Dear Friends and Family,
I am so glad to be back with you and am touched by all of you who have kept in touch, commented or even to those of you who took time to ‘like’ my posts. I send back the love!
I now find myself in need of revamping my diet to drastically reduce my carbohydrate intake. I have a couple of chronic health concerns that I have never let get me down,(and know that I have been extremely blessed not to have the complications many others experience), but my recent diagnosis of Type II Diabetes has thrown me for a loop.
I will continue to cook much of the way I had previously for others, and partake of most in modest portions. Let it be known that Diabetes is NOT caused by sugar consumption; I put mine down to genetics and possibly the fact that I became quite out-of-shape. It is not because I over-indulged in goodies or rich food, but the fact that I became sedentary because of the other health problems. That is the main reason why I took a long hiatus from this blog; I had many family concerns and a limited amount of energy and, well… I thought of you, cooked and took pictures but even though the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak. Now, I have good care, more energy and am searching for more ways to enjoy food, friends and family.
This will not become a diabetic cooking blog. Nor will I often be touting products.
I have always stressed here the importance of being aware of people’s dietary needs and restrictions .I will continue to offer vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other alternatives within many recipes, but I will continue to keep the blog ‘main-line’.
With new diagnoses and new medications, I am feeling very much better and am more active. Since I have a sweet tooth, cutting my sugar intake had been very hard on me. The American Diabetes Association suggests using sugar in moderation, I find that it takes up far too much of my carbohydrate ‘choices’. I missed my sweet teas and coffees most, since my carb allotments are better spent on good foods with carbs, such as fruit, grains, beans and legumes…(.and an occasional cookie or piece of cake!)
I’ve always believed that artificial sweeteners are detrimental to one’s health. Frankly, they give me headaches. Over the years I have searched for a natural sweetener for others who had problems with sugar, or who wanted to avoid white sugar, and for those who preferred more natural foods.
Many use honey, but that is not a wise choice for diabetics and also not for vegans. Many whole-food people use maple syrup. I cannot imagine having nearly everything taste of maple, and it, too, is a blood-sugar spiker.
Brown rice syrup was at one time touted as a good alternative for sugar in diabetic diets, but it was learned that it behaves in one’s system much like high-fructose corn syrup…again, not a good choice. Then everyone seemed to jump on the agave bandwagon, but it was found that it does spike blood-sugar and it can cause miscarriages . A time-tested natural sweetener that works so far for me is stevia.
Just as I feared I would be diagnosed with Type II diabetes, I entered a contest for NuNaturals on the blog “Bam’s Kitchen” If you have not visited Bobbi Ann, please do yourself a favor. She is an American who lives in Hong Kong. Her recipes are wonderful, her stories are fun, her advice is sound and her pictures are beautiful. Go see her.BAM’S Kitchen
NuNaturals is a company of stevia-based products and they have been a blessing to me. This is the first contest I have ever offered and I would not do it if I had not won a generous amount of their products first, and tried them for myself. In their letter which arrived with my winnings, they offered me the opportunity to run a contest on my own blog. I immediately started trying the products and believe me, if I had not found them useful, I would not be offering them to you, and FOUR of you will win a package of four NuNatural products, plus a bonus gift. The contest is open to all,( world-wide), and everyone will get a 15% discount when ordering online with a discount code listed below. The discount is good until the end of the year,(2014).
NuNaturals stevia-based products are great! They are natural and free of artificial ingredients, including colors and flavors. The contain no Aspartame, Saccharine, Sucralose, High-fructose corn syrup, or sugar. They contain no soy, yeast, wheat, milk and gluten, so they are useable in almost every diet; diabetic, gluten-free, vegan, etc. It is made without preservatives and from no genetically-modified sources. The company prides itself on being “green”, which we can all feel good about.
Stevia is derived from the stevia plant and is highly sweet. It needs to be used sparingly and if you have experienced bitterness with it, you have probably used too much. If you resign yourself to a moderate, gentle sweetness, it is wonderful. However, it cannot always be substituted for granulated sugar in many recipes, since texture and volume are not the same. Still , I think that you will find the recipes I have developed using products from the NuNatural line will satisfy your need for sweetness without the carbs or calories of conventional sweeteners. NuNauturals has designed their products to reduce bitterness.
The contest is open world-wide and four winners will receive:
One 50-count box of NuStevia White Powder Stevia
One bottle of their New Cocoa Syrup
One bottle of their New Simple Syrup
One bottle of their incredible Cherry-Vanilla Stevia Liquid
These four products have a full retail value of $54.00 plus, you will also receive
A Bonus Gift
The liquids and syrups are very concentrated and a small amount goes a very long way. Still, I asked Ron Redding , the “Sugar-Free Poppa” of NuNaturals, if they would be offering smaller sample bottles and he assures me that the idea is already in the works. I encourage you to look for them in the near future and experiment with their wonderful flavors.
I also have a bottle of their Mint Cocoa Syrup, Lemon Stevia Liquid, Mint Stevia Liquid, Orange Stevia Liquid and a jar of their NuStevia No-Carb Blend, and I love them all.
My NuNaturals arrived with a sheaf of recipes, too. In keeping with the theme of this blog, I will offer a number of easy no or lower-carb suggestions and recipes.(The NuNaturals stevia-based products are no-carb or have miniscule amounts which, when substituted for sugar and many other sweeteners, makes all of the recipes ‘lower-carb’.)
One easy way to use NuNaturals is to substitute the Simple Syrup for honey or brown-sugar and water in my Chicken Wing Recipes,(January 2013 Archive).
I have every intention of substituting a little Stevia Powder in my Cranberry Relish (original recipe in the November 2012 Archives),
And I will be doing much more experimentation. In the meantime , I offer these mostly low-carb, simple recipes, including drinks, breakfast, snacks a main-dish, side dishes and dessert:
Easy Smoothie [Vegan; Gluten-free,Low Carb]
I cup of Almond (or other) milk
½ banana, a peach, a plum, a ripe pear or apple
2-3 drops of Cherry Vanilla NuStevia Liquid
Blend. That’s it!
You would not believe how good this is!
Alternatives: Banana with NuStevia Chocolate or their Chocolate-Mint….mmmm!
Or simply mix a couple of drops of a NuStevia Liquid and a sprinkle of the White Powder Stevia to any unsweetened milk for a real treat.
A Ridiculously Easy Refreshments
A couple of drops of NuNaturals Cherry Vanilla, Lemon or Orange Liquid in ice water; delicious! Add a couple of drops to iced tea or coffee. (Trust me; it’s delicious! The liquids blend and the powder dissolves instantly even in drinks with ice.)
Healthier Lite Yogurt [Gluten-free,Low-Carb]
I make my own, healthier version of ‘lit’ yogurt,(Greek-style and regular), by buying plain yogurt in bulk and adding a few drops of NuStevia liquid, sometimes with fresh or low-sugar fruit.(Water or juice-packed). No artificial ingredients and you control the flavor and carbs.
Easy Flavored Hot Cereal [Vegan and Gluten –free options,Lower Carb]
Cook Cream of Wheat or Oatmeal with milk of your choice and add a couple of drops of any NuStevia liquid in fruit flavor. Add fruit, fresh or dried, and/ or nuts, if desired.
A Very Quick Nut Snack [Vegan and Gluten-free,Lower Carb]
I took ½ cup each of almonds, pecans and walnuts. Add a couple of drops of NuStevia Orange Liquid and a slight sprinkle of NuStevia No-Carb Blend and tossed them. Fanstastic!
[ I imagine that an addition of low-carb cereal, (like an unsweetened Chex), or plain popcorn would make a nice addition to the mix, as well as making it a bit more filling.]
My 30 year-old firefighter son visited and asked, ”What do you have on these mixed nuts, Mom?!” He promptly ate half of them; it’s a good thing I had shot the picture just before he came in! He has no dietary restrictions but he does like to eat healthy foods. He was thrilled with them.
Dips [Gluten-free and Vegan options, Low-Carb]
Easy No-Carb/Low-Carb Dip
Use a few drops of NuStevia liquid in sour cream, plain or vanilla yogurt or vegan sour cream (Tofutti is one), to make a nice dip for fruit and vegetables.
Spread or Filling [Gluten-free, Vegan options,Low Carb]
A few drops of any NuStevia Liquid mixed into cream cheese or medium tofu to make a nice spread for crackers, toast, rice cakes or as a filling . BE SPARING, as the flavors are very concentrated .Start out with just 2-3 , blend and adjust to taste. You may thin it with any type of milk, (coconut is very good in this), and add a bit more sweetening with a few drops of the NuNaturals Simple Syrup. You can add pureed fruit if you’d like.
Adding the Chocolate Syrup with a couple of drops of Orange NuStevia liquid is divine! Use the fruit flavored ones to fill dates or dried apricots…try the chocolate-orange in mission figs.
Compote [Vegan; Gluten-free,Lower Carb]
A staple in the fancy boxed lunches I used to cater from my bakery/restaurant was a compote made in a slow-cooker for a short time,( or it can be cooked very slowly for a very short time on a stove-top). Here is the recipe, and the NuStevia alternatives:
2 sweet apples, cored and sliced in eights
1 pear, cored and sliced thinly
6 cherries, pitted and quartered
1 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
1/8 tsp. white pepper
¼ tsp. ground ginger
½ cup walnut pieces
½ tsp. Vanilla plus 1-2 Tbsp sugar
10 drops NuStevia vanilla or Cherry-Vanilla
Warm thoroughly and cook only if you apples are very firm; have them retain their shape
Serve warm or cold. Make a great presentation with a dried fruit,( stuffed as above), on top.
Whipped Cream /Flavored Butter [Gluten-free,Low Carb]
In a November 2012 post I told the story of making Caramel Whipped Cream for cookies which worked well, but then I re-whipped it and it made Caramel Butter, which was a fortuitous accident. I did the same with the NuStevia liquid. It made Tasty Whipped-Cream, but whatever I did wrong, it wept, so I beat it again and it became a lovely Fruit-flavored Butter ,(this one was Orange, but it could be any flavor.) Try it!
Simply add a couple of drops, (sparingly) of NuStevia Liquid and whip-away!(it is better if you let it sit until the chill is off the cream to make the butter.) You’ll have a wonderful, no-carb spread.
Coconut Balls [Vegan; Gluten-free, Lower Carb]
1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
Opt: 2 oz. ground nuts,(Almonds are a good choice. Want to add a little zip? Use wasabi almonds!)
2+ Tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk, (NOT Cream of Coconut).More may be needed if using nuts.
1-2 packets NuStevia white Stevia powder , I packet +1/2 tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup, or use NuStevia No-Carb Blend
½ tsp. ground ginger
Place in a covered container and shake to moisten. Let sit refrigerated for several hours to several days. Roll into balls. Chill again.
Rice Balls [Vegan, Gluten-free,Lower Carb]
(A great way to use left-over rice)
1 cup cooked rice
¼ cup ground nuts
½ tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup
3 of drops of Lemon NuStevia liquid
Roll into balls and chill. These are not too sweet and quite refreshing!
For thirty years I have been making a version of this recipe for special dinners; carrots in a sweet, buttery-orange sauce. Now, I discovered a quick, lighter way to have a similar flavor to enjoy more often:
Sweet but refreshing Coconut Balls with NuStevia
Orange-Glazed Carrots [Vegan; Gluten-free,Lower Carb]
2 cups hot, cooked carrots, (baby carrots or sliced, boiled in salt water until tender or use canned)
2 tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup
5 drops NuStevia orange liquid
½ tsp ground ginger
2 tsp. melted butter or margarine,(optional)
2 tsp. brandy,(optional)
Place carrots in pan and warm. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over them, fold gently,(be especially gentle if using canned carrots).Warm thoroughly. Serve hot, or can be served cold if using baby carrots alone or with additions as an appetizer.(More appetizer recipes to come.)
Another favorite in my bakery/restaurant or with family and friends has been my Cole Slaw. My original dressing uses granulated sugar, but I have been making a great deal of a stepped-up recipe:
Broccoli Slaw (Gluten-free; Vegan options,Lower Carb]
2 cups of shredded cabbage,(preferably red)
1 ½ cups of shredded carrots
1 cup of shredded broccoli (This is a great use of peeled broccoli stems. Use the florets in other dishes or steamed alone)
Mix separately; ( this will not be as much or as creamy as some versions of cole slaw. Double the recipe if you prefer a lot of dressing ). Toss over mixed shredded vegetables.
2/3 cup mayonnaise of Vegoniase
½ tsp. paprika
1Tbsp finely diced onion
1 ½ tsp. celery seed
1 Tbsp. vinegar,(any type. Cider vinegar makes it tastier than white; Balsamic makes white cabbage a bit dark but ,OH, the flavor! White Balsamic is also an excellent choice, as do pear or raspberry infused vinegars)
½ tsp Stevia powder (or to taste; I like mine sweet)
½ tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup
Coconut Chicken* [Gluten-free, Lower Carb]
(I have been meaning to post a recipe for coconut chicken , but I’m glad I waited, because I have improved the recipe. In the original I called for sweetened coconut)
Prepared coconut (as for coconut balls; may omit nuts)
2 lbs chicken breast strips
2 Tbsp. Olive or other light-flavored oil
“Bread” the chicken with the prepared coconut. Place in pan in hot oil and brown over medium heat, making sure the chicken is cooked through. If some of the coconut falls off, simply retrieve it from the pan and sprinkle it over the cooked chicken. (This may be baked. Spray the chicken with “Pam” or other olive-oil cooking spray.)
*Same recipe can also be applied to making Coconut Shrimp (use large shrimp)
Optional Sauce: [Vegan;Gluten-free]
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (Originally recipe called for sweetened)
½ tsp. ground ginger
Dash of salt
1/8 tsp any NuStevia powder
Simmer and reduce to thickened state. Spoon over chicken.
Cut chicken strips into bite-sized pieces and pierce with picks. Add sauce on side as dipping sauce.
I have developed a lighter, sugar-free version of my Rice Pudding recipe (November 2012 Archives)
Rice Pudding [Vegan; Gluten-free,Lower Carb]
1 ¼ cups cooked rice
1 ¼ cups plain unsweetened almond milk, (rice milk or soy milk)
1 tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup
7 drops Lemon or Vanilla NuStevia liquid
Cook slowly and fold gently until the milk is thick and mostly absorbed into the rice, (do not make it dry).
Optional additions can be 1/3 cup currants, raisins, nuts, dried fruit. Pina colada version includes unsweetened pineapple tidbits,(drained) and unsweetened coconut.(You may need to adjust sweetness.)
Years ago I ran across a recipe for a Greek dish that a favorite restaurant served. I had left them half-way across the country and was thrilled to find it. The recipe called for vast amounts of sugar, milk, butter and eggs cooked with farina,(Cream of Wheat) and wrapped in filo leaves. It is technically a dessert, but hearty enough for a food. I have experimented and come up with a lighter, faster take on it that I love for breakfast.
Farina Custard [Vegan, Lower Carb]
½ cup farina,(Cream of Wheat)
2 cups milk, (any kind, plain and unsweetened; I prefer almond)
[basically 1 part farina to 4 parts milk to adjust the recipe]
½ tsp (or to taste) Stevia powder
Opt: ¼ cup ground nuts
Cook slowly, stirring very often, until stiff.
Place in bowl to chill. Top with fruit. Sprinkle with NuNaturals Simple Syrup and or Stevia powder.
For a change of pace or for the gluten-free needs of some friends, I offer Polenta Custard, which can be made basically as above, but I’m posting a pineapple-coconut version:
Pina-Colada Polenta Custard [ Gluten-free; vegan options, Lower Carb)
½ cup corn meal, (NOT self-rising)
2 cups coconut milk
1 tsp. NuNatural Simple Syrup
¼ tsp. NuStevia powder
Cook slowly, stirring almost constantly , until very thick. Chill.
Layer with pineapple tidbits , prepared coconut ,(see Coconut Ball recipe above) and
Sweet Dessert Cream [Vegan; Gluten-free,Low Carb]
½ cup mascarpone, low-fat cream cheese or silken tofu,
coconut milk (1/4 cup? Test consistency),
and sweetened with NuNaturals Simple Syrup or Stevia powder to taste.
A few drops of Lemon or Orange NuStevia liquid, optional
You could also layer this with unsweetened apple sauce, dried fruit bits, fresh fruit or berries and/or nuts
This is far from a comprehensive list, but it’s a start.
Now, here’s what you need to do for the contest. Remember, it’s opened to everyone, world-wide.
I will leave the contest opened until October 1, 2014.
NuNaturals requested one requirement to enter:
(The links are being temperamental. If they won’t work, please cut and paste them to your browser)
Go to Facebook and “like” NuNaturals’ page:
and while you’re there
“like” my Food, Friends, Family Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/TonetteJoycefoodfriendsfamily?ref=hl [for an Extra entry]
If you don’t Follow this blog, please do so [for an Extra entry]
Leave a message below, telling me what you have done and please leave an email address so that I can contact you if you win.(If you don’t wish to leave an email address publicly, please leave a message here and message your email address to me privately through the “Food, Friends, Family” Facebook page.) I will contact the winners and give them 72 hours to get back to me with their home address or forfeit the prize to another entrant. Please note that NuNaturals needs an actual physical address for you to receive your prize;( the prizes cannot be delivered to P.O. Boxes).
Everyone is a winner, as NuNaturals has offered a 15% discount to all of us until December 31, 2014 if you order and enter this code: BLOG1214
It is very easy to use, just log-on to their site:www.nunaturals.com, or call 1-800-753-4372
International # 541-344-9785
Their staff is friendly and competent.
They have many, many products including other natural sweeteners. I just ordered a fair amount of Xylitol ,(another natural sugar replacement), from them and cannot wait to start experimenting with using it in cooking and baking.
Remember that their products are HIGHLY concentrated and to be used in minute amounts, usually by drops and fractions of teaspoons.
Please feel free to spread the word to you friends,(and readers, if you’d like).
So, what are you waiting for?