Tag Archives: unprocessed

Kitchen Games and Giant Shredded Pancakes

For anyone who has watched an episode of Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals, you know that she likes to play this little game with herself where she tries to collect all of the ingredients she needs for the meal out of her pantry in one swoop.  Sometimes her pile gets going pretty high and it looks like she might drop everything.  When she does that, she says she can always hear her mom in her head telling her to be careful or she might drop something.

Well I like to play a little game in the kitchen too called “How many dishes can you possibly stack in the dish drainer before everything comes tumbling down…. or gets broken?”  And every time I play this game with myself I can hear my mom in my head telling me to be careful before I break or drop something.  Sometimes I actually get to hear my mom’s commentary on how I do the dishes because I often do my dishes while I’m Skyping with my parents (nothing like a little multi-tasking!).  One time she interrupted what I was saying to tell me that the cup I had just stacked at the top of my pile wasn’t going to dry properly because of the way I stacked it.  Thanks, Mom :).

Judging by the large number (lets just say it’s in the double digits!) of wine glasses I’ve broken because of the way I stack my dishes, I don’t think I’m ever going to learn.  It’s way more fun to play my game than to be cautious!

Today I think I did a pretty awesome job at this little game.  Would you like to see?  We had so many dishes that there is not one, but two piles, which means my game was extra challenging/fun.

Can you see both piles?

Stacking game #1. I'm not sure the picture does it justice. I think it'd be more impressive if you could see everything that's under here!

Stacking game #2

You might think we’re slobs judging by the amount of dishes we have here, but let me try to explain.  First of all, I think these are just three days worth of dishes—that’s a lot of dishes for just two people in three days (my husband swears I also like to play this game called, “How many dishes can I dirty in the process of cooking dinner?”).  Second of all, how can I make all of these yummy treats to post on the blog if I don’t dirty pretty much every dish we have ;)?

And last but not least, I used to be slightly OCD about cleaning the dishes immediately after we ate dinner.  I would get stressed out if they weren’t done and couldn’t relax until the kitchen was spotless.  Well, in an effort to tone down the OCD, my husband has taught me the valuable lesson that nothing will happen if I don’t do the dishes right now—or even tomorrow.  He always tells me I need to just sit down and relax because the dishes aren’t going anywhere.  It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but now I think I may have learned it a little too well because I even amaze myself sometimes at how long I can go without doing the dishes.  Three days is practically a record for me!

Oh and we don’t have a dishwasher.  Man do I miss having a dishwasher.  And a garbage disposal.

Anyway, enough rambling about the dishes and on to a recipe.  Today’s recipe is for another sweet treat.  You may be wondering why there are so many sweet treats on a blog that is supposed to be about mindful eating, and that is a great point.  To us, mindful does not mean depriving yourself or eliminating certain food groups altogether.  Mindful eating to us means to eat a balanced diet—mostly healthy stuff, but we think it’s good to eat a little bit of everything, even the sweets.  It means eating real foods, not packaged foods or foods that have ingredients that you can’t pronounce or have never heard of.  It means eating wholesome, natural, and unprocessed foods to the best of our ability.  But we also know that it’s impossible to do that all the time so we just do our best and don’t sweat the small stuff :).

With that said, since I started the no processed sugar challenge this summer, I have really tried to limit the amount of sweets I eat.  That way when I do have something sweet, I can enjoy it without feeling guilty or overdoing it.  Any sweets that I have consumed this summer have all been ‘made over’ so they only include natural sweeteners.

Today I am going to share with you the recipe for Kaiserschmaarn.  Do you remember I posted a picture of it as a teaser in Saturday’s post?  Kaiserschmaarn is one of our favorite treats to have for breakfast on the weekends.  I just found out today when Googling the meaning of “kaiserschmaarn” that 1) it literally translates to “Emperor’s Nonsense”, 2) it is actually a really popular dessert (not breakfast!) in Austria, and 3) it can be made a variety of ways with many different toppings.

This is the way that my mom taught me how to make it and the way I’ve been eating it since I was a little girl.  It’s a little tricky to flip the pancake over, but it’s okay if it breaks because it’s going to get shredded anyway!  My mom always served it with applesauce and cinnamon, but my husband likes to eat it with maple syrup.

Kaiserschmaarn

*Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry you are.  I make the whole recipe for the two of us :).

Kaiserschmaarn with applesauce and cinnamon

Ingredients

4 eggs
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup milk
1½ cups flour (also good using 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 white flour)
pinch of salt
a couple of tbsp butter
raisins (optional)
applesauce
cinnamon

Directions

Beat eggs, honey, milk, and flour until well combined. (It should look like pancake batter.)

Melt butter in large pan over medium-low heat. Pour in batter and cover.

About 5-10 minutes in (once a crust has formed on the bottom, but top is still runny) add raisins.

After you add the raisins, make sure to cover them up with batter.

Let cook, covered, for approximately 30 minutes until cooked almost all the way through. Flip giant pancake and cook for another 2-3 minutes until cooked all the way through.

Ready to be flipped. You can even flip it a little earlier than this when it's still slightly runny in the middle....it's just messier.

Using two forks, shred pancake by using two spoons or forks to pull apart into small pieces.

Shredding the pancake!

Serve with applesauce and cinnamon, maple syrup, or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Question: Do you have any kitchen games you like to play?  Do you clean the kitchen right away after eating or do you leave the dishes like I’ve learned to do?

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Filed under Breakfast, Ethnic Foods

Roasted Eggplant and Feta Dip

Before I get started on tonight’s post, I want to let you all know that tomorrow we will be starting a regular series on Mind Your Bees and Trees with an awesome guest blogger so stay tuned.  I promise—you don’t want to miss it!

It’s summertime and summertime means BBQ season.  Who doesn’t love a good BBQ?  My favorite part about BBQs is, of course, all of the great food!  There are always so many great appetizers, side dishes, salads, and desserts, not to mention the meat, but honestly I’m usually much more excited about all of the other goodies.  It is a rare occasion when the meat at a BBQ wins me over.

When we go to BBQs, I almost always make a dessert (or two!).  Dessert is my specialty—a trait I inherited from my mom.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I love to bake and I love to share my baked goods with others.  As my mom always says, “the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach” :).

Since I’m not eating any processed sugar this summer, I can’t turn to my old favorites when I’m looking for something to make for a BBQ.  I told Amanda that I thought going to BBQs and not eating all of the yummy desserts would definitely be the hardest part of this challenge for me.  Well so far we have been to a few BBQs and parties this summer, and although it has been a little hard not to eat any dessert, it has not been as bad as I imagined it would be—especially when there are delicious savory goodies to munch on like the Roasted Eggplant Dip I made for a 4th of July party at our friend’s house.

The cake I made for our 4th of July party last year. It looks like it's waving in the wind because I dropped it on the floor before I frosted it! It landed right-side up, but I lost a big chunk from the middle. Oopsie!

I saw this recipe on Courtney’s blog and immediately knew I had to try it.  Giff and I pretty much love anything with eggplant in it (and I love anything with feta) so I figured it would be pretty awesome.  If you think you don’t like eggplant, then you probably haven’t had it cooked very well because eggplant is excellent when it’s cooked well.  I promise to post some more of our favorite recipes using eggplant in the future, but for now, let’s focus on this dip.

Last summer I made Ina Garten’s eggplant dip for a party and it was a huge hit.  I loved that dip so much that I was slightly worried that this new eggplant dip might not live up to the other one, but it definitely did.  Ina’s dip is pureed and although it has an excellent flavor, you can’t specifically taste the eggplant since everything is mixed together.  The eggplant and feta dip is not pureed so it’s more salsa-like.  I loved the chunky texture of the dip and it was excellent with either fresh veggies or crackers (side note: I was excited to find some crackers at the store that don’t contain sugar!).  Although I pride myself on always bringing awesome desserts to parties, I think I could get used to the savory thing too.  My dip was one of the first savory items to go so I’m going to go ahead and say that it was a hit :).

Roasted Eggplant and Feta Dip

*Recipe adapted from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life

Ingredients

▪       1 medium eggplant, (about 1 pound)

▪       2 tbsp lemon juice

▪       3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

▪       1/2 cup reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled

▪       1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

▪       1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped

▪       2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

▪       1/2 tbsp dried parsley

▪       1/4 tsp chili powder

▪       1/4 tsp cumin

▪       1/4 tsp smoked paprika

▪       1/4 tsp garlic powder

▪       1/4 tsp salt

▪       Drizzle of honey (optional)

Directions

  1. Position oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source; preheat broiler.
  2. Line a baking pan with foil. Place eggplant in the pan and poke a few holes all over it to vent steam. Broil the eggplant, turning with tongs every 5 minutes, until the skin is charred and a knife inserted into the dense flesh near the stem goes in easily, 14 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board until cool enough to handle.
  3. Put lemon juice in a medium bowl. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scrape the flesh into the bowl, tossing with the lemon juice to help prevent discoloring. Add oil and stir with a fork until the oil is absorbed. (It should be a little chunky.) Stir in feta, onion, bell pepper, basil, parsley, spices and salt. Taste and add honey if needed.

Question: What is your favorite thing to bring to a BBQ?  What is your favorite thing to eat at a BBQ?

4 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Vegetarian

One Month Down

June 30th marked one month that we’ve been doing this challenge and I didn’t even realize it until it had already passed!  I’m going to take that as a good sign because it means I’m not counting down the days until I can eat sugar again (as I thought I would be).

If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning, you know that when we first started this challenge I was curious to see how not eating sugar would affect my sugar cravings and energy levels.  I am happy to report after one month that I think both have definitely improved.

It seems like I have only noticed these changes in the past couple of weeks.  Maybe it was going to China and breaking away from my normal routine, or maybe it is just that it takes that long for results to start showing, but I’m finally starting to feel a difference in my body.  Honestly, in the beginning I felt terrible.  For the first couple of weeks I was actually feeling worse than I had been feeling before I cut processed sugar out of my diet and was wondering if it was really worth it to continue.  Perhaps I was eating more of something that I hadn’t been eating much of before (such as soy or more grains), but whatever it was, it has gone away now and I’m feeling much better.

I’m actually feeling really good about myself right now.  There were only a handful of times that I craved sugar in the past month and those times are becoming fewer and further between.  I have also noticed that certain foods that did not taste that sweet to me before, now taste much sweeter.  I first noticed it in China when I bought what I thought was unsweetened tea and it turned out to be sweetened.  I thought it was disgustingly sweet, but my husband said it tasted normal.  I noticed it again when I got home and ate a handful of Kashi Go Lean cereal.  I used to think Go Lean tasted pretty much like cardboard when I ate it dry, but the other day I could actually taste some sweetness in it.  Each of these little improvements give me motivation to keep going….we’ll see how I feel in another month :).

I know I have already said it many times before, but it’s worth repeating for any of you who are thinking about giving up processed sugars—it is liberating to pass up sweets and desserts altogether rather than battle with myself not to eat too much.

As far as my energy goes, I mentioned in my last post that while I was in China I noticed a significant improvement in my energy levels.  Even though I was walking around for hours and hours each day, I still felt like I had a lot of energy.  Despite the fact that I am a pretty active person and get plenty of sleep, I normally get really tired during the day and often feel like I could fall asleep at any point.  I only felt like that once or twice in China and I think those feelings were justified from all of the sightseeing.  Hopefully this trend continues :).

I think it’s important to put a little disclaimer here.  By sharing with you my journey, I am not trying to say that cutting out processed sugars are the answer to everyone’s dietary woes.  Every body handles foods differently—some people can eat diets very high in fat while others can eat a lot of sugar without seeing any noticeable difference in their weight, energy levels, or overall health (more on this later).  Just because I have noticed a difference in how I feel does not mean I think cutting out processed sugars will ‘fix’ everyone’s problems.  However, I would encourage you to play around with what you eat to find out what works best for your body.

On that note, I’ll leave you with some more pictures from our trip :).  These were all taken in Beijing.  I’ll share some from the other cities in the next couple of days.

This adorable lady invited us into her home. I wish I could have taken her home with us!

Spinning the prayer wheels at one of the local temples.

A little shrine at one of the gardens I visited.

I loved the architecture and the vibrant colors everywhere.

Such a relaxing place amongst the hustle and bustle of the city.

Hmmm not sure I trust the food in this clean "environment"

What a happy guy!

One of the watchtowers at the Forbidden City

Houses along the moat at the edge of the Forbidden City

Some Chinese delicacies I did not try.....

Archway to the Great Wall

This was at the bottom of the Great Wall! Globalization at its finest.

Nighttime view of Houhai Lake

Question: Have you ever cut anything out of your diet?  What was it and for how long did you do it?  Did you notice any improvements?

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Filed under Milestones, Travels

The BEST Carrot Cake

My mom is known to a lot of her friends as “the cake lady”.  Her cakes not only taste incredible, but they are always something really elaborate.  When Amanda and I hiked to the top of Mt. Whitney in CA, she made us a 3-D cake modeled after the mountain—complete with all the switchbacks and two hikers made out of pipe cleaners.  It was one of the coolest cakes she’s ever made, and that is saying a lot because she has easily made hundreds of cakes throughout my life.

My junior year in high school she made my Volkl racing skis—full size!  Then there was the full size bassoon cake she made for a friend that played the bassoon.  She also did a 3-D model of a local theater to celebrate one of its anniversaries.  She made paint cans, sports logos, Paddington bear, ladybugs, Barbie—pretty much anything and everything you could imagine.  She is incredibly talented and everyone is always in awe of her beautiful cakes.  The best part is that everything is homemade—none of this fondant stuff—she makes the icing from scratch and models the cakes using the frosting as a mold.

I grew up watching my mom make these cakes, but it wasn’t until I moved to Japan three years ago that I attempted to make one on my own.  It was our friend Mike’s birthday and he had made me a pyramid of Funfetti cake for my birthday (brilliant, right?) so I wanted to make him an awesome cake in return.  I was pretty nervous about it because I felt like there was a lot to live up to, but I was very excited at how well it came out.  It turns out I did learn a thing or two from watching her all those years!

The Pyramid of Funfetti Cake!

My first fancy cake!

The reason I’m telling you all of this is because today is my friend Lindsay’s birthday and each year I tell myself I’m going to make Lindsay a cake, and for one reason or another I haven’t done it yet.  She made me an awesome birthday cake two years ago—this time involving Funfetti cake (can you tell I LOVE Funfetti cake?) and a cookie crust…YUM!!—and I still hadn’t returned the favor.

The delicious cake Lindsay made for me.

I wanted to make Lindsay a cake in the shape of Oregon because I have never met anyone who is more proud of where they are from than Lindsay.  We always tease her because anytime she sees anyone’s pictures from vacation she says, “It looks just like Oregon!”  In order to make one of my mom’s famous cakes, I would have had to use a lot of processed sugars, and since I’m not eating those right now, I thought that would be submitting myself to unnecessary torture and temptation.  I asked Lindsay how she felt about me making her a naturally sweetened birthday cake and she was in.

I decided on carrot cake because I thought it would go well with honey.  And it just so happens that my mom also makes a killer carrot cake that can be made with sugar or honey—jackpot!  When I say this is the BEST carrot cake ever, I’m not exaggerating.  One of our friends told me he doesn’t even like carrot cake and he ate two pieces.  Trust me, it’s amazing—even if you think you don’t like carrot cake, you’ll love it.  My mom won’t steer you wrong :).

The BEST Carrot Cake Ever

Mmmmmmm so moist and delicious!

For the Cake:

3/4 lb. (about 6 medium) carrots

zest from 1/2 lemon

1 cup honey (I used 3/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup maple syrup because I ran out of honey)

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

2/3 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup raisins (I used golden raisins)

1. Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9-inch Bundt pan.  Knock out excess flour.

2. Shred carrots in food processor using shredding disc.  Remove and set aside.

3. With metal blade in place, combine honey, lemon zest, and butter.  Add eggs and vanilla and process until smooth.  Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add to work bowl and pulse on and off only until flour just disappears.  Add shredded carrots 1/3 at a time, pulsing on and off after each addition until shreds disappear.  Add walnuts and raisins and pulse a few times.

4. Pour batter into Bundt pan and spread evenly with a spatula.  Bang pan on countertop to release trapped air bubbles.

5. Bake on center rack in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool thoroughly on a wire rack.  To remove cake from pan, loosen from side of pan with a knife, then invert onto a serving plate.

**Makes 1 Bundt cake.

For the Frosting:

16 oz (2 pkgs) cream cheese (low fat is okay, but don’t use fat free)

1/2 cup butter

6 tbsp honey

1-2 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy.

**I know you might be thinking, butter in the cream cheese frosting?  I thought that too, but it gives it a really good flavor without being too rich.

And now for a few of the other cakes I’ve made over the past three years:

This was a giant sugar cookie for my husband who prefers cookies to cake.

For our friend Marc who was obsessed with this game for a little while.

For a friend's daughter.

Another cake for Mike. He lucked out that his birthday always fell on my break for school when I had more free time.

Please excuse me if there are any typos here.  I re-read it, but I’m pretty tired so I may have missed something!  We’re leaving for China tomorrow, but I wanted to post something before we leave.  I hope you enjoy this recipe and please let me know if you try it!

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Filed under Desserts

Baking with Honey

After my first experiment baking with honey, I decided to look up some tips on baking with honey because I felt the cookies I made were very rich (although delicious).  I also wanted to find out what sort of recommendations are out there for substituting sugar with honey.  I know from my many baking experiences that baking is definitely a science and the smallest change in ingredients or measurements can make a huge difference in the final product.  Since honey is a liquid, I figured it would change the properties of the ingredients and how they worked together in the baking process.  I found some good advice and tested it out this evening on some Maple Honey Pumpkin Muffins.  Here are the helpful tips with the recipe to follow:

  • Reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup
  • Add ½ tsp baking soda for each 1 cup of honey
  • Lower baking temp by 25°

I decided to test out this advice with pumpkin muffins because I had some leftover pumpkin and don’t want it to go bad over the next two weeks while we’re in China.  The recipe comes from Ellie Krieger on the Food Network who is known for her healthy recipes.  By substituting all of the brown sugar with honey and maple syrup, these muffins are even better for you because unprocessed sugars take longer to digest and therefore do not cause the huge surge (and consequent drop) in blood sugar levels as processed sugars do.

Maple Honey Pumpkin Muffins

Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger, Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-grain pastry flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons unsulphered molasses
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk (I made my own using milk and lemon juice)
  • 1/4 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, molasses, oil and 1 egg until combined. Add the other egg and whisk well. Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.  (**Mine were done after 18 minutes, they maybe could have come out after 16 or 17 minutes.)

Let cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

**I didn’t have any pumpkin seeds so I didn’t use them, but I’m sure they would add a nice texture.  I think these muffins would also be great with chopped walnuts or pecans added to the batter.  Oatmeal would probably also make a great addition!

QuestionHave you ever replaced all of the sugar in a recipe?  What did you use instead and how did it turn out?

5 Comments

Filed under Muffins

Satisfying My Cravings

Fist off, let me apologize for not posting for so long.  I was finishing up my classes last week for grad school (yay!), which means I just have my thesis to write this summer and then I will graduate with an M.S. in Global and International Education.  I have loved the program, but it has been a long two years and I’m very excited to know the end is in sight!  Then my cat ran away.

This sounds like a silly excuse that kids give their teachers for not doing their homework, but in my case it’s true.  He is an indoor cat, except for going out on our balcony.  On Sunday night he ran away and we didn’t find him until Tuesday evening.  It was a long two days and I was starting to feel pretty depressed about it.  I love my little Harold and I’m so happy to finally have him home!

Our little Harold 🙂

Anyway, enough with the excuses!  I am happy to report that we are now two weeks into our challenge and so far things are still going really well.  I have found that I am craving sugar a lot less, which for me is a HUGE accomplishment!  I also think I have more energy.  I have been subbing a lot in the past two weeks and spending a lot of time out in the hot sun, so it’s a little hard to tell, but I haven’t taken any naps and in the past, I was taking a 30-minute nap almost every day!

Although I am not craving sugar as much, I still want something sweet once in a while.  I made some of HEAB’s oaties the other day.  My friend Katie made some for me before and they were delightful, but without adding any chocolate chips or butterscotch chips, they were too “healthy” tasting and didn’t really taste like I was having a treat!  I highly recommend them though with chocolate or butterscotch chips.  HEAB has many variations and the ones I have tried are all delicious.

I sought out to find something else that doesn’t involve chocolate, but would satisfy my craving.  I found a recipe for peanut butter honey cookies.  These were excellent and definitely satisfied my sweet tooth.  Dare I say they were even too sweet for me?  I know that is hard to believe, but I’m finding that honey gives baked goods a very rich flavor so I need to start reducing the amount of honey called for in the recipes I try.  Anyway, these were excellent and I thought I would share the recipe with you.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I think they would be delightful as cookie sandwiches with cream cheese “frosting” (cream cheese sweetened with a little honey) in the middle.

Peanut Butter Honey Cookies

Recipe from http://www.honey.com

Makes 2 dozen

3/4 cup honey

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 egg

3/4 cup peanut butter**

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In medium bowl, cream honey and butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg, peanut butter and vanilla.  Add flour, salt and baking soda; mix until combined.  Drop dough, one tablespoon at a time, onto well-greased baking sheet.  Dip fork into flour and press flat on each cookie to form an “x.”  Bake at 350°F for about 10-12 minutes.  Remove cookies from sheet and cool on wire rack.

**I used natural peanut butter (the kind with oil on top that you have to mix in).

**I also halved the recipe, so only used the yolk of the egg.  I like my cookies under done so I only baked them for 8 minutes rather than 10-12 as the recipe calls for.  Oh and the “x” in the cookies was not happening.  I don’t know if it’s because it is super humid here or what, but the fork kept sticking to the cookies even after I sprayed it.  “X” or no “x” they were excellent :).

3 Comments

Filed under Baking Tips, Cookies, Desserts

Confession

I ate sugar…..not once, not twice, but three times! Oopsie.  Each time it was an accident so hopefully I’m forgiven :).  Rather than stress about it, I’m just using these times as a reminder to myself that I really need to think about what I’m eating and what it might have in it.  It’s amazing how many products are made with sugar!  It makes me grateful that I don’t have a food allergy because I realize how easy it is to forget—or not think about it—and eat something I’m not ‘supposed’ to eat.  I guess if I had an allergy I would me more cautious, but you get the point.

On to my slip-ups.  The first time happened on day two when I made some delicious homemade veggie burgers for lunch.  I have been wanting to try the Temes Family Carrot Burgers for a long time after my friend Lindsay as been ranting and raving about them for so long.  The burgers called for breadcrumbs and without thinking, I dumped a handful of breadcrumbs from my pantry into the bowl.  As soon as I mixed them in I realized they probably had sugar and sure enough, I was right.  Despite my goal of not eating sugar, I am not willing to waste perfectly good food, so I cooked them and ate them anyway.  In addition to the breadcrumbs in the burgers, the recipe also says to coat the burgers in breadcrumbs before they are cooked so that time around I remembered to use panko breadcrumbs that don’t have any sugar.

Anyway, these burgers were a nice break from any other veggie burger I’ve had before.  Other than the fact that the burgers are shaped into patties, they aren’t trying to be a burger in any other way.  Some veggie burgers I’ve had in the past try too hard (in my opinion) to resemble a regular burger, and usually don’t taste that great.  These burgers were totally different—savory with a hint of sweetness.  I ate them topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and topped with applesauce.  I also dipped each bite into some balsamic vinegar—ala Amanda—yum!

My other slip-ups happened on days three and four.  While substitute teaching the other day, a teacher offered me a Ritz cracker at snack time.  I was pretty hungry so I ate it, but afterward I realized that it probably had sugar in it.  I came home and checked the box of Ritz that has been sitting in my pantry for months on end (I think I bought them for a project with my English students) and saw that they certainly do have sugar in them.  Busted again.  At least I stopped after the one, right?!

Last, but not least, my husband and I went out to eat at a Turkish restaurant last night.  We love their hummus and without thinking I dove right in to the warm, homemade pita bread and slathered some hummus on it.  For dinner I had a chicken kebab wrap.  Honestly, it wasn’t until this morning that I realized the pita and wrap probably both have sugar in them.  I have already decided that I’m not going to worry too much about not eating sugar when I go out to eat, but I still plan to be conscious about what I order and try to avoid ordering things that I know are made with sugar.  Last night’s slip-ups could have easily been avoided had I thought about it.  I’m going to blame the fact that I have two big finals due this week for grad school and was focused much more on them than whether or not my pita was made with sugar!

And now for the delicious carrot burger recipe thanks to the Temes family:

1 cup cottage cheese

1 cup shredded carrots

1 slightly beaten egg

1 cup bread crumbs (plus ¼ – ½ cup additional crumbs to roll patties in)

2 tbsp finely chopped onions (or a handful of dried onion flakes)

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp worcester sauce

½ cup sunflower seeds (optional)—I used walnuts because that’s what I had on hand.

Combine all ingredients (including the 1 cup bread crumbs, but reserve extra). Form mixture into four balls and shape into patties. Coat patties with additional bread crumbs. Fry/cook in butter in a saute pan, until browned (they often burn a little, or get kind of black, but thats ok).

Serve on buns and/or topped with cinnamon and applesauce.

*Also delicious dipped in balsamic vinegar.

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One Day Down!

So far things are going really well.  It’s amazing how much more mindful of my eating I’ve become in just the past two days.  I consider myself to be pretty conscious about what I eat, but at the same time, I have what some might call a slight sugar addiction :).  I love love love to bake and almost always crave something sweet after I eat.  I usually have some sort of homemade baked good on my counter so most of my friends are shocked to hear I’m giving up all processed sugar for the summer.  Most of them ask, “what are you going to do if you can’t bake?”  I know it’s shocking, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I’m actually looking forward to experimenting with my baking and finding ways to make delicious baked goods without processed sugars.

However, I’m also looking forward to knowing what it’s like not to constantly be craving sugar.  In the past two days, I haven’t really felt like I’ve wanted sugar too much, but that might have something to do with the fact that Amanda and I baked up a storm in the past month and my body needs to detox :).  One thing that I have noticed is that it almost feels liberating to not eat sugar.  I thought it would feel restrictive, but I don’t feel that way at all.  Before we started this challenge, if I saw a baked good then I would almost certainly want to eat it and would have to battle with myself not to eat it–or at least not to eat too much.  Now that I’m not eating sugar, it’s much easier to just say no.

One of the goals of this challenge is also to be more mindful of what we’re eating.  I always add protein powder to my smoothies, but found out yesterday that my protein powder has sugar in it.  Who knew?  I guess it’s not that surprising since it does taste kind of sweet, but honestly I had never thought about that before.  Then last night, my husband and I went out to dinner and he grabbed some hard candies by the cash register on our way out.  I normally would do the same thing and when I saw him reach for the candies, I realized  that I almost always reach for those candies too without even thinking about it.

The other thing that I’m really looking forward to with this challenge is to see how my energy levels change.  Even though I exercise regularly, I still often feel lethargic and I’m interested to see if I my energy level increases as my sugar intake decreases.

And because I think blogs are way more exciting if they have pictures, I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of us from Amanda’s last day in Okinawa.  They don’t relate to food, but they’re fun!

Close at 25:00?? Hmmmmm....

We blew our own glass. It was pretty tricky! Check out the sweet protective gear we got to wear!

The sun finally came out for Amanda's last day!

Have you ever given up sugar before?  If so, did you notice any changes in your body, energy levels, overall health?  We’re curious to hear about your experience eating more naturally so please leave your comments below!

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