Sunday, November 16, 2014

Date Paste


Date Paste and I are new friends.  I think we will become great friends.  Making it was really very easy.  This "recipe" is definitely not very rigid.  You can find lots of other instructions online for how to make Date Paste.  This is simply how I make mine.

I use whatever dates I can find in my local store.  I don't worry over paying more for the fancier medjool dates (that I would have to order online since I live in a small town).  It is my understanding that medjool dates are sweeter and softer dates.  The cheap dates are sweet enough, and I soak them for a long time to make up for the fact that they are not as soft.

Let's talk about equipment.  A food processor would be the easiest option.  Even a cheap one like mine would blend it all up nice and smooth very quickly.  But a regular blender or an immersion blender would also work.  One time, I used this funky hand mixer attachment I found in my cabinets.

Yes, one day my food processor was dirty, and I was searching for a solution that wouldn't involve washing dishes right then.  I found this little attachment, looked it up in the blender manual, and realized that it might work.  And it did!  The paste wasn't quite as smooth, but it still works just fine.  Moral of the story, is find what works because probably anything will!

Date Paste
Serving Size:  1 tbs.
Servings: varies  *  Calories: 28  *  Carbs: 7g  *  Fat: 0g  *   Protein: 0g  *  Fiber: 1g  *  Sugar: 6g

Ingredients:
1 pkg. dates
Warm water

Directions:
  1. Pack dates into a jar.  Make sure the pits are removed.
  2. Top dates with water.  Soak dates in the fridge all day or overnight.
  3. After soaking, drain water into a clean bowl.
  4. Blend dates using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor.  Add soaking water 1 tbs. at a time until desired consistency is reached.  For one 8 oz. package of dates, I added in about 8 tbs. of water.
  5. Cover and store in the fridge.

Grain Free Pumpkin Pancakes


While limiting my carbs, I tried banana egg pancakes.  Amazing!  I knew I wanted to adapt them for pumpkin.  It took a while.  I almost gave up on the idea.  But after eating many so-so or downright awful attempts, I finally found a winner.

I eat these pancakes plain. Seems like the most logical option when syrup is out of the question. But they would also be good topped with my Chocolate Banana Frosting, natural nut butter, or even this pumpkin nut butter (with no need to add her optional sweeteners). The latter option would really pump up the pumpkin flavor in this breakfast.  I love that stuff so much I really wouldn't know how to improve upon its flavor. 

"[They're] so fluffy!"
Grain Free Pumpkin Pancakes
Serving Size:  4 pancakes
Servings: 1  *  Calories: 148. *  Carbs: 16g  *  Fat: 5g  *   Protein: 7g  *  Fiber: 3g  *  Sugar: 10g

Ingredients:
1/3 cup pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbs. date paste
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. 
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  
  3. Pour batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet to make 4 pancakes.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350F.
  5. Enjoy!
Notes:  You can also make pancakes the normal way on the stove, but I hate standing over a stove then trying to flip the pancakes.  With the oven method, I get to multitask!  This baking method was a brilliant idea from Detoxinista.  She indicates that the parchment paper is non-negotiable.  I haven't tried baking these pancakes any other way yet.  UPDATE:  These worked just as well for me when I baked them on a silicone baking mat.

Monday, November 10, 2014

One Day No Sugar Challenge

We're getting real here.  I made it an entire month with no bread and no sugar.  I didn't even eat potatoes unless it was my only vegetable option.  You would think that the sugar habit would be kicked after one month.  You'd be wrong.

My month ended on October 31st.  So on November 1st, I decided to reward myself with a single piece of Halloween candy.  Just one, and it was a favorite:  Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin.  Oh man, those are good!  But that single piece tasted so good that I gradually ate more sweets the rest of the week.  I am back to having good days and bad days.  And honestly, I am having trouble resisting the sugar urges at this point.  Sugar is so addictive!

I should be proud of my accomplishment, but I tend to focus on my downfall.  That is my big problem.  I have this perfectionist side of me that likes to point out everywhere that I have failed.  Take soda, for example.  In mid-June, I weaned myself off soda.  I told myself that I wouldn't drink any more Dr. Peppers or Diet Cokes.  In reality, I have had one or two a month since (except last month with the no sugar thing when I honestly had no soda.  Go me!).   The rational side of my brain knows that I should celebrate the fact that I went from 1/day to 1 or 2/month.  That's awesome!  But the perfectionist side of my brain says, "You failed."  And I listen.  And then I drown my sorrows in crap that I shouldn't eat.

I need help.  I need to know I'm not alone.  I need community.  So I am going to start issuing challenges.  Challenges to go a certain period of time without a certain food item.  Challenges to choose one thing to give up.  Challenges to get more active, etc.

We're going to start easy.  This first challenge is going to be a one day challenge.  One day of no sugar.  Start this tomorrow or finish today, I don't care.  But go one day of no processed sugar.  If it is going to be hard for you, make sure you've got fruit handy.  I heard a trainer at the gym one time say that if you think you want something sweet, eat a banana.  Then wait 5-10 minutes to see if you are still craving something sweet.  If that fails, chew some gum.  Preferably something minty that would ruin the taste of whatever you think you want to eat.

Will you join me?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Chocolate Banana Frosting


I needed a frosting recipe in my repertoire.

My boys eat either my Banana Donuts or waffles for breakfast.  They usually want something on top.  The waffles started with syrup.  Then I moved to chocolate peanut butters that I would buy at the store.  Then I tried plain peanut butter.  One enjoyed that, the other not so much.  So I knew I had to come up with my own chocolate peanut butter that would carry less sugar than the store-bought variety.

My search for inspiration started on Pinterest and led me to Chocolate Covered Katie (a favorite blog of mine).  She had a chocolate banana peanut butter that looked promising.  With just a little tweaking, it had the flavor we wanted and a bit more of a frosting consistency.

I used Smucker's Natural Creamy Peanut Butter as my base.  I would love to make my own peanut butter, but I need to get a new food processor before I take on that challenge.  Until then, this is my favorite peanut butter because it has no sugar added.  I was disappointed with it when I first opened it because of the massive amount of oil on top.  But now I keep it upside down in my fridge.  I have had no more problems with its consistency, and it spreads easily.

Chocolate Banana Frosting
Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie 
Serving Size:  1 Tbs.
Servings: 10  *  Calories: 55  *  Carbs: 4g  *  Fat: 3g  *   Protein: 2g  *  Fiber: 1g  *  Sugar: 2g

Ingredients:
4 Tbs. peanut butter
1 ripe banana
2 Tbs. cocoa powder

Directions:
  1. Mash up banana.  You can use a fork or a small food processor.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Keep refrigerated.  Enjoy on donuts, treats, fruits, veggies, or a spoon.  Basically, I love it on everything!
Note:  I like to "melt" my banana just a bit by microwaving it for about 30 seconds.  Maybe it's my imagination, but I think it mixes better this way.

Warning:  Don't try to warm up this frosting in the microwave to attain a more spreadable option.  It tends to dry out (as you can see in the above picture).  It still tasted good, but the texture was not what it had been.