Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's Not Easy Being Cheesy

Like most people I know, I love cheese...just not on my thighs.  Even though cheese can be a good source of calcium and some protein, it isn't always the easiest on the waistline.  We all know by now that Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and can be used in baking and cooking.  Did you know you can turn it into cheese?  Once the liquid is drained overnight, you are left with a soft creamy cheese that is about the same consistency as cream cheese.

To drain:  I placed a piece of cheesecloth over a small bowl and taped it to the outsides so that the yogurt was suspended over the bowl allowing the liquid to drain under it.  You do not want the yogurt to drop back down into the liquid, so make sure the tape is secure. I doubled my cheesecloth just for a little added strength.  I put about a cup of yogurt on the cheesecloth, covered it with Saran wrap and placed it in the fridge for about a day. 
This is what it looked like after draining:

Lots of liquid left underneath!
 The texture is fluffy and creamy
The possibilities are endless for this cheese.  I added about 1/2 packet of stevia and a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon.  I've schmeared it on my rice cakes and apple slices.  It would also be good on some cinnamon Ezekial toast.  You could easily go savory and add mexican spices and cilantro for a sandwich spread or maybe mix in some lemon zest and herbs to spread on little toasts and top with cucumbers or roasted tomato for a healthy appetizer. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TruRoots Does It Again

I have yet to buy a TruRoots product that I don't love.  While at Costco last week, I came across a ginormous bag of their Sprouted Bean Trio.  It's a combination of sprouted lentils, mung, and adzuki beans.  After checking out the nutritional information, I couldn't say no. 

In just a 1/4 cu of this little powerhouse blend, you will get the benefit of only .5g of fat, 27g carbs, 11g of dietary fiber, 11g of protein, 4% of calcium, 10% of iron, and 160 calories.  I compared this to my normal Texmati Organic Brown Rice.  The same serving has 1g of fat, 35 carbs, only 6.5g of dietary fiber, and only 4g of protein.  Obviously, the bean trio is a much better choice.  As suggested on the TruRoots website, these beans can be used in salads, soups, in casseroles and burritos, or as an easy side dish.  According to the cooking directions, it says that it only needs 15 minutes, but I found that their definition of "al dente" is more like "al break a tooth" so I cooked it for about another 15 minutes.  Since this was my first experiment with it, I just sauteed about 3/4 cu mirepoix (equal parts diced carrots, celery, and onion) until soft in a tablespoon or so of olive oil and splash of unsalted organic chicken stock. 
After about 8-10 minutes, I added one cup of the dry bean mixture and kept stirring over low heat so that it could meld together with the vegetables for just a minute or two.  Then I added 2 cups more of the chicken stock and brought it to a boil.  Once boiling, turn down the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes depending on how "al dente" or soft you like your beans.  I would just check it after 20 minutes and go from there.  Once cooked, I seasoned them with a little salt-free garlic and herb spice blend (another Costco purchase) and ate it as a side dish with my salmon and squash.  It was delicious (which is a good since there is no such thing as a small bag of anything at Costco!). 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Things don't always go as planned

I think I'm pretty good in the kitchen.  I can read a recipe and execute it, make changes to it to make it my own, and come up with new ones.  However, there are the occasional fails.  This is one of those times.  For the most part, my fails are salvageable.  This one...not so much.  I tried to eat them a few times and just couldn't choke them down (not even with help of a little wine!).  Into the trash they went. We eat a lot of protein and I'm always looking for new ways to use protein powder for something other than a shake.  I'll choose chewing rather than sipping any day. 
The recipe came from Clean Eating Magazine for Protein Cookies.  Looked simple enough.  All I had to do was beat 1/3 cu of egg whites until frothy and mix in 1/2 cu of protein powder (I think these were the measurements), drop on a silpat and bake at 200 degrees for 2 hrs.  Easy schmeeasy, right?  Wrong. 

Here they are ready to go in the oven. 

At this point, I'm dreamy of fluffy, chewy protein packed cookies that resemble French macarons just like in the recipe's picture.  Well, French macarons look like this:
 (picture courtesy of Culinary Chronicles)

When I opened the oven to check on my delectable morsels, I found these.  WHAT happened?!?  They look like rotting Pringles and kind of tasted like it too.  I think the fact that I used the convection on my oven had something to do with it.  They were crunchy right at first and then immediatley turned into glue and adhered to every inch of my teeth.  I'm not giving up, I will figure these out!!  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

T-shirt Overhaul

If you are like me, you sweat when you work out.  When I say sweat, I mean SWEAT.  I love running in 5ks, 10ks, and obstacle races and have quite the collection of race t-shirts.  However, I hate working out in short sleeved t-shirts.  I usually end up rolling the sleeves and tucking them into my sports bra and they just feel tight and hot.  I saw this t-shirt makeover on Pinterest which is cute, but none of it was sewn, just cut.  I loved the idea of re-vamping a t-shirt into a tank, but took it a step further.

Pinterest version:

My Version:

I marked off one side of where I wanted to make the cuts.  Then, I used that as a pattern for the other so that they matched.

 All cut down, looking much cooler...
 I then used the sleeves and made two bands to criss cross across the back.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it pretty good for the gym?  You betcha.

 Here is one more:
 Cut this down into a racerback tank

 For this one, I took the "cuffs" of the sleeves and a strip of the other part of the sleeve to make three strips that got braided together.  Then, I just sewed the ends of the braids together and attached them to the t-shirt.  Not too shabby, especially for an old crusty shirt.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pump Up The Jam

I'll admit it...I love peanut butter and jelly.  However, there is no way I'd eat the same PB&J that I did back before I knew better.  Nowadays, everything that goes in my mouth needs to contribute significant nutritional value or there is no reason to eat it in the first place. 
Lets compare:
Old School-white bread, processed pb, store bought jelly
New School-toasted Ezekial or sprouted grain bread, organic pb with reduced sugar and salt, chia seed jam

The chia seed jam is my newest love and so easy to make.  All you need us is a bag of chia seeds, berries of your choice, and a little water.  I put stevia in the picture, but honestly, the berries were sweet enough that I ended up not using it.  If you need something a little sweeter, then a sprinkle of stevia should do the trick. 
Use 1 tbsp of the chia seeds per person and a handful of berries.  Finely chop up your berries and mix them in a bowl with the seeds.  The chia seeds soak up the juice from the berries and naturally thicken the mixture (thats why no pectin is required).  You may have to put a few drops of water or a splash of o.j. if the mixture gets too thick.  Let this sit about twenty minutes.  After that, spread it on peanut butter toast, top off your yogurt with it, or eat it by itself.  It is so good.  I mixed it in my oatmeal this morning and loved it.

Now for a nutritional comparison for 1tbsp of each:
H-E-B More Fruit Raspberry Spread (this is what I used to use)
Calories     30
Fat               0g
Sodium       5mg
Carbs          7g
Sugars        6g
Vitamin C  6%
0% calcium, 0% fiber, 0% iron, 0% protein
Overall, just a non-food with processed sugar

Chia Seed Jam (chia seeds plus 10 raspberries)
Calories    65
Fat             9g
Sodium     2mg
Carbs         7g
Sugars       1g
Calcium    7%
Iron           1%
Vitamin C 8%
Protein       2g
Fiber         7g!- (1 serving of Metemucil only has 3) this is equal to about 25% of your recommended intake of fiber

Chia seeds are quite the little powerhouse.  Yes, there are more calories and fat in the seed version, but those come from healthy omega 3s that your body needs.  Plus, there is less sodium and sugar and more vitamins and minerals.  Did you notice the fiber?! I'd much rather eat the seeds than drink fiber powder or FiberOne bars (those things are lethal). 

Here are even more benefits of chia seeds:

1.  Aid in weight loss- the outside that absorbs liquid forms a gel like coating increasing its size and weight.  It will help you feel full faster and stay full longer.
2.  Balance blood sugar-chia seeds help slow the process of starches turning into sugar and helps your food provide a steady stream of energy rather than spiking.
3.  Helps with digestion- the insoluble fiber of the chia seed aids in keeping the digestion process smooth (if you know what I mean) while the soluble fiber maintains hydration in the colon
4.  Bake with less fat- baking with chia gel (just seeds mixed with water) allows you to cut the amount of oil or butter in half and replace it with gel.  Plus, the antioxidants will help keep your baked goodies fresher for longer
5.  Used as a natural thickener- chia seeds take on the flavor of whatever you mix it in.  You can add them to soup, to sauce, etc.  All the benefits without any flour or cornstarch.

I found my bag of seeds in the grain aisle of our local grocery store, but they are available online from Amazon and other retailers.