Is there anything better on a hot summer day than an iced coffee?
Even twenty years ago, iced coffee was not all that it is today. I don’t remember my mom ever driving through to get an iced latte or hanging out with friends drinking a Mocha Frappuccino. I do remember watching “You’ve Got Mail” for the first time and thinking the whole “tall decaf cappuccino” scene was slightly foreign but very New York.
And then I remember my first iced coffee drink at Gloria Jean’s in the mall. I don’t remember what it was called, but it was iced, it had coffee, there were chocolate chips, and it was loaded with whipped cream with a wafer-like sugary cookie on top that you could dunk in your coffee. And I thought, “It’s finally happened, I’m a grown-up now”.
Fast forward to nursing school and studying until midnight or 1 a.m. and then waking up at 4 a.m. to cram for a test, spend all day in school or clinicals until 9 p.m., study until 12 or 1 a.m. …. coffee became my friend. And when I started with my first nursing job, it was of course on night shift, which meant more coffee.
I … LOVE … COFFEE.
Changing my diet and my lifestyle in order to be healthier, realizing that my boys will need me for several more years and that being healthy may be the only way to make that happen, I started following the GAPS protocol with my boys. We’ve done the Intro diet a couple times and plan to do it a third time this fall. Guess what you don’t get on Intro?
It wasn’t so hard to give up the first time we did Intro. However, by the second time we did Intro, I was on night shift again, and I had to give up coffee. There were weekends when I had to go over 48 hours on a nap. For me, that is not physically possible without caffeine, and I somehow had to do it. Is all this sleep-deprivation healthy? No, it’s not. In studies, night shift workers have been shown to cut their life shorter by 10 years, to have a higher incidence of colon cancer, to suffer from depression, and the list goes on. We were not meant to be awake all night and live on caffeinated beverages.
However, more and more people are running on less and less sleep. If you doubt that this is true, try to find a corner of any major city that does not include a Starbucks. Coffee has gone from just plain black coffee (and maybe a little cream and sugar for those who couldn’t hack it black) to a multi-million dollar business of foam and flavored syrups.
So, how did I break free from coffee? Well, I wish I could tell you that I’m 100% coffee free, but I definitely slip up from time to time. Doing Intro is actually very helpful for me, because I reach a new level of healing, and start deriving energy again from whole, natural foods and juices. I find as time passes I slip back into the old coffee habits as sleep becomes less and I need something to get me through the day.
What do you do if you’re trying to get healthier and you find yourself addicted to coffee?
First, realize that the ingredients in the iced coffee you pick up at the coffee shop, McDonalds, or Starbucks are not very healthy for you. If you were to create your own iced coffee at home in the morning (or at night!) before you headed out to work, not only would you save money but you would be creating a healthier version of your favorite drink.
For example, the iced bottled Starbuck Mocha Frappuccino drink contains the following ingredients (my notes are in italics):
Brewed starbucks coffee (water, coffee) – Coffee is an imported good, and the US has limited control over the type and amount of pesticides used. Regular coffee consumption can be a significant source of pesticides, as conventional farmers apply up to 250 lbs. of chemical fertilizers per acre! If you are going to drink coffee, drink ORGANIC coffee or if you use decaf coffee, make sure it has a label stating that it is “swiss water processed”. Otherwise, you are also drinking some formaldehyde among other chemicals in your morning cup of java.
Reduced-fat milk – Again, milk from conventionally raised cows is full of antibiotics, chemicals, pesticides from what they eat, and potentially growth hormones. Not only that, but the ultra-pasteurization process kills any helpful enzymes and basically renders it dead white water. Vitamins are added to it after the process to increase the nutritional value. There really is no benefit to this type of milk, only exposure to more chemicals. Organic is better, pasture-raised is the best, and if you know a local farmer, even better!
Sugar – Anyone following a GAPS protocol can tell you the ills of refined sugar. Refined sugar has been depleted of any vitamin and mineral content. Worse than just being empty calories, it also leaches our body of its vitamins and minerals. Taken in excess daily, it eventually affects every organ in the body. The epidemics of illness that we see today can in many ways be tied to our intake of refined sugar and empty carbs.
Cocoa – Conventionally grown cocoa is one of the highest pesticide containing crops that there is. With conventional processing, most of the beneficial antioxidants in cocoa are destroyed: again, rendering a food that can be very good for you essentially dead.
Pectin – Pectin is a polysaccharide, which is illegal if you follow the GAPS diet.
Ascorbic acid – This is a synthetic form of vitamin C, almost always made from genetically-engineered corn (GMO). There have been studies out on ascorbic acid linking it to cancer, hardening of the arteries, and interfering with antioxidant activity. Ascorbic acid can be used in a preservative in food.
Seems like only a few ingredients when you read the label, but when you really think about it, there’s a lot more lurking there than you realize! These are only the ingredients from the bottled Frappuccino; from what I’ve found online, it seems like the actual Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks contains more ingredients, but unfortunately, the ingredient list is not posted online. When I’m able to get the ingredient list, I will post it here.
So, what about a McDonald’s Mocha Frappe?
Ingredients: Water, Cream, Sugar, Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Coffee Extract, Natural (Plant Source) and Artificial Flavors, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Mono and Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Potassium Citrate, Disodium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Carob Bean Gum, Colored with Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1. CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE.
Um, wow. Let’s try to break this down a little.
Cream – Same problems as listed above for milk.
High fructose corn syrup – Hopefully by now most people have learned about the evils of high fructose corn syrup. If not, please “google” it and avoid it at all costs! Not only is this terribly hard on your body, it also has been found to contain mercury due to how it’s processed. Mercury is the second most toxic substance on the planet.
Coffee extract – Um, not real coffee? What is this!?
Artificial flavors – Who knows what these are. You can call the company and find out exactly what was used, but honestly, I don’t think you want to. Artificial flavors are just better to avoid in general.
Mono and diglycerides – These are used to help water and fat to combine. They also extend shelf life. However, because of how they are manufactured or how they are cooked in the foods as they are prepared, they often contain unhealthy trans-fats. Also, they do not fall under the mandatory labeling of “contains trans fats”, so your food can contain them and you’d never know unless you looked into it further.
Potassium citrate – Often used as a source of potassium (when taken as a supplement). In food, it is used as a flavor enhancer and a pH buffer.
Disodium phosphate – It is used in food for stabilization and emulsification. It is also used in pesticides and cleaning ingredients. It contains trace amounts of arsenic, and studies are currently being conducted on the high amounts of phosphates we are consuming in processed foods as high levels have been associated with mortality in kidney disease and cardiovascular disease in healthy individuals.
Carrageenan – A polysaccharide derived from algae that is used as a thickener and a stabilizer in foods. Carrageenan is also occasionally found in health food products, so that combined with the fact that it’s a seaweed often leads people to believe that it’s harmless. However, in some studies carrageenan has been found to cause intestinal damage and inflammation. It has also been identified as an excitotoxin similar to MSG. Better to avoid this one.
Carob bean gum – Also known as locust bean gum, this is a polysaccharide.
Colored with red 40, yellow 5, blue 1 – Why? Is it because they use coffee extract instead of actual coffee???? In all seriousness, though, food dyes are a terrible thing to ingest. I wanted to write more about dyes, as these are one of my pet peeves, but I found this great article that explains it so nicely: “Colors to Die For“. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do NOT feed your children dye-filled foods!!!! (They’re not good for you either, but if you can’t resist, at least do it for your kids!) Do not feed your child a dye-filled popsicle or frosted cupcake and then expect him to sit still and listen to you because he won’t, and it’s not his fault!
OK – Done with my rant now. Let’s continue to the good part!
The point: it may seem quick and easy to just swing through somewhere and get an iced coffee, but what price is your body paying for that convenience?
1/4 c. full-fat organic coconut milk
strong organic coffee (adjust to taste – from about 1/2 c. to 1 cup or more)
about 8-12 ice cubes
2 Tbs. raw honey
1 Tbs. raw organic cacao
1/2 tsp. organic vanilla
Place all ingredients in the blender and then pulse about 5 times to help break up the ice cubes. Run blender until you obtain the desired texture. If you like your Frappuccino a little thicker (like a slushy), add more ice and blend less. If you like it more like an iced coffee with some froth on the top, add about 8 ice cubes and blend longer (closer to a minute or two).
Serve immediately. Makes one to one and a half servings.
I found the original recipe on a Paleo site (I’m sorry, I can’t remember which one!) and made some minor adjustments.
A selfie with me and my bestie
If you are following the GAPS diet, this would be considered full GAPS, and is definitely a more advanced food. The coffee that you use should not be instant and definitely should be more dilute. You may find that you don’t tolerate coffee at all, and in that case, it should be avoided. This may be a good drink to start with as you are transitioning from a modern, conventional diet to full GAPS and prior to starting the Intro diet. It should be used in moderation.
P.S. And yes, I will someday live completely coffee free! Gotta love organic green tea and GAPS smoothies!