You don’t need your coffee to have the nutritional value of a candy bar to make it more fun. Since I am obsessed with coffee, keeping things interesting and healthy living, I thought I would share some tips.
There are many different types of coffee grounds and they can vary in strength and flavor. Also try playing with the amount of grounds relative to water used to make it stronger/weaker.
Try adding cinnamon, cocoa powder, nutmeg or whatever else you can think of into the coffee grounds. By adding it to the grounds, you add the flavor but don’t have it disrupt the texture of the coffee. Liquid substances such as vanilla extract or anything that dissolves well can be added into the liquid without compromising the texture too much.
I usually go with hot coffee in cold weather and iced coffee in warm weather. I occasionally make a frappuccino by blending iced coffee with ice and whatever other ingredients I want to play with.
Dairy products shouldn’t be too much of a concern as long as you do not have dairy allergies/sensitivities (lactose-intolerant, casein or generalized sensitivity). Be mindful of the saturated fat content in relation to the rest of your diet.
Coffee-Mate and similar products are highly processed, often contain trans fats and are so filled with not-food that in an episode of Myth Busters the powdered form was shown to be flammable. Needless to say, if you are concerned about your health, I’d pass.
Almond milk is a lower calorie alternative to milk. It works well with most flavors and is a healthy non-dairy alternative.*Keep in mind if you are getting sweetened or unsweetened.
Coconut milk is a sweet and flavorful option that is comparable to cream/ half & half.
Soy milk is the highest of the non-dairy options in protein. One downside is that like other unfermented soy products, it can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. In addition, most Soy is genetically modified. Our planet, other species and our bodies are lab rats for GMOs. While it is a very promising technology (if used intelligently and ethically), they have not been extensively researched on both the short-term and long-term effects on our bodies, other species and the environment as a whole. Let alone thoroughly researching the specific modifications that are used in specific plants in specific environments.
Most people use table sugar or artificial sweeteners. Table sugar has a high glycemic index and is empty calories. The safety of artificial sweeteners are heavily debated and there is evidence for and against artificial sweeteners. Personally, I don’t like artificial sweeteners and added sugar is not harmful in moderation. I also tend to be hesitant with artificial sweeteners because I haven’t seen enough evidence to prove it is safe or that is healthier than table sugar at comparable intakes.
- 1 tsp of sugar = 4 g = 16 calories
- Glycemic Index (GI): This is a relative ranking from 0-100 based on how rapidly the carbohydrate converts into sugar and is released into the bloodstream. High glycemic index foods (70+) will result in a more acute spike of blood sugar followed by a crash. Low glycemic index foods (<55) will result in a more gradual release of sugar into the blood stream. This is especially important for diabetics to pay attention to. Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both GI and the amount of carbohydrates consumed. GL = GI x available carbs (grams)/ 100. GI cannot be calculated by looking at the label. Many fruits have high glycemic indexes but are among the healthiest foods in the world..
- Natural Sweeteners: Natural sweeteners generally have more nutritional value and have lower glycemic indexes than table sugars. Examples of these are coconut palm sugar, honey, maple syrup (the real kind), molasses and agave nectar. While these are better than conventional tables sugar, they should still be consumed in moderation.
- Stevia: Stevia is a South American plant that has been used there for centuries. It is a natural sweetener that contains no calories. It does not have the questionable effects on insulin sensitivity, weight management and overall health that artificial sweeteners have. Most stevia-based products are mixed with other sweeteners.