Friday, November 30, 2012

A Weekend Trip and A Hannah-Friendly Treat!

1:30. 2:00. 2:42. 6:00.

This is my time schedule. 

For what?

For the day my month long count down ends. 

1:30 - The Boy arrives.

2:00 - We leave for the train station.

2:42 - Our train departs (hopefully on time).

6:00 - We arrive in NYC, awaited by my Aunt. 

We made plans to visit my Aunt and Uncle in New Jersey around the end of October. November 1st hit and the count down began.  

Well, if I'm going to be honest with myself (which seems to be the consensus of appropriate behavior) I should admit that the count down probably started when I thought of the idea. Say...Mid…September?
Early October?

Yea, that sounds about right.

Either way, I'm excited. 

I don't get to see this part of my family often. When we do get together, my aunt and I tend to spend our time getting lost during some adventure, shopping around, sight seeing, and usually double taking the sights because some how we managed to go in a giant circle without realizing it. Part of this may be due to our lack of knowledge concerning her (at the time) new GPS.

I haven’t seen my Aunt and Uncle since a couple of summers ago, and they will be meeting The Boy for the first time. They've never met a boyfriend of mine, but because this one seems to be sticking around for a while, I thought it might be nice. Another reason for me counting the days like a child does for Christmas or their birthday is because not only are we going to New Jersey, but also if weather allows, we'll be spending Saturday in New York City. Who knows what foods I'll find to munch on? 

My blog is all about adventures with food, and in America, what's one of the best places to do that? NYC.

How much food I’ll find to munch on, however, is a concern of mine. So soon after Thanksgiving, portion control is just regaining its strength. After not seeing a good and helpful friend for a few weeks, you tend to be a bit reserved at the chance of them leaving again.

Nevertheless, I’m keeping my thoughts positive and looking forward to the tasty treats. As well as working to keep up my will power.

So with my up coming travels, I figure I'll send off with one of my own (personal favorite) recipes.

Out of all the things I can’t eat, not being able to have dairy, is pretty rough for me.

Not because I’m a cheese fanatic or a glass-of-milk-a-day kind of person, I just really, really, really, love ice cream.

Yes, really.

Like eating a big bowl of chocolate ice cream a night for basically an entire year.

It’s not too hard to find alternative ice cream products. These days there’s coconut milk ice cream, soy ice cream, almond milk ice cream, and they’re all getting better at mimicking the creaminess and alluring texture of dairy ice cream.

Although I due indulge every now and then with those products (even real ice cream once in a while), I’m always careful of the type of food I put in to my body. I wanted a healthier option that would still sooth that ache in my taste buds.



However, go take a drive to your local food store then read through a couple labels of the various sorbets. No, they don’t contain dairy. No, they’re not as bad. Yet, there are still a lot of unnecessary ingredients. Especially for a person like me, needing to extensively watch her sugar consumption. When companies make foods like sorbet (which is mainly fruit - a natural sugar) and then add even more refined sugar on top of that, those grams add up fast.

Take for instance Haagen-Dazs Mango Sorbet. At 150 calories per 1/2 cup, the ingredients include: water, sugar, mango puree, lemon juice concentrate, pumpkin juice concentrate (for color), carrot juice concentrate (for color), natural flavor, pectin (copied from Each item in here isn’t so bad; none of it is particularly harmful. My point is… Why do we need all of it?

Granted, give Haagen-Dazs some credit. This list isn’t nearly as bad as it could be. Most of those are probably for color (as it says) and to help maintain it through shipping and all of that. But still… There are much simpler ways to do things at home.

So I did some research for what most people put into HOMEMADE sorbet. Turns out, if you want one specific fruit flavor there’s usually only that one fruit included. Homemade sorbet contains as little as your choice of fruit, some type of other sweetener (if desired), and…that’s about it. Throw it in the food processor and you’re all set.

But just fruit? That’s not much to enjoy…and just purreed fruit wouldn’t be too good for my blood sugar either.

So what could I possibly add?

Hah, of course! Peanut butter.

And along came one of my most personally adored dishes. It also happens to be a dish that supplies one of the highest numbers of comments and concerns for my mental stability. (I still haven’t figured out why though, it seems pretty normal to me?) I promise you though, if you like mangoes and if you like peanut butter, you will have a hard time picking between ice cream and this luscious sorbet.

The tang of the mango and the taste of peanuts complement each other well. They mix together forming a thickness like that of right-out-of-the-freezer-slow churned ice cream. Process it thoroughly, let it re-freeze for a sufficient amount of time, and you’ve got yourself a light dessert that feels anything but.

Mango and Peanut Butter Sorbet.

1 cup frozen mango
2 1/2 Small Spoonfuls of peanut butter (for a yummy twist, use The Bee’s Knees Peanut Butter by Peanut Butter & Co.)
1/2-1 cup of your favorite cereal (I use either a type of cheerio or PB flavored cereal)

1) Pour mangos into food processor and process till smooth. You will have to continue to push the mango down off the sides. Warning! The processor will be making a lot of noise to blend the mangoes!

2) Add peanut butter and process again till almost all of it’s blended together (feel free to add more or less peanut butter depending on your taste).

3) Place into a bowl and re-freeze until the sorbet has hardened.

4) Crush cereal and then use as a topping right before serving.

Okay, so I know you can't really see the actual sorbet due to the cereal. But I wanted to point out that the spoon, (which is stuck in the mango) is not touching the bowl. Yup. That handle ain't moving. Ahh, the strength of a thick sorbet!

Friday, November 23, 2012

To Eat or To Not Eat The Sweet Potato...

All in all, I’m quite thankful this year. I’ve probably had one of the best years of my life. There have been some ups an downs, but with my new diet my stomach has been evening out. School this year (so far) has been so much less stressful than my first. I’ve gotten closer to friends, met a great guy (The Boy). I’m back at a church where I am happy and am growing in my walk with Christ. Plus, with this new writing adventure, I get to share the fun I have with food with anyone who cares to listen. In other words, I’m a happy camper.

Mmmm and now with Thanksgiving now over, I can thankfully enjoy leftovers for a few days.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love my family and I love food, what’s a better mix of the two than Thanksgiving?? Plus, there’s no presents. Which means no pressure about getting the right gift or the apprehension about if every body has something to open or the gifts are of equal worth for everyone. Also, without gifts, you get to focus on what the holiday is truly about. Not getting or giving stuff, but just honestly and sincerely giving thanks. For me and my family it’s about giving thanks to God and to each other. But even if you’re not religious, just being thankful in general and to those around you.

I like no pressure holidays.

Then…Then there’s the food. A good home-cooked meal from Grandma can never go wrong (okay, well a certain Shepherd’s pie incident in our family proves that statement false, but let’s say just for most of the time).

This year, I was really afraid of over eating. As careful as I am it’s a major problem for me. If there’s food there, and I like it, I’ll eat. And eat. And eat. Then of course my blood sugar and my stomach gurgle and scream and throw fits till my brain finally kicks in and tells me to stop. So with all my stomach problems over the past few years, I was nervous.

Especially when it came to the sweet potato casserole.

I LOVE sweet potato.

My grandma knows this, so each year she makes this succulent sweet potato casserole (no marshmallows). I kind of always knew it wasn’t Hannah-friendly, but I indulged anyways. But this year she’d lost her recipe. I found an opportunity to find another that was safe for me, but she had already found a recipe and began to make it. I didn’t feel like intruding.

Now I KNEW it wasn’t Hannah-friendly. I couldn’t leave the maybe of it as justification for my indulgence. So I was quite torn. I’d made a mental map for what I would eat and what I wouldn’t the night before to help with the over eating. I just couldn’t decide about the sweet potato.

Finally, I chose to just use a dairy relief pill (I use them occasionally, but normally I try to just avoid dairy) and suck it up about the little amount of white flour in the pecan topping.

…So I cheated a little.

But oh wow was it worth it!!

I also had chocolate pudding for dessert (most DEFINITELY not Hannah-friendly). I’m sure it was just the classic Jell-O instant pudding, however, this classic had not been enjoyed by my taste buds since I was kid. It was the perfect compliment to my Thanksgiving Day meal.

Butternut squash, sweet potato casserole, turnips, honey-glazed carrots, deviled eggs, and of course, turkey and gravy. (And obviously there were seconds to be had.) Things on the table I did not touch were the white potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and the bread.

Later in the night, I realized that I had made it through the entire day without a giant sugar drop (which usually results in an emotional breakdown), without severe stomach pain, or overwhelming remorse about the amount of food I ate. I’m so thankful for God helping me find this new diet and helping me through me improve my mentality towards myself.

Combining the amazing food, my happily stuffed stomach, and an overall pleasant family dinner, this ranks in one of the best Thanksgivings so far.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Golden Ticket

Okay. So I may have gone a little crazy.

When cutting out all these various foods, I may have expanded my love for certain food groups a tad too much. Well, okay, maybe not ENTIRE food groups… More along the lines of just one, extremely tasty, heavenly, sweet, savory, delectable food item known around the world.

Peanut butter.

As a child, peanut butter was my alternate option for protein. A good scoop of peanut butter got me out of eating chicken, beef, fish, the oh so dreaded pork chop, and other proteins my mother tried so diligently to get me to like that I rejected. It was also used for those out of control blood sugar drops.

Hannah starts crashing? Crying and fighting due to need of food? Stick a spoonful of peanut butter in her mouth, that’ll shut her up!

It was like a magical food.

Peanut butter was my Golden Ticket.

Now, in my late teens/early adulthood, peanut butter is a main staple in my diet. I’ll be honest; it’s probably half the reason for all the strange comments and looks I receive daily.

Okay, maybe not the peanut butter ITSELF. But most likely my strange obsession with it, or all the odd things I pair with it.

Though it could also be the sheer amount that I consume daily…

My mom asked me a few days ago, “Have you checked the toxicity level of peanut butter?”

Like I said before, when I’m creating my own dishes, experimenting with food, it’s where I can go and just totally be myself. It’s not the only place; however, it’s definitely one of my top escapes.

Coming up with tasty dishes that I can freely enjoy without subsequent repercussions from either my blood sugar or my stomach… It’s like… Words cannot describe.

Those who are reading this and dealing with any food restrictions know what I’m talking about.

Peanut butter replaces cheese, meat proteins in some meals still, and I use it in various sauces I’ve concocted. It’s an all around necessity in my kitchen.

Peanut butter is even the deciding choice for what friend I’ll stay with during the Zombie Apocalypse. I had three offers, I told them each, whoever is willing stock enough peanut butter (that is, if enough peanut butter could be stocked to keep me satisfied) will be able to have my darling presence during that horrific time. (Surprisingly, it narrowed my options quite nicely.)

Yes, I’ll admit, peanut butter isn’t exactly the best for those watching their fat intake. Yet for a girl needing help to keep up her weight, with a diet low in proteins and magnesium and the “good” fats, peanut butter remains my golden ticket to this day.

It’s a weird and wacky world I’ve created through my diet, but as long as the normal world never stops producing peanuts, I’ll be happy.