Food of the Week: Coffee

Presented by Spartan Training®

Mocha Overnight Oats


  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (plain is great, vanilla will make for a sweeter taste)
  • 1 tsp honey (or as desired for sweetness)
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 ½ Tbsp chopped walnuts
  • ½ banana, sliced fresh when you’re ready to eat!


  1. In a mason jar, stir together oats, coffee, greek yogurt, honey, and cocoa powder. Once mixed well, stir in chia seeds.
  2. Place in refrigerator overnight so that all ingredients can become firm. When ready to eat, top with walnuts and banana (or stir them right in).
  3. Tip: Batch prep. Anytime you are making overnight oats, save yourself the hassle and make 3-5 at a time. They will store great in the fridge for 5-7 days and you an easily change up the toppings to keep it interesting. Try pistachios and strawberries, slivered almonds  and chopped apple, or cashews and cherries)

Coffee Vinaigrette Over Fresh Greens



  • 1 tsp coffee, very finely ground
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 3-4 cups of your favorite greens (Spinach seems to pair best)
  • Chopped onions, cucumbers, and your favorite cheese crumbles


Whisk all salad dressing ingredients together in a bowl. I like to warm the honey just slightly so that it mixes in easier. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Drizzle over salad ingredients as desired. This recipe can also be used as a marinade for your proteins. Try it out on the grill this summer.

Coffee Drizzle



  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir constantly to avoid burning.
  3. The soy sauce and vinegar will reduce down, leaving you with about 2 Tbsp of a delicious sauce great for drizzling on top of any of the delicious grilled meats or veggies in our Grilling Guide. (This sauce is meant to drizzle on after cooking)

Morning Mocha Smoothie


  • 1 banana, frozen
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup brewed coffee, chilled
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon


Blend all ingredients together in a blender for 30 seconds. Add additional water until you reach the desired consistency.The best part about chilled coffee? It can replace the liquid of almost any smoothie recipe.

Coffee Energy Balls



  1. Place milk in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir, heat for an additional 30-60 seconds (until you can see a slight amount of steam rising from the milk. Be careful not to overheat).
  2. Stir in instant coffee (they make take a couple minutes to dissolve, be patient, it will be worth it!)
  3. Stir in protein powder until dissolved, then add oats. If mixture is not thick enough to roll into balls, continue adding small amounts of oats until you reach desired texture.
  4. Use your hands to roll into 1” balls.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place energy balls onto baking sheet and store in the freezer. Pull 2-3 as a preworkout snack or refuel.
  6. Optional add-ins: Chia seeds, dark chocolate bits, coconut flakes, nut butter.

Mushroom Cafe Mocha



Combine water and coconut milk in a small saucepan and heat on stovetop until hot but not boiling. While water/coconut milk heats, place remaining ingredients in a high speed blender. Once heated, pour the water/coconut milk into the blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. Pour into a mug. Enjoy.

Coffee Basics

Picture it, Africa 575 AD. Coffee is being used as currency and eaten as food. It wouldn’t be until 1880 that the world’s first caffeinated soft drinks were served. Stemming from the Arabic word for “wine of the bean”, coffee has been a huge social and economical component since the first Ethiopian noticed the alertness he felt upon consumption. It was this alert feeling that would quickly be recognized as a benefit and was promptly shared from Ethiopia, to Yemen, and many in between until the Dutch finally brought it to America.

Try to drive through any town or city without passing a Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, or any of your many local coffee shops. You can’t! They are everywhere. The question is should you stop and pick yourself up a tasty roast? Routinely debated for its health benefits and risks, the recommendations around coffee intake keep changing. Let’s check the latest.

  • Moderate caffeine consumption is considered to be in the range of 300-400 milligrams per day (mg/day), or about three to four 8-ounce cups of homebrewed coffee per day.
  • According to FDA, European Food Safety Authority, and Health Canada, caffeine consumption of up to 400 mg daily is not associated with adverse health effects in the general healthy population of adults
  • A large population study found that caffeine does not increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Caffeine does not cause chronic high blood pressure (hypertension) or any persistent increase in blood pressure
  • Caffeine has been shown to improve athletic performance, including improving endurance and delaying fatigue.

Be wise people, if you’ve had a history of heart attack, cardiovascular disease, and/or high blood pressure please talk to your healthcare professional about your safest level of consumption.

So what’s all the fuss about? Coffee can be addictive for some, but more importantly, it can mask symptoms of other unhealthy behaviors or concerns.


Start by asking yourself if your daily coffee intake outweighs your daily intake of water. Although coffee is not technically dehydrating, it is important to hydrate the body with the best source: water.


Are you replacing meals with coffee? I love coffee too, but I’ll never let it replace my nutrition.


If having that afternoon pick-me-up is the only way you’ll survive the rest of the day, you need to evaluate your sleep quality

If you’re not a coffee drinker, there are no specific health reasons why you should start drinking it, unless you want to. If you are, keep it in check, but enjoy your delicious brew without worry.

Why Coffee Is Important for Spartans

According to the USADA (US Anti Doping Agency), caffeine is not a prohibited performance enhancer, but WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) continues to keep it on their watch list. (Know your sport). That’s because the caffeine in coffee (as well as some tea, energy drinks, and yes even dark chocolate) is a stimulant to the central nervous system.

Potential benefits for athletes that can be considered as a strategic component to training  include:

  • Decreased perception of pain, fatigue, and perceived exertion during submaximal resistance training
  • Improved performance in endurance and sustained high-intensity training or competition
  • Increased body coordination, focus, and agility

*Source: Sports, Cardiovascular, and Nutrition dietetic practice group


  • Results may vary: The effects of caffeine vary by person. Some feel the effects in small amounts, while others can drink an entire pot of coffee and not see results. As with anything, trial caffeine intake as part of your training regimen.
  • Tolerance: If you’re used to drinking 4 cups of coffee per day your body has likely built up a tolerance to the effects. Try reducing intake 2 weeks prior to competition to re-sensitize your body’s response
  • Negative effects: Some people experience gastric upset with excessive caffeine. This can result in stomach upset during activity
  • Caffeine is one component: Before all else, proper training, nutrition, and sleep habits should be prioritized. The potential stimulating effects of caffeine cannot mask an overall poorly maintained athlete.
  • Amount and Timing: Consume 2-6 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight (one to three cups of brewed coffee for a 150-pound individual) one hour before cardiovascular endurance training or up to 20 minutes of high-intensity training. Performance-enhancing effects may last up to four hours

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