I was telling this story to my friend, Paul Kluchert, as he expertly made me a cappuccino. Paul has recently launched BrewBar, a Mobile Espresso Coffee Bar in Ottawa and definitely knows his espresso. It made me realize that espresso drinks are one of the cornerstones of my journey on the path of healthier eating and cooking.
Over two years ago I was over-indulging myself with Starbucks cappuccinos and scones at a popular coffeehouse a couple of times a week on my way into work. When I decided to press the RESET button and start living a healthier lifestyle, this habit came under very heavy scrutiny.
- A Cappuccino is an Italian drink made with espresso, hot milk, and milk foam. A traditional Italian cappuccino has equal portions of all three; so 1/3 espresso to 1/3 milk to 1/3 foam. (My homemade cappuccino is seen in the large photo up top and in the photo strip.)
- A Latte is made with 1 part espresso, 3-5 parts hot milk, and a thin milk foam layer on top.
- A Macchiato is made with espresso topped with a shot of foamed milk. In Italian, macchiato means ‘stained’ or ‘spotted’.
There are many variations (Italian, American, etc.) so don’t be surprised if your recipe is different from the ones above.
I thought that the cappuccinos were made with skim or nonfat milk. Imagine my dismay when I discovered that the default for many places is to make it with 2% milk; that you need to specify non-fat milk. Lesson #1 learned.
Lesson #2: The 1/3 cappuccino ratio is not adhered to so you need to ask questions. For example, at one coffeehouse I learned that their small size had 1 shot of espresso, the next size up had 2 shots, however, the largest size was still just 2 shots (not 3 as I had naively assumed) with just more added foam and milk.
As a result of my research I purchased an espresso machine for home use. Why? A cappuccino is around $5 in Canada so not small chunk of change. I wanted to be able to indulge myself on this new journey in self-care. I think this is one of the key components that have helped me make this transition to a healthier eating lifestyle more fun and enjoyable. As part of displacing old less-healthier choices, I have added new choices that I enjoy even more.
I have never been a breakfast person; yet that has changed dramatically in the last two years. Now I start my morning making my version of a cappuccino, sit down on the couch, put my legs up, my cat Stormy comes and settles on my lap, and I leisurely enjoy my hot espresso drink in a cup that I found at the Salvation Army store.
Depending on how much of an aficionado you are and your budget, the price for an espresso machine can range from under $100 into the thousands of dollars. Not knowing whether this was going to be a fad with me or a part of my lifestyle, I purchased the Breville Café Roma Espresso Machine. Now 2-plus years later, I am still enjoying it today.
The key to my story is that indulging myself is one of the best things I did to kick-start this journey for a healthier lifestyle. This journey is about exploring healthier options and increasing my choices, not deprivation. If I have a friend over I make the Italian 1/3 ratio for cappuccinos; 2 shots of espresso (equal to 2 ounces or 60 ml) with 2 shots of hot skim or non-fat milk, and approximately 2 shots of milk foam on top.
My Morning Quasi-Cappuccino Quickie recipe and ritual is as follows:
- Stock the espresso machine for a double espresso (30 ml or 2 Tbsp).
- Place 3 ounces (90 ml) of hot skim or non-fat milk in favorite cup and heat in microwave until steaming.
- Dispense 2-3 shots (60 – 90 ml) of espresso into the heated milk.
- Try to not trip over the cat who is super-excited about the fact that you are going to sit down.
- Settle down and enjoy both the soothing beverage and the unconditional love of my four-legged friend. 🙂
Yes, it is backwards with the espresso being added to the milk. First thing in the morning I am looking for simple, uncomplicated steps that give me the “Aww!” factor that I am craving. My brain cells are not functioning yet so for myself milk foam at that time is definitely optional. Find what satisfies your craving and go nuts!
What is your cornerstone Indulgence?
If you are interested in learning more about BrewBar, you can visit Paul by clicking on the BrewBar Link HERE or the BrewBar logo below.