The Truth About Flavored Creamer Will Make You Cry in Your Coffee

coffee creamer

The day I saw a friend posting about Coffee-Mate Abuelita® Mexican Chocolate-flavored creamer I knew: I am totally missing out on the coffee creamer game. All this time I've been using whole milk, when I could be enjoying all these FLAVORS! But then I learned the awful truth about making your coffee taste like toasted hazelnut mocha chocolate chip cookies ...

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Holy coffee beans, creamer is LOADED with calories! And not helpful, nutritious calories, either. We looked at several different brands and flavors of nondairy coffee creamers, and most have the following counts per serving:

  • 35 calories
  • 15 calories from fat
  • 5 grams sugar
  • 0 vitamins or minerals

That's per one-tablespoon serving. But let's be real. Who pours in only one tablespoon? To be more true-to-life you'd have to at least double that amount (and that's being kind). So let's reconsider those numbers.

  • 70 calories
  • 30 calories from fat
  • 10 grams sugar
  • Still no nutritional value!

And then there's the scary, unnatural ingredients list. Most creamers contain of the following:

High oleic soybean and/or partially hydrogenated soybean and/or partially hydrogenated cottonseed, sodim caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglycerides, dipotassium phosphate, natural flavor, cellulose gel, cellulose gum, carrageenan.

Yum!

Okay, so that's regular full-sugar, full-fat creamers. What about the alternatives? For example, International Delight Fat-Free and Sugar Free Toasted Hazelnut creamer has the following counts:

  • 15 calories
  • 6 grams of sugar

But check out the ingredients list:

Water, corn syrup, palm oil, contains 2 percent or less of each of the following: Maltodextrin, carrageenan, sucralose, cellulose gel, cellulose gum, mono and diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, salt, dipotassium phosphate, sodium caseinate (a milk derivative), acesulfame potassium, natural and artificial flavors, artificial color.

We were alerted to the pitfalls of flavored coffee creamer by the Eat This! Not That. They recommend swapping your favorite coffee creamer with equal parts condensed milk and low-fat milk with flavored extracts (like vanilla or almond) and maybe a bit of natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup.

You do avoid all the artificial crap with that recipe. But guess what? Assuming you combine the condensed milk with two-percent milk and leave out the honey or syrup, you're still looking at similar counts:

  • 68 calories
  • 16 calories from fat
  • 11 grams of sugar

Not much of an improvement! Maybe they meant to say evaporated milk, not condensed, which is almost always sweetened.

You may do better using coconut milk. Take So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer:

  • 20 calories
  • 0 calories from fat
  • 2 grams sugar

The main ingredient is organic coconut milk, with organic dried cane juice and just a couple other funky additives (titanium dioxide, dipotassium phosphate, and carrageenan) thrown into the mix. For that matter, you could just use straight coconut milk and maybe some honey.

Should I mention the Bulletproof coffee trend? One tablespoon each of coconut oil and grass-fed butter has a whopping 220 calories and 26 grams of fat -- but no sugar or funky ingredients.

And finally, there's my personal favorite: Plain ol' ordinary whole milk. Two tablespoons will get you about:

  • 18 calories
  • 9 calories from fat
  • 1.5 grams of sugar

Plus some essential vitamins and minerals.

We asked Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and author of What to Eat, what she thinks about creamer. "I think it tastes artificial, which is not surprising since it is. I much prefer milk." I agree with her. But if it's not sweet enough for you, heat your milk to about 150 to 160 degrees to caramelize its natural sugars into sweet deliciousness.

What do you usually put in your coffee?

 

Image via kazoka/Shutterstock

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