Liquid Gold

Raise your hand if you’re reading this WT (while tired).

It’s somewhere in the middle of a week after a long weekend literally designed for grilling, drinking beer (more on that later), relaxing with family and friends, and celebration. Maybe you ate too much, or drank too much, especially last night at 10pm when you were in denial you had to go back to work today (I mean, I didn’t… I’m just asking for a friend).

Whatever your reason, you’re dragging, and I have a solution.

No, it’s not quitting your job (sorry). Here it is:

Drink coffee - do stupid things faster with more energy.

Drink coffee – do stupid things faster with more energy. (this photo belongs to Amazon)

My solution to nearly all the ills in life is coffee. It tastes amazing, it can warm you up or cool you down, and as an added bonus, it can help you do stupid things with more energy. The first question I asked my doctor when I was diagnosed was “can I still drink coffee?” That is how much this liquid gold matters to me.

This blog promised to cover all of the liquid perks life has to offer, and I particularly look forward to exploring the world of coffee. I’ve heard anecdotally and read in a few articles that coffee (or, rather, the caffeine in coffee) will raise blood sugar in some Type 1s marginally but not on a massive scale. I haven’t found that to be the case myself, but I have a rather stubborn dawn phenomenon that occurs with or without coffee, so it’s hard for me to separate the two in a quantifiable way.  Further, I’d rather take insulin than be cranky (you’re welcome).

I suspect my present day fascination with mixing drinks can actually be tracked back to my days as a barista, when I officially became addicted to caffeine and was introduced to the notion that drink making could be an art. This was back in about 2000, when Starbucks only had 3,000 stores and only half the country thought it was cool to drink pure sugar that tasted remotely like coffee. Today, every Pinterest model can be seen sporting two critically important accessories: a cell phone and a plastic Starbucks cup with the latest flavored frappucino or flavored latte. For better or worse, this has created an expectation, at least in the U.S., that coffee must taste like smoked marshmallow instead of coffee. I’m not actually sure half of the coffee drinkers in this country know what real coffee tastes like, which seems to be sad only to me and people who actually know how to make coffee.

Those of you who know me well know I fucking hate Starbucks and I always have for a lot of reasons, but let’s all be honest with ourselves: those frappucinos don’t suck, and that’s because they have a shitload of sugar in them. I had a frappucino once post-dead-pancreas, because I didn’t even think about how much sugar was in there and it was hot and I wanted whipped cream. An hour later, my blood sugar was almost 400 and no amount of insulin would bring it down. Whoops. On the plus side, I rarely drink that crap anyway because I believe in quality coffee roasted by people who know what the fuck they’re doing (Starbucks has neither), so giving up fake-coffee-sugar-drinks wasn’t a huge sacrifice. But I know I’m in the minority (haughty sniff).

The good news is, there’s a TON of alternatives for great (and sweet) coffee drinks for those of us who can no longer survive a frappucino without a trip to the hospital. But this *might* mean you will have to learn to make your own coffee drinks in some cases, so hang in there with me. I promise, real coffee drinks can be as good as a frappucino.

A couple of thoughts about things you can change right away to ante up your coffee quality of life:

The world of sugar-free flavored syrups is worth exploring. I mentioned in a previous blog post the many, many virtues of sugar-free Torani syrups, which can create a beautiful, smoked marshmallow world for those of you who prefer it that way.  While there are lots of syrup brands out there, Torani is used most consistently in the coffee world — it’s good stuff. A bigger coffee shop will carry at least one or two sugar-free flavors, so it’s always good to ask what they have before assuming you’re stuck with something boring (I do happen to know that every Starbucks carries sugar-free Vanilla, at a minimum). If you want to buy your own to make your own coffee drinks, just about any flavor you can imagine is available on the Torani site or on Amazon. If you’re in a hurry, you can pick them up at World Market, which carries several flavors.

You do not have to suffer because of someone’s hipster liquid agave. I’ve noticed a recent trend: today’s local coffee shops (which you should be going to instead of Starbucks because their coffee is actual coffee) have gone very modern and minimalist in order to enhance the customer experience, and in some cases, this means they no longer offer artificial sweeteners because it will RUIN their minimalist look and kill your $6 pour-over (haughty sniff). Instead, you will find a very chic looking single bottle of liquid agave on the condiments counter, because liquid sugar is the new thing. How classy. So, for a diabetic, you might believe your choice is to drink fancy but bitter unsweetened coffee, or risk a blood sugar spike… not true! Fuck that hipster shit.

Now, you know that you should carry a few packets of artificial sweeteners with you everywhere you go because you read my post on tips and tricks, and you can use those anytime when you order your coffee and discover you’ve chosen to patronize somewhere too cool for you. I’ve also learned that sometimes coffee shops do carry artificial sweeteners but they hide them, so you should always ask. And, this is a very recent discovery – some coffee shops are learning they have been assholes and are starting to carry sugar free liquid sweeteners, too!

Kudos to Ziggy's Coffee in Longmont, CO, for carrying sugar-free liquid sweetener.

Kudos to Ziggi’s Coffee in Longmont, CO, for carrying sugar-free liquid sweetener.

I was actually not aware Torani even made liquid sweetener prior to taking this photo, but I am now. Kudos to the Colorado-based Ziggi’s Coffee for carrying this alternative.

In the next few posts about coffee, I’ll explore some recipes for summertime drinks that are low sugar and just as damn tasty as a frappucino.  In the meantime, you’ll likely find me sucking down my bucket of sugar-free liquid gold at work tomorrow. Zzzzzz….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Got Fancy With a Mint Julep

DERBY WEEKEND… SQUEEEEE. Ya’ll know what that means… FLAIR! Parties, fancy summer dresses, ridiculous HATS, spectacular / bourbon-flavored / fried / #superfatteningfoodthatgoesstraighttomyass / uh, great food… and Mint Juleps!

It’s a great excuse to fancy it up on all fronts, including at one’s personal diabetic bar. So D4D got fancy this weekend in honor of the Kentucky Derby, and in honor of Justify, who looked like he was on steroids and in honor of Mr. Dollar-sign Bob Baffert winning with another horse AGAIN (dude seriously… haven’t you won enough? there are some starving type 1 diabetics out there who could use some free CGMs or something at least, you know?).

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The fancy Mint Julep (sparkly straw recommended for flair)

THE D4D SUGAR FREE MINT JULEP WITH FLAIR

Ingredients:

  • Bourbon (get the good shit – this drink is centered around bourbon so don’t fuck it up with a cheap replacement)
  • Stevia mint simple syrup
  • Crushed ice (again, the ice made the drink so definitely try to stick to crushed ice for this recipe… and this time I went to Sonic and got a bag for $2 – less pretentious than Whole Foods and plenty of ice for everyone)
  • Fresh mint
  • Optional:
    • Seltzer water (recommended for those who aren’t a fan of straight up bourbon)
    • Limes
    • Other types of fruit to muddle in that pair well with bourbon, such as blackberries and pomegranate

Recommended steps:

  1. Prepare your Stevia mint simple syrup about 1 day in advance of drink mixing (not required but recommended for better taste and so it’s cold). To make enough to serve about 12-15 drinks, I recommend the following steps:
    1. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup of Stevia crystals (use between 1/4 cup and 1/3 cup depending on level of sweetness you’re aiming for) into 2 cups of boiling water and stir until dissolved.
    2. Add a nice full cup of fresh mint leaves to boiling mixture and allow to continue boiling for approximately 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    3. Pour mixture into container to cool using a sieve to strain out mint leaves, but before discarding press mint leaves down into the sieve to get all the last flavor/juice out.
    4. This stuff will keep for a while (~2 weeks) if you store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
  2. Fill a medium-sized fancy glass with crushed ice
  3. Add 2 oz bourbon
  4. Add 1.5 oz Stevia mint simple syrup
  5. Add about 1/4 cup of seltzer water if you don’t want a straight shot of sweet bourbon
  6. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig
  7. Optional: muddle in some fresh blackberries or pomegranate seeds, and/or add a couple of lime slices for added flavor
  8. Optional: add flair with sparkly straws or other over-the-top decorations
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A D4D Mint Julep with blackberry ready for the race