Addiction + Caffeine Alternative Recipes

Addiction is a hard one to face. Especially when you’re a yoga teacher and an integrative therapist and everyone thinks your insides are as clean as crisp autumn air.

Since the single digit years, I have been swimming in a sea of scheduling and distraction. Even my yoga practice up to perhaps last year had been part of the never ending “to-do” list which pervaded my inner landscape. Throughout the times when I’d been working the most, even if it was work I absolutely loved, I burned out. I couldn’t do anything fully and struggled to half-ass it all. I wound up casually using substances to get me through the go-go-go so I could get up in the morning, wind down at night, and rest my nervous system during the day. I convinced myself all I was doing was quite “European”, very romantic.

This summer has been one of extreme transformation. Moving into collective living on over 60 acres of beautiful land, I used the unique and powerful opportunity to pause from my busy workflow and focus on my own healing and life purpose.

Taking time off to rest and simply be conjured a surprising smorgasbord of unresolved intrapersonal issues. I was finally giving myself the space to let what had been stored inside come to a head. Not having the usual distraction of time crunch to ward off that which had been stored within the body, the good ol’ addictions came ’round in a solid attempt to numb the trauma buggers out. And we all know, that only works for so long.

Caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sugar, pharmaceuticals, TV, shopping, work, internet. The list continues. Whatever the addiction is, They are all superficial responses to the underlying bodily needs to regulate energy, calm the nervous system, and relax the mind. To come back home inside. That never fully happens with external substance use.

The catharsis of addiction keeps the pain body alive. Living within the shadows of existence is a way to separate the self from the true essence of what it means to be a full person in this amazing world.

Within our culture we have regulated certain drug use and condemned others. It’s harder to address socially acceptable use of substances as an issue because of this. You know, the daily glass of wine, the casual toke of a stogie, the obvious morning cup o’joe. No big deal, right? But for myself and many others, this has been the way to get by.

The question I couldn’t ignore anymore as a yogini was:

What am I medicating? What would it be like to be totally free of substances?

I know my own personal motivation for the journey. Developing layers of intimacy with loved ones and myself. Opportunities to heal deeply seated wounds.  Profound trust in my own true self. Transcendence.

Changing addictive patterns is hard and scary and there are many reasons why it is safe to remain in them. It might mean things would have to dramatically change in order to actually heal. Perhaps coffee wouldn’t be such a part of our culture if we were all deeply motivated to be in our daily work. Perhaps we wouldn’t be a society addicted to sugar if we weren’t lacking true sweeteness in life. Maybe there wouldn’t be a cancer epidemic if we practiced preventive medicine not as something to “fit in”, but as a necessity in taking care of our body.

Taking the leap towards liberation from shadow substance use demands true healing and support. Meditation, yoga. Healing touch, nature connection. Feeling full with life purpose. Staying inspired by the self.

In the words of Dr. Christine Northrop, “Your body is your best friend, and it’s trying to save your ass.” Now I am the one in service to my best friend, my temple, my body.

Caffine Free-dom

Caffeine is an extremely addictive common drug that taxes bodily systems and compromises adrenal health. The adrenals regulate hormone balance. When they are stressed, our hormones go out of wack and we can experience serious symptoms including chronic inflammation, which compromises joint and bone health. Inflammation and hormone irregularity can play a role in issues related to moon-o-pause and mynstruation including hot flashes, cramping, irritability, and cyst development. Establishing a blood sugar stabilizing diet rich in macro-nutrients and nourishing fats feeds hormone production and strengthens the muscular skeletal system. Living without the spikes and promoting stability: sounds good to me.

Going caffeine free was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be, mostly because I have been preparingextremely nutritious and delicious morning beverage alternatives. Sure, they take some preparation, but so did roasting those beans from Costa Rica.

Below are the recipes that I have found to be grounding, nourishing and enlivening to prepare as part of my morning routine. Please enjoy.

Dandelion Root Coffye

Early autumn is an optimal time to harvest dandelion roots. If you are ambitious, give it a go! Otherwise you can purchase pre-dried root. I place orders through Pacific Botanicals.


Dried Dandelion Root


Preheat oven to 400F. Spread dandelion roots evenly on a large baking sheet and place in your pre-heated oven. Stir every 10 minutes 2-3 times, until dark brown in hue. Careful not to burn the roots.

Cool completely. Process roasted roots in a spice grinder until finely ground. Store tightly sealed in a cool dark place.

Brewing Instructions

Place 7 Tbsp roasted roots in a 1 qt french press. Pour boiling water over grounds and place top on, allowing to steep for at least 30 minutes. Press the grounds down and pour your cup. Serve with raw mylk and sweetener of choice (Raw Cow and Raw Honey are my preferred options)

Chaga Chai Tea

Chaga is a native mushroom whose medicine is incredibly powerful. Chaga lends a rich umami flavor to chai, an often caffeinated tea. I purchase chaga through Mountain Rose Herbs.

Note: Now popularly regarded as a super food, there is a very real risk in over harvesting this sacred medicine. Please be mindful with consumption. Try alternating chaga chai with dandelion root coffye weekly to provide balance within and without.


1 Tbsp cinnamon stick

1 Tbsp coriander seed

1 Tbsp clove buds

1/2 Tbsp cumin seed

1/4 Tbsp cardamom pods

1/4 Tbsp black peppercorns

1/4 Tbsp dried ginger

Pinch freshly ground nutmeg

2 Tbsp dried chaga mushroom


Place ingredients (except nutmeg and chaga) in a cast iron skillet and lightly toast to bring out aromatics oils of the spice mix. Let cool completely. Add nutmeg and chaga. Process in a spice grinder until coarse. Store tightly sealed in a cool dark place. Note: I often triple this recipe so I have the prepared mix on hand for several weeks of use.

Brewing Instructions

Make a decoction: Place 7 Tbsp chaga chai blend in 9 cups of water. Bring to a low simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool completely. Strain into a half gallon mason jar and store in the refrigerator. Reheat at your leisure, pouring out roughly 12 ounces brew per serving. Serve with raw mylk and sweetener of choice (Below pictured with cashew mylk and raw honey).

Note: Addiction is a serious issue. If you or anyone you know is struggling, please seek out proper help. Here is a link to several addiction resources.

Be safe. Aim true.

Elizabeth Gross