Saturday, September 19, 2015

Review: Hail Merry Macaroons

So I've been spending a lot of time looking at nutrition labels with the new dietary rules, and the key is low net carbs. That is Carbohydrates - Fiber. This makes trips to the grocery store take a lot longer, and sometimes sad faces too. For instance, some of my favorite things are chocolate & caramel. Something like a Twix Bar... has 217 calories, 27 net carbs (14 of which are sugar). This is my favorite candy bar, but it exceeds any sane budget for blood sugar control.

Then I found these by Hail Merry Organic, gluten free, kosher, vegan, delicious:

Macaroons - Choco: with 110 kcalories (for 2), 8g net carbs (7g are sugar) and so much amazing flavor that I don't crave any additional sweets. They are dense, moist, with tons of coconut and the perfect amount of chocolate (I like super chocolate when I can get it).

Macaroons - Caramel Sea Salt: with 140 kcalories (for 2), as well as the same 8g net carbs (7g of which are sugar). These just melt in your mouth and with a touch of maple syrup, vanilla and of course the saltiness (not to forget the coconut) you'll wonder why you ever wanted any other caramel treat.

While writing this post, I discovered they have other flavors I'm going to have to seek out and try but for now, these are permanently on my shopping list whenever I see them.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” While this post does contain links to the product website, I receive no credit or compensation for your clicks.


As you can see, its been well over a year since I posted. What's happened in that time? I spent much of the period from March 2014 - August 2014 in the hospital, suffering from a necrotizing pancreatitis. That was a horrible experience that has effected my life for ever. I am lucky that I don't have any of the lasting pancreatitis issues (need to avoid fats & alcohols) but I have developed diabetes... going assumption at the moment is type 2, but there is another test to be done first. I do still need to watch fats because they took my gallbladder out at the end of my healing process.

I had the benefit of an expert in GI medicine on my case when things went bad for me. Dr. Rajeev Attam, out of Kaiser Permanente, Southern California in the Downey facility. Something like my case can be found here (medical publication). Unfortunately however my case was not so successful as the ones in the study. My stents (there are 2) are permanent due to scar tissue blocking full exocrine function. I believe this scar tissue is an influence on my recent diabetes diagnosis.

I was sent home with a glucometer and told to test. I was also told I needent worry until I was averaging a read around 300. The problem for me is that at around 285-300 I experienced some really odd sensations that I now associate with hyperglycemia. After a couple months of this occurring off/on I started experiencing full hyperglycemia... this prompted me to get my A1C levels tested (I was averaging meter reads of around 200 or so at this point).

At the moment I am being treated for Type 2 with a drug called Metformin. It's only been a week so far, but I"ve already seen a drop in my average blood sugar reads. I have also made a conscious effort to back down on net carbs I take in with each meal and working towards more regular exercise. This last one is honestly going to be the hardest for me.

So in the future, my plan with this site is to find ways to take some of my very favorite sweet things, because I still really love to bake and make things for people, and find ways to make them lower in carbs (that means lower in sugars) and if I can do one better, maybe even lower in fats. My husband is sensitive to lactose, so we'll also be shooting for alternatives to milk & buttermilk (yogurts and cheese don't seem to be issues for him) and I suspect some of the alternations may end up being gluten free too (when you have to avoid the white foods (flour, potatoes, rice) you occasionally stumble on gluten free alternatives too).

In the meantime, some resources if you stumbled on my site for words like Diabetes, or Pancreatitis.

The Pancreas has 2 primary functions. They are labeled simply enough as Endocrine & Exocrine.

The Exocrine system produces digestive enzymes released into your digestive system at the beginning of the small bowel. The Endocrine system is responsible for production of insulin and glucagon which is released directly into your blood stream. These hormones help control your blood sugar.

On the WebMD list of Digestive Disorders of the Pancreas you'll find things like Type1 & Type2 diabetes, Pancreatic pseudocyst, or Pancreatitis (among others).

Pancreatitis seems to have 3 major/common causes. 1) Diet high in fats. 2) Alcohol Abuse. 3) Blockage of common bile duct by gallstones. (mine was #3). Many people who have suffered from Pancreatitis find they can no longer consume fats or alcohols without facing acute symptoms. While I was learning and reading all I could, I found "Beating Pancreatitis". This is a blog/website by a guy who was looking for his own answers. He's not a doctor, but offers a ton of good advice and I highly recommend a read if you are concerned.

Diabetes has two commonly known types.
Type 1, In short means the pancreas does not produce insulin, leaving all those simple sugars free in the blood stream with no way to convert it to energy. These people tend to be dependent on insulin injections or pumps.
Type 2, Your Pancreas is creating insulin (though potentially not enough), and your body is not using it correctly. You in effect become insulin resistant.
I won't pretend to know enough to explain further, but maybe some of these sites can help you understand them better.
Web MD - Differences between Type 1 & 2
Type 2 Diabetes - A Personal Journey
Diabetes update - What they Don't tell you about Diabetes
diabetes subreddit: r/diabetes

Well that's it for this rather lengthy post. See you soon.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Makin' Bread

It was pretty cold last weekend and I really wanted to make some bread, so I went about looking for ways to proof dough.  I've successfully used the microwave before, but my present microwave is barely big enough to reheat a plate of food, certainly not big enough for a big ball of bread dough. Then I remembered I had this:
I looked it up, and found a few sites that said a crockpot should work just fine for this purpose.  You want to use the coolest available setting (this one here is warm, low, high.... warm is the option to go with).  

Next step was finding the recipes.  I gave Scott my pinterest boards for baking to look through and two caught his interest, so I decided to make both.

I did make a bit of an error, in that I forgot to mix in the olive oil in my dough formation.  It is quite possible that forcing it in after the first rise gave me a different result than doing it right would have given me.  But my failure to follow instructions and make up the difference still resulted in a lovely bread.

The ingredients are pretty simple (especially because I have some wonderfully full rosemary bushes in my front yard)
And using the crock pot, with a parchment liner and plastic wrap cover worked really well for the proofing.  It did come out a little warm to the touch, but the rising worked nicely, both times.
After first rise completed
2nd rise I put back in the crock pot and cranked the dial to high... covered with new plastic wrap and some dish towels for added insulation.  The goal was to attempt to bake it this way.
Unfortunately, after 45 minutes it was still doughy at the top center.  I pulled it from the pot at that point and finished in the oven.  It tasted great, but lacked that lovely crust I would have gotten with a traditional baking.

These were wonderful.  I always imagined that pretzels and pretzel rolls would be really hard to make. That is so far from true.  The dough starts just like any other, basic yeast, flour, salt, water and a touch of sugar.  Pulled together with the dough hook on my kitchen aid, but would have been possible the old fashioned way (lots of elbow grease and a bit of time).

Again I looked to my crock pot for the initial rise, then for the second time around as well.   Set my cookie sheet atop the heated bowl, covered with a tea towel and left it alone.
Once they finished their second rise, they each got a quick bath in some water & baking soda.  
This part was a little like magic.  Even though they had some time to proof, they opened up just a little bit more after their hot water bath and made this novice baker really excited to see the finished product.  Little bit of patience needed for the x marking, the soda water makes the skins a little tough so the dough was hard to score without using too much pressure.
A short time later with the help of a hot oven, these beauties were ready to eat and boy were they delicious.  All the wonderful flavor you expect from a pretzel, and no more time than it takes to make a regular kneaded yeast bread.   I think I'll be making some more tomorrow.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Protein & Chocolate

I've been really wanting to make something on the healthier side in the sweet family.   I was also inspired by the idea of getting more protein in the form of a cookie.   So again, on the hunt for ideas.  ifoodreal has a recipe for Double Chocolate Protein Cookies that got me most of the way to my finished product.  She's offered a lot of tips on what benefits each ingredient has and it looks like a nice recipe.  I didn't happen to have any avacado so I couldn't make it completely as she did. Plus, there is no whey protein powder in our house out of kindness to the lactose intolerant among us.

Even though there is no added sugar, I found these to be sweetly satisfying.  The apple sauce adds a bit of moisture if your banana's aren't ripe enough (mine could have used a couple of more days). If you've got properly over ripe banana's you may be able to leave out the applesauce.  The chocolate is more than enough to satisfy any chocolate lovers craving too.

Please do experiment. The chia & flax are easy enough to add if you have them, but can be left off if you don't.

With that said, here is the basic & simple recipe.

1/2 cup peanut butter
2 medium ripe banana's
2 scoops protein powder
4 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
3 tbsp dark chocolate chips/chunks
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp applesauce (unsweetened)
1 tsp flax seed (ground)
1 tsp chia seed (ground)
1 tbsp quinoa (ground)
1 tbsp unsalted, dry roasted sunflower seeds
wooden spoon
medium sized bowl
cookie sheet
sheet liner
potato masher

Coffee/Spice Grinder
works well on the seeds
Preheat to 350 F
yields 12-18 cookies

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • In medium bowl, mash together banana's & peanut butter.  Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined.
  • Using a lined baking sheet, and a 2 Tbsp disher, I was able to get 18 cookies.  Bake for about 12 minutes.  Cool until easy to touch and enjoy.
My intention is to have these for breakfast for a couple of days, but if you're going to store much longer than that freezing is probably best.

According to my Lose It! tracker, each cookie of 18 works out to 70 calories, 5.2 g fat, 1.2 g sat fat, 52.9mg sodium, 4.9 g carbs, 1.1g fiber, 1.7g sugar, 3.4g protein

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Now & Later #2

In round 2, Some flank Steak, simple veggies, & Some Common Asian ingredients ... makes a simple main dish protein on the 1st night & an elegant& satisfying second night meal.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Now and Later #1

We found this book at our local discount book store, you can find it at Amazon   It's full of delicious and healthy recipes that you turn into other recipes. This is the first book I've found ever where I've wanted to try almost everything in it. So we picked out 7 pairings,  that's dinner and next day lunch for two of us for two weeks.  Went shopping and got everything we need for about $150, (Including pantry stock items like vinegar that we were out of).

The first meal was pretty tasty considering it was mostly chicken, potatoes, and carrots. For the second day you add a little bit more chicken stock, shrimp, spinach, canned tomatoes and a touch of hot sauce. Makes a really delicious and satisfying soup.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Chocolate Strawberry Mini Oatmeal Muffins

We found some perfectly sweet strawberries at the farmers market, then on Pinterest I found Chocolate Covered Strawberry Muffins by Sally's Baking Addiction.  Her recipe sounded really tasty, and they looked it too.  However while I really wanted to make them, I didn't want to go to the store so I needed to be able to use ingredients already in my pantry (and that does not include sour cream).  So I went on a hunt for a basic muffin recipe where I found the Brown Eyed Baker & Oatmeal Muffins with Dates, Cranberries & Pecans.  Still not perfect because my house includes one who is unable to eat buttermilk in any form... but with these two recipe ideas, and a little bit of substitution knowledge... I came up with these.  Since I was already substituting and modifying, I went for one more change that would lower the fat too. 

The final result has a nice balance of all the flavors, the chocolate and strawberry shine through nicely and you have that satisfying nuttiness of the oatmeal too.

So here we go.
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • muffin tins
  • flour sifter
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • whisk
  • wooden spoon
  • spatula
  • 2 mixing bowls
Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes

36 mini muffins @ 52 kcal each
12 full size muffins @156 kcal each

1 tsp baking powder. I actually forgot to include this ingredient but it still worked out. If I had remembered to include it, I imagine they would have come out a bit fluffier and risen a bit more as well.  Without it though, I didn't' miss it. The  the mix in to batter ratio, combined with my mini tins, made me feel like I was still getting a satisfying bite.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In small mixing bowl, combine soy milk & lemon juice, mix well and set aside.
 In large mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, salt & cinnamon. Mix in your chocolate chips and strawberries.  (Alternately, you could add the mix in's at the very last)
In your small bowl, add apple sauce, egg & vanilla to the lemon milk.
Add wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until just combined - Resembles a loose oatmeal.
Pour out to papered or lightly greased muffin tins.  
Bake 15-20 minutes, toothpick entered in center will come out clean
Cool in muffin pan for a few minutes, then remove to cooling rack to finish.
Store in air tight container at room temperature