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In Praise of Chicory Coffee (and Grandmothers)

As a child and a teenager I was lucky enough to live in the same city as my grandmother, who was a health nut and a bit of a snob when it came to good cooking, especially in restaurants. Up until I was a teenager I had no idea that my grandmother knew how to make sweets like fudge or divinity. I assumed that she got her sweet tooth fix from ripe blueberries and the occasional custard. It turns out she simply chose not to eat rich, unhealthy desserts, except very rarely.

She’s a great example of someone who was able to eat very healthy while maintaining the necessary carbs to prevent Acute Intermittent Porphyria attacks. Now that I’ve grown older and can appreciate what I thought was rather fanatic as a kid (it wasn’t) I like to follow the examples she set in my own health, as evidenced by previous posts of mine.

One thing she introduced me to, which I am forever grateful, is chicory coffee, served with steamed/heated milk and maybe a little sweetener, New Orleans style like at the famous Cafe Du Monde. One day she made it for me, and I got hooked. The great thing about chicory is it negates a lot of the caffeine’s effects; half of the drink is steamed skim milk, leaving only 25% caffeine intake compared to a normal cup of coffee.

I sometimes make chicory coffee with steamed milk as a dessert drink when I have a hankering for sweets. After all, skim milk can help satiate the craving for sweets (something my Grandma taught me, which has turned out to be true). So, I tend to heat up my milk, brew up some chicory coffee, and add agave nectar (or the occasional raw sugar, which isn’t as processed and therefore better for you). Voila, I have a sweet drink that’s not too sweet but satisfies my sweet tooth.

I think people with porphyria should be mindful of how they’re getting those sweets they’re craving. While it may feel great to eat a piece of cake (yum), don’t forget about fruits, skim milk, a little bit of sugar, etc., going a long way. Remember, the healthier we eat, the healthier we are, porphyria or not.

--Miranda Dennis


  1. Thank you for sharing this about caffeine and sugar habits. I also have AIP and cannot tolerate much caffeine as it really effects my neuropathy. As far as watching our intake on the sugary sweets, this was a challenge for me at first. Especially when my Doctor suggested that I eat a whole chocolate cake to avoid an attack when symptoms started. Of course, I knew not to do that however the idea to snack on foods with sugar does seem to be pretty mainstream. I have consulted with Nutritionists over the years and have learned healthy choices that give the same benefits without the fear of weight gain and diabetes. I would encourage anyone with this disease to take this into consideration for your long term health.


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