and E. Can aid in staying lean by minimizing fat buildup around the muscle. Found in fish, chicken, red meat and milk.
  • Cysteine – contains sulfur, which makes it a favorite as an antioxidant. Required for healthy skin and the production of collagen. Manufactures taurine, a component of glutathione which protects the brain and liver from harmful substances such as drugs, alcohol and other harmful substances. Metabolizes B-vitamins and potentiates insulin. Can protect the body from damaging effects of other supplements. Found in poultry, wheat, broccoli, eggs, garlic, onion, and peppers.
  • HMB (Beta-Hydroxy Beta-Methyl Butyrate) – made from the BCAA leucine to help carry out some of its functions. Increases the rate of protein usage which means less fat storage. Minimizes protein breakdown and prevents the protein stored in the cell from being used for alternate means in times of glucose-deprivation by strengthening cell membrances. Beneficial only in high doses, which can be costly. Present in many foods but found in the highest quantities in catfish, grapefruit and alfalfa.

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Conclusion

Just like my previous entry on Essential Amino Acids, the facts remain the same: unless you’re a competition-level bodybuilder who’s overtraining or on a strict cut phase, you don’t need to supplement aminos except for maybe BCAAs. Since my last entry, I decided to purchase some BCAA supplements. I take half a serving only on the days I do my harder kettlebell workouts. I’ve only used it twice, but I think I have noticed a decrease in soreness and an easier recovery afterward. We’ll see how that goes over time!

References:

  1. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/catamino.htm
  2. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002222.htm
  3. https://www.uic.edu/classes/phar/phar332/Clinical_Cases/aa%20metab%20cases/PKU%20Cases/essential-nonessential.htm

I hope some of this information is useful to you and will make you think twice before trying something just because you saw it in a magazine or at a health food store. Keep on truckin’, readers!

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Andrea Wonders: What the heck are Aminos? Part I – Essentials

I adore strength training, I do, but when I walk into a store like Vitamin Shoppe and I’m flabbergasted by all of the supplements available. I’ve been hearing about pre-workout and post-workout supplements, BCAA, protein and aminos. So much information! So I went on a research quest to find out just what the heck aminos are!

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The word ‘Aminos’ on that supplement bottle is short for amino acids. Remember those from high school biology? For athletic purposes, supplement makers supply a blend of amino acids that are helpful in reaching specific goals, such as building muscle. I’m going to give you a quick and dirty summary of the amino acids that are relevant to athletes and their uses to athletes, then provide you some links where you can read more.

Essential Amino Acids

  • Histidine – only really helps improve digestion. Found in dairy, meat, poultry, fish, rice, wheat and rye. You probably get enough of this in your diet and don’t need to supplement.
  • Lysine – maintenance and manufacture of muscle protein, combats fatigue and overtraining, maintains a positive nitrogen balance which creates an anabolic environment in the body. Found in cheese, eggs, milk, yeast, potatoes and lima beans.
  • Phenylalaline – allows for maximum contraction and relaxation of the muscles and helps the body convert UV rays to vitamin D. Found in dairy, almonds, avocados, nuts and seeds. You probably get enough from a healthy diet.
  • Methionine – fat metabolization, better digestion, anti-oxidation properties. Found in meat, fish, eggs, beans, garlic, lentils, onions, yogurt and seeds.

Subcategory: BCAAs/Branched Chain Amino Acids

  • Leucine – regulation of blood sugar, growth and repair of tissues in skin, bone and skeletal muscle. Found in nearly all protein sources, including brown rice, beans, nuts and whole wheat. You probably get enough in your diet.
  • Isoleucine – Similar to Leucine, and important as part of the BCAA stack. Found in chicken, cashews, fish, almonds, eggs, liver, lentils, meat.
  • Valine – repair and growth of muscle tissue, maintains nitrogen balance and preserves the use of glucose. Found in dairy, meat, grain, mushrooms, soy, peanuts.
  • Threonine – the only amino acid you don’t produce in the body. Helps form collagen and elastin and essential to maintaining proper protein balance. Helps you absorb protein and boosts immunity. Found only in animal sources: meat, dairy, eggs.

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What I Learned

The truth is, unless you’re a competition bodybuilder or you over-train, the only amino acids you might want to supplement are BCAAs. Even so, if you eat a healthy balanced diet, you probably don’t need to supplement at all, and if you’re serious about muscle building, you should already be adjusting your diet to a healthy balance for results.

References:

  1. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/catamino.htm
  2. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002222.htm
  3. https://www.uic.edu/classes/phar/phar332/Clinical_Cases/aa%20metab%20cases/PKU%20Cases/essential-nonessential.htm

Stay tuned for Part II – Non-Essential Amino Acids!

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