Sunday, February 22, 2015

Chocolate Cannoli Dip - Yum!

I've been craving chocolate lately.  While I have no problem eating ice cream, cake etc... as long as it's in small portions.  I prefer to eat something chocolaty and filling.

Cannoli is one of my favorite desserts!  I used to eat it whenever I could get my hands on it.  However, they are SO high in carb that I only get mini ones when I can find them.

The other day, I was thinking...hey, isn't cannoli filling made from ricotta cheese?  I happened to have some leftover ricotta in the fridge.

So, I did a little research on Pinterest looking for cannoli filling recipes.  Many of them required marscapone as well.  I didn't have any that on hand, but I did have everything else.  So, I threw a little together to see what it would taste like (Thanks to my handy-dandy new Ninja system, this was easy!).  

The picture above shows one serving.  I put it in the little 2 oz. storage containers.  Surprisingly, this little bit is very satisfying.  WAY more satisfying than those little 100 calorie packs of chocolate cookies.  Ok, ok, so it's 188 calories.  Sometimes a girls gotta have her chocolate!

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients (3 servings)
1.5 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 packets sugar substitute (I used Splenda)

Directions - Put all ingredients in a food process or blender and blend.  Enjoy!!  Or chill for an hour if you want it a little more firm.  

Carbs = 10 grams/serving
Calories = 188 grams/serving

What's your favorite low carb chocolate snack?

Monday, December 29, 2014

I Love Making Christmas Cookies!

Once Upon A Time there was a woman who loved coloring sugar cookie dough, cutting out 3" Christmas Shapes, sprinkling sugar on top and throwing them in the oven.  She'd bring the baked cookies to Christmas gatherings.  She enjoyed eating them and sharing them. 

Then one day, this woman was diagnosed with Diabetes.  While sugar cookies were still allowed, she could only eat one or two in a sitting before her glucose would go up.  Having sugar cookies around the house became very difficult for her.  So, she tried to find a way around it.  

One year she got a  set of 1" cookie cutters from her husband.  So, she made tiny little, itty, bitty cookies.  After trying to get the dough off and cut out a dozen of these little cookies, the woman decided it just wasn't worth all the tediousness.

The next year, she didn't make cookies at all.  She saw her cookie cutters sitting unused in the cabinet and wondered if she would ever use them again.  She pondered giving them away, but she just wasn't ready. 

Then, the third year, she was bound and determined to use those dang 3" inch cookie cutters to make Christmas shapes.  She started thinking about it and then it hit her.  One sugar cookie can range from 10-18 grams of carbs.  However, one whole piece of bread is around 15 grams of carbs.  She figured she could get about 2 shapes out of one piece of bread and that didn't use the whole 15 grams of carbs.  Hmmmm....What do you do with shapes cut out of bread?  You make French Toast!!  

So, the woman scoured ideas for cutout French Toast, on Pinterest and found a few recipes for hearts etc...  She formulated a new plan for Christmas this year and made Christmas French Toast instead of cookies.  

The moral of this story is that you can still have your cookie cutting fun and eat more....even if you are Diabetic.  

Below is the recipe with absolutely NO sugar added. 

First off, I used white bread because it doesn't really bother my glucose and most of our family would prefer white bread.  I also wasn't sure how the color would come through.  Maybe next year, I'll do a loaf of wheat and a loaf of white.  If you try wheat, let me know how it goes!

Prep Time: 75 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
(I'm always slow the first time I try something, these times are high estimates.  However, this is a project, so it's not a normal, do this every day, kind of thing.)

2 mixing bowls
Serving container for finished French Toast (we put them in a pyrex portable dish with a hot pack to keep it hot)
A pair of Surgical gloves (to keep your fingers from turning black). 
Two whisks
Large (12") frying pan

2 loaves of sturdy white or wheat bread (or one loaf of each)
1 dozen eggs, divided
1 cup milk , divided
1.5 tsp cinnamon, divided
1.5 tsp nutmeg, divided
red food coloring
green food coloring

1) Cut shapes out of bread, 2 shapes per piece (I did this the night before, storing them flat, 1 dozen cutouts per batch, in single layers, in ziploc baggies to keep them fresh and fluffy.  This saved time and tediousness the next day).

2) Crack 6 eggs into one bowl and the other in the remaining bowl. Beat eggs with a whisk in both bowls. Whisk 1/2 the milk, 1/2 the cinnamon and 1/2 the nutmeg into each bowl.  

3) Whisk red food coloring in one bowl and green food coloring into the other bowl until you have the right color. 

4) Spray pan with cooking spray and heat to medium. Put on surgical gloves.  Cooking one batch at a time, dip, fry and flip as you would french toast, until done. 

5) After each batch, remove pan from heat, stir egg mixture and spray pan again.  Switch out colors as you see fit.  I did all red batches first, then all green.  Just stick to one color per batch.  

6) Serve with sugar free syrup or a little powdered sugar on top.  Personally, I really enjoyed them as is.  The cinnamon and nutmeg were very tasty. 

As you can see they look like cookies, but they aren't.  Best of all, I estimate that I can eat about 5 of these puppies for the price of 2 cookies.  I call that working the system.  

What ideas have you come up with to work the carbs system?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I have become a carb snob

I do a lot of reflecting at the end of every year, so this post is me reflecting on how far I've come over the last few years.

I've become a carb snob!  There was a time when carbs were the only thing I really wanted to eat.  I love mashed potatoes, sub sandwiches and crunchy munchies.  I was a meat and potatoes girl.  At the beginning of this year, I would see pictures of carb-filled fast food meals on tv and think "Mmmmm, that looks yummy!"  Something changed this year.  I'm not sure exactly when or how, but I crossed the carb snob threshold.

Now I see pictures of carb-filled fast food meals on tv and think "Ugh!!  That has WAY too many carbs in it."  It's not appealing.  It's not healthy and it doesn't look tasty to me.  I think my tie-dye addiction has moved into food.  I want a plate with lots of color on it.  Not drab white and orange.  I want greens and reds too (Maybe I just like Christmas color foods now...LOL!).

I don't remember where Hubby and I were going, but we were having a conversation about what food would be available.  At one point, I whined and complained that there weren't going to be enough vegetables.  Everything was carb.  I lamented how I was going to be bored with my meal.  That was the moment when I realized I'd become a carb snob.  I now judge every meal by how many carbs vs. vegetables are on the menu.  I don't even want to go eat at restaurants that are carb heavy...unless there's a good salad bar.

Hi, I'm Kristen Beireis and I'm a carb snob.  Do I care?  Absolutely not.  My snobiness is going to point me in a healthy direction and keep me eating yummy, healthy foods.

Are you a carb snob? Or is there some other food you're a snob about?  Come on, share what you point your nose up at when it comes to food.  Admit it.  Love it and let your snobiness reign free.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I do not diet in December

So, I went to the Endocrinologist yesterday and found out that I have lost another 4 pounds!  Woo hoo!!  This brings me to 18 pounds lost this year and a total of 53 pounds lost in just under 3 years.  I'm only 4 pounds away from a healthy BMI.

I'm going off my diet!

First, let me define what "diet" means to me.  Diet = cutting back on calories.  My diet from July through yesterday, has been 1500/day.

I know, it seems backwards doesn't it?  I lost 4 pounds in a month and I only have four to go...why stop there?  Because it's DECEMBER!  There's a lot of hectic-ness in December which is a bit stressful.  Add to that, I have choir concerts throughout the month, with the Community Choir.  Not to mention I'm auditioning for a musical next week and rehearsals would start right away.  While I love every minute of all the things I'm doing...hectic=stress.  Um, and as a Diabetic...this is not good.  So, I refuse to add any fuel to the fire.

It's a bit stressful to choose to eat less calories.  It takes a lot of thinking, tracking and choosing things that aren't necessarily easy to find.  It's not so hard when I'm going about my normal schedule and eating in controlled environments.  When it comes to family gatherings and home cooked treats, that's not really a controlled environment.  I don't even have the luxury of always choosing restaurants at this time of year.

So, I've decided to make the holidays easy on myself and give myself a gift by not dieting.  I'm committed to counting my carb servings (no more than three at a meal and no more than 2 at a snack).  That's an every day thing and I've been doing it for almost three years, so it's second nature to me now.  I don't care how many calories I eat in and around those carbs though.

In the winter, it's not as easy to get the fresh vegetables and fruits that I love so much.  So, I tend to eat a lot more calories.  So, I'm going to play winter by ear.  I'm going to try a maintenance diet of 1800 calories a day and that may go up to 2000 calories when I'm more active. I may stick to that during the show or I might decide to go back down to my 1500.  I can guarantee once I'm back to hiking next year...I'll be focused on dropping those last 4 pounds.  Next year, I will hit my goal weight (and maybe shave off a few more pounds for good measure) and then stop and maintain from there.  Until then, I'm content to play it by ear based on how I feel and what I want to eat.

I hope you enjoy the holidays and give yourself a gift of some sort to make it easier.  If you do, leave a comment and share what your gift to yourself is.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving and why I am a Thankful Diabetic

I hear so many people complain about how Thanksgiving is going to blow their diet.  I feel the exact opposite.  I'm thankful for the Thanksgiving feast.  Let me count the reasons why:

1) The main course is fresh baked turkey!  Turkey is the lowest calorie meat, lowest cholesterol and lowest fat.  I eat turkey through the year, but there's no better turkey than fresh off a carcass on Thanksgiving day.

2) There are always veggie sides.  Our family typically has green bean casserole and something purely veggie.  This year it will be salad and crock pot mushrooms.  Yummy!  I can have tons of those!  

3) Mashed potatoes.  While I won't eat my pre-diabetes amount of 2 gigantic helpings, fresh whipped spuds are still a favorite of mine.  I never make them at home, because we would never eat them all.  So, Thanksgiving is the only time to get them and they are yummy.

4) Pumpkin pie.  Hubby's Grandfather makes a fresh pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.  I choose not to eat pumpkin pie any other day but on Thanksgiving day and it's worth the wait every year.  Sometimes I'll eat it at Thanksgiving.  Sometimes I take it home and savor each bite later.

5) Leftovers!!  I love having leftover turkey to eat on sandwiches and/or cook with.  This year, I am scoping Pinterest for a tasty turkey recipe to make for dinners later this week.

Thanksgiving is actually one of the healthiest family dinners we have through the year.  I'm very thankful that I get to spend my day with family and stuff myself with lots of healthy food and a bit of not so healthy food.  

What about you?  What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Healthy freezer food for the diabetic who doesn't cook.

Hubby and I are not big on leftovers.  I can deal with them for a couple days, but I get tired of the same food over and over again.  Last winter I had some pre-made foods in the freezer and pantry that I could easily work with for meals.  I need healthy, ready to eat, foods for those snowy weeks, when driving is a little crazy and we just don't want to go out for food.

This year, I've been eating lower calorie and the pre-made foods seem to be a lot higher on calories.  Also, I'm auditioning to be in a show and rehearsal schedules get crazy.  In the winter, I'd rather eat at home than stop somewhere on the way and eat out. So, I decided I wanted to try freezing foods and stocking the pantry.  Now, I know there are a million posts on the internet about how to freeze meals or ingredient packs for the winter.  Most of them assume at least one of the following;

  1. You are willing to cook ahead.
  2. You are willing to plan your meals for a month at a time.
  3. You are willing to spend time prepping and putting ingredients together for an afternoon (or day!).
NONE of which I am willing to do!!  So, if you're anything like me and really don't enjoy prepping, planning and putting together meals, but do want (or need) to cook at home through the winter, then maybe you can try this idea along with me.  I'd love to hear how it works for you.  

Here are my assumptions:
  1. You have 5-6 basic recipes that you know and can easily make.  
  2. Some of the recipes share at least a couple ingredients with others.  
  3. You are willing to write out a list of all you will need for these recipes.
  4. You are willing to spend a couple hundred dollars on a stock up trip to the grocery store.
  5. You are cooking for yourself or you and one other person (not a family of 4)
  1. Find recipes 
  2. Write out ingredients
  3. Look to see what you don't have on hand
  4. Make a shopping list of what you do need
  5. Go grocery shopping
  6. Store foods
  7. Put menu on the fridge with meal options you can pull 
That last one is huge for me.  I can have all the ingredients in the freezer, staring me in the face, but for the life of me...I can never remember what I was going to cook with them.  So, I need a list of it saves time and I don't let all the cold air out of the fridge while I try to figure it out.  

The longest part was figuring out what I would need to stock.  Once I had a shopping list, it was actually really easy.  It took me less than 15 minutes to put it all away and I was done!  

Now, I will say that I did do one piece of prep ahead of time.  I used part of an onion for a recipe the other day and decided to chop up the rest and stick it in the freezer.  You can buy recipe starter frozen onions, though.  So, this step is unnecessary.  

Below are the recipe options and the shopping list.  Keep in mind that many of the cold foods, I keep on hand and use in recipes or in snacks I make all the time.  I also have on-hand some of the ingredients/spices for making these dishes, like Chicken Broth for the Herbed Chicken. 

Main Dish Options: My list of Main Dishes is more a list of options.  I don't have enough to make all of these recipes, but many of the ingredients are interchangeable, so I can mix & match.  I'd rather have options than HAVE TO make one specific thing.  Thus the reason I didn't do bags of pre-made, crock pot ready, raw food.
Chicken Tacos with Black Beans and Corn cooked with the meat
Chili Mac (Beef Broth Base with no tomatoes)

Side Dish Options:  For the side dishes, I don't have a lot because I usually have fresh veggies in the fridge to make salad or some other kind of fresh vegetable dish (like fresh brussel sprouts).  

Plain Brown Rice
Mexican Rice with beans and corn (mexican spiced tomato sauce)
Italian style Green beans (Italian spiced tomato sauce)
Green Beans with Bacon
Parmesan Broccoli (steam and add butter/parmesan)

Grocery Pantry Items
Mushroom Soup (Low Sodium)
Canned Mushrooms
Corn (Low Sodium)
Peas (Low Sodium)
Green Beans (Low Sodium)
Black Beans (Low Sodium)
Red Kidney Beans (Low Sodium)
Light Kidney Beans (No Low Sodium available)
Beef Broth (Low Sodium)
Tomato Sauce
Tomato Paste
Dijon Mustard

Taco Seasoning (Low Sodium)
Spices (I went through and tossed what had expired and replaced only what I need for these recipes.)
Tapioca Pudding mix

Whole Grain & Regular Macaroni Noodles (Hubby doesn't like the whole grain stuff, so I make both)
Whole Grain & Regular Egg Noodles
Individual Microwave Brown Rice Cups (Brown Rice, Hubby eats)
Oyster Crackers
Tortillas - 16 grams of carbs each (I got a bag of 20 and froze them in bags of four...1 meal per bag, for me and Hubby)

Grocery Meats
Cubed Chicken 2.5 lbs divided (the meat counter will cube it up and package in two pieces for you)
Ground Chicken 2 lbs
Ground Sirloin 5 lbs in 1 lb tubes 
Italian Marinated and individually wrapped chicken breasts (5 per bag) 

Grocery Dairy/Fresh/Frozen Foods
Mexican Cheese (Low Fat)
Shredded Carrots
Frozen Green Peppers
Frozen Broccoli

Prep when I got home (less than 15 minutes)
Our butcher put the chicken cubes on a Styrofoam tray and wrapped it in saran wrap.  I put that in a zip-lock bag.
Tortillas - I put 4 in a bag at a time, let them cool in the fridge with the bag open for an hour, then sealed the bags and moved them to the freezer. 
Put everything away

Plans as I go through the winter
I do plan to replace some things as I use them.  Broccoli, canned goods and maybe some meat if we feel we'll eat that recipe again.  It depends on how fast we go through the food.  While we'll still go out and eat when we can, I suspect having food in the house will be very convenient when we just don't want to go out in the cold.  If we have a winter anything like last year, that will happen often!  

Let me know if you plan to try the ingredient method of freezing.  If so, leave a comment and share your thoughts.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Progress on the calorie activity front.

I know, it's been a while since I've updated this blog.  This summer was a time for me to commit to enjoying being healthy.  My shoulder is doing better (although, it will never be pain free and I'm good with that).

Since my diagnosis of Diabetes in January of 2012, I had made huge dents in my weight and taken my A1C down to a pre-diabetic level.  I've made great strides and my Doctors were thrilled with my progress.  For the most part, I was good with it too.  Then I did a show last fall and lost some more weight.  So, I thought I'd see what I can add in to take it to the next level.  I put no expectations on anything and just thought I'd try a couple things.

So, I decided to try eating only 1500 calories a day, allowing for an every other week splurge day where I can go up to 2000 calories.  I also decided to work towards 150 minutes of cardio every week. All of this I have been tracking in the MyFitnessPal app (feel free to connect with me, if you're on there too).

In June I was tracking my calories without making any changes.  I wanted to see where I was at the time, before changing it up.  I was averaging about 1800-1900 calories per day due to my protein intake, trying to offset carbs and still feel full.  Then in July, I started shooting for 1500 a day.  It took a couple weeks to get there, but eventually, I was able to start figuring out how to eat within my carb count AND calorie count.   I traded meat & cheese snacks for low carb nuts and veggies.  I also added more fruits to my diet and took out some of my crunchy munchy processed foods.

With the cardio, I didn't look for "cardio" workouts necessarily.  I looked for fun things to do that would get my heart rate up.  Hubby and I kinda took a break from squash, but the weather has been beautiful, so I've been walking the neighborhood (3 miles at a time) and going on at least one 3 mile hike a week (Picture at the top of this post taken at the end of one of our hikes....great reward!).  Meetup is a GREAT way to get out and go hiking when Hubby is busy (he isn't a hiker), so I take advantage of that whenever I can.  I'm even leading hikes now and I got new hiking shoes with gaitors so I can hike in the mud (pictured left) without getting my feet wet and my pants all yucky.  I don't always get in my 150 minutes, but I do tend to average 300 minutes per two weeks.  Some weeks I'll do more, while others I do less.

Now that the weather is turning colder...I'm not much of an outdoor, cold weather person.  I'll take advantage of days that are in the 50's, but beyond that it's inside exercise.  Our Meetup hikes are in the evenings and I don't like hiking in the dark (it's hard to see what's under my feet!).  So, hiking season is pretty much over (although I may lead a Saturday hike in November...we'll see what the weather does).

To prepare for winter, I went shopping for healthy winter foods (new post coming in a couple weeks).  I also am auditioning for another show, so that will get me out of the house.  I'll be painting sets and working around the theater as much as possible during the set construction (always a good workout).  I also discovered a group that goes line dancing.  So, I might go with them more this winter.  I went last week and had a lot of fun.  I have dance training, but it's been a while since I went to a class.  So, it's a fun way for me to honor the dancer, keep up learning routines and get some exercise.  I haven't tried my shoulder at Zumba yet, but I do have a Kinect game for Zumba that's fun and my Physical Therapist suggested some modifications.  So, hopefully, I can get back into that.  I'm not expecting to be AS active as I have been, once it gets cold, but I'd like to at least keep losing a little weight.

Speaking of weight, I've been dropping it with all this eating light and exercising.  I dropped 8 pounds in the first month.  I don't weigh myself at home often and only really go by what the Doctors scales say, but I'm pretty sure I've lost at least another 5 more (13 pounds, woo hoo!).  If so, then I'm only 8 pounds away from my ideal BMI and I have lost a total of 50 pounds since January 2012.  I have a Doctors appointment at the end of next week and another in December.  I'm hoping that I'll have hit my goal by then, but if not...I'll keep at it. Even if it means that I slack off to maintenance level over the winter and then gear up for the rest in the summer.

I didn't know it was possible to get back to this body again.  Since college I was pretty steady about the weight where I am now.  I had a few years where I went close to my ideal BMI, then my thyroid conked out and I gained a ton of weight.  So, my hope (not my expectation) is that I can actually get there soon.  We'll see.  Here's a comparison picture of my face from 2012 to now.  there's a definite difference!

What's your goal?  Whether it be cutting carbs or getting more exercise...share it in the comments.