Monday, June 2, 2014

Coffee Talk | Day 2 | No Sugar Challenge

Did you survive day 1? Are you still speaking to me? The first week is the most challenging. For one thing, EVERYTHING seems to have sugar in it. And, just when you have bravely made up your mind to stay away from sugar, something crazy happens like you have to decorate 140 cupcakes and remember not to lick the frosting off your fingers (spoken from experience). Just keep on trucking. If you hit a snag, pick yourself up off the floor and move on. 

The biggest concern that I heard about yesterday was the fear of losing your sweet date with Mr. Joe. You know, that tall, dark, and yummy, make-your-heart-beat-faster, coffee date. I hear your concern. I agree, this was my toughest battle! The coffee is not the problem. It is what we put in it that is the real issue. We are aiming to stay away from sugar & artificial sweeteners and it would seem that life just simply will not be the same without coffee just the way we like it. I encourage you to open your mind to the possibility of learning a new way to enjoy your coffee. 

In The No Sugar Challenge post, I talked about how, in effort to eliminate the use of Splenda, I opted to brew flavored coffee, and add a splash of half & half. Please recognize, that flavored coffee beans are very different than going to a coffee shop and ordering a flavored coffee (French Vanilla, Irish Cream, etc.). The baristas use flavored syrups that are sugar or sugar alternative based. This will not help you on your No Sugar Challenge.
In the case of flavored coffee beans (grounds), the beans have been flavored during the drying process with a very small amount of oil (somewhere around 3%) that allows the flavor to penetrate the porous exterior of the bean. This translates to a negligible amount of nutrient difference, but it offers a great flavor boost. Some great brands to try are New England Coffee (hazelnut, blueberry, French vanilla), Eight o'Clock (French vanilla, caramel macchiato, hazelnut). Additionally, Panera Bread restaurant serves hazelnut coffee in brew form (not a flavored syrup), however, the other flavors are via syrup. It is important that you ask the barista/restaurant if their flavored coffee is brewed flavor or syrup based. 

The next thing to consider is your cream choice. Some folks are good with straight up black coffee. They are my heroes. :-) For the rest of us, cream or some form of milk is used to round out the sharp, bitter flavor that straight brewed coffee has. The Virginia Cooperative Extension did a side by side comparison of non-dairy creamers, half & half and skim milk. Hands down, nutritionally speaking, skim milk won, due to the decreased fat and calories, however, for most people that will not offer enough body to make their coffee experience enjoyable. Let's go back to the non-dairy creamer for a moment. Both the liquid and the powdered form have some concerning ingredients that put them on our "no-no" list.

Liquid Non-Dairy Creamer has Water, Corn Syrup, Soybean & Cottonseed Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sodium Caseinate (A Milk Derivative), Dipotassium Phosphate, Mon-& Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate. Not A Source Of Lactose

Powdered Non-Dairy Creamer has Corn Syrup SolidsPartially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Sodium Caseinate (A Milk Derivative), Dipotassium Phosphate, Mono- And Diglycerides, Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Flavor, Artificial Color. Allergy Warning: Contains Milk And Soy.

So you can see the trouble that this could cause, as one of the main ingredients is corn syrup (or solids), and in the case of the powdered, partially hydrogenated soybean oil is a nasty form of trans fat that we need to avoid like the plague.

Another option you may want to consider is unsweetened vanilla almond milk, however, it is important to read labels, as some varieties contain added thickeners and hidden sugar. Silk brand unsweetened vanilla is the most clean variety, so give it a go. 

A final thought on half & half. If you are eating mostly vegetables, fruit, lean protein and healthy carbs, the added fat from a tablespoon or 2 of half & half will not be too dangerous to your weight loss/ health goals. That being said, carefully monitoring all other areas, and keeping your consumption within recommended serving size should be a safe way to enjoy your morning coffee date. 

If you are adventurous, try adding a shake of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg or a dash of vanilla extract directly to your coffee grinds for brewing. It will give a warm, yummy aroma with added flavor. If you simply cannot handle zero sweetener, you may want to drop a dried, pitted, unsweetened date in the bottom of your coffee cup, allow it to sit for 2-3 min and remove it (it begins to break up). Dates have a caramel flavor that is very yummy, totally natural, and may add just the right amount of sweetener for you!

So, you and Mr. Joe are happily reunited, on to a more healthy future, and will be off to conquer the world...



  1. I thought I was doing a good thing by using agave nectar, but I read an article last week that said it's no better than corn syrup, because of the way it's processed. I switched from honey, because the honey taste tainted the coffee flavor. Using less & less nectar now, but I always use 1/2 & 1/2 as the creamer.

    1. I have read the same thing about agave, so it isn't something that I turn to. As far as honey goes, when I'm not doing a sugar fast, I use it on other items, but have not acquired a taste for it in coffee...