Can I Give Up SWEETS? Um, no.

The thinnest I have been as an adult was during my vegan experiment. However, my hair was also falling out, so perhaps I wasn’t doing it quite right. Last night I was thinking that I should make another vegan effort. The thing is, I don’t think that meat is a problem for me. I don’t have the passion for saving animals. That sounds heartless, but I like to eat meat. I know where it comes from. I ate vegan just for health reasons. Pretty sure skinless chicken breasts aren’t making me fat. Yes, I gave up meat and all animal edibles, but I also gave up sweets and alcohol.

So here I am again, facing my problem, my addiction, my passion: sugar. As I am writing this I have two tabs waiting for me to click them. The Minimalist Baker is calling me! Vegan Pumpkin Sugar Cookies! AND Easy Raw Vegan Brownies! I want to make them so much and they are vegan! Doesn’t that count for something? Am I over-thinking this whole eating thing? No, I don’t think I am.

Not over-thinking, but thinking the wrong way. I have a problem with eating sweets until they are gone. I can’t make a pan of brownies and eat one. I am greedy. Ooh, that is an ugly word! It’s true though, I don’t want to share my sweets. I want the first cookie out of the oven and I want the last one too. So, what do I do?

Either, 1. give up all sweets (will work for a time, but not a permanent solution), 2. make healthier sweets (better, as long as I don’t eat the whole recipe, negating the healthy part) 3. make small batch recipes (again, I still have to pay attention. I got into trouble with “single serving” desserts. I ate a mug cake that was almost 700 calories. That is still less than Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, but as I will never eat that cheesecake…um…did I have a point?) 4. give sweets away (I can’t eat the sweets if they are not in my house). (My apologies to any grammarians reading this post.) New Plan! I will implement all of these ideas.

I need to have sweet-free days. A dessert break, that sounds too good. A break from desserts. I know people who don’t eat sweets after every meal, they do exist. Every one has different temptations. I can walk past a slot machine and feel nothing. I cannot walk past a pan of brownies and feel nothing. Even though I know that I can never eat cheesecake, I still like to visit the cheesecakes at the Cheesecake Factory. They look so good in that case. I like to read the descriptions of them in the menu. Focus! How did I get hung up on the Cheesecake Factory? Stop saying cheesecake! Deep breath, drink of water. OK, moving on.

I can make small batch, healthy dessert recipes and give them away. Good idea. Let’s start with pumpkin sugar cookies! To make them a little more healthy, I halved the fat and added more pumpkin. One of my favorite muffin recipes Irresistible Double Chocolate Muffins, doesn’t have any added fat and uses pumpkin instead. I also used more whole wheat flour. Pretty sure I could use all WW pastry flour, but my kids might not eat them. Next objective: smaller batch, well 20 is a pretty small batch for cookies. Plus I am making these on Monday so that I can take most of them to Bible study Tuesday morning! I think that sounds pretty good.

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I decided to use a cookie scoop and not get my hands all gooey.

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A flat bottomed bowl works the best for the cinnamon and sugar.

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I  always use parchment paper for easy clean-up.

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A picture of my hand. I always wanted to be a model.

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These would look so much better if I had any talent for photography or a camera. Both would probably be good.     On to the recipe!

Vegan Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

 

Makes: 20 cookies

Adapted from Minimalist Baker Vegan Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

 

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter or solid coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I like Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder (for thickening/binding)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

 

  • 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

 

Instructions

  1. Add butter or coconut oil, pumpkin and sugars to a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer for 1 minute.
  2. Mix in vanilla.
  3. Add corn starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, mix to combine.
  4. Add flours. Mix until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
  5. Freeze dough for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 30 minutes (or chill overnight), preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and position a rack in the center of the oven.
  6. Mix 2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Scoop out heaping 1 Tbsp amounts of dough and roll into balls (it will be sticky) or use a cookie scoop. Swirl dough in cinnamon sugar to coat and place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake on the center rack for 10-14 minutes, depending on how you like your cookies.
  8. Let rest on pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

These stay puffy and are a bit cakey. I’ve only eaten two three, you know for research.

 

 

 

 

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Does this have FRUIT in it?

After the In-N-Out diet my sweet husband stated that he wanted to go on the green smoothie diet with me. Which means that I have to make him a smoothie when I make myself a smoothie. He won’t drink the same smoothies I drink because…they have fruit in them! I think he might be confusing smoothies with milkshakes. This morning he was a bit concerned because I didn’t add cocoa and peanut butter to his smoothie, so it was green! He looked at me and asked “Does this have fruit in it?” No my love, I make your smoothies out of ice cream and candy bars, but don’t worry you will still lose weight because you are a man. Before his smoothie this morning he ate a Payday bar and after his smoothie he had an apple strudel. And he will still lose weight. I’m feeling a little catty this morning. I will drink my Spirulina Smoothie, (I used lime juice instead of lemon and added a mango, super yummy!) have a large glass of water, take deep breaths and smile. Ah, that feels better. Good thing my bad moods don’t last long and as long as I share them on my blog no one else has to be in a bad mood either! Thank you one random person who reads this! You just helped save my marriage. So, here is the only green smoothie my husband will drink. It might work for kids too!

The Anti-Green Smoothie

1 cup dairy-free milk
1/4 cup oats
1/2 cup raisins or dates
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 cups spinach
1 or 2 bananas
3 tablespoons cocoa, or to taste (or cover up the green)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup ice

Blend in the order given. Make sure to blend the spinach before you add the next ingredients or it won’t fit in the blender.  Sometimes I add 2 tablespoons of coconut butter and leave out the cocoa or it would be good to sub the peanut butter with coconut butter and still add the cocoa.
Don’t tell my husband this has a milk beverage or a banana in it because then he won’t drink them anymore.

 

Easy Biscuits – 5 Ingredients

I have a weakness for biscuits. My mama usually used the biscuit recipe from her old, battered Better Homes checkered cookbook. She made the best biscuits ever. And the best apple pie and now I’m getting hungry! These biscuits were so easy and just about perfect. The original 3-Ingredient Coconut Oil Biscuits  from Gimme Some Oven calls for self-rising flour, which I have never bought. It would be easier to use self-rising flour and skip the baking powder and salt, but since I don’t have any other recipes that use self-rising flour I’ll just make 5-Ingredient Biscuits.

Biscuits

2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, solid
3/4 cup almond milk, or any non-dairy milk

Pre-heat oven to 425*. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut in the coconut oil (I actually used my pastry blender for the first time in a year) then add the milk. Give it a good stir until it forms a ball, turn dough out onto floured surface. If your dough is too soft add more flour as you knead. Knead 10-12 times. Shape into a disk and cut out biscuits. I used a juice cup to get 18 small biscuits. My biscuit cutter would have made about 6 biscuits (maybe, it’s big). (Gimme Some Oven has great pictures. When I grow up I’ll be a blogger like that.) Bake biscuits for 10-12 minutes. I like mine golden brown on top.

Favorite Chocolate Cake

The internet is so great. I searched for “sour milk chocolate cake” and found the exact recipe I used last summer! Whahoo! Now I just have to remember the changes I made, also I am making a link for the next time I lose the recipe. Original Sour Milk Chocolate Cake, from The English Kitchen. This one is not vegan or dairy-free, but it is a start. The fabulous thing is that this recipe can be vegan and chocolate free (for those times I give up chocolate) and still be yummy.

I have to say that the burnt sugar icing is totally a happy accident. The frosting was supposed to be brown sugar icing, but well…you know how sugar and butter melt and merge together, but sugar and coconut oil, well, don’t? I might have had my sugar on the burner too long, but then I remembered a recipe for ice cream that started with caramelized sugar and creamer from Speedbump Kitchen.  I hate to throw out food, it’s like admitting defeat, so when it looked like I might have ruined the frosting I grabbed some So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer and started stirring. I took a little taste and was pleasantly surprised. My oldest daughter told me it was the best frosting I have ever made. Great. Good thing I wrote it down!

Sour Milk Chocolate (Carob) Cake
With Burnt Sugar Frosting

1 1/2 cups sifted flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa or carob powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 banana or 1 large egg
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup sour non-dairy milk
1 TBS vanilla

Pre-heat the oven to 350*F.  I used spray coconut oil to grease a 7×11 pyrex pan. A 9″ round cake pan would also work.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Mix together the sour milk and vanilla.  Add to the dry ingredients.  Stir until moistened and then add the coconut oil while stirring (lumps of hardened coconut oil are not ideal). Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed or use a whisk and beat it by hand to offset the calories.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes until it tests done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the  oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.  NO need to remove from the pan.

Note – Even if plant-based milk is past date it isn’t really “sour” so I add 1 TBS of vinegar in a measuring cup and add enough milk to make up 1 cup of liquid.

Burnt Sugar Frosting

1/4 cup coconut oil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk creamer
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
dash of salt

Melt coconut oil and brown sugar in medium pot. Bring to a bubble and keep stirring. Remove from heat and add creamer and STAND BACK because it will sputter! And the sugar will harden. Whisk the mixture until sugar lumps dissolve. Keep stirring, it will work. And stir some more, until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Add more powdered sugar if needed to be a spreadable consistency.

This cake doesn’t really need frosting and the two times I have put frosting on this cake it turned weird the next day. The frosting looked like it had melted in spots, even though I know I waited for the cake to cool before I frosted it. I don’t know. I still tasted great, just didn’t look right. So, only serve it to company right after you frost it or just eat it all yourself. Enjoy!

Romantic French Toast?

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Sometimes I’m tired of eating healthy. Shocker, I know. I’m really trying to view food as fuel for my body. But food is so much more. When I think about romantic food, I do not envision a smoothie. I love smoothies, but I think one of the most romantic things is brunch. I’m a girl, what do you want? I get nostalgic about brunch. I have had some wonderful brunches in my life, not many, but a few great ones.

Jacksonville Inn in Jacksonville, OR. Croissant French Toast. I was in high school and it was a revelation. My two favorite breakfast foods in one!

Mama’s on Washington Square in San Francisco. Orange Cranberry French Toast. I was in college and again it was a revelation. I started making French toast with all kinds of quick breads. I love banana bread French toast. Now, these brunches were memorable, but not romantic. They were brunch with friends. I remember talking and laughing and having amazing food.

Five Sister’s Jazz brunch in Pensacola Florida. Fried Pork Chops, they were not a revelation. They were really good, but they didn’t change the way I saw pork chops. I was married, had a small child and a baby. I was so thrilled to sit down, listen to live music and have someone bring me delicious food. Again, it was the setting and the company and the food that made for a memorable brunch.

With food allergies dining out can be more of a hassle than a pleasure. I can’t eat French toast at restaurants anymore. I adapted this overnight French toast recipe so that I could have a memorable and romantic brunch at home. The work is done the night before so you can enjoy your coffee or mimosa or both while breakfast is in the oven.

Overnight French Toast
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Baked French Toast

1 loaf  French Bread
8 whole Eggs
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 1/2 cups coconut or almond milk
3/4 cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

FOR THE TOPPING:

1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 pinch Nutmeg – Optional
1/2 cup vegan butter or coconut oil

Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray or grease with coconut oil.

Cube the bread and fill the pan with it.

Whisk eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla together and bowl and pour over the bread. Cover the pan and place it in the fridge overnight.

Stir the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg together and then cut in the butter/oil. Pour it into a bag and put in the fridge for morning.

In the morning preheat the oven 350*. Pour the crumb topping over the top of the bread and pop the whole thing in the oven for 45-60 minutes. Make some coffee and a mimosa and snuggle while this bakes. Serve with warm maple syrup or berry syrup or anything your little heart desires, like another mimosa.

 

Spirulina Smoothie

The Loch Ness Monster Green Thickie from greenthickies.com is one of my favorite smoothies. I thought it would be horrible, I mean reading the ingredients did not make me want to try it. However, I had some spirulina powder that I needed to ingest somehow and this was a recipe from a trusted blogger. Now I find myself craving this smoothie. This morning I was craving one, but I like use fresh spinach and this thickie doesn’t call for extra greens. Luckily I was out of spinach. Perfect! Now, I would have never come up with this recipe on my own. Even though I have all these ingredients in my pantry I would not think of putting them all in a smoothie, but somehow it works.

Spirulina is one of those super foods that you buy just for the health benefits. I don’t think anyone ever said they loved the tasted of algae. When I was a little girl my grandpa took blue green algae. He didn’t put it in a smoothie or anything. As far as I know he just mixed with water and slugged it down. It was one of the highlights of trips to their funky house on the Oregon coast and one of the memories I cherish of him. He would pretend that the green slime turned him into a monster and then he would chase my sister and I around the house while we giggled and shrieked with excitement. He was such a great grandpa. I will gladly drink this smoothie in his honor.

Spirulina Smoothie

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup of raisins (or 4 pitted dates)
  • 1/4 cup of coconut
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup mango
  • 1 banana
  • juice 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon spirulina powder
  • 1 scoop collagen or protein powder (optional)
Blend the water, raisins, coconut and sunflower seeds until smooth. Add fruit, juice and spirulina powder and blend again. Makes two servings.
Drink it down and pretend it turns you into a swamp monster. Chase your kids/dog/cat/husband/roommate around the house.

Berry Protein Smoothie

Most mornings I have a smoothie for breakfast. It’s pretty easy to rack up the calories, but a little more difficult to blend up protein. Obviously, whey is not an option. I have tried Sunwarrior protein powder, it is a little chalky and after I bought the chocolate flavor, I discovered I don’t care for things sweetened with stevia. I am saving up to buy the unflavored powder. This recipe uses hemp protein powder.

  • 2 cups Almond Breeze, Unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup Almonds
  • 1/4 cup Dates
  • 2 cups Spinach
  • 1/4 cup organic Hemp Protein
  • 2 cups Strawberries, frozen
  • 1 cup Blueberries, frozen
  • juice of one lime or 1/2 lemon

I always blend my oats, dates and almonds with the milk first. Then I add the other ingredients and blend again. This makes 2 servings.

I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to keep track of my protein and calcium intake. I should hide the calorie counter because I don’t think calories are created equal. I don’t want to make food choices based solely on calorie count. Anyway, I haven’t found a better way to add more protein to my diet.

Turkey Enchiladas…um, I can’t wait

I remember sitting alone at the kitchen table, I was seven or eight years old. It was dark outside, I was watching the reflection of the TV in the sliding glass door. The dishes were done, kitchen cleaned, light turned out. In front of me was the only plate not in the dishwasher. On this plate the remains of enchiladas, cold and congealed stared up at me. I was not allowed to leave the table until I finished. I hated enchiladas! They were too spicy, my mom used too many onions, I just didn’t like them. Oh, how times change! Of course I chop my onions finer and I try to make them a little milder for the kids, but I still use the same recipe my mom always did. This is my favorite enchilada sauce recipe. It was originally from a hippy cookbook my aunt had. My mom got the recipe in the early eighties and made it her own. By the time I was old enough to help in the kitchen I loved these enchiladas. We use the red sauce for turkey and the green sauce for fish. Oh great, now I also have a craving for halibut enchiladas. Break out the Vitamix, it’s sauce time!

So, is this why my hair is falling out?

Eating vegan this summer was great for weight loss, energy and over health. I actually like salad now. When my aunt was visiting she asked how I was getting enough protein. Protein? I eat nuts, seeds and beans everyday. I was sure that was fine. But…On an (I thought) unrelated note my hair has been falling out. Now, I have thick hair and have always had little wads of hair in the drain after my showers. The last few months I have had handfuls of hair come out when I shampoo and more fall out when I comb and brush my hair. I wasn’t really worried, but now I can feel a difference in the circumference of my ponytail. My hair is thinning. There are many reasons for hair loss. Physical trauma is one. I haven’t been in a car crash or had any other trauma. Stress. Hmm, well having my husband gone all summer was a bit stressful. Aging is another reason for thinning hair. I refuse to age, so that can’t be it. Also, not getting enough protein can cause your body to shut down hair growth. Well, how much protein am I supposed to be consuming? Turns out a lot! Using several protein calculators and charts from several websites, I found that I should be taking in any where from 65-90 grams of protein daily. How many grams of protein in a 1/4 cup of almonds? 6 grams. 6? So my smoothie that I thought had me covered nutrition wise was lacking a bit. So, what do I do now? Yesterday I added hemp powder to my smoothie. It didn’t change the taste too much, but it did make it feel like I added sawdust. I needed a drink of water to wash my smoothie down. Today I added Sunwarrior brown rice protein powder and it was good. No bad taste, no gritty or sawdusty feeling and 16 grams of protein! 16! Plus the 6 grams from my almonds. 22 grams of protein for breakfast is not a bad way to start my day. Wait, this makes two smoothies so that’s only 11 grams of protein. Tomorrow I’ll make it with two scoops of protein powder and see how that goes.  This is harder than I thought it would be. I better find some more supper-foods. Quinoa, you’re on the list! Now I just have to figure out how to get the rest of the protein I need and hope that in 6-9 months my hair is back to healthy!