In our attempt to transition to more of a whole foods diet, there was one thing (among a few others) that I have not been able to give up: vanilla creamer in my earl gray tea first thing in the morning…you can thank me later.
I know that there is no redeeming quality (except maybe water) in this ingredient list for vanilla creamer, none of which are actually vanilla or cream: water, sugar, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil, and less than 2% of sodium caseinate (a milk derivative), dipotassium phosphate, disodium phosphate, mono- and diglycerides, natural and artificial flavors, cellulose gel, cellulose gum, color added, carrageenan.
Isn’t it funny the trouble we go to, to make something as simple as vanilla and cream so complicated. Since giving up soda last year, I knew this was next on the list. I definitely believe that some things are fine in moderation, but I also know that little things make a difference (sidenote: don’t you love when bits of wisdom don’t seem to align…just proves that we’re all at different stages of the journey).
I decided to make the switch, but I wasn’t just going to add vanilla extract to milk and call it a day. I’ve tried adding milk along with vanilla flavored syrup and it definitely did not work out, so my mission was to find a recipe that tasted like the store bought version and was easy to make using only a few ingredients that I could pronounce. I came across a whole variety. Some use coconut oil, others use sweetened condensed milk, but I found the winner here at Deliciously Organic along with several other flavored creamers that I HAVE to try. C’mon, Cinnamon Streudel Creamer? Peppermint? My mouth is just watering at the thought.
This recipe for Vanilla Creamer uses milk, cream (I used half and half), vanilla bean or extract, and the secret ingredient: maple syrup.
Visit the website for the specific recipe, but I just heated the milk, half and half, and maple syrup (it will seem really sweet but obviously the flavor gets toned down when added to a drink, you can add more or less than the recipe states) over medium heat, stirring occassionally until it’s just starting to give off steam.
You don’t want it to come to a boil. Just get it hot enough so that when you add the vanilla seeds and bean pod that the heat pulls all the flavor out. So, once the milk/cream/maple syrup is heated, turn off the heat, scrape the vanilla seeds out of the pod and add the seeds and the pod (or just the vanilla extract if that’s what you have) to the heated milk. I put a lid on the pot and let it steep for about 30 minutes.
After that I put a coffee filter into a small strainer and put it over a bowl. I poured the mixture into the coffee filter and let it drain so the vanilla seeds wouldn’t get in my tea, then I poured it all into an old store bought creamer container that I had washed out and kept just for this purpose (the outer shrink wrapped label comes off really easily and then it’s just a clear creamer or small snack container). You could also use a glass jar. I stuck it in the fridge and added some to my tea this morning, and even put a little over my baked oatmeal…oh my goodness. I might just drink it on its own, except then I’d have to make another batch for my tea.
If you don’t think you’ll drink it within a few weeks, just pour small amounts into ice cube trays and put one into your coffee mug before you pour your coffee (or tea). It will melt super fast, and then you don’t have to worry about it going bad in your fridge.
Not only does it taste better, but it actually cost me about half of what I would pay in the store for all of those ingredients that are scientifically engineered to taste like vanilla and cream, and yet are actually neither of the two.