Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Virtually Calorie-Free Cappuccino Frosty

I don't know why summer is considered such a health-promoting time of year.  Cancer-causing UV rays, heat and smog advisories, carcinogenic grilled meats, ice cream, and high calorie drinks define the season.  And if, like me, you despise the heat, than you may actually get LESS exercise than during other seasons.  Personally, when it's super hot and humid, all I feel like doing is sitting on my ass (in an air-conditioned space) and drinking ice cold beer.

Sorry sun-worshippers, beach bums, and heat-seekers, I think SUMMER SUCKS!

Here are some of the many reasons:

Sun - No a tan is not a 'healthy glow'.  It's actually sun damage and frankly I think tanning is even stupider than smoking.  Why?  Because you can't even blame an addiction, it's just pure vanity.  Get over it.  Learn to embrace your pale, pasty self.  And don't give me the vitamin D argument 'cause it doesn't hold water.  Just take a friggin' pill. 

Heat - Related to sun is the heat, of course.  I hate it.  Like I really, really, really hate it.  It feels like being in hell to me.  I just don't get how people find heat pleasant.  Would you crawl into your oven and turn it on?  Anything above 20 C sucks.  I have no problem getting drenched in sweat during a workout, but I'd prefer not to just walking down the street.  And do not try to tell me that the heat is wonderful if you are near water.  I hate swimming in pools, nevermind in open bodies of murky water crawling with slimy things.  Besides, there is rarely any shade on a beach and I don't do sun.

Sun block - Because of the dangers of the sun, every damn day in summer I have to spend way too much time coating myself with sun block and chasing the girls around trying to get them coated too.  Big A doesn't mind at all, but Little A kicks up a huge fuss every time.  By the way, YOU SHOULD BE WEARING SUN BLOCK ON EXPOSED SKIN EVERY DAY!   Oh, and it's also important to protect your eyes and your kids' eyes, so wear sunglasses too.

Clothes - Yes it's nice not to have to wear a coat and boots, however, my favorite attire is jeans and in the summer it's just too damn hot for them, but I hate skirts, I haven't worn shorts in years (personally I think the short shorts that are all the rage right now look awful on everyone, even supermodels) and 1-in-10 pairs of sandals I buy end up giving me blisters no matter how much I spend or how cute or not-cute/sensible they are.

Bugs - We can't open a door in our house for a second without a big-ass fly swooping in.  Then we have to listen to the annoying buzzing sound for as long as it takes us to get the critter with our fly swatter.  And there is just the grossness factor of all the additional creatures that come out to play.  Last week when finishing my workout in the basement one morning, what looked like an ant, only as big as my head, crawled across the carpet and tried to swallow me whole.  Okay maybe I'm exaggerating, but just a wee bit.  It's really the mosquitos that are the worst.  I am hugely allergic and a magnet for them.  One mosquito and 2,000 people in a room and the damn thing will find me.  Each bite is so intensely itchy it's like torture.  In order to get relief as fast as possible, my strategy is to intentionally scratch the bite until is pusses and bleeds.  Then I douse it with either rubbing alcohol or an acid, like lemon juice or vinegar.  Then I pack it with baking soda.  Even after all this, it will stay itchy for a week or so.  Consequently, camping or any outdoor activity in a buggy environment is a fate worse than death for me.  I am also scared of wasps and every August Toronto feels like one big wasp nest.  Going to an outdoor market or eating outdoors is virtually impossible.  Because we had such a mild winter, I heard that this summer is going to be especially bad for wasps.  Great!

Boredom - I guess most people who enjoy typical summer activities and heat don't associate summer with boredom, but I do.  Television shows are in re-runs, indoor activities cease for the season, and summer-loving freaks (i.e. almost everyone we know) are going away camping or to their cottages (and therefore unavailable), and everyone is spending time outdoors basking in the gloriously dangerous UV rays.  This year I have really tried to be a trooper and we've taken the girls to Ribfest and yesterday to the Salsa Celebration on St. Clair, but I honestly can't say I enjoyed these activities.  I was miserable in the heat and intense sun, I just couldn't wait to get inside to an air-conditioned environment, and I worried constantly about the girls getting sunburns.

Urban Smells - Okay a BBQ can smell pretty fantastic, but rotting garbage overflowing on steamy sidewalks, and packed subways and buses filled with less-than-fresh-smelling people make me want to hurl.

Coffee - There are few things more pleasurable than wrapping one's hands around a hot mug of coffee when there is a chill in the air.  When it's hot outside, I can only drink hot coffee very early in the morning when the temperatures are more tolerable.  Unfortunately, I have never really liked ice tea or regular iced coffee.  Truthfully, in summer all I crave is beer, but alcohol is not healthy and should be considered an occasional indulgence or treat.  Before you go thinking I'm just a goody-two-shoes, consider that it was recently discovered that the heart-health benefits of red wine were exaggerated and that there is growing evidence that even moderate alcohol consumption increases the risk of a variety of cancers.  Alcoholic beverages, like pop and juice, are also a source of empty calories.  So as much as I'd like to crack open a brewsky on a regular basis, I resist the temptation as much as possible.

Back in my 20s, I developed an addiction to the blending ice coffee drinks from Second Cup and Starbucks.   I somehow convinced myself that these nutritional monstrosities were just coffee with a wee bit of milk, sugar and ice.  Ha!  Amazing what I considered healthy when I was younger.  But back then I also drank a lot more alcohol and ate tons of candy and sweets, thinking it was all harmless as long as it was low-fat.  Ignorance is bliss, eh?  It wasn't until I discovered that these drinks contain little actual coffee and are made (or at least back then were made) with prepared syrups filled with corn syrup and hydrogenated oils, that I gave them up.

So, finally, now that I have finished my rant, I will get to the point of this post: Recently I created a cold, creamy, sweet coffee drink that I adore, and is completely guilt-free!  Adam and the girls are amused by me, because I can't stop making them.  I'm averaging 2-3 a day.  They take 2 seconds to make, so it's really simple.  You won't believe how creamy and decadent-tasting these are, I swear!

If you have an espresso maker, you can, of course, make these with brewed espresso and water, but if you are a mere mortal like me, and do not own one, try it this way.

Virtually Calorie-Free Cappuccino Frosty

1 cup brewed coffee, cooled (regular or decaf)
2 tsp good quality instant espresso powder (not a sweetened cappuccino mix!)
1/2 dropper French vanilla stevia liquid, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract + low-calorie sweetener, to taste
Dash cinnamon and/or cocoa powder
2 tbls skim milk or non-dairy milk
1 cup ice

Throw everything into your blender and blend for about 10 seconds.  Pour into a tall glass and enjoy!  Jeez, these might just get me through the summer without going bonkers.  Look at all that creamy, foamy goodness...

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