Adaynasmile

Just another day in paradise…


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A Healthy Twist on Holiday Favorites: Stuffing

Oh yum! Stuffing is another favorite dish to have on the table during any holiday meal. I’ll admit that I don’t really enjoy it when it has been actually stuffed into the turkey, but I love scooping heaps of the stuff onto my plate to eat along with all my other delicious sides.

In my efforts to make a healthier Thanksgiving, I searched the internet for a recipe that would not only be healthier for myself and my family, but that would also be lower carb, realizing that this was going to be a bit tricky since stuffing (or dressing as we called it growing up) is made primarily of bread crumbs, which are the opposite of low carb.

I did find one recipe that I was fond of but there were a few things that just weren’t going to work for me. If you are simply looking for a homemade version, check his out at SavoryReviews.com. It will also give you great pictures on how to make your own. Mine is loosely based upon his.

In order to make stuffing low carb, you need to start with a low carb breading. Now I know that a lot of you are gluten free. My family is not, however, I believe that it would be possible to adapt this to be gluten free with little complications. Simply pick a bread that toasts well, or try making an almond meal bread. (I would not recommend using coconut flour.) I found an almond meal bread recipe (that I have not yet tried) that was recommended for stuffing purposes on about.com. It looks like a fairly simple bread to make at home and it is always great to know exactly what went into your product.

Our family uses Pepperidge Farms Carb Style bread. It is NOT THM recommended. But it suits our purposes. I do not like that it contains high fructose corn syrup, as that is an ingredient that I try to avoid, but it is decently priced and serves my family’s needs. If you use the Pepperidge Farms bread it is only 5 net carbs a slice. My recipe makes 4 servings, which makes it perfect as a side dish to any meal, especially your Thanksgiving one.

Skillet Stuffing

serves 4 (approx 1/2 cup)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1 large stalks celery, chopped

4 slices of low carb bread (or any bread of your choosing)

1/2 cup chicken stock (or broth of any variety)

1 tbsp butter

 pepper, garlic powder, and italian seasoning to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Spread bread out on a greased cookie sheet. Spray with oil and sprinkle with garlic powder.

3. Toast for about 10 minutes in oven. Flip bread over, spray once again, and sprinkle with more garlic powder.

4. Return to oven for another 10 minutes, keeping an eye on it after 5 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. You want it to be a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

5. While the bread cools, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery.

6. Sprinkle onions and celery with seasoning. I did two generous shakes of each seasoning with the exception of salt.

7. Chop up the toasted bread into large bread crumbs. Once the onions and celery are softened, add the bread to the skillet.

8. Slowly add the chicken stock. Mix well.

9. Once the stock is absorbed, cover with a lid, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. This will allow the flavors to mingle and the bread to get nice and soft.

Enjoy!

And now for the nutrition show down.  Mine versus the oh so popular red boxed variety.

Mine: 

Calories: 97

Fat: 5

Net Carbs: 6

Protein: 5

Theirs:

Calories: 105

Fat: 4

Net Carbs: 14

Protein: 2

At first glance it may not look that much healthier. But keep in mind that the fats in the homemade version are healthy fats that come primarily from the butter. Also keep in mind that the majority of your ingredients are fresh. If you choose another bread you will have a different result in nutrition information, and may be able to reduce the carb and calorie count even farther. You can reduce the fat count by using a spray oil instead of butter, and a low fat stock (I used 99% fat free but there may be even better options out there).

Do you like to stuff your turkey? Or do you eat it as a side dish like I do?

Blessings,

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Celebrating Advent with Jesse Tree

Have you heard of the Jesse Tree?

I hadn’t either. Last year was the first year that I stumbled upon it on one of the blogs that I was reading. Unfortunately it was too late last year to start the tradition, but I filed it in the back of my brain to remember for this year.

As we get closer and closer to the first of December I am eagerly anticipating our Advent celebrations. This year we are going to embark on a new journey through the Bible towards the birth of Christ.

Let me explain it a little to those of you who are not aware of what the Jesse Tree is. If you know what it is, please feel free to skip this little explanation and move on to the links and printables.

“Advent is a time of waiting, a time of anticipation and preparation for the coming of Jesus. There are many ways to get ready for Christmas. One way is through a Jesse Tree.

What is a Jesse Tree? It is a tree branch decorated with symbols representing the stories of people in Jesus’ family tree. In Isaiah 11:1 we read, “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesse was the father of David, Israel’s greatest king. And it was from David’s lineage that Jesus came. That’s where the idea of using a Jesse Tree to celebrate Advent came from. Before a symbol is hung on the branch, a Bible passage or a story from a story Bible is read.”

~Reformed Church in America

The idea is that each day a different devotional will be read, depicting another part of the story of Jesus. It starts at the beginning of time (creation) and works through some of the major stories in the Bible, to the birth (and baptism) of Jesus.

What I love about it, is that it is a chance for the children to really learn the importance of these stories that they are already getting in church and at home. An opportunity to see how God has connected our lives, the lives of the people before us, and the lives of the Bible into the life of Jesus.

That is one of the reasons that I fell in love with the “Jesus Storybook Bible.” If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it. This story Bible takes a new spin on the Bible stories by showing us exactly how everything that God did throughout history was connected to His plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. I love the way the author tells the stories, points out God’s love, and makes it abundantly clear that He was in control of all instances throughout the Old Testament (and the New) leading up to the birth of Jesus. He was truly weaving everything together!

We have other children’s Bibles with better pictures, and ones that probably tell the Bible stories more precisely, but there is just something about the way God’s unexplainable love is woven through the pages of this Bible that I am in awe of.

When looking for a good way to pull all of the ideas I had found for our Jesse Tree I came across Three Men and a Jenn‘s blog. Here she had used the Jesus Storybook Bible as the basis of her devotional. It was all laid out for me, even with the page numbers and ornament ideas!

Then I found another wonderful post that also uses the Jesus Storybook Bible. A Holy Experience is an AWESOME devotional. It is made primarily for older children and adults, but includes pages to the Jesus Storybook Bible for the young ones. It is downloadable with ornaments that can be printed at home. It truly is an amazing resource.

Although I loved the devotionals that came with A Holy Experience’s Jesse Tree, and her ornaments were beautiful, they just weren’t right for me. I wanted my ornaments to be a bit different. And I wanted to follow the plan that I had found originally at Three Men and a Jenn’s blog because I liked how she laid it out. So I got to work and found images across the internet that fit the different ideas portrayed in the various stories.

Since I like you all so much, I am going to give you the opportunity to download my ornaments. Make sure that you visit Three Men and a Jenn’s blog to see exactly how they match up. I did change some of her ornament ideas (for example, I used a dove for baptism instead of a shell because we do not believe in baptizing a baby, which is what the shell is for, but the Bible does say that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove).

The final image I thought would go great at the very beginning when I introduce the idea to the kids. I was planning on introducing the concept to the children and reading the first story in the Jesus Storybook Bible, which is about God’s love story to us, on November 30th. That way the children have a glimpse into what the next month is going to hold for us, and it gives us a chance to talk about why Christmas is important.

Click on the photos to be taken to my google docs where you can download the ornaments. Each page has 6 ornaments approximately 3 inches by 3 inches. It is formatted to fit nicely on an 8.5 by 11 inch piece of card stock. Cut them out, back them with some pretty paper, laminate, and hang with a ribbon.

Jesse Tree Ornaments 1Jesse Tree Ornaments 2Jesse Tree Ornaments 3Jesse Tree Ornaments 4Jesse Tree Ornaments 5

Have you celebrated Advent using a Jesse Tree before? I’d love to hear all about it! Stay tuned for pictures of our Jesse Tree ornaments in action later this month.

Blessings,

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*Note: I did not intentionally take any of these items from copyrighted sources. I did my best to make sure that they were free images that were simply on the internet to be used at will. If they belong to you, please let me know so that I may give you the credit due. They are not for sell for any reason and no one has a right to sell anything that I attach to this blog.

*Update: I just found this on another blog. A download of images that match the Storybook Bible perfectly along with the passages to read each day on the back of the image! Wish that they had been available two weeks ago when I started making my own. Check it out if you haven’t printed your own yet.


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A Healthy Twist on Holiday Favorites: Pumpkin Cheesecake

A couple of weeks ago I visited the famous cheesecake restaurant and indulged in a piece of their seasonal, and delicious, pumpkin cheesecake. It was A-Mazing!

But I couldn’t eat it without a guilty conscious. I knew it was full of fat, and sugar. Carbs that would spike my sugars and force my body to work hard to produce insulin to keep my sugars level. And I knew there had to be a way to replicate it at home.

I got to thinking about my pumpkin pie recipe and a recipe I have seen floating around the internet for a pumpkin cheesecake that is layered and also full of sugar. It took a bit of tweaking but before long I had a delicious low carb, protein packed, pumpkin cheesecake.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Serves 8

Ingredients:

Crust:

2 cups Almond Meal

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp butter

1 egg

Dash of stevia powder or one packet of Tuvia

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Pie Filling:

3/4 cup Truvia or Xylitol (I usually use a combination of the two)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

2 eggs

1 cup of pumpkin puree

12 oz 1/3 fat cream cheese, softened

Directions:

1. In a food processor combine the almond flour, salt, stevia, and pumpkin pie spice. Pulse a few times until combined.

2. Add softened butter and egg. Continue to pulse until it starts forming a ball.

3. Spread into a greased 9″ pie pan. Set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

5. In a large bowl, or the food processor, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add pumpkin, eggs, sweetener, and seasoning. Mix until smooth. Pour into prepared crust.

6. Place pie on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 and continue to cook for another 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

7. Cut into 8 delicious slices, serve with fat free whipped cream (or beat your own), and enjoy!

And now for the nutritional information. Mine versus the cheesecake place.

Mine:

Calories: 328

Fat: 28

Net Carbs: 4

Protein: 12

Theirs:

Calories: 740

Fat: 31

Net Carbs: 95

Protein: 0

Now keep in mind that their cheesecake slices are a bit bigger. But not big enough to be worth that many calories, carbs, or fat!

If you are craving some cheesecake, give this recipe a try. I think it is the perfect combination of pumpkin and cheesecake. Yum!

Do you like cheesecake? Do you occasionally indulge in a piece at the famous restaurant?

Blessings,

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*Note: Since drafting this post, I have made a couple more cheesecakes. If you really like cheesecake I suggest upping the amount of cream cheese and cutting back on the same amount of pumpkin. So instead of 1 cup of pumpkin try 1/2 a cup and add another 4 ozs of cream cheese. This will keep the ratio the same but will increase the cheesecake flavor. Personally I like it with the smaller amount of cream cheese but my husband loves cream cheese and prefers it with less pumpkin. Give it a try and let me know which you prefer!

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A Healthy Twist on Holiday Favorites: Pumpkin Pie

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I LOVE pumpkin pie.

No, you don’t understand. I really love pumpkin pie.

Last month was my birthday and I knew I wanted a pumpkin pie instead of a traditional cake. I tried a few different low carb, low sugar recipes, but I didn’t like any of them. They just weren’t right. So I set out on an adventure to create my own.

I think this recipe is marvelous. I could eat it for every meal. Seriously. Its just that good.

And I feel good eating it.

Take a look at the nutrition facts in comparison to a popular brand of frozen pumpkin pie.

Mine:

Calories: 335

Fat: 30 grams

Carbs: 6 grams net

Protein: 10 grams

Theirs:

Calories: 350

Fat: 14 grams

Carbs: 43 net grams

Protein: 6 grams

43 net carbs! Its amazing that it went from 43 to just 6. That is a huge difference in the world of carb counters. It is possible to have a delicious dessert on that low carb diet!

You will see that the fat is much higher in mine. However, it is full of healthy fats. Butter and cream are excellent sources of healthy fat. And the crust is made up of almond meal, which is also filled with wonderful, healthy fats. So don’t let that scare you away.

Ingredients:

Crust:

2 cups Almond Meal

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp butter

1 egg

Dash of stevia powder or one packet of Tuvia

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Pie Filling:

3/4 cup Truvia or Xylitol (I usually use a combination of the two)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

2 eggs

15 oz can of pumpkin (or two cups fresh pureed pumpkin)

8 oz heavy cream

Directions:

1. In a food processor combine the almond flour, salt, stevia, and pumpkin pie spice. Pulse a few times until combined.

2. Add softened butter and egg. Continue to pulse until it starts forming a ball.

3. Spread into a greased 9″ pie pan. Set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

5. In a large bowl, or the food processor, combine sweetener and spices. Add in pumpkin, cream, and eggs. Beat until smooth.  Pour into prepared crust.

6. Place pie on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 and continue to cook for another 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

7. Cut into 8 delicious slices, serve with fat free whipped cream (or beat your own), and enjoy!

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Let me know what you think! I hope that you give it a try and find it as wonderful as I do.

Blessings,

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*Note: Coconut Oil can be substituted for butter. It will change the nutrition count a bit, but is also chock full of many nutrients.

**Truvia baking mix is NOT recommended. Sugar is a main ingredient in the baking mix, making it not a low carb, low calorie, or healthy substitute.

***Xylitol is a delicious and easy to work with substitute for sugar, however, it is a laxative and can cause digestive issues for some people. It is also dangerous for pets.

****It is possible to make this crust without a food processor. It will not be quite as smooth, but you can still knead it by hand and get a similar crust.

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A Healthy Twist on Holiday Favorites: Green Bean Casserole

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Leaves on the ground, a chill in the air; Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Are you excited? I know I am.

As time marches forward I am beginning to think of what we are going to eat for Thanksgiving dinner that is low carb, diabetic, and weight loss friendly.

Green bean casserole is one of my absolute favorite dishes. I could eat it at least once a week. Maybe even more. I have been guilty of mixing it up for myself as a late night dinner. But it is filled with unhealthy components. Those crunchy delicious onions, the canned cream soup…makes my mouth water and my waist expand. Sigh. :/

So what’s a girl to do?

I refuse to live in a world in which I have to constantly tell myself no. Thankfully, there are so many great options out there, and ways to tweak my favorite recipes in order to make them more accommodating to my healthier lifestyle.

Before creating this recipe I scoured the internet for an alternative. There are various options out there but none of them were just right. I couldn’t do celery, cheddar cheese, and mayo in my green bean casserole. Sure, it might taste good, but it wouldn’t taste right.

This recipe is not exactly like the original. It does have a slightly different flavor due to the creamy Swiss cheese wedges used instead of the cream of mushroom soup. But I have to admit that I was amazed at how similar, delicious, and easy it is. I hope you give it a try!

Healthy Green Bean Casserole

Serves 6

Ingredients:

4 oz can of mushrooms (or half a cup of fresh mushrooms), chopped and drained

2 cans (14.5 oz) green beans

6 wedges of Light Laughing Cow Swiss cheese

1 cup sugar-free chicken broth

1 large onion, sliced into thin rings

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp xanthun gum (or other thickener)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a saucepan combine the mushrooms, chicken broth, and cheese wedges. Allow to simmer on medium low heat.  Keep on heat as the cheese wedges melt naturally, but do not worry about them melting completely.

3.  While the sauce is cooking and the cheese is melting, put your onion slices into a greased skillet and sprinkle with salt. Leave to cook until nice and brown.

4. Once the cheese has melted some, sprinkle a tablespoon of xanthun gum into the saucepan and mix well. This is key as it will help the sauce to thicken, but don’t worry if the sauce does not thicken at this point. It will get thicker while baking in the oven.

5. Remove saucepan from the stove and mix in the green beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Pour the green bean mixture into a greased 8 by 8 pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir.

7. Top the casserole with the browned onions and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

 

Enjoy!

Here’s how it stacks up to the original:

Mine:

Calories: 104

Fat: 5 g

Carbs: 6 net

Protein: 4 g

Theirs:

Calories: 148

Fat: 8 g

Carbs: 14 net

Protein: 0 g

As you can see, my recipe has several added benefits. Its not just lower carb, but lower calorie, lower fat, higher protein, and its full of natural, healthy ingredients. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

What are you doing to make your holidays healthier this year?

Blessings!

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I’m linking up:

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*Note: You can substitute 4.5 oz of cream cheese in place of the Laughing Cow. It has a similar texture and flavor. It will change the nutrition information, so please keep that in mind if you do choose to make the substitute.

**If you substitute a different thickener (such as cornstarch or arrowroot) you will come up with a different carb count. It may not make a big difference, but please keep this in mind if you are watching your carbs.