Does this feel like an infomercial to you?
Yesterday morning I accidentally poured coffee in my oatmeal. This morning I accidentally turned off my alarm instead of snoozing it. Sometimes you just need a little somethin’ to turn your day around. I’ve got news, friends:
Caffeine will always be there for you.
Caffeine, and coffee in particular, are actually pretty good for ya. As I mentioned the other day, that’s basically all that the media gleaned from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. To quote:
“…Consistent evidence indicates that coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adults. Moreover, moderate evidence shows a protective association between caffeine intake and risk of Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, moderate coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern, along with other healthful behaviors.”
My first patient this morning asked me “Is coffee bad for you?” and right as I was about to sing “NO COFFEE IS THE MOST CONSISTENTLY POSITIVE THING IN MY LIFE!!” I stopped myself and instead asked “Well, what do you put in your coffee?” Turns out it was a caramel latte. Turns out that’s not so good. This was not lost in the DGAC recs, as the above quote continues on to say:
“However, it should be noted that coffee as it is normally consumed can contain added calories from cream, milk, and added sugars. Care should be taken to minimize the amount of calories from added sugars and high-fat dairy or dairy substitutes added to coffee.”
I take my coffee black (most of the time), and relish in the bitter pleasure of a good dark roast (most of the time), but other times, I want a little sweetness to my coffee. Enter: the flavored coffee bean!!
Flavored beans versus flavored syrup can elevate a regular cuppa joe from boring to magnificent, while cutting out the calories that something like the aforementioned caramel latte has (btw: it’s 290 for the smallest size..eek). Best of all, most coffee shops don’t offer flavored beans so you’re forced to brew it at home! Voila – you just saved 15 minutes and $2 x all the days you stop for coffee. I’ve rounded up my favorites:
- HEB Houston Blend – toasted coconut, pecan praline flavors
- Dunkin’ Donuts Hazlenut – classic New England
- Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters Toasted Coconut Cream – very localized to Western Mass, but an incredible flavor
- Pumpkin Spice, whoever is selling it during the fall – call me basic. Whatever.
- PJ’s Coffee Southern Wedding Cake – New Orleans classic!
- Cool Brew Toasted Almond – I am proud to have worked my way back to a geographical area where I can purchase this sweet nectar of the gods regularly. I am not being dramatic, this is for real.
Now, these coffees aren’t actually sweet – there is no sugar in the beans – but the flavors are what we think of as “sweet flavors”. Add a splash of 1%, skim, or almond milk and you’re good to go!
Now, if you really are a sweet person and the flavor alone won’t cut it for you, here are some tips:
- Order a cappuchino instead of a latte – a cappuchino has more foam (aka AIR) than a latte, which has more milk. This amounts to a calorie savings of anywhere from 40 in a 12-oz to 60 in a 20-oz beverage if skim milk is used, and even greater savings with higher-fat milks.
- Choose your milk wisely – Skim > 1% > 2% > Whole milk. Alternative milks like Almond, soy, etc. are often available if you just ask. Some places (Dunkin’) use sweetened almond milk, so be conscious of that as you choose how to flavor your beverage – if it’s already going to be sweet do you need the sugary syrup?
- Sugarfree syrups can be your friend – many flavored syrups come in sugarfree versions, so try it as a way to reduce calories if you don’t mind artificial sweeteners.
- Be annoying and CUSTOMIZE – 1/2 the syrup is actually SAVING the barista trouble, plus you won’t have that sickly sweet sludge at the bottom of your cup. One pump of syrup contains 5g of sugar, or 20 calories. With 3 pumps in a small coffee, 4 in a medium, and 5 in a large; that can add up quickly!
- Say no to the whip – I am not referring to 50 Shades of Grey, weirdos. Whipped cream is not an every day food item, there is no way around it. Save it for your celebratory ice cream sundaes and a nice hot chocolate after a chilly day of skiing.
Until next time folks! If you need me you can find me pacing in circles in my office.