Tuesday, May 31, 2016
In a cereal bowl mix 1/2 cup milk and 1 tablespoon Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
Let sit 10 minutes
2 Tablespoons of sugar
3/4 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
In a larger bowl mix
1/2 cup Azures Standard wild yeast whole wheat sourdough starter
dash of vanilla extract
the curdled milk mixture
2 Tablespoons of butter, melted.
Mix wet into dry ingredients, blending, just until mixed. Batter should be fairly thick, depending on your sourdough mixture, just enough to drop on the griddle with a spoon and spread out only slightly. If it is runny, add 2-3 Tablespoons more flour, if it is too thick, add a Tablespoon of milk. Cook on an oiled griddle set to medium heat.
Monday, May 30, 2016
I've switched over to all organic skin care, using products from several lines, my favorite being "Simply Birgit" and "Frangipani" (incredible serum), both hand crafted in Indiana, and female run companies. (links to both on the right sidebar under "products I use in my home").
I have incredibly sensitive facial skin that breaks out at the drop of a hat. The only foundation I found that offered good, natural coverage in a tone light enough for my "Casper the Friendly Ghost" complexion without the most common sunscreen ingredient (which I can't wear) was a Chanel one that was $72. I don't want to pay $72 for an organic foundation, I'm certainly not paying $72 for a NON-organic one. Seriously - finding a good really light color in foundation is not easy, even the lightest ones are too dark, too pink or too yellow. To get a shade that worked I had to sacrifice either moderate price or a natural look.
I finally found my Holy Grail foundation, and even better - their blush and eyeshadow rocks.
Sappho is a female owned and operated (JoAnn Fowler, an Emmy-Nominated professional makeup artist) company located in Canada has one of the best organic cosmetic lines I've tried (and I've tried a bunch). Edited from their website:
(The foundation) is made of the
This is one of the few foundations that provides a luminous smoothness to my skin without making it LOOK like I'm wearing foundation and the smell and feel is heavenly from the essential oils. After age 50 (mumble, mumble) you need a lighter foundation that won't settle into fine lines, but you also want a little youthful freshness (not too shiny, not too matte). This was perfect. The container is small, but this foundation formula literally only takes a pump or two to cover my whole face.
I also bought a blush and the eye shadows, also mineral and have since reordered, including their brushes, I'm that pleased with the product and service.
The green "Beckitt" shade is just lovely a pale (or buildable) sheer color, perfect for Spring and Summer with just the slightest hint of sheen to it. I also got the "Chloe" shade which can be used with a thin moist brush for a long lasting eyeliner. The blush shown is "Emma's blush" which is also a mineral formulation with argon oil, providing for a natural, long lasting finish.
I know I can find cheaper products elsewhere but once I understood how chemicals in our skin care and cosmetics end up in our bodies, I made the switch.
I want only ingredients found in nature. When they are crafted with care for their customers AND the planet, it shows.
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Caffeine - when applied to the skin is a vasoconstricter, a diuretic, AND a good antioxidant which results in firming and tightening properties. Caffeine can also constrict the veins, which is useful in reducing dark circles and puffiness around the eyes.
When applied to areas where cellulite is an issue (that cottage cheese appearance to the skin that often no diet and exercise will help) it has a dehydrating effect on the fat cells, triggering the evacuation of sodium and water and the intake of potassium which can result in the skin in those problem areas looking smoother, at least temporarily.
So I've notice a number of products including some great coffee salt/sugar scrubs on the market. The only issue - they are usually EXPENSIVE. As I work on getting more firm and tone, keeping my skin in good shape is a priority (no one wants Rocky the Flying Squirrel arms).
You need dry coffee grounds
and fragrance (option).
You can make as little or as much as you want to use in a two week period (about how long it should safely keep).
The ratio is simple
3 parts ground coffee beans
2 parts melted coconut oil
2 parts sugar (the larger crystal type is great, but table sugar will do).
Melt the coconut oil and pour into the coffee grounds in a small glass container. I used fairly large grounds but if you have delicate skin you can grind a little finer.
Let cool, stirring every so often so the coconut oil doesn't clump as it hardens. (You can put in the refrigerator for a bit to hurry this process up). When cool but still stir-able, stir in sugar (this prevents sugar granules, which are exfoliating as well as moisture drawing, from melting).
Add a few drops of essential oil such as peppermint or spearmint or add a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Store covered in a cool place. In your shower, simply rub on the skin in circular motion and rinse. For eye firming when you wake up,AN take a teaspoon of coffee grounds and mix a few drops coconut or olive oil. Lightly pat under the eye, wait 20 minutes and rinse with cool water.
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Abby T. Lab says "Click to Enlarge - I double dog dare ya!"
This is a fairly easy dinner to put together for a special family meal (I'm leaving my husband at home for a week here soon, to celebrate my dad's 96th birthday, too long of a visit to leave Abby with dog sitters)
If you have just half a biscuit and extra salad, it's still fairly healthy meal, made with a healthy oil for cooking and a reduced fat baking mix.
You will need: four pork chops or uncooked meat substitute such as firm Tofu or Tempeh, sliced into about the size of a chop
a cup of cheese
An onion or veggie of your choice to roast
and baking mix, flour and herbs and spices.
Chop a large sweet onion (or other vegetable you'd prefer to roast) into one-two inch pieces while the oven preheats to 425 F.
Make seasoned flour (yes, you can use a premade kind but most of them have MSG, something my husband is very sensitive to), Besides, this is tastier and WAY cheaper.
1 cup flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. Penzey's Chili 9000 (or plain chili powder)
1 tsp. ground oregano
1 tsp. tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or substitute rosemary)
Make Biscuits: (these taste JUST like the yummy ones at Red Lobster restaurants)
In a blender or food processor pulse several times (until butter is the size of tiny peas)
2 and 1/2 cups Heart Smart Reduced Fat Bisquick baking mix
1 cup grated Cabot reduced fat cheddar
1/4 stick cold butter (or you can cut in with a pastry blender, no food processor required)
Stir in 3/4 cup cold milk just until combined.
Drop by 1/4 cups on non stick cookie sheet and set aside.
Whisk an egg in a bowl, dip 4 pork chops into it, shaking to remove excess, then roll pieces in seasoned flour., until lightly coated
Raise heat on pan to medium/high and sear the pork pieces in the remaining oil from the onions for 1 minute per side, then place in the 13 x 9 pan with the onion.
Do not wipe pan clean, and place back on stove, medium temp..
Set oven timer for 20 minutes.
After the pork has been in the oven a couple of minutes, put biscuits in oven (they'll cook about 1-18 minutes).
Deglaze pan on medium with about 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, reduce to low and stir for a couple of minutes, incorporating any drippings from the meat or veggies, then turn heat off. A few minutes before pork is done, drizzle over the pork and onions, then return to oven.
Pork should be done at 145 degrees F. internal temperature, but let sit at least 3 minutes when out of the oven, as the temperature then will go up a few more degrees without the meat getting tough
Top biscuits with 3 Tablespoons of butter melted in a cup in the microwave with 1 T Parsley (optional, the peeps don't always like it) and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or other savory such as rosemary if you don't use garlic)
Sit back and enjoy!
You made a biscuit for me with the gluten free Biquick and NO Garlic? (garlic is very toxic for dogs)
I LOVE YOU MOM!
Thursday, May 26, 2016
I made a pan of cornbread with the wild yeast/whole wheat sourdough starter and it turned out great.
I LOVE sourdough bread for the taste AND the health benefits:
– easy to digest
– contains the healthy gut bacteria lactobacillus (the same major player in yogurt and kefir)
– has most of the phytic acid broken down and
– doesn't cause a spike in blood sugar like traditional bread often does (I'm hypoglycemic so this is always a concern)
Gluten Free Sourdough Starter (Adaption from King Author Flour website)
In a minimum one quart glass jar or bowl whisk 1/4 teaspoon French sourdough starter into 1 cup King Aurthur Ancient Grains Flour Blend (a whole grain, gluten-free mixture of amaranth, millet, quinoa and sorghum).
With a wooden spoon (I have best results with sourdough NOT using metal implements) stir in 1/2 cup cool water (non chlorinated filtered water will give you the best results.) Blend this mixture together evenly, and allow it to sit at room temperature overnight, lightly covered with a thin cotton towel.
You should begin to see results within hours. When the starter becomes active following this initial feeding regimen, you’ll finally be able to use it in your first recipe.
Keep in a crock or glass jar with a loose fitting lid for airflow, feeding with equal amounts of gf multipurpose flour and filtered water every couple of days storing it in a very cool place or your fridge. If you don't use it for a while, remove a cup of the starter and replace with a 1/2 cup each of flour and water, stir and feed again in a couple of days. It should revive.
The recipe for cornbread is below but if you are making yeast breads and cakes, King Arthur flour website recommends using 1 cup starter in place of 1/2 cup of water/liquid and 1 cup of flour in your recipe.
For the gluten free cornbread.
1 cup GF Sourdough Starter
2 cups cornmeal
1 1/2 cups milk (dairy or nut)
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup oil of your choice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Mix milk and lemon juice together and let sit a few minutes. Preheat oven to 425 F. and lightly grease a 10 inch ovenproof skillet or baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine the starter, cornmeal, milk mixture, sugar and eggs (beaten first). Stir in the oil, salt and baking soda. If using a cast iron skillet instead of a pan, preheat it in the oven for a few minutes, the remove with a potholder and pour in the batter. Bake 25-30 minutes. (I love cast iron to get that great crunchy crumb to the edge of the cornbread).
Monday, May 23, 2016
Friday, May 20, 2016
Saturday, May 14, 2016
1 and 3/4 cups Azures Standard wild yeast sourdough starter (bring to room temperature)
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons honey
splash of vanilla
pinch of spice (cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom)
1 extra large egg (or two small)
4 Tablespoons butter melted
1 Tablespoon hot water
1 teaspoon baking soda
Mix sourdough starter, flour, salt, vanilla, spice, egg and melted butter (last) in larger bowl.
In a cup mix 1 Tablespoon of hot water with the baking soda and stir in right before you cook them.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Wild Sourdough Corn Muffins
In a large bowl mix:
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour (you can use white or a mixture of white and w.w. pastry flour)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup corn meal
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh is best but thawed from frozen or canned will work).
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup milk (or almond milk if you want a vegan version).
1 teaspoon molasses
1/4 tsp Vanilla
SLOWLY Whisk in:
6 Tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled slightly (or use vegetable oil for vegan version)
Mix wet into dry mixture in the bigger bowl until combined.
Place into muffin pan sprayed with non stick spray or buttered.
Bake in 350 F. degree preheated oven 18-20 minutes, until golden brown around the bottom and a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean.
Made 12 muffins plus one small bread pan of cornbread (about an inch thick for some nice little slabs to go with lunch soup)
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
So when my husband offered to cook me dinner recently after a long day, I was not going to say no. He had some chicken, some veggies, a big cast iron skillet with lid and some herbs. Plus the man knew how to braise.
Braising is a good way to prepare a cheap cut of meat and often the one people are the least experienced with. Braising is a cooking technique in which the main ingredient is seared, or browned in fat, and then simmered in liquid on low heat in a covered pot. The best equipment to use would be a pressure cooker or heavy Dutch oven, or, in many kitchens, simply big cast iron pan with a heavy metal lid that may not seal tightly, but it covers.
The basic steps involve seasoning, sauteing the meat lightly in a bit of oil or butter until brown, deglazing the pan with broth, stock or juice, stirring up the browned bits, adding cooking liquid and then finishing in the oven until it's completely tender (for large cuts of meat, such as cheaper cuts of roast this can range from 1 to several hours).
For braising chicken, the best cuts of chicken are the legs and thighs, preferably on the bone with skin on for a little fat to get the juiciest pieces. There's no need to braise boneless, skinless breasts, they will do much better grilled or just sauteed.
Braising is a good way to use up cheaper cuts of meat. If you have a local butcher, see about leftover pieces from a specialty cut or the dismantling of a whole bird to give another shopper some chicken breasts. They often will have some and sell to you at a reduced cost if there's not enough to make up a big "family pack". Also check the "reduced" section. Such items, if cooked right away are still quite good and often heavily discounted.
You've all seen those prepacked dinners that can be made quickly. Most are full of artificial ingredients and tons of sodium, and run up to $10.00 or more. You can make something 10 times more tasty for less than half of that, if you shop carefully, and get veggies and other staples in family packs or bulk. Even better, put your best Semaphore Code "tablecloth", some candles and place mats and enjoy a meal that's not eaten in your car or in front of the TV.
Tonight's posted recipe is a slight adaption of the traditional method, using bacon fat in addition to the oil to sear the meat and using less liquid, so that the veggies maintain a bit of crispness as the meat cooks off til it's fall off the bone tender.
Start with chicken pieces. It was going to be a light supper so a thigh and a leg per person. Before prep, the pieces should be rinsed and patted dry.
Brown 2-3 large pieces of double smoked bacon in a cast iron skillet. Remove and set aside. The bacon fat from that is just the perfect amount for the pan with a splash of good quality olive oil. Add the oil to the bacon fat, stirring up the brown bacon bits. Add chicken pieces with the heat on medium high. Cook skin side down for 5-6 minutes (more if really big pieces) until lightly brown, flip and remove and keep warm. In the same pan add the onion, Cook, stirring in the drippings until softened but not caramelized (you want a bit of bite to it still). Add to that was a good splash or three of balsamic vinegar (Artesano's 18 year old, incredible stuff) and some chopped thyme.
This is different than traditional braising that fully simmers the bigger cuts of meat in a lot of broth. For this recipe, you don't need to as it keeps the onions perfectly cooked with a texture and taste that's more roasted than boiled. Place in preheated hot (roughly 400 F.) oven for 20 minutes, until no pink remains in the meat. Throw in a a couple nice baked potatoes, partially cooked in the microwave (4-6 minutes depending on size) and then wrapped in foil and placed in with the covered pan to finish cooking with the chicken..
When done, rub the potatoes with a tiny bit of olive oil and course sea salt and serve with some vegan butter spread and the chopped bacon as well as some steamed veggies to which you added only white pepper. I've had more photogenic meals (it was dark out when dinner was done) but few that were as tasty for a "budget" minded chef.
That leaves enough money for a replacement 710 Cap.
Monday, May 9, 2016
Pre and post workout I've learned that there are better alternatives to sports drinks full of chemicals and sugar or artificial sweeteners. Simple Chocolate Milk.
I love Oberwise brand, available in much of the Midwest and all over Chicagoland, as it's low fat and has no added artificial ingredients, rBHT growth hormone OR white sugar (using a natural plant extract for the sweetness). It's gluten free (yes, pure milk should be but much of the dairy you see in stores contains thickening agents made with grains.) Oberweis Dairy does not use such thickening agents in their dairy products.
Plus they use cows that are treated humanely, as happy cows -who are not stressed, produce better quality milk. The end product is less sweet than what you may have had, with a rich, thick taste, that when cold, is as satisfying as any high calorie milkshake.
It's MUCH cheaper than high performance supplements and beverages for athletes. (and you're NOT going to miss consuming artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup and tasty Gycerol Ester of Wood Rosin).
One cup of Oberweis low fat chocolate milk has just 90 calories, and has more B Vitamins then you might realize, nutrients you need to convert food into energy as well as Vitamin D for healthy bones, calcium and phosphorous. Low fat chocolate milk doesn't have a high dose of saturated fat or cholesterol but DOES have over a dozen vitamins and minerals. And of course, there's the protein.
You need protein. You're not going to get that from a couple cups of coffee pre or post workout.
A cup of Oberweis chocolate milk has 9 grams.
It also has lots of calcium. Sure you can get your calcium from broccoli but after you work out how often do you think "boy I'd love to have some fresh broccoli right now".
A number of studies have shown that calcium can actually impede your body's ability to absorb fat, and when researchers in Nebraska analyzed five of these studies they estimated that consuming 1,000 mg more calcium can translate to losing nearly 18 pounds of flab that otherwise would have been lost with calorie reduction alone.
Additionally, in a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, subjects were given chocolate milk before hopping on a stationary bike and were able to ride 49 percent longer than subjects given a generic carbohydrate replace beverage. They also pedaled harder. Milk has naturally occurring electrolytes, you don't need those expensive fortified sports drinks and it's sweetness helps push more energy into your muscles.
Vitamin D - your secret weapon. When I had my physical two weeks ago, my doctor asked if I was taking a Vitamin D supplement. That's not a question I've been asked before. This nutrient is getting a lot more attention and people as people are getting less and less of it as the natural Vitamin D we'd get from sunlight is reduced as we spend more time indoors or covered with a hat and long sleeves due to skin cancer concerns.
Vitamin D is important as it's responsible for moving calcium from your food to your body, so if you're running low on it, you're losing some of that calcium you take in. A Vitamin D deficiency can easily sneak up on you with symptoms of weak muscles, easily breakable bones, and depression. But make sure your chocolate milk has a little fat in it, as you need a little fat to break down the Vitamin D (but skip the whole milk as it has too many calories to make it a habit if you're cutting calories).
So next time you finish your workout or those 12,000 steps for the day consider a soothing and tasty glass of cold chocolate milk.
Your muscles and taste buds will thank you.
Friday, May 6, 2016
But switching to thin crust (the Chicago Style pizzas are yummy but it's the calorie equivalent of eating a pan of lasagna). we save on fat AND calories. Cooking it in the cast iron makes for a thin, crispy crust without being tough and if you use some sourdough starter in place of yeast, you'll have a nice yeast free version. This used up a bit of leftover bell pepper and veggie breakfast sausage made out of spices and grains.
Cast Iron Pizza Crust (for one crust)
1 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon warm water (about 120 degrees)
1 Tablespoon olive oil (I used>Artisano's butter flavored oil)
1/3 cup cornmeal
Whisk active dry yeast in the warm water and let it sit until the yeast is active, which takes about 10 minutes
Note:To make yeast free version: replace yeast with 1/2 cup sourdough starter and reduce water to 1/4 cup, adding more flour if needed if dough is "wet"
Turn out the board dusted with a little flour and knead until the dough is smooth and pliable, about 4 minutes. Place the dough in an lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and let it sit, covered in a warm place for 1 and 1⁄2 hours (until double in size). If using wild yeast sourdough starter, you may have to double the rise time. Roll or pat out (this is a really easy dough to form) to be slightly larger than your seasoned and lightly oiled cast iron pan (mine is 12 inches) and transfer to the pan, building up the edge slightly.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
Cream of Pumpkin Soup with Basil
Six cups chicken stock (or vegan "chicken" or veggie stock)
1 teaspoon salt
dash of nutmeg
dash or ginger
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh basil ( or thyme)
2 cups canned pumpkin puree (just pumpkin, not the pumpkin pie mix in a can that has sugar and spices)
3/4 sweet yellow onion (large) chopped
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
five whole peppercorns (or fresh ground pepper to taste)
Heat stock, spices, onion and pumpkin. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to low and let simmer for half an hour, uncovered. Using a blender or food processor, puree the soup a cup at a time, place back in pan and bring to a bowl again, letting it simmer uncovered for another 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream, strain out peppercorns and serve. (garnish is fresh basil)
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
But back on the plan tomorrow - one meal or treat snack won't ruin a diet plan, unless you allow it to. Especially if you use a smaller plate and split it with your spouse