Sunday, December 14, 2008

Even Better Cranberry Sauce

This year I made even better sugar-free cranberry sauce:

I boiled the contents of a bag of fresh cranberries until their skins popped, and drained them.
I added stevia powder equivalent to 2 cups of sugar (read your brand's package) and
an apple cut into tiny chunks and
a packet of gelatin.
Mashed it all up with a potato masher and
put in the fridge.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

How Do You Cut Down On Sugar?

This comment was posted by Anonymous to an old post, so I thought I'd bring it forward to current time:

okay, this is somewhat of an old blog, but i'm just catching onto this whole sugar thing...

how do you cut down your sugar? i struggle with eating in general. what type of items do you eat for lunch and dinner?

are we talking replacing cooking oils or actual food items or both.

recipes would be helpful and so would brands of items...

How do you cut down on sugar? First, there's the obvious: cakes, candy, cookies, ice cream (ouch). Then there's the process of learning what other foods have sweeteners hidden in them. Reading labels, being shocked at the prevalence of all those words ending in -ose and -ol, among others.
Kathleen of Radiant Recovery recommends moving sugar to mealtimes first, eating it with protein. After a while of that and some other steps - see her website - you detox from sugar.
Mark Hyman of Ultra-Wellness recommends going cold turkey. Whatever works for you is fine. And if you occasionally make an exception and eat some - well, you're still eating less than you were.

What do I eat for lunch and dinner? That depends. I work days sometimes and nights sometimes and have no truly dependable schedule. But a typical lunch might be a chicken quesadilla on a whole-grain tortilla. Or a salad full of veggies and chicken or salmon or ???. Or a bowl of yogurt with fresh fruit. Careful of the yogurt: only PLAIN is sugar-free. The rest are ALL sweetened with either sugar or artificial sweeteners. My favorite dinners are grilled - say burgers, sweet potatoes, veggies. The above is still rather vegetable-deficient but I'm working on that.

The oil question: I'm told olive oil is healthiest. It also doesn't like high heat, so if I'm cooking in the wok I use peanut oil. Flax oil is good in a breakfast shake: when I put it in, I notice less dandruff kind of stuff. I use olive oil and balsamic vinegar on most of the salads.

Recipes: I'm not really a good one to ask. I'm a "keep it simple" kind of cook. You know, "spray the grill with grill spray, marinate a steak, throw it on the grill along with a couple of sweet potatoes and some chicken strips seasoned with whatever I feel like using and cook over medium flame 'til done." Or, "fill a steamer basket with veggies, put over an inch of simmering water until tender but not mushy". That's my kind of recipe. I have put some Real Recipes on the blog, for chocolate candy and stevia sweetened ice cream, and will continue to as I come up with ideas - and readers, please feel free to share your own favorites too - but the internet is full of recipes already and I'm usually on the searching end of those, rather than the posting end.

Brands change their formulas. The only thing better than reading labels yourself is eating fresh things that don't have labels. I can tell you that Duke's is the only mass-market mayonnaise that doesn't have sugar - and that's only the regular, not the low-fat - but then if they change the recipe, will you notice? (As of the last time I bought mayonnaise, that was true in this part of the country, for products at the stores where I shop. There certainly may be others, but I haven't found them.)

In short, there are no easy answers to the "how to eat" question - but it's an interesting and worthwhile adventure. Enjoy the road.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Omnivore's Dilemma

Oh how I wish I were good at doing book reviews! Because I would so review the book I just read: Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, A Natural History of Four Meals.

In this book, Mr. Pollan follows 4 very different meals ranging from a fast-food burger meal to a meal entirely and personally hunted and gathered. What are we REALLY eating? What are the ramifications? What are the true costs?

It would be a very favorable review. I would begin by telling you how his writing style is such that I couldn't put it down. Although seriously non-fiction, this is not a boring read at all. This is an adventure.

And then there is the subject matter. We are talking serious eye-opening here. Make-you-think stuff. Nitty gritty stuff.

Oh, never mind - just read the book! I'm champing at the bit to read his others.

Chocolate, again!

More ways to enjoy chocolate without sugar or other yucky sweeteners:

Almost Pudding:
Puree ripe bananas, with a soup spoon of cocoa powder for each banana. Chill. This makes a delicious pudding-like dessert. It doesn't gel as gelled as regular pudding, but it will thicken up nicely. I will try it folded into whipped cream sometime soon.

More ice cream flavors:
Making ice cream in individual serving sizes in the plastic bags, I've tried several yummy flavors:

Cherries & Almond flavoring. A special favorite.

Orange flavoring and vanilla. Makes something amazingly Creamsicle-like. Yum.

Cocoa powder and mint flavoring. Also good.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tips for a Better Life

My oldest friend (meaning how long she's been in my life) sent me this this morning and I thought it deserved posting here - and on my other blog - and on my refrigerator too. So, in no particular order except the way I received them:
40 Tips for a Better Life in 2008

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It
is the ultimate anti-depressant.

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.

3. Buy a DVR and tape your late night shows and get more sleep.

4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement,
'My purpose is to __________ today.'

5. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.

6. Play more games and read more books than you did in 2007.

7. Make time to practice meditation and prayer. They provide us with
daily fuel for our busy lives.

8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.

9. Dream more while you are awake.

10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food
that is manufactured in plants.

11. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan
salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.

12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

13. Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and
flowing energy into your life.

14. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, OR issues of the past,
negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your
energy in the positive present moment.

15. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems
are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like
algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

16. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a
college kid with a maxed out charge card.

17. Smile and laugh more. It will keep the NEGATIVE BLUES away.

18. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

20. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

21. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

22. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.

23. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their
journey is all about.

24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years,
will this matter?'

26. Forgive everyone for everything.

27. What other people think of you is none of your business.

28. REMEMBER GOD heals everything.

29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

30. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends
will. Stay in touch.

31. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

32. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

33. The best is yet to come.

34. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

35. Do the right thing!

36. Call your family often. (Or email them to death!!!)

37. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements:
I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________.

38. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

39. Enjoy the ride. Remember this is not Disney World and you
certainly don't want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life
so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.

40. Please Forward this to everyone you care about. (Actually I didn't forward this to anyone. But the link to the blog is on every email I send, so sooner or later...)

Now, I invite you to post anything that you think should have been on the list!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Yummy Chocolate Candy sweetened only with STEVIA

I think I have the chocolate candy thing figured out!
Chocolate doesn't like liquid. So I break up unsweetened, just cocoa, baking chocolate into small pieces and put in top of double boiler with stevia POWDER. Boil the water under it. Take care not to let steam get into the pot with the chocolate - don't cover it. When it begins to melt, I take it off the heat and stir like mad to melt the rest - and make it be shiny and not lose its temper. (Temper means the cocoa butter is properly attached to the cocoa and doesn't "bloom" in unsightly white streaks on your finished chocolate.)
How much stevia? I liked the results I got with 5 soupspoons of Stevia Plus. Stevia Plus also has inulin, a fiber supplement, which makes it easier to measure - 2 Tablespoons would equal a cup of sugar. Some powdered stevia is just stevia and very very small amounts would be needed.

Yesterday's batch I made some with dried fruit and nuts, some with unsweetened coconut, and some plain, with mint oil. I liked that especially well.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Delicious Tortillas! sin masa o azucar! (without flour or sugar)

I found something delicious this week.

It seems all the "whole wheat" tortillas on the market, at least in my stomping grounds, are part whole wheat but still contain white flour. Except Tam-X-ico's whole wheat tortilla, which is actually whole wheat and other whole grains and is delicious. But it does have a small bit of sugar and some other ingredients that sound more like chemistry than food.

And then I happened upon Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas. This is their ingredient list:

INGREDIENTS: Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Unhulled Sesame Seeds, Organic Sprouted Whole Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Whole Barley, Organic Sprouted Whole Millet, Organic Sprouted Whole Lentils, Organic Sprouted Whole Spelt, Sea Salt.

Now, that's FOOD. I bought a pack to try, and 2 quesadillas later trotted back to the health food store at which I found them to stock up.

Here's their website: Ezekiel Tortillas

Friday, April 18, 2008

Eureka! I have solved the ice cream problems.

In a previous post about ice cream I complained about the texture of the ice cream I was making. It is also a problem that it's just me and my ice cream maker makes so much. Not to mention it takes up lots of precious motorhome cargo space. Then an internet search turned up this method of making ice cream:
Fill a gallon ziploc bag one-third of the way with ice and 1 cup ice cream salt.
Put 1 cup of ice cream mixture in a quart ziploc, seal it and put it in the gallon bag.
With a towel or gloves, knead it, having the small bag in contact with the ice mixture as much as possible, until it thickens, about 10 minutes, let it sit another 5 minutes to harden, and voila! Ice Cream.

My campground neighbors and I did the experiment this evening and the results were truly excellent. Now I can make 1 single serving of good ice cream at a time, or enough for a group and have them knead their own - it's fun.

Here's the recipe I used:
1 C milk
1 heaping Tbsp STEVIA
1/8 tsp salt
3 beaten eggs
Cook (stirring) the mixture in top of double boiler until you see bubbles start to form around the edge, and the mixture begins to thicken slightly and coat the spoon.
Let it cool to room temperature.
Stir in:
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 C half-and-half

Put 1 cup of the mixture in each quart bag and proceed with the instructions above.

Next time I'll add berries, and start trying other flavors. But I'm really excited: I now have a good tasting good textured ice cream - which also passed muster from my neighbors who DO eat regular sugar. To quote: "It tastes like Real Ice Cream". Can't beat that!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Chocolate! and Children's Tums??

Chocolate. This is a work in progress.
The antioxidants in cocoa are supposed to be so good that even the Ultra-Prevention folks advise eating some dark chocolate even though it comes mixed with sugar. But I know what happens when I eat sugar and I don't like it. So I got a couple of 4 oz bars of unsweetened chocolate. Put them to melt in a pot over lowest possible heat. Added a stick of butter, 4 droppers-full of stevia, and a little milk. When I added the milk the melted mixture took on a fudgy texture.
I covered some frozen bing cherries with some of it. I spread some more out to be plain chocolate candy, and mixed in raisins into the rest and spread it out to be raisin candy. I poured a cup of milk and some cinnamon into the pot, stirred it around over low heat to mix in the chocolate that was stuck to the pot and had a Most Enjoyable cup of Hot Chocolate with NO SUGAR. It was as delicious as any I've had and more so than most. The candy was good too - a bit fudgy/grainy textured compared to commercial chocolate bars, and not as sweet because I prefer less sweet. I'm going to work on this and perfect it. And not use frozen cherries - they thawed and leaked. But they were delicious.

Here's an interesting sign of the times: TUMS for Children. When I was a kid I'd never even HEARD of heartburn. Never experienced it until I was pregnant. Now enough kids are suffering from acid indigestion / heartburn / reflux to market TUMS to them? And on reading the label: the ingredients are the same - the same as the EXTRA STRENGTH tums, not the original regular tums.

Dare I suggest that the national diet of sweetened everything and HFCS in the sodas that are everywhere might have something to do with this?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Everyone knows that Cranberry Juice is good for you. But when you try to buy it - there's Cranberry Juice Cocktail, which is a blend of Cranberry and other juices, sweetened with HFCS or sugar or something you don't want. Or you get Cranberry Juice, no sugar added - and it really isn't. In that instance I found it was NOT a code name for "Splenda added instead". But it was a blend of Cranberry and other juices, mostly apple. Apple juice is good for you too, but when I want Cranberry, darn it, I want Cranberry.
Then there's pure Cranberry juice from the health food section. At $7-something a bottle, I don't drink much of that either.
I'd found this a few months ago - for $3-change - and couldn't remember where I'd found it. Found it again last week - at Wal*Mart. Stocked up. Pure Cranberry Juice. Ocean Spray. Pure Cranberry Juice is quite - QUITE - tart. I dilute mine with water and drop in a few drops of Stevia. And know my urinary tract is getting that good Cranberry stuff, not a blend with a little Cranberry in it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

When your dentist says avoid sweets...

When your dentist says sweets are bad for your teeth, he must be right. I do know that when I'm not eating sugar, my dentures rinse off easily. When I was eating sugar, they collected a plaque of gunk that only Stain-Away and vigorous brushing would remove. Last week I was Sick - there were like 7 different strains of flu going around among my co-workers - and in desperation sucked on some Ricola cough drops - excellent drops except for the sugar - and there was a spot of that darn stubborn plaque again.
It's that simple: eat sugar, get plaque. Don't eat sugar, don't get plaque. If I still had natural teeth, I might not notice the direct cause/effect thing because I couldn't take them out - but it'd still be there. Your teeth, your choice.