Your key to using Stevia

earl grey tea(bag) cookies

Why stevia?

This natural, no-cal sweetener from the leaf of the stevia plant is incredibly good for you. Unlike sugar, it doesn’t create an insulin response. Its sterols and antioxidants actually nourish the pancreas, the organ that regulates blood sugar.

Sugar addicts can enjoy foods sweetened with stevia without suffering all the negative effects of sugar. Risk of chronic diseases caused by too much sugar in our food, like diabetes, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, and obesity, can be reduced by using stevia to lower our sugar consumption.

coffee foam

Taste

Don’t expect stevia to taste exactly like sugar. Pure stevia extracts are 300-400 times sweeter than ordinary table sugar. A little goes a long way. Used properly, stevia sweetens food nicely. It takes the sourness out of lemons and yogurt and the bitterness from coffee. The taste is lighter and fresher than the same food sweetened with sugar, which can be cloying.

Every sweetener has its own unique taste. Honey tastes different than maple syrup. Agava syrup tastes different than brown sugar. Coconut palm sugar tastes different than corn syrup. And all these sweeteners taste quite different than ordinary table sugar. But none of these sweeteners are calorie-free or nonglycemic. Stevia is both.

Stevia

Pure stevia extract is in the small round jars, top left. All the others contain additives.

What stevia product should you buy?

Read the label. Buy a powdered product that is 100 percent pure stevia extract. Stevia powders sold in combination with fillers have diminished health properties and can cause digestive problems in some people.

Truvia is one such product, where the stevia is combined with erythritol, a sugar alcohol made from corn. You might also see stevia combined with maltodextrin, inulin, xylitol, and glycerin. These additives are included to prevent clumping, to adjust the taste closer to that of table sugar, and to lower the cost. But all this comes at a cost to your health. Pure is best.

If you only use a little stevia, to sweeten your coffee or a bowl of yogurt, for example, liquid stevia is way more convenient. Again, read the label and buy an alcohol-free, pure liquid stevia.Or make your own liquid stevia, like I do.

100% Stevia – no sugar or other additives

Using stevia

In Canada, I buy New Roots stevia white powder concentrate and I use it to make my own home-made pure liquid stevia sweetener. It’s much cheaper.

Baking  When making desserts, always add the powdered stevia to the liquid ingredients in the recipe and give it time to dissolve, as it tends to clump. Be patient. It dissolves quickly. Also, it dissolves quicker in hot liquids than cold ones.

Stevia works well with chocolate and in puddings and custards.

In recipes that need a crystalline structure to rise properly, like angel cake, souffles, or meringues, you have to use a combination of granulated sugar and stevia. Experiment with your favorite recipes to get it right. These might not be worth the effort.

Stevia-sweetened apple yogurt bowl

Snacks  My favorite snack is what I call my yogurt bowl. I buy 0% Greek plain yogurt, for more protein and less saturated animal fats. Then I add fruit and nuts, and perhaps some cinnamon or vanilla. I finish with home-made liquid stevia made from powdered concentrate to sweeten it all up. So good!

Beverages  For sweetening single cupfuls of tea, coffee, and cocktails, where only a small amount of stevia is needed, I use home-made liquid stevia made from the powdered concentrate. You can buy the liquid extract, but making your own from the powder is cheaper.

DSCN9997

Home-made liquid stevia
Makes 1/2 cup, enough to sweeten 24-36 cups of coffee

  • 1/4 teaspoon stevia white powder concentrate from New Roots
  • 1/2 cup boiling water (filtered or distilled, preferably)
  1. Pour the boiling water on the powder in a small heat-proof bowl.
  2. Gently stir until the powder dissolves. It clumps in the water initially but it quickly dissolves. Within a minute or so you have a colorless solution.
  3. With a funnel, pour it into a small dropper-style, dark-brown, glass bottle. Store the excess in a second dark-brown glass bottle. I found mine at the pharmacy and washed them well before using. Refrigerate or store in a cool place, away from light for longer shelf-life.

Stevia

I find that with time the liquid stevia gets cloudy. It doesn’t affect the taste. Just shake it well before using. But if you don’t use it often, you may want to make it up in smaller quantities. If you have enough patience to divide a 1/4 teaspoon in half, you can cut my  recipe in half.

Adjusting the amount

Too much stevia can change the taste from sweet to metallic. You have to learn for yourself how much is just right. Choose a brand you like and experiment with your favorite recipes. Keep notes and readjust the next time. Or buy my brand and follow my guidelines. Then adjust to your own taste from there. Believe me, if you like sweet foods it is so worth the effort.

Single servings

For single servings of coffee, tea, lemonade, or cocktails, it’s easy to adjust the sweetness to the level you like best.

Start with half a dropper of home-made liquid stevia in your usual cup of coffee. Taste, and if you want it sweeter, add more, one drop at a time. Taste after each addition, until the taste is right. Too much, and the drink tastes bitter.

I’ve found that I like about 1/4 teaspoon of my home-made liquid stevia in my espresso coffee. But to each his own. This technique works for any single-serving beverage.

Sugar equivalents

Most traditional recipes are too sweet for my taste. Normally, I reduce the  sugar to half the amount called for. Then I use the following stevia substitutions:

Sugar           Stevia powdered concentrate         Home-made liquid stevia

1 cup                                       1/2 teaspoon                                       1/4 cup

1 tablespoon                         –                                                              3/4 teaspoon

1 teaspoon                            –                                                               1/4 teaspoon

Accuracy when measuring stevia is important. Over-fill the measuring spoon, then use a knife to smooth the top of the powder, pushing the excess back into the bottle. For small quantities, use the liquid option.

Experiment with each recipe to find your own sweet spot, as each recipe (and taster) is different.

Enter “stevia” into my search box to find some recipes where I’ve used stevia successfully (and one NOT so successfully).

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Banana ice cream desserts two ways

Strawberry banana ice cream

A nutritional bonanza from our friendly banana

This dessert is so good, people call it Nice Cream. The riper the banana, the sweeter the dessert.

Ripe bananas also have higher levels of antioxidants, which as any frequent reader of Vinny’s blog will know, fight chronic disease and inflammation.

One interesting thing about fully ripened bananas is that they also produce a substance called tumor necrosis factor (TNF).  TNF combats abnormal cells to help shrink cancer tumors.  The more dark patches a banana has, the higher its ability to fight this dastardly disease. If you are a diabetic, fruit contains significant amounts of natural sugar and you have to watch your portion size.

Banana ice cream is the perfect way to use your over-ripe bananas. Cut three ripe bananas in coins and freeze them in a sealable plastic baggie overnight or until you need them. When you feel the urge for something sweet, whip up one of these delicious desserts in no time.

Banana ice cream, two ways
Each recipe makes 2 cups or four 1/2-cup servings

Strawberry banana ice cream

Raspberry banana ice cream with a strawberry on top

Very berry ice cream

  • 3 bananas, cut in coins and frozen
  • ½ cup frozen raspberries (frozen strawberries or blueberries work well, too)
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Strawberry banana ice cream

Store your banana ice cream in plastic food containers with lids.

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour contents into a 2- or 3-cup plastic food container with lid.
  3. Freeze one hour or until solid.
  4. Spoon into a bowl and add toppings if you want, like fresh berries, dark chocolate curls, or chopped nuts. Avoid adding syrups or candy to keep the added sugar down.

Per serving: 107 Cal, 14 grams natural sugar, 3 grams fiber, 2 grams protein, 0.4 grams fat

Chocolate banana icecream

Chocolate banana ice cream with peanut butter.

Chocolate peanut butter cup

  • 3 bananas, cut in coins and frozen
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour contents into a 2- or 3-cup plastic food container with lid.
  3. Freeze one hour or until solid.
  4. Spoon into a bowl and add toppings if you want, like fresh berries, dark chocolate curls, chopped nuts, or chopped dry fruit.

Per serving: 157 Cal, 20 grams natural sugar, 4 grams fiber, 3.8 grams fat

Chocolate banana icecream

Recipe notes

I froze my ice cream for 4 hours before trying it. It was solid but still easily spoonable. If yours gets too hard to spoon, leave it on the counter for 10 minutes first.

The recipe calls for milk, and I usually use skim. But you can use soy or almond milk, and anywhere from 2% cow’s or goat’s milk to whipping cream. Even chocolate milk would be nice in the chocolate desserts. That’s what I used here. The flavor and texture varies with the milk you use.

I avoid high-fat milk products because I can’t afford the calories and I’m leery of saturated animal fats. Use whatever milk you normally like and go from there.

There are no added sweeteners in these recipes.  I think you’ll find the ripe bananas provide all the sweetness you need. But if your family likes it sweeter, try adding stevia. It works well in these kinds of desserts. Add the equivalent of a tablespoon of sugar and go from there.

But do try it without sweetener first. Avoiding extra sugar is the one best thing you can do for your family’s health. You’ll be surprised how good it is. I know I was.

How does it taste?

I loved the flavors of both desserts. I was surprised how chocolaty the chocolate peanut butter cup was. The texture reminds me of fruit sorbets rather than rich ice creams. But that might change if you were to try yours with whipping cream instead of skim milk. The younger set in our family gave both flavors an unqualified high five.

Chocolate banana icecream

Simple desserts are sometimes the best.

Cleaning silver, easily, once and for all

Gourmet dinner - red theme

Setting a nice table

I like to set a pretty table, especially for family celebrations. It adds to the festivities and sets off all the hard work in the kitchen. I have some silverware I inherited from my mother, which I love but rarely use. That’s because whenever I go to use it, I discover it has tarnished. Black silver tends to spoil the presentation.
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French toast sandwiches

Serving and eating French toast sandwiches

March madness!!!

March in Ontario has us all looking forward to spring. And along with that comes a welcome school break – a whole week of free time!

Let’s help Mom and Dad survive March madness by getting creative. We’ll make them lunch!

Start with a loaf of fresh whole-grain bread. Add eggs, low-fat milk and some nice seasonings. Then fill with fruit or low-sugar jams,  and cheese or nut butter. Use any combination of fruit and protein fillings your heart desires. Sweeten your sandwich with a touch of mineral-rich maple syrup, a time-tested spring tonic offered up by our Canadian forests. And you have a lunch anybody would definitely come home for.

Kids, put on your chef hats and get to work on this easy recipe. And remember to clean up afterwards, perhaps while singing about peanut butter. All recipes should be this simple!

French taost sandwiches ingredients.  Bread soaked in egg&milk.

I soaked my bread in egg, milk, and seasonings in this Pyrex bowl.

French toast sandwiches with apples and gouda
Makes two

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1  apple, sliced (MacIntosh or other good baking apple is best. My Granny Smith was good, but remained a little crunchy after baking.)
  • 3 ounces cheese (brie, gorgonzola, mild cheddar, gouda, goat cheese or whatever kind you like)
  • 1 tablespoon oil (coconut or canola), flavored with a dab of butter

As you can see, I made  just one sandwich, so I cut amounts  in half.
If your frying pan won’t hold two sandwiches lying flat in a single layer
(like mine doesn’t),  fry the bottoms of your sandwiches one at a time.
Transfer them to a second, larger pan for the oven portion of the cooking and continue from there.

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Whisk the eggs with the milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a shallow bowl.
  3. Soak 4 slices of bread in the egg mixture, turning once, until all the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Slice the cheese thinly and core and slice the apples. See TIP  (below) for slicing apples easily.
  5. In an oven-safe skillet big enough to hold two sandwiches, melt a dab of butter with the oil over medium heat.
  6. Cook two slices of bread in the oil until golden on the bottom.
  7. Layer the frying bread slices with the cheese, then cover the cheese evenly with the apples.
  8. Cover the two filled slices with a second slice of eggy bread.
  9. Flip the sandwiches and move the pan into the oven, preheated to 350F.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the bottoms are golden.
  11. Remove and serve with a drizzle of maple syrup, if you want.

Variations

Try smearing one of the  slices in your sandwich with nut butter and soak the other side in the egg mixture. Top the nut butter with banana slices or even pear or papaya slices if you want to be more original. Then finish your sandwich as described above.

Experiment with different kinds of bread – try sourdough, croissants (you can get whole wheat ones, these days), or even a fresh rye.

Sweeten the egg mixture with liquid stevia and omit the syrup topping. This option would appeal to folks who want to eliminate added sugar in their meal plans. It’s what I did. The sandwich tasted amazing. Avoiding added sugar lowers the glycemic index of your lunch. It’s especially important for people who want to avoid chronic diseases, like diabetes or fatty liver. Or enjoy your sandwich with only its natural sweetness.

Apple-slicing tips

  • Cut your apple in half with stem end up and slice downwards to the bottom.
  • With flat side down, cut each of the halves in half again, along the core.
  • Take each quarter and angle your knife from the bottom of the core to dead centre (see picture).
  • Then twist and press upwards on the knife. The core pops out easily, without breaking the piece in half. Don’t try this from the stem end, or the segment will break.
  • Finally, cut each quarter into thin slices, about 2 mm wide.
  • Any slices left over after filling your sandwich make nice plate decorations.
  • Check out an earlier post for info on apple nutrition.

Serving and eating French toast sandwiches

Any way you slice it, have an amazing March break. Let Vinny know here all the amazing things you are doing (and eating) over your week away from school.

Oregano tea is good for what ails you

 

origanum_aureum

Oregano grows like crazy in my garden. I use it as an ornamental ground cover. Then I discovered you can make a tea from it that is useful in curing sore, bothersome throats. Since that is what I have, I’ve given this drink a shot. I love herbal teas and this is a pleasant one. Only time will tell as to whether it heals my sore throat.

Basildon Park, Downton Abbey - tea time

Tea is always in fashion. Why not gives yours a little extra punch?

Oregano Tea
One serving

  • 4-6 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon organic raw honey
  1. Cut the leaves to release the oil.
  2. Boil the water on the stove for 10 minutes.
  3. Add oregano leaves and allow to steep for five minutes.
  4. Strain and add the honey.
  5. Drink while hot to reap its maximum benefits.

Nutrition

Macbeth’s trio of witches likely used oregano in their many brews. Oregano has been around for thousands of years, popular in cooking and medicine.

Its potent antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties are said to be effective against respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract infections and even against dangerous microorganisms like Listeria and MRSA. Its very high concentrations of antioxidants have recently been reported in the Journal of Nutrition.

I don’t want to overwhelm you with details, but ongoing studies are continuing to verify the usefulness of oregano in treating a whole range of problems from diabetes 2 and  cancer to dandruff and acne. Read this link to learn more. You will be amazed.

Always consult your doctor before trying things out on a serious ailment. But many believe a drop or two of oregano oil or a handful of its fresh leaves can be good for whatever ails you. Pip pip!

Oregano oil and kids

Use caution when using herbals on kids. Children under 5 years old shouldn’t have oregano oil by mouth. You can rub some oil on the soles of their feet, though. For further information, read this article, then talk to your doctor.

earl grey tea(bag) cookies

Green tea biscuits enhance your cuppa oregano tea 🙂

New recipe for a delicious miso soup

Miso soup

Readers will know how much I’ve been struggling with miso. It’s been a challenge finding flavor combinations that compliment a miso soup base and are both healthy and delicious. But I think I’ve now got something that works for me. The health benefits of miso are worth the effort. Maybe you should give this a try? More

Apple Brown Betty Cake

Apple Brown Betty

Vinny suspected something was amiss when he began to smell a decidedly strong odor of apples, wafting from the cupboard whenever he opened the door. He pulled out his brand new bag of apples for inspection. Alas, three of the apples were  already beginning to, well, rot. Out they went into the compost. But what to do with all the rest? More

Making miso soup tastier

Miso soup

Another attempt at creating a delicious miso soup

Vinny and I have a lot in common. I’ve heard that kids often need to taste a food 10 times before they learn to like it. That’s me to a T with miso. More

Easy miso soup

Miso's Christmas toy

Miso’s Christmas toy

“Here, Miso,” called Vinny, holding out his hand to his fluffy caramel kitten, who gladly came over for a gentle rub behind the ears.

“Why did you call him Miso,” Isla asked as she threw a small toy mouse for the kitten to chase.

“I suppose it was because I like Asian food,” said Vinny, “and this little guy is the exact same color as miso, a food used in Asian cooking. More

Cook Up A Story for the Holidays

Cook Up A Story - craft fair

I enjoyed participating in a few holiday craft sales this year, showing off my book Cook Up A Story. I met many wonderful people who bought up most of my stock and all of my aprons and chef hats.

I only have a few copies left. In Canadian dollars I can offer a better price than that at the Blurb Book store, which quotes American dollars. Because of the current exchange rate,  Canadian prices are lower than those quoted on Blurb Bookstore on-line. And conversely prices are 33% lower yet if you are paying in US dollars. As of Dec 17, I’m down to my last three copies: More

Easy peanut butter cookies

Will makes peanut butter cookies - just 3 ingredients

Recipes from labels

Vinny and I had the greatest time at the cottage this summer. One of the things we did was experiment with recipes on the labels of foods we brought with us.

“Let’s try peanut butter cookies,” said Will, studying the label on the jar of one of his favorite foods. “There’s only three ingredients. And we have them all!” More

Holiday Open House, Sun Nov 27, 1-4pm

IMG_9356

‘Tis the season, whether we like it or not. I personally love it! So much fun getting together with old friends, sharing some sparkly, sampling baking made at special times of the year, remembering happy days from years past… and meeting new neighbors! I even love the whole shopping thing, searching out little baubles to put under the tree and surprising the people I love.

That’s why I happily agreed to help my daughter Kristina host an open house at her place this year to launch the holiday season. More

Five foods to cure a sore throat

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Despite what the Internet says, forget about tequila as a cure for a sore throat. Snopes says it’s wishful thinking.

If you want to boost your immune system and speed recovery from a sore throat, cough, or sinus congestion, think instead about honey, vinegar, green tea, sea salt  and fiery spices. More

Dorothy’s amazing tomato salad

tomato

Vinny pays homage to the tomato

Vinny has been remiss! That means he’s made a big mistake, has been careless, or both. For although he has featured tomatoes in many posts, especially those where he is extolling the virtues of a bunch of super foods, he’s never devoted a post solely to these delicious vegetables… er, fruits, actually. More

Moroccan chicken stew

moroccan-chicken2

Vinny’s summer vacation

Summer is in the air and Vinny and I are heading for the great outdoors. That means you won’t likely be hearing from us here again till September rolls around.

We leave you with a one-pot dinner idea that you can make for a crowd over the summer. More

Yoda soda summer punch bowl

Punch bowl

May the fourth be with you!

Enjoy a replay of a recipe we posted a few years back for a summertime drink that’s as good for you as it tastes. Fresh lime juice gives this cooler its Yoda color, and sparkling water adds the bubbles. For a gourmet touch, add some lime sorbet.

Click here for the recipe.

Vinny’s on Yum Goggle

Ile de Re: Fish market

Vinny’s been updating older posts recently and putting them up on Yum Goggle. Yum Goggle features food photography from contributors around the world. The photos whet your appetite for the recipes you can get simply by clicking on the pictures or the words GET THE RECIPE. It’s a great site and we’re proud to be a part of the team. More

Healthier Happy Birthday cake-pie

Chocolate cream pie with figs

It’s Sharon’s birthday today, so Vinny brings you a rich, chocolatey tart with no  flour in the filling, that you can stick candles in and sing happy birthday around, merrily. With this dessert, you can enjoy a slice and know that along with your birthday calories, you are also getting a decent helping of nutrition. More

Rhubarb and Ginger Fool for April 1st

jp_april_fools_840x473

What is an April Fool?

The only surprise I was treated to on April Fool’s Day was Alex Trebek, walking onto his game show set without his pants! I did, however, write this post for you on April 1st, which should entitle me to name my fruit pudding recipe April Fool. It’s a tasty British fruit “Fool,” in the traditional sense.

More

Shrimp gumbo rocks the year of the pulse

Shrimp gumbo with ancho chile spice rub

Year of the pulse…

In honor of this versatile food group, we present a dish starring beans, lentils and dried peas. We served our spicy shrimp gumbo as the opening course for our Spanish tapas gourmet dinner this year. But it works well in larger amounts as a main course, too. More

Vinegar, a great recipe for daily life

carafe vinegar

Carafe of white vinegar

My favorite use for vinegar is to make my own vinaigrette. No surprise! I’ve posted several versions over the years, as salad is now one of my favorite lunches.

But vinegar is good for so many things other than preserving or flavoring food. Here are five of my favorite nonfood uses for vinegar. More

Drink Agua de Valencia for some Spanish sparkle

Spanish tapas dinner party

Spanish tapas dinner party

It’s that wonderful time of year when we host our annual gourmet dinner, which has been going on for a very long time now. We never get tired of trying out new recipes for our friends.

This year we chose a Spanish tapas theme, with the hope that we could prepare many of the dishes ahead of time and just enjoy ourselves on the evening.

To welcome our guests, we served a cocktail originating from Valencia, where oranges reign supreme. More

Celebrate Pi day with this easy chocolate cake — only 3.14-ingredients

Pi day cake

A cake suitable for Pi day, photo by Tip Junkie

The story behind Pi day

Normally, I’d choose a pie to celebrate the math constant π (Pi = 3.14159…) on its special day, which is coming upon us soon. Scientists the world over will likely be tucking into a delicious slice of one, perhaps a banana cream or pecan pie, More

Heart-smart sweet potato pancakes for your valentine

 Luv U... B mine?

Luv U… B mine?

Here’s a terrific treat for the family on a day that celebrates all things close to the heart. It’s terrific because this valentine doesn’t involve candy, but it tastes wonderful, anyway.

My mystery delight involves sweet potatoes. They release their sugar gently, taking their time, so you don’t suffer from sugar spikes associated with refined white sugar that is added to most sweets.

I published this 4 years ago with all the good news about sweet potatoes. But I’ve since updated the photos and made the recipe even easier (there as well as here).

sweet potato pancakes

Light and fluffy!

Heart-y sweet potato pancakes
Serves 2 or 3

  • 3/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes (1 medium potato boiled until fork tender, then peeled, mashed, and measured)
  • 1/4 cup flour (whole grain if possible)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs (omega-3 if possible)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons liquid oil (coconut, if possible)
  1. Boil your sweet potato until fork tender. Then peel, mash, and measure. Use 1/4 cup mashed potato per egg, for each person. My recipe serves 3 people from 1 potato.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk and canola oil. Of course you can use any kind of eggs, milk or oil…. but on a day we are celebrating love, I think we should be as kind to our hearts as we can be with these healthy ingredients.
  4. Whisk the sweet potato puree into the liquid ingredients. Then stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until they are just blended.

Cooking and Presentation

  1. To follow through with hearts on Valentine’s Day, spray a large nonstick or cast-iron frying pan with oil and add a dab of butter for flavor. Heat the pan on medium heat until oil sizzles a bit.
  2. Fill the pan with 1/4-cup scoops of batter. I had room for 3 or 4 at a time. When bubbles rise to the surface of the pancakes, lift a corner and check the underside. When golden brown, flip the cake over, using a spatula. After a minute or three, once the second side is golden as well, flip the cake onto a wooden cutting board.
  3.  Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, turn each pancake into a love-note for your sweetie. I presented these golden treats with a splash of maple syrup and some berries on the side.

 

Sweet potato

Hey, sweet patootie, I yam keen on you! B mine?

 “You are berry cute,” I said. “I think we’re cut out for each other!”

Whipped goat cream, a tart cheese treat

Whipped goat cheese

Whipped goat cream

Once upon a time I came across a recipe that called for whipped goat cheese. So I took my basket and headed to the grocery store, where I eventually found a small tub of the stuff at three times the cost of regular, ordinary, every-day goat cheese.

When I finally had a minute to spare I sat down and examined the label. The ingredients were goat cheese and water… and a few chemicals. It seemed I’d bought a processed food fortified with who knows what. And I thought: why can’t I make that myself – and leave out the chemicals?

Why indeed. It’s so simple, I didn’t even need a food processor. I got great results with nothing but a spoon and a bowl.

Whipped goat cheese

Goat cheese and lemon – so easy to whip up

Whipped goat cream
Makes approx 1 1/4 cups or 20 tablespoons

  • 1 cup (150 grams) goat cheese, at room temperature (mine comes in a tube)
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt from 2% goat’s milk (I make my own… You don’t? OK, use natural Greek-style yogurt instead)
  • freshly squeezed juice and finely grated zest from half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Stevia* to taste (0 calories) or 1 teaspoon honey
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons hot water, or as needed to achieve desired consistency
  1. Combine goat cheese, yogurt, sweetener,  lemon juice and zest into a bowl.
  2. Cream them together with a wide spoon until smooth, adding 1-2 tablespoons of hot water, as needed, to get a light creamy consistency. Add more if you like it runnier, as for a dip perhaps.
  3. Season to taste with a little sea salt.

*This is a great recipe in which to experiment with Stevia, because it sweetens while enhancing the lemon flavor. It works better than sugar.

DSCN3931_edited

Pear taquitos with whipped goat cream

How to serve goat cream

This works great in the recipe I mentioned off the top, for pear taquitos. I make it often for special occasions, and it is always a success.

Whipped goat cheese

Whipped goat cream goes well with fruit and today I enjoyed it with sliced apple.

Use it as a low-sugar icing on cupcakes or tarts. Whipped goat cream adds moistness and tang to any chocolate, lemon, or banana treat.

Thin it out a bit more and use it as a veggie dip for carrots or turnip sticks.

Whipped goat cheese

Whipped goat cream works as a spread on crackers. I like it with Triscuits (20 calories each) but if you like bagels or toast, I’m sure it would be delicious there as a spread.

Nutrition

One tablespoon of whipped goat cream has 21 calories. It has equal amounts of fat and protein, about 1.5 grams each.

Whipped goat cream is a low-carb food, only 0.3 grams (if you use stevia to sweeten).

This food is a good source of vitamin A, niacin, riboflavin and iron.

By the way, you can reduce the amount of fat per tablespoon by adding more water. This is how manufacturers make low-fat butter and mayo. Now, you can make them too and save some money. They charge more for products with less fat because of the processing cost.

 

Pear and leek bake

Pear and leek bake (crustless quiche)

A crustless quiche with a difference

Vinny’s blogged about pearsleeks, and goat cheese before. But here they team up to give you something a bit different. Sweet and savory meld to make an unusual main course for lunch or a spectacular beginning to a fancy dinner. And except for the chopping, it’s easy! More

Gollum’s easy baked fish and green “seaweed” chili

Gollum's oven-baked haddock with bacon

Gollum’s oven-baked haddock with bacon

Gollum

This small, slimy hobbit lived on an island in the centre of an underground lake, in the story The Lord of the Rings. He was endowed with magic that extended his life well past the time when he should have left the building.

Gollum thought his staying power was due to a ring that he called My Precious. But I think  his regular meals of cave fish and seaweed was the most likely reason for his amazing, long life. More

Crab dip is tops in sustainable fish dishes

Crab is a safe bet

Crab is a safe bet

Everybody loves fish for its lean protein and its omega-3s that do wonders  for our brains. But these days our poor heads are so bombarded with info on which fish are facing extinction or which types are loaded with deadly mercury that we are almost afraid to try any fish at all.

I’m here to tell you though that plain steamed crab meat is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. More

Red Perogies for Christmas

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Sweet potato perogies are red inside and out

Christmas Perogies

It’s Christmas time again by golly, ’tis the season to be jolly!

It’s also the season to make our Christmas perogies. This week we got right at it. More

Zoë’s Perfect Christmas Borscht

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Borscht at Christmas

Continuing with my holiday plan this year, I bring you again a favorite family recipe we always make at Christmas, in one form or another. Festive, traditional and delicious, here’s the version we made last year, which we’ve christened: Zoë‘s borscht.  Merry Christmas, one and all!

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Candied nuts love coconut palm sugar

Candied nuts with coconut sugar

Crunchy sweet nuts are great for dressing up salads, cheese platters, and desserts at Christmas and for other special occasions. Plus, they’re easy!

Kids love to make them. Make lots and keep them on hand to use whenever you want some pizzazz. More

Chutney-style cranberry sauce wows your company

cranberry sauce

An essential, whenever you roast a turkey

This post might at first glance appear a tad, well, boring. There’s no story nor any songs to sing as you cook. All there is, is one simple but tasty and traditional recipe, done up in bows and boasting less sugar and more pizzazz than you get in the canned kinds from the store. This could be a recipe staple for your family’s celebrations. More

Cloud eggs send salads to seventh heaven

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Egg clouds crown your salads.

This is an easy and impressive dish if you prepare all your ingredients ahead and save making the eggs till the end.

I saw these clouds while surfing for egg dishes and meringues last week. Then I discovered that Rachael Ray herself had copied my take on this idea (haha).

Although most people might like to serve egg clouds for breakfast, my spin involves crowning a lunch-time salad with them. More

Adela’s Norwegian meatballs, WHO style

Adela's Norwegian meatballs

Traditional cooking, with a healthier outlook

The WHO’s stand on meat

The World Health Organization (WHO) has just sent shock waves through the earth’s stratosphere. What they said was something that anybody who has been following nutrition news in the past few years already knew.

WHO news:  Processed meats cause cancer. And red meats probably cause cancer.

But unless you are genetically predisposed to the disease, the increased risk according to most experts is relatively low. Nevertheless, it’s real. More

Meringue ghosts hone egg-cracking skills

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Here’s another easy recipe for small fingers. Kids learn how to separate eggs. Then they can make up these cute, tasty little Halloween ghosts and marvel at the mysteries of food chemistry.

Use eggs at room temperature for frothiest results. Or put eggs from fridge into warm water for 5 minutes or so to warm them up. More

1,2,3-Ingredient brownies with low-sugar, nutty spread

3-ingredient brownies

Low-sugar brownies have a secret ingredient

Kids, get your aprons on. We’re going to whip up some brownies that are as good for the body as they are for the soul. Including time to wash up the dishes, these treats should take no more than a half hour away from your Minecraft play time. More

The berry scary pie

Berry pie

“That’s scary!” Isla declared, her wide eyes shifting from the cooking pot to the finished product. I knew Halloween had been on her mind, now only a couple of weeks away.

“How so?” I asked. More

A hogbake from Redwall Abbey… and a little kale magic

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Crispy egg ‘N onion hogbake

This recipe, inspired by the Redwall Cookbook for kids, has nothing to do with pigs. For the life of me, I can’t come up with a reason that explains why they named it a hogbake. Perhaps it’s a typo, and they meant to call it a henbake.

Regardless, I loved its simple healthy ingredients. More

Help Mr. Pancreas do his job – try low-sugar cookie-candy

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Nuts and fruit slow down the release of glucose into the blood.

Sugar’s role in our health

Sugar is Will’s favorite food group.

“Maybe you can cut back on the sugary things, once in a while,” Vinny suggests.

“Sugar is in everything!” Will proclaims. “It gives us energy!”

“That’s true,” Vinny agrees. “What I don’t like, though, is when we add sugar to our food, over and above what nature puts there. Have you heard about your pancreas?” More

Chocolate-and-pear tart for Marie-Laure

Saint Malo

Saint Malo

A blind orphan threads her way through the streets of Saint Malo at the end of the World War II, with a fresh-baked loaf under her arm. Her name is Marie-Laure and dry bread is all she will have to eat for several days… .

Hidden in the loaf are coordinates destined for the Allied Forces, pin-pointing where the Nazis are headquartered in the town, where their supplies are stored, where their ammunition is kept. Marie-Laure’s uncle radios this vital information across the airwaves on a powerful set hidden in their attic. More

Cookie-candy: Will’s first original recipe

Will's cookie candy i8s great with milk to calm those pesky sugar spikes

Will’s cookie-candy is great with milk, which calms those pesky sugar spikes.

What’s your favorite sugary thing, Vinny?” Isla asked me one day at the cottage.

“That’s a tough one, Honey,” I said, scratching my head. “I try not to cook with sugar, remember?”

“Sugar’s in everything!” Isla’s brother Will said. “It gives us ENERGY,” he proclaimed, pumping the air with his fist.

“True,” said Vinny. “Sugar is the molecule the body breaks down to make energy. What I try to avoid is adding refined sugar. Too much of it does us damage.”

But sugar is Will’s favorite food group. More

Wilted warm seafood salad

Salad days... wilted in the heat

Salad days… wilted in the heat

“I’m wilting,” said Vinny as he plopped down in a lounger under the Japanese lilac. “Ottawa broke a 123-year-old record today when we scored a temperature of 34C.”

Will flapped his shirt, trying in vain to make a breeze for himself. “Ya, I’m WILL-ting, too. It feels like a steam bath out here. Let’s cool off with the hose.”

“Except I’m hungry,” said Vinny.  I’m going to whip up a warm salad first, with a little spice to heat it up even more.”

“That sounds crazy,” said Will. “Why would you want to make a warm salad when we’re boiling out here?” More

Spotted puddink, an old favorite of British school kids

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Vinny’s “skinny” Spotted Puddink

Get the kids together and make a “skinny” version of Spotted Dick, a traditional English steamed pudding. Cook up Harry Potter’s favorite dessert at Hogwarts just in time for the new school year and make some magic happen! More

Lighten up with lavender blue lemonade

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Lavender distillate

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly
Rosemary’s green
I’ll be your king dilly dilly
If you’ll be my queen…

Relax with lavender and this pretty little song from England, dating back at least 300 years. Originally this ditty was not for kids. Early words made it more a bawdy or drinking song for the purposes of wooing a lady into bed. More

Food heroes that fight cancer

5 foods tht fight cancer

Foods that are known cancer fighters

Berries, walnuts, garlic, tomatoes and tea. What do they have in common? They are all proven cancer fighters!

They work best as members of a team. For best health, join them up on your plate with other battle-scarred food heroes of the likes that are cited in this valuable article from the American Institute for Cancer Research.

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Canada Day’s Chicken Sandwich, 2015

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For 23 years now, Ottawa has been serving up a chicken sandwich on the Hill to hungry Canadians who want a freshly barbecued healthy snack to get them through the day’s festivities. This year’s version features an herb-infused honey-Dijon sauce to take it to the next level. More

Lazy-boy’s basic risotto

Easy no-stir risotto

Easy no-stir risotto

This risotto’s easy!

Or is it? What’s easy for me may be hard for you. You might not have the equipment to make quick work of the tasks. Your kitchen may require too much walking, lifting, and reaching. Or you may not have had enough practice…  the first time around is always hard. Finally, you may not realize that dirt and food are never best friends. In fact, the combo is darn-right dangerous. So you can’t ignore the sink and shun the dish cloth. Accept cleaning up as a basic part of the art, or you’ll never enjoy cooking. And there’s more… More

Ms. Manners makes easy work of cheaters’ lemony cheese cake

Cheat on your diet with this lo-sugar lemony cheese cake!

Cheat on your diet with this lo-sugar lemony cheese cake!

“That Mr. Crank is such a witch,” complained Vinny, about his neighbor. “He spends his days dreaming up ways to make my life miserable.” More

Stop, Thief! Leafless Mango Salad with Ginger and Garlic Dressing

Mango salad

“I love mangoes,” Isla said one day. “Can we grow some?”

Vinny sighed. “Not here in Canada, kiddo. Mango trees thrive in India, where people call mangoes the Food of the Gods. Mango trees live long and prosper there. Some specimens are over 300 years old and still going strong.”

Isla put on her sad face. More

Making sweet potato fries in the oven – perfect every time

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Sweet potato fries, perfect in the oven

Sweet Patooty’s back! I raved about the fab qualities of sweet potatoes in an earlier post. But I’ve never posted a recipe for my favorite of all ways of having them… oven-baked fries. That’s because I never felt I’d gotten it quite right. But now, I think I can confidently tell you how to make these beauties come out delicious every time… crispy, not soggy, and definitely not burnt! More

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