Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sugar Free Instant Cocoa Mix

For my gastric bypass peeps!

Nestle used to sell (at least at the Military Commissary) a sugar free/reduced calorie hot cocoa mix in a very convenient canister.  Maybe they still do somewhere but no longer at the commissary.  So I bought the packets instead but when a chocolate craving hits, those 35 calorie cups of bliss make a good safety net and I can burn through a box pretty fast.  Time to make a replacement.

A quick Google Search turned up the recipe I used to make for my kids back in the day using powdered milk and Nesquik powder.  So with some alterations, I made my own sugar free version!  Here's a link to the recipe I used for a starting point: One Good Thing By Jillee Hot Cocoa Mix

Mine won't suit everybody--if you hate the taste of artificial sweeteners, move along.  This just came out to a very close and satisfying batch for me so I'm happy to share it with you.  I can't tell you if this will be the same 35 calorie serving but it doesn't make me dump so it can't be that high in sugar alcohols or fats from the powdered creamer.  And if this keeps me from going out and buying Hershey Kisses, that's just fine.

(Here is where the photo goes but Blogger won't let me paste in the picture from Photobucket.  They don't play nice together?)  You can visit there this way   http://s1104.photobucket.com/user/geminidream62/media/1011036.jpg.html

Sugar Free Instant Cocoa Mix

1- 16 oz container Sugar Free Nesquik
4 cups Carnation instant dry milk
1 1/2 canisters (10.2 oz) Nestle sugar free Creamy Chocolate Coffee Mate
2 cups Splenda for baking
1 cup Nestle cocoa powder (the kind for baking)
Sugar Free Peeps (optional)

In a very large bowl or pan, combine all ingredients and slowly whisk together to remove any lumps.  Store in an airtight container.  For a mug of cocoa add 2- 1/8 cup scoops into a mug, add boiling water and stir.  For optional fun float a sugar free Peep and enjoy the frothy goodness while the Peep enjoys the chocolate hot tub.

PS--If you can find other brands of the same type products go ahead and substitute (and if they're cheaper tell me about it too!) but otherwise you may not have a very tasty product.  And of course if you like a different sweetener or none at all that's your business.  A wicked sweet tooth got me to where I was needing gastric bypass surgery and the doctor didn't fix that so I still have to watch out for lower calorie ways to keep THAT beast under control.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Vitamix Creamy Vegetable Soup

Yumminess in the Vitamix today!  Hubs is away for his annual fishing weekend so I can cook/not cook as I see fit.  Since I've been home wasting time nursing a spasming back not cooking seemed a better option.  However, something warm and comforting for my tummy was also a concern.  Last night before turning in I raided the fridge for veggies, sliced, diced and set the crock pot on 'keep warm'.  Why not low?  My crock pot is a typical modern one and cooks way too hot!

I will freely admit to finding this nameless soup image on the internet and if the author is upset, I will of course take it down but it is representative of just how my own soup looked.  No real recipe per se but it is worth sharing and saving so I can make it again.  And being a non-recipe of course it can be adjusted to whatever suits your taste.  In the end, it is a bit too heavy in celery flavour but that's ok.

Into the crock pot:
4 celery sticks, chopped in 1" pieces
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 very large red bell pepper, cleaned out and cubed
3 baking potatoes just beginning to sprout and heavily peeled then diced
1 lemon, quartered  (I really wanted the vitamin c in the broth as well a a zest and then took the lemon pieces out half way through cooking so it wouldn't be too much)

I covered the veggies with water and simmered from bedtime yesterday till breakfast today, then turned the crock to low.  This afternoon I added one cilantro broth cube and one chicken broth cube, 1/2 cup marsala and about 1 cup of fat-free half and half.  This went into the Vitamix in batches then I returned it to the crockpot when all was smooth.  It needed seasoning so it got basil, salt, pepper and about 1/3 cup parmesan cheese.

Yumm!   Tomorrow I may add some protein to it to make it heartier but really just like it light the way it is.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mentalpause

Wow, how life turns on a dime.

A few months ago I was home recuperating from shoulder surgery.  Fast-forward to being back at work, not healing as well as I'd hoped and facing a second surgery.  Ok.  Sprinkle in a little extra stress because my job is retail-based and the economy is tanking these days.  Fair enough...just roll with the changes.  Extra duties, different hours and new stresses.  That would be manageable if not for Mother. Flippin'. Nature.  She decided that now, right now, of all times is when to hit me with MENOPAUSE.  dun-dun-dun......

No easing into it, just full on.  Night sweats (every half hour), hot flashes (ditto), mood swings, anxiety like nobody's business.

Just about every room I occupy now has a fan.  I've donated bags and bags of sweaters and 'hot' clothing and live in things that can be stripped off as fast as possible.  With the exception of my work uniform which is mind-blowingly hot polyester.  The man who coined the phrase 'performance fabric' to give polyester a better image should burn in hell.  Or at least be forced to wear it as punishment against humanity.

Yup this is all-out whining.  Far better women than I have breezed through menopause so it ain't gonna kill me but I sure do complain about it a lot now.

 My poor husband.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Please help

Lord, please help me not be a cry-baby.  This isn't cancer.  It isn't a big deal and people have a whole lot worse pain than I have with a whole lot less blessings.  Please forgive my failings and help me find grace in this pain.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pumpking Pie Latte Syrup--reduced sugar

This is a cut-and-paste of one of my posts over at the recipe forum on SPFH to make it easier to share with friends and family.  Sorry, I haven't entered this one into my sparkrecipes.com database to know a calorie and nutrient workup on it.  

For those of us who have to control our sugar intake but still want a pumpkin pie latte (WHEN is Starbuck's going to create one for us?) here is another alternative to the many recipes out there on the internet. I made this up from parts of other recipes so I could have a mostly sugar free drink base. It isn't as thick as the real thing but even made up with my own thin almond milk it still makes for a pretty creamy mouth feel. And my house smells ah-mazing!

Pumpkin Pie Latte Syrup--reduced sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree
3 cups water
2 cups sucralose powder for baking (the fluffy Splenda)
1/2 cup organic blue agave syrup
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tablespoon Saigon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, reserved

Whisk all ingredients except vanilla together in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until mixture has reduced by at least 1/3 begins to sheet when poured from a spoon. This took me about 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cool slightly then add the vanilla. If the texture of the spices is objectionable you could filter through a fine sieve. Store the syrup in a non-reactive container in the fridge. 

For my latte I used 1/2 cup double-strength coffee, 1 1/2 cups thin almond milk and half a cup of syrup. (I like things sweet! lol) This would also be tasty added to tea or to top a bowl of hot oatmeal but is really too sweet on its own for just straight eating.

Edit:  this is sooooo delicious in homemade soy milk.  OHMYGOSH!  It is like a liquid pumpkin pie party in my mouth.   Hope I can get the link to the milk directions to work right:  http://www.tinyurbankitchen.com/2012/02/homemade-soy-milk.html

Saturday, August 25, 2012

More like Grandma's Kind of Day

No pictures, just a few notes so I won't forget.  Mom has several of Grandma's diaries and they are shaming for a modern woman to read.  She usually accomplished more in a day than most of us get done in a week and entertained family and friends all along the week too.  Some of her entries pretty much just chronicled days spent in the kitchen baking or canning.  She produced huge quantities of food and I well remember the smells and sights of her basement pantry with it's walls lined with home canned foods.  It must have been absolutely ideal storage except for the stairs which were no doubt painful due to her phlebitis.  We grandkids usually didn't mind running downstairs for her, it gave a chance to sneak peeks into the very interesting storage rooms there too!  One room had a working cast-iron stove and lawn furniture. (?) One had boxes and boxes of Grandma's old hats.  One was the 'guest' room and had boxes of dishes and old clothes.  Seems there were neat treasures everywhere you looked but like a typical basement to a kid it was also at times a bit dark and scary.

...off track as normal.  Anyway here goes with a list of what I accomplished today:

Prepped four batches of cookie dough balls to freeze to use for Christmas cookie swaps.  Easy-peasy stuff with cake mixes but- still!  Each batch made 3-4 dozen cookies.  Puts me way ahead of the normal December work load.

 Baked, prettied and froze a batch of gluten free treats for a family member's Christmas gift.  No peeking!

 Cooked and canned a batch of pizza sauce from our home-grown Roma tomatoes.  Each one has a little Apache chili pepper on top so it should be zesty!  Made 6 quarts.

Baked a batch of gluten free, sugar free zucchini mini cakes (4) and have them wrapped to freeze.

Prepped and processsed the last of this year's garlic harvest.  The Vita-Mix made easy work of it and I used the leftover garlic water in the batch of pizza sauce.  Came out to 18- 1/8 cup portions.

Now to finish up kitchen cleanup and get to bed.  I will want to remember getting this much done.  They say the memory is the 2nd thing to go in middle age, I can't remember what the first one was.  ;)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cranberry Banana Muffins

Like 90% or more of the internet-using female population, I find a lot of inspiration on Pinterest lately.  This recipe came about from a pin for Cranberry Banana Bread http://www.food.com/recipe/cranberry-banana-bread-16211that sounded like a good candidate for substitutions, based on the reviewers comments.  After a day spent working very hard in the yard and maybe expecting some company of the Gluten Free Persuasion (Elizabeth and Eric, cross fingers) I thought it would be a good time for a nice treat.  Since more yardwork is coming today it is now or never.  While these bake I am getting the recipe saved here and can maybe come back with a photo if they turn out pretty.  (And if I get around to it! Ha!)  Oops, I forgot to set the timer.  Uh...  We'll see.


Cranberry Banana Muffins

1 cup stevia-for-baking sugar substitute
1/2 cup peanut oil (or applesauce or other fat)
1 cup mashed bananas (needed 2 bananas)
1/4 cup milk (I used soy coffee creamer for richness)
2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
2 cups gluten-free flour mix
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
2 tablespoons chia seeds, dry
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups craisins (original recipe called for them to be chopped but I left them whole)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare 2 muffin tins with paper liners sprayed with a little nonstick cooking spray in each.  This batch ended up making 19 muffins.

Mix bananas with eggs, add oil and the rest of the ingredients one at a time.  Stir lightly after each addition and try not to overbeat the batter.  Using an ice-cream scoop I filled each muffin cup evenly and baked 15 minutes.

Edit:  YUMMMMM!  Nice and crispy on the outside, moist and chewy on the inside and hopefully the chia seed addition will give it extra 'staying power'.  I'll make these again for sure but might go back to my splenda-for-baking since personally, the stevia leaves an aftertaste I'm not thrilled about.   Still...there was good body to this and knowing it is healthier than the sucralose is a big selling point for a lot of folks.  I bet my guys won't touch these so the batch will probably end up getting frozen and lovingly doled out for my breakfasts and snacks at work.

2nd Edit:  These were great the first day and the 2nd day they were hard-as-a-rock dry!  Maybe the chia seeds sucked up all the moisture?  I don't know but I did try to eat them as-is and finally gave up on that idea.  The rest of the batch got cubed and baked into a fat-free/dairy free/sugar free bread pudding.  It fed me for more than a week's worth of breakfasts and was very good.  But next time I make this...I will either leave out the chia seeds or hydrate them before adding them.  lol