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A Super Health-Boosting Pumpkin Spice Latte

October 2, 2014

If you’ve read my recent blog “The Ugly Truth about Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte” and are ready for a delicious beverage that’s packed full of healthy and wholesome ingredients, then my recipe for “A Better Pumpkin Spice Latte” is for you. 

This recipe can be made with your favorite coffee but I urge you to at least try it with roasted dandelion.  When dandelion root is roasted it takes on a coffee-like flavor.  You may be scoffing at the thought of a dandelion latte but roasted dandelion root is perhaps the most overlooked natural superfood available.  It grows almost everywhere so is a renewable resource, to say the least.  It is packed with health benefits:

It boosts energy and immunity against disease according to a study in the journal Molecules.

It purifies the blood and helps alleviate anemia by significantly increasing both red and white blood cells, according to a study published in Advances in Hematology.

Recently researchers have added superbug killer to the dandelion’s impressive health-boosting resume, having found high antibacterial activity against E. coli, Bacillus subtilis, and MRSA.

I regularly use dandelion root with my clients to help boost kidney and liver function--common concerns in many health conditions.  Learn more about kidney and liver detoxification in my book Weekend Wonder Detox (DaCapo, 2014).

If the thought of pulling up dandelions from your yard doesn’t sound appealing you can purchase dandelion root in most health food stores.  It is available roasted or raw.  If you’re using raw dandelion, cut into small chunks, place in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven for 1 to 2 hours depending on light or dark roast preference.  Longer roasting times produce a darker roast taste.  Grind in a high-powered blender or coffee grinder.  Store in an air-tight glass jar.  Some health food stores sell pre-roasted and ground dandelion root already prepared.  It is often labelled “coffee substitute.”

If you're harvesting dandelion root be sure to choose an area free of pesticides and lawn sprays.  I've found it easiest to harvest after a rainfall when the ground is soft.

Super Health-Boosting Pumpkin Spice Latte

This delicious pumpkin spice latte is much lower in sugar and devoid of artificial ingredients that plague commercial varieties of the beverage.  I tend to lIf you prefer a sweeter drink, simply increase the amount of coconut sugar used.  You can serve it hot or iced, depending on your preference.

Serves 2

1-1/2 cups almond or coconut milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon roasted and ground dandelion root

1-1/2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or more to taste)

1 teaspoon cinnamon+ more for sprinkling on top

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/3 teaspoon nutmeg+ more for sprinkling on top

Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth and creamy.  In a small saucepan over medium to high heat, heat until desired temperature has been reached.  Serve immediately.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Check out my new books Weekend Wonder Detox and 60 Seconds to Slim.  Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow my blog on my sites and, and Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.  Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.  Take the FREE WEEKEND WONDER DETOX QUIZ to determine which detox is best for you.

The Disturbing Truth about Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte

October 2, 2014

Artificial Ingredients and No Pumpkin in That PSL

Before you grab that ever-so-tempting Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte on your way to work, you might be surprised to learn what’s in it…and, well, what’s not.  Since it is packed with artificial ingredients, I’ll start with what’s not found in the beverage.  There’s no pumpkin in a “Pumpkin Spice Latte.”  Isn’t it misleading to name a beverage after a nutritious and delicious food that doesn’t even make an appearance?  Based on the lengthy ingredients list, it is possible that there is pumpkin flavor, but no actual pumpkin.  Even if that’s the case it would be like adding apple flavor instead of apples to apple pie. 

And that’s just the beginning.  A grande-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte contains a whopping 49 grams of sugar!  That’s a lot for a single day, never mind a single beverage.  It also contains a massive 380 calories and 13 grams of fat, 9 of which are saturated fat.  While all of that is less than impressive it’s the artificial ingredients and preservatives that really concern me.

Here’s a list of ingredients found in a Pumpkin Spice Latte:

Sugar—No real surprise there except that it contains more sugar than a can of Coke (39 grams vs. 49 for the latte). 

Condensed non-fat milk and Sweetened condensed non-fat milk—Allergy alert:  even if you order a milk substitute like soy milk for your Pumpkin Spice Latte you’ll be drinking some dairy products.  So be aware if you have an allergy.

Annatto E160B color—While derived from natural sources, adverse reactions to annatto can include skin, gastrointestinal, airway, and central nervous system reactions. The journal Annals of Allergy reports on a case of a severe anaphylactic allergic reaction to annatto.  It is also reported to severely lower blood pressure.  Added for color to an otherwise dark brown coffee, it really serves no purpose.

Natural and artificial flavors-- This is a whole category of possible ingredients, none of which is specified and are usually classified as trade secrets.  However both natural and artificial flavors typically contain the toxin monosodium glutamate (MSG) which is frequently used in laboratories to create obese animals for testing.  Here’s an example of this practice.  And another

Caramel color E150D—According to Consumer Reports, “Some types of this artificial coloring contain a potentially carcinogenic chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI).” Adds Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., toxicologist and executive director of Consumer Reports’ Food Safety & Sustainability Center, “There’s no reason why consumers should be exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary risk that can stem from coloring food brown.”  Besides that, what’s a potentially health-damaging ingredient that serves no purpose other than to dye a food brown doing in a coffee when the coffee will make the beverage brown?

Salt—A “grande” contains 240 mg of sodium, which is a lot for a single beverage.

Potassium Sorbate E202-- Potassium sorbate has been shown in human studies to be both genotoxic and mutagenic. That means it damages genetic material and can cause mutations linked to disease, including cancer.

Milk--Starbucks uses 2% milk unless you request a different option.  The milk is from cows fed with antibiotics and likely fed genetically-modified corn, soy, and cottonseed as well.

Espresso—A “grande”-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte contains two shots of espresso. 

Whipped cream (contains vanilla syrup which further contains sugar, water, natural flavors, potassium sorbate, citric acid, and caramel color.)

Pumpkin Spice Topping—contains cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and sulfites.  Sulfites have been known asthma triggers for many years and have even been banned from foods like salads.  According to Consumer Reports, “Sulfites can trigger severe asthmatic symptoms in sufferers of sulfite-sensitive asthma. People deficient in sulfite oxidase, an enzyme needed to metabolize and detoxify sulfite, are also at risk. Without that enzyme, sulfites can be fatal. Because of the danger, labeling is required when sulfites are present in foods at levels at or above 10 parts per million (ppm) or whenever they’re used as a preservative.”  Yet, I couldn’t find any mention of the Pumpkin Spice Latte containing sulfites on the website and only discovered its inclusion from calling the company’s head office and asking for information.  Considering that 18.7 million American adults have asthma, and there are 3345 deaths caused by asthma annually in the US, use of sulfites shouldn’t be allowed and certainly not included in a spice blend on a popular coffee beverage. 

Check out my new books Weekend Wonder Detox and 60 Seconds to Slim.  Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow my blog on my sites and, and Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.  Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.  Take the FREE WEEKEND WONDER DETOX QUIZ to determine which detox is best for you.


Make a Difference:  Tell Starbucks to Stop Using Toxic Ingredients in its Food and Beverages.

Herb Helps Smokers Kick the Habit

August 15, 2014

You’ve probably trampled on a weed that could help you kick the smoking habit.  The North American wild herb, plantain (Plantago major), helps reduce cravings for cigarettes.  That could be one of the main reasons it is being used in many commercial smoking cessation products. 

Growing on lawns, between sidewalk cracks, and in wild spaces alike, plantain is regularly killed by grass aficionados in search of lawn perfection.  This is not the same plant that produces banana-like fruit also known as plantain found in tropical destinations.

Not only does plantain reduce cravings for cigarettes, it also reduces lung inflammation and helps to clean out the lungs.  Available as a tea, tincture (alcohol extract), a quit-smoking spray, or as a dried herb in many health food stores, it is easy to take advantage of its health-promoting properties. 

If you choose the dried herb, simply add one teaspoon to a cup of boiling water, steep for at least 10 minutes then drink before you reach for a cigarette.  Many people find they’ll be butting out soon afterward since the craving is gone.  You may also feel like you’ve had enough before you finish that cigarette.

Plantain is also used my natural medicine practitioners to reduce bronchial congestion, laryngitis, lung irritations, coughs, toothaches, ulcers, digestive complaints, gout, and kidney infections.

If you choose the tincture or quit-smoking spray, follow package directions.  Usually you’ll want to take the plantain just prior to lighting up. Of course, you should always consult a qualified health professional prior to using any new product.

Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, ROHP is an international best-selling and 17-time book author and doctor of natural medicine, whose books include:  60 Seconds to Slim, Weekend Wonder Detox, The Ultimate pH Solution, and Healing Recipes. She is the publisher of the free e-magazine World's Healthiest News.  Subscribe to receive health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.  Learn more about her work on her website


Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

The Allergy Remedy in Your Yard

May 29, 2014

Nettles is a traditional allergy remedy.First Nations and Native American people used the herb stinging nettles for thousands of years to treat many health conditions, including allergies.  Now, science has proven what these wise people knew from experience:  nettles are an effective allergy treatment.  In a 2009 study published in "Phytotherapy Research," Drs. Roschek, Fink, McMichael and Alberte at HerbalScience Group LLC, found that nettles worked on multiple levels to reduce inflammation linked to allergies.

In another recent double-blind study, the leaves of the stinging nettle were investigated for their ability to assist with sinus problems due to allergies. Participants taking nettles had noticeably higher rates of symptom improvement from allergic rhinitis than those taking the placebo.

Don’t be alarmed by the name.  This plant’s survival mechanism is found in fine hairs on its leaves, which are relatively harmless unless you try to pick the plant without wearing gloves.  Most gardeners can attest to the aptness of the plant’s name.

Unlike pharmaceuticals which cause heart problems or drowsiness, nettles does neither.  Nettles are actually a nutritional powerhouse.  If you eat the fresh ones, be sure to wear thick gloves.  And, they are best cooked or made into an alcohol extract—called a tincture—to nullify their stinging effects.  They can be added to soups and stews.  However, they are also conveniently available in the dried form for making tea, liquid tinctures to take as drops, or in capsule form.

Of course, if you're absolutely sure you've identified nettles correctly, you can quickly and easily make your own allergy remedy.  (If you're not sure, Mountain Rose Herbs sells dried nettle leaf you can use or nettle seeds if you want to grow your own nettle in your yard.  They also sell the extracts pre-made).  Simply add a couple of handfuls of nettle leaves (washed, of course) to a half cup of water and a half cup of vodka.  Blend in a blender and strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, allowing the liquid to fall into a pitcher below to collect the liquid.  Squeeze any remaining liquid out of the cheesecloth.  Pour the liquid into a bottle with a cap.  The typical dose is one teaspoon three times daily for a couple weeks prior to and throughout allergy season.

Adapted from Allergy-Proof:  Over 60 Drug-Free, All-Natural Ways to Beat Allergies by Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, ROHP.

 Check out my new books Weekend Wonder Detox and 60 Seconds to Slim.  Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow my blog on my sites and, and Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.


Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health & Harmony Com

Horsetail for Stronger Bones, Hair, Nails, and Teeth

June 28, 2013

Horsetail is a good source  of the mineral silica.  No, this plant has nothing to do with actual horses, it is simply the name of an herb that grows in sandy soil in damp areas.  It does  the same for the plants near where it grows as it does for humans who use horsetail:  it provides important nutrients, especially silica. 

One mineral is essential to bone-building, immune system strengthening, the proper use of calcium in the body, and building strong nails, hair, and teeth, yet most people never give it a second thought.  It is silica.  Silica supports the body’s production of an enzyme called prolyhydroxylase that is involved in the formation of collagen in bones, cartilage, and connective tissue.

Here are some of the most common signs of a silica deficiency:

Excessive wrinkling of the skin



Muscle cramps

Poor bone development

Soft or brittle nails

Thinning or loss of hair

Of course, these symptoms can be a sign of another health issue so it is important to see your doctor.  But it’s also important to be sure that you are eating enough foods rich in silica.  It usually takes about two months after using horsetail or eating a diet rich in silica to notice a difference.

Silica is water-soluble, which means that you can make a tea from the dried or fresh herb  and the silica will be extracted from the plant to the tea and then into your body where it will support healthy nails, teeth, bones, and hair.

Horsetail is also good for allergies, bladder issues, weak joints, and weak connective tissue.  For cystitis, blend with any of the following herbs:  couchgrass, yarrow, or bilberry. 

To make the tea:  use one rounded teaspoon of dried horsetail per cup of boiling water and allow to brew in a teapot or cup for 10 minutes.   A common dose is three cups daily; however, it is important to consult a physician if you have any health condition or are taking any medication. 

Horsetail has a long  spindly stalk with many small, whose leaves look more like long pine needles than leaves.  It doesn't flower and usually grows up to a foot tall along roadsides, gardens, and in waste ground areas. 

Silica is also found in almonds, apples, beets, celery, flaxseeds (ground), whole grains, grapes, kelp, oats, onions, parsnips, strawberries, and sunflower seeds, silica is still deficient in many people’s diets.

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