Is It Primal? – Chai, Rice Noodles, Choffy, and Other Foods Scrutinized

It never ends, does it? Right when you feel like you can settle down into your way of eating, right when you’re about to draw the blanket made of plants, animals, and maybe a little dark chocolate up around your shoulders and drift off to a restful sleep in your pitch black room untainted by artificial lighting, a niggling doubt of a question worms its way into your head: is [insert food or drink that you’ve loved since childhood/wondered about since going Primal/been asked about from curious friends] Primal? And so you toss off the blanket, leap out of bed, throw open your laptop and fire away an email to me asking about the food’s place in the lifestyle. I don’t blame you, because I’m constantly doing the same kind of thing with my own question mark foods.

Yes, it’s that time again, boys and girls: another edition of “Is it Primal?” This should be a fun one with wide appeal, because today we’re dealing with a variety of foods from around the world. Chai, the famous Indian tea, gets top billing, followed by rice noodles and Choffy. Then, I finish off with my take on “gluten-free” real sourdough bread and Marmite.


I’ve written about chai before, believe it or not, because “chai” simply means “tea.” So, when you’re ordering “chai tea” and the Indian gent behind you chuckles quietly to himself, it’s because you’ve just ordered “tea tea.” What we’re really talking about when we talk about chai is masala chai, or mixed-spice tea, the aromatic, velvety, slightly (or incredibly, depending on how you take it) sweet hot beverage.

Now that we’re on the same page, let’s get something out of the way: your chai latte from Starbucks is not Primal. Your chai ice cream isn’t either, nor is the chai Belgian waffle topped with a dollop of chai whipped cream, nor is the blended iced caramel chai-atto that I just made up on the spot. But actual masala chai, absent syrupy processed sweeteners and spray can whipped cream? This is good, even great stuff.

Think about what you might get in masala chai:

Tea – Whether it’s black, green, white, oolong, or puer, tea is one of the richest sources of dietary antioxidants around (PDF). It’s strongly associated with a host of health benefits.

Cinnamon – Besides tasting great, this spice improves insulin sensitivity, improves blood lipids, boasts a strong antioxidant supply, and has anti-carcinogenic activity.

Ginger – Broadly anti-inflammatory, ginger is a potent source of antioxidants with inhibitory effects on high blood sugar, cancer, and bad blood lipids.

Cardamom – Cardamom has been shown to lower blood pressure in hypertensives and have chemopreventive properties.

Fennel – Fennel seed is another spice with antioxidant potential, including the ability to inhibit lipid peroxidation.

Clove – Clove has one of the highest levels of antioxidant activity around and contains a large number of bioactive compounds.

Not all those spices are used in every form of chai, but some of them will appear.

However, traditional masala chai does include milk and some kind of sweetener, maybe coconut sugar or honey or even just white sugar – oftentimes lots of it. So, while the tea itself and the spice constituents are undoubtedly healthy and Primal, the sugar they add probably isn’t.

Verdict: Primal, but you might try asking them to go easy on the sugar (or just make it yourself and control what goes into it directly).


First off, what’s Choffy? It’s like coffee, only instead of roasted coffee beans being ground up and steeped in hot water, it’s roasted cacao beans being ground up and steeped in hot water to make a hot, antioxidant-rich beverage.

Unlike coffee, there’s not a lot of published research about Choffy – none at all, to my knowledge – making a solid, research-backed proclamation nearly impossible. According to the makers of Choffy, though, an 8 ounce cup has an ORAC rating of 4874.4 ?mole TE. If that’s true, it has more antioxidants than “two servings of blueberries.” And that makes perfect sense. Cacao is full of polyphenols, and polyphenols come with all sorts of health benefits. If those polyphenols shine through in the brewed Choffy, I’m all for it. I don’t see why they wouldn’t, especially seeing as how the application of hot water to another type of ground up bean – the coffee bean – extracts plenty of polyphenols with plenty of health effects.

What it doesn’t have is the considerable caffeine content of coffee (it’s got a tiny amount), but it does have theobromine, a methylxanthine. Caffeine is another methylxanthine. But while caffeine raises blood pressure in the short term, theobromine lowers it. Theobromine, on the other hand, lead to “decreased calmness,” while caffeine increased alertness and contentedness. Some people report having severe cases of “the jitters” after dark chocolate; others report severe cases of “the bliss” after chocolate. I’m one of the latter group, so I’d probably do well on Choffy. Oh, and that same study found that combining caffeine and theobromine gave subjects the improved mood without the increased blood pressure, which makes me wonder what good things would happen if you brewed Choffy with coffee.

Verdict: Primal; after all, didn’t I tell you that you should eat and drink high-cacao chocolate?

Rice Noodles

One of my secret pleasures is a really good bowl of Vietnamese pho. I don’t eat it very often – usually whenever I happen to be in Orange County near Little Saigon – and I’ll more often than not leave a good number of noodles in the otherwise empty bowl when I’m done, but I find it difficult to pass up a good bowl of real bone broth, Thai basil, and odd bits of beef like tripe, tendon, and fatty brisket just because it comes with some rice noodles. I’ve gone over why I don’t think rice is particularly problematic when compared to other grains before, and that reasoning stands with rice noodles.

would urge the consumption of white rice noodles over brown rice noodles based on personal experience. Whenever I’ve had the “pleasure” of eating brown rice pasta, I feel somewhat unwell afterwards. Maybe it’s the increased bran. Maybe it’s the weird texture. Maybe it’s the added phytic acid.

Also, research indicates that owing to their inherent slurpability, noodles are subject to far less mastication than whole grain rice. This disparity in mastication is inadvertent on our parts, by design on noodle makers’ parts. Noodles are basically meant to slide right down the throat, nary a gnashing tooth in sight. This makes it easier to shovel in more calories, of course, but not just because you’re eating faster. Your satiety hormones are actually regulated by how much you chew your food, and a study showed that by not chewing your food sufficiently, your ghrelin levels (which make you hungry) stay higher and you eat more food. When you chew each bite 40 times, ghrelin levels drop.

Make sure your white rice noodles are made with just rice. Some places add wheat flour.

Verdict: Not Primal, but if you’re eating rice, rice noodles are the same thing (and they often come with delicious bone broth).

“Gluten-Free” Real Sourdough Bread

Awhile back, I mentioned the legend of Bezian, the man with the sourdough bread that gluten-intolerants and celiacs alike could apparently tolerate. He operates out of LA and sells his wares at the Santa Monica farmers market, so I figured I’d pay a visit and give the stuff a shot. I’m not celiac, and I can get away with the odd bite of bread at a restaurant or the very occasional beer, but I get very distinct, very noticeable effects from eating a significant portion of wheat. Diving into an actual loaf of bread would surely elicit a few symptoms.

So I got a small loaf of the “most fermented” bread he had. It was maybe five bucks and had been fermented for almost a month, according to Bezian. I got home, toasted up a slice, spread some butter on it, and had a bite. It was good bread, that was for sure, sour and chewy and dense (the butter didn’t hurt, either). I had another slice, plus a few hard boiled eggs and a small green salad, just to make a meal of it. Then, I waited. Usually, thirty minutes or so post-wheat, I’ll want to use the bathroom. I’ll sometimes feel a bit spacey, as if I’ve been drugged (not in a good way, either). This didn’t happen. Playing lab rat for the sake of this post, I proceeded to eat the rest of it over the course of a few more days with my family, and no one had anything unpleasant to report. All good then?

Not quite. We know that the right fermentation conditions can produce a bread that is technically gluten-free, but those were tightly controlled lab conditions that most bakers simply don’t have. I know that actual bread makers (like Bezian) can produce bread that I don’t obviously react to and which may be tolerated by celiacs, but then again, I’m not a celiac and there’s all sorts of other damage that could be occurring underneath the hood, unbeknownst to me (many people sensitive to gluten are asymptomatic).

If you “have” to eat bread, this kind of sourdough is the best you can probably get. But really? It’s the best you probably can’t get, not unless you’re willing to fly out to LA and buy it from Bezian, or maybe unless you figure out the specific strains of yeast used by the Italian authors of the fermentation study to degrade the gluten so you can make it yourself. Sure, there’s also the chance that someone else is doing bread the right way, but you have to find them, and in this day and age of real foodiesm, I don’t think someone making real bread that celiacs can eat would go unnoticed.

Or, you know, you could just eat everything else that doesn’t seem to cause us problems – like plants and animals.

All that said, curious Primal Angelenos could always check out Bezian’s stand themselves; I’d be interested to see their responses.

Verdict: Not Primal, but it’s definitely the best bread you can do and I’d wager that it’s less harmful than regular bread.


At first, I was going to write this one off. I mean, as an American I don’t know a whole lot about Marmite, but I was vaguely aware of it as a disgusting, overly processed brown paste that doubles as food. Since Marmite is pretty popular and I received a good number of questions about it and I trust my readers, I thought I’d take a closer look.

Marmite is made from brewer’s yeast, which is what it sounds like (the yeast used to make beer, Saccharomyces cerevisiae), plus salt and various vegetable and spice extracts. Brewer’s yeast contains naturally occurring B-vitamins, which make Marmite a pretty nutrient-dense food, but nowadays the naturally-occurring folate (folate was actually discovered through Marmite), riboflavin, and other B-vitamins are supplemented with fortified versions. They also add B12, which does not naturally occur in brewer’s yeast. And although it’s processed, that doesn’t necessarily make it harmful. You might make an argument for the addition of fortified synthetic vitamins being an issue – Chris Kresser certainly would in regards to folic acid. If that’s the case for you, too, you could always try making your own marmite.

And the UK version’s gluten-free; the Australian and New Zealand versions may not be.

Verdict: Primal limbo. It doesn’t seem all that offensive, but I’m not sure what you’re gonna eat it on if not bread and the synthetic vitamins are potentially troublesome. I guess you just had to be there (in Britain/Australia/New Zealand as a kid, that is) to get it.

That’s it for today, guys. Keep the questionable foods coming and I’ll keep on answering them as best I can. Thanks for reading!

Grab a Copy of The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation and Start Getting Primal Today!

TAGS:  is it primal?

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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115 thoughts on “Is It Primal? – Chai, Rice Noodles, Choffy, and Other Foods Scrutinized”

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  1. Making your own Chai with some black tea, custom spices and coconut milk is a real winter treat.

    As a former cafe worker, please avoid the Starbucks/cafe processed “mystery syrup” varieties. If you drink dairy, you could always ask them to make you variation – steamed milk, 2 chai tea bags steeped in a few ounces of hot water and a touch of honey. Any decent barista will do it.

    1. I will need to give this a try. I am a big fan of cinnamon, ginger and cloves which are apparently some of the spices in chai and I also enjoy coconut milk.

      1. To save a little effort, look for “pumpkin pie spice.” It has cinnamon ginger cloves nutmeg already mixed together so you don’t need to measure out individual spices.

        1. Pumpkin pie spice does not usually contain cardamom, which is essential to a delicious cup of chai. It’s what really gives chai its incredible aroma!

        2. I second that! Recently discovered the joy of pumpkin pie spice from one of Mark’s previous post.

      2. My favorite “Chai” protein shake:

        Vanilla Protein Powder
        Coconut milk
        2 tsp cardamom
        2 whole cloves
        1 tsp turmeric
        2 tsp cinnamon

        Cardamom is one of my favorite spices! Will have to start adding some ginger, too!

    2. That sounds like a great way to make a hot chai at home. As far as Starbucks, I like ordering the regular chai tea (I always have to say “teabag” or they assume latte), then adding some half-and-half and raw sugar to it. It’s much cheaper than ordering the latte and it’s perfectly delicious, just creamy enough, and it’s a significantly smaller dose of dairy than a whole cup of milk (I have good dairy days and bad dairy days.) It definitely saves me money at the Starbucks in my university library. I’m 90% sure they keep this building cold so we’re compelled to come downstairs and spend $4 a pop on hot drinks.

    3. I actually prefer this coconut milk method of making Chai to other, less Primal methods. The coconut brings it to just the right level of sweet without honey or sugar or anything, and it’s creamier and velvetier than milk-based Chais. Oh, heaven! And all you need is a splash in your tea.

    4. If you’re lucky enough to live on the West Coast and have access to a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, they make a very nice chai using whole leaf tea that they pack into a espresso puck dedicated to that purpose. The result is delicious and far superior to anything you’d get with a syrup at Starbucks (or any place that uses syrups for their chai.) They’ll make it with whole milk and honey on request. Actually, they do this with all their teas…it’s wonderful.

  2. Hm… the choffy sound pretty good. I never heard of it before but I will be looking for it next time I go to the grocery store. I hate the taste of coffee but if choffy tastes anything like chocolate then perhaps I will like it.

    1. Alternately, you can get raw cacao beans online. I started grinding them and putting some in my morning nutbars. note: they are plenty bitter. Just the otherday I was thinking about putting some in my coffee grind; I think I’ll have to try that now.

      1. i roast cacao beans & eat them straight.
        100%. they taste bitter & very intense.


    2. Note: It does not really taste like chocolate. It smells like it, but I was not impressed by the taste. It’s like crappy, chocolate-scented, somewhat-bitter water.

      Now, mine wasn’t name-brand “Choffy”, but it was the same stuff; ground cacao beans steeped in hot water.

      1. Justin you should order some Choffy and try it again, it’s not just about using “ground cacao beans” but the way that Choffy is roasted and ground makes it far superior to any other beans. Plus they have a few different bean varieties that have an amazing difference in taste despite the ingredients being 100% cacao beans!

  3. I always used to order my pho (one of my favorite things in the world, BTW) with ‘less noodles’, which I believe is a pretty common sort of order, but the last couple of times, I just asked for ‘no noodles’, and the server didn’t even bat an eye… All that beefy goodness, no carbs!

    1. Same here, I just discovered pho – I order “no noodles” but more sprouts. Awesomeness.

    2. PHOOOOOOO <3 Although I could never imagine ordering it without the noodles. Here on South Beach they charge an arm and a leg for a bowl!

  4. I’ve read that rice noodles are sometimes processed using formaldehyde, which can damage the kidneys. I don’t know how true this is, but some research might be in order before purchasing them at an Asian market or eating them at Asian restaurants.

    1. Agreed, feels a bit too processed… I’m still not bored of eating what I can pick from trees or the ground! Through in a couple of animals, what could be better

  5. Marmite dissolved in hot water on a cold day!
    A little dab on celery!
    Added to various sources/marinades, i.e. as flavouring.

    See, lots of uses. (And I’m not from Britain/Australia/New Zealand.)

  6. Oooooh marmite, my long lost friend!

    Toasted crumpets oozing with butter and the lightest kiss of marmite are nearly enough to make me forsake the Primal path….(drools)

    I might have to try butter and marmite on my omlette tomorrow 🙂

    Thanks for the info on Chai though – I feel super virtuous as it helped me out no end when quitting sugar (drunk without milk or sugar)

    Some of the UK chai brands have licorice root in them which makes the tea sweet without fructose (don’t go crazy with licorice root though as excess can apparently raise blood pressure)

    1. Oh godfathers, crumpets with butter and honey… oh god…

  7. The only bad food experience on my stay in New Zealand was trying Marmite. Definitely not my cup of tea…..

    1. And were you were scared of driving on the roads? The so-called ‘state highways’? It’s an acquired culture..

      1. New Zealand has a wonderful, vibrant and inspirational culture. A beautiful land with even more beautiful people. Let’s appreciate the diversity offered in this amazing world of ours……

        1. New zealand has some of the most polluted waterways in the world. The 100% pure myth has been exposed.

    2. I love Vegemite, mixed with grass-fed New Zealand butter, right off a spoon.
      Marmite, not so much.

  8. I order just hot water with a chai teabag. I add half and half if I feel like it.

    I had quite a go round with Starbucks when I tried to figure out why an unsweetened green tea frappuccino tasted so sweet. Big lesson in “why are you putting crap in my food and not telling me you put it there?”

    1. Good for you Violette_R!

      I’ve heard horror stories of Yanks who spread marmite on toast like it was peanut butter – no wonder they hated it!


      1. My first experience with it was in Chile, of all places. I had tea with a friend’s neighbor and her English husband liked it on his toast. I was curious and while I don’t remember how much I used, it was love at first bite. I’ve always enjoyed strong, salty flavors. Hence my love of stinky cheese as well.

  9. I miss Marmite, but with not eating bread any more I wouldn’t have anything to spread it on anyway!

    Another reason to consider dropping it: it’s very high in purines, from the yeast.
    A primal diet is naturally high in purines (especially if you’re eating offal or oily fish) so if you’re at all predisposed to hyperuricemia (gout!) then avoid at all costs!

    1. I found my little pot of Marmite sitting forgotten and alone in the back of a cupboard, and had been eating a little bit off the tip of a knife as a vitamin supplement. Well, was my urine bright! Like a deep neon yellow (purines?). I don’t have it every day, but boy do I love it. And, yes, I am an upper midwest Yankee.

      1. Neon-bright wee can result from Vitamin B supplements, too. You can see this for yourself with an N=1 experiment.

        Many, many housemate came back from Australia with lots of restaurant-sized servings of Vegemite. He wanted to gross out his friends, and was sorely disappointed when I found I loved the stuff. I moved to the UK just for the Marmite. (Not really, but I’m the love it, rather than hate it, kind of person.)

        1. ‘Many, many housemate’ = ‘many, many years ago, my housemate’

      2. Vegemite and Marmite had a fight. Vegemite won!

        haha – Good to hear of a Yankee eating our (New Zealand/Australian) wares.

        I find it good with an egg. Not too much though.

  10. I remember when I used to go into a Barista Place that served all kinds of teas. I oredered chai for a couple of weeks until I saw one of the employes opening a cabinet open a can of powdered chai tea. From then on I always bring a bag of chai tea and order hot water.

  11. Marmite is very high in glutamic acid. I use it to boost the umami character of stews, broths, burgers, gravies, etc.

    1. I’ll second that – vegemite is *outstanding* for adding flavour to stews/gravies and – my favourite – the crockpot cooked ribs/bones.
      You can get a similar effect by boiling down Guinness, but a spoonful of vegemite does the job much easier, and leaves the Guinness for an occasional indulgence.

  12. Marmite is (or at least was, back in the day) more specifically spent brewers yeast.

  13. Mark, so glad to hear you like Pho! It’s been a favorite indulgence of mine for years, and it’s my all-healing “chicken soup” to soothe the belly or clear out the head (particularly when I add jalapeno and Sriracha), and the most appealing way I know of to get tendon and tripe, bone broth, fresh green herbs… A primal grey area, but “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”, and mmm-boy Pho is good!!

  14. The Austrians have been drinking a blend of coffee and cocoa beans for quite some time… A quick search on the German amazon page yielded several results for ground or whole bean mixtures.

  15. Amazon has choffy. It’s going in my (I mean, my husband’s) stocking! Thanks Mark!

  16. It would be nice if there were some pho places that used organic, grass-fed beef. I certainly haven’t seen any. Anyone?

  17. Hi Mark … I’ve searched your site and cannot find any reference to it, so if I may put in a request for your thoughts on sweeteners made from monk fruit? I’ve seen this as a commercial product made by Splenda, and yes it does contain Splenda, but I’ve also seen it used without any other artificial sweeteners – specifically in an ice cream-like product that looks to be primal friendly.

    1. I just had some pumpkin spice “ice cream” (can’t remember the brand name) that had monk fruit as an ingredient. The carb and sugar levels were very low and there were no artificial sweeteners listed in the ingredients. I think the main ingredient was whey protein. It wasn’t too bad if you forget the idea of real ice cream, but I probably won’t buy it again. It had good flavor without cloying sweetness, but the texture wasn’t great.

  18. Choffy = Crio Bru, try looking it up that way. We love to brew coffee with a scoop of it added – gives us a mellow, hint of chocolate, and the extra antioxidants.

    It works best in a french press. Give the choffy/crio bru about 6 minutes to steep, then add the coffee with more boiling water, wait 4 minutes, then press.

    RE: Marmite. Really? I was under the impression that marmite and vegemite had too much “MSG” like substances in them… naturally occurring, but still excitotoxins.

    1. Choffy is 1000 times better than Crio Bru so I wouldn’t ever equate those together, I’ve tried both products. If you want the real thing order some Choffy, you’ll thank me for it. Crio Bru is bland while Choffy is rich and flavorful.

      1. I haven’t tried either but I’ve *heard* that crio bru is 1000 times better than choffy!!

        1. +1 to Helen. (As to some other posters today, it may make sense to beware of people pushing one brand and one brand only. Makes me think ‘shill’)

  19. Oh, and I ADORE chai. I can tolerate some dairy so I put real cream in it and sweeten with stevia. I buy it from an online store which carries several flavor varieties of chai as well as other teas. I don’t know what the policy is here for mentioning company names, but if Mark gives his blessing, I’d be glad to share and hook you up with a $5 off coupon. (Yes, I would get points towards discounts for your purchase, just wanted to make that known)

  20. If you’re truly gluten-intolerant/Celiac I’d be VERY careful buying any kind of bread unless you really know the seller. I don’t know this fellow & he may be a genius, but there was a guy selling supposedly artisanal GF miracle-bread at our local flea market “as good-tasting as wheat bread” & it turned out he was repackaging/repricing ordinary wheat bread! Many people got sick including children. Luckily he got caught fairly quickly. But as GF foods become more popular, there will be scoundrels trying to profit. So be on guard!

  21. I can’t say I agree with your personal assessment of rice. It always ‘glutens’ me, no matter the form. From my personal experience, and the research I’ve read on it, I’d say it’s a really good idea for all gluten sensitive folk to stay away from it.
    But if you’re not gluten sensitive, have at it! I miss pho.

    I’m also glad that you point out that that supposedly safe sourdough is not a good thing for Celiac sufferers and other sensitive folks to eat. The claims that sourdough is safe to eat are so irresponsible, as even occasional ingestion of gluten can up a Celiac’s chance of getting cancer by 600% (according to one study I read).
    I even attempted to make a sourdough out of sorghum and rice flour awhile back, let it ferment a good while, and it still made my autoimmune disorder flare up.

    1. 1. I would love to see a link to that study or at least a working title to google with. There are a million things that could be up with that study.

      2. If you have a serious autoimmune disorder, you should try transitioning into GAPS. It wouldn’t be a huge leap from paleo at all. After two years on that plus their intro protocol, you might possibly be rid of your disorder and be able to eat occasional, properly prepared, sourdough.

    2. White rice “glutens” me as well. Not if it just touches my food but if I have a couple of mouthfuls it upsets my stomach and also restarts my severe reflux which usually leads to tonsillitis a few days down the track. It doesn’t mess with my moods the way that gluten does though. I do suspect that I may have SIBO though which is why I might be reacting to it.

      The only grain that I have yet to react to is corn in the form of corn chips- I havent ever had more than about 6 at a time since going paleo though so not sure what more would do. It’s probably a once every 6 months occurrence for me- eating corn chips.

  22. My only concern with rice noodles and Vietnamese pho — which I love, btw — is that the meat that often accompanies the broth and herbs is usually of fairly low quality. I find that to be especially true with beef. It still tastes good, but the texture is just weird. Guess that’s what you get for a $6 bowl.

    1. I think the texture is “weird” in meats used in pho more because of the cuts used than because of the quality. They usually use tougher cuts of beef and slice them paper thin, so you get a little chewiness but not the toughness. I also have never noticed MSG in any of the pho I’ve had.
      We’re lucky here in Denver to have a large concentration of pho shops in a small area, so trying them all and choosing the best shops is pretty easy. Meat and broth quality certainly vary, and some shops use canned or otherwise pre-made broth. But the good ones are immediately evident because of the depth of flavor of the broth with subtle hints of spice and flavorful cuts of meat and a good range of offal options.

  23. Good, I was worried you might want to take my chai away. I always make it myself because I just cant stomach it when it is sweetened.

  24. I’ve never had chai because I heard it has a very large amount of caffeine. I do NOT need caffeine; when I drink coffee, my husband actually whimpers because I get WIRED.

    So, in relation to green tea (which I can drink and then take a nap some days), how much caffeine does it have?

    Anyone? Bueller?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Chai is basically black tea simmered with spices, so it should have as much caffeine as a cup of black tea. I think that amount of caffeine is higher than green tea but lower than coffee.

    2. I find that chai or any black tea seems to be about twice as caffeinated as green tea – that is, I feel the same bit of energy after two cups of green tea as I do after one cup of black. Personally, black teas aren’t enough to really do much – I’ll regularly drink a couple cups in the evening with no ill-effects in terms of energy.

      If you’d like to try it, but are really worried about the caffeine, Celestial Seasonings makes a herbal tea that is, in my opinion, quite good and very similar to a good Chai. It’s called Bengal Spice, and you can buy it online, but also in some grocery stores and pharmacies (I’ve found it in both Canada and the US). It’s plenty sweet for me as is, but I’ve also tried it with a touch of local honey and some cream and it’s fantastic like that too. As an added bonus, the bags are often good for two brews instead of just one if you let it sit a little longer the second time.

      1. I second Bengal Spice. Its delicious with a tiny bit of coconut sugar. Just be very careful with Celestial Seasonings teas…some contain barley malt and are not gluten free. The box will specifically say whether it is gluten free. Their India Spice is also good, if you want caffeine.

    3. I don’t know about in the US (or anywhere else for that matter), but here in Canada a brand called STASH has a chai green tea which I’ve been drinking ever since I started drinking tea – green only – about 4 years ago. I love the smell and it tastes great. I don’t use any milk/cream or sweetener. Never have.

      I don’t drink coffee at all; the first sip I had when I was around 19 turned me off forever and I never felt a need to try it again. I don’t see that changing. I hear people at work saying things like ‘ugh, I need my coffee!!’ and I’m glad I don’t feel that way. Then again these are the same people who eat their weight in pasta for lunch and think plastic ‘fruit snacks’ are good for you! Gross.

  25. I wonder if you would also consider rice paper wraps like from Vietnamese salad rolls as okay once in a while, I prefer those to rice noodles any day.

  26. I so miss my Vegemite (Marmites BETTER cousin) I just don’t know what to put it on now i’ve given up bread…..any suggestions?

    Marmite = Ewwww
    Vegemite = Bliss!

  27. My kid’s grandmother is Australian so they’re huge fans of vegimite. I’ll be checking out how to make it myself! Thanks!

  28. I make a rooibos chai from Numi teas. Has good flavor, no caffeine and tastes great with a big slug of coconut milk.

    1. Trader Joe’s has a Rooibos Chai too. Apparently, Rooibos is a good source of magnesium.

  29. I’ve been Primal for almost 3 years, and still enjoy a couple slices of sourdough with some Vegemite (Australia’a ‘Marmite) on a Sunday morning… Hit’s the spot!

  30. Instead of coffee, I drink chai tea every morning–Tazo brand at the supermarket–just add a dash of half & half–no sugar needed. Although I am sure coconut milk would be delicious.

  31. Marmite-disgusting. Definitely the poor mans vegemite.

    Vegemite on the other hand is amazing. I dont eat bread so i have it on carrot or celery sticks or just straight off the knife. It also goes really well with cheese, hence the invention of cheesymite scrolls.

  32. I eat my pho without noodles all the time… Most Vietnamese restaurants where I’m from will substitute vegetables for no extra charge. However, there is lots of sugar in the broth and it’s not typically made to order so sugar is unavoidable. Plus if you put hoisin that’s even more sugar!

  33. OH GOD I MISS VEGEMITE… all Primal Aussies must… surely… I am totally putting it on my scrambled eggs tomorrow… and perhaps use a nice chedder cheese as a cracker and eat that… not ALL the time, but sometimes… and yes I have had vegemite in a cup of hot water too on a cold winters day. My nanna used to call that “bonox” which I think is some kind of nasty beef flavouring you add to stews etc. I LOVE anything that stimulates the umami part of my tongue! YUMMO! Instead of a sweet tooth I have always had a umami tooth!

  34. I guess for people who must have bread but don’t need gluten, a sourdough rye bread could be an option.Rye contains much weaker gluten in smaller amounts than wheat. Mark, do you want me to send you some bread I make for my husband? I ferment it up to 5 days.It is rather sour, but very tasty. I think in a future I will try to add some fermented buckwheat kernels there.

  35. I love Marmite too Kitty! And Marmite loves me back. I’m not primal yet so I still have mine on toast that is slathered with butter (because that part is primal).

    1. I haven’t had toast since I went Primal in May but I remember with fondness Marmite on toast with a sh*t load of butter – hot so it was all melting together. Mmmmm…

      1. And Marmite and Ready Salted potato chip sandwiches. Oh, heaven! 😀

  36. Vegemite fan here – In the past it used to be Vegemite, loads of butter on Vogel’s bread for breakfast…. MMMMMMM. Or under poached eggs on Vogels. Every New Zealander must love Vogels…

    I make up the school lunches now with vegemite on celery – delicious.

    I will never forget when I was in my 20’s and living in San Diego I brought a jar from NZ with me. I don’t know how many people said “Oh Yum Chocolate spread” and dipped their finger in it (of course I wouldn’t say anything!)

    Oh the faces they made were so funny!! “Whos put salt in the chocolate spread!!” hilarious…

    1. Yeah, cold Vogels with a ton of butter and Marmite. No foolin’ salivating this minute.

  37. Mmmm, the marmite. We love it in South Africa too. Since going Primal, I sometimes eat a little either spread on cucumber slices or straight off the spoon! And now that I live in India, chai is something I allow myself only very rarely. Of course I make it at home, but it has a lot of milk and some sugar, and needs both. I am going to try a coconut milk version to see how it tastes. But it’s not chai if it’s not a little bit sweet….

  38. I always order my pho with steamed veggies (usually a mix of broccoli, carrots, celery, mushrooms, etc) instead of noodles – this was at the suggestion of the server at the place I normally go. That way, I avoid the noodles but it’s a little more substantial than just the meat and broth. Yum….

  39. Marmite is a big thing in South Africa too, was quite surprised to see it in this mail. It’s def something you have to know from childhood… one of their ad campaigns is ‘You either love it, or you hate it’ so true!

  40. Oh no – I’ve been primal for well over a year without a single craving for any bread at all. Just dropped it all from meal one, and have never looked back. But the thought of real marmite (none of the imitation vegemite that’s popular here in New Zealand …)on hot toast had me nearly drooling!

    I’ve already dug the jar out the back of the pantry and made a massive mug to drink! And i’m reading through all the comments for other suggestions. I alsays used to love it on toast with cheese, so the cheese option sounds good. It’s also great with mashed avos (also on toast!), so I’ll also give it a whirl on celery – it’ll make a change from pate for my work mates who are always interested in the ‘weird and wonderfull’ things I bring in my lunchbox!

    One of the best things that I’ve ever had marmite with was Victoria sponge cake – not sure quite how I can replicate that! I don’t want to go down the gluten alternative baking road as I’ve still got a fair bit of weight to drop and don’t want to get hooked on too many treats, especially as I don’t crave them at all. Any suggestions?????

  41. I grew up on Vegemite, but after all those emails doing the rounds a few years back about evil glutamates in yeast extract, it’s been relegated to the “non-Primal” shelf along with the stock cubes. I thought it was as bad as MSG and all the other flavour enhancers. Isn’t it?

  42. “I’ll sometimes feel a bit spacey, as if I’ve been drugged (not in a good way, either)”

    lolol i love this blog!

  43. Every time I hear about a tea one should drink everyday, I hear about Green Tea. Why don’t I ever hear more about White or Black?

    Or am I just not looking hard enough? lol.

  44. MARK! Thank you so much for demystifying chai for me. I’m pretty sure I’m not being very authentic, but my version with only cinnamon, nutmeg, and anise tastes pretty amazing to me. Can’t wait to experiment with all the other spices.

  45. I’m a fan of Pho myself, I just order it with half the noodles to cut back on the carb load. Usually only when I’m hurting for energy after a particularly brutal workout, it makes a very nice treat.

  46. I brew crio bru (a choffy clone) with coffee. I boil the crio bru then pour into a french press with a little coffee. Comes out good. The crio bru leaves an oily residue on my pot that is difficult to remove without strong detergent. I suppose there are some healthy things in that oil. Also, you can consume the crio bru grounds. They sort of taste like chocolate chips in a smoothie.

  47. I read that “Drew’s salad dressing” was approved for the Paleo diet, however, some of the ingredients on some of the dressings include things like canola oil, distilled corn vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and red wine vinegar.
    I thought all of these ingredients were no no’s on the Paleo diet.

  48. Just tried Marmite on buttery scrambled eggs. Awesome! Thanks for the idea.

  49. pho is a great comfort food for winter!

    i do agree that most of the restaurants don’t serve it w/ enough fat but too much noodle. so i only eat half of the noodle.

    Chris Kresser just did an article on arsenic in rice.
    brown rice has a lot more. & white rice is relatively benign

    i read it somewhere in UK or AU?
    a young man who does not eat real food. (the only stuff he eats is bread, Marmite & some various junk). then became severely malnutritioned.


  50. Primal Marmite usage:
    1). Marmite roasted nuts: I use almonds. 1 tbs marmite, 1/2 tsp olive oil, 1-1 1/2 cups nuts. Mix so all nuts have sticky marmite coating, bake at 150C / 330F for about 20mins. Cool & try not to eat all at once.
    2). Marmite spread on cheddar (who needs biscuits).
    3). Flavour stews & casseroles.

  51. I’m an Aussie kid (well still am to some degree) and I love vegemite, but have given it up in the transition to Primal. My husband is from South Africa and couldn’t stomach it, despite living in Australia for most of his life.

    You’re right Mark it’s a taste that is definitely acquired and isn’t gluten free either!

  52. I don’t know if you’ll ever get down to this comment, mark, but a couple of things.
    1. Those choffy beans are going to contain anti-nutrients unless they are fermented as chocolate is supposed to be.
    2. Sourdough can easily be made using a wild starter. You just have to feed it everyday. Also, it is true that people with gluten sensitivity can be asymptomatic, but that number goes way down once you start avoiding it and eating a more paleo/scd/GAPS type diet because your body has a chance to object. If you didn’t react to it, it probably didn’t do anything other than maybe feed some yeast, which you probably have under control by now. Wheat can be a part of a healthy diet as long as it is properly prepared (and so is your body), just like anything else. You wouldn’t eat the hull of a wheat berry, but you wouldn’t eat the fur on a deer, either.

  53. Oooh, I love both of those. Which would you be more comfortable in? I know that you love wearing tights and those types of tops, however the maxi would be really summery!

  54. drinking tea made of dried “rose petals I think (in Malay language, “mawar” ) and cinnamon cn be good for women health