Recipes for a healthier cup of coffee

By Heather Klug Aurora Advocate Healthcare

A plain cup of brewed coffee only has one or two calories, but it quickly can become an unnatural, high-calorie drink when you start pouring in the cream and sugar.

Most commercial creamers are packed with additives, artificial flavors, trans fats and added sugars — most in the form of corn sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup.

Then there are commercial coffee house drinks. A grande Caramel Chocolate Frappuccino with whipped cream packs a whopping 590 calories with 19 teaspoons of sugar (74g) and 19g of saturated fat.

But it’s easy and relatively inexpensive to make your own delicious concoctions to sweeten up your cup of coffee. You can control what it tastes like and how healthy it is.

Got milk? Whole milk, half-and-half, creams and even evaporated milk from a small tin can provide the flavor you need without any additives, preservatives, added sugars or trans fats.

Real milk has a little saturated fat, but chances are you won’t be using enough to matter. Calories? Half-and-half and commercial liquid creamers both have about 20 calories per tablespoon. If you need it a little sweeter, add a teaspoon or two of your own sugar, honey or maple syrup. Brown sugar is good, too. If you’re avoiding sugar, add stevia.

DIY maple vanilla dairy creamer

This flavored creamer recipe is one you can make ahead of time so it’s ready every morning. It lasts about 10 days in the refrigerator. One tablespoon of this has 25 calories and 2g carbohydrates (sugar), compared with 35-45 calories and 5-7g carbohydrates (sugar) for most commercial French vanilla creamers.

Servings: 16 1-tablespoon servings

Ingredients: 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup whole milk, 1/8 cup pure maple syrup, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Combine cream, milk and maple syrup in a small pot and put it over medium heat.

Stir constantly until it’s very warm, but not boiling (tiny bubbles will start forming around the edges of the pot).

Remove the pot from the heat and blend in the vanilla extract.

Put the creamer in a closed container and refrigerate it.

Nutritional Information per serving: 25 calories, 2g total fat, 6 mg cholesterol, 5 mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate

Creamer without the dairy

Splash in almond, cashew, coconut, soy or any other plant-based milk. You can also add coconut oil to coffee to make it richer without any milk.

If you want a fancier drink, whip up this non-dairy coconut latte recipe (it has less than 100 calories.)


Servings: 1

Ingredients: 1 cup freshly brewed coffee, 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, 1-2 teaspoons honey (optional), ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)


Combine coffee, coconut oil, honey and vanilla in a blender or food processor and mix it on a high speed until it gets foamy.

Pour it into a mug and top it with a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg if desired.

Nutritional Information per serving: 86 calories, 7g total fat, 5mg sodium, 17g carbohydrates (only if you choose to add the honey)

Dry creamer

If you like dry creamer for its lasting power and easy portability, you’ll have to give this a try. It’s close to or a little higher in calories than the plain commercial products, but it doesn’t have trans fats, high fructose corn syrup or chemical additives.

Servings: 36 1-tablespoon servings

Ingredients: 2 cups powdered whole milk, 1/4 –1/2 cup powdered sugar 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil


Place all of the powered whole milk and sugar in a medium bowl and mix well.

Drizzle the coconut oil over the dry ingredients and mix it until it’s well blended – there shouldn’t be any lumps. You can use a blender for a finer texture. When you’re finished, store it in a tightly closed container.

Add 1 tablespoon (more or less to taste) to your coffee.

Nutritional Information per serving: 49 calories, 3 g total fat, 7 mg cholesterol, 26 mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate

Flavored coffee

If you like the taste of flavored coffee and don’t care for the cream, add fresh herbs like mint or dry spices in with the ground coffee in your French press or other drip coffeemaker. You can add cinnamon bark, cloves, cardamom pods, cocoa nibs or fennel seeds to your ground coffee.