Monday, December 27, 2010

Straight up, with a twist - We're talkin' water!

Straight up - with a twist - I made sure to find the terms here first.

Instead of buying filtered water for work, how about using the Brita pitcher, the Zero pitcher, or even the Pur water dispenser.  These save the environment, as well as your pocket book, in the long run, and you can refill them at work.

This year for Christmas I received a water pitcher.  The plastic components in this pitcher are all BPA free!  It's also red which I love, it's my favorite color.

Mavea Water Filtration Pitcher

In going through the Medifast Diet I learned an easy way to figure out how much water you should be drinking. Figure what ever your weight is, and divide that number in half, drink that number in ounces each day.  It may seem like a lot, but when you increase your activity level and your fiber content you need to help flush your system out.  It also helps to keep you feeling satisfied when you reduce your calorie intake, along with helping your skin looking fresher and more radiant.  Keep yourself hydrated.  Drinks with caffeine actually dehydrate you, so those can not be counted towards your water goal, as well as soda type drinks which are just pure sugar and carbonation.  I learned in going to India as well as being on the swim team in high school, carbonation is not good for you.  It dehydrates you, and does not help you be the best in your athletic performance. 

Some related information:
If It's good for Kitty Acne it's good for your acne too!
Wonders of Water - many people can't tell hunger from thirst, so I disagree with their findings on the quantity of water that they no longer recommend.
Water may be a secret weapon in weight-loss
Benefit of Drinking water

I have also found a new BPA free water bottle, it was at Costco, and I'm a big fan of this one. Again, along with being BPA free it is spill proof when you put the lid on properly.  I have to have spill proof things.  It also comes in multiple colors, and it fits in my drink console in my car.

Contigo water bottle

There is no straw, you squeeze the neck and the top opens up.  The whole bottle is dishwasher safe, and there are no places for bacteria and mold to grow if you wash it properly.  The one with the straw had a habit of things growing in the mouth piece which is just disturbing.  The link takes you to Amazon, but like I said, I found mine at Costco.  It's a nice way to keep your filtered water with you when you are on the go.  It helps me remember how much water I've had through out the day, and it also helps me not go for the soda when I'm out and about. 

Find what works for you, but this is my new favorite bottle.

Remember that adding small amounts of fruit to your water keeps it tasting new and refreshing. Options include lemon, lime, orange, raspberries, strawberries, cucumber, mint...well you get the idea. You are limited only by your imagination, or lack of fruit and herbs. 
Stay refreshed!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It looks like I will have to try some Kale

Photo credit goes to:
For all of you who love to try new things, this is probably nothing scary or adventurous in trying a new vegetable or even re-trying something that previously you were not fond of.
I've tried kale before, but it was bitter, and not what I wanted to eat in my salad, so I've left it alone.  In fact I've never tried kale again. (insert frowny face here) I know I should, but I'm hesitant to spend money on a vegetable that I might just toss, and that is something to think about.  But I've been told that adding kale is something I should do, and now I'm seeing all sorts of my favorite bloggers talking it up.

Kale - Incyst link

Fare to Remember:
All Hail Kale Part-1
All Hail Kale Part 2 Obsessed
Call of Cauliflower part 3 cauliflower - with use of kale
Chipotle Prawn Tostadas - recipe uses kale
If you live in marin county ...

even Elana's Pantry loves kale

More than Burnt toast mentions kale

My Kitchen My Worldireland Potato Farls

So, my darlings, it would seem that I need to belly up to the bar as it were and give this leafy green another shot.  I will have to come back and share how it all worked out for me, I think I will try the kale chips first since those have received the best press thus far.  But seriously, take the time to check out the photo's at A Fare to Remember's site, she can make food look good.

Here are some other places mentioning kale, and kale recipes.

Top rated recipes from All Recipes

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Secret Spaghetti Sauce

Old Family Recipe - Spaghetti Sauce
Written by my mom - Julie

     Paul & I (Julie) met in 1970 at Olympic Jr. College, in Bremerton, Washington.  A year, maybe a year and a half later, we are talking about spaghetti his favorite food.  Paul explained how his Aunt and Uncle would fix this for him when he went to visit them and how much he liked it.  He also said that his family (I assume Peggie & George) had an old family recipe for Spaghetti that took all day to cook. It had a lot of special spices and tasted great.
     We married in June of 1972.  We as many newly married couples were on a budget and needed to watch pennies.  I fixed a lot of low cost recipes for dinners but spaghetti was not one of the meals.  Once in a while Paul would ask if I would fix spaghetti, and I told him he should fix it because he knew the recipe. This went on for several years.
     Around seven to ten years later, Paul asked again if I would fix spaghetti.  He was rather hurt, I knew that it was his favorite food and I had refused to fix the meal.  I again mentioned he knew the old family recipe, and I would be happy for him to fix it.
"What old family recipe?" I retorted, "the one that has been in your family for years and takes all day to fix!"
"What are you talking about?"
"What do you mean what am I talking about.  You told me years ago that you had a special old family recipe for fixing spaghetti, that took all day to cook."
"I did? We never had any old family recipe for spaghetti."
"I don't remember telling you that, is that why you never fix me spaghetti?"
"Well, why don't you find a recipe for spaghetti sauce that has a lot of spices and takes a long time to cook?"
     Actually now our budget could handle the extra spices, and I thought I remembered a recipe that I had found in "Spices of the World" by McCormick for a great sounding spaghetti sauce.  So I fixed it either the next day or by the weekend.  Paul loves it!
And ever since, we laughingly call it our "Old Family Recipe for Spaghetti Sauce."


This was written to be included in a family cookbook that my sister and I were working on, but my father did not want her to share the story.  She decided not to share it, but I am, not for the story itself but because it was from my mom. She died Dec 11, 2004 of congestive heart failure.  I love her and I miss her.

Here is the recipe as it ended up, changes were made from the original recipe, and I've made some since then.  My sister has also made changes to her version of the spaghetti sauce as well.  I do add more spices and things than are listed here, but I'll keep those as my secret.  I have made some notes of swaps, but I have not included the additional items that I now add.

Secret Spaghetti Sauce

1 1/2 pds hamburger meat - I use lean turkey meat most of the time, or a very lean hamburger
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp sugar - I use 1 packet of stevia
1/4 crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp season all
1/4 MSG - I never add this
2 bay leaves
1 tbls oregano
1 tbls basil
1 tbls parsley
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/8 tsp (secret ingredient)
1 tbls Italian seasoning
4 6 ounce cans tomato paste
2 quarts water or 8 C's water
1 C red wine (optional)
1 C sliced olives
2 4 ounce cans mushrooms - I use fresh mushrooms that I've cooked
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook hamburger meat with the seasonings from the garlic powder to the msg (which I omit) when meat is cooked add it into a huge stock pot with the remaining ingredients minus the spaghetti or
grated parmesan cheese. Cover tightly and simmer 2 hours longer, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and continue cooking until sauce thickens to desired consistency, scoop out the 2 bay leaves throw away. Cook spaghetti following directions on pkg, allowing 1 pound for 4 servings. Ladle sauce over spaghetti. Top with grated cheese and serve.
Makes about 3 1/2 quarts sauce enough for 4 pounds spaghetti, since you may not need such a large quantity of sauce you can freeze it for several months. 

Julie, Grandma Peggie, and Aunt Bessie

 No pictures of food this time, but the spaghetti sauce is great.  I really wanted to share the story above since it was the last thing that my mom wrote.  She and I used to write things together, funny stories and letters to my pen pals.  These are memories beyond just the story themselves, and I wanted to share them.  Today I remember momma.  This is the 6th anniversary of her passing and I miss her as much as ever, I just don't break out into tears every time I mention her now, except at night when I'm drinking tea and quietly thinking.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I love Nutella, have I mentioned that before?

I happen to love Nutella I found this love when I went to India and Mrs. Huldah Buntain brought some back, from one of her speaking engagements, for us to try.  There and then I began searching for this treat when I returned to the states.

Myself, Doreen, and Auntie Buntain - The gentleman in gold was throwing a 16th birthday party for his son

Myself, Mrs Higgins, and Huldah Buntain - My 19th Birthday dinner

Now my life has changed a bit, and my foods list is changed as well, and Nutella does not really fit in well.  I was browsing through Lexie's Kitchen, The Spunky Coconut, and Elana's Pantry and I can not remember who it was that mentioned Justin's Nut Butter as being a more healthy alternative.  I had been looking around, but it's not easy to find and Whole Foods is a bit of a drive for me.  I then remembered that Futter's Nut Butter sold chocolate nut butters as well as their regular nut mixes.  Futter's does not add anything but the nuts and the chocolate, no additional oil or sugars or preservatives, their products need to be refrigerated.  Now, I ordered the Chocolate Hazelnut Butter I happen to really like this nut butter, but it is not easy to spread, and you will not confuse it with Nutella I did get the Justin's Nut Butter recently, and I love it as well. It spreads easy, and is shelf stable, so there are some extra ingredients in it.  You will not confuse it with Nutella either as it is not as creamy and smooth, or as sugary sweet, but it is good.  If you have children who have texture issues, be warned that Justin's is a bit gritty.  The Futter's Nut Butter is a bit gritty as well, once you get it warmed enough to spread on your bread.

I was then so excited to see InCyst post a link for a recipe as well. 

Homemade Nutella Recipe

Here is a recipe from Lexie's Kitchen and how she uses the Justin's Nut Butter on brownies.  There are just so many possibilities.
Lexie's Kitchen Hazelnut-brownies (gluten, egg, and grain free)

You never know how or where you will find treasures, and you never know when you will want or need to find alternatives for your treasures.  I know that these things in moderation are fine, but some days moderation is just a ridiculous notion.  Rather than set myself up for failure, I would prefer to find things that help me indulge without over doing it.  I know that some of your kids have already become fans of Nutella, and that texture issues make it impossible to switch it on them now, but for those of you who have not gone down that path, it is much easier to start them on something a bit more healthy.  I enjoyed a whole wheat tortilla with the Futters chocolate almond spread tonight, and it was delightful.  Hot tea, chocolate, and a movie with my hubby, these things bring that deep sigh and help me relax during these stressful moments before Christmas.  Find the things that help you unwind, and don't send you into a tail spin, and just enjoy. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Subway Highschool Heros

High school: Florin High School
State: California
Nominated by Jude L.
A hero MAKES A DIFFERENCE! Martha's "job" is to teach History but her attitude is to CARE for the care-less, give HOPE to the hopeless, to CHALLENGE every student to REACH HIGHER & she walks their path with them! She has achieved GREATNESS in lives.
This is a shameless plug for votes for Martha.  There is only so much they can put in these blurbs, but she does so much more for the youth that she teaches.  She encourages and inspires many many youth who need the motivation to do better in their lives.  Take the time to vote, and share with others, there are only 12 more days to cast your votes.
Thank you! 

Alternative Binding Agents

I'm sure that you have already been thinking of egg whites, and those are helpful unless you want to avoid egg completely.   Then there is the 1 tablespoon soaked in 3 tablespoons of water.  I have been looking for other alternatives as well.  It is always good to have backup plans an substitutes in cooking, just in case you run out of something.

Eggs of a Quail (Coturnix sp.), in comparison to a chicken's egg.
German description: Wachteleier (Coturnix sp.) im Vergleich zu einem Hühnerei.
  • Photo by: Mnolf
  • Date: 16.07.2005
  • Location: Rum / Tyrol / Austria
Eggless has many great suggestions and how to best use the different egg re-placers.
If eggs are binders in a recipe, it can be replaced with Arrowroot, Soy, Lecithin, Flaxseed Mix, Pureed Fruits or Vegetables, Silken Tofu, Unflavored Vegetarian Gelatin Powder (agar agar). The ratio is, for every egg replaced, 1/4 cup of the substitute is used.If eggs are leavening agents, Buttermilk, Yogurt, Baking Soda, Commercial Egg Replacement Powder such as Ener-G can be used.
If eggs are moisturizers, Fruit Juice, Milk, Water or Pureed Fruit can be used.

Egg SubstituteQuantityBest Suitable ForHow is the result? Based on the information provided in The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and Cooking Free: 200 Flavorful Recipes for People with Food Allergies and Multiple Food Sensations by Carol Fenster. 
Silken Tofu
Substitute ¼ cup of whipped silken tofu for each egg.Rich, dense and moist cakes, cookies, breads and browniesBaked goods won’t brown as deeply, but they will be very moist and heavy. 
Flaxseed Powder
Whisk/blend together 1 teaspoon of flax seed powder with ¼ cup of water for each egg to be replaced. Flaxseed has a nutty flavor, so it works best that are grainier and nuttier, such as waffles, pancakes, bran muffins, breads and oatmeal cookies. Best in dark colored dishes.The baked goods are heavier, dense. 
Pureed Fruits (mashed bananas, applesauce, apricots, pears, prunes)¼ cup for each egg. Increase leavening by 25-50%. Bake items slightly longer, if necessary.Cakes, quick breads and brownies. 
Vinegar and Baking soda1 teaspoon of baking soda along with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Apple cider vinegar and white distilled vinegar can be used.Cakes, cupcakes and quick breads. 
Buttermilk, Yogurt or Baking SodaIf there are no other ingredients to make the baked item rise, then one of these can be used in place of the egg. Replace the liquid in the recipe with same amount of buttermilk or thinned yogurt. Replace baking powder with ¼ as much baking soda.cookies, bars and flatbreads.
Commericial Egg Replacer Powder (like EnerG)Whip together in a food processor or blender 1 ½ teaspoons powder and 2 tablespoons water. Sometimes 2-3 times as much powder in the same amount of water gives better results.All baked goods, especially cookies.Flavorless, won’t affect the taste of the baked goods.

Potato Starch

Potato starch is the active ingredient in many commercial products such as Ener-G egg replacer and Orgran No Egg natural egg replacer. Potato starch provides leavening, or a rising, effect in baked goods. Potato starch, which is tasteless, comes in a powder form that must be mixed with liquid before adding it to a recipe. Other starches, including cornstarch and xanthan gum, also can be used to replace eggs as binders and thickening agents in baked goods.

Pureed Fruit or Vegetables

Applesauce, mashed bananas and pureed pumpkin can all be used to bind bread or muffin dough. Approximately 1/4 cup of puree is equivalent to one egg. Applesauce and other pureed products also have the added benefit of providing appropriate amounts of liquid for each replaced egg.


When egg is used in a recipe to bind together a dough, unflavored gelatin may be an adequate, though tasteless, replacement. Gelatin comes in powdered form and must be mixed with a liquid. Approximately 1/4 cup of gelatin equals one egg as a binding agent.

Baking Soda

At times, egg-free products can be dense after baking. In recipes that include baking soda as a leavening ingredient, additional baking soda may provide a more airy texture. Similar effects can be seen with liquid leavening agents such as yogurt or buttermilk. Replacing eggs with egg substitutes in recipes requires patience and experimentation.
Homemade Egg Substitutes
All these homemade and easily accessible egg substitutes, can be used as a nice fill-ins in cakes, pies, cookies and food products, where eggs are used as fillers and binders.
Flax Seeds
This is the best egg substitute used for baking. Flax seeds have great nutritious value. Flax seeds contain a reasonable amount of the alpha-linolenic acid, which is a very useful cure for the inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, arthritis and many such diseases. Flax seeds also contain a chemical, named lignans, that helps to prevent cancer. Flax seeds can be used in both whole as well as ground forms. You can replace one egg by mixing the flax seeds in water in 1:3 ratio (1 spoon of flax seeds and 3 spoons of water) to make a gelatinous batter.

Potato Flour
Potato flour is made of the cooked, dried and ground potatoes. It is a good form of egg substitution as it is totally gluten-free. Potato starch, mashed potatoes, etc. are also good egg substitutes. To replace one egg you can use some potato flour, ¼ mashed potato or two tablespoons of potato starch.

Applesauce is also pretty useful as an egg substitute. You just have to use the unsweetened applesauce. ¼ cup of applesauce easily replaces one whole egg. It helps the allergic people to enjoy the baked recipes, as well as the weight-watchers, because it helps to make fat-free recipes.

Mashed bananas can serve as good egg substitutes. One medium sized banana replaces one egg.

Commercial Egg Substitutes

Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum is used as a rheology modifier and a food additive. It is made from the fermentation of glucose and sucrose, with the help of the exoskeleton of the bacteria, Xanthomonas campestris. The Xanthun gum is a white powder, used as a binder to enhance the texture of egg-free cakes and milk-free ice creams. The amount should be one teaspoon per recipe.

Soybean Lecithin
Lecithin is a class of animal tissue phospholipid that contains esters of glycerol, one molecule of phosphoric acid and two molecules of long-chain aliphatic acids. The lecithin in egg yolk is replaced with soybean lecithin. It is used as an additive and emulsifier in many food products. It works as a wetting agent that makes it, a good egg substitute, even though it must be used in amounts of about one percent of the total weight of the recipe.

It is a good example of the commercial egg replacers that are easily available in the market. They are relatively less flavored and can be used in baking cakes, muffins etc.

Other Egg Substitutes
  • Egg is also used as a leavening agent. So, to replace one egg you can use the mixture of one tablespoon of vegetable oil + one tablespoon of water + one tablespoon of baking soda.
  • Egg white is used as a glaze on some recipes. For the purpose you can use beaten margarine. It proves to be as good as the beaten egg white.
  • When using as a binder, you can use two tablespoons of powdered gelatin + one cup of boiling water.
  • One tablespoon of smashed Tofu and a tablespoon of water, can prove a good egg replacement.
  • Cornstarch, arrowroot starch, vegan custard and chickpeas also work as egg substitutes.
The choice of egg substitutes may depend upon the dish that you are cooking. There are many options available, so choose the best and the most comfortable substitute. Above all, it becomes highly important to read the labels of the ready to eat food products as even the products that are said to be egg substitutes may contain eggs.

With such a wide range of egg substitutes, you really don't need to sacrifice your urge to eat variety of foods by worrying about the egg allergy.
By Rutuja Jathar

So here is a good start, and you can find more on the website.   
Okay, so it's not a sexy post, here but it is informative.  In using coconut flour many many eggs are used for a binding agent, and if you want to replace one or two of them you need alternatives.  If you have an egg allergy you really need to know that there are options.  I'm fond of eggs, and I use them often as well as egg whites, but I do know that there are others with concerns or sensitivities to them, including our vegan friends.  Personal convictions are included in sensitivities in my book, and should be held in high regard.

PCOS and other health concerns do not need to slow down your love for baking or good food, and not all substitutes taste awful, find the things that work for you and keep good notes on your recipes so you never forget them.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Banana & Chocolate Chip Coconut Flour Muffins

 I have been traveling and getting ready to travel for a while.  The drive to my sisters was long and cold.  Normally the trip take 9 hours, it took 16 hours.  I had many, many thoughts on the drive here to think of all the funny titles, and things I could say about our trip, things like "have you hugged you're tires today?"  Inspired by our many times putting chains on our tires, and taking them off in bellow freezing weather.  Yes, I've hugged a tire, and I didn't like it.  Yes, the trip has worn me out, and I'm a bit punchy.  The good news is, I made treats for our journey, and they were delicious.  I combined two recipes, and made a delectable treat.  The only thing is, after putting chains on and off your tires a couple of times, you just can't get that rubber smell off your hands with wipes. So, we come to my sisters house with treats to share, and they were well received.

Banana Coconut Flour Muffins
Pre-heat oven at 350 F degrees.

1 - Mix coconut flour and baking powder (put it in separate bowl.)
2 - In a mixing bowl, beat eggs gradually, and then add milk, honey, coconut oil, butter, vanilla and salt.
3 - Continue mixing.
4 - Then add the coconut flour with baking powder and mashed bananas. Blend well.
5 - Grease 12 muffin cups with coconut oil.
6 - Fill greased muffin cups with the batter.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.
Yield: 12 muffins

These are exceptionally moist and delicious.  I'm sure that agave could be used in place of the honey and quite possibly eliminated or reduced, depending on your desired amount of sweetness.  Just make sure that if you eliminate it, to add in more milk or banana to make up those three tablespoons.

I baked these for our long drive, and loved them so much I made more once I got there. I let my friends and family try them, and they loved them.  These muffins even had to be hid from the kids in order to save them for the party so that others could enjoy them.  We had a great time, and miss everyone we saw during our visit.

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