Delicious and Unprocessed: Flavored Coffee Creamer
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Coffee with Homemade Creamer

I’m taking a break from writing about sourdough today to talk about something that’s equally important in life.  Coffee.  I know that many of you love it as much as I do.  And in addition to coffee, I bet lots of you are addicted to those flavored creamers.  I’m not judging – I used to be a fan of the hazelnut variety myself.  But those colorful plastic bottles that promise to turn your cup of coffee into a candy bar are trouble – especially if you’re one of the 2000+ participating in October Unprocessed this month.  Have you looked at the list of ingredients?  Notice how “cream” is not one of them?  If you haven’t bothered to look for yourself, here’s what you can expect to find:

WATER, SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN AND/OR COTTONSEED OIL, AND LESS THAN 2% OF SODIUM CASEINATE (A MILK DERIVATIVE)**, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, COLOR ADDED, CELLULOSE GEL, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, CELLULOSE GUM, CARRAGEENAN, DEXTROSE.

Gross.  Seriously, don’t put that in your body anymore.  Instead, head over to Deliciously Organic and learn how to make flavored coffee creamers that contain real ingredients.

I decided to celebrate the kickoff of October Unprocessed by making myself a batch of Carrie’s Cinnamon Streusel Creamer.  Except instead of cinnamon, I used pumpkin pie spice.  It started out as an accident when I grabbed the wrong bottle out of the pantry, but it seemed like a good idea so I went with it.  Wow.  I had to stop myself from pouring a glass of it and drinking it straight.  I wasn’t sure how I would like the maple syrup as a sweetener in my coffee, but it works.  I mean it really works.

So, here I am drinking an afternoon cup of coffee that’s creamy and spicy and lightly sweetened.  I really shouldn’t be drinking coffee, but I’m doing it anyway.  I kicked the habit for a few months, but my trip up to Oregon kind of messed that up.  I could make a million excuses and tell you that I plan to cut it out of my life again, but instead I’m just going to enjoy this cup and hopefully slowly cut back until it becomes an occasional pleasure instead of an everyday indulgence.

When I decided to take control of my health and make dietary changes in order to get a handle on my reactive hypoglycemia, I wasn’t sure which would be the hardest thing to give up.  Sugar?  Bread?  Alcohol?  I was dreading trying to live without those things for even a few months.  But it turned out that I didn’t have much problem giving any of those up.  After a couple of weeks without sugar, I lost those cravings completely.  Giving up alcohol helped improve my sleep so much, I didn’t have any desire to cave and have a glass of wine in the evening.  Giving up bread, pasta, and other grains wasn’t too bad either.  I found myself eating way more vegetables than I ever did before and it forced me to be more creative with meals.  I was eating better than ever.

But there was one thing that I really struggled with giving up.  Coffee.  And unfortunately, caffeine was causing some major problems for me.  After cutting out all of the other things that were screwing with my blood sugar and wreaking havoc in my life, it became very apparent that caffeine was nothing but trouble for me.

I’ve always been hyper-sensitive to caffeine – a couple sips of coffee and I’m ready to take over the world!  I’ve been drinking coffee pretty much daily since my late teens, but unlike some people, I’ve never developed any kind of tolerance for it.  And that’s part of what I love so much about it.  One sip and I’m bursting with ideas and I feel like I can do anything.  The last five years of this blog were completely fueled by caffeine.  But as you all know, what goes up must come down.  When I come down from a caffeine high, it’s pretty much a crash and burn.  And it can get ugly.  So although it was rough and took longer than some of the other changes, I did completely give up coffee and all other forms of caffeine for a few months.

If you noticed that I pretty much stopped writing during the summer, it was because I found it nearly impossible to do so without drinking coffee.  Physically, I felt good.  My crazy mood swings had mostly disappeared and I was slowly feeling like I had control of my life again.  But I couldn’t seem to find the kind of inspiration that had once led me to these pages to write.  I wasn’t really creating recipes either.  Instead of constantly worrying and stressing about it, I decided to let it go and focus on my health for a while.

I spent three months reading and researching and experimenting with my diet.  I gradually shifted from an extremely low carb diet to a more traditional diet rich in whole foods.  This was always the plan and I learned a lot by eliminating so much and slowly adding certain things back in.  I didn’t mean to bring back any caffeine, but it happened.  And when I started drinking coffee again, I was able to start writing again.  Since I’ve made so many positive changes in my life, I’m not going to dwell on the fact that caffeine is back.  It does affect me negatively, but at this point I think the positives outweigh the negatives.

Lots of other things besides coffee snuck back into my diet last month.  It tends to happen when I travel.  That’s why I’m so excited to be participating in October Unprocessed this month – I think this will be the perfect way for me to reset and get back on track.  My plan is to completely avoid eating out this month (except for the weekend when I’ll be attending my cousin’s wedding in SLO) and I’m going to be sharing as many things as I can from my kitchen.  Even if you didn’t sign the October Unprocessed pledge, I hope you’ll find some inspiration here to think a little harder about the foods you choose to eat.  Awareness leads to small changes and small changes can change your life.

 

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19 Comments
  1. Sarah

    I have really been thinking of doing this. For Christmas morning, every year we make blueberry french toast. It calls for hazelnut coffee creamer. Usually, we buy the stuff from the store. But we always have some left over and it never gets used up. I’m going to make my own by toasting the hazelnuts and then steeping them in the warm milk and cream. Then I can make just the amount I need too. :)

    5:02 pm  Oct 1st, 2011
  2. Allison @Decadent Philistines Save the World

    I just recently weaned myself off of supermarket creamers. For more years than I’d like to admit, I indulged in the French vanilla every morning. But that ingredient list – YUCK!
    I tried using dulce de leche, but the problem with that is that it’s delicious on EVERYTHING, so it lasted like two days.
    Finally I bought a pint of cream from our local dairy, spooned in some vanilla sugar, and what do you know – it’s delish!
    Now I can manage non-vanilla sugar, but I’m glad to have found this link; I’d kind of like to play around to get that vanilla flavor (and others) that I love so much. Thanks for posting! Good luck this month!

    5:08 pm  Oct 1st, 2011
  3. Diana@Spain-In-Iowa

    I’m excited to follow along with you on October Unprocessed. It was great reading about your story in how you’ve changed your diet. Coffee is just one those things that I just can’t imagine giving up. I love it, lol. However, I have noticed recently I’ve been drinking more than what I used to. I went from one cup to 2… sometimes 3 when deadlines crept up. Yeah, this may be a good month for me to slow down. Back to coffee, I remember when Carrie posted about her homemade creamer. Seems like a good time to give it a try, but I’m definitely going to try it with pumpkin spice and try to keep my intake to one cup a day :)

    5:24 pm  Oct 1st, 2011
  4. Kalyn

    I’ve always used half and half in my coffee, but recently I started mixing it with light vanilla soy milk for a lot less fat. I’ve really gotten used to that and like it a lot now. (And not unprocessed I know, but it works for me.)

    6:01 pm  Oct 1st, 2011
  5. Nisrine

    I dislike creamers because of all the funky ingredients. I try to stick to milk as much as possible.

    6:46 pm  Oct 1st, 2011
  6. Devany Vickery-Davidson

    Good for you Nicole! I really like the flavor of great local Hawaiian coffee, I use just a teeny bit of half and half, but I am trying to start drinking it black for calories sake. I only drink one cup a day and that is usually several hours after I wake up. But when I was in Italy I drank espresso in the evenings and I still do once in a rare while. For a while I was using soy creamer instead of half and half… but they I noticed there were chemicals in it, so I am back to just a little half and half.

    8:03 pm  Oct 1st, 2011
  7. amanda

    confession: i started drinking coffee again about a week and a half ago after FIVE YEARS off! and you know how one little shot of espresso would send my day into a downward spiral. i don’t know if it’s something that has changed in me or if puerto rican coffee is processed differently, but i have been drinking at least 4 to 8 cups a day since i picked the [coffee] pot back up. but i haven’t felt worse for wear… yet.

    9:46 pm  Oct 1st, 2011
  8. AF

    I like your blog, thank you for sharing. Hope your cousin’s wedding won’t throw your plans off balance too much. (SLO – San Louis Obispo or Slovenia?) I can relate to being overly sensitive to caffein, one cup and I’m reeling, so I don’t drink the stuff at all. I love the taste, though.

    3:34 am  Oct 2nd, 2011
  9. Sally

    Over the years I’ve eliminated most of the “bad stuff” from my diet. (I love the “unprocessed” month!) We rarely eat out, I’ve put the kabosh on takeout, I can’t drink more than 1 glass of wine (I go from feeling good to feeling sick, not much in between), and though I have a stomach of steel (no wheat sensitivities, etc.) it doesn’t take much to tip the balance if I overdo it on carbs or sweets. So what’s left? Coffee! I get such terrible headaches when I try to give it up (now there’s a clue to my addiction) and like you, I can’t seem to put one word in front of the other without it, so I now limit myself to 1 latte a day–the milk and the espresso seem to be easier on my system than regular coffee. Sigh. I gave up sugar in my coffee decades ago, but every so often, for a treat in the afternoon, I’ll have some sugar in an iced coffee or a latte, and now this! It looks like it’s worthy of breaking my one cup a day rule.

    4:51 am  Oct 2nd, 2011
  10. Lora

    I gave up caffeine, sugar and alcohol and lost 28 pounds. Although, like you I completely lost my cravings, even for that glass of wine at night he sugar and alcohol slowly crept back in. I have stayed decaffeinated. Reading this post has motivated me to try again. The homemade flavored creamer idea is fabulous idea.

    6:16 am  Oct 2nd, 2011
  11. nancy@skinnykitchen.com

    Thanks for such a great post!

    8:27 am  Oct 2nd, 2011
  12. Amy H.

    What a great post. I mean, making non-processed flavored creamer, yes, great. But what I most appreciated was you sharing the more personal story about why you’re on this food journey. I had no idea, and don’t even remember how I stumbled upon your blog. I signed up for updates because of the recipes. Now I’ll read each post from you with even more interest. Thank you for sharing, Nicole. I selfishly hope you keep at least a little bit of caffeine in your life so you’ll continue to write. Or find another source of writing inspiration. :)

    10:39 am  Oct 2nd, 2011
  13. Kristin

    Oh boy do i LOVE coffee creamer. But yea i hate all those awful ingredients. I’ve always wanted to make my own. So I am definitely going to try out that recipe. But the grocery stores are now selling flavored coffee creamers without all that yuck. you just have to look hard for them. I’ve tried Coffeemate Naturals which are ok. My fav is probably Intl Delight Breve Creme. They only have a few flavor options though and I really want a pumpkin spice version so I’ll try your accident :)

    12:15 pm  Oct 3rd, 2011
  14. Emily

    Wow – had never even considered that I could make my own flavored coffee creamer. I always assumed it was a treat I would have to give up in my quest to live an unprocessed life. Thank you for sharing!

    1:49 pm  Oct 3rd, 2011
  15. Jennifer

    I TOTALLY know what you mean about the coffee thing! I don’t drink coffee on a regular basis, but when I do I am in such a great mood, and I am inspired and energized to do all kinds of crafts and baking projects. I don’t think that is a bad thing…sure is it great to have a nice level mood, but variety is what makes life interesting ; )

    I’m glad you are writing again (even if it is fueled by caffeine : )

    2:23 pm  Oct 10th, 2011
  16. Allison

    I am so excited about this. I have a pretty glass bottle waiting in the cabinet. I would never buy those creamers because they are too fake. Now I can have my own!

    7:19 am  Oct 11th, 2011
  17. Ashleigh

    I love creamer in my coffee. I won’t drink it black, so I WILL try this for sure!! Thanks for sharing!

    8:19 pm  Oct 18th, 2011
  18. Glen

    I dislike creamers in my coffee i prefer them either black or else with milk in them.

    5:09 am  Nov 23rd, 2011
  19. Evelyn Rodriguez

    How to make Puerto Rican coffee
    Ingredients:

    1 / 2 cup water
    2 tablespoons coffee
    2 ounces boiled milk
    1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)

    procedure:

    1. Mix the coffee with water and boil 2 minutes.
    2. Strain the coffee in coffee sock.
    3. In a cup, combine brewed coffee with milk.
    4. Add sugar to taste.

    PuertoRicoCoffeeShop.com
    Choose from our selection of true and delicious coffee from Puerto Rico

    5:10 pm  Feb 10th, 2012
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