Coffee with Sam: An Interview with Cal Orey, Author of Five Books on Healing Powers of Food

I recently had the opportunity to have a virtual cup of coffee and chat with Cal Orey.  Author of five books about the healing powers of food, she is inspired by Mother Nature, health, relationships, and animals.  What kinds of foods can heal you?  I have no idea, you will have to read what Cal has to say!

Samantha Feuss– Coffee can heal me? I’m sold. What inspired you to write about healing foods?

Cal Orey– One snowy winter morning, while sipping java juice, I got an idea. (It’s true. Coffee boosts brainpower and the creative process.) I e-mailed my book editor with words that were short and sweet. “Just thinking a tea book to go with the honey book seems like it would work well.” He quickly responded,” I was thinking of a coffee book since coffee gets a bad rap. Is that a crazy idea?” I typed a one-liner answer, “Not at all. It was my second choice.” After all, during the creation of The Healing Powers of Chocolate, I included a chapter titled: “A Cuppa Coffee and Chocolat.” So, I wasn’t a stranger to coffee and its virtues.

SF– How did you come to find out that these foods have healing properties?

CO– I went to the go-to super food people—the folks percolating with information about the world’s favorite “new” health foods. I’ve conducted hundreds of exclusive interviews with medical doctors, researchers, and people in the industry: vinegar, olive oil, chocolate, honey, and coffee. It isn’t rocket science. I discovered quickly that Mother Nature’s folk medicine is today’s modern miracle!

SF– I have seen quite a bit about how many uses for vinegar there are, but I don’t know much about ingesting it. What are some of the best benefits that men can see from incorporating vinegar into their diets?

CO– Consuming apple cider vinegar may lift the spirit, act like a pick-me-up, provide headache relief, and enhance libido. It can also help prevent age-related diseases like cancer and heart disease.

SF– I had a teacher once who made us drink apple cider vinegar if we coughed in her class. Was she trying to save us from the common cold, or keep us quiet? Care to comment?

CO– She was from the old school of natural remedies. Apple cider vinegar may help in speeding recovery from a cold. Apple cider vinegar may help boost immunity and provide relief from cold and cough symptoms. The Vinegar Remedy to Use: Mix ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, ½ cup water, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and 4 teaspoons of honey. Take 1 tablespoon when your cough starts up. Take another at bedtime. Voila!

SF– While we are on the subject, I know honey can help calm and quiet a cough. What else can it do for you?

CO– Known as Mother Nature’s “nectar of the gods,” honey was praised for its healing powers as far back as 5,000 years ago by Egyptians. It can help stop allergies, beat anxiety, boost energy, help you to get some shut-eye, blast belly fat, and even heal wounds.

SF– That’s some repertoire.  Olive oil has a million uses, doesn’t it?  Plus it’s one of those staples for so many cultures. It really is amazing stuff (and makes such a nice garlic sauce)!  What is your favorite use?

CO– While olive oil has been used for everything from health ailments to beauty and home, it’s the primary fat I use in my heart-healthy Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. So, it’s sautéing vegetables in a bit of extra virgin olive oil (it’s chock-full of disease-fighting antioxidants) and teaming it with whole grain rice or pasta that helps energize me, lean and fit. No place for unhealthy fats in this house!

SF– Coffee, your newest book, comes out in July. I was amazed to find out the benefits of fresh ground verses pre-ground coffee beans!

CO– Coffee, especially freshly ground coffee from whole beans, boasts of an amazing antioxidant power. Two mighty antioxidants—chlorogenic acids and caffeic acid—are given credit for health benefits. Java boasts of other health-boosting antioxidants, including benzoic acids, cinnamic acids, flavonoids, and proanthocyanidins. Stacks of studies show that regular coffee drinkers may help lower their risk of developing cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and other ailments. No doubt, coffee is healthy in a variety of ways, and credit is due to the variety of disease fighting antioxidants, caffeine, and other compounds. But note to pass on sugar, cream, extra flavorings, and whipped cream. Go for a cup of black coffee and/or with a splash of low-fat milk.

SF– What is your favorite healing food?  Of course, on the other end, what about your favorite NOT healing food?

CO– Tea. I absolutely am a devout tea drinker. True, a 12-ounce cup of coffee is on my morning schedule. But tea—black, green, chamomile—spiked with a taste of a super honey varietal like wildflower or tupelo makes my day and night complete. I only eat super foods. If you look in my fridge, it’s stuffed with fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables, and yogurt. In my pantry, you’ll find grains, and nuts. I’ll eat fish, eggs, and cheese in moderation.

P.S. I forgot to mention the ice cream in the freezer (but it’s the premium, all-natural kind).

SF– You are a foodie warrior! Mine is chocolate. Speaking of which, thanks for telling me how great it is for me.

CO – Yes, chocolate known as Mother Natures’ “food of the gods” can help boost the immune system, lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes—even obesity! Chocolate is chock-full of mood enhancing ingredients, including phenylethylamine (the “love drug”) and feel-good serotonin. I adore dark chocolate (infused with fruits, herbs, and spices)!

Cal Orey is an accomplished author and journalist specializing in topics such as health, nutrition, science, and pets. Her books include The Healing Powers of Vinegar, The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, The Healing Powers of Chocolate, The Healing Powers of Honey, and The Healing Powers of Coffee. She lives in northern California. Her website is

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