Thursday, January 28, 2016

Is Coconut Oil Good for you?

I succumbed to "fad" type information about coconut oil without checking the facts!

I had read and heard all the buzz about coconut oil being healthy, so I bought some several months ago. When I first opened the jar, I was surprised to see that it is hard, like lard. I had expected it to be like olive oil. Even though I thought that was odd, and this kind of bothered me, I did not listen to my intuition. Big mistake!

Still thinking that coconut oil was healthy, I started to incorporate it into my baked goods in place of butter - I even used coconut oil instead of safflower oil and light olive oil. I read information here and there about how to store the oil, and how to soften it when using, although I still did not dig into the actual "healthy" facts of the oil.

Then, I saw the results of adding coconut oil to our diets

My husband recently got the results back from his biometric screening at work. All of his results were within the healthy limits; however, his LDL cholesterol level had nearly doubled from last year! (I have not had a recent screening). He had not gained any weight, and we had not changed our diet much, so I was initially confused about why his LDL level had spiked.

As I was musing about this spike in LDL cholesterol, I took out my jar of coconut oil for a recipe. The obvious hardness of the oil hit me like a ton of bricks. Why had I ignored this, and not looked into coconut oil facts sooner? I was shocked I had not delved into the oil properties when I first started using it, and I immediately began to do some research.

Healthy Carrot Cake made with unfed sourdough starter

I was a bit worried as I was mixing up the batter for this recipe I had altered from King Arthur Flour. The consistency was initially different than I expected. I had no need to be worried - the end result was moist and delicious! 

Yum! Click on the photo to enlarge it and see the texture
The only thing I will do differently next time, is add raisins and decrease the sugar substitute to ⅓ cup. If you plan to serve the cake without frosting or whipped cream, then you may want to stay with ½ cup sweetener.   

Ingredients


  • ¾ cup safflower or light olive oil
  • ⅓ to ½ cup sugar substitute - I used ½ cup Truvia, and although this cake was delicious, I think ⅓ cup would have been plenty. Especially, since I am planning to add raisins next time!
  • ½ cup unfed sourdough starter
  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
 extract
  • ½ cup no-sugar added crushed pineapple, drained

  • 1 cup grated carrots

  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
 or walnuts - I used pecans.
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut, shredded - I used fresh shredded coconut I had in the freezer. You can see the process for shredding fresh coconut in my coconut blog post.
  • 2 tablespoons raisins, optional - although I did not use raisins this time, I think it would be an excellent addition to the recipe.
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda


Sunday, January 24, 2016

New Cabbage Soup Diet

Remember the Cabbage Soup Diet recipe from years ago? Losing weight is a popular topic this time of year, so I am sharing my version of the recipe. Since the vegetable combinations in the original recipe supposedly work together for maximum fat and weight loss, the main modification to the recipe is the broth flavor. I flavor the broth with seasonings, rather than dry onion soup mix. This quantity is smaller than the original version, as well.


Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ head cabbage, chopped 
1 large onion or 2 medium onions, chopped 
1 green pepper, chopped
½ jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped - leaves and all 
3 carrots, sliced 
½ lb. green beans or mushrooms, sliced - I used mushrooms for this batch.
2 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground pepper 
Chili powder
14 ounce can Hunts fire roasted tomatoes - I always choose canned tomatoes with no more than 3 grams of sugar per serving.
2 to 3 cups vegetable liquid/broth - I had about 2 cups of vegetable broth from vegetables I boiled a couple of days earlier, so I added water to the the empty tomato can (about ¾ full) to swish around and then add to the soup with the liquid. I always save my vegetable water, and if I do not use it within a couple of days (in a recipe like Cabbage Rolls), I freeze it until needed.
2 low-sodium beef bouillon cubes
Fresh herbs, chopped - I did not have any fresh herbs, so I sprinkled in some dried basil and parsley.
¼ cup balsamic vinegar 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Baked [Hassleback] Apples

I saw this video for Hassleback Apple when a friend shared it on Facebook. I made a couple of minor changes to the ingredients, and I think it may just replace apple crisp when I am making something for just the two of us!


Ingredients

2 apples
3 tablespoons butter, divided - I used Smart Balance Buttery Blend
1 tablespoon brown sugar blend - I used Splenda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon pecans, finely chopped
1½ teaspoons sugar substitute - I used Truvia
small scoop of no-sugar added vanilla ice cream, optional

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Whole-grain Sourdough Biscuits

I found another great recipe using the unfed sourdough starter we all hate to discard! I started with a recipe posted by King Arthur Flour, and then I made a couple of minor modifications. 

The second time I made these biscuits, I decided ½ cup of butter was too much, so I decided to reduce the butter (Smart Balance Buttery Spread, actually) by 2 tablespoons. They were just as delicious as they had been the first time. You can click on the photos to enlarge them and see the textures. If you have difficulty getting one of the first two photos to enlarge by clicking on it, try one of the others, and then you can access all of them.
biscuit made with 6 T. butter

biscuit made with 8 T. butter










Ingredients

1 cup whole-grain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter  - I used Smart Balance buttery spread with olive oil
1 cup sourdough starter, unfed, cold from the refrigerator