A Different Kind of Before and After

I had to scan a lot of photos for an upcoming project (I’m actually just happy that I finally know how to scan.) And I found an old picture from when I first moved into this cabin.

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Here is the cabin now.

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And a bonus recipe idea–one of my sewing ladies served this at lunch last week. The combination was DELICIOUS! Okay, so the original had arugula, watermelon, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. My version has romaine, watermelon, laughing cow lite, and low fat balsamic vinaigrette. You choose–both ways were delicious!

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I had it for dinner with one of my ham and cheese muffins. A delightful meal!

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Pansy Parade and Pudding Report

After months (I am not exaggerating) of Noah mowing down every single pansy bloom, and me almost killing the pansies with my “treatments”–pepper, “Boundary” repellant for dogs, and Bitter Apple spray,– I decided to try feeding Noah some baby carrots every night in his supper. The little dogs get them every night. But Noah started urping them, and I had stopped giving them to him. I don’t know if its a coincidence, or its really a cure, but since I started feeding him the carrots again, he has stopped eating the pansies, and now all his “pruning” has rewarded me with the best crop of pansies I’ve ever had! Each little plant is like a bush full of flowers. Is there a better way to spend $3 than on a six-pack of pansies?

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And the pudding report. Remember I mentioned that chocolate sweet potato pudding? Well, first I tried it substituting pumpkin for sweet potatoes. Because it turned out I didn’t have any sweet potatoes. I could still taste the pumpkin, so I didn’t like that too much. I did like that it was nice and thick. So a couple days later I got sweet potatoes at the store and tried again. I added a little more cocoa powder. It was good, but for me it was not worthy. The calories come out to between 170 and 200 per serving the way I figured it. You could divide it into smaller servings if you wanted. The thing about it is, that whole recipe is very healthy, so if you liked it, it would really be a good one to keep in the rotation. For me, I’d rather eat two walnut-stuffed dates.

Recipe Review: Other People’s Recipes!

Here are some recent recipes I’ve tried that are truly excellent in the taste department, and not half-bad in the nutrition department either!

First up: a crockpot chicken salsa recipe. I’ve tried various versions of this recipe, but for some reason this one hit me just right! I think it had to do with the fact that the ratio of beans to chicken was not too high. I’m not a big fan of the bean, altho I have come to enjoy the flavor it can add to food (I don’t like the texture.) Anyway, the big (for me) change I made to this recipe was to substitute 8 oz (8 wedges) of Laughing Cow Lite for the 8 ounces of cream cheese. That is a savings of 520 calories for the recipe, (about 43 calories per serving.) I didn’t have limes, so they just got left out. The recipe also did not have “amount of servings” listed, so I figured that with 2 pounds of chicken and a can of beans, 12 servings seemed reasonable. Which figured out to only 150 calories per serving! (as always, I recommend you figure out your own calorie count.) Dividing the finished recipe into 12 servings was just right. And, it froze well–tasted just as good after thawing! I had this recipe in a wrap (I use La Tortilla 100 calorie wraps,) over a baked potato, and almost most awesome of all, I converted it into taco soup. I just took 2 or 3 servings, added whatever veggies I wanted, and 2 Tbsp of taco seasoning (yes, I use the pre-made stuff.) It was just delicious! This one’s a keeper. Anytime I can eat 12 servings of anything in a relatively short time period, you know its good.

Here’s another little tasty treat--Coconut and honey no-bake energy bites. And that is exactly what it is: LITTLE, TASTY, and a TREAT. Being a volume eater, I usually don’t go for LITTLE. But these are very satisfying (I can eat just one.) Be sure to do the calorie count yourself, but I came up with 80-100 calories each. The only change I made was to add some chopped walnuts. Oh, and I made some walnut butter to use in it (instead of peanut butter.) And I added a little salt : ) And I made half a recipe. Because 50 little energy bites is too much for a single girl. Another recipe that freezes just fine!

The latest recipe I’ve bookmarked to try is this Sweet Potato Chocolate pudding recipe. I do enjoy chocolate pudding, and I have too many sweet potatoes in the drawer right now, so I think I’ll try this one sooner than later. Its an intriguing idea, don’t you think?

A Good Bowl of Oats

I went to bed last night thinking about what I was going to eat today. What? Doesn’t everyone do that? I have a notebook on my bedside table where I write down a brief plan for the next day’s food. It only takes a minute, and then I don’t have to think so much about “what am I going to eat?” the next day.

ANYWAY, I started thinking about oatmeal. Somewhere along the way, I lost my oatmeal mojo. Then I added up the calories in the way I like it (custard oats, with walnuts and raisins) and I remembered one reason I stopped eating it. That bowl was 300 calories, and I try to keep my breakfasts under 200 calories. (Don’t feel sorry for me. I do that because I want my mid-morning snack.)

ANYWAY, I started thinking about how I could change that bowl of oats, but still make it delicious. And maybe get a little more nutrition into it? What if I made it REALLY custardy, and doubled the usual amount of egg whites in it? How about using fresh fruit instead of the raisins?

Its hard to get a tasty picture of oatmeal...

Its hard to get a tasty picture of oatmeal…

Oh yes, this was a most worthy recipe! It made a nice sized bowl of oats, so creamy and delicious, and came in at just under 200 calories, with 10 grams of protein per serving (that’s more protein than my usual breakfast fodder.) Here’s the official recipe. Best part? It makes 2 servings, one for now and one for later!

About that Low-Fat, Sugar-Free Baking

Its not the same. You know that, right? When you see those 37 calorie brownies on Facebook, they are not the same as the 900 calorie brownies that you can also see on Facebook. Without sugar and fat, baked goods might look the same, but they do not taste the same. They do not have the same mouth feel. They also do not leave you with the never-ending wanting for MORE.

The "37 calorie brownies." (I ran them through calorie count and they are closer to 50 calories...that's another thing. Don't take anybody's word for the calorie count that seems too good to be true. Check it out for yourself.) I did follow this recipe. My brownies looked nothing like the picture on Facebook.

The “37 calorie brownies.” (I ran them through calorie count and they are closer to 50 calories…that’s another thing. Don’t take anybody’s word for the calorie count that seems too good to be true. Check it out for yourself.) I did follow this recipe. My brownies looked nothing like the picture on Facebook.

So that’s why I choose to do most of my baking low-fat and sugar free. I love the luxury of having a scone for breakfast every morning if that’s what I want. I enjoy having a brownie with some decaf coffee for my dessert in the evening. I can have both of those every day if I want to (I do not want to LOL.)

But as long as I have been doing this, I am still suckered in by the photos that look deceptively similar to their high-fat, sugar-loaded cousins. Its okay that they taste different. It would be better if you knew that before you tried them so that your first reaction is not disappointment.

Apple Custard –this was a really good recipe! It has a little fat (from whole eggs) and a little sugar (honey,) but it was not the same as “real custard” made with full fat milk and sugar. Still an excellent value at 150 calories for a large serving. It made the whole house smell delicious! I had it for dessert AND for breakfast. Not on the same day.

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Here’s the original recipe. I see that I “healthified” it quite a bit. Here’s my version.

A Peachy Keen Summer

After grousing about the poor harvest of peaches last summer, it seems I have been rewarded with a banner crop of peaches this year! I have gotten peaches from three different places, and all of them have been wonderful. My latest purchase was from Costco! They traditionally have had great peaches for sale each summer. But really, what is a single person to do with a DOZEN peaches? Time to get creative!!

While I was at Costco, they were promoting their organic products. The lady in the quinoa booth caught my attention, and we had a brief conversation about how we used our quinoa. I still have a lot of quinoa because I bought a SEVEN POUND BAG at Costco. Ahem…moving on. Anyway, she mentioned that she uses it with peaches to thicken them. Ooh, that sounds yummy.

One of the troubles of quinoa is that it is kind of dry. It seems like it needs something to make it stick together. So I came up with this idea. Its more an idea than a recipe, although I guess I’ll write the idea down on my recipe site, if only for myself. I cooked one serving of quinoa–1/4 cup of quinoa in 1 cup of water. While that was cooking, I peeled and chopped 2 peaches. I put them in a separate pan with just a bit of water to keep them from sticking. After they cooked for a bit, I added a slurry (don’t you love these fancy new cooking terms I pick up from my cooking shows) of 1 1/2 tsp corn starch, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 cup water. And I continued to cook for about 3 minutes. By this time the quinoa was cooked and I added the quinoa to the peaches–Voila! Peachy Quinoa Compote. Remove from heat and add sweetener of choice. This made 3 servings at 95 calories per serving.

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Now, here is another recipe I tried at the same time, because I thought they would taste good together, kinda like peaches and cream. Well, its peaches and cream for the weirdly healthy food addict LOL.

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It is Chia Pudding. Couldn’t be simpler. I got the original idea here. All you do is put 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk and 4 Tbsp chia seeds, along with sweetener of choice into a container with a lid. Give it a shake. 15 minutes later give it another shake and then put it in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. I really enjoyed this. Only 50 calories for 1/2 cup.

I think there are a lot of ways you could eat the Peachy Quinoa Compote. Warm, with some granola on top, for a dessert. Maybe as a topping for french toast or protein pancakes?

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(French toast made with whole grain bread, about 230 calories for this plate.)

And I plan to have the rest of the Chia Pudding with some blueberries tomorrow morning. The Fun with Food never stops!

Oh, as long as I mentioned fun with food, I have to share a picture I took of my dinner the other night. I really eat like this.

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( 4 oz. turkey burger with tomatoes and lettuce.)

Recipes and Ideas

Another post full of recipe and food ideas! What can I say? Eating is something I do every day all day. I enjoy it.

Everyone knows about overnight oats, right? A couple weeks ago I had pre-planned my meals (as usual,) and I had written down steel cut oats for breakfast (because, hello, I bought SEVEN POUNDS of the stuff at Costco…) But I realized that it was going to be 110 degrees in the morning, and cooking oatmeal did not appeal. So I remembered the overnight oats. Kinda like breakfast pudding. And I came up with the idea of almond joy overnight oats. This was sooo yummy, and not too costly, calorie-wise. I made the basic overnight oats recipe (oats, chia seeds, almond milk, and yogurt,) and added about 1/2 Tbsp each of shredded unsweetened coconut, sugar free chocolate chips, and sliced almonds, and 1/4 tsp of coconut extract and some splenda to sweeten.

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Single Lady Lasagne–alas, no picture! I ate it too quickly. This was a recipe I came up with a while ago, and actually used it for one of my columns in The Quilt Life magazine. I wrote the column last winter, and the magazine just came out so I tried the recipe again. Quite delicious. I’ll post the recipe and you can read it there. Its very simple to assemble, and includes slices of zucchini, which makes it a nice big serving. The best part is no pre-cooking the lasagne noodle. Yes, for one serving, you only use one lasagne noodle!

I watch cooking shows ALL THE TIME. At the gym on the bike, and at home in the evening, if I can find something on the computer, its usually a cooking show. I really can’t eat anything those people cook. (example: the Barefoot Contessa, “Just a bit of butter to bring out the flavor” as she puts a whole cube in the pot LOL.)

Anyway, I was watching Giada (anyone else find it irritating that she is so thin and pretty and cooks like that and seems to actually eat the food, but then she’s so nice you can’t really be mad at her?) She was making some Strawberry-Rosemary Scones. Mmmm. What a nice flavor combination. I already have my low-cal scone recipe perfected, and just needed to add the strawberries and rosemary. I used Lori’s recipe for thickening fruit (adding just a bit of corn-starch) and made my own quick strawberry jam. These are fun and tasty. And a nice breakfast or dessert treat at about 150 calories. My recipe is here.

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I sprayed them with a bit of ‘butter’ and sprinkled my cinnamon splenda on top before putting them in the freezer.

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The other day I mentioned getting a little pizza at the farmer’s market, and how I liked Trader Joe’s whole wheat crust better. I finally got to a TJ’s, and I made a pizza over the weekend. I still haven’t mastered the art of making a nice round pizza crust, but it tastes just fine. A little leftover spaghetti sauce, chopped spinach, some fresh mozzarella, and tomatoes went on this one. Cut into 6 big pieces, each one is just 250 calories. And its funny, when you KNOW the calorie count, that is more than enough pizza to satisfy. But when you’re eating out and you *don’t know* the calorie count, you just keep eating and eating. Anyway, that’s what I usually do.

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Froyo. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I have an ice cream freezer (had to have one of those cuisine-art things) but it usually freezes some of the ice cream to the sides of the freezer, which is frustrating, and then when I make a batch and freeze the leftovers, its as hard as ice. This is probably because of the low fat content of what I’m making. Anyway, I tried this. And I do think this is the way to go for a single person. All I need to do is freeze the froyo solution in ice cube trays, and then process the cubes in my mini food processor for instant frozen yogurt at just the right consistency.  This was just a mix of some homemade yogurt with a little of that leftover ‘strawberry jam’ from the scone recipe. It was just right!

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And topped with three walnut halves and some SF mini chocolate chips–165 calories:

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In case you think all of my food experiments come out perfect every time, this morning I ate half of a serving of some chocolate overnight breakfast pudding that I came up with and made last night. It wasn’t horrible, but I didn’t like it. So I only ate half, and had one of my very light banana muffins on the side. Now that’s yumm! Did I tell you I came up with that recipe as a way to use up the leftover egg/milk solution from my french toast?