Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Post Christmas Musings

During the 10 days preceding Christmas the following disappeared from my kitchen:

2 bags of Pepperidge Farm Chessman butter cookies
1 whole tray of  Pizzelle Di Nonna Italian Waffle Cookes
One homemade cinnamon sugar and pecan coffee cake
6 rounds of Lefse with butter and sugar
A pint of peppermint ice cream
2 Nestle Aero chocolate bars from the U.K.
A round of cheddar and one big A** Wasa Crispbread
3 bottles of Chardonnary.

I will be eating a Green Superfood smoothie for breakfast and/or lunch the next week.  The scale has been removed to the closet.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

My Mom's Swedish Pancakes (Gluten free/Low Carb)

There was a morning this week, where after a bachelor dinner while my husband was traveling for wotk (I ate most of the box of KD), I wanted a light breakfast.

Since it's the Christmas season in my home, I wanted Swedish pancakes, using the recipe my half Swedish/half Norwegian Mom made (her parents were both immigrants at the turn of last century)

But my Mom's were a little different than most you see on a restaurant menu, as, although thin, they were made with extra eggs and much less flour, making them almost like a cross between a crepe and thin omelet.  Served with just lingonberry jam, they are truly delicious, light and delicate with a rich taste that pairs perfectly with fruit or jams. These were made with King Author's gluten free flour, so the whole dish was gluten free and low carb.

Mom's Swedish Pancake

Serves 1 as a main course or 2 if you are nice and share with your spouse or partner.  My husband is of Swedish descent so I had no choice :-)  The recipe easily doubles, but don't cook all in one pan or they will be too thick and difficult to handle. Cook in two batches, placing a towel over the first batch to keep warm or cook concurrently in two 9-10 inch cast iron skillets.  I've not done it but I imagine you could also cook as thin little rounds similar to regular pancakes, I just prefer the nice crispy edge you get from the cast iron skillet).

2 eggs
1 cup low fat milk
2 Tablespoons King Author's gluten free flour (or all purpose)
pinch xanthan gum (omit if using regular flour)
3/4  teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (approx, like Mom I don't measure except by eyeballing what's in my hand)
1 Tablespoon melted butter 

Whisk eggs until very fluffy with a hand whisk,  Whisk in rest of ingredients.  Pour into a lightly oiled and pre-heated cast-iron skillet in a thin layer, over medium heat.  Cook until the edges are set and the top looks dry to the touch (several minutes, don't get anxious and raise the heat or they will burn), covering the pan the last 30 seconds for better browning.

It's ready to flip when you can cut into quarters and no batter runs out.  Flip each quarter and cook for two-three more minutes, covering the pan again for the last minute.  They are done when the inside is set and bottom is lightly browned. 

Serve with preserves.

Even if you eat the entire pancake yourself, it's less than 400 calories (plus jam) and very filling with the protein from the two eggs.  For my friend Carol, two quarters (pictured above) would be 5 Weight Watchers Points (plus jam).

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Rap Name is Smooth-E

Smoothie time - After trying one of the home delivery smoothie services for a month, I decided to go back and make my own. They were  super easy and very good but some of the combinations I didn't care for, and some of the containers must have melted slightly in shipment because even though I put them immediately in the chest freezer when I got them (they come with dry ice) some came out of the container as a solid chunk of "fruit ice" which was almost impossible to blend.  Since I  can make my own for a 1/2 the price I canceled my subscription, giving them feedback as to why. But for someone seriously short on time with cash on hand, you might look into it and I imagine since they are new, the shipping issues may resolve themselves.

But I DID learn some GREAT flavor combos and found that if I prep my ingredients the night before and put in the freezer, in the morning (or do a few days worth and freeze in small Tupperware's) all I have to do is put the frozen bits in the blender, add liquid and protein powder, and it's Smoothie time, a no brainer when it's not even light out yet.
Vega brand is one of my favorite brands of vegetarian/vegan smoothie protein powder, I tried using hemp protein powder for a while as it's much more easily digestible than the tradition whey or pea protein powder, but found it a little bit gritty for smoothies so I'm trying to find a good middle ground between creamy but hard to digest (for me) whey and gritty but easy-to-digest hemp.

So when I spotted this new Vega Clean Protein powder (at my local CVS) I had to try it.  It comes in Vanilla and Chocolate.  At the CVS price it's about $2 a serving.  Looking online I saw you can order it from Vitacost for $5 less, and at Amazon for $7 less than what I paid.
From their website:

Because doing epic, crazy stuff can be better with clean fuel, now you can enjoy protein without compromise. Each serving of Vega Clean* Protein has 25 grams protein, and 4 grams BCAAs in a complete, plant-based protein blend made from pea, hemp, alfalfa, and pumpkin seed proteins.

Help build and repair muscle

Complete multisource blend of premium plant-based protein

130 calories

No sugar added (it's sweetened with Stevia)

It also has 4 grams of BCCA's.  Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) help to build and repair muscles post-workout.

It has a comparable amino acid profile to whey, without the harder to digest ingredients I don't want. . Non-GMO Project verified, gluten-free, and made without dairy or soy ingredients, artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners, Vega Clean Protein is plant-based, which means that (unlike some whey protein from US cows), there are no growth hormones or antibiotics to worry about, either.  

Not only are all the proteins used minimally processed and clean, but pea, hemp, alfalfa, and pumpkin seed protein together provide complementary amino acid profiles.  It has a slightly different texture than regular Vega protein powder but was great mixed with fruits and veggies in a blender.
This one was made with equal amounts frozen apple bits, cucumber, spinach, and kale with a little bit of peeled lemon and a dash of turmeri and a scoop of the Clean Vanilla flavor.  It had a nice creamy texture and refreshing creamy-yet-clean taste with a great balance between veggies and fruit. I will definitely make this combo again and after a 90 minute workout, I was recharged.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Some Things Don't Improve with Age - A Beauty Product Review

There are a couple of advantages of menopause early (no more PMS and no pregnancy worries when one isn't trying to get pregnant).

But hair loss and hair thinning is one of the disadvantages many women encounter.  I had seriously thick hair on my head, so even with thinning, it's still pretty decent.

My eyebrows were another issue.  In just a few years I went from Cindy Crawford eyebrows to Granny on Beverly Hillbillies.

I don't like using chemical or hormone laden products on my skin so I found this natural oil at Vermont Country Store that claimed to naturally condition the skin and hair follicles so you could get thicker brows.  I was skeptical but for less than $30 it was worth a try.

Renew Eyebrow  Revitalizer.

You apply a tiny bit morning and night.  It absorbs in a few minutes and didn't make my eye makeup smear.  Based on the amount I used, I'd guess the little bottle would last 2-3 months so you're looking at about $3 a week, the cost of a cup of coffee.

I'll let you be the judge - after six weeks (and there were nights I totally forgot to apply). It says it takes 8 + weeks to see results but I do think it's working.



Friday, December 2, 2016

Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n -Meat Free Meals

I eat meat-free every meal at least two days a week.  It increases the number of veggies I get in my diet, and allows me extra money to buy really good quality free-range beef and chicken for the days I do eat meat.  But with low blood sugar, getting adequate protein  is important so I do look for veggie protein meals that can be quick and easy on work days and are made with ingredients I can recognize from nature.

These are my favorite, the orange crispy chicken.  They take just 6-8 minutes to prepare and served with a little leftover rice or noodles and some raw veggies, I have a really tasty workday meal. The orange chicken, unlike many veggie "meats" contains just ancient grains, not just whole wheat flour, such as amaranth, millet, quinoa, and KAMUT khorasan wheat.  The coating does have a little wheat but it's non-GMO and non genitically-engineered.
Gardein has quite a line of products and this one and the regular crispy chicken pieces I have every single week when I work from home. The "pork" and "beef" strips are also excellent and make great faux Chinese or Thai "takeout" (recipes on the Gardein blog).  Just a note:  If you are at Trader Joe's and see the meatless crispy chicken in the freezer case- I am almost positive it's made by the Gardein people for Trader Joes.  The Crispy chicken has a real unique look/coating and taste and they are EXACTLY like my Gardein ones and made in the same place, but they are cheaper. So be on the lookout.

Today I worked for home and was able to cook, eat and post about my choice on my 30-minute break. All I needed was a dish with hot water to warm the ready-made sauce and a pan with a little olive oil the heat the chick'n.
Once they were heated through and starting to brown I mixed them with the heated sauce. I usually do this in a bowl so not to pick up any extra oil in the pan.

Gardein is a Canadian company.  I'm beginning to think that Canada has stricter food regulations than the US.  I get my Kraft blue box mac and cheese through Canada, which up there is called KD (what they call it). Seriously, I'll buy a case of it at a time. It has way less artificial ingredients and additives than the US Kraft dinner and tastes better with less fat.  Even my husband who does not like the US version gobbles it up. The Gardein products as well have way less "science experiment" sounding ingredients than some US brands of veggie "meats".  Maybe it's a coincidence but I've been very pleased with the quality of those two items.

You can find Gardein all over the US (Carol - where you live they are at Smith Foods).
This was half the package - it says it serves 3 but that's more as a side, not your major entree. I could probably eat the whole package but I'd be too full to move but they are THAT good, like the orange chicken at your favorite Chinese place without all the fat and salt.

Dividing the package in  half (no sauce) is

195 calories
0 grams Saturated or Trans fat
less than 400 mg sodium
0 sugar
and the best part 15 grams of protein.

Adding a tablespoon of the yummy sauce to your entree adds just 40 calories and 8 grams of sugar.

With a couple big spoonfuls of rice and some veggies I had a filling lunch, ready in 10 minutes, for less than 300 calories that was SERIOUSLY better than those frozen diet meals.
click on photo to enlarge -I dare you

These are by far my favorite meatless "meat" products as far as pretty clean ingredients, minimal additives and taste and super easy to make, just heat them up!  Also, my grocer will often have them on sale which brings them to just a bit over a buck a serving.  Not bad.

Gluten Intolerant?

Gardein also has 4 yummy gluten free products.

ground Beefless (great in any recipe that calls for hamburger)
chick'n Scallopini (yummy!)
garden burger and
black bean burger.

Enjoy - a Cow or Chicken will thank you!