I surprised myself with this one! It was a morning after recovery meal.
The day before, I didn’t really eat well. Nothing truly horrendous… a couple of bowls of cereal in the morning and eating Rocky Road ice cream from the container right before bed. All sugar. Bad choices. It happens.
I’ve been coping for a couple of weeks actually. Soothing myself with ice cream, cookies, donuts, pizza, root beer (I’m back in my hometown where my favorite root beer is brewed; I hadn’t had it in years). So far, I haven’t spiked my sugar, but full disclosure, my menstrual cycle may be somewhat culpable here (hadn’t connected that thought before 🤔). Anywho, when I fall into a partial binge or other bad eating habits, my recovery is overloading on protein and veggies.
The most recent recovery meal was amazing! So much so, I stopped eating so I could take a photo for a post. Since I had no intention of sharing it, I didn’t tray to make a pretty plate. That being said all the colors in the dish are quite striking.
All my life, breakfast has been my favorite meal. Cereal is the primary food. Pancakes are the favorite. Eggs are an absolute staple. As I’ve been monitoring myself with diabetes (one year next month), I’ve noticed that my body responds much better with certain food combinations than others.
Cereal makes me sluggish, even with coffee. Hot cereal and pancakes put me to sleep almost immediately, even with coffee. I fight the sleep, so I remain drowsy for most of the day. Ergo my lazy Saturdays and Sundays. But eggs, my dear friends, fuel me for the day. If I have salad with my eggs in the morning, I’m unstoppable!
Now, I’m a connoisseur of egg sandwiches. Love me some egg, turkey sausage and cheese on a croissant, bagel, or any bread! But, I didn’t get energy from those sandwiches.
A piece of bread with the eggs and salad if helpful. Too much bread (carbs) drag me down. This is what I’ve learned about my body over the last year. Now the below images and ingredients have context.
Leftovers provide one of a kind creative opportunities. I had marinated and sauteed asparagus spears, mushrooms and onions in red vinegar and olive oil earlier in the week. I put those on the stove and tossed in some medley tomatoes. These started the plate. The eggs were scrambled with cheese then added to the plate. Lastly I sliced up a leftover half of advocado and sauteed it in salsa and poured that over the eggs.
As I sat to eat I remembered I had put some veggie balls in the oven. They got dumped on top. Since the plate looked like a veggie fiesta with an Italian undercurrent, I decided to add a dollop of daisy sourcream and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese as a finale! 😋
The flavor was a full sensory experience with no heaviness from the meal. I think that was the first day I left the house in a week. #energy #recovery #fulleffect
My mother was the best cook and baker. Unfortunately, she didn’t write down her recipes.
She made everything from memory and taste. I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to identify and replicate some of food-memories that made my taste buds sing. Now that I’m focused on removing sugar from my diet, replicating my Mom’s dishes flavor for flavor is even further out of reach.
About fifteen years ago, I asked my paternal Grandma to share her Sweet Potato Pie recipe. She also cooked by taste and feel. So what she rambled off to me on the phone was basically a round about suggestion on how she begins to get down with her pies. Over the years I’ve made some pie batches that really stood out. The recipe card I wrote my Grandma’s suggested pie recipe on has been duly updated. The latest update happened this month after I baked my first sugar-freeish sweet potato pie batch. Though there’s no added sugar, sweet potatoes can have a glycemic index high enough to put them on the level of cake, doughnuts and candy depending on how they are prepared. For this reason, I can’t claim the pie is sugar-free, however, it may be guilt-free – for me at least!
For the last ten years, I’ve baked my pies with a combination of brown and white sugar as well as evaporated milk. This time, I used a sugar replacement and coconut milk. I’ve long mixed in an uncooked diced Red Delicious apple for an extra lil ummph. This time, I baked a Gala apple and Bosch pear and blended them into the mix. The blended apple and pear didn’t stand out in the final product. However, the diced apple usually raised brows and brought smiles.
If you try this recipe, please come back and let me know how you like it!
For those celebrating, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Sugar-freeish Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
4-5 large sweet potatoes/yams
4-5 eggs (one per potato)
1 can coconut milk
1 cup Swerve brown sugar replacement (or choice of replacement)
1 stick butter
1 skinned and cored pear
1 skinned and cored apple
1-2 tablespoon of cinnamon (or to taste)
1 teaspoon ginger (or to taste)
1 teaspoon nutmeg (or to taste)
1 teaspoon allspice (or to taste)
Sprinkle salt (or to taste)
Light twinkling of pepper
Makes 2 deep dish and 2 regular pies or two loaves.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Egg wash on crust to limit sogginess. Pre-bake for 10-15 minutes.
Can cook without a crust to cut down carb count. Line loaf or pie pan with parchment or wax paper.
Pre bake or boil sweet potato until they slide off a fork. Allow to cool. I usually do this the night before pie prep. Baking allows for a fuller, sweeter flavor and has a higher glycemic index. Boiling will reduce glycemic index and may water-log potatoes. I cook them both ways depending on preference at the time.
Prebake halved apple and pear or dice raw to add to sweet potatoes
Beat or blend potatoes/yams to smoothness or preferred consistency.
Mix/blend in apple and pear.
Mix/blend in coconut milk, softened butter, eggs, seasonings
At the beginning of Covid-19 shutdown, I stocked my cupboards like most folks. Baking and desert items were high priority. Two boxes of Nilla wafers somehow made it in the grocery cart of emergency foods. At the time, making homemade banana pudding sounded like amazing self-love. One of those boxes disappeared as snacks and the other just got used for what it was intended.
But it took some inspiration. I had been sick off and on for many months before I was diagnosed with diabetes in July. I immediately thought I would throw away everything in my house that contained sugar but that would’ve basically emptied my cupboards! After getting my glucose under control, I rationed my way through some of the foods I don’t plan on repurchasing, like those Nilla wafers. One day, I noticed the pudding recipe on the side of the box. I’m sure I noticed it when I bought it, but as I get older, every time I see something it’s like the first time. **deep sigh** As I read the recipe, I thought, “I could try this with healthier, less sugar options.” So far, I’ve attempted three reduced sugar or sugar-free banana pudding recipes. Each of them had strong points an major bloopers on my part.
Changing my building blocks
Major adaptations to my illness had to happen in the pantry and fridge first. Part of living off the beaten track in a semi-rural town means a lot of home cooking and baking. In order to eat healthier and better overall (my goal is for each meal) I have to set myself up with helpful and beneficial building blocks. I’ve always been big on fresh fruits and vegetables, but now I buy less fruit because of the natural sugar content, and far more vegetables. In addition, the sweet fruit I like is now added to my salads (apples, pears, plums) or sauté in butter (bananas, berries) when I have to have pancakes – when the sugar-free syrup just won’t do. Another big change was investing in different flours with lower carb counts and no sugar. So far, I’ve stocked almond, coconut, oat, and carbulose flours. Tapioca and gluten-free all-purpose flour were already staples in my pantry. Finding a great non-sugar sweetener – with no aftertaste – has been the bigger challenge.
Over the last few years, I thought of sugar alternatives as Sugar in the Raw, honey, agave and maple syrups. Coming to the realization that these are all still pure sugars was painful. What are pancakes without 100% maple syrup? Why bother? Well my sugar alternatives were alternatives at all. Since July I’ve been trying SteviaLeaf sweetener, SteviaLeaf sweet drops, apple sugar (a low glycemic sweetener), Swerve (granular, brown and confectioners replacements made of erythritol and prebiotic oligosaccharides blend) and Natural Birch Xylitol Sweetener (haven’t opened yet).
Swerve can be used as regular sugar, cup for cup in recipes, but I find it’s far too sweet for that. Every recipe after my first use, I’ve cut the cup of sugar to half, a quarter or a third depending on taste.
Banana Pudding #1: Nabisco Nilla Wafer Recipe
I adapted this recipe with coconut flour, coconut milk and swerve granular sugar replacement.
Adapted Original Nilla Banana Pudding Recipe
3/4 cup sugar, divided [swerve sugar substitute] 1/3 cup all-purpose flour [coconut flour] Dash salt 3 eggs, separated 2 cups milk [coconut milk] 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 45 NILLA Wafers, divided (layered with a portion of this) 5 ripe bananas, sliced (about 3 1/2 cups), divided Additional NILLA Wafers and banana slices, for garnish
1. Mix 1/2 cup sugar [1/4 cup swerve], flour [coconut flour] and salt in top of double boiler. Blend in 3 egg yolks and milk [coconut milk]. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water, stirring constantly for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
2. Reserve 10 wafers for garnish. Spread small amount of custard on bottom of 1 1/2-quart casserole; cover with a layer of wafers and a layer of sliced bananas. Pour about 1/3 of custard over bananas. Continue to layer wafers, bananas and custard to make a total of 3 layers of each, ending with custard.
3. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Spoon on top of pudding, spreading evenly to cover entire surface and sealing well to edges.
4. Bake at 350°F in top half of oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned. Cool slightly or refrigerate. Garnish with additional wafers and banana slices just before serving.
Makes 8 servings
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION per serving 287 calories, 6 g protein, 50 g carbohydrate, 7 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 117 mg cholesterol, 134 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber.
This recipe probably would have been the best of my attempts if I hadn’t used a makeshift double boiler – pot within a pot. The pudding didn’t thicken as much as it should have. Also, I wasn’t able to hand-whip the egg whites into peaks so adding the swerve didn’t a merengue make.
Yummly is a database of recipes. This recipe posted by Begin Within Nutrition is the one I attempted but I’m unable to download the instructions. I basically did I what I know to do with the ingredients. Still had plenty of Nilla Wafer left over to pretty up the containers.
3 cups soy milk (or milk of your choice, coconut milk, almond milk, etc.)
1/3 cup organic cane sugar [looks like I used Swerve confectioners replacement]
I messed this one up. There’s no photo evidence of this batch. This one could have also been the best had I not blanked and combined measurements from two different recipes. Ultimately, I used too much cinnamon and too little tapioca flour and too little coconut milk. The pudding had a great flavor – best flavor of all three recipes, but it didn’t thicken once the puréed bananas were mixed in.
I wanted to try a banana pudding with homemade sugar-free vanilla wafers so I went back to the Sugar-free Diva Blog. I decided to try the Carbquick flour for the wafers. Can’t say I like the taste of the wafers on their own. They tasted very salty to me, even though I added no salt tot he recipe. So I assume the taste flowed through from the Carbquick flour. That being said, the combination of the thin pudding with the sugar free wafer was a burst of flavor-filled joy!
Simply Organic Banana Pudding
2 teaspoons Cinnamon [I mistakenly used tablespoons]
2 teaspoons Non-Alcoholic Vanilla flavor
2 fresh, whole eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour [tapioca flour]
1 cup brown sugar [1/2 cup Swerve brown sugar replacement]
3 cups milk (skim or whole, your preference) [coconut milk]
1 pound (approximately 3-4 medium) ripe bananas
3/4 pound gingersnap cookies (optional garnish) [sugar-free vanilla wafers]
Total Time: 10 mins
Hands-on Time: 10 mins
Makes: 4 servings
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Set aside. 2. In a blender, puree the bananas. Set aside. 3. In a heavy pot over medium heat, add 3 cups of the milk and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Just as the milk begins to boil remove from the heat and whisk into the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream (this helps avoid lumps). 4. Return the milk and egg mixture to the medium heat in the heavy pot and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly to avoid scorching. Stir in the vanilla flavoring, then the banana puree and pour the mixture into a clean bowl. 5. Chill for 2 hours and serve.
For a decorative twist, layer into parfait glasses, alternating pudding and ginger snap cookies, then refrigerate 2 hours, and serve garnished with whipped cream and a mint sprig.
Sugar Alternative-1 cup. 1:1 equivalent in volume to sugar. I use granular for best results.
Egg- 1. Vanilla Extract- 1 tablespoon.
HOW TO MAKE SUGAR FREE VANILLA WAFERS
Preheat your oven to 325 and prep a cookie pan for nonstick. I use parchment paper. Sift or mix together the flour and the baking powder in a mixing bowl. Set this bowl aside. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and he sugar alternative. Next, add the dry ingredients from the first bowl to the mixing bowl. I add a half at a time, gently stirring between additions. Stir in the egg and vanilla extract to the mixing bowl. Use a teaspoon or tablespoon to drop the cookies on to your prepped pan. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
Deep sigh. I went overboard yesterday. Without realizing I was overdoing it.
My diabetes diagnoses came with insulin and metformin prescriptions. I’m not a fan of drugs of any kind and was immediately determined to stop taking the prescriptions as soon as possible. It took over a month for my sugar to get and stay within normal range (70-150 per my doctors). I didn’t necessarily change everything I eat, but I certainly changed how, what and when I eat. Meaning, I thought I was going to have to throw out all my food, but it turned out managing what I eat, when I eat it and what it’s eaten with has been very helpful.
I’ve been off of the metformin and insulin for almost two months. In that time my sugar has only gotten above 150 maybe three times. Two of those times this week. In general, I take my glucose in the morning and evening. Last night, I was horrified to be over 230. In fact, I thought maybe my glocometer misread my blood. This morning, I was at 150. The highest morning, I’ve had in two months. Again, I’m thinking, I didn’t even have much yesterday.
But reminders are all over the kitchen.
The food I tracked yesterday was cereal – a blend of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Golden Grahams (finished what was left from a guest stay), breaded cod sandwich for lunch and sauteed chicken breast with veggies and lentils. Where’s the sugar inll this?
Then I remembered the small bags of flavored rice cakes before bed. Oh and that San Pellgrino juice drink with my lunch followed by homemade sugar-free banana pudding. Oh my, maybe it was the second helping of sugar-free banana pudding that put me over. Hmmmm…. This morning the mystery was solved. The glocometer isn’t broken. I simply ate sugar I didn’t account for. After dinner, I treated myself to some chocolate gananche ice cream over a sweet lil Madeline. The ice creamwas enought to spike me, add to that the sugar cake I ate withit and the spots of carbsand sugar throughout the day and we have enough of a situation to scare the crapoit of me.
All protein and veggies today.
This morning I made a skillet size egg bake for breakfast and lunch. The lack of milk or cream keeps it from being quiche or frittata. Ingredients all to taste:
Sauté in oil rIced cauliflower, onions, orange bell peppers, tomato, spinach. Season to preference.
A lot of water will be in the skillet. You can cook it down or strain.
Add cubed Colby Jack (or preferred) cheese.
Scramble 6 eggs, season to preference. Pour over veggie blend in skillet. You can mix it up a bit or let the eggs sit on top. Put in preheated oven (350 degrees), bake for 15 minutes.
As a life long sugar addict, the thought of cutting cutting sugar completely out of my life always seemed like an impossible feat. But apparently I only needed the right incentive. For the last couple of months, I have been sampling various sweeteners that have no impact on my glucose level. Non-sugar sweeteners is a whole new world.
I enjoy baking a great deal. After buying multiple sugar-free sweeteners, I decided to try baking some of my favs with low-to-no-carbs/no sugar recipes. So far, I’ve tried banana bread, banana bread bread pudding. The banana bread was made with a blend of all-purpose flour, coconut flour and almond flour. I didn’t get the blend right. It was super grainy and dry so I tried to save it by turning it into a bread pudding. Somehow, even with soaking it in milk before baking, it was still dry and grainy. I’m gonna have to keep working on that one.
Last week, I attempted a banana pudding. It was a pleasant surprise and has its own post. Next up are sugar-free sweet potato pie and caramel cake. #Crossingmyfingers but I want to be ready for the holidays 😊
I came across this Peanut Butter Cookie recipe on the Sugar Free Diva blog. It’s extremely simple with only three ingredients: 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sweetener and an egg. So far, I’ve made it about five different ways. I’ve cut the sweetener to a 1/3 or 1/4 after the first time. These trials will have their own post as well. For now, if you’re looking for some good recipes for sugar-free and low carb baking, check out The Sugar Free Diva.
A few weeks ago, I had the best cherry pie I’ve ever had. I’m not a big fan of fruit pies so I don’t often try them… so that may not be saying much. However, I’m still chasing that flavor. This weekend I attempted my second cherry pie-ish dessert and I’m quite pleased.
The perfect cherry pie…
The pie that changed my dessert life, was in my work cafeteria. From that you should gather it was nothing super fancy, but it was amazing. It was the perfect balance of sweet and tart and a beautiful bright red. It had a bottom crust that was somehow flaky and slightly chewy at the same time. It was topped by a thick crumb top that blended deliciously with the filling with each bite.
I’ve been stalking the cafeteria dessert table ever since. That cherry pie has not returned. Being me, I’ve tried to make my own.
Since this might be a thing, here’s background…
I enjoy baking, but I don’t cook or bake too often. Like cooks, bakers become better with practice. I’m out of practice. And I’m my only taster. Fortunately, over the years I’ve learned to take baked goods into the office for shared consumption or freeze them for later consumption. Not that that’s helped my waistline. Anyway, not everything is a hit. Mostly everything is a nice blend of hit and miss!
I won’t share exactly what I did, ’cause it’s not all great, but the experimenting is fun!
Attempt #1: Cherry Blackberry Pie
I love sweets. And I’ve been trying to ween myself off sugar and refined foods for last couple of years. Over the last year, I’ve been experimenting with baking with all natural products (for the most part). What I’ve learned in my experiments, is sometimes the best sweetener is the worst sugar for you. #StillAWorkInProgress
I do my own thing by “improving on other people’s stuff. I didn’t want canned cherries; I found frozen cherries. I was also ok using a frozen crust. I started my cherry filling with this recipe (Easy Homemade Cherry Pie Filling). Then I added my standard seasonings that I put in almost everything: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger. With a pinch of salt and black pepper. Knowing me, I probably added a dab of cayenne pepper too – I got hooked on that a while ago.
After that, I went completely off-script and tossed in a handful of frozen blackberries from my freezer. Completely forgot about the seeds. Seeds in my pie filling were a complete miss. Ruined the gentle chewy experience I wanted. Then I tossed in the starch without sifting it. It beaded up in the mixture; the beads did not dissolve, causing a hiccup in the texture.
I baked it as a two crust pie. The flavor was phenomenal. An absolute hit! Cherries and blackberries with honey, spices and a kick of pepper, oh my!
Attempt #2: Cherry Cream Cheese Pockets and Roll-ups
I hit Costco this week and they had fresh cherries. 🙂 I bought four pounds with the thought of trying another cherry pie.
A couple of weeks ago I tried my hand at beef empanadas. I still had a pack of pastry wraps in my freezer from that experiment. I also had cream cheese in the fridge from a prior baking plan. I decided to try pockets and roll-ups.
I basically followed the same pie filling recipe from above, starting with two cups of fresh pitted cherries. Nothing else was really measured. I boomed, powed, bammed to taste. Added my standard spices and seasonings, a bit of honey, Sugar in the Raw, and brown sugar (probably no more than 3 tablespoons of each, give or take). Forgot the vanilla this time. No additional fruit was added. This time I sifted the starch and dissolved it in hot water (about a quarter of a cup) before adding it to the cherry mix. Just adding the starch mixture (roux?) to the cherry mix didn’t do anything. I had turned off the heat. When I turned the heat back on and started stirring I got this beautiful shiny compote.
This time, everything about the cherry filling was a hit!
I wasn’t crazy about the pastry dough though. I rolled them too thin for the pockets. The bottom had a thin hard crunch to it. The top wasn’t as hard but was still thin.
I liked this as a roll up better. The dough in the middle had some of the chewy I was going for.
I only cooked one pocket without the cream cheese. So glad it was only one. The cherry and cream cheese together was an absolute hit!
If you have any cherry pie goodness to share, please do!