Here on the blog (and more importantly, in my life) I am always striving to be better and do better. Not only am I gluten-free right now (and way low carb) I have also eliminated sugar and caffeine from the old diet as well. I never know how long this will last, I try my best, but I am far from perfect — I just think it’s important to try to be as healthy as I can be.
That said, as many of you who have tried my recipes know — I will NEVER sacrifice flavor.
That’s why as we head into summer, I have tried to come up something that will help waylay my cravings for both sweets and iced coffee that is good for me, as well as a suitable and satisfying substitute.
In the past, I’ve tried just ordering decaf and soy and sugar-free flavored iced coffee but while it’s better for me — it’s not GOOD for me. Also, it’s not great for my pocketbook AND I hate the artificial flavor aftertaste, so I usually end up ordering it without additional flavors (vanilla is my fav) or sweetness, which means it still won’t fulfill my sweet tooth.
But yesterday, I believe I found the answer.
Wake up and Smell the Teeccino!
What’s crazy is — it’s been staring me in the face all along. I’ve been drinking a coffee alternative beverage sold at health food stores called Teeccino on and off since 2001, when I managed a Naturopathic practice. Teeccino is awesome hot and I have also enjoyed many times cold, with soy milk and ice, after storing fresh brewed Teeccino in the fridge for a couple hours to cool it down. But I’ve never done what I did with it yesterday.
Why Teeccino is actually GOOD for you!
Coffee, is highly acidic and chock full of caffeine, which can over-stimulate the digestive tract aggravating health problems for people with gastrointestinal conditions like acid reflux, food intolerances and IBS. Teeccino helps to rebalance the negative effects of coffee. It’s beneficial for people with digestive health conditions because it is non-acidic and contains the prebiotic, inulin and inulin is soluble fiber from the chicory root that supports and encourages healthy population of beneficial digestive flora to aid in digestion. As anyone who’s been to New Orleans can tell you chicory is good and true New Orleans style coffee or cafe noir uses brewed chicory and coffee in combo for a depth of flavor that’s out of this world.
It’s also heart healthy, providing two nutrients, potassium and soluble fiber that help prevent strokes, lower high blood pressure and total cholesterol. Whereas the caffeine in coffee, is a central nervous stimulant that makes the heart beat faster and can increase blood pressure and even decaf has been shown raise blood pressure.
It’s also gluten-free — which is wonderful because coffee (decaf or regular), though gluten-free, has been found to cross-react with gluten antibodies producing similar reactions to gluten in people with gluten issues.
I used the French Vanilla Teeccino but it also comes in Hazelnut, Mocha, Chocolate Mint, Pumpkin Spice, Chocolate Raspberry, Almond Amaretto, Southern Pecan, Caramel Nut, Maya Chai and Maya Chocolate. Delish!
Unsweetened Coconut Milk
But I was not quite there yet, while the Teeccino was good, it still wasn’t decadent enough to feel like I was getting my sweet coffee fix and with the inflammatory response of too much soy milk, I decided to make it even better and go coconuts! So I switched out my soy milk for unsweetened coconut milk – good fats that are great for the heart and rich creamy flavor — we’re on the right track.
I like to buy the canned coconut milk, it has that layer of sweet coconut cream on top (great in recipes that call for cream) but it’s also a money saver. You can mix one can of coconut milk to two cans of water (shaking it well to mix ) and triple your coconut milk for the money. This makes the coconut milk the same consistency as the more expensive stuff, sold in aseptics, without all the sugar and other ingredients (natural or otherwise used to preserve it.)
Sweetness is my Weakness
OK, so I need to feed the beast. Some people eschew sugar substitutes as they believe it helps you continue to have a taste for sweet but I believe in baby steps and when you’re stepping away from something, it always help to taper down by using a substitute in the interim.
In the past, when not doing refined sugar, I have substituted honey, agave and maple syrup but since the body sees these as sugar as well (just more slow burning because they’re nutritionally superior) I decided to use my favorite replacement for kicking sugar cravings — Stevia.
Stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, perfect for folks on low carbohydrate diets. I first used Stevia in the early 90′s — back when it could only be found in health food stores in it’s green powdery form and could never be used for baking without becoming bitter. This is still the most whole form, besides the leaf itself but Stevia is also available in many other, more potent forms now. From the commercial brand hybrids (like Truvia — stay away from these) to the refined pure white stevia powders, blends for baking (I haven’t tried yet but hope to soon!) and my favorite, the liquid versions that come with added flavor bonuses, like vanilla.
My favorite brand is Nu Naturals Pure Liquid™ Vanilla Alcohol-Free Stevia™ (you can find it online or at your favorite health food store or section.) It’s made with Singing Dog Vanilla (yummy and also alcohol-free and gluten-free.)
The Real Breakthrough
The real breakthrough came though when I decided to freeze my freshly brewed Teeccino in ice trays in the freezer. Once frozen, I just plunked the Teeccino cubes in the blender, poured in the coconut milk and blended until icy smooth and creamy, adding the liquid Stevia in the final blend. The result was a creamy, icy, coffee-like healthful, whole food equivalent of a Vanilla Frappuccino that I can enjoy all summer long– guilt-free! And now you can too!
Frosty Faux Frappuccino
- 1 Ice tray filled with the fresh brewed Teeccino flavor of your choice
- 16 ounces of coconut milk (make sure if you bought in cans this is 16 oz of the diluted version)
- 10 to 15 drops of Stevia
Blend until ice is broken up and you have a smooth, icy, frappuccino-like drink, adjusting the Stevia level to your desired sweetness.
This makes an entire blender full of fraps or about 40 ounces — share with a friend or drink ‘em all day!
- Teeccino Herbal Coffee : The Perfect Solution For “Too Much Caffeine” (prweb.com)
- From a Gluten-Free Nutritional Standpoint… (sprinklesandallergies.com)