Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Low Carb Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

Fall - best season of the year (in my humble opinion).   And best flavor? Pumpkin !  I love pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin cheesecakes...all so smooth, creamy and perfectly spiced.  But I also love smoothies.  So why not make a pumpkin spice one?

There are a few variations you can go with in this recipe.  If you have some sugar-free vanilla syrup handy then don't add the extract and sweetener but instead add enough syrup to taste.   If you want, throw in a tablespoon of full-fat cream cheese.   Like added protein? Then a scoop of vanilla whey works great in this recipe too.   Want to make it even grander? Top it with a spiral of whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Have fun with it but above all else, ENJOY IT!



1/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/4 cup heavy cream 

3/4 cup water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract and 2 packs of sweetener of choice ( sticking with only those that have zero carb impact)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup ice


Blend all ingredients thoroughly in your blender - you will need a blender that can crush ice

Also linked up here:

My 4th week in low-carb mode !

Its been a few day since my last post mostly because I have nothing that new to report.  All is moving along incredibly well and surprisingly simple. I am now mid-week into my 4th week of low carbing. I have not added many changes to my diet other than almond flour (recipe below). I have yet to add back any fruit (when I do it will be low GI berries) nor have I added nuts outside of the flour and a tablespoon of peanut butter once  day.  I have kept my cheese portions low too.  Maybe 1-2oz a day at most.  I usually eat 2 eggs a day be it boiled, fried, scrambled or one that is part of the one minute muffin recipe.  I LOVE, and I mean LOVE, the low-carb chocolate peanut butter smoothie. I usually have one a day either as a snack or as a meal.  I am also now ready to test out a pumpkin spice smoothie too (stay tuned for the recipe is all goes well)  but have to pick up some vanilla protein powder first.

Initially I thought it would be very challenging to eat with family and watch then enjoying mashed potatoes, rice, bread.  But the truth is, it is not hard at all. I have absolutely no desire to eat any of those things.  Instead I will have a large side-salad instead of a high-starch carb.  I top it with bacon bits, cheese, avocado, diced tomato... and of course, a lovely creamy dressing.  I love Ranch but Caesar is amazing too.   I will then have a protein (red or white meat. I don't eat fish because I simply don't like the taste) and then a low-carb steamed veggie (broccoli, green beans, asparagus).

If I am hungry in the evening I either enjoy a chocolate cake (see recipe below) or pepperoni and cheese (a little antipasto plate I have come to love!).  Sometimes I just relax with a warm and heaven-sent Pumpkin Spice Latte.  But what amazes me most is that I am simply not that hungry at all.  Protein really keeps me energized and full.  I don't find myself constantly in the kitchen rooting for food the way I did in the past.  I also don't have a mind consumed with food - what to eat, what calories are in what, what to have for breaky, lunch, dinner.  I just eat when I am hungry and ensure I have the proper ingredients on hand to have what I feel like eating at that time.  My pantry, freezer and refrigerator are well-stocked now for this low-carb lifestyle.  I am not close to being bored with my selections because I switch things around a lot with ingredients. It makes the world of difference

Have I been to Starbucks (my old haunt that I would visit nearly every 2nd day and partake in some kind of sweet coffee concoction) ?  Yup, once to get some ground beans and hubby had a cafe mocha. Did I indulge? did I even try to have a sip? Nope, had no urge to do so and walked out of there without a second glance.

I have no weight loss to report this week yet because I have yet to get on the scale in the AM. But have no fear, those details will be uploaded soon.

Before I forget, one other big update:  4 weeks - NO MIGRAINE !

What areas need more focus?  Drinking water.  Not coffee, not tea but WATER!  So for this wk my goal is to down at least 6 glasses per day.

Baking has been moving along well too.  I have managed to continue to bake sweets and upload some new recipes to Lemon Drop without any need to indulge.  I love my taste-testing family :)

I have also developed a new love for the 1 minute muffin after many tweaks to the original recipe.  I have taken it and turned it into what could easily pass for carb-laden chocolate cake !  I will upload a pic the next time I make one. But for now, here's the recipe

So for a superb sweet treat try this:



1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon dark chocolate cocoa powder
dash of ground cinnamon
2 packets of your preferred sweetener (I use splenda)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 


IN SMALL BOWL, use a fork to combine first 5 ingredients
IN SEPARATE SMALL BOWL, whisk together butter, egg and vanilla
COMBINE all ingredients and stir with fork until thoroughly blended
SPRAY a small ramekin with cooking spray and spoon batter into ramekin
MICROWAVE on high for 1 minute

REMOVE from ramekin.
SERVE as-is or with some low-carb sweetened whipped cream.



Exercise : 
  • Thurs, Sept 15/11:  20 minutes rebounding, weighted upper and lower body workout
  • Friday, Sept 16/11:  30 minute interval kick-boxing session
  • Saturday, Sept 17/11: 20 minutes rebounding, weighted upper and lower body workout
  • Sunday, Sept 18/11:  1 hour trail walk
  • Monday, Sept 19/11: 20 minutes rebounding, weighted upper and lower body workout
  • Tuesday, Sept  20/11:  DAY OFF

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Packaged Muffin Mix Review and a Super Chili Recipe !

Well last night I tested another packaged mix -  New Hope Mills Orange and Cranberry muffins.  I cannot give it an A+.   Maybe a B.   Why?  Though the texture was nice and they rose beautifully during baking time,  the taste wasn't top-notch.  They were too sweet for my liking but not just sweet, almost sickeningly sweet ; that taste of artificial sweetener.   And they truly lacked in flavor.  Though they claim to be orange cranberry I could barely taste either flavors.  Word of advice?  If you buy these,  add 1/2 tsp of pure orange extract to the batter.  That should bring them up a notch or two

Now all that said,  these are great for only having 2 Net Carbs per muffin.   And I am sure they would be better when smeared with butter or cream cheese while still warm from the oven.  I had my plain because I wanted to taste only the muffin to give it a fair rating.

Ingredients: Wheat gluten, cornstarch, milk protein (casein protein, whey protein) freeze dried cranberries, leavening (sodium aluminum phosphate, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate), salt, xanthan gum, natural flavor, sucralose.

Would I buy them again? Probably not.  I would rather bake my own at home with a combo of almond and coconut flour instead.

I do have another box though by the same manufacturer . These ones are blueberry but I will wait awhile before baking up a batch.  I will definitely post my review once I do .

Now on to my day yesterday, or rather, my supper.    I made an incredible low carb chili (without beans to keep those carbs low).   The bonus?  It cooks all day in the slow cooker and is ready when you are!  A word of advice:   when buying tomato sauce ensure you check the carb count.  Stick to plain sauce vs seasoned as that tends to go up in carbs because there is usually the addition of sugar.   Other than that, ENJOY !




 1 1/2 - 2 lbs of ground beef,  browned

2  10oz cans plain tomato sauce

1 small can fire roasted diced tomatoes (do not strain)

1/2 large onion diced

1 red pepper diced

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp basil

1/2 tsp pepper

2 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2-3 dashes hot sauce


Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook for 8 hrs on LOW.   Turn to HIGH.  Add 1 packet of sweetener (I used splenda) . Stir until combined and let cook 5 more minutes

 This serves 6-8 people


Exercise today Wed, Sept 14/11:  30 Minute Cardio and Kick Boxing

Linked up here:

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Can I really have an iced frappucinno?

I love frapps from Starbucks.  They are liquid dessert!  And have the carbs to go along with it.  The coffee shop variety is loaded with sugar.  But need I go without?  Not at all.  Thanks to Big Train's Blended Ice Vanilla Latte Mix.

It tastes just like the coffee shop version. No wait, let me correct that, it tastes BETTER.  So rich and frosty - heaven in a glass.

I was hesitant to order it online because I am so used to packaged drink blends like this promising far more than they ever deliver.   They are usually gritty and have a really awful after taste.  Not this one. The coffee flavor is perfect, the sweetness level just right and the texture is sublime.

One serving makes a 16oz ice latte which for me was just to large. So I simply halved the ingredients and had a perfect 8oz icy delight on my hand (and in my mouth) in minutes!

Here is a breakdown of the Nutritional Facts and Ingredients List

Nutrition Facts
Valeur Nutritive
Serving Size   1 Scoop

Servings Per Container   30

Calories   100 

Fat   3g
  Saturated Fat   0.5g
  Trans Fat   0g
Cholesterol   0mg
Sodium   115mg
Carbohydrates   19g
  Fibre   8g
  Polyols/Sugar Alcohols   9g
  Sugars   2g
Protein   3g

Ingredients: Erythritol (All natural), inulin (Natural extract of Chicory), coffee, sunflower oil, nonfat dry milk, calcium caseinate, carageenan, guar gum, salt, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavors, mono and diglycerides, dipotassium phosphate, sucralose.

NOTE: Remember, to calculate Net Grams you substract the fibre and the sugar alcohols.

Will I buy this again?  You betcha.  And I will also buy their other flavors too such as Blended Ice Mocha mix and Blended Iced Caramel Latte mix.

So if you are in the mood for a superb treat then I highly recommend you give this mix a try!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake

After a strenuous workout, nothing beats a protein shake but getting it low carb can be tricky. I cannot stand protein powder and water - BLECH - and milk is out. so here is a low carb chocolate peanut butter recipe that has all the taste of a milkshake without the milk and carbs ! I had this today after my weight routine and felt as if somehow I MUST be cheating !!!

Stick with natural peanut butter with no additives and especially no sugar.  If you are really keen, most health food stores now have an area set aside where you can make your own peanut butter.

The addition of cocoa powder really makes a big difference in this recipe.  The darker the better.  I use a strong, rich, dark cocoa powder. Try it, you won't regret it!

So let's get started.

In blender (that can crush ice) blend together all the following until smooth and frothy


- 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder
- 2 teaspoons dark chocolate unsweetened cocoa powder ( I use Cocoa Barry - Extra Brute)
- 2 tablespoons whipping cream
- 1 heaping tablespoon cream cheese
- 1 heaping tablespoon sugar-free, natural peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean extract or vanilla bean paste
- 2 packets sweetener (I use Splenda)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup ice

Amazing - tastes like baskin robbins dark chocolate and PB ice cream !

Linked here:

Food Reviews and Checking- In !

This morning was weigh-in day.  I have joined a low carb group challenge on Facebook and we weigh-in every Monday.  I was late weighing in last week by 2 days  (weighted in Wed) so today really isn't a full week as I have 2 days left to go.  All that said, I am down 2 lbs !  Fantastic!

Something dawned on me over the weekend:  that this just feels so right and so easy.  I have no cravings. NONE.  I feel great. Even with TOM fast approaching I don't have half the symptoms I usually do. Yes, I am bloated and a little moody but that is a relief compared to what I usually suffer.

Knock on wood, not one headache either.  Another superb PERK to this low carb diet.

Now before I get started on some packaged food reviews I wanted to share a little bit of my recent past with you.   Last year I went on a low-fat diet.  I had a trainer, a dietician...the works.  I recorded everything I ate staying at 1500 calories per day. I exercises regularly.  Did I lose weight?  No more than 1/2 lb per week.  That is PATHETIC.  I even had my metabolism tested and it was fine.  My thyroid:  Totally fine !   So nothing was physically wrong with me and there is no reason why the weight was coming off so slow.  And all those "professionals" had no answer at all.   Was I loosing inches? Yes, I was.  That was the good thing but clearly all the exercise was playing a bigger role than the diet.

Recording food intake be it in a journal, by calorie count or counting points (whatever requires me to calculate or record each bite that goes into my mouth!) is just not something I want to do. And I never want to do it again !  Back then, my entire day was consumed with thoughts about what I was eating.  Everything was so bloody rigid and I hated it.  I felt like I was putting in the effort and not reaping many rewards at all.   So what did I do?  I ended it all.  I had no intention of putting myself through all that anal retentive behavior any longer.

Then what did I do?  I read Women, Food and God.

Now anyone who has read Geneen Roth's book will be wondering how I could possibility find myself back on a "diet" after reading a book that states diets don't work.  Well for me, low carb isn't a diet. It is a way of life.  And I don't miss the carbs. I don't feel as if I am restricting myself by removing high carb foods. In fact, my body clearly loves this new way of living.  The no-migraine result speaks volumes.

What I did learn from Geneen's book is how to look deeper into our relationship with food;  that our belief in ourselves, in our lives and our view of spirituality all manifests itself in our eating habits.  Does she go on and on about God? No, she doesn't.  In fact she doesn't believe in God in a traditional way at all.  For me that made a lot of sense too.  It connected with my own belief system.  Her process is about self-reflection and tuning into your and your body.

She also has some guidelines to follow that really make a lot of sense:

1. Eat when you are hungry. (Truly hungry, body hungry not mind hungry)

2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.

3. Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspaper, books, intense or anxiety producing conversation and music.

4. Eat only what your body wants. (Big difference from what your MIND wants!)

5. Eat until you are satisfied. (This is different than full).

6. Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.

7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.
And when the urge to binge comes along ask yourself what it is you are trying to deaden, avoid or ignore.  The answers will come if you give it time.

I love her book(s).  In fact, I have read and re-read them now at least half a dozen times.  It is like a quiet , sacred and private place I can go to when I need that sense of peace and calm. It refocuses my attention and soothes me at the same time.  I am sure I will re-read it again before month's end.

Now on to the packaged food reviews.  Last week I ordered several items from The Low Carb Grocery and they arrived within days.   I will review 2 of the products I tried over this past weekend.  So let's get started

REVIEW # 1 - Big Train Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix

Nutrition Facts
Valeur Nutritive
Serving Size   1/4 Mix

Servings Per Container   about 9

Calories   90

Fat   0.5g
  Saturated Fat   0g
  Trans Fat   0g
Cholesterol   0mg
Sodium   300mg
Carbohydrates   12g
  Fibre   5g
  Sugars   0g
Protein   11g

All I can say is WOW!  Those these are not fluffy and thick but rather on the thin side, they taste phenomal.  Great texture (smooth not grainy) and a perfect buttermilk flavor.  So good in fact that my kids and my hubby ate them too and thought they were incredible.  One serving = 3 pancakes and about 7 Net carbs when you subtract the fiber.   These should be eaten in moderation to ensure steady weight loss and no stalls if on OWL.  The recipe makes 2 servings but I stored the remaining batter overnight in the fridge and
made the 3 extra pancakes the next morning.
No loss or change to taste or texture.  A+

REVIEW #2 -   Josephs Sugar Free Maple Pancake Syrup
0 Net Carbs!

Nutrition Facts
Valeur Nutritive
Serving Size   1/4 Cup

Servings Per Container   6

Calories   35

Fat   0g
Cholesterol   0mg
Sodium   30mg
Carbohydrates   9g
  Polyols/Sugar Alcohols   9g
Protein   0g

Ingredients: Water, Maltitol, All Natural Maple Flavor 

Thick, loaded with maple flavor and heaven on low carb pancakes. This one is a winner. No artificial taste and no weird after-taste.  I have tried other brands in the past but this is the best one to date. Remember that you subtract the Sugar Alcohols  (as this is sweetened with Maltitol) from the Total Carbs to get your net carb impact.  In this case the net carb impact is 0 ! A+

And on a final note, I picked up a new blender on the weekend. I was in dire need of something that could really crush ice for my protein shakes.  This one takes your ice cubes and smashes them into oblivion!  No weak motor or lame blades with this guy.  A+ for a great appliance.

So on that note, I bid you farewell for the day.  Stay tuned for further food product reviews, more check-ins, recipes and hopefully some inspiration for you as you live the low carb life along with me!

I have decided to start tracking exercise here too from Sun-Sun for my benefit really so I can look back during the week and see what I have accomplished.

Sun Sept 11/11  -  30 minute interval workout: Walk and Jog DVD, Leslie Sansone
Mon, Sept 12/11 -  upper and lower body weight routine,  20 min rebounding

Friday, 9 September 2011

The 1 Minute Muffin

Just popping in today for a quick status update and to share a recipe.

The end of my second week on low-carb is fast approaching.  How am I feeling?  GREAT!  No cravings, no headaches, and sleeping fairly well.  Am I hungry? Absolutely not.  In fact sometimes I have to remind myself to eat !

The only issue I am struggling with now is bloat thanks to this time in my cycle. But other than that all is moving along incredibly well. In fact, I have to say this all feels so easy. I just don't want to eat anything high carb.  The kids can munch on potato chips in front of me and I am fine.  Mike can indulge in a bowl of ice cream and I enjoy a tea.

Am I loving this so far?  You betcha!

Being a baker, I am also constantly researching low carb recipes.  One that I stumbled upon recently which , upon first glance, seemed horrid is in fact AMAZING.  It is the 1 minute muffin.  Recipes abound on the net for this low carb fave.  You can either make it on the sweet side or on the savory.  Play with your ingredients and see what you can come up with.

If you don't care for the spongy texture the flax meal tends to bring to this recipe then see my note at the bottom of this blog post for a great variation !

For me, with fall on its way,  I love the spice of gingerbread.  Nothing beats it.  So for breakfast today I decided to revamp the original 1 minute muffin recipe and turn it into a gingerbread muffin.  Was I successful?  I think so!   And it is incredibly good topped with cream cheese.

I cannot express to you how important flax seed is in your diet.  The nutrients and benefits are incredible.   Give this article a read for all the info:  Benefits of Flax Seed Meal

So without further ado,  here is the recipe for my version of  the Gingerbread 1 Minute Muffin


1/4 cup flaxseed meal ( I use Bob's Red Mill Golden Flax Seed Meal)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 - 2 packets Splenda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted


SPRAY a small ramekin with cooking spray
IN MEDIUM BOWL, whisk together first 6 ingredients
IN SEPARATE BOWL,  whisk together butter and egg ensuring they are completely combined
STIR wet ingredients into dry ingredients blending well
SPOON batter into ramekin
MICROWAVE for 1 minute, HIGH power
REMOVE from ramekin and enjoy !

You can also change up the recipe even more for a different consistency by replacing the 1/4 cup flax seed meal with 1/4 cup of almond flour.  Then add 2 tablespoons flax seed meal along with the other dry ingredients.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

An update and a recipe !

So it has been a few days since my last post and wanted to catch up on all that has gone on.

The low carb diet is going extremely well. I am down approx 4.5 lbs since I started eating the low carb way.  The other super bonus: no more cravings, fatigue or smashing headaches. I feel refreshed and energized.  And not one IBS flare !

Food-wise I struggled a bit to come up with ideas on what to eat as the menu I had was already getting monotonous. I have since created a low carb stirfry soy sauce, made amazing deviled eggs, and started eating BLTs without the bread - in fact a leaf of romaine lettuce does the trick quite nicely.  I also needed something sweet so sugar free jello topped with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream has become a new fave for me. Pumpkin seeds, in moderation, are also great.

Baking-wise, I have continued to bake my high carb treats for Lemon Drop but have not indulged - nope, not even once. And what I find myself doing as I bake is trying to figure out how to switch up the recipe to low carb.

I already revamped a Pumpkin Spice Latte which, if I do say so myself, rocks!
And I made gingerbread pancakes with coconut flour based on a recipe I found on a fellow low-carb bloggers site. These were amazing. In fact, I intend to make myself some today in fact.

As far as exercising goes, I have been doing great in that regard. I do my cardio/weight combo 3-4 times per week. Now that the evenings are getting cooler (hello Autumn!)I will be adding some evening walks into my regimen as well.

My goal is drop 30 lbs by the new year which averages out to about 2 lbs per week. Do I expect stalls? Absolutely but I also expect weeks where the scale will really shoot down too. I am hoping that this low carb diet will also help get rid of the water weight / bloat I struggle with constantly.

Speaking of perimenopause symptoms, I have noticed a dramatic reduction in the past wk regarding brain fog and migraines. The difference? I have not experienced either! This is pretty much unheard of for me so I am beyond pleased. The only day I had to take a pain reliever for a headache was day 2 of low carb eating due to sugar withdrawal. But other than that, nothing!   I started suffering from migraines about 2 yrs ago and they have gotten more frequent as the hormones hit roller-coaster mode.  In fact, in the past few months I was struggling with about 1 per week.  So I started doing some extra research and found that low carb diets are in fact used to treat migraines. Fascinating!! And it helps tremendously with perimenopause/menopause symptoms in general.

Lastly, I stumbled across this article - interesting read so thought I would share:

Before I sign off for today, I wanted to share a latte recipe with you all. It is low carb and simply superb! I found the original at Babble's: the family kitchen.  I just tweaked is slightly and voila, low carb heaven!


Pumpkin Spice Latte (Starbuck’s Copycat)


1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree
1 – 2 packets of splenda
2 tablespoons vanilla extract, yes tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1-4 shots espresso or very strong coffee (I double the amount of grounds I use per cup to get my strong coffee)


1. Brew your espresso or strong coffee. If brewing strong coffee, use double the amount of grounds you would in your regular coffee.
2. Combine cream, water, pumpkin, sugar, and pumpkin pie spices in a small saucepan. Heat until very hot, but do not boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Transfer to a blender or a milk frother and blend until frothy.
3. Pour 1 cup warm pumpkin milk mixture into coffee mug and add 1-4 coffee shots. Dust with more pumpkin pie spice if desired.


Weight loss status:  30/4.5/25.5   (original goal/weight lost/new goal)