Sunday, May 29, 2011

Indulging While Traveling

Well hello, hello!!

I am back from another trip to Seattle! I wanted to share some tips on staying healthy on a trip – it can be done!!

...but I thought I'd start off with some of the less healthy escapades from the trip... :) Besides some delectable home-made cookies from my friend's mother, COFFEE was the indulgence of the trip! I normally try to limit my coffee intake, but this was a no-holds-barred kind of an adventure!
The Coffee-Crawl Crew!
A cup of coffee does include some riboflavin but very little else. When taken plain, coffee has a mere 2 calories per 8 ounce cup. You add cream, sugar, flavoring, etc, that number will of course rise rapidly! Even a “skinny” Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks jumps to 70 calories per 8 ounces; all the way up to 670 calories for a Vente Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino blended drink.
First cup at the airport!  I did try to keep my coffee sizes limited, and limited creams and sugars... some!  But when you're in a city where little independent coffee kiosks are on practically every corner, who can resist!?

There are some benefits to coffee, such as having antioxidants, but James D. Lane, PhD, reminds us that just because there is a good component in coffee, that does not necessarily mean coffee is good for us!  More research, as always, is needed.
First cup once in Seattle - from our favorite place, Urban City!
“It has not really been shown that coffee drinking leads to an increase in antioxidants in the body... We know that there are antioxidants in large quantities in coffee itself, especially when it’s freshly brewed, but we don’t know whether those antioxidants appear in the bloodstream and in the body when the person drinks it. Those studies have not been done."
Mandatory Tour stop at the Pike Place Starbucks - the original one!
And then there is the caffeine aspect. Most of us know and love that boost we get from coffee. It seems like the “magic elixir” or “nectar of life” for some of us, right? The brain feels like it's functioning better, the mood picks up, and life just seems better! However, caffeine can raise blood pressure, cause irregular heart palpitations in some, and can increase levels of epinephrine or adrenaline..

Home brewed coffee at Jen's while we played games!
A small study with the American Diabetes Association shows coffee may be linked to impaired glucose metabolism, which is not a good thing! For one thing, it may be linked with Alzheimer's Disease.
The best hotel coffee I've ever had!  It was a wonderful start to each morning!
On the other hand, caffeine is a common performance enhancer of athletes! So, before a long day of hiking, we of course used that to justify why we had to get some coffee ;-)
Twenty-four hours into the trip, and I'm already on my 5th type of coffee!  This was the SECOND type of coffee the hotel offered.  Near the lobby, they had a THIRD brand!
And plenty of water!! Don't forget, caffeine makes you pee more!

Getting coffee before boarding the Ferry ride.
While in Seattle, we learned of a new type of coffee - White Coffee.  When I first saw it listed on a menu, I simply assumed it meant a white-chocolate flavored coffee drink.  But I was wrong!!  I later learned that white coffee is simply a less roasted bean!  

A stop at Cup and Muffin, where they had Rice milk available! 
I was so excited I ordered a separate cup of plain rice milk!
The longer the bean is roasted, the darker it becomes - not only in color, but in flavor.  And as I was surprised to learn, a darker roast does not mean more caffeine!  For some reason, I had always assumed the two went together.

A Slug Mocha!
Simple drip coffee with a chocolate (or white chocolate) slug - common at our hike of the Hoh Rainforest.
On the contrary!  The kind baristas at Urban City told us that it has almost twice the caffeine!  Um, hooray and yikes?  Since it is very lightly roasted, it has an incredibly mild flavor - which has earned it the nick-name of "flat coffee."  It is a bit of a watered-down nutty flavor.  By itself, maybe not the best drink.  But it was great fun to incorporate that extra nutty hint into various flavored drinks!
By this point in the trip, I had lost track of how many coffee drinks I had imbibed.
Since returning home, I have been asking around at coffee shops for this white coffee, but it seems that it has not yet migrated eastward!  I suppose that is good, considering all of the caffeine - better to avoid it as able!

Another lazy morning in the hotel, sipping on coffee before heading out for a long day of walking and hiking!
Of course, all in moderation normally! Caffeine is metabolized in the liver, and you don't want to tax your poor liver too much!! It's already doing so much for you! It one of your largest internal organs, and so important!!  So nix the caffeine as much as you can :)

Yet another Urban City coffee!  We stopped there daily!
The National Institute of Health reminds us that “the liver has many jobs, including changing food into energy and cleaning alcohol and poisons from the blood. Your liver also makes bile, a yellowish-green liquid that helps with digestion.

After a wet day of hiking through the drizzling rain, it was nice to get a hot cup of coffee at The Daily Grind!
While this trip was predominantly focused around coffee as the beverage of choice, I did enjoy some healthier options, such as lemon water, tea, and even a few green smoothies!  True tea, made from tea plants, will still have caffeine in them.  Even "decaffeinated" teas have small amounts.  

So if you want a caffeine-free alternative, try herbal teas or Rooibus teas!  They can be a wonderful alternative.  Rooibus tea is also rich in antioxidants, so not only is it easy on your liver, but gives you a warm boost of health to boot!
Vending Machine coffee... haven't seen that in ages!

However, if coffee is your drink of choice, just try not to tax your fat-burning, body-cleansing liver too much!  (*cough* yeah, that's a "Do as I say, not as I do" when looking at this trip!)

...But enjoy life and the occasional indulgence ;-)
The final cup of coffee at the Seattle Airport, before heading home.  A departing brew from Tully's.

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