Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sugar-Free Single-Serve Lemonade




I've been trying to stay away from artificial sweeteners. I gave them up when I was pregnant with my kids, which was really hard, because I gave up coffee too so that meant I had few options. But about six months after my second daughter was born, I decided to give up artificial sweeteners for good. Nothing good could really come from them I figured and they tasted awful, so really what was the point? Now and again, I'll drink something that is artificially sweetened and it tastes so terrible I wonder why I ever used it in the first place. I went through these sweetener stages:
    Source
  • Sugar. I experimented with using plain sugar in some things, but that just left me feeling inflamed and achy. 
  • Liquid Stevia. My first introduction happened to be with liquid stevia (365 brand from Whole Foods) and it was disgusting. Nasty. Bitter. Horrible. I hated it with a passion. Gross, I thought, this is no better than aspartame. Then I decided to try the liquid Sweetleaf brand (I actually won it in a blog giveaway!) and it was no better, if not worse.
  • Powdered Stevia. Still semi-desperate and not quite ready to give up, I tried the powder, NuNaturals White Stevia. Total winner. I loved it. I really couldn't tell the difference between this and sugar in most items. Smoothies tasted great, the flavors in hot cereal like oatmeal and cream of buckwheat were enhanced. When combined with other sweeteners like honey, coconut palm sugar and xylitol, baked goods tasted fantastic. 
If you're looking for a natural sweetener, I highly recommend NuNaturals Stevia. Stevia is a calorie-free herb and the stevia powder is just that herb ground up. The sweetness is extracted naturally and chemical-free.  In fact, I had a stevia plant in my herb garden until a rabbit decided to feast its jaws on it. This is my own opinion. I am not being paid to say this!

It was only natural that I try to sweeten lemonade with stevia. I was skeptical at first, but as with most things involving stevia, I as so pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted -- exactly like lemonade made with sugar!


I'm really the only one in the house who will drink *real* iced tea or lemonade, so making a big batch and storing it in the refrigerator doesn't make sense. It just taunts me every time I open the refrigerator, silently reminding me that if I don't drink it quickly enough I'll have to throw it out and for some reason that really bothers me. I hate throwing out food.

My mom made my lunch every day in school and I made sure I ate every single thing she gave me. If I was forced to throw something out (which was rare), I really felt so guilty. You would think I hail from the Depression era or something. But quite honestly, back in school, the guilt stemmed more from not wanting to take for granted the time she took to make my lunch. I felt I would hurt her feelings somehow if I didn't eat everything in my lunch. She certainly never indicated anything like this and in fact, she always said we should only eat until we felt full. We weren't a finish-your-plate kind of family. I don't even know if she knows I did this. Now, though, I hate throwing out food because I feel like I'm throwing money in the garbage.

Human beings are so complex.

So that's where the single-serve lemonade started. It's easy and so sweet and delicious on HOT days!

Sugar-Free Single-Serve Lemonade


Ingredients:

Lemons
Water
Nunaturals White Stevia

I have a juicer that holds the juiced liquid in its base. I think I purchased this from Walmart for close to $1. Basically, I just juice as many lemons as I feel like, whether it's one or 20.


I store the juice in the refrigerator and when I'm ready for some lemonade, I put some ice cubes in a glass and about 1 or 2 ounces of lemon juice in a glass.


I fill the glass with water and add a little bit of stevia (about 1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon) and mix. That's it. So easy. So delicious.





Nutrition Information For Recipe (Estimate): Calories 8; Total Fat 0g; Total Carb 4g; Fiber 0g; Sugars 1g; Protein 0g

This post has been linked to the following blog hops:









Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cucumber Quinoa Salad



Like most of the United States, it's been dreadfully hot here in the Midwest. On top of the heat, it hasn't rained in forever and the weather people are predicting no rain in the foreseeable future.  So much for our rain barrels.

The back of our house faces the southwest, so when afternoon hits the sun is blazing on the back of the house, heating it up like an oven. If we were more forward-thinking people, we would have solar panels installed. Needless to say, I hate turning on the oven. On the weekends, I make a big batch of quinoa so I can have cool, fresh salads all week long.

This is one of them and it takes like, uh, 3 minutes to make.

Cucumber Quinoa Salad


Ingredients:

1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of cooked quinoa
2 tablespoons chopped sweet onion
2 mini seedless cucumbers or 1/2 regular size, diced
Salt to taste

Directions:

Place the onions in a small bowl with the lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. (I really prefer this with apple cider vinegar, but others liked it with the lemon.)


Whisk in the oil.

In a separate bowl, mix together the quinoa and cucumbers. Pour the dressing over the mixture and season with salt.


A painless {heatless} yummy lunch.





Nutrition Information For Recipe: Calories 411; Total Fat 18g; Total Carb 55.3g; Fiber 5g; Sugars 3g; Protein 11g

This post has been linked to the following blog hops:


Sunday, July 8, 2012

iPhone Sunday Scenes

Breakfast

Mid-Bike Ride

Pre-Farmer's Market

My New Favorite

Lunch

New Project

Wish List

Post-Farmer's Market



Monday, July 2, 2012

Lower-Sugar Berry Trifle




We went to a BBQ over the weekend and since it was so close to Independence Day, I had to make a patriotic-themed dessert. Trifles aren't exactly out-of-the-ordinary desserts, but this trifle is gluten-free and lower-in-sugar than your normal trifle and features a lemon-infused cake made from almond flour and syrupy sweet roasted berries.

It's the perfect make and go recipe. I made it the day before the BBQ and layered it all in this traveling trifle dish. It's a light and refreshing dessert that can truly be served all year round, but is quite spectacular with fresh berries that are so naturally sweet when in season in the summer.


I really love summer and all of its fruitful bounty. Sometimes I wish that we could have fresh and sweet fruit all year round, but then we probably wouldn't savor it as much as we do in the summer. I
 
It's not just berries either. I came downstairs last night and my husband was sitting on the couch with two bowls balancing on his legs eating cherries. He spit a pit out and announced, "I just ate four nectarines. And now I'm eating cherries."

Very Berry Trifle






Makes About 24 1/2-Cup Servings

For the Cake Layer:

3/4 cup honey
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups almond flour

For the Berry Layer:

2 pints blueberries, washed
2 pints strawberries, washed and quartered
2 tablespoons sugar

For the Cream Layer:

1/3 cup powdered sugar
8 ounce 1/3-less fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup heavy cream

Directions:

For the Cake Layer:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with oil. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Whisk well. Add the baking powder and the almond flour. Mix to combine. Pour into the greased cake pan.


Bake in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until the top turns golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.


Allow to cool completely.

For the Berry Layer:

Meanwhile, keep the oven at 350 degrees. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, add 1 pint of blueberries and 1 pint of quartered strawberries.


Add the sugar and mix well with your hands on the baking sheet.


Roast for 30 minutes or until the berries are soft and syrupy. Remove from the oven and cool.

For the Cream Layer:

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the cream cheese and sugar. With the mixer on low, slowly add the heavy cream. Turn the mixer to medium high and whisk until frothy and light, like a soft whipped cream.

To Assemble:

Add half of the remaining pint of chopped strawberries and half of the pint of blueberries to the roasted berries. Mix well.


Crumble the cake and line the bottom of your bowl with 1/3 of your cake. Dollop and spread 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture. Spoon 1/3 of the berries over the cream cheese mixture. Repeat twice ending with the roasted berries. (If your dish is bigger and lower, only do two layers instead of three. There really is no wrong way to layer a trifle. Just don't add meat to it like Rachel did on Friends.)


Top with the remaining fresh berries.


Cover and refrigerate until serving time!






Nutrition Information Per Serving (1/2 Cup): Calories 206; Total Fat 13g; Total Carb 21g; Fiber 3g; Sugars 17g; Protein 5g

This post has been linked to the following blog hops:















Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Scenes

Pre-BBQ Bike Ride
Storm Damage En Route to BBQ
Bathing Beauty #1
Bathing Beauty #2
HOT!
Too HOT!
Think They Meant H20 Cool?
Bubbles
And More Bubbles
My Dinner
Tigger's Dinner
Father
And Daughter
What's This?
I'll Show You How It's Done!
Hello Kitty is Always Invited
Dessert -- Coming to Blog Near You!

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