Perking up January greys

Almond chai recipe

Almond chai recipe

Yesterday when I was out getting my supplies in for the week, the grey, heavy, dark and drizzly day reminded me of my home city, Seattle. Word association with Seattle is usually, “rain,” “Fraser,” “Sleepless In…” and “COFFEE”.

I admit, it rains 14.6 more inches in Seattle each year than London but it’s 9.6% lower in humidity. So what do people do to perk themselves up? Drink coffee! And lots of it – is it any wonder why Seattle’s the birthplace of Starbucks?!

Hot brew is important this time of year. For lots of reasons: comfort, warmth, security, stimulation or relaxation.

This week, we have a couple of guests in who have been drinking 6 cups of tea per day, 1 coffee and 1 glass of water. Is that you?

Here’s the deal:

  • Over 200 pesticides are used on most commercially grown coffee plants. Coffee, as well as decaf, can be one of the most toxic substances for your liver to metabolise. Similar to the insulin effect from aspartame, caffeine can block weight loss efforts in many people.
  • Caffeine is in black tea, green tea, iced tea, dark or milk chocolate (including cacao), colas, and over-the-counter drugs such as cold medicines, pain relievers and allergy remedies.
  • Even decaffeinated beverages have some caffeine, which can raise fat-storing cortisol levels. Sadly, the acidity in decaffeinated coffee is higher than that in regular coffee because of both the beans used to make decaf and the rancid oils and chemicals such as trichloroethylene or methylene chloride (dry cleaning chemicals) used in the decaffeinating process itself. In the detox, we talk a lot about the importance of getting the body into an alkaline state…and keeping it there, so regular acidic inputs are best saved for vital things like complete proteins.

So what can you do immediately?

1.  Buy organic tea and coffee and eliminate the pesticides and other junk you’re getting in your cup immediately. It’s not stupidly more expensive and is a simple choice.

2.  Add a spoon of MCT oil or coconut oil to your morning cup of coffee to make it work better for your body (aka bulletproof it).

3.  Ease back gently. DON’T go caffeine cold turkey unless you’re able to cope with debilitating consequences! Instead of 6 cups of combined caffeine a day, decide to have 5 for a couple of weeks. Try rooibos tea or a chicory or dandelion coffee instead. Then cut it down to 4 for a week and so on….

4.  Remember it takes 1.5cups of water for your body to process every 1 cup of caffeine you drink, so act like the Romans, have water with every coffee/tea.

Why is it that when we let go of healthy and nice things in our lives, we don’t get punished for them immediately…like stopping to eat a salad every lunch time or drinking that extra glass of water in the morning? But isn’t it interesting how as soon as you stop taking something that’s actually really bad for you (like caffeine or sugar) your body punishes you with tiredness and pain!? Not fair.


A caffeine withdrawal headache results from the normal opening (dilation) of blood vessels that are constricted by caffeine. Habitual caffein intake keeps blood vessels in the brain constricted.

When caffeine is not consumed, these blood vessels return to their normal blood flow potential, and it’s this increased circulation in the brain that causes the throbbing agony of a caffeine withdrawal headache. Ultimately, the brain becomes accustomed to normal blood flow, and the headache subsides. The caffeine-headache connection goes well beyond withdrawal. Caffeine itself contributes to headaches, even when consumed moderately and consistently. Don’t worry, this usually passes by day 4 – the body is SO forgiving!  That’s why I start coaching our detox clients at least one month before they start their detox programme, so that by the time you arrive for your detox, you’ve gone through the pain and can actually the enjoy the process of cleaning up your act! The detox is a holiday, remember, not a punishment.

As I took one lady to the train station yesterday, she told me, “Helena, this detox FAR EXCEEDED my expectations. I came because I read the reviews and now that I think about the reviews, having been here myself, I can see that everything they wrote was true.” I was humbled.

This morning, during our workshop, we spent time learning how to make almond milk and a Tick Tock vanilla chai latte. It was so easy and quick, the clients couldn’t believe it. And all for only 40 healthy calories and about 5 minutes!

So how can you perk yourself up without toxing yourself up?


  1. Add a spoon of raw or roasted carob to a warmed cup of almond or other plant-based milk – naturally sweet, that’s all it’ll need!
  2. Add a spoon of Naturya maca to a warmed cup of almond or other plant-based milk. Also naturally sweet, it’ll boost your energy and is very tasty too! (I’ve tried some other yucky brands so stick to that one!)
  3. Drink an Inka/Caro/Dandelion coffee with almond milk and enjoy the hot darkness – toxic free!
  4. Try a new flavour of rooibos tea – there are so many! Check out and My favourite is the cape malay chai!
  5. Go savoury: try my little cuppa soup: 1 teaspoon swiss marigold bouillon and 1 teaspoon Spirulina powder

One of the things I love to do in the detox is introduce you to all these new flavours, options. If you don’t like it, fair enough, but there’s always something new people like you learn to love!

Helena Cavan