Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Too Much Sugar

I've been on a detox for over two weeks now and the process has taught me a few things. First of all, I'm on the detox because my liver had  excessive toxins probably due to allergic reactions to foods I was eating. I found out about a year ago I was allergic to yeast. I thought it was bogus because I've gone my whole life eating breads and never having any sort of reaction until a few years ago. But sure enough, as soon as I stopped eating yeast, my reaction went away. I had really itchy eyes with patches of eczema.  Soon though I noticed it was coming back. I started paying closer attention to labels of foods to make sure I wasn't getting yeast without realizing it. Sure enough, I found that almost EVERY single pre-packaged food and most seasonings have yeast. Chips have yeast, nut blends have yeast, crackers have yeast, soups have yeast, broths have yeast, the list goes on and on. 

So, I started making my own foods from scratch for the most part. This means fresh ingredients, no more fast fix. I realize to most people this might seem really overwhelming but truly what I found was that it was not that much more work if I plan well and make things in multiple batches. I avoid foods like chips (although I love the blue corn and flax tortilla chips by Archer Farms at Target, they are my snack weakness with a little homemade hummus or salsa!), snacks, and store bought seasonings. It is really hard to avoid yeast while eating out so I rarely do. If I do I try to order the most "whole" foods on the menu like grilled salmon, salads or items without breading and sauces. 

This all made me start to consider foods more seriously. How many of us are eating things all day long and not even realizing it?  Sugar is in everything. Yeast is in everything. MSG is in almost everything. Processed foods contain so many additives that we are barely eating "real" foods anymore. So many kids have issues with sugar and yet we have food industries that are literally pumping us full of the stuff from our breakfast cereal to the ketchup served with dinner. 

The detox is a week of "fasting" with eating only green veggies and shakes. This was a very hard week. I was always hungry, tired and felt a little "weak". It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought though. Truthfully, I mostly always feel tired and fatigued. Some days I even felt I had more energy than before the detox. I really was hungry all of the time though, and that is with eating a ton of veggies. This week I get to start eating real foods again, with loads of restrictions. I am eating no dairy (eggs, milk, cheeses), no wheat, no processed foods, no sugars, no caffeine. When I had my first breakfast after the fast it was so yummy but I could hardly believe it was. I don't think I've eaten oatmeal without a big spoon full of sugar since I was a baby! I had a serving of oatmeal with about a teaspoon of almond butter and a sliced banana. It was so sweet, perfectly so, and delicious. Granted, I was starving...but I'm telling you it was really tasty. 

Then, later on I had an apple for a snack and it tasted like the best apple I'd ever had. So sweet and perfect. It got me thinking, my taste buds have just been conditioned to the sweets. I wonder if this will keep up since I am still off of sugar for about 3 more weeks. I'll have to keep you posted but I am thinking that I might have really changed the way I think about food here. Foods in pure forms are so good and they get ruined by processing. How much healthier would we all be if we ate fewer foods from a box and started eating fresh, whole, clean foods instead. 

By the way, do you know how hard it is to find a cereal with no added sugars? Really hard. I found one worth noting. Natures Path Millet Oats. It is sweetened with pear and apple juices and made with millet and oat flour. It is really very good and I recommend it to anyone who is avoiding wheat and sugars.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Scones With Pumpkin Butter Icing

There is nothing I enjoy more than a seasonal treat like a Pumpkin Scone. Every year when Starbucks starts carrying their seasonal fair I get a little giddy. But honestly, their scones aren't nearly as good as this homemade version. So bake a batch, bring them into the office or "Boo" a neighbor. Bring them to a housewarming or flash freeze them before baking for a baked fresh (with no effort) treat for breakfast.

Pumpkin Scones with Pumpkin Butter Icing

For The Scones:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2  tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 Tbs. cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 Tbs. milk, cream or half and half (I used 2 Tbs. milk and 1 Tbs. cream)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
For The Icing:

  • 1 cup 10x powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs. pumpkin butter
  • 1 Tbs. milk
Preheat oven to 425. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Add the butter and press with a fork or use mixer until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. In a seperate bowl combine the wet ingredients and add them to the dry. Fold in until mixture is forming a ball. Place dough onto a floured surface and roll just till mixture is about 2 inches. Cut into halves, halves again and halves again. Place on cookie sheet and brush with cream or milk. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. 

Combine the sugar, milk and pumpkin butter in small bowl. Stir until combined and smooth. Allow the scones to cool most of the way then drizzle the icing over the tops. Serve with a spiced latte or one of your favorite fall blend teas. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Check out this weeks deals at Publix!

Take a look at southernsavers for some great deals at Publix this week. I will be on a detox (boo) and will not be doing much cooking all week but there are some great deals for stocking up on trick or treat candy, oatmeal and school snacks for the kids.

Pumpkin Sausage Pasta

This recipe is one of my all time favorite fall recipes. It is earthy and warms you to the core. Shop the BOGO sales for great deals on pasta and parmesan cheese. I want to try this with mushrooms as a vegetarian dish as well.

Pumpkin Sausage Pasta - Printer Friendly Version

Serves 6-8
1 pound pasta, cooked (I used Buitellini linguine because it was BOGO)
1 15 oz can pumpkin (not pie filling, regular pureed pumpkin or you can roast and puree your own)
1 lb. turkey sausage (I used Jenny-O because they were on sale and I had coupons making it $2.99 a pound)
1 drizzle around the pan of EVOO
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of cream, half and half or fat free half and half
salt and pepper to taste
chives or fresh chopped herb of your choice.
shaved parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package. Drain and set aside.  With a large saute pan, do a drizzle of EVOO around the pan and heat over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until tender about 5 minutes. Add sausage and cook (you may have to remove sausage from casing) until browned. Add can of pumpkin puree and stir well. Add cream and salt and pepper to taste, stir until combined and warmed through. Add pasta to sauce and serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped chives and shaved parmesan cheese.

Cost break down:
2 boxes Buitellini fresh linguine $1.09 ( $2.19 each with BOGO and two .55 cent q's)
1 can pureed pumpkin $1.59 (Publix brand)
Parmesan Cheese $2.25 (Digiorno Parmesan was BOGO @ $4.49 each)
1 pound sausage $2.99 (Jenny-O was on sale for 3.99 and I had $1 off q)
Cream, had on hand
Chives, from my garden
Total cost to make this dish:  $7.92

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oven Baked Fish "Sticks"

I really don't enjoy frozen fish sticks. Besides the fact that frozen fishsticks are not yummy, they are also processed and are higher in bad fats and also contain preservatives and additives. Ever since I saw Jamie Oliver talk about how chicken nuggets are made (blender of skin, fat, odds and ends, resulting in gross pink stuff - see video here: I haven't wanted to eat any sort of nugget or fish stick or anything that isn't fresh cuts of meat. So, I ran across this recipe from kalynskitchen that uses fresh fish like Tilapia for a breaded and oven baked fish stick. I know my son who is the world's pickiest eater actually likes fish sticks, so I thought I would give this a go. This is my version of this family friendly dinner using a yeast free alternative to breadcrumbs. You could also substitute with ground Chex or a Gluten Free cereal for a Gluten Free version.

Oven Baked Fish Sticks (Yeast Free)
adapted from kalynskitchen

1 # fresh tilapia
2 cups Publix Greenwise Flax Flakes
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp. Old Bay Spice
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning.
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
1 egg
1 Tbs. mayo (I used garlic herb mayo because I had some from BOGO's to use up)
splash of water
Pam Cooking Spray

In your food processor or mini prep add cereal, almonds and seasonings and process until about the consistency of panko breadcrumbs. In small bowl whisk egg, mayo and splash of water. Cut fresh tilapia into strips and dredge the strips into the egg mixture, and then the breadcrumb mixture. Place on well greased cookie sheet (I grease the pan with Pam ). Bake at 400 degrees about 6-7 minutes, then flip and bake for an additional 6-7 minutes or until fish is flakey. Serve with steamed rice with broccoli and cauliflower along with tarter sauce or ketchup.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Bread French Toast (yeast free recipe)

I have been on a yeast free diet for about a year and a half now. While I still enjoy many types of food sometimes I really miss bread. Especially french toast. I made a mean french toast with lots of cinnamon....
So, I decided to try making a version of French Toast with Pumpkin bread to see how it would turn out. I'm glad I thought of it because I actually like it even better than regular french toast!

Here is how I did it:
I used a recipe for Pumpkin Bread from The Foster's Market Cookbook: Favorite Recipes for Morning, Noon, and Night  and baked one loaf of bread as well as muffins and doughnuts (see previous post for more on that). One recipe makes a lot so if you just want one loaf, half the recipe. Make sure you wait a day or so to let the bread breath.

Pumpkin Bread French Toast

1 loaf pumpkin bread. sliced.
2 eggs
1/2 c lowfat milk (could use almond milk)
1/4 blueberry juice (could use apple)
1 1/2 tbs. pumpkin butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

Whisk mixture until well mixed. Dip slices of pumpkin bread in batter and brown in a large saute pan for about 3 minutes per side. Place in a baking dish in a single layer and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy with real maple syrup, or warm pumpkin butter.

Pumpkin Bread Batter

It's the time of year when cinnamon, spice and pumpkin scents the air! There is nothing more Autumn than the smell of freshly baked pumpkin spice bread. I always find that when I bake pumpkin bread there is enough to do 2 loaves, but I only have one loaf pan. What to do with that extra batter? How about some Pumpkin Doughnuts?

Yes, that was a success! Here's how to do it:
Pour batter into well greased (I used PAM non-stick spray) doughnut pan. Bake @ 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes then remove to a cooling rack. When cool, dust with powdered sugar and cinnamon and let the kids have at them!


You can also add some nuts, raisins, craisins or chocolate chips to the batter and use a muffin pan. Muffins freeze well and thaw fast for an on the go morning breakfast.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Birthday Cake! Lemon Chiffon Cake

Lemon Chiffon Cake With Lemon Buttercream Icing and Lemon Curd Filling ( or as I like to call it Tres Lemon Cake)

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour 
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbs lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • enough Sprite or Sierra Mist to add to lemon juice to equal 3/4 cup liquid
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 jar lemon curd (for filling)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 pound (one box) 10x powdered sugar
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbs heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and Flour your pans. I used two ten inch round pans, you can use square, or 8 inch pans.
In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and 1/2 c sugar. Add oil, egg yolks, sierra mist, lemon juice and zest. Beat with a whisk until smooth (or use mixer). 

 In a small bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, and beat until stiff and shiny peaks form.

Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain. 

Turn into greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Time of cooking depends on the size and shape of pan. My cakes cooked in about 45 minutes for 10 inch rounds. 

For the Icing:

Beat the butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar (make sure the mixer is off) and slowly blend until creamy and well combined about 2 minutes. Add zest, juice, vanilla and whip for an additional minute. Add 4 Tbs. heavy whipping cream and whip for about 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. To darken the icing to a yellow add a few drops of icing coloring (available at Joanns or Michael's).

To put the cake together:
Cool the cake layers completely. Cut them in two with a serrated knife. Layer on round on a cake platter. Spread 1/2 a jar of lemon curd and add the next layer (there will be four layers total). Add some icing. Layer another piece using the remaining 1/2 jar of lemon curd. Cover with final layer and frost the cake any way you like! I added a slight bit of yellow coloring to the remaining icing and used it to pipe around the cake and add wording. Then I sliced a lemon very thinly and twisted them, placing them around the top of the cake. Enjoy!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin

This is a showcase of amazing recipes from some of my favorite food blogs and websites. Please add to my list by commenting with your link and/or website with your pumpkin recipes.

1. Pumpkin Butter
2. Pumpkin Spiced Crepes with Pumpkin Butter
3. Petite Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling
4. Iced Pumpkin Pecan Cookies
5.Pumpkin Cornbread
6. Barley with roasted pumpkin, goat cheese and sweet toasted pecans
7.Pumpkin Spice Syrup for Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
8. Pumpkin Cinnamon Streusal Buns
9.Pumpkin Soup with Thai Red Curry and Smoked Pumpkin Seeds.
10.Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
11. Pumpkin Chesnut Tortellini- Gluten Free
12. Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes with Fennel and Spinach
13. Apple Pumpkin Japanese Chicken Curry
14. Pumpkin Black Bean Chili
15. Pumpkin Hummus with Pumpkin Cheddar

Fall in Florida

I've lived in Florida most of my life. Florida has many wonderful benefits. No need for three wardrobes, pretty beaches and lots of things to do and see. We have a diverse population. Lots of amazing restaurants and great parks like Bush Gardens and Disney.

 Florida has many flaws. Cranky old people. Cranky young people. Hot & steamy summers. Sometimes hot & steamy spring and fall as well. The only way to truly enjoy the heat is to love the beach and while I really enjoy a good beach visit, I am not a beach bum. I much prefer gardening in the cool morning breeze or taking a brisk walk along a wooded trail.

Well, because I like to make the best of things I am trying to find the best things about Florida this season. This fall I plan on really making it feel like fall in my house with in- season foods and smells. This means pumpkin, squash, pears, sweet potato casserole, rich greens like kale and Swiss chard. Smells like spicy Cinnamon and cloves. Carving pumpkins, visiting a pumpkin patch and taking evening walks when time allows.

I plan on trying at least one new pumpkin recipe a week and would LOVE it if you would share your favorite fall recipe with me. So far my all time favorite fall recipe is garlic roasted butternut squash cubes on Rosemary skewers with fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of EVOO. Perfect as a side dish or as an appetizer.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Planning Freezer Cooking Days and Meal Swaps

I have been trying to come up with a "plan" for a successful meal swap for a few weeks now. With only one O-A-M-C (once a month cooking) session underway I still need to find and perfect some recipes to make that happen. I'm on the hunt for some great vegetarian recipes that can be frozen and I'm finding that to be a bit of a creative problem but I've found one recipe already and have several other ideas (that I will post soon).
I have found some great resources for Freezer Cooking and thought that might come in handy to anyone who is interested in trying this concept. I do think that Freezer Cooking is most successful if you have a group of like-cooking people to get together and "swap" so that everyone walks away with a variety of different meals and isn't eating three of the same ol' dinner week after week.

  • Here are some Freezer Cooking Basics from Life As Mom.

  • Here are some more great tips from The Coupon Project including some great side dish recipes that freeze well and breakfast burritos! Hint, Mission flour tortillas are BOGO this week at Publix! I'm stocking up big on those.
My tips so far-

  • Look for great deals on meats at Publix and Target. There are several times when I have seen chicken breasts or lean beef on sale for at least as low as it is at Sam's and I hate to shop at Sam's! I always spend more than I intend to and it's just one extra place to stop. Also, produce is not always cheaper at Sam's. I find great deals at the local veggie stand and even at Publix.

  • If you follow the seasons you will be amazed at how affordable things are. Plan freezer meals in seasons to stretch your dollars and that way you can make your favorite foods last and last! For example, stock up on tomatoes in the summer and make large batches of Tomato Basil Soup, Tomato Sauce, Pasta Dishes and more!

  • Don't forget to include seafood and vegetarian meals to the Freezer Menu. Many of the delicious meals I've found from Freezer Cookbooks are heavy on meat. While every once in a while it is OK to indulge in red meat, or having a few servings of chicken a week won't kill you, you want to have a varied diet and be sure to have lots of produce on hand to make that happen.

  • The herb garden is truly essential to freezer cooking! Season, season, season your food! What better way to use up loads of basil than to make a freezer pesto?!
-Examples of time savers to use with Freezer Cooking
  • Chop onions and store in zip lock bags by the 1/2 c (this should equal 1 onion). Freeze them in the baggies (or Tupperware) until needed.
  • Buy fresh produce, blanch and freeze it for use in stir-fry, roasted veggies or just a regular side.
  • Host a swap so that you have helping hands!
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