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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

5 Sugar Free Ways to Sweeten Coffee and Tea

I was a confirmed tea drinker during college. I always studied with a giant mug of tea in front of me. I drank so much tea that my roommate joked that I’d fail all of my classes if my hot water maker broke.

I didn’t learn about the joys of drinking coffee until I moved to Miami for an internship with a TV production company. Long days, early morning calls, and late nights led me to try the dark luscious liquid that is CafĂ© Cubano - an espresso shot sweetened with white sugar as it is being brewed. I preferred and usually drank Cafe con Leche (Cuban Coffee with Milk) at 10 and at 2, as is the Cuban custom.

I soon realized that I didn’t hate coffee – I just didn’t like cheap beans or weak coffee. Fortunately the stuff I feel for more often than not is Fair Trade coffee (even with its problems and issues I try to drink Fair Trade coffee when I can.) For me a great cup of coffee soon became an essential. It was all about the beans - the darker roast the better. Whenever I drank regular coffee I drank it with sugar and milk.

Unfortunately, there were times particularly in the morning when I drank coffee and it didn’t sit the right way. I got an upset stomach and made me feel sluggish and blah all day long.

My dad’s gynecologist* had the answer – drink my coffee black.

Once I stopped putting refined white sugar in my coffee my stomach problems, which were later diagnosed as heart burn, disappeared and I didn’t need medication for my stomach issues. Hurray!

That’s not to say that I don’t have sweet or flavored coffee or tea now and again. I learned how to sweeten my coffee and tea without white refined sugar. Husband and I use a combination of the following:

  • Honey – Mostly for tea and especially when I’m sick. Hot tea with honey and a dash of lemon juice feels great going down a sore throat. 
  • Molasses – This is Husband’s coffee sweetener of choice. In fact, we have almost come to blows when I want to use what little bit of molasses we have left for baking 
  • Stevia – I have this on hand for diabetic guests. I’d rather keep stevia on hand for them than an artificial sweetener. I honestly haven’t used it much if at all. I plan on experimenting with it in baking in the future. If you have any tips or favorite recipes let me know! 
  • Raw sugar — is unrefined sugar made from sugar cane. Sugar in the Raw is one brand you often see in coffee shops. This one still give me stomach issues. Husband will use it when we're in a coffee shop.
  • Brown sugar - is typically white refined sugar with molasses added to it so it’s not much different nutritionally than refined white sugar. Oh, and it has a few more calories in it than refined white sugar too. I avoid it in my coffee due to my stomach woes. Husband will use it in a pinch if we’re out of molasses. For the most part, he sticks to molasses at home.
The sugary flavored coffee syrups added to my stomach woes. Now if I want to flavor my coffee, I sprinkle spices on the coffee grounds before I brew the coffee. I’d had luck with:

  • Cinnamon 
  • Pumpkin spices 
  • Nutmeg 
  • Cardamom – expensive but worth it!
Once I gave up refined white sugar in my morning coffee my stomach aches and heart burn went away. So did the 3 O’clock Slump. Bonus!

Refined white sugar – yeah or neigh? How do you avoid sugar overload in your diet?


* OK, really he’s a friend of my dad’s who happens to be a gynecologist. My dad refers to him as his gynecologist just to get a reaction. I couldn’t resist doing the same because my Dad and I share the same warped sense of humor because we're related.

This post is part of the Spring Clean Get The Junk Out Carnival hosted by Donielle at Naturally Knocked Up where the topic is refined sugar.