Sleeping Better, Together in September

“Wake me up when September ends” – Green Day

While the song is about grief, and we don’t desire to hurry this month along, it makes us think about how most of us struggle with getting enough sleep. So, today we are going to get serious about sleeping better, all together, in September.

Kids are back in school, and, for most of us, the summer activities are dwindling down. The sun is setting a bit earlier and now is one of the best times for us to follow the natural rhythm of the season by getting to bed a wee bit earlier.

The problem is, even if we know we should prioritize sleep, there are a couple tricky things that get in the way. Here are some common issues and ideas to help thwart them:

  1. The ‘Gremlin’ or ‘Inner Child’. This one got us good over the past weekend. It was date night and Netflix paraded a German post-war mystery/thriller show in front of us. Why not give it a try? Turns out that it was a series and, as our normal bedtime rolled around, the Inner Child trickster was all ready to protest “but I don’t wanna go to bed! I want to see what happens AND I’m learning/practicing my German AND tomorrow is Sunday so I can sleep in…” on and on, the rationalizations went. Long story short, staying up until 3am not only messed up our sleep but the tired, slow, foggy thinking and lack of motivation to do anything the next day led to more of the same on behavior on Sunday night. Thank goodness we got back on track on Monday. How to solve this: the first step involves awareness that the voice in your head is one of your inner child or gremlin. How will you be able to tell? Well, generally the thoughts you’ll have are about very short-term, false pleasure and how you “deserve” to do, or eat something. There’s a ton of rationalizing and usually done in a way that fools you into thinking the bad choice is a benefit (i.e. “I’m learning German with this show!”). The inner child doesn’t care about tomorrow’s hangover – it’s all about getting the candy, staying up late, partying and playing NOW – without evaluating potential consequences. Whether it’s with sleep, food choice, or something else, evaluate where the gremlin or inner child tends to pop up for you.

2. Rely less on Willpower and more upon Routines. The former you can only do for a certain amount of time until it either becomes a habit or falls apart. Routines can help create easy, automatic behaviors – just like brushing one’s teeth doesn’t require as much will to execute as it is just following part of the morning or evening ritual. When we turn off our devices at 11:30pm and expect good, deep sleep we are skipping the transition time our brains and bodies need to make before going to sleep. By creating an effective bedtime routine, you’ll signal to yourself that you’re moving into restorative, restful sleep time and you’ll likely see an improvement in both quality and quantity of sleep. Stay tuned for our bedtime routine in a future blog.

3. Don’t “Should” yourself – be Realistic. You might have ideals of going to sleep at 9pm and getting up to be a productive, early bird at 5 or 6am; however, it’s important to be realistic about your evening activities and how late they run (this is why our Experiment in Early Rising & Exercise didn’t work out so well). If you’ve been a night owl for most of your life, part of it could be genetics or your particular cronotype (and is unlikely to change), or you’re going to need to set up some small improvements first (e.g. going to bed at 12:45am instead of 1am). When you put the kids down for bed, do the hours afterward get stretched out as you enjoy some much-needed alone or self-care time? Don’t give up your me-time; adjust the dial a bit and consider watching one or two episodes of your favorite show instead of four before bed. You don’t have to sleep when your kids do, but if you stay up too late, no one will be happy the next morning.

4. Track your Progress and Celebrate your Wins. Remember how the teacher would give you a gold star for reading a book and after 20 stars you got a reward? We can do the same thing for ourselves by tracking and celebrating our own progress. One of the best tools we use, and share with clients, is our Habit Tracker. With a simple sticker or “x” you can see how many days out of the month you had enough water or sleep, got in some exercise or meditation practice. Consider tracking ONLY sleep for this month, in order to not overwhelm yourself. Perhaps a simple prompt “in bed before 11pm” is a place to start tracking your success this month. Celebrate as you see the row of stickers or “x” marks build and reflect to see how the habit has served you (e.g. more energy, etc) well. This will help reinforce the change you’re making.

Let’s create a movement to reclaim our rest as we all sleep better, together, in September.

Is it Laziness or Rest?

Sometimes we can’t escape it either – the whispers of shame saying, “you’re being so lazy; you haven’t done _x_ in _y_ days.”

In the equation, “x” could be any activity and “y” can be any duration of time. Filled in, this could look like anything from “you haven’t vacuumed in over a week!” or, more recently and very apropos to this article, “you haven’t written a blog in over 20 days” and even “you said you were going to get started with daily yoga like over a month ago” (sometimes the shaming voice sounds like a Valley girl). Whether you call it “gremlin voice,” “inner bully,” or something else entirely, we all have it and oftentimes the negative voice has a loudspeaker and commands our attention, while our “inner best friend” voice gets drowned out.

We teach our clients all about this, and we practice awareness of these two forces ourselves. So, when the inner bully voice recently came booming into our thoughts, accusing us of being super-lazy by not writing a post in our usual time frame, we thought this was the best opportunity to explore the the truth and to let our inner best friend voice weigh in.

The gremlin voice will tell you all sorts of lies and typically either push you to over-compensate, over-perform, over-do anything (and consequently burn out) OR it will paralyze you with why-bother or ‘Eeyore thinking’, overwhelm and perfectionism.

The first step we take is to evaluate whether the accusations are true. In this case, we did an exploration into what “lazy” and “rest” actually mean. Here’s what we came up with:

The definition of lazy is “unwilling to work or use energy.” Laziness can look like staying in one’s bathrobe all day and watching hours of TV. Laziness can have you feeling stuck, mired, and doing lots of passive activities or staying ‘busy’ while ignoring the larger results you want or need to accomplish. This results in feeling like you’re not moving forward in your life (and perhaps even feeling like you’re moving backward). Laziness also drains your energy and can feel like giving up and quitting, avoiding the challenges in work or life. It is not useful to us and is not a characteristic you want to embody. Lastly, laziness also does not not help us produce desired results in our life.

Rest is not laziness; it is to “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” In a word, it is restorative – and when you’re done resting, you feel energized and revved up to go. Adequate rest can help prevent burnout and will help you move forward in a ‘juicier’ state of being. Rest is useful, necessary, helps you recover from illness and produce desired results in your life. Here’s the rub…HOW you rest, and whether the rest occurs BEFORE or AFTER an important activity, matters.

Not wanting to do something is normal – and is part of the human condition. The feeling can exist; however, the difference is whether we still proceed to do the hard things in our businesses and our lives, or lay around watching Netflix and not produce the results we want in our work and relationships.

One of the best things we’ve done in recent years is calendaring our week with REST first. After that, we schedule the activities to get us the RESULTS we want. We desire to be proficient with our time and work against Parkinson’s Law. The alternative, we’ve found, is that we get distracted with Facebook or social media, only to find that we spent 8 hours on something we could have done in one hour. Keep in mind too – procrastination is the result of perfectionism and produces stress as we make ourselves do something.

Produce or create, then rest. Repeat and harvest the results you want – whether it’s completing marathon training or writing a book.

Examples of rest:

  • finishing a blog post or podcast and then sitting on the couch to watch a favorite show
  • running a few miles and then taking a nap
  • cleaning the house and then soaking in the tub with a good book

What all of these have in common is that there is a sense of accomplishment and feeling of having earned a reward, this rest, after completing a task. The rest activity is enjoyable and restorative.

Contrast this with examples of laziness:

  • avoiding homework by watching YouTube makeup tutorials
  • shopping online instead of cleaning the house in preparation for guests coming over
  • playing video games for hours while your essay for business school is due tomorrow

What these have in common is that the activities aren’t truly a form of rest because there’s the background voice of “you should do your project/homework/cleaning…” and after we’re done with the YouTube videos or online shopping, we quite often don’t feel better or fueled-up for the activity we need to do. We might just act only under time-pressure of now having a few hours to write the essay before it’s due. This is common in people who claim, “I do my best work under pressure”; however, in this case, the end result is feeling worse and drained.

The best way to overcome laziness is to acknowledge that we don’t feel like doing the activity that needs to be done, and doing it anyway.

If we aren’t intentional with our rest, it can become laziness. The place to aim is somewhere in the middle of these two – work hard and rest (and play!) when we need to.

Bottom line: do you feel restored or drained after your version of resting? Do you feel like you’re producing your desired results? These will be your clues as to whether rest or laziness is involved. Commit to resting well – in a way that feels restorative, earned, and in a way that takes care of you.

We’re Toast

…well not quite in trouble, but recently the feeling of burnout has been trailing behind us, like a blazing fire following a gasoline leak. The steady, hazardous drip came from an embedded, almost subconscious thought: “I love my work, I don’t need a vacation.” While the former is true, the latter part of that statement is definitely false. It wasn’t until recently that we realized our last vacation was 13 months ago. With little more than an occasional half-day off in over a year, the reason behind our exhaustion came into focus. Without sustained and intentional time off, we were burning the candle at both ends; everything was becoming too much effort and yet we pushed forward anyway.

Perhaps you’ve felt it too, the sneaky symptoms of burnout include:

— Falling asleep quickly only to wake up in the middle of the night

— Less healthy, natural color in face

— Relying on quick-energy food options to get through the day

— A tired-but-wired feeling, never being able to fully relax

— Lack of a desire to connect with friends

— Feeling like you’ve been “run over by a truck”

— No energy, tired all the time, fatigued

— Waking up exhausted, not well-rested

The common responses of “busy,” “tired”, and “stressed” when asked how you’re doing is the zeitgeist of our current time. It’s the consequence of our sleep-deprived, 5-hour energy lives. For productivity, it’s pump-or-pill-yourself-up, and at the end of the day we ‘wine’ down and scroll through or watch screens.

You may feel like you can handle the frantic pace and multitasking of life for awhile – maybe you claim to thrive when life is too busy. However, eventually, everyone pays the piper. The stress we don’t even know we’re under starts to accumulate and we, our minds and our bodies, are unable to cope with it.

Why am I Exhausted?

First things first. Get evaluated by a healthcare professional and lab work to rule out underlying conditions such as anemia, thyroid disease, depression, allergies, side effects of certain medications, insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.

Second, as with most things in life, this problem is a matter of balance between supply and demand. There are times when work gets hectic or short-term caregiving can cause exhaustion and there are other times when, despite our busy lives, we feel energized and ready to take on life. At a basic level, when our lives have more demands, we tend to feel tired. If this is short-term, we typically have energy in the bank to help us through. Common examples include pulling an all-nighter to tend to a sick child or a work project, or even running a half-marathon. The problem is when the demands don’t let up and others pile on. The scale then tips very unfavorably and we deplete our reserves, our emergency energy, and we become exhausted. It’s critical here to point out that there is a difference between being ‘tired’ (which can typically be remedied by a good night’s sleep) and ‘fatigue’ (which tends to be a longer-standing state not easily remedied by a massage or a day off).

Tools

Fatigue is a wonderful teacher. While she might initially make you slow down, it’s only to give you the opportunity to examine your life, learn more about yourself and what’s truly important to you. She certainly taught us a thing or two these past few weeks – namely getting back to the basics, examining our thoughts, and using the tools we have in our toolbox.

As one example, we will often use a life inventory tool as we work with clients to help bring awareness to certain areas of life in need of support. We explore your relationship with food and physical movement as well as your mind functioning and stress, self-care, and spirit.

We help you plug your energy drains and naturally increase your personal energy level so that you can meet the demands of the day.

Along with this is personalized support, mindset adjustments, setting boundaries, learning to delegate and stop people-pleasing, and building up natural energy stores with proper nutrition and lifestyle changes. Our goal is that your sense of wellbeing is good most of the time so that you have a higher quality of life. If this sounds like natural energy restoration you are looking for, schedule a complimentary call and we’ll get started.

Blame it on the Alcohol?

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Image source: pixabay.com

Jamie Foxx’s song “Blame it” encourages blaming alcohol for all ruined relationships, unsafe situations, and perceived enhancement of other’s attractiveness. Outside of the many issues and poor decisions can that can result from a night of boozing, including a high credit card bill, higher risk for accidents, and even a 2am Taco Bell run…there are more. During Covid-19, some are hitting the wine and beer harder.

Let’s review the basics: alcohol interferes with communication between nerve cells and all other cells in the body. Moderation (the amount considered to not contribute to any major health concerns) for the average woman is defined by the CDC as not more than one drink per day and for the average man as not having more than two.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asserts, “there has been an increase in the proportion of US adults who drink on any given day and an increase in calories consumed from alcoholic beverages when drinking occurs.”

What effect is this having on us from a weight loss perspective? Or a liver-health one?

Now we appreciate the humor some of you bring to our appointments:

“I think I’m drinking enough water. There’s water in beer, right?”

“I’m not too concerned. It’s called a liver, not a die-er”

“Wine-o? Maybe; I prefer ‘wine-yes'”

With alcoholic beverages being among the top five contributors to total caloric intake among US adults, this is something we need to talk about. But beyond calories, here are more reasons to explore your relationship with alcohol:

Continue reading

In the Client Spotlight!

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Behind every client success story is a normal person who has been frustrated with some aspect of their health or body. They start out worrying that “it won’t work for me” but they also have hope and, as we work together, they trust the process and themselves more. It’s a beautiful thing to witness over the course of months or years. Here is part of Lauren’s experience.

“The only hesitation I had was that working with you would actually make me accountable, which was obviously a good thing, but I knew it would force me to really be honest with myself.

I have lost weight and inches, but also have a better understanding of how my body works and what to eat to fuel my body in the best way for me. I have alternatives to snacking and really have a better picture of how I want my future to look.

I really liked that you were realistic. You didn’t tell me to never eat sweets again, but to find better alternatives or ways to resist the urges. Our sessions almost felt like counseling sessions, which I really enjoyed. You also made me see that I have a lot going on in my life right now so any step in the right direction is progress and that I should celebrate all accomplishments, no matter how small.

Our sessions definitely helped me keep on track. I didn’t want to “screw up” too bad and then have to tell you about it! Lol!

I would recommend your services to anyone who is looking to make lifestyle changes, not just dietary. You get out what you put in. The more open the client is, the better their time with you will be. I truly enjoyed every session and feel as though I have a great foundation to continue making changes. ” – Lauren Griffin, Columbus, Ohio


You know the people in your life who have a lightness of being about them, even when they are going through tough challenges? Lauren is one of those people. She’s upbeat and positive, even when life has thrown a few curveballs.

She’s cleaned up her diet and, with the help of the MRT test and LEAP protocol, has identified foods that serve her better than others. She’s reported much less craving for sugar and more control over it. Other results: more energy, physical activity, life balance, and building in more self-care. She also mentioned losing 15lbs and feels leaner, her clothes fit better, and there’s generally less bloating.

It has been an honor to help guide Lauren through these changes and to see the results she has achieved – her life has truly transformed since early 2019.

Curious to see what better nutrition and lifestyle habits can do for you? Start your positive path with a complimentary 20-minute Discovery Call

 

Halfway to 2020: Finish Strong, Achieve your Goals

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Does it flabbergast anyone else that it’s already early July and we are officially more than halfway through 2019? Remember back in January when we had plans for changing everything: improving our diets, exercising more, and experiencing weight loss? We were determined to arrive on December 31st of 2019 feeling better and looking great. 

Having done this work long enough, we know that it’s typical to feel disappointed or frustrated with your progress and worried about the future. The common question: “will I ever be able to achieve this goal of _______ (i.e. balance, a healthier relationship with food, better digestion/skin/energy)?” We beat ourselves up with the thought: “what’s wrong with me that I can’t seem to start and STICK WITH an exercise regimen/ put down the pint of ice cream when I’m emotionally out-of-sorts/ follow an eating plan that would benefit my health?”

You may find yourself wondering:

  • do I start now or wait until summer is over?
  • why haven’t I been able to make the changes I set out for myself?
  • should I follow the diet my neighbor/best friend/favorite celebrity is doing?
  • is this how I’m supposed to feel at my age? Is it possible to have more energy and be at a comfortable weight?
  • how do I actually create better balance in my life and see results?

It can feel like there are 900 skills you need in order to reach your goals. Some include meal-planning, combating emotional eating & self-sabotage, changing your mindset, monitoring your progress, establishing effective systems and routines, and engaging your mind and body in making the transition so that your process produces the transformation you desire. So how do you know where to start or what’s next?

On the way to 2020, take a minute to reflect on a few things:

  • how badly do I want to see my goal achieved?
  • do I have the time and resources to make it happen?
  • with all these articles/books/courses on different diets, how do I know what is best for me and my body? Is there a better way?

Be honest with yourself. If you’re going through a tumultuous divorce, maybe now is not the time to focus your attention on lowering your cholesterol. If the kids are keeping you on the go during summer vacation, fall might be a better time to check in and see what reasonable changes you can make during the last quarter of the year. Or maybe the 10 extra pounds on your body are killing your confidence and making your clothes uncomfortable to wear; you know it’s time to make a change.

You still have 175 days left of 2019. Are you ready to achieve your desired results and finish strong? It all starts with a chance to connect with your personal nutritionist and lifestyle coach during a complimentary 20-minute discovery call. Schedule it this week and uncover your skill gap so that you can make the BEST choice for beginning your sustainable lifestyle transformation!

Fiesta Egg Frittata

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Aaah, the freshness and promise of the back-to-school season. Even those of us not in school still seem to embody the spirit of excitement of learning and accomplishing goals. As every probably knows by now, a healthy breakfast is a key part in providing us with proper energy and focus. Enter the Fiesta Egg Frittata – these little muffins are colorful, easy to make, nutritious AND delicious. So many wins in such a small package!

Fiesta Egg Frittatas
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients
10 organic eggs
1 cups chopped bell peppers
1 cup chopped spinach (or baby kale)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped onion
I cup diced mushrooms
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat (12-compartment) muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or use baking cups. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in pan and add onion, mushrooms, and bell peppers; sauté for about 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook an additional 2 minutes. Place about 2 Tbsp of veggies into each muffin cup. Whisk eggs in medium-size bowl with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over veggies in the muffin tin until about 80% full. Cook for about 25 minutes, until inserted butter knife comes out clean. If not using baking cups, take knife around the edges of the muffin tin to remove egg frittatas.

These breakfast treats are best enjoyed hot but can be kept in air-tight container in fridge for up to 5 days. Grab 1 or 2 on your way to school or work!

10TV Recipe: Cocoa-Maca Energy Balls

cocoa-maca energy balls

If you watched last month’s segment on 10TV, you learned about the factors which can make us feel FAT & TIRED as well as the top 10 foods for increasing our natural energy levels. One of the ideas featured was our Cocoa-Maca Energy Balls; it’s a great pick-me-up for the 3pm slump and a delicious, chocolate-y treat.

Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Servings: 24 energy balls

Ingredients

1 cup coconut oil, melted
2.5 cups shredded coconut
1 cup cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp maca powder

Instructions

Put shredded coconut, cacao powder, cinnamon and cayenne in medium bowl. Mix melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and pour over dry ingredients. Combine well and put in freezer for about 15 minutes. Remove mixture and shape into balls; recipe makes 24. Store in fridge for up to a week or in freezer for up to 3 months.

 

Sweet Success!

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First of all, let us express our admiration and pride for every one of you who participated in the recent Sugar Detox Challenge. From the early days of listing your reasons for wanting to embark upon this journey -including weight loss, defeating your sweet tooth, better energy, and improving diabetes and hypoglycemia – you’ve worked hard for these results!

“I’ve found an increased variety in my foods, feel less bloated and have better digestion. I haven’t been putting sugar in my coffee and found that the ‘hidden sugars’ were my issue.

I’ve found substitutions that allow me to still enjoy a drink but without all the sugar usually added. I’ve consistently found myself at 25 grams or less of sugar – sometimes as low as 8g or even 3g! At work luncheons I make the best decisions I can around food and the sugar isn’t even tempting to me!

I feel energized, strong, and centered. I have more clarity and am not tempted by the dump truck of sweets coming into the office; it’s not appealing. If I want to splurge, I don’t waste my sugar allotment on crap; I want a quality treat.

For the first time since Sugar Detox Challenge started, my acupressurist was impressed and said I was not so tight, or bounded like before, with less chi blockages.

This challenge has been really impactful – I feel my body is rejecting sugar. My clothes are fitting better – (including a previously too-small flannel pullover!) Keeping track of my sugar has become a bit of a game that keeps me on track.

My significant other participated in the challenge too, and he has a sweet tooth, but he has lost 9-10lbs in 3 weeks!

I’ve really enjoyed our weekly meetings and sharing with the group, question and answers, as well as having our own time to talk about individual issues. This is a lifestyle change I plan to continue.”

Alexis P., Columbus, Ohio

“I did a lot better with eating only one junk food meal. I also learned how much sugar is in a medium hot chocolate from Dunkin Donuts. Holy cow!

I swear, every week has some new experience I learn from. Not eating any junk on Wed felt much better. It was an easy change. I can definitely feel the difference in my body – detoxing from sugar.”

Jenna K., New York City

“Previously, I would white-knuckle my attempts to ‘never have sugar again’. I’d start each new year with a goal to completely wipe it out of my diet. And each year, the sweet tooth grew into ‘teeth’ and I felt like my cravings got stronger, until gave in. The Sugar Detox Challenge helped me realize that I live in an environment that makes it hard to avoid sweets, but that I can change my environment. Keeping sugar out of my diet has become a game for me and I’ve noticed that I can look at sweets and see them for what they are…and I don’t want them. I have better energy, lost weight, and feel more alive. This feels like freedom! I’m looking forward to 2017 – this time I know I can succeed in avoiding added sugar!”

-Violet R., Columbus, Ohio

“To be honest, I have beat myself up for waiting so long to contend with sugar. I was recently diagnosed with diabetes and my A1C was at 7.1 at my last check-up. All the years of soda and a generally unhealthy diet caught up with me. I was angry and ready to make a change so this challenge was perfect for me. Adrienne is a great cheerleader and she made the sessions both educational and fun. She educated me on simple substitutions that could cut out sugar but still have my food taste delicious. During a time of year when I would usually indulge more, I found this challenge kept me on track. My morning blood sugar is much better than before and I’m actually looking forward to my next doctor’s visit to see what my levels are and to hopefully reduce my insulin!”

– Neal T., Columbus, Ohio

“Looking back, I feel a bit sick. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything out of the ordinary American diet. I even thought that perhaps I was eating better than my peers. That type of thinking made it easy for me to ‘treat’ myself on a regular basis. So my previous days would start off with coffee, flavored creamer, and then either sugar or artificial sweeteners. The cereals, lunches, dinner entrees, snacks, and even low-calorie desserts I ate were not helping me achieve my goals and I was considering skipping meals to lose weight.

My turning point was adding up the sugar intake for the day. I was shocked. How did my ‘healthy’ choices add up to 87 grams of sugar or more? More than anything, I’m glad I did this because of the awareness I’ve gained in seeing what I was doing to myself on a daily basis. The tele-classes were helpful because I given help on HOW to make easy changes. The results speak for themselves- over the holiday, I was able to go on a date with my husband wearing a cute dress that didn’t fit me last year (or showed too many bulges!). I get compliments on my skin and can tell my face is thinner but also my digestion is way better than before. I’m so glad I took this step!”

-Heather B., North Carolina

Curious about results from previous challenges? Check them out here.

Are you ready to break your addiction to sugar and have more energy and vitality in 2017? Join us on March 12th and watch your life transform!

5 Spice Hot ‘Choffee’

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Cold mornings require some extra effort and incentive to get out of bed. This warming, caffeinated, chocolate-y drink will help provide a firm boost as you launch into your day!

Ingredients

8oz coffee
4 oz non-dairy milk (coconut milk or almond milk)
1 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder
1 or 2 anise pods
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp honey
optional (cloves)

Instructions

Prepare coffee as per usual (we used a moka pot) and heat milk on stove top along with cacao or cocoa powder, cayenne, cinnamon stick, black pepper, anise pods and honey. Simmer for about 5 minutes and add milk to coffee.