Thursday, March 26, 2009

stevia rebaudiana

this week, we've had to make a few changes. you see... momma karen has been seeing this super cool mind and body doctor. the doctor suggested that my mom should take all processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and carbohydrates out of her diet. no more diet soda, splenda, little packets of flavour for water, bread, pastas, decaffeinated beverages, chocolate, chips, candy... you get my point. right?

so, on tuesday... i did a major... and i mean MAJOR clean out. well... it was pretty easy, there really wasn't a whole lot of carbs in the house to begin with. siobhan and momma karen were already eating everything that i've been eating for the past few weeks for dinner. so, it was just other bits of crap that was kickin' around. gone. into the composter. all the other stuff that wasn't opened was sent away with my brother... to his girlfriends dorm room! all the healthy food that we will be cooking with was moved into pantry in the kitchen. the other food, that we don't need to see, think about, want to eat... was put into the back room pantry. perfect.

i made butter chicken that night too!! oh my!! butter chicken is usually really rich, creamy, and oh... buttery. but, my mom had been watching a cooking show. and these women created a much healthier version of it!! it's terrific.... and tasted pretty stinkin' close to the real stuff. of course we ate it with whipped cauliflower! it was just like eating it with basmati rice. it soaked up all the tasty sauce. mmmm!

in the comments section of the previous post, my friend jenn mentioned stevia. this stuff is magic!!! go and check out their website... and read about the benefits in length! here is a little blurb from the site though...

"Benefits of stevia: Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is a wonderful dietary supplement used for over 1500 years as a sweetener and for medicinal purposes. Since the 1970's, stevia has been used in Japan as the main alternative to sugar, used instead of the banned aspartame in diet soda, gum and other food and beverages. Stevia is also being used as a sweetener in other countries after extensive studies proved it's safety. Stevia has been used with success to treat many ailments including diabetes, high blood pressure, gingivitis, digestion ailments, addictions, topically for acne and other skin ailments and also as a wonderful weight loss aid. Safe for diabetics as it does not raise blood sugar!"

so, i went out and bought some. i was excited to start experimenting with it!!! one of my mom's greatest disappointments about no more artificial sweeters was no more diet pop. she doesn't drink lots of it... but, likes something fizzy to drink once in a while. so... i created this for her:

fizzy berry soda
2 cups frozen berries (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry)
1 cup water
2 tsps stevia
put everything into a pot, over medium-high heat... simmer for 20 minutes. stir occasionally. blend with stick blender. then pass through a fine sieve, into a container. chill. then put about 1/4 cup of the sauce into a glass with a few ice cubes and top with club soda!!!

according to my mom... it's pretty good! i haven't had any yet... but, on april 1st... when i can have fruit again. i will definitely try it out!! i think that i'm going to make mango sauce... and a bunch of other different kinds. it will be refreshing when it gets warm out!

5 more days till i have some fruit.

133 more days till aderito arrives in toronto.

135 more days till we fly off to vila franca do campo!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

porto won

putting the lime cheesecakey stuff in the freezer was a bad choice. it was good last night, slightly chilled. this afternoon... it was rock hard. so, i put it into the fridge. and then it went grainy. i'm going to have to tweak the recipe... and also try it out with a different flavour. lime was ok... it was good. i think that perhaps tomorrow i will try it out in berry. the labne (greek goat cheese) i made turned out well. its more like a cream cheese. which is fine with me!! it has incredible flavour. which is all that really matters at this point and time.

aderito only worked half a day today!! wooohooo!! i love sundays!! at around 1:30pm we chatted a bit... he said that he was going to nap for a little bit. and then, asked if i could wake him up in an hour and a half. i thought... how sweet! aderito doesn't want to sleep his day away... he wants to talk to meeeee!! aderito then told me that he had to wake up to watch soccer, porto was playing. oh. well then. we had lots of chats today though... enough to get me through another week of him working at night. i ask questions all the time, about his family... because there are SO many of them!! he has 5 siblings, 2 older sisters, an older brother, and 2 younger sisters. his mom and dad come from huge families as well. but, i was asking about his grandparents today. i can never remember who is alive or not. only his mom's mom is still around... so, i asked what her name is. it's natalia maria... the exact same name as his mom! imagine my mom decided to do the same thing? erin, siobhan or i might be karen ann jr.

going back to the casino is offically no longer an option. the manager called this morning, to ask if i would be returning. i told him that i would like to, but that i wanted to be honest and let him know now that aderito had just booked our flights to azores. he says, "ohhhh... that's not good. nope. that's not going to work." i told him that aderito hasn't see his family in 3 years, that i have never met them. and also that we didn't know if i was going to be called back because of the racetrack situation. and so we went ahead and booked it. the manager's response, "so, i take it you are going to go to azores then? it's either go, or come back to work... because you can't do both." how in the world was i going to respond to that? there was a definite moment of silence. and then i slowly replied, "ok... i guess i'm not going back?" sheesh. he finished the conversation with a good 'ol... "well... i wish you the best." gee thanks.

since i've been out of the kitchen... i've been watching a ridiculous amount of the food channel. i'm ok with it. most of the time. i can't handle the chicks that make all those desserts at the moment. iron chef is good. the wild gourmet is insane!!! seriously, they shot and roasted squirrel the other night. i think that i have watched every food network challenge. and ohhh... the ace of cakes. i will never ever be able to have cakes that come anywhere close to duff's. i will try. i'm up for a challenge! who's birthday is next?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

almond flour, labne, and bill murray.

the amount of healthy south beach recipes that are available these days makes this chick... pumped! the last time i went through this... sure, there was a book available with recipes. but, i definitely don't recall the recipes being this good... and i didn't ever think about looking online for more! this time however... wow!! the sheer plethora of recipes available is overwhelming. i don't know where to start... or what to make everyday. this time around seems to be so much easier.

this morning, i decided that i was sick of eating eggs. ugh. so, i searched for phase 1 breakfast recipes. what did i find?! almond meal pancakes!! woohoo! i don't usually have almond meal (but, last year i made elderberry pies. and i used almond meal to thicken the elderberry juices). anyways... they were really easy, and i think that they tasted pretty good. siobhan on the other hand... didn't enjoy them quite so much. hahaha!! she tried... but, in the end couldn't deal with the texture. in the afternoon... i made a whipped lime cheesecake. seriously. sugar-free lime jello (dissolved in a bit of warm water. no fat cream cheese. and non-fat nutriwhip. mixed them together! till thick. yuuum! i put it into the freezer. it's the closest thing i've had to ice cream in quite some time! ohhh... and dinner. white bean and turkey meatloaf. loved it. looking forward to having leftovers tomorrow! i also started to make labne. it's a greek cheese... like a fresh mozzarella. the recipe called for greek nonfat yogurt. but, when i went to the store... i could only find greek goat yogurt. it's a good thing that i love goat cheese! the yogurt is mixed with a bit of salt, then into a strainer lined with cheesecloth (over a bowl), covered and into the fridge for 48 hours. tomorrow afternoon it should be done!! all i have to is ball it up, and i might roll it in italian seasoning. mmmm.

early this morning, aderito called me. we have been trying to keep the phone calls to only at night... so, when my phone ran and it was aderito i was surprised! so, he just wanted to let me know that it had been raining all morning... but, that it was sunny and he was going to go to work. i noticed that something was strange... it was like he was down a hole. he was sounding much farther way than usual. so, i mentioned this to him... why do you sound so far away? aderito's reply? oh well... my phone jumped in the water. nikki's reply? WHAT? he explained that this morning, he was already up and ready to work when his foreman called to tell them men to stay at home. so, aderito decided to go and get coffee and breakfast. on the way there... his phone fell out of his pocket and into a puddle while he was driving. i love the translation!! it made for a good laugh all day! it also made me think about when aderito and i go to azores... there will most definitely be a few people that will try to talk to me... in english. and without a doubt... there will be a few things lost in translation.

10 more days without all starchy sugary carby stuff.

138 more days till aderito arrives!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

the great and powerful garbanzo!

have i recently mentioned my complete love for snacks? i do. i snack all day long. but, taking sugary snacks out of the mix has been difficult. that kettle corn i was eating earlier this month... loaded with sweet crispy sugar. honestly, i think i ate about 15 bags of it. one morning however... it was the first thing i thought about!! mmm... how long until i can open a bag of that deliciously addicting popcorn. so, i stopped that asap. and now... need to fill that ridiculous void. this is my third day sugar-free. all is well... except that i think about sugar all freaking day long, and i have a raging headache. i just took 3 ibuprofen. hopefully the dull pounding will be gone by the time i hit publish.

last night, as i was laying in bed... ready to go to sleep. this unreal craving for chickpeas hit me! i all of the sudden wanted to eat them... in any form possible! except for straight out of the can. nope. can't bring myself to do that. so, this afternoon... after i had vacuumed and wet swiffered the front entrance. i got out my wee little food processor. this baby is so small! i could only fit 1/2 can of chickpeas in it! i have a feeling that it just might be in my best interest to purchase a much larger food processor. ohhh... imagine all the hummus i could make then!!

yes, carrying on. the glorious hummus recipe...

1 can chickpeas (rinsed)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (real or fresh)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (or about 2 cloves)
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons salt/pepper

so, i threw the chickpeas into the food processor... and whizzed them around till they were chopped up. then added the garlic and cumin. whizzed it around a bit more. keeping the food processor on at medium speed... drizzled in the olive oil (just enough till it becomes smooth). while the processor is still on, poured in the lemon juice till pita/cucumber dipping consistency. then add in your salt and pepper. whiz around once more... then taste it!! is it good? add a bit more olive oil... or lemon juice if you want. its going to be different for everyone.

i ate this for my mid-afternoon snack. with cucumber. it was perfect! and then... as i was enjoying the crunchy cucumber... i remembered seeing somewhere a recipe for roasted chickpeas. and i thought, yes!! i can snack on those bad boys later on while watching lost! so, i looked around... and found a recipe that was ok... and i took a few ideas from it. but, in the end... this is what i came up with...

spicy moroccan roasted chickpeas.

preheat oven to 400F

1 can of chickpeas (drained)
1/4 cup olive oil

into a bowl add:
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice (optional, unless you have it kickin' around the spice rack)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (add a bit more... if you're the spicy type!)
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon sea salt

add the chickpeas, toss around in spice mix. add oil... toss till well coated.
put it onto a baking sheet... and into the oven for about 40 minutes. about half way through, give them a bit of a shake. and at the end of the 40 minutes... taste! if they are still soft, back in they go! you want them to have just a little bit of a soft center. when they cool... they will crisp up more.

i love how cinnamon, allspice and cloves manage to create the illusion of sweetness! it's magic.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

pissed off and psyched out

the no sugar thing... is brutal. however, about 65% of the time i'm feeling pretty good about this decision. i was unbelievably exhausted last night. and slept better than i have in weeks. i woke up and had some cottage cheese and plain yogurt... and strawberry/orange/banana crystal light with wheat grass ice cubes. yeah. in a very local health food store, i found frozen wheat grass juice!! far too exciting. and they make excellent ice cubes! i drank more water today that i did in all of last week. which makes my body very happy... and my bladder a little overexcited. there were many dashes to the bathroom throughout the day.

i went and worked out. and worked extra hard, because i'm pretty pissed off. let me tell you why. about 2 weeks ago, i went to work out. usually after every workout, i have a chat with the owner. she's pretty cool... and has been very interested in helping me find a job. this particular day she asked me if i was interested in working for her. i was thrilled!! it's what i need at the moment. to be immersed in the healthy. and away from a kitchen stocked with tasty tasty food... and sugar. so, the next day... i brought in my CV, and told her that the only experience that i have is in the kitchen. she seemed to be alright with this. so, we didn't talk about it at all that week. last week... i took the week off. on the friday of last week though, i went onto the local job finding website. i check it out every single day to see who is hiring... and try to send out a few resumes. anyways, what do i see? only one posting for fort erie. for a personal trainer. at freaking CURVES!! i was kind of offended. so, what did i do? i immediately sent her a strongly worded email. well... strongly in the kindest way possible. letting her know that i was interested. so... yesterday, i went in and she wasn't there. but, i had the chance to talk with one of the other trainers to find out what the situation was... and i asked her to leave a note for the woman asking for her to call me. which then brings us to today. still no phone call. no reply to my email. and when i saw her, she asked me how i was... but, she wasn't able to look me in the eyes... because her head was turned and she was headed back out the door. i will go and work out tomorrow. but, i think that i'm finished being aggressive about this particular job. it's her turn.

for lunch, i made a tasty salad! arugula, parmesan cheese, a light grainy mustard dressing, and topped it with 2 perfectly poached eggs. yum! this afternoon, i just relaxed. made sure siobhan did her chores. and took a few surveys that were sent to me. i do probably 2 a day. its fun. gives me something to do. and, for some reason leads me to believe that my opinions on toilet paper commercials really do matter. todays survey? the topic... SUGAR. oh, how i wish i was joking. more specifically.... candy. what my favourite was. how i feel about licorice. every question possible about delectable satisfying, comforting candy. i made it through the survey. and sipped on my crystal light.

oh! dinner.. yum! i made tomato and white bean soup. it was pretty effin' good. and easy. and there are leftovers! i think that tomorrow, i might add some ground chicken to the leftovers. and it will be like a loose tomatoey sauce. and bake spaghetti squash... and eat it like pasta and meat sauce. i feel like i'm constantly trying to psych out my palate... and make it believe that all this food is rich and filling. like a big bowl of gnocchi with brown butter. oh goodness.

Monday, March 16, 2009

adeus açúcar

all i want is sugar. on everything. if it was socially acceptable, i would go and get the bag of granulated sugar from the cupboard. and eat it with a spoon. i don't have enough self-control to eat it in " moderation" at the moment... so, i'm going to go to the complete other extreme.

not eat any at all. none. zip. zilch.

no sugar. which then also means... no carbohydrates, no starches, no fruit.

i went out last week, and picked up the south beach diet book. which is a step in the right direction. i made a huge grocery list of all things healthy... proteins, vegetables, non/low fat dairy products. today, the adventure began.

there is an excellent recipe for ricotta custards that i made. they are absolutely delish! they are sweetened with with splenda... which is allowed. dinner was baked chicken, that was brushed with a non-fat sour cream and grainy mustard sauce. umm... oh, and i did the classic fake potatoes... made with smashed cauliflower and a bit of non-fat sour cream. so, i'm eating. i just really want something delicious and sugary.

the last time i followed the south beat diet... it was wonderful! exactly what i needed to get my sugar situation under control. but, that was back in 2003... 2004. that's a long time ago. it will be good for me to learn how to appreciate sugar... and eat it in moderation once again!

14 more days till i can have fruit... mmmm....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

meu marido

every post i write at the moment, could quite possibly be about how much i miss aderito. i'm trying my hardest to be okay with our 15 minutes a night. and look forward to the next time we are together. todays count... 148 days. i'm very ready.

i haven't learned very much portuguese. should probably work on that. there are a few words i know. like... agora. that means, "now". aderito taught me this word one of the first times he came to stay here. this is how that moment of teaching went:

aderito: "agora means now. like, when i ask you to make a sandwich for me. and you say to me, now? and i say... yes, agora."

how convenient. because i've never met a man that likes sandwiches so much. his favourite sandwiches being... ham, cheese, fried egg, butter on a soft kaiser. sometimes toasted. i'm really interested to see what food we eat in sao miguel. i'm gonna guess tons of fish. which is fiiiine with me!

i wish that we were still on that little scooter in cuba... driving around... checking out the countryside. trying to not run into random roaming wildlife. waving to the ladies sitting on the front steps of their little houses. stopping on the side of the road to check out the map... hoping that we were going in the right direction. or on the scooter in bermuda. oh goodness. that was unbelievable. we went all over that island. what an amazing time. perhaps we rent a scooter and ride around sao miguel. maybe i will get to drive this time!

Monday, March 9, 2009

nice to meet you!

hi. i'm nikki. and, i'm ready for spring. very ready.

everyday, i wake up and look outside to see what the temperature is. today, 5C. ugh. the day i wake up and it is over 10C... i will be a very happy woman! a little bit of sun, and a breeze without an icy chill would be greatly appreciated right about now.

i know that the day of warmth isn't too far way... when i look into the front garden and see these beauties coming up!

awww... snowdrops! i love that even with icy snow on either side... the snowdrops prevail! and when there are snowdrops, the crocus' are far behind! and closely following the crocus'... lake erie will have thawed... and i will be on my bike once again!

i decided to join the natural mommy and participate in meet and greet monday. tiffany, pointed me in the direction of this site... after many natural parenting discussions! which is kinda funny... because both tiffany and i definitely do not have children. but, have found it encouraging to read what beth has to say on many parenting topics! be sure to check her out!

a red velvet birthday.

yesterday, we celebrated my sister... erin's 27th birthday! she had two simple requests. the first... she wanted chicken and vegetables for dinner. so, siobhan made a delicious wonton soup... from scratch!! (it was pretty tasty... considering a 13 year old made it) we also made a pretty tasty pad thai. erin's second request... was the cake. red velvet. with a mascarpone icing.

not to long ago, i watched the pioneer woman take on a 14 layer cake. it was magnificent!! and, i thought if she could do it, as could i! i just went back to her site, and the cake is no where to be found!! how frustrating. anyways, i had made this cake before... for our family christmas. and the finished product tasted fine. but, esthetically... wasn't quite as appealing as it could be.

i bought 9, 9' aluminum round pans. brushed them with wilton cake-pan release. and cut out circles of parchment to ensure the cakes would definitely not stick to the bottom!

i baked the cakes 3 pans at a time. cooled. and made the icing! easiest fancy icing ever! cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, vanilla and icing sugar. and then fold in whipped cream! yum!! everything went well for the first 5 layers... but, as soon as i added the 6th... i got a bit nervous. so, i stopped at 6. put the cake in the fridge overnight to let it set. and then the next morning, i finished icing it.

i would love to bake cakes all day long. but, i really don't think that is a good idea. it's in every one's best interest if they are made on a purely special occasion basis! ohhh... and lets not forget the ever exciting cut-cake picture!!

happy birthday erin!! it makes me happy that for the next 5 months, you and i will only be 2 years apart! i hope that your 28th year is a happy, successful one... filled with exciting adventures!

love you baby sister!

Friday, March 6, 2009

we should have had THIS on the snack machine!

i didn't have an omlette today... i wasn't feeling very well when i woke up. so, it was just cereal and nothing too heavy. however, no matter how bad i might feel... i can always enjoy a good snack.

a few weeks ago, my mom and i went to get groceries. we walked around zehrs... there wasn't anything in particular we needed... its just nice to walk around a store sometimes. i was super excited when we found this...

it's delicious!! lesserevil kettle corn! salty, sweet, crunchy... it's my official snack of the month!

for 1 1/3 of a cup... there are 150 calories, and 2.5 grams of fat. that's not too bad... i'm a big snack person. really. i usually snack my way through the day. i've been trying to choose healthy snacks at least.

tomorrow... i bake a cake. it's erin's birthday. for christmas, i made a lovely red velvet cake. erin has requested this again. she actually only requested the mascarpone icing... but, it goes lovely with the cake! hopefully all goes well... i've been having issues with my spring form pans. eek!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

omlet? omlette? omelette?

lately, i've wanted to eat an omlette everyday.

i think that i've had 4 since sunday. i don't quite remember. there are definite phases that i go through, foods that i eat all the time. and then, one day... i just decide to eat something else. the other thing that commands the foods that i eat... is calorie counting. it's a slow and steady way to lose weight. if i eat 500 calories less than what my recommended daily caloric intake... then i should lose about 1lb a week. and if i keep it up until the end of july... i should be at my goal weight! perfect.

back to the omlette.

when i first started on this omlette endeavor... i was having issues with the amount of fat in it. i was not about to cook an omlette without a little bit of fat to cook the veggies in... so, i was throwing the yolks out. my mom suggested that perhaps, i just buy egg whites (they come in a super handy carton!). that made me feel slightly better!

this bad boy... has a total of 182 calories!

the veggies: spinach, red peppers, red onions are sauteed in 2 tsps of becel (olive oil) margarine. then add in the egg whites... and folded into the middle to finish is herbed goat cheese.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009


i miss aderito an extreme amount this time around. huh... well... i've missed him an extreme amount everytime he's went back to bermuda. we decided while he was here at christmas that we would only talk at night, with the exception of sunday. when he left last july, we were talking every morning, at lunch, when he got home from work, while he was at his job at night, when he got home from that job, before aderito went to bed. there was non-stop talk! and i needed that! i need it right now too.... but, we know how much money is spent... so, we've are trying to talk more at night... but, not all day as well. it's working out... for the most part. this time of year it's incredibly rainy in bermuda... so, about once every week aderito has a whole day off. he hates it, because all he wants to do is work. but, i secretly like it... cause i know that we get to talk a bit more :)

in the past on facebook... i did a daily countdown, stating how many more days till i was with aderito again. however, i think that i was driving just about everyone crazy. so, i try to keep the counting to a minimum. i suppose, its just a way of keeping myself connected. how i miss him!! as of today... 156 more days to go. i've waited this long in the past... and i'll do it again!

there is a box full of aderito stuff... just bits of our adventures together. i'm not at all a packrat. i don't really have a whole lot of stuff. but, i am very sentimental... some of the collection, i will have forever. and, some of it... i have to send off to immigration. after christmas, i noticed that the little box it was in began to overflow... so, i transferred everything into something a bit bigger. in the corner of the box, is a neat stack of phonecards. every single one that i have bought and used to call aderito. i buy between 1-2 a week. which is pretty good. in november, last year... the calling cards weren't working when i tried to call bermuda. and i ended up owning my mom $400 for the phonebill! so, i'm fairly happy with the $100 maximum a month!

i can't wait till tomorrow night, when aderito and i will have our evening talk. i've been learning a bit of portuguese each day. today, i used the word... "pergunta". that just means... question. but, i ask them all the time. so, i thought that it was an appropriate word for me to learn.

that's every single phonecard i've bought... not including the one currently in use.

i figure it's about $2120 in calling cards...

i'll probably buy another one tomorrow.