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.

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Lessons from the Quilt Show

I just returned from the Pacific International Quilt Show. Every year it seems there is a special exhibit that really touches me. This year it was an exhibit of 23 quilts called The Tall Girl Series: A Body of Work, by artist Carol Larson. I had heard the story behind these quilts before I came to the show. But to see the quilts, and read the stories behind each one touched me in a very deep way.

Here is Carol’s explanation of the series:

in 1965 when i was 17 years old and 78.5 inches long, i was surgically shortened 6 inches with the intention of giving me a “normal” life. so begins the introduction of the “tall girl series: a body of work.”

this series highlights the 40+ years since the three surgeries that broke my body, nearly crushed my spirit and forever changed my life.

This quilt portrays Carol being tormented by a bully in middle school. He would wait for her, throwing rocks and insults at her. Carol's sense of humor comes through--the boy's caption says "how is the weather up there?" And Carol is replying "Fabulous."

This quilt portrays Carol being tormented by a bully in high school. He would wait for her, throwing rocks and insults at her. Carol’s sense of humor still comes through–the boy’s caption says “how is the weather up there?” And Carol is replying “Fabulous.”

Can you imagine being given the responsibility of making such a horrendous decision when you were 17 years old?

I know its a stretch, but what it made me think of is how many of us with “weight issues” are willing to go way too far in order to achieve a body that we think will make us “fit in” and be “happy.” Every day people undergo unnecessary surgery (and not just us weight control people.) Surgery is serious business. If people had to watch it like I did as a student nurse, they would understand a little better why it hurts so much, and why it takes so long for your body to heal. And why, oftentimes, it just exchanges one kind of long term pain for a different kind of long term pain. I am always surprised when people seem to go casually into major surgery.

Carol's quilt about her experience with pain. On a trip to the ER in excruciating pain, she was asked what her pain was on a scale of 1-10. She replied that it was 14.

Carol’s quilt about her experience with pain. On a trip to the ER in excruciating pain, she was asked what her pain was on a scale of 1-10. She replied that it was 14.

And then of course, there are the “lesser things” that we do to achieve that magic “goal weight” and/or body image. Like the woman I just talked to today, who is thinking about (ON HER DOCTOR’S RECOMMENDATION!) going on a 500 calorie a day diet. Even though she has done it before, and she has experienced re-gaining all the weight lost on such a restrictive diet, she is still considering it.

I am glad to tell you that Carol is an extremely talented and successful artist with a wonderful sense of humor.

From Carol’s blog:

I still believe this is a story that needs to be heard. Every single one of us has something in our past which has molded us into who we are in the world today;  and for so many these truths are painful, tragic things that happened to our bodies.

The purpose of the series was my personal healing. It’s purpose today is to encourage others to do their own healing, to speak of and expel their own story from their body. Believe me when I say it takes a huge toll to hold on to old sorrows.

I was blessed with a very sensitive spirit and also the courage to tell my story.  I am also blessed with the intuitive sense that the story can go on now to inspire others, without my active involvement.

Maybe this will make you think of something else that is a deep seated problem in your life. Something worth spending the time to work through, as Carol bravely did. I wish you could have seen the whole exhibit, with the unbelievably painful things that she experienced during her life. Here is a link to an article that tells a little more about her story. 

Thank you, Carol, for sharing your story with us. As difficult as it is to hear comments from insensitive, unthinking people, I hope you know that there are at least as many of us who heard, and are trying to understand, and that it has done a great deal of good for us.

Fun in the Garden

I went out to the garden to take a picture of one flower (I thought, ooh, gotta share this one with Lori,) and then found the “close up” option on my camera. I’m having fun playing with this new camera. If only I would read the instruction manual, I bet it’d REALLY be fun…

Here’s the flower I wanted to share. Its a Shasta Daisy, but so much more fun than the Shasta Daisies we had growing up. I got two of these plants to put in the corner garden where the tomatoes are currently residing. They are supposed to be deer resistant. We’ll see about that…

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Next up, pansies. Aren’t pansies just marvelous? They look like they’ve been painted by someone. Well, as a matter of fact, they HAVE been painted by Someone!

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I replanted the little plot outside the front door. The pansies will be so cheerful in the spring!

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This is the first year I’ve kept a fuchsia alive for the whole growing season! It is enjoying the cooler weather of fall. Unfortunately, it won’t so much enjoy the frost we get in winter…

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And the coleus, that had just about died at the end of summer, has made a re-appearance!

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Nice color combo, don’t you think?

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I am anxious to re-plant other areas of the garden (I have 150 bulbs to plant!!) but I just can’t bring myself to take these annuals out yet.

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This plant was a big surprise. It was just a few sticks when I bought it in the spring. It has gotten quite huge, and is a prolific bloomer through all three seasons. Its called a Flowering Maple (Chinese Bell Flower).

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There was a bee buzzing around the salvia. I had fun trying to get a good picture. Not quite as proficient as Lori with her close-up shots!

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Its a beautiful color though. I think this is a plant that will come back. I have really enjoyed its beauty this year.

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And more shots of my favorite lantana.

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And this little plant has just steadily produced blooms all summer. It seems to be enjoying the cooler weather too.

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And that’s the garden report for this weekend. I have some little plants to get in the ground, including some snow peas (yumm!) but I have to wait for some of the other plants to die so I will have room for them. That sounds rude, doesn’t it? But that’s life.

I have lots more to say about diet and food and aging and life, but I am having a hard time making myself take the time to write. How do you all do it?

AIM: Kickoff to the Eating Season

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I have one word for you:  PUMPKIN CUBES!! Okay, that’s two words, but you know what I mean. For those of you who have followed me for a while, you might remember my love of all things cubed. I’ve made banana cubes, and huge batches of fruit smoothies all frozen into individual cubes. I’ve pulverized, cubed, and frozen spinach to use in my smoothies. I even cubed some pesto!

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For me, from way back when I first started Weight Watchers, my go-to treat for the fall has been Pumpkin Custard. As they explained in W.W., the pie crust is where all the calories are. The pumpkin pie filling really doesn’t have that many calories.  Of course it took me a few years to get over the fact that my favorite part of pumpkin pie was THE CRUST and THE WHIPPED CREAM on top. Once I got over that, I embraced the pumpkin custard, and it has gone through various revisions over the years. Now my favorite way to make it is my single serving recipe. Its a simple recipe to mix, and then I don’t feel pressured to eat it four nights in a row. However, when you open the big can of pumpkin, there is a lot of leftover pumpkin after you use 1/3 cup for this recipe. And THAT is when I came up with the pumpkin cube.

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I don’t know what made me try this recipe raw, but I really love it. Its like one of those dessert soups I see on my cooking shows. And once I made the pumpkin cubes, I could make a frosty drink out of it! This morning I added 1/2 scoop of my vanilla whey protein powder, and that was a super delicious pumpkin protein smoothie for only 170 calories and about 17 grams of protein.

Now that I’ve got my handy dandy pumpkin cubes, I will probably be making even more pumpkin treats this fall. When I put “pumpkin” into the search box on my recipe site, I found more recipes than i even remembered having. (read this next sentence in Forrest Gump) There’s pumpkin pecan scones, pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin protein snack bars, pumpkin in 3M Chia muffins, and pumpkin added to my fabulous quinoa breakfast recipe.

There are plenty of other hurdles to cross throughout this long holiday season, but having a simple and satisfying treat that I can enjoy any time is a really good thing.

Be sure to visit my AIM compadres to see what they have to say about The Eating Season. I’m sure we each have a very different take on how we enjoy the food and the holidays while still maintaining our weight loss!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet