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Archive for the 'Diabetes' Category

Recipe Hack: Lower-Sugar Christmas Treats!

One of the things I love about Christmas is the excuse to start baking and keep it up beyond what would otherwise be considered the bounds of reason. Although I love to cook family favorites for the holidays, I also love the excuse to be experimental and somewhat “fussy,” making the types of putzy things I never have time for during the rest of the year.

This past week, I experimented with a few new items while looking for some lower-sugar options for diabetic friends and family. I call this a “recipe hack”; cracking the chemistry of cooking to understand what gives a recipe its yum and consistency while also making it work for what you need. In this case, the need was less sugar! Sadly, all this hacking leaves me pressed for time to take and process pictures, but, since I modified existing recipes, please feel free to go admire the pictures on the recipes linked below! This is going to be a quick and dirty explanation, just to give you an idea of how you can play with recipes on your own to work with your guests’ needs and preferences.

First up: Savanna cheesecake bars by Paula Deen.

Yes, Paula is usually more known for decadent yumminess more than healthier options, and no, this isn’t a health food, but it does have several redeeming qualities over many other holiday baked goods. My version packed the cookie crust with pecans and whole grain flour, I used lower-fat Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese in the cheesecake part, and I slathered the completed bars with a homemade fresh cranberry glaze spiced with ginger and cinnamon. We love cheesecake, and I have a thing for fresh cranberries; this one was a big hit in the taste testings in our house.

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Agave-Sweetened Spiced Pumpkin Cake

The trees are heavy with apples, the raspberry canes are fading, and the fragrant bushes of basil we enjoyed all summer were sacrificed to the first frosts this past week.

Despite the summery temperatures of the last couple days here in Wisconsin, autumn has arrived. Even though it’s sunny out, the light has a different quality to it. Filtered through leaves of gold and rust, it’s thinner, paler.

It’s the time of year when steaming bowls of soup seem perfect, and the smell of fresh bread and cinnamon warms you far beyond the ability that another sweater possesses. It’s the time of year when the folks in our household start craving baked squashes and the rich texture of pumpkin in casseroles, risotto, muffins, and cakes. As the sunlight grows loses its muscle and the days shorter, the golden and orange colors grow more and more appealing. Our household is no exception. Specifically, I have been given orders from mum to get going on the pumpkin goods and to keep ‘em coming until I hear otherwise. Based on last year, I might hear otherwise sometime in April.

And I might not.

My mom has diabetes, so finding a way to create pumpkin baked goods that actually taste amazing without causing a crazy blood sugar spike has involved some trial and error. At this point, we have a couple keepers: spiced pumpkin cake and mom’s own agave-sweetened pumpkin pie. Both of them use raw agave nectar instead of sugar. I’ll get to the recipe for this pumpkin cake in a moment, but I figure some of you might like some background on agave nectar first.

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How to Read a Label, Pt 1: Fiber and Sugars and GI, Oh My!

Here’s something that shouldn’t come as a shock to you (not least because it’s one of my favorite talking points): Processed foods are generally a bad idea.  Even when you think they’re a good idea, they probably aren’t.  You’re better off skipping the heavily-processed cheese-filled crackers and the store-bought cookies, and you’ll also benefit from making your own pasta sauce and soups.

In an ideal world, maybe we’d have all have the time and energy needed to be make our own bread and paint the Mona Lisa.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot going on.  Sometimes, you really want chili, and you forgot to plan ahead and soak the beans, or you just don’t have the 20 minutes you need to pressure-cook them.  So…canned beans.  Should it be done?

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Mighty Morning Granola!

It’s the weekend, which means it’s probably a good time to cook up something delicious for the coming week. To help you in your endeavors toward deliciousness, I offer you the very first of an ongoing series of recipes. Here, to kick off the recipe portion of the Simple Spoonful, I present you with…Mighty Morning Granola!

Take a look–ain’t she purty?

Granola has become a staple here in our household. Either the Unicyclist or I cook up a batch on a biweekly basis, and it’s almost never the same. Granola is a very forgiving dish, not to mention a wonderful platform for experimentation. You want coconut? Toss it in! Hate cashews? Use peanuts! Want to find out what happens when you swap almond butter for some of the oil? Yee-ha! Want dried apples, raisins, and cardamom in this batch? Go for it! It is inevitably delicious.

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