High & Mighty Brownie Cookies

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Ever thought to put veggies and beans into brownie mix and then turn them into cookies? Wait, that’s not what you think about as you lie in bed at night? Oh. Well, I’ve taken on the age-old question and attempted an answer: How do we make brownies a complete meal? Announcing the High & Mighty Brownie Cookie. High in nutrients, mighty in taste and energy. And while I still serve them for dessert, they can certainly pass for a side dish or maybe even a main squeeze…

High & Mighty Brownie Cookies
Makes 48

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained & rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups cooked beans)
Large handful kale, about 2 cups chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (the canned type)
1 box brownie mix
1/2 cup coconut flour, almond meal, or cashew meal

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Blend or food process beans, kale, and pumpkin into a smooth, olive green glop (probably not wise to taste-test this…).

Stir glop together with brownie mix and coconut flour (or almond or cashew meal).

With slightly wet hands, form into 1 1/2-inch round balls (slightly smaller than golf balls) and drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart.

Press down gently with a fork in a criss-cross fashion.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and chow down!

Nutrition Information Per Cookie: 74 calories, 1 g fat, 36 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 11 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 1 g protein, 21% vitamin A, 3% iron.

Now you (or at least I) can rest soundly. Cheers to chocolate! xo

Full of Plants, Free of Gluten

Baby Carotene

Baby Carotene

Hello healthy herbivores! What’s the word?!? I have been happily sucked into MOMLAND for the last couple months. It’s a pretty place where you put your feet up, drench yourself in life’s miracles, and sip organic green smoothies out of martini glasses. Actually, it’s more like Legoland. Bright lights, fast moving humans, and too many colors to count. Too bad it’s not vegetables whizzing by! Or is it?

Not only do we have an amazing new being in our brood (a little girl, born at 8.1 lbs in early May), but life for the other 3 kids hasn’t stopped, nor has the Vitamix! But now I am back, and I am full-on gluten-free-fabulous.

When the new baby was born, I read a neat article about a new study that had just been published in the journal Diabetes: Could a Maternal Gluten-Free Diet Protect Protect Offspring Against Type 1 Diabetes? I read it while sipping tea and quickly inhaling my very last piece of whole wheat peanut butter toast. Sure, the study was done in mice, but when you have 1 child with type 1, even a study done with mice is motivating. Plus, with a few pesky baby weight pounds to dissolve, perhaps GF is a grand idea anyway. Bring it, Stuart Little!

So as I ventured into GF land, I realized most GF snack foods, breads, and muffin mixes are high-calorie, low-fiber, and rich in eggs, oils, and dairy (not so good for the squishy tubular mid-section of which I’m trying to bid adieu). And EXPENSIVE! Am I supposed to diaper the new baby with the GF Flour Mix packaging? Better idea anyway, I’m sticking with a GF plan that skips the processed goods and highlights the whole ones, and am on a mission to make a high-fiber, plant-hearty GF sandwich bread (read on). This mission may take the remainder of my life on earth.

My day at the moment:

First thing:
Huge glass water, then coffee with coconut creamer (I do love me a cup ‘a joe!) while nursing baby
Exercise:
2 mile hilly run/walk, 100 crunches, 50 sit-ups, 20 push-ups, 30 squats, 600 beads of sweat pouring down face
Breakfast:
Green smoothie: 1 scoop Plantfusion vanilla, 2 c dino kale, 1 c frozen fruit, 1 banana, water
Snack:
KIND bar, apple, OR peanut butter on corn thins
Lunch:
Huge green salad with lots of veggies and beans w olive oil-lemon-salt dressing, 2 pc dark chocolate
Snack:
Veggies, hummus, Brown rice cakes (2, 3, 4…), TJ’s Roasted Seaweed or TJ’s Kale Chips
Dinner:
Stir-fry veggies with tempeh or tofu, OR overloaded veggie burrito fixin’s piled on 2 corn tortillas
2 pc dark chocolate
Bedtime snack:
2 chilled sliced apples topped with cinnamon

For baking, I’ve been substituting GF all-purpose flour blend for regular flour and things have come out well. Until I tried my hand at a healthy, vegan GF sandwich bread, modeled after this one (except using King Arthur’s multipurpose GF flour and flax instead of chia). Mine was edible, and bordering on tasty if you like dense, heavy bread. Yum! I mean, HELP!!

Hugs to plants,
Jen

GF Vegan Sandwich Bread, Take 1

GF Vegan Sandwich Bread, Take 1

 

4 Year-Old Tests His Own Blood Sugar

Type 1 folks and type 1 fans! I thought you’d appreciate a video of my son Jake who just turned 4 and just started testing his own blood sugar. What an inspiration!

Sweet Potato Mashup: A Thanksgiving Must

Sweet Potato Mash

Sweet Potato Mashup

Hate to admit it, but sweet potato mush is the one thing I continue to pass at the Thanksgiving feast. Even with its beta-carotene-rich orange goodness, it just doesn’t tickle my tofu.

Until now.

Determined to one day fall in love with denture-friendly sweet potatoes (of course sweet potato fries have always been a favorite), and inspired by Kathy’s Famous Sweet Potato Mash, it has happened. I am in love with this sweet potato mush!

Sweet Potato Mashup
Makes 5-6 cups (about 10 ½-cup servings)

2 large sweet potatoes, baked or boiled
1 cup vidalia onion, chopped

1/3 cup garlic hummus
3-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh tangerine or orange juice
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
salt/pepper to taste


1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.

2. Mash well, but leaving some chunks.



3. Heat/reheat over the stovetop, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes. 

Nutrition info per serving: 68 calories, 2 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 3.5 g sugar, 2 g protein, 43% vitamin A, 3% iron

My version has fewer ingredients than Kathy’s, but please check hers out. Her photos are profesh and her ingredient combos (in this recipe and others) are uniquely gut-pleasing. I don’t know if it’s the garlic hummus, the fresh garlic, the raw onion, or the parsley, but this is definitely a must-try. Hello, Thanksgiving, and hello, orange taters!

Happy healthy holidays!

Upcycled Earrings: Not Edible!

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Wearing my earrings with my type 1 son Jake

Foodie Gang! I’m now making jewelry in the kitchen (no joke) from my diabetic son’s old diabetes supplies. They’re upcycled! A whole slew of earrings are done and I’m working on bracelets, necklaces, and more. Here’s a preview pic. If you’re interested, 100% of the profit (which is $9.50 of the $10 charge) goes to the JDRF.

Check out my Jake’s Jewelry page here for all the goods and details.

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Earrings made from old Accucheck glucometer chips

Thanksgiving with a Diabetic Child: Insulin Pumps & Carb Charts

Today is our first Thanksgiving with Jake (nearly 3 years-old) and his diabetes. We’re pretty psyched and THANKFUL for his new insulin pump (no more shots!). It’s not only awesome all around, but it’s definitely going to make today easier. He can have dinner, we’ll count the carbs he ate, dose him his insulin with the pump. And then an hour later, he can have dessert, we’ll count the carbs, and dose him with more insulin. When he was still getting shots (which he HATED, understandably!), he would’ve had to get 2 shots, and it was advised that you wait 2 hours between shots. The pump tells you how much insulin is “on board” so you can give insulin doses super close to eachother. Woo hoo!

Just to give you an idea of how meals go with a diabetic child — and the ultimate annual meal at that! — I’ve posted a link below (after the videos) to the chart I made to count Jake’s Thanksgiving meal carbs. No need for a Sudoku book to prevent Alzheimer’s in OUR house! We’ve got all the math and calculating exercises we need 3 or more times a day :)

Happy Thanksgiving and Carb Day, everyone!

Here is Jake *practicing” wearing his pump before we went “live” 3 weeks ago:

And here is our very first insulin “shot” we gave him with his pump (video also served as an instructional video for Jake’s caregivers):

And the chart (plus calculator and food scale) that will come in handy later today.

Jake’s Carb Chart for Thanksgiving

Product Review: Almond Milk with Added Protein

Ran into this Almond Plus single-serve almond milk by So Delicious at Whole Foods the other day and couldn’t resist the spontaneous purchase. Most non-dairy milks–except soymilk and to some degree oat milk–are devoid of protein, making them simply a great calcium and Vitamin D source, but a less-balanced addition to a meal. Ta da! So Delicious Inc. rocks the boat! Their new “Almond Plus” comes in Unsweetened (40 calories, 1 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein/ cup), Original (70 calories, 8 g carbs, 5 g protein), and Vanilla (70 calories, 8 g carbs, 5 g protein). Get it in the half-gallon or get the single-serve vanilla for lunches. The Vanilla is as you would expect: SO Delicious. And for the carb-conscious, it’s lower carb than skim milk and tastes like a milkshake. Magic! And btw, it has pea protein. That can only be good.

Look for it at your local Whole Foods Market or health food store. Bottom’s up!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!

As a child, 1982 was the year I yearned for a Chia Pet. I wanted the ram. I didn’t even know what a ram was, but I wanted it. It was the commercial that won my heart, with it’s catchy tune and fancy time-lapsed photography. Who knew that 30 years later, Dr. Oz’s team and even Nuts.com (one of my favorites) would be all over their nutritional benefits.

Chia seeds (‘chia’ is actually Mayan for “strength”)–which were used widely by the Mayans and Aztecs as early as 3500 BC to increase stamina and energy–are a SUPER superfood because they have a crazy high amount of nutrients for a crazy low amount of calories. And unlike chia’s friend the flax seed (also a Super), they don’t have to be ground to reap the benefits.

Chia seeds are high in:

  • Soluble fiber: the one responsible for lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, filling you up, and keeping you full for a scarily long amount of time. It absorbs 12 times its own weight in 5 minutes. Take THAT, “Grow Your Own Boyfriend“!
  • Calcium: 16% of your daily requirement per ounce (2 tablespoons), which is 3 times the amount you’ll get from dairy foods
  • Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s: Chia is a more concentrated source of skin- and heart-healthy essential fatty acids than salmon
  • Protein: 6 grams per ounce (2 tablespoons)–that’s similar to meat, but it’s a seed!

So how do you eat them? How DON’T you eat them is more the question! You can literally toss a tablespoon or two into anything. They’re tasteless and simply contribute a fun, crunchy texture to your food. Here, I added them to a dessert and a pina-colada-type smoothie with only positive feedback. Here are 40 more ideas. Chia Cheers!

Chia Blondie Ingredients

Chia Blondies
Makes 16 small squares or 9 large squares

1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 flaxseed meal
1/2 cup filtered water
1 15.5-ounce Trader Joe’s Blondie Bar Baking Mix (or other blondie or brownie mix that bakes in a 9″ X 9″ pan)
1/2 cup melted Earth Balance margarine
1 medium zucchini squash (green or yellow), shredded
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Soak chia seeds and flaxseed meal in water in a medium bowl for 5 minutes, until a thick gel forms.

Stir remaining ingredients into chia flax mixture until well mixed.

Spread mixture into a lightly greased 8- or 9-inch square or round baking pan.

Bake for 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Feel your cholesterol dissolving, one bite at a time.

Chia Blondies, made with green zucchini

Nutrition Info Per Small Square (1/16th of recipe): 178 calories, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 1.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 g monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 232 mg sodium, 39 mg potassium, 22.5 g carbohydrate, 3.2 g fiber, 13.3 g sugar, 2 g protein, 5% vitamin A, 1% vitamin C, 2% calcium, 6% iron.

Nutrition Info Per Large Square (1/9th of recipe): 317 calories, 15 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 2.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 2 g monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 412 mg sodium, 68 mg potassium, 40 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 23.5 g sugar, 4 g protein, 10% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 4% calcium, 10% iron.

What the critics said:
Bitchin’ Husband: “If I have a second, will my hair grow green?” (Ha ha, Funnyman)
6-Year-Old Daughter: “Two more please!”
4-Year-Old Son: “Mom! You never gave me dessert!” (Trying to get another)
2-Year-Old Son: “I not like this.” Two minutes later: “Why you eat my dessert?!?!”

Chia Colada

Chia Colada
Makes 3 1-cup servings

Chia seeds are rich in soluble fiber, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, & help to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, & promote heart health. Salud!

¼ cup chia seeds soaked in ½ cup filtered water for 5 minutes
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 banana
2 cups refrigerated coconut milk
(or 1 cup canned coconut milk plus 1 cup water)

Blend and do the hat dance.

Nutrition Info Per 1-cup Serving: 202 calories, 10 g total fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 20 g carbohydrate, 10 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 8 g protein, 11% vitamin A, 52% vitamin C, 15% calcium, 34% iron.

Easy-as-Pie Low Sugar Monkey Cake

Light, Fluffy, Rich, Lower Sugar!

Looking for a sweet dessert without the chemicals, weird artificial flavor taste, and without added sugar? Impossible! Forget it! Oh wait. Enter: Monkey Cake.

Sugar–with it’s highly inflammatory, blood sugar-spiking, acne-growing, and teeth-rotting attributes, combined with the fact that it doesn’t even do your laundry–has sent me on a dessert mission. A mission to create a lower sugar baked good that’s not only highly tolerable, but bordering on cravable. This one does it, especially if you’re part monkey. The sweetness comes from bananas and a touch of Truvia, a natural calorie-free sweetener from the stevia plant. The coconut oil–gaining new health praise–adds a subtle tropical kick. Give it a whirl–it’s easy as pie!

Money Cake (Low Sugar)
Makes 12 hunks
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

2 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup filtered water
3 Tablespoons Truvia Baking Blend (or other stevia leaf extract for baking)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, or vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (like Bob’s), or 2 1/2 cups brown rice flour (like Bob’s)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mash banana, water, and stevia together, and stir in oil and vanilla until well-mixed.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl. Combine flour mixture and cinnamon with wet mixture by stirring in gradually.

Pour mixture into a greased 9″ x 9″ square or 9″ round baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes, until top is golden brown. Let the cake cool before cutting.

Nutrition Info Per Hunk: 150 calories, 5 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 202 mg sodium, 24 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 3 g protein, 7% Iron.

The trick with using stevia baking blend in recipes is to substitute it at a 1:2 ratio for sugar. The stevia is sweeter and has a nasty aftertaste if overdone. The original version of this recipe called for 1/2 cup sugar (8 Tablespoons), and 3 Tablespoons of stevia baking blend does the trick without any nasty.

Even a Dietitian’s Child Gets Diabetes

Jake in the ER, Chowing down after his first insulin shot

Health Champs and Nutrition Superheroes,

My post today is a personal one. This past week, we found out that my 2 year-old son has type 1 diabetes (the need-insulin-shots-for-the-rest-of-his-life kind). Despite our uber healthy diet topping the charts with veggies, fruits, beans, and whole grains, an autoimmune response to a virus or reason unknown caused my littlest dude’s immune system to attack the insulin-producing cells of his pancreas. When this happens, insulin (which is like the key that unlocks cells’ doors to allow glucose to get in and do its job) can no longer be produced, leaving excessive glucose floating around the bloodstream. A normal body’s pancreas produces just enough insulin to deal with whatever carbohydrate is or isn’t eaten–no thought, shot, or pill needed. The glucose gets into the cells, blood sugars are stable, and none of it requires any extra effort.

As type 1 diabetes is hitting, however, and the insulin-producing cells are being destroyed, the body panics with the extra glucose floating around the bloodstream and reacts by pulling fluid from every store to try and eliminate the glucose through the urine. Dehydration and extreme thirst result. Those are the first signs. The next are usually lethargy and vomiting.

About 5 days before we discovered Jake’s diabetes, he had been asking for more water and urinating more. Not crazy amounts, we just had to change his diaper more often. He was getting over a cold, so of course he was thirstier. He even had a fever one night and I took him to the pediatrician first thing the following morning suspecting an ear infection. But nothing was wrong. Well, once Day 5 hit and he was still asking for “wa wa please” every several minutes (and his grandma also noticed he was cold and his skin looked a little thin), I asked the nurses at my work if they thought anything of his excessive thirst, and asked if I might borrow a glucometer to test his blood sugar levels, just to rule out diabetes. They had seen this before and were worried. They encouraged me to postpone my patients for the day and go home to test his blood sugar, and then I could return if all was well.

His blood sugar level was 560 and then retested at 549. Normal is 100-200 for a 2 year-old. Obviously, it was a faulty machine. I tested MY levels: 73. Crap. Fast-forward past the ER at Children’s hospital, IV fluids to rehydrate him, the official diabetes diagnosis, and a daylong diabetes bootcamp with a diabetes educator to learn how to test blood sugars (I was very awkward in testing his levels at home!), give insulin shots, and manage his meals. All I kept thinking was thank gosh I have the nutrition stuff down because the insulin and blood sugar monitoring was about all the new learning our brains could take!

So, here we are now on Day 3 at home and are getting used to our new ways. We’ve only now realized how much more alive Jake is compared to last week. His body is happy, he laughs and jokes constantly, he’s gained nearly 3 lbs since getting insulin shots because his cells are finally getting the glucose they need, and he’s even telling us which finger to prick for each of his glucose checks. Our days consist of 4 insulin shots, several blood sugar checks to help detect low blood sugar levels (which can be serious)–including 2 while he’s sleeping. My husband and I sneak in there like a diabetes SWAT team with our headlamps and blood sugar checking gear. Most of the time, he sleeps right through! Blood sugar checks also determine what kind of snack he can have: low-carb if his blood sugars are within the normal range, and carby if his blood sugars are low. Our days no longer include enticing desserts to encourage veggie consumption at mealtime, and there are no more meals on the run. Meals MUST be balanced: moderate carbohydrates (about 30-40 grams per meal), protein, and fat. Carbohydrates turn into glucose in the bloodstream immediately, 40% of protein turns into glucose 1-2 hours after consumption, and 10% of fat turns into glucose about 4 hours after consumption. A balanced meal means blood glucose levels are less likely to drop too low between meals. We can do this!

Thanks to our previously healthy habits, the nutrition part of diabetes management is pretty much the same, and any changes have been for the better (we WERE probably getting a little too crazy with the desserts…). Today for lunch, we all had hummus (some carb, some protein, some fat), broccoli (a “free” and healthy food), whole wheat crackers (only a few, so Jake also had a banana to meet his carbohydrate needs), avocado slices (fat), and ice water. The morning snack which would have been pretzels, became a naturally low-carb peanut butter spoon, one of Jake’s all-time favorite treats. We’re all having to change some–We, and my other 2 kids can’t be chowing on foods that Jake can’t have (like pretzels at snacktime) until Jake understands what’s going on. But we’re realizing that his diet is actually just a balanced one that leaves the junk behind. We’ll all be even healthier now!

Obviously, this new life is no walk in the park, and my anti-carb-counting and anti-low-carb days are over. I appreciate both now. But, we are so blessed to have this super cool kid, who can still be a kid and live a healthy, normal life. We’re finding that type 1 diabetes isn’t hard, it’s just more. More to watch and do. So we’ll probably just put off getting that puppy for now… :)

Even a dietitian’s child gets diabetes, and even a dietitian’s family can improve their eating habits. Stay tuned for a new tab: Bitchin’ Diabetes! And please share stories and tips.

Peace and balance,

xoxoxo
Jen

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