Seriously, though… where is it?

Isn’t creamer supposed to be cream-based, at least to some degree?  In other words, in the essence of the word and assumed consumer purchase, you would think you’re buying a plain or flavored cream for your coffee, right?

Not so with Coffee-mate.

Typically the main ingredient in real food-based creamers is, well, cream…  Coffee-mate uses water and corn syrup solids (very likely being from GMO corn as 90%+ of corn grown in the US is GMO), among other suspect food-like product ingredients.

So I ask, where’s the cream in the creamer?

Coffee-mate is one of many brand options we can choose from when buying a coffee creamer, however, I wanted to cover this particular brand for a few reasons:

  • It’s one of the most popular brands we see everywhere (is it in your fridge right now?).
  • It’s the holiday season and the “holiday editions” of Coffee-mate are all over our super market shelves with pretty/flashy labels provoking our taste buds to buy.
  • and of course, the ingredients (or lack there-of)… this creamer is not food, it’s food-like product.

Let’s take a look at the Coffee-mate ingredients, as well as the healthy Certified Nutrition You Can Trust real food alternatives for some of the flavors.

Coffee-mate - Where's the cream in the creamer

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NOT CERTIFIED Nutrition You Can Trust

Ingredients in “The Original” Coffee-mate:

  • Corn syrup solids:  a Big Food sugar product typically derived from GMO corn.  Contrary to the syrup name, it’s actually a powder. 
  • Partially hydrogenated soy and/or cotton seed oils:  hydrogenation basically turns liquid vegetable oils into a more solid form (think: margarine, a liquid vegetable oil base turned into a solid spread).  Partially hydrogenated oils yield trans fats in the manufacturing process, and trans fats have been linked to a plethora of problems.
  • Sodium caseinate:  the one ingredient related to cream as it’s dairy derived, sodium caseinate is the biochemical name for casein, a milk protein.
  • Dipotassium phosphate:  a food additive typically used as a stabilizer when in non-dairy products.
  • Mono- & Di-glycerides:  a food additive that is used as an anti-foaming agent, stabilizer, and emulsifier.  Typically derived from soy.  Soy is ~95% grown GMO in the US.
  • Sodium Aluminosilicate:  an anti-caking additive.
  • Artificial flavor:  man-made artificial chemicals used for just about everything in non-organic Big Food products, but specifically with these creamers, think flavors.  When we look at the different holiday editions vs. the plain “original”, most all ingredients on all labels are identical, but the flavor/taste are wildly different (i.e. sugar cookie, peppermint mocha, pumpkin spice latte, etc.).  So how do you make all of these different, unique flavors, when the ingredients are nearly identical?  That’s these “fake food” artificial flavors at work all labeled under two words on the label itself, “artificial flavor”, so you don’t know exactly what you’re ingesting (same goes for “Natural Flavor” – don’t be tricked by this word on a label, it can be one of many things).
  • Carrageenan:  a food additive that has been shown to cause gut inflammation, among other things.  This blog post covers it in detail.

So…when looking at this list of ingredients above, is this creamer to you?  

Or is this…

Coffee-mate "creamer"

 

Tip for avoiding ingredients like this in other products:

On this Instagram post, I spoke about the “Would you cook with it” rule.  Ingredient labels can be pretty confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking for (don’t feel bad, they’re designed to be deceptive to the consumer), but this simple rule can help decipher food vs. food-like product the majority of the time;

When reading the ingredients on a label, ask yourself:  Would I cook with it?

Here’s an example of what I mean…Let’s apply the question rule to some of the Coffee-mate ingredients:

Corn syrup solids… do you cook with it?  Do you have some of organic corn syrup solids next to the maple syrup?

Partially hydrogenated soybean oil… do you cook with it?  Do you have some with the olive oil and coconut oil in the pantry?

Answers:  Of course not.

So if we can’t buy these individual ingredients in any store anywhere on the planet to cook with… are they likely ideal for our most optimal health, vitality & performance?  

Add the question rule to your health “toolbox” next time you’re at the store.  It’s not an end all be all rule, but it’s a good one to implement.

 

CERTIFIED Nutrition You Can Trust

Now that we covered the food-like product, let’s cover the real food alternatives.

Make your own

Below are real food recipe versions of some of the popular Coffee-mate holiday edition varieties you can try, many of them that provide the specific flavor with calorie-free natural extracts (100x better than the chemical-laden junk we reviewed above).  That said, do not buy the imitation extracts as they have the same kind of chemical-laden junk we’re trying to avoid…each ingredient brand in the recipes below I linked up to the exact same stuff I use.

Coffee-mate-seasonal-flavors

 

Some example Coffee-mate holiday edition creamers

Don’t be fooled by the mouthwatering labels/images… I will give Coffee-mate credit for this, the Nestle marketing and graphic design department is good.  Just imagine you’re at the store right now and you see that above next to a plain ol’ bottle of cream… I even want to eat some of those goodies pictured! (i.e. grab for and put in our carts).

That said, now we know what that image we visually SEE, actually contains as it’s ingredient contents.

So let’s real food remix some of these for more optimal health, shall we?

These coffee creamers below are recipe-friendly:  paleo, vegetarian, vegan (except eggnog & sub any honey for alternative sweetener like maple syrup or coconut sugar), dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and most importantly, made with real food ingredients vs. the chemical-laden stuff.

Creamer Recipe #1 – Pumpkin Chai Spice 

Last year we did a Certified NYCT for a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte and the real food remix recipe is perfect for creamer.

Creamer Recipe #2 – Eggnog

I’ve made a Paleo Eggnog recipe before that doubles great as a creamer for coffee.  When I make this during the holiday season, I use it all the time in my coffee.

Creamer Recipe #3 – Peppermint Mocha

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (see my kitchen notes below regarding dairy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 tablespoon raw, unpasteurized honey
  • optional: 1/2 – 1 tablespoon raw cacao (I mention optional because I actually preferred it without the mocha part, in this case, cacao)

Creamer Recipe #4 – Maple

Creamer Recipe #5 – Gingerbread

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Optional:  above is a basic version, but you can add ground spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and/or allspice to this as an option.

Creamer Recipe #6 – Sugar Cookie

And then for an “Original” recipe, or plain coffee creamer, simply use a coconut milk base with your sweetener of choice.  My go-to everyday kind of creamer is coconut milk, cinnamon and a little coconut sugar with a touch of organic stevia.

links above are brands I personally use as nutrition you can trust

Kitchen Notes for all creamers:

1.  Full disclosure:  they all tasted great except the gingerbread one was OK, and mainly because I’m not a huge gingerbread fan.  Peppermint and Eggnog were definitely my favorite, especially the nog because it’s a two-bird-one-stone recipe you can use as regular eggnog and creamer for your coffee.

2.  You can use dairy cream if you’re not dairy-free.  I personally like to go dairy-free with coconut milk in my coffee.  I get a specific email every once and a while regarding “coffee and stomach being upset” and the first thing I ask is what creamer do you use?  Besides the fact that coffee itself is a gut irritant (that’s what keeps the “train” moving along rather quickly after consuming coffee), the stomach being upset is usually one of two things, dairy, or a food-like product concoction like Coffee-mate where ingredients in it are causing problems (see carrageenan we covered above).  If creamer irritates your stomach, try one of these real food recipe options above, and specifically, rule out if it’s dairy itself by going 1 week with coconut-based creamers and see how your stomach feels.

If you have any questions regarding the real food remixed creamer recipes or Coffeemate-related we covered, please ask below in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer.

Enjoy!

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