Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Easy Home Made Low Carb/Sugar, Dairy Free Hot Coco

Day 7 of our low sugar lifestyle. It's getting easier at this point and the cravings are diminishing. We had a snow day yesterday though and it put me in the mood for hot coco in the worst way! 
My goals in this low sugar and carb life change is that we get healthier, eat whole foods instead of prepared/processed ones and that my son will be able to stabilize his blood sugar levels which tend to either spike out of control or drop to low levels making him sick. 

Here is the nutrition info for a packet of Swiss Miss Coco..28 grams of carbohydrates and 21 grams of sugar. Yikes! I really wanted to figure out a way that my kids and I could enjoy those special treats we used to love and avoid the spike in blood sugar and artificial ingredients.

One of the things I love the most about this is that I have only used 3 ingredients. Pure unsweetened coco powder, unsweetened almond milk and stevia. 
In the 6 oz serving I made there were less than 2 net grams of carbohydrates and NO sugar! If you chose to make an 8 oz serving (which is the typical serving size but I used a small mug so I could not fit 8 oz) it would still be less than 2 net carbs per serving.

Here's what you'll need: 
. 6-8 ounces unsweetened almond or coconut milk 
(if you are counting net carbs, the Silk brand coconut milk has 7 grams per 8 oz serving. Silk unsweetened Almond has 0. Although coconut tastes better IMO ; )
. 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened Coco powder, I used only 1 but you can add more 
(Ideally fair trade organic if you've got it) 
. 2 packets or about 1/4 tsp Stevia powder

Simmer 6 to 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk in a small saucepan. Technically you could microwave it, but I always find that the mixture blends so much better when the hot milk is poured over the powder instead of the powder being added on top. It tends to clump and not blend well : s
.I used 1 tablespoon of coco powder and 2 packets of stevia. Once your milk has started to boil (watch it so it doesn't scorch!) Pour it directly into your mug over the powder. I have a handy-dandy little mini whisk from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf co. It works perfectly for concoctions such a this! If you don't have a small whisk just use a spoon.

Since I my 6 oz drink was under 2 net carbs and no sugar, I could afford a little dollop of whipped cream on top and a few Coco Pearls ;) This will bring me up one more net carb for 2 tablespoons of cream. If you ask me, coco is not the same without whipped cream! Ok ok..so it's technically breaking the 'whole foods' goal but I use it so infrequently it's not a real big issue for me : ) 

These Cocoa Pearls from Trader Joe's have 3 grams of sugar (carbs) per 1.5 tablespoon serving. I used less than a quarter of a teaspoon here! Of course though, toppings are an added bonus and are optional. If you want to keep this as low carb as possible and dairy free skip the cream and topping. Or top with a cinnamon dusting which contains 0 carbs.

So there you have it...low carb low sugar hot coco. Made with minimal ingredients at home. Now go sit on the couch, cuddle up with your family and your favorite soft blankie and enjoy and indulgent treat that you won't have to feel guilty about! 

**From what I know about the Paleo diet... almond milk, pure coco powder and stevia are all approved ingredients, being plant derived, making this a Paleo friendly recipe (if you abstain from the whipped cream of course) : )     


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Low Carb, Paleo Friendly, Gluten Free, Low Sugar Pumpkin Pie

Day 4 of being sugar free. Not feeling very excited right now. Although I have lost 3 pounds in these last 4 days, I am having the most gnarly sugar cravings. Ugh. 
Here I have a recipe for gluten free, low carb, almost sugar free (the puree contains 4 grams per 1/4 cup serving) pumpkin pie. I do not have Celiac's or diabetes but in avoiding carbs that usually results in avoiding sugar and gluten so these recipes will reflect that. I also do not eat Paleo anymore but I always like to share my recipes with those that do because I know how hard it can be to find good dessert recipes on Paleo! To the best of my remembrance of the Paleo "rules" this is totally Paleo friendly : ) 
Before you decide to make this:
If you are expecting this to taste like grandma's melt-in-your-mouth decadent, amazingly sweet and rich Thanksgiving pumpkin pie then stop right now. If you are ok with a pretty good substitute that is healthy and packed with protein (the crust alone has 30 grams!), fiber and is very low sugar this is the one for you! Its actually keeping me right now from gnawing my kid's half eaten fruit leather right out of their grubby toddler hands. Or putting on black sweats and a ski mask and ransacking the frozen yogurt joint down the street from my house. I swear I'm not psycho though. This is what sugar withdrawals can do people! LOL.

You will be starting with the crust. 
. 3 tablespoons of organic butter
. 2 packets (or less than a teaspoon) of stevia powder
. 1. 5 cups of almond meal/flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
Melt your butter in a microwave safe 9'' pie dish
Add the almond flower flour and stevia, mix with a spoon until the mixture is moist (if you have ever made a graham cracker crust this is the same concept). With clean hands, distribute the mixture around the pie dish with your fingers, working your way around and up the side of the dish until the surface is evenly covered.
Bake empty shell for 10 minutes.

Your crust will look somewhat like this. 
Let is sit while you prepare your pumpkin filling.

Kick your temperature up to 390 degrees

You will need: 
. 2 cups of canned Pumpkin Puree 
(In the fall I use real fresh pumpkin but right now in February that's a tall order!)
. 2 organic eggs 
. 1 half can of organic coconut milk (not pictured because I don't store mine in the can) 
. 1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (or more to your taste preference)
. 1/2 teaspoon of Stevia (or more to taste)
. 1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
***Note: I had slightly less than a half can of coconut milk so I made up the difference with half and half. 
***I chose to add a few drops of my Hazelnut Stevia to taste. This is completely optional though.

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. I would suggest adding the raw egg last so you can continue to taste the mixture and decide weather or not you would like more spice or stevia. Mix everything together until smooth and pour into your pie shell.
 Bake for 20 minutes at 390.
Then lower your temp back down to 350 and bake for about 50 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool and enjoy! As you can see, almond flour crust doesn't quite stay together as well as wheat flour. It won't look as pretty either. But it does taste good! Top with cinnamon or whipped cream (my whipped cream has less than 1 gram of sugar per 2 tablespoon serving!) 
I have to admit...pumpkin pie really is not my favorite, I just didn't have any other ingredients here on hand in the house to make a different flavor and I needed a sweet treat on the double! So pumpkin it was. Lol. 
** This crust however can be used to make a mixed GF berry pie, apple or even a cheesecake! 



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Organic Paleo Friendly, Sugar Free, Low Carb, Gluten Free, Nut Free and Paleo Friendly Coffee Creamer

I am so excited to share this with you guys! This is a super easy recipe for home made organic coffee creamer. It is Paleo diet friendly, and is also gluten free. It includes minimal ingredients and it is completely budget friendly. It will take about 5 minutes to make. Did I mention yet how great this is?!? ; )

This week my hubby and I were discussing some health topics...mainly about our consumption of sugar and junk food and how it was effecting our weight, budget and ultimately our children and their behavior and health. We decided to cut back on most of the bad stuff. I say most because we want to be careful about making this the "law" of our family if that makes sense. We don't want food and pursuit of health to become some kind of idolatry for us. 
1Timothy 4:8 "For bodily discipline profits little, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also the life to come"
God is more interested in the health of our spiritual lives than the health of our bodies. However, since our bodies and sprit are somewhat tied together it is of some value to take good care of our bodies. Being over weight, chronically sick, suffering from headaches, fatigue, hyperactivity, auto immune diseases and the list can go on and on...this is not the way God intends us to live. And most of these things stem directly from our diets and either being toxic or deficient. I heard a sermon the other day from Mars Hill Church which said a great portion of Jesus ministry was in fact physical and as wives we minister to our husbands and kids when we take care of their physical needs. Anyway I could write a novel on this topic so I will move onto the recipe already! Hehe :p 
This is the coffee creamer I have been using for years. Of course cutting out sugar means I have to toss this stuff. (But I will not give up my morning coffee you hear?!?!) I always made the mistake of assuming that because something was from Trader Joe's or Sprouts it was healthy. WRONG! This stuff is nothing but yummy tasting chemical junk. Goodbye Shamrock Cow.
Time to bust out those ingredients: 
I can of organic coconut milk 
Stevia (either powder or liquid)
Vanilla Extract
One of the things I love about this recipe is how versatile it is! Here are some ideas of things you can add to customize your creamer:
organic coco powder for chocolate creamer
pumpkin pie spice for pumpkin flavor
hazelnut stevia or hazelnut extract
cinnamon powder and vanilla extract
almond extract 
Now take our your kitchen mixer and add your can of coconut milk. Put your mixer on the lowest speed (you want to blend your ingredients, not whip! If you want to make this repice into whipped cream that is also an option here just make sure your milk is fully chilled and whip your little heart out :) 
I chose to add organic half and half to thin out this mixture. Coconut milk can tend to be pretty thick. If you are on a Paleo diet or dairy/lactose intolerant you may want to exclude this ingredient and dilute with almond milk instead but for the rest of us it will greatly improve the consistency of the creamer.
 Now, when you are mixing your ingredients in the kitchen mixer add as much stevia and extract as YOU like. I added one teaspoon of vanilla and one packet of stevia. (Coconut milk is naturally sweet but surprisingly has less than one gram of sugar per 1/4 cup serving which is pretty negligible) I also added a 5 drops of my hazelnut stevia. Taste your mixture as you go and sweeten it the way you like. 
Pour your creamer into some kind of reusable container, I used a glass mason jar. Add to your coffee and enjoy the sweet creamy yumminess! Add as much or as little as you want..I make my coffee blonde; just like my hair ; )  One thing I used to hate about going sugar or carb free was that I longed for my creamy morning coffee! So this is the BEST fix! This creamer will keep for 7-10 days. I'm pretty sure you could make this in large quantities and freeze it for later use as well.
The can of coconut milk cost about 2 bucks. You can purchase stevia packets for also around 2 bucks a box...most of the other ingredients I used most people already have on hand at home. You can enjoy a weeks worth of healthy organic coffee creamer for less than 3 bucks a batch! :0 

So there ya go... ENJOY your coffee all you Paleo people, Diabetics, Celiacs, Atkins Dieters, Vegan, Sugar Free, Lactose and Dairy intolerant, Nut Free and Organic People! :D  

Just to clarify the NUT FREE description if it is a concern for any of you, "coconut milk" might sound like it contains nut, but coconut is not actually a nut but a drupaceous fruit :)