Call me a bit boring, but I think salt and pepper is all you need for cooking. Of course, if I want to flavor something, for example my coffee, I like to use some pure vanilla extract and stevia. I was wondering if vanilla extract and other varieties are keto friendly and I found this out.
Pure vanilla extract, vanilla beans, and mimic vanilla flavor are an accepted condiment to use while on a ketogenic diet. Vanilla extract contains 1.6 grams of net carbs per tablespoon, while a vanilla bean and vanilla flavoring contain less than 0.5 grams of net carbs.
Table of contents
Can I use pure vanilla extract on a keto diet?
Yes, you can use pure vanilla extract on keto, and the same goes for imitations and vanilla beans. Most people will be familiar with McCormick's brand of pure vanilla extract, and that's keto-friendly, too.
Because pure vanilla extract is relatively low in carbs, and the amounts most recipes call for are trivial, you wouldn't get many carbs from pure vanilla extract.
I am often asked the questionIs Vanilla Extract Keto?The truth is, food is food and no food is keto.
Foods can be considered "keto-friendly," but no foods in particular are mandatory and must be included in a ketogenic diet.What makes a food keto-friendly is typically the relationship between the size of a serving and the amount of net carbs it contains.
On the other hand, no food is strictly forbidden during a ketogenic diet. Some foods are simply considered better than others because of their carb content and are therefore “keto friendly.”
With "keto friendly" the poison is in the dose (amount).
Keto is a metabolic state achieved by reducing carbs, but what you spend your carbs on is entirely up to you.
Again, some choices are better than others, but technically nothing is considered forbidden.
So is pure vanilla extract keto friendly? Pure Vanilla Extract is extremely keto-friendly based on a typical serving size and how many carbs it contains, as explained below.
How Many Carbohydrates Are in Vanilla Extract?
Most recipes you find online would probably use a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract, but for a full tablespoon (13g) serving of vanilla, you're only looking at 1.6g net carbs.1
For reference, one tablespoon equals three teaspoons.
If you're flavoring your coffee, you would probably only use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract for a strong vanilla flavor and smell.
That equates to no more than 0.25g of carbs for a 1/2 teaspoon serving of pure vanilla extract.
However, if like me you tend to overdo it or love the BOLD taste, then even a tablespoon of pure vanilla extract will only cost you 1.6 grams.
So yes, you can consider pure vanilla extract keto-friendly
Is Vanilla Extract Healthy?
While most people associate vanilla with their morning coffee or dessert, vanilla extract is also known to be an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and even a mental health booster.
Here are some health benefits that vanilla can offer.
Antioxidants are substances that can protect your cells from free radicals. Free radicals play a role in many diseases, including heart disease and cancer.2
Vanilla extract contains an antioxidant called vanillin, which is great for heart health.3
One study even shows that heating vanilla and vanilla extracts changes its antioxidant properties, converting the vanillin into vanillic acid, which is an effective antimicrobial agent.4
Vanillic acid has been shown to protect the body from mold, yeast and bacteria. For this reason, vanilla is a popular ingredient used in herbicides to help combat diseased plants5
In combination with cinnamon, there is also a synergistic effect in inhibiting bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli6
No wonder cinnamon and vanilla extract go so well together. Next time you want to treat yourself to a vanilla treat, sprinkle in some cinnamon.
Inflammation is your body's natural response to protect itself from damage. While inflammation can be a natural process, too much inflammation (chronic) is not good.
Chronic inflammation is a threat that can be at the root of many modern diseases. Some examples of diseases or conditions that involve chronic inflammation are:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Chronic illness
- Rheumatoide Arthritis
Vanilla extracts have the potential to reduce inflammation throughout the body and have even been used as a cold sore remedy7
Angiogenesis is when your body makes new blood vessels, which is the weapon of choice that cancer cells use to spread throughout the body.
Vanilla contains certain properties that may allow your body to inhibit angiogenesis. Ethylvanillin, a compound found in vanilla beans, is a natural inhibitor of angiogenesis.8
Improves mental health
Some patients experience a reduction in anxiety and depression directly from vanilla's aromatic powers. In one study, cancer patients experienced 63% less stress while undergoing a stressful procedure.
It appears that the aroma decreases your startle reflex response by inducing a calming emotion.9
Are there disadvantages of vanilla?
Not everything is always sunshine and rainbows. There are very few negatives, if any, but one of those negatives about vanilla is the price.
Vanilla is expensive, at least real vanilla extract and vanilla beans.
Vanilla is quite difficult to grow. In Madagascar, where most vanilla is produced, the flowers must be pollinated by hand and dried for several months.
The production of vanilla is quite time-consuming and labor-intensive, making it less enticing for places to undertake such a task.
World production of natural vanilla is fairly small and has been declining, although demand has increased.
Pure vanilla reached up to $11,000 per kg in 2016.10Because of this, most products may switch to "vanilla flavored" as they reduce costs by using synthetic vanillin.
Other than that, vanilla extract is safe and has no known side effects.
What is vanilla extract
Salted vanilla beans and vanilla beans contain only 2% of the actual vanilla flavor.
Vanilla beans are soaked in an alcohol solution to "extract" all of their flavor. Pure vanilla extract is reported to contain nearly several hundred additional flavorings.
It is these additional compounds that give vanilla its complex and deep flavor compared to artificial vanilla extract.
Madagascar is responsible for nearly 80% of the world's vanilla, with the rest coming from countries like Mexico and Tahiti.
Then again, bourbon vanilla doesn't mean what you think it does. First, it does not smell or taste like bourbon, nor is bourbon used in its manufacture.
Bourbon simply refers to the vanilla beans that originate from the Bourbon Islands, most commonly Madagascar.
What is the difference between pure vanilla extract and imitation?
While you can use vanilla flavoring in place of vanilla to get a similar taste and aroma, the imitation version is nothing more than pure vanilla extract.
As mentioned in the previous section, pure vanilla extract is a solution made by extracting the flavors of vanilla beans in a solution of alcohol and water, typically ethanol.
This process extracts hundreds of compounds that give pure vanilla extract its complex and deep flavor.
Imitation Vanilla Extract is manufactured by contract from man-made vanillin.
Man-made vanillin is made from a by-product of the pulp industry11
An easy way to tell pure extract from imitations is by color. If the product you have is clear, it's probably not real vanilla.
However, some vanilla flavor has added color to make it look like pure vanilla extract.
Ways to incorporate vanilla extract into your ketogenic diet
Honestly, there are so many ways you can incorporate vanilla into your ketogenic diet.
If you're cooking or baking, feel free to add a dash or two of vanilla extract. Think coffee or your favorite keto cookies.
I like doing mineKeto-YoghurtDessert that contains unsweetened Greek yogurt, a little stevia and a pinch of vanilla extract. Once I mix everything, I top my yogurt with some fresh or frozen berries (usually blueberries) and possiblyWalden Farms Zero Calorie Pancake Syrup.
Another way to use vanilla is if you are into aromatherapy and essential oils. Since vanilla has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, why not try some vanilla-scented candles or oils to calm down.
How to make a keto-friendly vanilla extract
Making your vanilla extract is easy. I'll write up a recipe below, but if you'd rather watch someone go through the steps, I've included a video as well.
what you will need
- 8 oz glass bottle or jar
- 6-8 vanilla pods (vanilla bean)
- Liqueur (I like to use vodka or bourbon)
- Slice each bean lengthwise along the entire pod and toss in the jar
- Pour a cup of alcohol into the glass or bottle
- Wait. It usually takes about eight weeks for the flavors to fully mature and absorb them.
- Gently shake the mixture once a week
- Either remove the beans or leave them in. The longer you leave it in, the taste will gradually change, similar to a bottle of wine.
- Enjoy your homemade pure vanilla extract
Keto-friendly recipes with vanilla extract
Want some keto-friendly recipes to inspire you in the kitchen? Here are some keto-friendly recipes that use pure vanilla extract (or artificial vanilla extract).
You may be surprised at how delicious some keto baked treats are. This Low Carb Inspirations Keto Vanilla Cupcake recipe is delicious and versatile. Pure vanilla extract shines in this delicious sugar-free treat.
Mug cake vanilla
Are you lazy like me in the kitchen? Want a sugar-free recipe that you can make in 2 minutes and without a huge ingredient list, aka a sink full of dishes?
Looking for an easy ice cream recipe? Want one that does NOT require an ice cream maker?
While this recipe calls for liquid vanilla stevia, I used 1 tsp pure vanilla extract and 2 packets of stevia instead.
Photo and recipe courtesy of The Big Man's World
take that away
So is vanilla extract keto friendly? Almost all forms of vanilla, from vanilla bean, vanilla extract, to artificial vanilla extract, are keto-friendly.
Feel free to use pure vanilla extract in your morning keto coffee or make your own homemade keto-friendly vanilla ice cream.