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Food and Drink

The Skinny On “Fat Free” Half And Half

The Skinny On “Fat Free” Half And Half

On our vacation last week, Pam and I were responsible for planning, purchasing, and cooking the food.  OK, Pam planned and did a lot of the cooking, but I did make the mega shopping trip and cook my fair share.  My mother in law was responsible for bringing all of the beverages for the trip–including the all important morning cup of joe. drow names dnd

Coffee is very important to me.  I’m not picky about what I drink, how it’s made, or even how it tastes.  But I love a steaming hot cup of coffee in the morning.  So my mother in law did a great job, and she even brought half and half and sugar for us;  like I said, I’m not a coffee purist.

One morning, as I was mixing my coffee, I actually read the label on the half and half.  It read “Fat Free Half and Half!”  How can half and half, which is supposed to be half cream and half milk, be fat free?  I did a little reading and here’s what I came up with.

First I wanted to brush up on my knowledge of the various dairy based creamers:

Whipping Cream–Sometimes we have this laying around the kitchen for various cooking purposes.  When we do, I love to add it to my coffee.  But at 30-36% fat, the calories add up fast and I’m not so sure they’re worth it.

Half and Half–This is the stuff most often used in coffee in the US.  It’s very good in coffee, but obviously not as good as full cream.  At 10-16% fat, it’s a pretty good compromise between total creamy blissfulness and functional coffee drinking

Whole Milk–We always have this stuff in our house because our son is under 2 and still drinks it.  At slightly less than 4% fat, it’s not a very effective creamer, but it’s a lot healthier than any of the above options.

So, what exactly is “fat free” half and half.  Here’s the top 5 on the list of ingredients:

  • nonfat milk
  • milk
  • corn syrup solids
  • Artificial color
  • Sugar

There was recently a question on Ask Metafilter about this stuff and of all the answers, the one that summed it up best was that it looks like fat free half and half is a mixture of nonfat milk, nondairy coffee creamer, and thickening agents.

While the taste of the stuff is similar to regular half and half, I’m not so sure I want to be adding those extra artificial ingredients to my coffee every morning.  In fact, Pam recently read an article that suggested if you really want to lose weight, you should avoid coffee creamers all together and stick to milk.  Those extra calories really add up over the course of a year.  And since we have whole milk laying around, I think I’ll be switching to that for the little bit of creaminess that I need in my coffee.

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