Dec 8, 2014

Starbucks Candy Cane Frappuccino, reviewed

Candy Cane Frappuccino

For the past few days, Starbucks took one of their “secret menu” items and made it a little less secret. If you follow them on Instagram or Facebook, you probably would have seen that the Candy Cane Frappuccino was just $3 after 2pm all weekend long. This Frappuccino, like the Franken Frappuccino is a drink that was created and named by some inventive Starbucks fans, then spread through word of mouth until it was common enough that most baristas had heard of it, though it wasn’t an “official” recipe. Thanks to the recent promotion, it’s a lot more standard and you should be able to easily order it any time this holiday season.

The Candy Cane Frappuccino is a vanilla bean frappuccino with peppermint syrup added to it. The drink is creamy, with a great blend of vanilla and peppermint flavors. There is just enough mint to make it refreshing, without overwhelming the vanilla base of the drink. It is really a great drink if you enjoy mint in any way. The only downside is that it doesn’t contain any caffeine. Fortunately, it’s very good with a shot of espresso added. It’s delicious if you’re looking for something minty and sweet that is an alternative to a richer chocolate drink, and it is one of my new holiday favorites.

Dec 3, 2014

The Mug With A Hoop

The Mug With A Hoop

When you’re a kid, people will tell you not to play with your food. As an adult, I say that food can be a heck of a lot of fun to play with sometimes. This is particularly true of certain types of foods, like marshmallows. This Mug With A Hoop ended up on my Christmas list the moment I saw it. I’m not a big basketball fan, but I am a huge marshmallow fan and it is designed to really let you have some fun with your hot cocoa. The mug is shaped like half a basketball and the handle ends in basketball hoop that hangs over the rim of the mug that is the perfect size for flipping mini marshmallows through. You can dunk or go for distance shots, it will all taste delicious in the end. If you’re not in the mood for marshmallows, you can enjoy soup and oyster crackers or even cereal in your mug, too.

Dec 1, 2014

Coffee Consumption May Lower Alzheimer’s Risk

Cup of Kenya Coffee

Coffee does a lot of wonderful things, in addition to simply tasting good, and we can add one more to the list today. A new study has linked coffee consumption with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee, a nonprofit that studies the heath effects of coffee, found that there are several things going on in coffee that may be relevant to slowing age-related cognitive decline.

ISIC researchers point to the caffeine and polyphenol content in coffee as the protective factors. Caffeine, they say, prevents the buildup of the protein that creates plaques and tangles in the brain, which researchers believe is one of the key causes for the memory-robbing disease. Caffeine, along with polyphenols, chemical compounds that have an antioxidant effect on the body, both reduce inflammation, which some researchers believe is the key to age-related decline.

Their study looked at a ground of around 5,000 middle aged participants whose coffee consuption was monitored from 1989 to 1991, and again from 1997 to 2011. Participants in the study who consumed more than three cups of coffee a day were found to be less likely to develop dementia or experience the onset of Alzheimer’s. Research suggests that coffee consumption could be causing a delayed onset of symptoms, rather than reversing damage that is already present, since there was some indication that the “protective effect” of coffee may diminish over time. That said, there is still lots more research to be done and a delayed onset – a slowing of the disease’s progress, especially at the beginning – is certainly a wonderful thing because it buys you extra time, as anyone who has had a loved one fall victim to dementia will certainly tell you.

Nov 24, 2014

Cranberry Bliss White Chocolate Mocha

Homemade Cranberry Bliss White Chocolate Mocha

Starbucks’ seasonal drinks, like the Pumpkin Spice Latte, are something that many Starbucks fans look forward to all year long. In addition to the old standbys, the company releases new drinks every season. Those drinks also vary by region and by country. This means that if you follow Starbucks news, you’ll often see reports of drinks that are not – or are not yet – available in your area. When I heard that Starbucks was introducing a Cranberry Bliss White Mocha inspired by its extremely popular seasonal Cranberry Bliss Bars, I immediately wanted to try one. Unfortunately, they are only available in Japan for now and it would take a pretty pricey plane ticket to put one in my hand tonight.

So, instead of heading to the airport, I headed into my kitchen to create a homemade Cranberry Bliss White Chocolate Mocha that we all can enjoy. The mocha is made with real white chocolate and a homemade cranberry syrup for a drink that is sweet and creamy, with a hint of tart berry flavor that really captures the holiday spirit.

The cranberry syrup is made with just cranberry juice and sugar. It may seem like quite a bit of sugar at first, but the proportions are very similar to simple syrup, which is commonly used to sweeten coffee drinks. I used 100% cranberry juice and highly recommend seeking out the same type of just for the best cranberry flavor. The syrup will keep in your refrigerator, in a covered container, for at least two weeks. Continue reading »

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