Archive for August, 2013

Cheater Pickle Experiments

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

I love pickles, especially sweet, spicy, cheap pickles.   I like making pickles and relishes, but mostly stick to refrigerator, freezer, and cheater pickles because they’re cheap, easy, and fast.  And they’re perfect for small batch experiments.

A cheater pickle is a pickle made from a pickle.   One popular recipe calls for draining a can of generic, super-cheap dill pickle slices, pouring off the liquid and tossing the drained pickles with sugar - lots of sugar, and then returning the pickles to the jar (you don’t reuse the original brine, as the sugar and pickles create a syrup).  You can use the same process for pickled jalapeno slices.

I tried substituting Splenda for the sugar, with poor results.  The peppers were quite tasty, but had shriveled up and lost all crunch (some pickled jalapenos have no crunch to begin with).

Last night, I decided to try something new.  I drained the jalapenos (reserving the liquid) and tossed the pepper slices with dried minced garlic, which I then returned to the jar.

Into the reserved brine, I added a full packet of  Apple flavored sugar free drink mix.  I used the Walmart brand (which is like apple juice flavor, not the jolly rancher green apple like Crystal Light’s Appletini).

I will experiment with other flavors, if these turn out well (check out youtube videos for KoolAid pickles, which were my inspiration).

I used apple, because it seemed like the least odd, like using apple cider vinegar and sugar in a conventional pickle recipe.

I’ll taste test in a few days, and let you know how it went.

Update (after 24 hours in the fridge): I was relieved to see that no shriveling occurred.  I tasted the peppers, and found the texture unchanged (they weren’t any more or less crunchy than they started).  The flavor was good (and I’m sure will get better).  I’m not sure whether the sweetness level is right, but I can’t decide if they need to be less sweet or more sweet.

The apple flavor is more intense than with apple cider vinegar, which is a bit strange at first.  I think they’d be very delicious on a sandwich or topping for crackers and cream cheese.

Why The Simple Diet, Why Meal Replacements.

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

When I’m feeling good, I love to cook.  I love to taste as I cook, and eat again when it’s done.

A semi-paleo exchange plan works pretty well, when I’m feeling good.

However, I don’t always feel good.  I have a multitude of health issues, and much of the year (Midwinter through early Spring and Midsummer especially) I feel cruddy more often than not.

When I feel cruddy, I don’t want to cook, but I do want to eat.  Boy! Do I want to eat… carbs, carbs, and more carbs (with fat and salt on top).

David Kessler’s book, The End of Overeating, taught me why.  The fat, sugar, salt combo is a euphoric - part opiate and part stimulant, a perfect storm of pain reliever, mood elevator, stimulant, antidepressant, and sedative.

I found that carbs took the edge off arthritis, fibromyalgia, and menstrual pain much faster than tylenol or prescription pain medication.  They didn’t suppress the pain as well, but they had the advantage of working almost immediately (and gave me something to do, waiting for the pharmaceuticals to kick in).

On bad days, I don’t like to cook, measure, track, or count my food (I don’t always want to do so on good days, either, but on good days I can usually suck it up and do it anyway).

On bad days, craving carbs (for medicinal purposes only - well primarily…. ok, partially) and not wanting to cook or count, I nibble.  All freakin’ day.

Even paleo nibbles like jerky, fruit, nuts… add up very quickly.  And I don’t always stick to paleo nibbles, because hubby’s carb stash (hubby doesn’t eat paleo) of carby snacks starts looking pretty good to me.  Maybe just a little, and then a little more.  I can’t heeeeelp it, I’m tired and booooooored (and whiny like a 6 year old with an earache).

So, what does any of this have to do with meal replacements or “The Simple Diet” (based on the book by J.W. Anderson and N.J. Gustafson)?

Well, I ran across talk of this book on the 3fatchicks.com website several months (maybe almost a year) ago, and I didn’t think much of it.  Pretty much a poor man’s HMR or Nutrisystem:  shakes, soups, puddings, bars plus fruits and vegetables.

Lots of processed foods, “Not my thing,” I thought.

Then I gained 35 of the 109 I had struggled eight years to lose.  It felt like three years wasted, and I feared it would take three years to catch up.

I reread “The Simple Diet,” and the meal replacement and prepackaged meal forums on 3FC.  Maybe this was a strategy worth considering.

So here I am, using “The Simple Diet.” On good days, if I feel like cooking, I’ll make a recipe that fits the book’s guidelines and if I make extra, I’ll divide the leftovers into containers to freeze.  I’ll make high protein yogurt (made with nonfat milk and whey protein isolate) about once a month.  I work on recipes that will be easy for hubby or I to throw together in minutes.

I also buy frozen dinners, soups and protein bars, because I don’t always have time to make my own.

The Simple Diet isn’t a perfect solution, but it is a simple one, and simple is what I need right now, and the results have been good so far.  In six weeks, I’ve lot 20 of the 35 lbs I gained (2 years ahead of schedule).

The speed of loss is encouraging, I haven’t lost this rapidly in more than fifteen years.  Maybe the gain was mostly water retention, or maybe I’m finding it easier to stay on plan, because the plan really is so much simpler.

Only time will tell, but the experiment has gotten off to a promising start.

Dreamsicle Shake

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

1/2 cup light vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt (80 -100 calories)

20g whey protein isolate, microfiltered (70 calories, 18g protein)

3/4 cup frozen strawberries (about 50 calories)

Diet orange soda or water (about 1/2 cup more or less depending on how thick you want your shake)

1/2 single serve packet orange drink mix (such as Crystal Light), or to taste

200 calories (or 1 shake and 1 fruit on “The Simple Diet”)

Blend all ingredients in personal or standard size blender.

For an even more decadent treat, shave a small amount of dark chocolate before blending.  I allow myself one square of Dove dark chocolate Promises per day.  One individually wrapped square contains 42 calories, and I find half a square perfect for one shake.  If your blender has a strong motor you can put the whole (or half) square of chocolate in, but I use a paring knife to shave the chocolate into my Sonoma Kucina personal blender cup.