© 2013 jen

It’s Time To Cut The Crap – Creamer, Thickeners & Weird Ingredients

For the longest time I was super excited about coconut milk, the variety that comes in a box similar to rice milk and soy milk . You know, the stuff in the tall rectangular box?

That is, until one day I happened to look at the ingredients and was instantly freaked out. I’m usually a strict label reader, but somehow this made it past my radar.

Here’s the ingredients list on my beloved coconut milk:

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The ingredient that I’m the least interested in consuming is carrageenan. Carrageenan is a seaweed and is used as a food stabilizer in milk-like products and in meat, because it binds things together. It’s used in ice cream and it’s used in many products labeled organic.

The reason I’m concerned about the consumption of carrageenan is that there are many studies showing that it causes inflammation and is hard on the digestive tract. There is strong speculation that carrageenan causes the body’s natural immune response, which triggers inflammation. Inflammation is one of the surest ways to invite disease into your body.

I got this milk at Trader Joe’s. It says organic, WTF! So even if your food comes from a store that offers better foods, even if the title of “Organic” is placed on this item, it doesn’t mean it’s truly a healthy food choice.

It seems completely bizarre that a food can be labeled organic and have 11 ingredients in it. I’m calling straight-up bullshit on this. This is not an organic product.

It seems as though as long as the ingredient is something that can be made in nature, it can be labeled organic, even if that food isn’t good for you and has no nutritional value. It’s just there to thicken things up (which it will do in your body too, in the form of inflammation).

That’s why I’ve started making my own creamer for my coffee and frankly, it’s better tasting and way better quality than what I was using before.

So now I’m using a different coconut milk. It’s still called coconut milk on the package, but it’s the canned stuff that you’d buy if you were making a curry sauce or something. They have an organic version of the canned coconut milk, which is what I’m using today.

Be careful with Thai Kitchen brand, which is the most widely available coconut milk in stores. I bought that brand last week and then another can this week, same brand, both organic and this one has guar gum in it! Ick. I used it anyway, because I hate to waste food, but I’ll be checking the labels more closely and making sure not to get the variety that has the add thickener. Even with the guar gum the coconut milk I’m using has way less additives.

So why would I choose coconut milk in the first place? There are a lot of reasons I like coconut milk, but the biggest is that coconut anything is seriously good for you. It’s basically a superfood. I also picked it because it’s thicker than rice milk and it’s not a GMO crop like soy, which is also a high allergen food.

Did you know that soy, which is often used as a healthy alternative for many dairy-sensitive people, is also a high-sensitivity food? Well, it is!

Did you know that if you’re eating soy products that don’t say organic on the package, the chances are that it is a GMO product? Even if it is organic, there are huge concerns about soy including increased estrogen and even carcinogenic problems. If I have a choice, I avoid all soy products.

Almond milk is great, but one thing I’ve recently learned is that all almonds are irradiated, which means they are exposed to radiation. Almonds are the only nut treated this way and it seems to have something to do with people becoming sick from salmonella at some point in the last 10-20 years from a bad batch of almonds and now the solution is to “sterilize” them with radiation.  So even if you make your own almond milk, the almonds you can find in the stores are sterilized and aren’t truly a raw ingredient. Unless you’re ordering from a raw almond farmer, you cannot find an almond in the U.S. that is pure.

Seriously folks, it’s nuts out there – bad pun.

Here’s one more thing I didn’t know. If you’re drinking Starbucks Frappucinos, which was a guilty pleasure my son and I used to drink on a rare occasion, they have WHEAT in them!

I never thought to ask in the past, assuming there wasn’t wheat in there, but there is. No wonder I always felt so crappy after drinking them. If you’re not a celiac like me and you don’t have any wheat sensitivities, then you’re probably fine drinking them.

The more I learn about the food in the U.S. the more I just want to make and only eat what I make.

So on to why coconut milk is rad. Here are some health benefits to coconut milk.

I searched the internet looking for something that would be an all-in-one creamer and sweetener, but I wanted to do it as naturally as possible. I was surprised when I looked online at what I found. The vast majority of the coconut creamers had some sort of thickener in them like xanthan gum, which is a corn-based product. If you are someone with food sensitivities, finding ways to reduce your corn intake can be quite helpful, so I’m not excited about xanthan gum.

The other thing which confused me about adding thickeners to canned coconut milk is that the canned stuff is a combination of the milk and cream of the coconut, so my thought was, it should be thick enough without adding a thickener. So I tried it and I have to say, it’s simple and delicious and it’s plenty thick enough without needing any thickeners.

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Here’s my simple healthy coconut milk creamer recipe:  

The Raddest Coconut Creamer Ever
Serves 2
This coconut creamer is so good it will make you wanna smack yo' mama, or whoever is standing near you + it has no added sugar other than the sugar from the date paste.
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 9 medjool dates (remove the pits)
  2. 1/2 cup of water
  3. 1 can of organic coconut milk
  4. 1 tsp of cinnamon
  5. 1 tsp of nutmeg
  6. 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  7. 1 tsp of salt
Instructions
  1. Put dates (pits removed) in a Vitamix or other blender, add water and blend to create a date paste. Throw in all the other ingredients into your Vitamix or blender, blend. Enjoy.
Notes
  1. This lasts for at least a week in the fridge. I make mine up weekly and on occasion I make enough for 10 or 11 days. It stays fresh the entire time.
  2. * Please note: this makes 2 cups. My recipe template won't let me input cups in the servings field.
Jen Neitzel http://www.jenneitzel.com/wordpress/

Last weekend I went to the coast with friends and brought some of my coconut creamer with me to breakfast because I’m still a bit sensitive to dairy, but also still a coffee addict.

There was one other person at the table with food sensitivities that I offered my creamer to. Within a few minutes she was raving about the creamer, so her boyfriend tried it and loved it. Then another friend tried it and loved it and it started this healthy curiosity for my coconut creamer.

By the end of the meal everyone who was drinking coffee was using my creamer and saying how delicious it tasted. The majority of them have no food sensitivities and yet they preferred my coconut creamer, saying it was just perfect – not too sweet, but still thick and creamy with no additional additives or preservatives.

Finally, a creamer that is simple and really, really good for you!  Now go forth to make and share this creamer recipe. I think you’ll just love it.  

Comments

comments

3 Comments

  1. Posted July 8, 2013 at 8:53 pm | #

    Awesome!!!! I love iced coffee with creamer but try to limit it in my life. I am going have to try this. I have never done anything with a date before but you have made this sound so awesome!!!

    • Posted July 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm | #

      Hi Kerry, I’m late replying to you. Did you get a chance to make the creamer? Hope you liked it! Take care!

  2. Cindy
    Posted September 17, 2013 at 12:55 pm | #

    thanks for the recipe- I’m going to try it this morning.

    A suggestion for coconut milk, try to find Aroy-D in the carton (those foil-lined tetrapak style, although bigger). Aroy-D in a carton is 100% coconut milk and I’ve found far cheaper than in a can. Because I use coconut milk a lot, I don’t find this size too big. I do transfer to a mason jar to keep it sealed in the fridge.
    Unfortunately, my supermarket doesn’t carry it any longer but perhaps you will find where you live. Grocers that carry international food often have a larger choice of coconut milk brands.

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