Vegan Peanut Butter Caramel Latte with Herbal Coffee

I've been making frothy nut-butter lattes for years now. But our recent trip to LA really rekindled my interest in them. Oh wait, I didn't tell you about my California trip??? Well, there's too much to tell you. TOO MUCH.

I will very briefly tell you this: LA is not what I thought it would be.

It's about as ego-centric as I thought it would be. I saw lines of people waiting to take their instagram potraits against grunge-chic street art. And a good handful of people-who-might-have-been-models doing things like eating gluten-free baguette sandwiches and sipping turmeric lattes while bitching out their probably-assistants-hopefully-not-mothers.

But it's also more glossy, spacious, beautiful, inspiring and alien than I could have imagined it would be.

It kind of reminds me of what I imagine “the future” looks like, without the flying cars or robot handmaids. You know: giant television-screen billboards, pink high-rises, people wearing marshmallowy platform boots, dudes with flavor savers and mushroom coffee on every menu. I can’t say I imagined that men-of-the-future would have flavor savers, but anythings possible I suppose. All they’re missing is treadmill sidewalks, jet-pack taxis and salad vending machines in the sky (I bet they have that already).

We stayed in Venice Beach, and you can’t throw a rock there without hitting a vegan juice bar slash potted cactus boutique.

I went to absolutely every spot in Venice that had reishi anything on the menu. Because I’m currently all about that reishi life.

And you know what? There are so many places with reishi on the menu. I even heard Kristin Wiig (who lives in LA) say she drinks mushroom coffee on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee! Also, fun fact, we are doppelgangers right down to the body language, hair cut, taste in jeans and weird voices. It’s freaky.

Anyway, along with reishi just about every plant-centric menu in town offers some sort of creative vegan latte situation. And you bet your peachy lil bum I tried as many as my tiny 5’3” frame could take. Which is about one per meal. I’m a latte lightweight I guess.

When I got home, all I wanted to do was… well, really all I’ve been doing is planning my gardens, drinking la croix, hitting the gym and hanging with my husband. I’ve been that productive kind of lazy, ya know?

But in-between all that, I’ve been making not-lattes.

Herbal coffee lattes I mean.

I had it in my head for a while that I needed loads of ingredients to make an alternative coffee brew. But, lo and behold, you only need three ingredients!

I discovered this after I realized I was missing some of the ingredients on my “ayurvedic alternative coffee brew” idea list. Which included: roasted hazelnuts, roasted barley/sorghum/rye and reishi. But you actually don’t need any of those things — although they make nice additions.

All you need is: chicory root, roasted dandelion root and cacao nibs.

Chicory gives the herbal coffee that deep, rich, “french roast” flavor. Roasted dandelion root also has a depth and richness. Cacao nibs give the brew a chocolatey complexity and a hint of bitterness (which I like personally).

Plus chicory / dandelion / cacao are full of good stuff!

Chicory is anti-inflammatory and full of anti-oxidants that protect your liver. It's known for it's positive effects when it comes to digestion and elimination (poop!). It even relieves gas and bloating!

Dandelion and chicory are related, so it's not too surprising that they offer similar benefits.

Dandelion root is frequently used to alleviate muscle aches, relieve digestive upsets, decrease inflammation, cleanse the liver and improve eczema. It also helps with elimination and is considered a diuretic. And it's high in calcium, vitamin K and vitamin A. And that's just the beginning. Eating and sipping on dandelions is wildly good for you!

Cacao is high in magnesium, iron, sulfur, antioxidants, polyphenols and mood-enhancing chemicals (anandamide, theobromine, phenylethylamine). That means it's great for your skin, your heart, your blood, your muscles and nerves, your mood and your energy-levels. I can't promise that it'll make you immortal, but it doesn't hurt to try does it?

You can sip the herbal chicory coffee black. But I prefer it blended into a creamy latte.

This healthed-up “snickers” latte is made with cashew butter, peanut butter, dates, hemp hearts, vanilla and my 3-ingredient herbal chicory coffee substitute. Feel free to use 1.5 cups brewed hot coffee if you prefer java. Unflavored hot-brewed black tea is also a good substitute.

Dates give the latte a caramel-depth. The peanut butter is a mild flavor, not overwhelming. And just a hint of vanilla brings it all together. Basically, it’s you’re childhood favorite candy bar but like run through a MAJORLY HIPPIE steam roller.

I've mainly been sipping this in the afternoons, when I crave another cup of coffee. If I drink caffeine after 12pm I have trouble getting to sleep at night. So my herbal coffee blend is big win for tricking myself into thinking I'm drinking coffee. And I still get my beauty sleep ;)

NOTE #2: You can typically buy chicory and dandelion root in the spices or tea section of specialty grocery stores. Although you can also buy them online from Mountain Rose Herbs (click here for roasted chicory root and here for roasted dandelion root). They also sell an herbal chicory / dandelion coffee substitute with maca and carob that I want to try!

Herbal Chicory Coffee

Created by Renee on March 3, 2017

This coffee substitute is similar to a french-roast style cuppa. The longer you brew, the stronger “coffee” you will get. I like to brew mine in a chemex because it feels more like real coffee that way! Brewing like tea is highly recommended for a strong cup.

  • Prep Time: 5m
  • Yield: 1.5 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon roasted chicory root
  • 1/4 teaspoon roasted dandelion root
  • 2 teaspoons cacao nibs
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water

Instructions

  1. Tea method: Add the chicory root, dandelion root and cacao nibs to a loose-leaf tea strainer. Pour the hot water over the herbal coffee mixture. Brew for at least two minutes up to 5 minutes. Serve hot with a little non-dairy cream and sugar, to taste!
  2. Chemex/pour-over method: Fit a Chemex / pour over with a filter. Wet the filter with cold water, then pour out any water that’s percolated into the maker/mug. Pour the hot water over the herbal coffee mixture and wait for all of the herbal coffee to percolate (takes a little under 2 mins). Serve hot with a little non-dairy cream or sugar, to taste!

Healthed-Up Snickers Latte

Created by Renee on March 3, 2017

This 7-ingredient nut-butter based latte tastes like a peanut-butter & caramel candy bar! Note: Hemp hearts add protein. But you can sub hemp hearts for your favorite unflavored, unsweetened protein powder or omit the protein element entirely.

  • Total Time: 5m
  • Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups coffee substitute / hot coffee / hot unflavored black tea
  • 3 dates
  • 1 tablespoon cashew butter
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons hemp hearts (or 2 tablespoons neutral-flavored plant protein powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Pour the hot coffee substitute / coffee / black tea into your high powered blender. Remove the pits from the dates, discard the pits and add the dates to the blender along with the cashew butter, peanut butter, cocoa powder, hemp hearts and vanilla extract.
  2. Blend on high for 45 seconds to 1 minute. This ensures the dates and hemp hearts will be liquified.
  3. Taste, adjust sweetness as you like and serve hot. Enjoy!