Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Skinny Up Your Coffee Drink - Without Anything Artificial!

It's almost springtime and winter is almost over. I'm counting down the days until March 21st, the official start of spring.  One thing I love whether the weather is cold or warm is coffee. Mmmm. Nothing is better than a warm (or cold) cup of joe.  Unfortunately, our favorite coffee drinks can pack quite the calorie punch once you factor in syrup, milk, whipped cream, cocoa... making our typical brew brimming with antioxidants, less than ideal. Many local retailers, Starbucks in particular, will give you the option of ordering your drink "skinny" to cut down on the calories.

It's a catch, though."Skinny" typically means sugar-free syrup will be substituted for regular syrup, removing a significant portion of the calories.  Artificial sweeteners, which also go by the name sugar substitutes, are used in foods/drinks to replace sugar. They are often much sweeter than sugar, so less can be used for the same desired sweetness.  Sugar provides 4 calories per gram, while artificial sugars provide 0 calories per gram.  The use of artificial sweeteners is regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration and they are generally recognized as safe.

However, the safety of artificial sweeteners in humans is hotly debated. Saccharin and aspartame have been found to cause cancer in animal models, but in far larger doses than a human would consume.  Some observational studies have shown an increase in cancer risk in humans, although this could be attributed to another confounding variable within that population group.  More recent research has shown that diet soda drinkers weigh more and consume more calories throughout the day than their regular soda counterparts - crazy, right?

Part of nutrition is sorting through research studies, propaganda and fear mongering. My personal take is that I would rather consume small amounts of sugar in its natural state; there just isn't enough evidence proving that the risks outweigh the benefits for me to personally get behind it. Maybe you feel similarly, but aren't sure how to skinny up your drink any other way.  I choose to skinny up my drinks and recipes without any artificial sweeteners.  Are you in the same boat?  I'll give you all my tricks, so let's get started, shall we....

Downgrade the size 
  • If you aren't willing to make any changes in the composition of your favorite coffee drink, you can cut out calories from fat and sugar, simply by decreasing the size. I know, I know, it's kind of common sense - but it's true. 
Put it into action: 
  • For example, a venti cafe mocha clocks in at 450 calories, 18 grams of fat while a tall provides 290 calories and 13 grams of fat. 

Get rid of "extras"
  • Say goodbye to whipped cream and full-fat milk. Can't give up whipped cream entirely? Ask for a small amount.
Put it into action:
  • Remember, the cafe mocha above? Let's order a non-fat grande mocha, with no whipped cream. Our drink now clocks in at 250 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. That's less fat and calories in the skinnied up grande, than in a regular tall. 

Add ice
  • Spring is on the way and it's getting warmer out, so why not add ice? Ice displaces some of the milk in your favorite drink, replacing the calories.
Put it into action: 
  • Order a grande iced nonfat mocha with no whipped cream for 200 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. You've just saved 50 calories. 

Rethink Pumps
  • A venti drink contains 5 pumps of syrup, a grande contains 4 and a tall contains 3. Iced venti drinks contain an extra pump of syrup for a total of 6 pumps and a whole lot of sugar. What about those mixed flavor drinks like a peppermint mocha? Double the syrup, meaning a grande would contain 8 pumps, 4 peppermint and 4 mocha. You can save yourself a lot of calories, without sacrificing taste, simply by reducing the amount of pumps of syrup in your drink. 
Put it into action: 
  • 1 pump of mocha syrup contains 25 calories and 0.5 grams of fat. Regular syrups contain 20 calories and 0 grams of fat. Take your grande iced nonfat no whip mocha and request half the syrup and your drink will now clock in at a very reasonable 150 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. 

Rethink your drink
  • Latte, Misto? What's the difference? Calories. A latte is made up of a shot of espresso and steamed milk, while a misto is coffee with steamed milk. A misto contains more coffee, therefore it has less milk. Honestly, I can barely taste the difference between the two, but there is a difference in calories. Bonus: the misto costs less.  
Put it into action: 
  • Take a grande soy latte for  170 calories, 4.5 grams of fat and compare that to a grande soy miso for 100 calories, 3 grams of fat. 

What's your favorite coffee drink? Let me know in comments and I'll help you make it skinny!  

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