We humans are so very lucky. Most of us can choose what we want to eat and drink and when we want to eat and drink it. Unlike our pets, we are in the enviable position of being able to have freshly squeezed juice if we desire, or a freshly brewed latte when we like. I often put myself in the place of other creatures and wonder what Vivaldi, my cat, would like today. The fluffy, foamy milk from the top of my cappuccino? Would Francesca enjoy something other than water this morning? I even like to imagine my horses drinking freshly pressed apple cider.
Indeed, with a little effort, we all can start each day in a flavorful and healthy way. All it requires is a few tools and shopping a little differently.
I started juicing in earnest last summer. I discovered an efficient and well-designed new juicer that extracts all the liquid from fruits and vegetables and simplifies the cleanup process. I used just-picked green vegetables from the garden, adding sweetness in the form of pears, apples, beets, or carrots, and a bit of bite by throwing in an inch-long piece of gingerroot. I drink about eight ounces of green juice every morning, right after my workout. I always make enough for my trainer, who loves the pungent, not-too-sweet juice that tastes as if it is bursting with goodness. Some of my friends prefer the carrot-beet juice or the apple-carrot or the celery-pear I make when I have bushels of sweet apples, pears, and root vegetables.
In my house, all juices, including fruit juice, have to be freshly squeezed. If there are no oranges, grapefruits, or tangerines, I prefer to drink cold water flavored with freshly squeezed lime or lemon. Starting in autumn and continuing right through March, I can be found squeezing pomegranates for a tasty and healthy juice full of immune-building properties.
One of the morning drinks my yoga teacher suggested was plain kefir, a fermented-milk beverage that is considered by many to be a wonder food," full of friendly microorganisms that can help with digestion. Many of my friends find kefir a bit sour, so I now blend it with fresh berries to create a delicious, nutritious concoction.
An alternative would be buttermilk or plain yogurt -- low fat or no fat, of course -- pureed with fresh berries or soft fruit. If the mixture is too thick, freshly squeezed citrus juice or skim milk can thin it perfectly.
For many years, I never drank coffee, preferring tea with lemon as my caffeinated beverage. I have not given up tea and still enjoy many types, including green teas, herbal infusions, and Indian and Chinese black and fragrant teas. But after a visit to Italy and a sampling of all the great coffees there, I vowed to learn how to make similar beverages at home.
I tried all sorts of machines -- all-in-ones, stove-top espresso makers, frothers, drippers. I just could not duplicate the perfect cappuccinos or the wholesome lattes I had imbibed. I found I was going uptown in New York City just for a cup of cappuccino at Via Quadronno or downtown to Sant Ambroeus for a macchiato. I bribed the barista at Via Quadronno with a segment on my television show so he would teach me how to make the creamy, delectable cappuccino he served in the restaurant. I had to invest in a professional model, a La San Marco machine that makes true espresso and steams milk into the rich, creamy texture found in every cup at the restaurant. I fell in love with my morning coffee and the ritual of making it.
Now I will stop everything to make delicious coffee (I use a brand called Antica Tostatura Triestina) topped with frothed milk, bubbleless and creamy. I offer everyone cubes of raw sugar in case they want some sweetness, as well. I wonder if Vivaldi takes sugar.