Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Bliss Point of Cheetos

     You know how they say "You can't eat just one" about Lays Potato Chips? Well that's how I feel about Cheetos. More precisely, Cheetos Crunchy.

     I love them to pieces and am totally addicted to them. I can sit and eat until I've eaten the whole bag! 

     Cheetos are what I used to love to snack on at work to  help me relieve stress and they just plain make me happy.

     Unfortunately Cheetos don't fit into my new low carb, gluten free style. Check out the nutrition information. 21 little pieces of heaven are 13 grams of carbs! When you are trying to stay within 20 to 24 grams of carbs per day you would use up your whole carb count with just a small snack, let alone eating the whole bag!

     For me the hardest part of eating low carb is not being able to eat  Cheetos or chips of any kind. So I am always looking for low carb alternatives for crunchy salty snacks.

     Today I was checking out low carb recipes on Pinterest and I found a recipe for Cheese Crackers on Low Carb Layla's blog. I am just  amazed that people come up with these low carb snacks and meals!!!

     So I thought I would give them a try. According to Layla you take a slice of Deluxe American Cheese. Yes, that's right, a slice of plain old American Cheese. She states she's only had success with the Deluxe brand of American Cheese but all I had was regular Kraft so I gave it a try and they came out beautifully!

     Pardon the horrible photo but it was about 8pm and I took this with my cell phone camera in my very much unlit kitchen. Aren't they adorable? And they are very, very good and make your whole house smell delightful! So much so that my son came out wanting to know what that heavenly scent was and I had to make a couple of batches for him.

     It's easy peasy...you take a slice of cheese and cut it into sixteen pieces, then you place the pieces on a piece of parchment paper. I cut mine into a circle and reused it for about 20 batches. You place the small squares of cheese around the edge of the paper and then what ever you have left over in the middle. I actually ended up liking the ones in the middle better than the ones outside, they browned a bit more and were crunchier. 

     The time you set the microwave for depends on your microwave. Layla says hers come out perfect at 38 seconds but I have to run mine for 60 seconds, my first ones were a bit chewy.

     I am having fun trying out these low carb recipes that I find on Pinterest. I also tried making an Orange Creamsicle Mousse tonight but haven't had a chance to taste it. I'll try to photograph it tomorrow, I'm taking some to work to share with my co-worker/friend who is also low-carbing it with me.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Abuelita Chocolate - Low Carb Style

For some reason my mom only made her homemade  Hershey's Cocoa when it was raining. She would send my dad to go and pick us up at school, she didn't trust the bus driver to drive us when it was raining and the roads were slick.

We would come in, cold and wet and smell the cinnamony goodness of her cocoa. It was so thick and creamy and delicious. It hit the spot on a cold day. She would serve it in a bowl instead of a cup and we would sip it slowly with a spoon, that's how thick and delicious it was! Mmmmm!

I have only found one product that is almost as good as the one my mom made. It's Abuelita Hot Chocolate, and while you can make it from scratch with chocolate blocks, I love that they make it in an instant. But alas...the carb count is a killer! Each envelope has 19 net carbs. When you are trying to stay within 20 to 24 carbs per day, then having this is out of the question. 

Today I was lucky enough to find a lower-carb hot chocolate. I found this recipe at Radical Geekery. The Radical Geek calls it Hot 'Cocoa'nut Milk and she uses coconut milk, water, vanilla extract, cocoa powder and maple syrup.

I tweaked it a bit to bring the carb count down. I used Goya Coconut Milk, Water, Vanilla Extract, Hershey's Cocoa Powder, granulated Splenda for sweetness and cinnamon to help make it as good as my mommy's. 

I went ahead and used the whole can of coconut milk and did the math to figure out how much of each product to use and I have to say, it's wasn't bad. Not as good as my mom's, not as good as Abuelita, but definitely hearty and heart-warming. I drank a small cup and then poured the rest into a container and I'm going to keep it in the fridge so I can warm up a little bit whenever I have the urge. I may also try to add it to coffee as I love chocolatey tasting coffee. 

Here's the nutrition facts. As you can see it's still 9.2 net carbs, but that's certainly much more doable when you're counting carbs and just crave a sweet treat. And as cold as it has been here lately this really hits the spot!

Speaking of loving chocolate in my coffee, I found this great product. It's Nestle's Coffee-mate sugar Free Creamy Chocolate. 

The best thing about this product is that it only has 1 carb per teaspoon!! I put 3 teaspoons in my coffee each morning.

You can also find sugar-free Hazelnut and French Vanilla and Vanilla Caramel. They need to invent a Raspberry Vanilla and a Dulce de Leche, Ohhhh and a Creme Brulee! That would be heavenly. I've kind of been wondering what it would taste like if you whipped this up with heavy whipping cream? Hmmm, might have to try that one.

What's your favorite winter drink? Tea, Cocoa, a hot toddy?


Thursday, February 21, 2013

4 pounds in 4 days and a Family Reunion!!!

Starting in 2013 on January 3rd I went back to eating low carb, gluten free...or at least as close to that as possible. As of Wednesday of last week I had lost 11 pounds! Yay me right? That's almost like 1 pound a week. At that rate in a year I can lose 52 pounds!

But this weekend I went to my family reunion in Arizona, left Friday came back Sunday and had Monday off because of Presidents day and guess what? In 4 days I GAINED 4 pounds! What the heck! How does that happen? It takes me a whole week to lose one pound but I can eat carbs and gain a pound a day?

Well no use crying over spilled milk. I'm just going to pick myself up and start over again and not just give up!

So anyway...the family reunion was so much fun that it was well worth the weight gain! Here's the only group photo that we took. Not everyone was there at this one, some had gone home, some had  gone to visit the Parker Dam or the London Bridge. I drew a little arrow so you could find Waldo, ok, not Waldo but me :)

My sister, Mom and I drove in on Friday. It took us about six hours, but we stopped quite a bit to stretch our legs along the way. Here's a picture of my sister at one of the rest stops. She's a character! This was a memorial to the Blue Star Memorial Highway, a tribute to the Armed Forces that have defended the United States.

We finally arrived at our hotel, the Blue Water Resort and Casino on the edge of the mighty Colorado River. Here's a view from my hotel room. Aren't the mountains in the background beautiful? I love Arizona.

Then we headed over to my cousin Michael's house where I was so happy to see everyone, my aunts, uncles, cousins and especially these wonderful ladies! From left to right, Me, my sister Lisa, my cousin Eliza, my cousin Laura, my cousin Elizabeth and my honorary cousin Santos.

These are the same ladies, but includes my cousin Stella in the blue in the middle, can't leave her out, she's our partner in crime!

The next day the whole family got together at one of the local parks. Each family had a certain color t-shirt to designate which one of the Tarango family siblings they belonged to.

First the banner that my cousin Albert and his son-in-law Robert had made. The photos at the bottom are of my maternal grandparents, the parents of my mother. Then on the tree there is a small circle with each of their ten children. Of the ten listed, only four are still surviving. Also on the banner are a picture of two houses. At the bottom left is the house where my mom grew up in Texas and the house on the right is the house her father built in Arizona which is the family house that my generation remembers.

So back to the t-shirts. On the front was another picture of my maternal grandparents and on the back was the name of each of the siblings, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. My cousin Norrie was in charge of the t-shirts and she did such a wonderful job!

Here's a picture of the back of the t-shirt. Just stop and imagine that all those names, all those people are alive and were there to celebrate the love of the two very serious people shown in the banner above. It's mind-boggling to me! I love the quote on the shirt, "FAMILY, like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one"

My mother's favorite color is red, so of course when they asked us what color we wanted our t-shirts to be we chose RED!

Here's my mom in her red shirt. She was a little under the weather. She was just getting over the flu and the long car trip really wore her out, but she's a trooper!

And here's my sister and I in our red shirts and from the Prieto family who wore blue are my cousins Ramon, Rhonda and Nick. 

And I could go on and on and on sharing photos. We have photos of the egg toss, the pinata, the 3-legged race, the dancing, the food, white elephant game, dance offs, biscocho baking contest. It was a never-ending festival of fun and family and I am so glad to belong to this wonderful family!

I'll leave you with this last photo of the surviving siblings. There are only three of them that were able to attend. Their sister Maria unfortunately wasn't able to make the trip and she was greatly missed. 


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side?

This post was inspired by Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman. After being kicked out of her widow support group for being too young, Becky creates her own support group with an unusual twist. Join From Left to Write on February 14 as we discuss Saturday Night Widows. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

     I have to admit here and now that I got just a few pages into this book when inspiration hit me and I wrote a great post. I even wrote in the first paragraph of the post that I hoped when the time came I would have the guts to post it. 

     Unfortunately, I am a gutless wonder and I cannot post the first post I did! Well maybe I'm not gutless, but it is too personal and the personal stuff in the post is not about me. I have no problem being honest about the things that have happened to me in my life, but the story I told in that post was not my story. Well part of it was, but part of it wasn't. Have I totally confused you yet?

     So here I am. The most powerful thing that I was inspired by this book to write I can't share here.

     I guess what I will do is post a twist on the original story. I'll tell you how I think that we as women are never satisfied. Why do I think that? Let me explain.

     In the preface, the main character, Becky Aikman (also the author as this is her personal memoir) writes about how she was kicked out of her Widows Support Group on her first night in attendance. She details why she is attending and describes the setting and the room and the other woman who are there (they are all much older than she is), as well as Jonathan, the social worker who is leading the group. She writes about her feelings as Jonathan drones on for an hour telling them the 5 stages of grief and letting them know that their feelings of sadness, regret, grief, insomnia and depression are all normal.

     The last half hour of the meeting is a meet and greet, each person in the circle is invited to introduce themselves and explain how their husbands had died. The first lady spoke about the horror of her husbands illness, the pain and bed pans and how now no one understood her and they all expected her to be fine. From there it seemed to Becky that each lady was one-upping the other one and each horror story was worse than the one previous.

     When it's Becky's turn she tries to be a little more upbeat. She explains that her husband had died a year ago from a rare cancer and that he had managed to live for four and a half years with chemo and surgeries but that the last few years the cancer had spread to his brain, which made it all that much harder. But then she says, "What I want now, what I want to say is...well, I want to cheer up! Something awful happened to him, and to me, but I don't want to live in some kind of purgatory for the rest of my days because of it. I want to be happy again, don't you?"

     She looks around, hoping for support but doesn't see it in any of the faces staring blankly back at her. One of the widows begins to speak in a dignified tone and says, "I'm seventy-five years old. My husband and I had fifty wonderful years together. Now I feel like my life is over. But that young woman over there", here she points at Becky and continues saying, "she has it all! Her whole life is ahead of her! And I...I have nothing", then she breaks down into tears.

     The group begins ministering to the older woman and murmuring comforting words and shooting daggers with their eyes at poor Becky for upsetting this poor old woman and for still having her youth and her whole life ahead of her.

     Becky is thinking to herself, " Whoa, hold on babe! Fifty wonderful years might have been nice!"

    And at that point in the book, I new what I wanted to write about. But I can't share it, so I am going to put a twist on it and tell you about why women are never satisfied. So this story is about my sister and I versus my mother and my sister-in-law (SIL).

    See...my mom and my SIL are stay at home mom's and wives. They never had to work outside of the home. My sister and I have always worked, staying home just as long as our employers and disability would allow.

     Quite a few times in my life, during the growing up years of my children who are now 27 and 32; I would hear from both my mom and my SIL about how lucky my sister and I were to work outside the home. Say what??? How do you figure that? My mom and SIL would say that we were lucky because we got to get up in the morning and fix our hair and wear makeup and put on pretty office clothing and heels and nice jewelry and go to the office and actually socialize with people and go to lunch with the girls and general just be a part of society. 

     And my sister and I would look at each other and say, "We're the lucky ones?" You two get to stay home and play with your kids and clean your house and have a nice dinner waiting when your family gets home. You get to go to your kids school and help out in the classroom and bake cupcakes and do your laundry at your leisure. You get to stay home and not have to worry about doing your hair and putting on stinking makeup everyday and you can wear your pajama pants and flip flops and not worry about panty hose and callouses and corns on your poor little feet!"

     It was kind of a running battle between the four of us. A friendly battle but still...

     So that is why I think that women are never satisfied, those at home want to be at work, those at work want to be at home. We can never find the happy medium. Now at my advanced age of 54 I realize that I couldn't stay home now, I would be so bored! But I would have loved to stay home when my kids were little, to have walked them to school and helped out at their schools and be home when they came home instead of having them go to the sitter.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

To think that I shall never eat another M and M...

It makes me sad to know
That I shall never eat
Another M and M
That preciously sweet treat.


     There, that’s my poem for the day! You didn't know I was a poet now did you? A sweet lament to the fact that there are so many sweet treats that I can no longer enjoy.

     Imagine knowing that for the rest of your life you can never have another M and M, Butterfinger bar, Skittles, Pixy Stix, Licorice Whips…ahhhh. And don’t even get me started on ice cream and cookies and cake..Oh MY!

     See, I know that my body does not process carbohydrates well. I’ve blogged about it before here and again here! But do I listen to myself when I blog these things? No! I don’t know why I don’t listen to myself when I totally expect everyone else to listen to me!

     Once upon a time, almost two years ago, I began eating healthier and exercising and riding my stationary bike every morning for 7 miles and every evening for another 7 miles, I was even contemplating training for a 5K Run. I lost almost 30 lbs and felt great.

     Then for one reason or another I slowly began slacking and eating a few things here and there that I shouldn’t, like the M and M and chips and salsa…oh and Cheetos too! Of course that meant that slowly the weight started coming back on, but always in the back of my mind I told myself “Don’t worry, you will be good again tomorrow.” But of course we all know that I don’t really listen to myself so that little voice did me no good at all.

     Well now, it’s not my own little voice telling me “Hey dumb-dumb, stop and listen to yourself!”, nope…now it’s a bigger, scarier more important voice telling me that. It’s the voice of my doctor who told me yesterday at the appointment to go over the results of my recent physical that I need to STOP!! My cholesterol is too high, my blood sugar is too high, my weight is too high…everything is too high except my salary! (But that’s another story for another day!)

     So she threatened me. She gave me two months to get myself under control or else she was going to have to prescribe medication to lower the cholesterol and she was going to have to put in my “permanent record” that I am now officially a diabetic. I remember in grade school and high school how fervently I guarded my permanent record!! And now to have it threatened in such a way…oh the agony.

     So if I am going to be healthy and happy and look cute in dresses again. If I am going to make my doctor happy and keep her from ruining my pristine “permanent record”, I am going to have to check myself and realize that I am not 21 years old anymore. I can't eat whatever I want, I do have to get off that couch and become more physical and I have to do it now as I only have two months to turn this pumpkin into a Princess...I know, I know, in Cinderella the pumpkin turns into a carriage, but I want to be a Princess!

     So I'm going to go back to eating low-carb and high-protein and I'm going to start exercising again and getting up earlier each morning to ride my bike. And maybe, just maybe, someday...when I reach my goal weight and I no longer have the threat of having my "permanent record" destroyed forever...I just might sneak an M and M or two or three...who knows.

     I actually began eating healthier and exercising on January 3rd, unbeknownst to my doctor. I've lost eight pounds but then had my little bout with Sciatica and I gained back two. But recently I found this awesome recipe that I want to share with you. Even if you aren't dieting, this dish is to die for! Yummy, spicy, addicting ..that's why it's called Crack-Slaw, it's as addicting as crack.

     So help me out. What do you eat that's healthy?