Thursday, February 28, 2013

Scrapping Seattle

There has been a lot of food on this blog lately, so I thought I'd take a break from that and show some of the recent scrapbook layouts I've done. I created these two from sketches from Inspired Blueprints and My Scraps & More Sketches. Both of these layouts feature pictures from our trip to Seattle last summer. Yes, I'm still scrapping our summer vacation pictures. I don't even have all of them printed yet. It will get done. Hopefully before summer vacation this year.

The first layout is "@ Blue Moon Burgers". This is where Mike and I ate lunch our first day in Seattle. It took us awhile to find the place, but we finally did find it and it was yummy. Mike got a gluten-free burger with gluten-free fries. I got a yummy burger with sweet potato fries. We wanted to do milkshakes, but it was just going to be too much, and we still had to walk all the way back toward the Space Needle.

And the Space Needle is pictured in this layout, "Up High". The sky was perfect and clear that day, and I was able to get an unobstructed view of the Space Needle from the ground. The picture of me is was taken up inside the Space Needle. I had been to Seattle once before in middle school, but we never went up in the Space Needle. So this time, Mike and I made sure to do it. It wasn't life-changing or anything, but at least we can say that we did it. And we were there for the Space Needle's 50th anniversary. Did you know it was built for the 1962 World's Fair?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Different Girl - Book Giveaway

A few weeks ago, I posted a review of the book The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist. Well, the book has finally hit bookstore shelves, but you don't have to go out and buy a copy because I've got a hardcover version of the book to give away to one lucky reader, courtesy of Penguin Young Readers Group. The book is graded for ages 12 and up. So if your tween/teen is a fan of reading, then perhaps he or she would enjoy a copy of The Different Girl.

To be eligible to win, all you have to do is leave me a comment on this post telling me what your favorite book was when you were a kid. You have until Tuesday, March 5 at midnight EST. I'll randomly select a winner and announce the winner on this blog.

Good luck and happy reading!

*This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich

Philly Cheesesteak with dipping sauce
My husband loves Philly Cheesesteaks, and I have made some before using an expensive cut of meat, which means I don't make them often. So imagine my delight when I found a recipe for Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches that used deli roast beef AND were low-carb and low-sugar! Again, I cannot stop singing the praises of Rocco Dispirito's Now Eat This! cookbooks.

Unfortunately, this recipe isn't shared on Rocco's Pinterest page, so I can't print it for you here due to copyright laws. But I can say that the recipe is super easy and a perfect weeknight meal.

If you purchase the cookbook or check it out from your library, here are some tips for making this gluten-free:

1. You'll need gluten-free bread. The picture above is my non-gluten-free sandwich. I used a whole wheat hamburger bun.
2. The recipe calls for chicken and beef broth. Make sure the broths you use are gluten-free.
3. Make sure your roast beef is gluten-free. We always go for Thumann's, but Boar's Head is a good choice. And our A&P has a store brand of deli meat that you can get at the deli counter that is also gluten-free. If you can read the original packaging at the deli counter, check it out and make sure it says gluten-free.

And then just something else to keep in mind:

1. The original recipe calls for ketchup. I've NEVER had ketchup on a Philly Cheesesteak, so we left that out.
2. I did use a cut up green bell pepper, but when it came to my sandwich, I didn't eat the pepper. I just don't like it, but I do like the flavor it passes on to everything else. And my husband eats peppers, so it was really left in for him.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

Well, even though recent blood tests have determined that my glucose levels are normal and I am not diabetic or pre-diabetic, I'm still on a low-carb kick. It was coincidence that right when I was starting to look for low-carb meals that someone I follow pinned a low-carb recipe on Pinterest. I was so excited to try out this Loaded Cauliflower Casserole because it was described as being like mac and cheese but with cauliflower. After eating this, I would say it wasn't like mac and cheese. It was more like a loaded baked potato casserole, but instead of high carb white potatoes, you use steamed cauliflower florets. And chives. And bacon. And cheddar cheese. And cream cheese. And Monterey Jack cheese. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh so good.

I didn't have to change anything to make this gluten-free. But here are some tips:

1. I didn't know how to steam cauliflower, and the recipe doesn't tell you how. It just says to do it. So I Googled how to do it and here is what I found: place 1/4 inch of water in a pan. Bring the water to a boil. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and cleaned broccoli florets. Cover the pan and let the cauliflower steam for 3-8 minutes. I did 5 minutes, but I think 8 would have been better.

2. This recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of heavy cream. Because I'm sort of on a health kick, I used 4 tablespoons of fat-free evaporated milk. I'm sure most brands are gluten-free, but Carnation says "gluten-free" on the can, so I like to go with that brand.

What are your feelings on cauliflower? Honestly, I wasn't sure what to think, but I'm totally on board with using cauliflower as a potato substitute from now on! I even have a mashed "potato" recipe that uses cauliflower that I can't wait to try.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Boston Blue Chicken and Apple Salad - Minus the Apples

I was totally serious about the whole low carb, low sugar thing. Two days ago I showed you a breakfast item that I liked, and now here's a lunch item. Boston Blue Chicken and Apple Salad is also from Rocco Dispirito's Now Eat This! Diet cookbook.

First off, I left out the apples. Why? I'm allergic to them (unless they are cooked or juiced). I also opted for six chicken breast tenders instead of four chicken breasts. I find that the breast tenders are MUCH easier to cook than the chicken breasts, especially when you have to grill them. I couldn't find reduced-fat crumbled blue cheese, so I just used regular crumbled blue cheese. Not really sure what that does to the calorie count of this lunch salad, but there's nothing I can do about that. My grocery store didn't carry reduced-fat blue cheese! I did however find Ken's Light Options Olive Oil and Vinegar, as the recipe suggests. And that dressing is gluten-free. I did NOT toast my chopped walnuts. I just don't have time for that.

Of course, you can omit the walnuts altogether and save yourself 48 calories per serving. You can also omit the cheese to reduce the calorie count, but who wants a salad without cheese? It puts the "blue" in the Boston BLUE Chicken and Apple Salad!

I got all of this ready on a Sunday to eat during the week. I divided the cooked chicken into four small microwavable bowls. I brought the bottle of dressing with me to work and left it in my office's fridge. I divided all the other ingredients in four Rubbermaid food containers so that everything was ready to go and easy to transport. All I needed to do was heat up the chicken in its own container in my office's microwave, put it on top of the salad fixings, drizzle 1/2 tbsp. of dressing on top, and EAT. Super easy and delicious.

If you haven't checked out this cookbook, I highly recommend doing so. There are lots of great recipes for pasta, provided that you use whole wheat pasta, and chocolate desserts. I also checked out the original Now Eat This! cookbook from my library and am looking forward to making some of those low-calorie, low-carb, low-sugar recipes as well.

Some of those recipes are in my Low-Carb, Low-Sugar Pinterest board, so check it out!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Need some dinner inspiration for the week or weekend? Here's what we're doing (* denotes new recipe):

Sunday: mother-in-law's birthday dinner = gluten-free loaded baked potato soup cooked by grandmother-in-law

Monday: chicken tikka masala*

Tuesday: lasagna

Wednesday: pasta carbonara

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: pancakes and eggs

Saturday: sloppy joes

What are you guys eating this week?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Low Carb AND Gluten Free?

Remember a few days ago when I asked someone to create a gluten-free cookbook that was low-carb? Well, someone did. During an Amazon search, I came across the cookbook The Gluten Free Low Carber by Mellissa Sevigny. And it turns out, Mellissa has a blog! So I immediately headed over to I Breathe ... I'm Hungry to check out what Mellissa had in store. She's got some really yummy stuff, including gluten-free, low-carb crab rangoon! Do you know how much I LOVE crab rangoon???????? I'm totally making this!

Anyway, just had to take a second and pass this website along to all of you. Hopefully it is as helpful to you as it is to my low-carb self and my gluten-free husband!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day is all about love, but it's also all about chocolate. MMMM chocolate. Throw out any low-carb, low-sugar diet you might be on right now (I did) and enjoy these delicious Crunchy Chocolate-Peanut Stix. I found the recipe in Family Circle magazine. Imagine a crust of butter crackers, layers of sugar and crushed graham crackers, topped with melted milk chocolate and peanut butter chips. OH YEAH. The picture in the magazine looked a lot better than my picture. I used a serrated knife to cut my "stix", but it was still a little difficult to cut perfectly. Oh well. They went in my belly and my belly didn't care what they looked like. :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Apple and Cranberry Granola Cereal

I've been on a quest to start eating fewer sugars and carbs in my diet. Diabetes runs in my family, and sugars and carbs (which become sugar when you body digests them) are probably not good for me to be eating in high quantities. I don't feel like we eat terribly. We rarely eat out. All of our meals (or dinners, at least) are homemade. But I feel like there are some changes that can be made. Of course, trying to make these changes and still stick to a gluten-free diet for my husband is going to be difficult. I can't use whole-wheat flour, and even if there is a whole-wheat gluten-free flour, it's not going to be the same as regular whole-wheat flour. If someone could publish a low-carb, low-sugar, gluten-free cookbook, that would be fabulous. THANKS!

Until then, I checked out a Rocco Dispirito cookbook from the library: Now Eat This! Diet. It's filled with low-calorie, low-sugar, and low-carb meals that still allow you to eat some of your favorite foods (cheeseburgers, anyone?) but in a healthier way. Everything in this book is under 450 calories. There is also a diet plan that goes along with it, if you want to do that.

My biggest problem is breakfast. Usually I eat sugary cereals with milk. I eat at 5:30 a.m., and by 9:30 a.m. my stomach is growling. So I really need something that is healthy and filling.

One of the breakfasts in the Now Eat This! Diet cookbook is for Apple and Cranberry Granola Cereal, and I'm pleased to say that it can also be gluten-free with no changes. For copyright reasons, I can't post the recipe here, but I will tell you what to be aware of for gluten-free purposes. The recipe calls for puffed Arrowhead Mills kamut. My grocery store didn't carry kamut, but it did carry Arrowhead Mills puffed brown rice, and we all know that brown rice is better for you than white rice. There is no added salt or sugar, and it is wheat-free, so even my husband could eat it.

Other ingredients include apple juice concentrate, agave nectar (which I actually left out...), vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, unsweetened dried apples (make sure to check the packaging for gluten-free), dried cranberries (make sure to check the packaging for gluten-free), and sliced almonds (make sure to check the packaging for gluten-free).

You can serve this on top of Greek yogurt, which I plan to do, or use it as a cereal with skim milk. I chose unsweetened original almond milk, which only has 1 carb gram and 1 sugar gram unlike regular milk.

I've made a Low-Carb, Low-Sugar Pinterest board, so head on over to check out some recipes, including some cross-posted from Rocco Dispirito's Pinterest.

Do you have any healthy new recipes or cookbook recommendations to share? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Meal Plan Sunday

In the interest of posting every other day, this week's Meal Plan Monday is now Meal Plan Sunday! So, here's a peek at what we're eating this week. Share what you're eating in the comments!

This is going to be an abbreviated week for us because I have work stuff going on. So we're relying on easy favorites:

Lasagna (Last week I made the whole recipe but split it in two and froze one portion for later)

Pasta and ground beef


Friday, February 8, 2013

In the Garden

Last month I was able to finish up sketch 13 from My Scraps & More. I was actually able to create layouts for all four of last month's sketches! Can't wait to get started creating with the sketches for February.

Here is the layout I created:

I was able to use up some scraps on this one, which I love to do! There was leftover paper, so I used that to create a few cards.

These pictures are from our visit to Portland, Oregon's International Rose Test Garden over the summer. Not the best picture of me, but you would look the same if you'd spent 20 minutes walking straight uphill in the heat. I didn't really care how I looked. I just wanted my picture taken next to those blue hydrangeas - they were what I had at my wedding!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

MorningStar Farms Veggie Burgers - Review

I love meat. I'm not a vegetarian, and I have no plans to become one. But before the MorningStar Farms BzzAgent campaign, I'd never tasted a veggie burger. So I thought, "Well, why not?"

And it was GOOD! I don't know how they do it, but these really tasted like MEAT!

It just so happens that I was reading the February issue of Family Circle around the same time, which mentioned opting for veggie burgers instead of regular cheeseburgers to help reduce your risk of getting heart disease. The magazine wrote that you should always check the labels of the veggie burgers, though, because some can have as much as 1,000 mg of sodium, which is two-thirds the American Heart Association's recommended daily amount. One of the suggested low-sodium veggie burgers was the MorningStar Farms spicy black bean burgers. They have 350 mg of sodium per patty.

According to the package, these have 73 percent less fat than ground beef and are a good source of protein.

For those of you who want to know more nutritional information, here it is (per patty):
120 calories 
4 grams of fat 
0.5 grams of saturated fat
0 grams trans fats
2 grams polyunsaturated fat
1 gram monounsaturated fat
0 mg cholesterol
250 mg potassium
13 grams carbs
4 grams dietary fiber
2 grams sugar
11 grams protein
(These patties do contain soy, wheat, egg, and milk ingredients. I wish that these were gluten-free because I think my husband would really enjoy them.)

The spicy black bean burger patties have black beans, corn, and tomatoes baked into them. I couldn't really taste the tomatoes, but I did taste the black beans and corn, and they were so good. The smell of these burgers cooking was just amazing. It reminded me of a veggie pizza that I made a few months ago. There had to be cumin in this burger patty because it totally smelled like it. One of my favorite cooking smells! 

I cooked my veggie patties in the microwave, which was super easy, but you can also grill them or thaw them and cook in a skillet. Being able to cook them in the microwave was great for me because I was able to bring these to work and cook them up for lunch.  

You can have these with your favorite burger toppings. Honestly, the spicy black bean burgers were fine all by themselves. I tried one with mustard and cheese on a bun, but the spicy black bean burgers have such strong flavor that nothing else was really necessary. I still ate the rest on buns, but I feel like you wouldn't even have to do that if you didn't want to!

There are a couple other varieties of the Morningstar Farms veggie burgers, and I am definitely going to try them all. Have you ever tried Morningstar Farms veggie burgers or any other brand of veggie burgers? What do you think of them?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Hi all! Happy Monday!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Gluten-free lasagna


Rocco Dispirito's Philly Cheesesteaks

Rocco Dispirito's Loaded Baked Potato Skins

Three Cheese Gluten-Free Pasta Bake

What's on your menu plan for the week?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Cereal - Review

I'm a cereal eater. No, not "serial" eater. (Although, the tightness of my pants lately would beg to differ.) I like to eat cereal. For breakfast. For lunch. For dinner. I do enjoy my cereal. And I always like to try new cereals, so I was excited to get a sample of Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Cereal through BzzAgent.

I believe this cereal came out last year. Do you remember the commercials where the guy travels to Asia or something just so that he can be in a place where it's morning so that it's okay for him to eat the cereal? In those commercials, the cereal looked like flakes. But the cereal I got were in the shape of Os. That's because there are now THREE versions of Kellogg's Crunchy Nut: Golden Honey Nut Flakes, Roasted Nut & Honey Os, and Caramel Nut. The version I got to try was Roasted Nut & Honey Os.

I liked the Roasted Nut & Honey Os, and I think I would like it better than the Golden Honey Nut Flakes. "Corn" flakes tend to get soggy really fast and leave a weird aftertaste in my mouth. But the Os didn't leave a weird taste and stayed crunchy.

And they were sweet! Not too sweet, though. These Os are topped with real peanuts and drizzled with honey. It's not like you're tasting a spoonful of sugar when you eat this cereal. It's just a nice, mild sweetness - perfect for breakfast! I liked this cereal so much that I used one of the coupons I received to go buy a second box!

You can find out more about the Crunchy Nut Cereal on its Facebook page.