Stevia

Lemon!

You have to say that like Jack Donaghy.  Oh 30 Rock, I miss you.

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I really don’t crave lemon too often.  Especially in winter.  Citrus seems summery to me, despite the fact that all the orange and lemon trees in our neighborhood are just now bursting with fruit.  Anyway, I picked a few lemons from our neighbor’s tree because I was in the mood for lemony things. 

I swear my brain thinks up all the best recipe ideas in the late night hours as I lie in bed trying to fall asleep.  [Which is actually 9:30 pm for the record]  That’s when these lemon poppyseed muffins came to me.  I was sure I’d forget the next morning so I made a reminder in my phone.  Seriously, I’m not normal.

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I also had a big shipment of NuNaturals latest products burning a hole in my pantry.  I love love love their stevia.  It’s the only kind I use.  The above is the pure rebaudioside-A extract, NuStevia Reb99.

Forgive the Breaking Bad reference but this stuff is like the blue rock of the stevia world.  Pure.  Perfection.  Nothing else but the clean taste profile of stevia.  A little goes a LONG way with this product.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

[sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, nut free, soy free – yield 12 muffins]

  • 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 3/4 tsp NuNaturals NuStevia Reb99 pure extract powder 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients (flour through salt).  In a separate bowl melt the coconut oil.  Then zest the lemon and add it to the oil.  Finally add in the lemon juice and coconut milk and eggs.
Stir wet ingredients together and then combine with the dry ingredients.

Pour batter into greased muffin tin. 

Bake for 25 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin center comes out clean).  [They don’t bronze on top much so they may not look done, but they are] 

Enjoy as breakfast, snack or dessert. 

Notes:

If you don’t tolerate/like coconut, swap another milk (almond, soy, etc.) for the coconut milk and another fat (canola oil, butter, etc.) for the coconut oil.
I’m not sure because I haven’t tried it, but I’d venture to guess a whole wheat flour or (non GF) all-purpose flour would work just as well.

Since coconut oil is solid at room temp or colder, I recommend eating them warm out of the oven or re-heating them before you enjoy.  They’ll be less moist if eaten cold.

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These are lemony and delicious with a sugary taste and no blood sugar spikes.

Yum!

Feelings, “rice” and rice

I am…

[So many ways to end the phrase]

(a) crazy – from being by myself with an infant for almost two weeks
(b) tired – for the same reason
(c) proud – for landing an awesome job
(d) nervous – for accepting said job
(e) excited – for a visitor this weekend
(f) lonely – because I haven’t met many people in Davis (yet!)
(g) anxious – to begin a new chapter
(h) happy – to spend money without feeling guilty
(i) relieved – that Kyle is returning home today (fingers crossed)

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Oh!  And I’m full. 

I made cauliflower “rice” and I’m pretty sure it’s one of my new favorites.

I know what you’re thinking.  Cauliflower is not rice and it cannot replace rice.  To which I say, correct, I agree.  BUT!  I think it’s honestly delicious in it’s own right.  And for the record I was just as skeptical of the whole cauli rice concept prior to making it.  [Although I think that’s because I’ve only had it in the past in a raw “rice” form, which was not flavorful and way too rough on my gut]

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This is definitely not lacking in flavor.  And I felt fine after eating it, despite the fact that cauliflower is a FODMAP food (I tolerate the polyols category best of all the FODMAPs though).  For other FODMAPs people, < 1/2 cup is generally considered a safe serving (unless you are especially sensitive to polyols). 

I’ll get to the recipe later.

First I’m gonna share my day ’o food.  Because I took lots of pics and I feel like it.

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Breakfast numero uno.

Can you even tell what’s going on under there?  Probably not.  Here’s the situation pre-almond milk.

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Overnight oats: whole rolled oats, chia seeds, goji berries, stevia and cinnamon.

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I’m lovin’ on the goji berries as of late.  Superfoods up in hurrr.

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Breakfast numero dos was a lot lot lot of nuts (eaten while I made the above balls).  I single handedly finished an entire Costco tub of roasted nuts while Kyle was gone.  And then I went to the Co-op and bought more and finished those off.  Yeah.  I’m blaming it on breast feeding.

For lunch I had the cauli rice stir fry that I made the previous night.  Technically I made this over the course of the week because I “riced” the cauliflower several days ago, but didn’t use it right away. 

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Cauliflower meet food processor. 

I just pulsed (and scraped the sides down in between) until everything was super teeny tiny.  It took less than five minutes.  Then I tupperwared it up and waited until I had time to do something with it. 

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Cauli Asian Stir-fry [vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free]

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, “riced” in a food processor/blender
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tbsp sliced green onion (green part only for low FODMAP people)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2-3 tbsp tamari
  • [optional] sesame seeds / peanuts

Directions:

First rice the cauliflower in a food processor as described above.

Next add the sesame oil to a pan, heat to medium/hot and add the cauliflower.

Let it fry up and cook.  Once it starts to get soft add the carrots, celery, and onions. 

Let those cook a bit, then add tamari (the amount varies due to the variable size of the cauliflower used).  Then the eggs.

Continue to work a spatula through the stir fry so the eggs mix into the cauliflower and everything cooks.

Serve with sesame seeds or peanuts (if you want). 

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Some of the pics are blurry because I did a lot of the frying (and photography) while holding P.  And he’s not exactly into being still. 

I like talking to him while I cook and telling him what I’m doing.  Because I’m a nut job. 

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Ta-da!

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This was really really good. 

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I ate it in two servings, separated by only an hour.  Because after I had some I realized it was way too good to not finish. 

Cauliflower is impressively versatile.  I never thought it could get fluffy like it does in this recipe.  It’s soft and risotto like, making this a cross between a scramble and a paella type of dish. 

If you don’t eat eggs, try it with tofu, I’m sure it’ll be great that way too.

After lunch I went on a walk with with my sidekick, showered, made a smoothie, (see below), changed and fed him, and went to the Co-op to get a treat for dinner.

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Fresh strawberries, frozen banana, almond milk, lactose-free plain yogurt, ice.

And for my dinner…

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This sushi is pricey but that’s because it’s good stuff.  Sustainable and made to order at the Co-op.  I consider it a treat though because I can’t justify spending $20 on 2 rolls very often.  But I was feeling like I deserved a splurge since I got a job and had made all my other meals (except the lunch my mom treated me to) while Kyle was away. 

I get these same two rolls each time: brown rice real crab roll and brown rice mermaid roll.

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The mermaid roll is out of control awesome.

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I ate it way too quickly.  It’s sooooo goooood though. 

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After the bedtime routine I had twp squares of this guy.  I can’t find this exact bar online to pink to, but it’s by Lake Champlain, and was a post-partum gift from Kyle that got lost in the hospital-to-home shuffle, but reappeared in the Santa-Monica-to-Davis shuffle. 

Philly: White Dog Cafe

Last morning in Philly!

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Rather than trek into Center City again, we stayed in our ‘hood for breakfast.

Even though they are right next to each other, I’m not very familiar with either Penn or Drexel’s campus.

Because I was in the accelerated nursing program at Drexel I spent nearly all of my time in Center City.  The only occasion I had to go over to the main part of campus where the university buildings and lecture halls are was for finals (HESI exams).  Blah.

But I did pass through campus on my way to clinical rotations at CHOP, so I knew about White Dog Cafe.

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They have inside and outside seating, as well as a full bar, and they still maintain the homey feeling of a ski lodge.  We were seated in one of their downstairs rooms, which I assumed would feel like we were going into hibernation because it was below the floor we entered on, but it wasn’t lair like at all.

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Please note my dad yawning in the mirror behind us.

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They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner (plus happy hour bar fare).  The menu is diverse enough, but not huge since they are committed to serving local, seasonal ingredients from farms that practice sustainability.  You can visit their website to see which farms they buy what from.

Two things caught my eye immediately:

  1. Chocolate Chip waffles
  2. Stevia as a sweetener option (guilty pleasure?)

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I went the tea route, opting for Earl Grey over java.

Food-wise I split two things with my mom: the Whole Wheat Pancakes with Meyer Lemon Curd, Blood Orange Syrup, and Toasted Almonds and the Seven Stars Yogurt Parfait with Blackberry Puree, Organic Granola, Citrus Scented Seasonal Berries.

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I took the non-buttered portion of the pancakes and enhanced them even more with the berries and granola.

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The pancakes were good, especially the lemon curd, but the real star of the show was the granola.  There were no individual grains, just huge clusters of crunchy goodness.  Mmmm…

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Kyle got the Porcini Dusted Tofu with Kennett Square Wild Mushrooms served over Butternut Squash Risotto.  He’s a sucked for any butternut squash infused carbohydrates (remember this ravioli).

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I was slightly jealous of his order because it was what I was originally going to get.  Unfortunately they make the risotto with dairy.  🙁

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He also got a side order of Fingerling Potato Home Fries.  I think he’s been craving them ever since Corner Bakery left him high and dry.

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My dad got the Lancaster Omelet with Shellbark Hollow Farms Goat Cheese, Organic Baby Spinach, Green Meadow Farms Applewood Smoked Bacon, Oven Roasted Tomatoes.  It came with sides of Petite Greens and Fingerling Potato Home Fries, too.

Definitely a win all around.

Good food.  Good service.  Good ambiance.

A perfect way to end the weekend.

Stevia winner

Sorry for the late night post.  I was busy blowing out my candles (not really).

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But I know you guys are on edge waiting to find out who won the stevia, so without further ado…the FOUR random NuNaturals stevia winners are:

#49 Shelby – “banana oat bread!”

#80 jen – “i am dying to make your pumpkin banana bread with stevia! finally found pumpkin on sale at the store this week so now i can make it happen!”

#97 Alice – “pumpkin banana bread. definitely. i’m on a HUGE pumpkin kick right now (who isn’t..?!)”

#142 Jasmine – “i use stevia in my coffee ofcourse and in my overnight oats!”

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CONGRATS guys!  Send me with your mailing address.  To everyone else, see this post for ways to get your hand on NuNaturals at a discounted price. 

A health relapse

Last Friday was a wonderful work day because the entire time I was looking forward to my weekend.  Kyle and I had fun plans that involved good food, family time, and lots of relaxing. 

But things took a turn in the afternoon.  Because I was at work, I didn’t get the voice message or email until my lunch break: G-ma’s at the hospital.

For those who don’t know, my Grandma is not your average Grandma. 

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[June, 2011]

She works.  She (attempts to) beat me in cards and darts.  And, as much as we all hate to admit it, she pretty much rules the roost. 

Finding out that she was in the hospital was scary, and I called her right away to see what was wrong.  Without going into too much detail, my G-ma occasionally has episodes of A fib (an irregular heart rhythm) and although sometimes she’s completely asymptomatic, other times she feels really weak and dizzy. 

Apparently the day before she went to the ED because she wasn’t feeling so hot, but she finally convinced her cardiologist not to admit her (that fact alone should give you any insight into her pushy get-it-done personality).  So she was discharged home…agreeing to return the next day for an EKG.  The next day she was still in A fib, but she felt ok so they started her on a new med (a blood thinner to prevent clots) and (again) sent her home. 

I figured this was good news.  She felt ok, she was being medically managed, and all was good.  However, when I called her on my way home from work to check in, I got a different vibe.

One minute we were chatting away, and the next minute she was throwing up.  I can’t even tell you how helpless I felt.  My phone battery was red and beeping at me, and my G-ma had just set the phone down so she could run to the bathroom.  I was in agony.  Do I continue to listen to her retching and hope it ends soon so I can talk to her and find out what’s going on, or do I hang up on her and call 911 myself?  I’m not used to mobile nursing…I was screaming through the phone…picturing the worst…it was horrible.  The seconds felt like hours, but she came back on the phone and I immediately told her to call 911 and I would be on my way.  

At that point I called my cousin (who was already on her way to my G-ma’s) to give her the scoop before my phone died. 

[At this point, I’d like to apologize to the people driving behind me.  Because I was unable to pull over – but am petrified of multi-tasking on the phone while driving – I just stopped while I scrolled my phone book finding my cousin’s number.  I’m amazed I didn’t get arrested for blatantly ignoring the driving/cell phone laws of the road]

Once I got off the phone with my cousin, I called my mom, my aunt, and then my G-ma again.  Then my phone died.

I got home from work around 8 pm and hardly remember anything about the next hour.  Whirlwind!  I showered, grabbed a Larabar, threw random clothes in a bag and was off to Newport Beach.  It’s a good thing Kyle dropped his plans to drive me (God bless my husband) because I was a mess.  The hour long commute to the hospital was the world’s slowest trip.  By the time we arrived in the ED, I think I was in A fib.

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All smiles!

Shout out to nurse/reader “Mighty” who took care of my G-ma (she will be talking about you for the rest of time – seriously). 

Our party of four kept growing and growing as my aunt and uncle arrived. 

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Good thing her hearing aids were out because we were definitely a rowdy bunch. 

Despite my G-ma’s protesting, they eventually did admit her.  We stayed until she was settled in her room (2 am), and finally went back to her place for a family sleep over.  It occurred to me on the way back home from the hospital that I had been awake for 22 hours straight.  So it makes sense that I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow. 

You’d think I would have slept like a baby, but I woke up long before my alarm went off. 

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After some groggy conversations with my G-ma, my cousin and I formulated our game plan.  She showered and I went to Vons for the essentials: Starbucks and almond milk.

I had no appetite and the caffeine was certainly not necessary (my heart rate was already sky high), but there’s something about routine that helps soothe me in times of stress. 

After “breakfast” we all went back to the hospital to figure out the next steps…

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No offense to the hospital staff, but their indecision was ridiculously frustrating.  Especially for me.  Being a cardiac nurse, it was hard to not express my opinions, but I also know how pushy medical people can be super annoying (and result in adverse care for patients). 

And so it continued…to cardiovert or not to cardiovert, that is the question.

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At least my G-ma had an iPhone full of Finn photos to keep her preoccupied. 

Given the glacial speeds of the hospital up to this point, I figured there was no way they would discharge her that night.  So at my G-ma’s insistence, Kyle and I left in the afternoon to swing by San Clemente.  Our weekend visit to Kyle’s parents’ house was already off course, but we figured we could still salvage it with a nice family dinner. 

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I almost fell asleep on the car ride there, but shortly after we arrived I went on a run through the neighborhood, which left me feeling reinvigorated. 

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A glass of white wine was the next step in stress management.  Followed by kitchen time with the “soul sistas.”

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It was so great to meet Carol and Cristi in person.  The joy of cooking with others is wonderfully therapeutic (as well as fun).

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Here’s a preview of what we made.

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More on that later though…

Before dinner, my cousin texted me letting me know they were in fact discharging my G-ma that night. 

I immediately stopped drinking (good think I was only a few sips deep), and told them I would come back to Newport after eating to spend the night with her.  Don’t think I’m trying to sound like a martyr here.  Given my knowledge of cardiac arrhythmias and patient care as it relates to funky heart rhythms, I trusted myself and myself alone to be there with her. 

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With all the new meds she was on, I took vitals and checked on her throughout the night (hence the above PM caffeine loading). 

The next day she woke up weak and sans appetite.  She eats like a bird anyway, but this was different.  She wasn’t hungry and said all the food tasted like sawdust.

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She had one bite of the bar, two bites of oatmeal, and a few sips of OJ.  In other words, 6 calories.  Teasing aside, this is really atypical.  And it didn’t help that she had reflux after skipping her antacid pills for the past few days.

As you can see, she has an air tight system in her medication regimen.

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I promise, I’m not a horrible granddaughter.  I’m allowed to make fun of her for this because I do it to her face too.  🙂

She napped the day away, while I continued taking her vitals and feeding her nibbles whenever she would accept them. 

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I enjoyed a Trader Joe’s wheat free berry muffin that Kyle’s parents sent back with me the night before.  They spoil me so much.

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These muffins are excellent by the way. 

Aside from my G-ma’s health relapse, I also had my own issues. 

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Over the weekend, I used up the last of my NuNaturals stevia packets, and somehow the hideous blue and pink packets made their way into my coffee.  I felt the effects immediately, and kicked myself for relapsing.  Not only are the fake sweeteners completely unhealthy, but they aren’t FODMAPS friendly either.  My GI system needs stevia and my taste buds need NuNaturals.  And now I need rest.