Banana Peanut Butter Bars

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z3.5 (ZReboot 3.5) recipe.

This recipe is similar to one posted on a Paleo site. I adjusted it for Plan Z Dieters, changed it to banana peanut butter bars, but I didn't have to do much.

The best news is Bob’s Mill has come out with a “superfine” grind almond flour. It’s so smooth, it’s very much like wheat flour, only a yellow-ish color. It makes baked goods so tasty you’d hardly tell the difference. The older almond flour was denser so bars and cookies were less fluffy. This stuff is spot on and I use it for all of my baked goods now that call for almond flour.

Servings:

Serves 12 or so, depending on how large you cut them. A smaller one makes a great treat but if this is going to be breakfast before school for a little one, I’d give them a bigger piece.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup blanched almond flour (Use Bob’s Mill, superfine grind almond flour/meal)
  • ¼ cup coconut flour (You can get this in the grocery store or order online)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon grated sea salt
  • ¾ cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium)
  • ½ cup unsweetened natural peanut butter. I get mine at Whole Foods (365 brand) because it’s not oily
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil, melt it in the microwave and let it cool down a bit to pour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips (optional), or cut up a dark chocolate bar into bits for lower carbs and richer flavor

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Grease a 9" x 13" inch baking pan. You'll need it later.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt.

Add the banana, peanut butter, coconut oil, eggs, honey, and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until well combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until done in the center. Cool before cutting. You can also gently reheat these for a warm treat/breakfast bar.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Mother’s Day in a Time of Global Pandemic

You know what the busiest day in the restaurant business is? You guessed it. Mother’s Day. That’s the day every family treats Mom to a meal.

Well (especially if you have a big family), that’s not happening this year. Even restaurants that are opening are required to keep the tables small. No more than six or at the maximum 10 (depending on your area).

So, I’ve come up with a few ideas to celebrate her day in a new way.

  1. If you live close to your Mom, you can still "take her out" but "take it in." Restaurants need our support more than ever. You can order a take-out meal, pick it up curbside at most places and drop it at her doorstep. Give her a ring and she can come out and get it. You might even consider ordering enough for everyone. Take it home. Get on a Zoom connection and you can all eat "together."
  2. At this same restaurant you can help them out once again by buying a gift card. The whole family can go out at a future date when the country is fully-functioning, and the restaurant gets the much-needed revenue now. Mom gets the gift of the gift card.  Another option: You could get a smaller card that’s just designed for Mom and a friend to use at a later date.
  3. If you live close to Mom, you could make her a meal. This avocado toast can work well for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Good news is it tastes great room temperature, too. You can make it, put it on a tray. Drive it over to her house. Put it on the porch and she can come out and get it. If she wants her egg warm you can just include a couple of eggs and she can fry them up. Or a room temp option would be slices of hard-boiled egg.
  4. With any of these options you can even include a bottle of champagne if you’re into that sort of thing.
  5. If you don’t live close by you could "travel" together. Virtual travel is popular right now. Good Housekeeping put together a list of museums and aquariums and other places that are offering virtual tours right now. Fire up that free Zoom account and you can all see the sites together. Zoom is super easy to use. Don’t hesitate. Let Mom pick her favorite tour from the list and treat her to a creative and unique Mother’s Day event.

Especially if your mother is older, we want nothing more right now than to be able to hug her and be with her. It’s just not a smart idea this year.

So, make this a unique Mother’s Day you’ll all be talking about for years. Do it differently just this once. Celebrate, nonetheless.

Cheers,


Low Carb Banana Bread

This is a Z3.5 (ZReboot3.5) recipe. I have been working on a low carb banana bread recipe for weeks. I wanted one that had actual banana in it and not just banana flavoring. I eat very few bananas these days because as they ripen their carb count/glycemic index load goes up. So this is a treat. Don’t plan to eat the whole loaf yourself. That could get dangerous.

A shout out to Low Carb Londoner. After several tries with assorted types of flour etc., the one LCL posted was the best. I made very few changes to it.

Servings: Serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of super-fine ground almond flour (Bob’s Mill makes a good one)
  • 1 cup of mashed, ripe banana (1 large one or two small)
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 Tbl of butter, melted
  • ½ cup of granular sugar substitute. I use Swerve or ZSweet
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • Walnut pieces or chocolate chips (optional). They have just come out with Bittersweet (dark) chocolate chips. Use them sparingly and you’ll be okay. I used about ¼ cup.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make this I put all the ingredients in a large bowl except the nuts and/or chips. Be sure when you add the ingredients that you scatter the baking powder across the surface of the ingredients so it’s not all in one spot. Beat on medium for a full minute. Make sure your banana is getting fully incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat a full minute more on a medium-high setting. It’s the beating of the eggs that will be one of the secrets to a moist, leavened bread.

Stir in your chips or nuts with a spatula.

Line your loaf pan with parchment paper. I used a 9 X 5” pan. (One other time I used mini pans and baked them in about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them. Loaf pans are different sizes. Test for doneness with a toothpick. If it comes out clean it’s baked).

Pour in your batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 – 55 minutes. Let cool most of the way before you try to take it out of the pan. Cool completely and serve. Leftovers can be stored in a ziplock bag.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


I Hate My Mask

My problem is I have a little head with a small face. Even my nose is small.

A few weeks ago, we went on an internet hunt for masks. We found a style I thought would work on my small head. Trouble is when we ordered them, we had to order a minimum of 200. I have plenty of masks all the same size. They are the disposable blue ones with elastic bands.

Here are my complaints:

  • When I put on my mask (even if I pull it low) it covers from the bottom of my chin all the way up to my bottom eye lashes. It literally gets in my eyes. I have to keep pulling on it and I know that’s not good.
  • It itches. Tickles.
  • When I go to the grocery store (which isn’t all that often these days) I have even more trouble. I try to put on my glasses to read labels and my glasses end up steaming up. Then I can’t see where I’m going unless I take the glasses back off. Glasses on. Glasses off. Glasses on. Glasses off.
  • It’s hot. I got so warm the other day at the grocery store that by the time I got out of there I was becoming nauseated.

I am aware that there are solutions to this issue.

  1. Get over it.
  2. Make my own mask (but darn it, I don’t have a sewing machine anymore. I sold it)
  3. Find a different mask on-line and try that one.

I’ve been giving away masks to my employees and friends by the handful.

I just wanted to blow off a little steam today. I hope I entertained you even a little.

Cheers,

P.S. I’m still wearing a mask when I go out. I won’t quit. This is just too important.

 

Beef Stroganoff

This beef stroganoff can be eaten out of a bowl like a thick soup or stew. Or you can serve it with a side of veggies. Or if you're feeling really indulgent, add some egg noodles!


Roasted Sea Bass

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z2 (ZReduction) and a Happy Healthy Holidays recipe. Easter is the perfect time to make this. Sea bass is probably the most wonderful fish on the planet. Its taste is out-of-this-world. The buttery essence the drains out of it as you eat it will make you swear you just cheated on your diet. Sea bass is not in-expensive but if you want to treat yourself, there’s nothing like it.

Servings: Serves 4 during ZReduction or 2 during ZReboot

Ingredients:

  • 4, 6-8 oz pieces of sea bass. Most fish places already have them cut into 6 oz pieces or you can ask. I ask for the thicker pieces rather than the pieces closer to the tail which are thinner.
  • olive oil spray
  • your coating of choice

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

This is so simple. Just lightly spray the sauté pan with olive oil. Spray the flesh side of your sea bass filet with olive oil too. Then dust on your coating. This can be as simple as salt and pepper. I have used fish rubs, meat rubs, Cajun rub, Mexican rub, curry powder, Italian seasoning blend; all sorts of things. Just pick the style you want for your fish today.

Heat the pan to medium high. Put the fish in the pan coating side down. Let it cook on medium high up to 2 minutes or until there is a light brownish coating on the fish. Then put a spatula underneath and flip it over.

If your pan is oven-proof you can transfer it directly to the oven. If not, transfer the fish filets to an oven proof pan.

Then transfer to the oven. You’ll let your sea bass roast at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s getting done when places along the filet begin to crack. You might even see some yellow juices. Don’t worry. That’s not butter. That’s the natural juice from the sea bass. You can pull at the fish a bit to make sure it flakes all the way through and there’s no bluish color left. You know when fish is done when it’s white through and through.

When you go to remove the fish from the pan the skin might stick. That’s okay. Leave it there. If your skin comes along for the ride to the plate remember not to eat the skin.

This dish can be served plain or with all kinds of sauces. The roasted tomatillo sauce was designed for this dish.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Caramelized Onion Pie

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z3.5 (ZReboot 3.5) recipe.

The key to the dreaminess of this onion pie is to caramelize the onions. The key to caramelizing onions is to take your time. Caramelizing onions makes the natural sugars in the onion come to the forefront. No more bold onion taste. Just dreamy flavor. Serve this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We love it as a tasty entrée item. You can serve it with a salad just like a quiche. It can also be served warm or room temperature. Makes a great buffet item.

Serves: Serves 4 as entrée. More as a side or a buffet item.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups thinly sliced onions. You can use white, or regular yellow. I used white onion, red onion and added some chives at the end. Don’t use sweet onions (Vidallia). It sounds counter-intuitive, but they don’t caramelize as well. Red onions caramelize well but take it easy on those or you will be serving purple pie.
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • grated sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of grated gruyere cheese, divided
  • one 9-inch pie crust, prebaked in a pie pan

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and sauté, stirring periodically, until caramelized (approximately 45 minutes). If you’re using chives, don’t add those yet or they’ll burn. I start off by setting the burner on medium. I stir the onions every 5 – 8 minutes. If the onions start to stick at all, just add a bit more olive oil and stir them around. You don’t want the onions to brown too fast. Just take your time. Mine don’t start to even brown a bit until after 15 minutes. After they just start to brown, I turn the burner down lower. Remove the onions from the heat when they are medium brown and have shrunken down. If you’re using chives, quickly saute them for 1 minute in a splash of olive oil.

Whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. You can do with a whisk or just run your mixer for a minute. Add the onions, chives and 1.5 cups of the cheese and stir to combine. Make sure they are not all stuck together. You might have to pull at them with a fork or tong to break up the cheese and make sure the onions get distributed. Pour the mixture evenly into the baked pie crust. You might need to use a fork again to make sure the mixture is spread across the whole crust. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the pie.

Bake in the preheated oven until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. If the crust starts to get too brown, cover it with foil. Remove the pie from the oven to cool. Let the pie cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Fruit Bowl with Luscious Lemon Cream Z3.5 Version

This is an amazing dessert we enjoyed with our friends Mary Ann & Joe. Mary Ann is living ZLife and contributed this for you all to enjoy!

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z3.5 (ZReboot 3.5) recipe. If you want to keep this on the lower glycemic side, use this version.

This stuff is addictive and so refreshing. RARELY do I take seconds on a dessert. With this one I did.

Servings: Serves at least 8

Ingredients:

  • 3 pints strawberries, slice or cut into quarters
  • 4 bananas sliced and tossed in lemon juice
  • 1 pound red/purple grapes
  • 2 cans mandarin oranges (drained)
  • 5 kiwis – sliced
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions:

Mix your fruit up in a large bowl. Or layer fruit and serve in a big clear bowl. Serve in individual bowls with the Luscious Lemon Cream on the side for topping (recipe below).

 

Luscious Lemon Cream (makes about 3 cups)

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup ZSweet or Swerve sugar substitute. You can also use stevia.
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon or ReaLemon lemon juice from concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) whipping cream, whipped

Instructions:

In bowl, beat together eggs, 1/4 cup sweetener and ReaLemon. In a saucepan, combine remaining 1/4 cup sweetener and cornstarch; stir in water. Cook and stir until thickened; remove from heat. Gradually beat in egg mixture. Over low heat, cook and stir until slightly thickened. Add vanilla; cool. Fold in whipped cream. Serve with fresh fruit. Refrigerate leftovers.

Enjoy!

Cheers,

Mary Ann & Joe


The Tortoise Trek

I thought we could all use a little levity. A laugh. A smile.

This came across my desk late last week.

The Tennessee Aquarium is located in Chattanooga.  It’s such a beautiful building it’s one of the things that drew me to move here. It lights up the skyline day or evening.

And the Aquarium is absolutely amazing.

We can’t go to the Aquarium right now. Of course, it’s closed. So they did this video to bring the Aquarium to us.

I have not smiled this much in weeks. I realized I was grinning from ear to ear as I watched this video.

Wanna smile? Give it a click.

https://youtu.be/zye-yfz0mUE

Besides, I also learned a lot about tortoises, butterflies and even a partridge. I’m going to be watching more things like this and less TV news.

As an addendum to this offering I thought I’d also include a marketing piece I wrote last week. It’s meant to be a bit entertaining and at the same time get across the point that this is a good time to diet – for lots of reasons. I’ve been gratefully amazed at how many people agree with me and are getting started with Plan Z to get ready for their summer.

Cheers,

8 Great Reasons To Start Plan Z Now

I've heard scads of excuses as to why someone can't start a diet right now. Folks…most of the excuses are gone now.


Lockdown Chili (Z3.5 Version)

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z3.5 (ZReboot 3.5) recipe.

This chili is a bit spicy. You can back off on any of the seasonings if you want it milder. I thought – what better time to have a spicy chili than when I am in lockdown, practicing social distancing.

Servings: Serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of ground sirloin
  • 1 cup of chopped onion (yellow, white or red)
  • ½ of a green bell pepper, diced
  • ½ of a red bell pepper, diced
  • 15 oz can of diced tomatoes. I used fire-roasted.
  • 15 oz can of pinto beans in sauce. I use Bush brand chili beans. They have a nice gravy. Choose mild to hot.
  • 3 – 4 cups of beef broth. This just depends on how thick you like your chili or if you like it more like soup.
  • 2-1/2 Tbl chili powder
  • 2 Tbl ground cumin
  • 1 Tbl garlic powder
  • 1 tsp of grated sea salt or to taste
  • ½ tsp of ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp of ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
  • olive oil spray

Instructions:

Spray your soup pot with olive oil on medium high heat Add the ground beef. Break it up as it begins cooking. When it’s about ½ way cooked (about 5 minutes), add the onion and the bell peppers. Cook a few minutes more just to loosen up the veggies. When no pink remains in the beef, add the rest of the ingredients except the cheese. Bring the chili to a boil and then turn down to simmer. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes.

Add grated cheddar on top to serve.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


8 Great Reasons To Start Plan Z Now

Anytime you are mentally preparing to do a diet you go through a process. Most folks have to finally get angry enough at their current situation that they decide it’s time to act. And Act NOW.

When they call us to sign up for Plan Z we hear the stories. They talk about how they have listened to the commercials (often times for several months), but they always had an excuse not to pull the trigger and start Plan Z.

Folks…most of the excuses are gone now. Any of these sound familiar?

  1. Your Buddies. This is one time your buddies are not going to be calling you to talk you into going to the bowling alley and drink beer. You’re all at home.
  2. Eating out. Your favorite restaurant is closed. You might still be able to go through a drive-through and feed your fear while you fill your stomach with garbage. Instead, while you’re on Plan Z you can eat amazing, fresh food.
  3. Take Control. Being at home opens up time to cook. Control what you put in your mouth. Follow a simple Plan Z recipe and everyone in the family can eat healthier and enjoy it. We even have recipes that teenagers love.
  4. Your Health Can Improve. People with the pre-existing conditions that put you in extra danger can be helped quickly. I can’t make medical claims, but people call us all the time to say their blood pressure is normalizing within the first week or two on Plan Z. Same goes for improvement in sleep (less snoring). Same for blood sugar dropping to normal levels. And more.
  5. The Butterfly Effect. The weight loss part of Plan Z is only 50 days long. You won’t be seeing a lot of people during this time. So imagine what it would be like to come back out into the world after 50 days and be an average of 31 pounds lighter. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.
  6. You’ve Got the Time. The biggest excuse for not dieting is you’re too busy. Well, right now you’re not commuting anywhere. You just got that time back. You may or may not even be able to do your job. You might have lots of time on your hands. Let’s put it to good use.
  7. Save Money. The money you’ll be saving by not going out to restaurants and bars can be used to pay for Plan Z.
  8. Lower Price. I have decided to extend the biggest sale we do each year. The lowest price on Plan Z is here, right now. You can get started for under $150. Make a few payments. And if you need a longer payment schedule than we normally offer, just give us a call. We’re open to ideas and adjustments for your budget.

The lady who told me she could not start Plan Z yet because she had a birthday party to attend and she would be too tempted to eat birthday cake has no excuse anymore. Party cancelled.

You have an opportunity to have a party for one right now. Or diet with an at-home buddy and party together. Every time people get on the scale while they do Plan Z they do a little happy dance.

Is it time for you to join the Plan Z party and do your own little dance?

Click on the shop page to check out the sale.

Cheers,


The most hopeful and helpful thing I’ve read so far…

The most hopeful and helpful thing I’ve read so far on the virus came from my naturopathic doctor in Chicago, Dr. Terese. I miss her. She’s a brilliant woman. Good thing I am still on her mailing list.

My feeling is the most important thing we can do is not get COVID-19. Do everything you can to not contract the virus.

Yes, do all the things the experts are saying. Wash hands regularly. Social distancing. And all the rest. But there are other things you can do that will help strengthen your immune system and (hopefully) make you less likely to get it.

Here’s what my doctor sent with my comments thrown in.

From Dr. T:

Recommendations for staying healthy and overall flu/viral prevention strategies.

Diet/Lifestyle Recommendations for good health and a strong immune system:

  1. (From Dr. T.) Diet - Remove all added sugars, white flours and pastas and foods that are higher glycemic foods. High levels of glucose in your bloodstream can decrease the effectiveness of your immune system in fighting off illness. Focus on eating a clean diet with lots of vegetables, lower sugar fruits (like berries) and grass-fed meat, eggs and wild-caught fish or legumes. Adding raw garlic to your diet can boost your immune system's natural killer cells.

From Zola: This looks like Plan Z in one paragraph! If you’re currently on the Plan Z diet, this list will look familiar. If you are not yet a Plan Z client this can give you extra motivation to get started. Of course there are lots more details as part of Plan Z and you need the all-important ZR50 Crave Control spray to keep you comfortable.

  1. (From Dr. T.) Sleep - Sleep deprivation can suppress your immune system. Be sure to get sufficient sleep every night, at least 7 hours/night.

From Zola: There is an element in the ZR50 Crave Control spray that helps you relax so you sleep better. You’re taking magnesium citrate while you do Plan Z too…which helps with sleep.

  1. (From Dr. T.) Stress - In spite of the never-ending news cycle, try to keep stress levels to a minimum as stress hormones can suppress your immune system. Try implementing stress reducers - exercise, meditation, yoga, laughter - into your daily routine.

From Zola: I have to work on this one. I am currently a little too dependent on getting updates on the virus, the spread and the economic news.

  1. (From Dr. T.) Hydration - Hydrated cells function more optimally. Water helps to flush out metabolic waste and flushing out this waste will help our immune system function more optimally. Rule of thumb to determine how many ounces of water you need to drink is to divide your weight, in lbs, by half. That number is the number of ounces you should be drinking, at minimum, in water per day.

From Zola: With Plan Z we recommend you get at least 100 oz of water per day. For some it takes time to get used to it but then your body will crave it.

  1. (From Dr. T.) Exercise - exercise gets your lymphatic system flowing, which helps your immune system work more efficiently at fighting infections. Exercise improves circulation, including circulation of antibodies and white blood cells which fight off infections. Even walking can give you these benefits. Moderate exercise is the key as there is evidence that over-training can suppress your immune system.

From Zola: My husband and I have implemented a new walking schedule. Since we are working from home we are going out and walking around our neighborhood complex three times. That takes 30 minutes. We are also continuing our exercise and my yoga although we have had to adapt since our gym is closed. Lifting weights is important and if necessary, just lifting the weight of your body parts in new ways is helpful for strength building. Don’t sit around waiting for this to end.

  1. (From Dr. T.) Hand washing/hand shaking, etc. - wash your hands!! This is one of the most useful strategies we can all employ to prevent the transmission of viruses. Even hand sanitizer is not as effective, although that is an alternative if soap and water is not available. Do not shake hands, use an elbow bump or jazz hands for a greeting. Avoid touching your face - eyes, nose and mouth!

From Zola: Interestingly, my pharmacist told me that hand sanitizer is not useful. It kills bacteria – not viruses. I have found a cleaning product that kills viruses and am using that to wash my hands. Lately some doctors have been saying that hand sanitizer can work but that it has to have a minimum of 60% alcohol. So, label reading is in order.

  1. (From Dr. T.) Sinus rinse/Neti pot - cleaning your nasal tissue may decrease a virus's ability to take hold. This is theoretical and there is no evidence on this with the COVID-19 virus. Xlear is a nasal spray with xylitol and grapefruit seed extract, which have antimicrobial properties.

From Zola: I’m not a fan of neti pots but I’m glad people are trying to get creative to get us all the help we can get.

Consider applying these ideas to your daily life. Most of them are helpful ideas for overall health/immunity and not just a plan to try to keep from getting COVID-19.

Stay well.

Hang in.


Ideas for Eating…Now

Up until now I have been hunkering down. For me that means I’m practicing social distancing. I limit my trips to the grocery store and the gas station. I wash my hands like a mad woman.

Now I am in the final stages of locking down. Hunkering down is not easy. Locking down is going to be HARD. But we have to do it.

In my case I am planning for a 3 week stretch of working in isolation; keeping my inner circle to just a few people I work with and my husband of course.

I am taking one more trip to the grocery store to stock up on provisions. Then I am going to spend a chunk of my days channeling my inner Julia Child. I plan to make large batches of a few dishes and plan to rotate them. I am making things that will taste wonderful right from the freezer. Thaw and heat.

I am going to share some of those recipes with you today…in case you want to join me in stocking up on good food that will make the next few weeks more pleasurable than gnawing on beef jerky. I am here to give you inspiration.

I am going to let you know my plans for breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

I will do my best to include both ZReduction meals and ZReboot (maintenance) meal variations.

Breakfast

I will be concentrating on smoothies for my breakfasts. I do that often anyway. I can always switch out to scrambled eggs, a frittata or hard boiled eggs. The good thing is eggs last quite well in the refrigerator.

I want to make sure I get fruit, so my smoothies consist of a protein powder or plain full fat yogurt, Stevia if I feel I need it, a milk (pea milk is my favorite but I also use coconut milk or almond milk – no cow. Cow's milk spoils. The others are shelf stable and can last.) Whiz that up and I'll stay full and focused until lunch time. Here’s a smoothie recipe you can try, and an article on the miracle of collagen protein.

For fruit, I rotate strawberry, raspberry, mixed berry, peach slices or mango chunks. You can find them all in the freezer section. You don’t need fresh.

If you want granola, make this one and serve it with a drizzle of pea milk. Pea milk has a wonderful mouth feel.

Let’s skip lunch for a minute and talk dinner. Most of my lunches will be leftovers from a dinner anyway.

Dinner

I want to give you recipes and direction that do not require going to the store and getting fresh veggies every few days. A recipe might call for fresh veggies but I am going to give you hints on how to use frozen or canned items as substitutes. When the craziness we are going through lessens we can get back to enjoying fresh food again. It will taste SO GOOD!

I am going to make a lot of soups and stews. I can divide them into containers that can be removed from the freezer, thawed and heated. That way I don’t have to eat the same thing for days on end. I’ll get to change it up.

I picked this roasted red pepper chili because you can pull the meat out of the freezer and everything else can be stored in the cupboard until you are ready to make it. It uses roasted red pepper strips from a jar. It’s good too. Serve it with Frito's. If you're on ZReduction, don't go crazy with the Frito's. If you are on ZReboot (maintenance) feel free to add a can of pinto beans. I use Bush’s Chili Hot beans. They have a lovely gravy/sauce.

Meatballs and marinara up next. You can buy the frozen Italian meatballs (cocktail size) and bake them in your oven. Put them in a 9" x 13" pan and pour marinara sauce from the jar all over them. I get a spaghetti sauce with no sugar. Rao’s brand is one that I like, but there are more now, too. If you're no longer dieting, a small piece of naan that you store in the freezer makes a nice garlic bread. You can sprinkle mozzarella or Parmesan on the meatballs, too. Good thing is cheese lasts -- and you can freeze it!

Mushroom soup. Make this one early on while your fresh mushrooms are still good. You can use dry thyme and any regular onion. Then freeze it in batches. It’s super quick and also tastes great with a piece of garlic bread made from thawed naan.

My mom’s beef stew recipe is going to give me great comfort. If you are making this later in the lock-down process consider buying frozen veggies up front for the onions, celery etc. Even one of the pepper onion mixtures will work. You can use fresh potatoes (they last) or even canned ones. Add a can of green beans, too if you want.

For lunch you can have leftovers. If you are really on the run and need to eat processed food from a box get low carb. Atkins is one brand but there are more now.

For other fruits pick up oranges, grapefruit, and apples. They all last quite some time and will be special.

Dessert

I wrote a whole article on frozen desserts. My rule of thumb is keep your dessert carbs to 15 grams or less a day. Besides the frozen options many cookies work, too. You just need to do the math and be disciplined. So, here’s the article AND a bonus recipe for “raspberry ice cream” made from frozen raspberries. The cream should last in your fridge for a couple of weeks. My husband eats this several times a week and adds a few chunks of dark chocolate. Use 72% cacao chocolate and limit yourself to one square and you’ll have a BIG YUM.

More soon.

Spend time this weekend like I will be…preparing to lock down. Get out the games, watch movies, surf the net…Do whatever you do that makes you happy but stay indoors.

Hang in.

Cheers,

Raspberry "Ice Cream"

I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream – and we are on a diet! BONUS!


Raspberry “Ice Cream”

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z2 (ZReduction) recipe. Dieter Margaret offered up a GREAT Idea the other day. I had given her the berries and sweet cream idea. She took it one step further and accidentally made "Ice cream" I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream – and we are on a diet!  BONUS!

Servings: Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 2 cups of frozen raspberries
  • 2 – 3 Tbl of heavy cream
  • ½ tsp of Truvia
  • a teeny drizzle of organic vanilla

Instructions:

In a small container, put in your cream, Truvia and vanilla. Stir and let the flavors meld for a few minutes. Secret Told: I do this when I am starting dish clean up and it’s ready when I am finished filling the dishwasher.

Put your raspberries in a small bowl while frozen. Immediately drizzle on half of the cream mixture per bowl. Stir into the berries and eat slowly so you savor it.

Close your eyes and you just might think you are eating a rich, raspberry-filled ice cream. HUGE YUM!

Note: I put the portion at 1 – 2 cups because I find I am fully satisfied with just ½ cup of raspberries and my cream on top. This gives me a creamier texture.

Just factor in too, that this takes away from some of your cream allotment for the day.

Second Note: I also tried this with frozen strawberry bits. They worked well but not quite as well as raspberries. I love cantaloupe and ice cream. I bet if you freeze diced cantaloupe this will be amazing. My guess is blackberries would be a bit big and maybe too frozen but they are worth a try.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Cream of Mushroom Soup

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z3 (ZReboot) recipe.

Servings: Makes 4 cups or 2 bowls. Can be easily doubled or tripled.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of sliced mushrooms. I used wild mushrooms, but you can use any you like best.
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and sliced. White part only. Or you can use regular onion or shallot. You want about a cup.
  • 1-1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 Tbl of butter
  • 1 Tbl of flour
  • ¼ tsp of fresh thyme leaves
  • Grated sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbl of bourbon (optional)
  • parsley for garnish

Instructions:

In a medium saute pan, add the butter, mushrooms and leeks. Saute on medium high until the mushrooms just begin to brown on the edges. This gives the soup a richer flavor. Add the flour and stir until the flour disappears.

Add the salt and pepper and thyme. Immediately add the broth. Let bubble a few minutes. Then add the cream. Let the cream gently bubble for a few minutes while it thickens the soup. Stir often. Get it to your liking and stop the cooking. If it gets too thick, you can always add more chicken broth.

If you are adding the bourbon, add it now.

Let the soup cool down. Then use your blender to puree half of it. I like my mushroom soup to still have some slices of mushrooms in it. You decide. If you want, you can puree the whole batch.

Be careful not to puree it when it’s really hot. That can blow the top off the blender and be very dangerous. Let it cool down pretty well and use a towel on top of the blender top. Hold the top down with your hand and begin with the blender on slow to blend it up. Then you can turn it up when you feel it’s safe. If you let it cool completely, you won’t have this issue. I’m just adding this extra advice to keep you safe.

You can store this in the refrigerator overnight if you want and then just reheat before serving. When you reheat it, keep it on low so it doesn’t boil again.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Roasted Red Pepper and Beef Chili

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z2 (ZReduction) recipe. Okay, so I opened my pantry and saw a jar of roasted red pepper strips. I thought… I could make a new chili with these! So here you have it. This is chili #7 for Plan Z. Very popular!

Servings: Serves 5-7. One serving on ZReduction is 1-1/2 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of ground sirloin
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (you can use your choice of yellow, orange, red or green)
  • 1 large onion, diced – approx. 2 cups
  • 2 Tbl of chili powder – your choice. There are hot chili powders and mild ones.
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 2 – 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes (undrained). You choose if you want them with chilies, oregano and garlic, or even fire roasted.
  • 1 – 16 oz jar of roasted red pepper strips packed in water (in jar). Rinse them in a colander and drain. If you buy whole roasted peppers just cut them into strips or chunks.
  • ¼ - ½ tsp of cracked red pepper flakes (The kind people use on pizza. If you want your chili really mild, leave these out)
  • 3 cups of water
  • ½ tsp of grated sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 lime (optional garnish)

Instructions:

Spray a soup pot with olive oil spray. Put in the ground sirloin and begin to break it up. Cook on medium-high, stirring often and breaking it up, until it’s half done. Then add the onions and bell pepper. Cook until the beef is completely done and the veggies are moistened. (The beef won’t be pink in the middle anymore).

Add everything else except the lime.

Turn to a simmer and let bubble for a minimum of 15 minutes. The longer it simmers (up to an hour) the more melded the flavors will become but it will also cook off some of the liquid. That’s why the servings number is a variable.

Garnish with a lime wedge- optional. Some like to squeeze the lime over their chili.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Peanut Butter Craisin Granola

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z3.5 (ZReboot 3.5) recipe. Craving breakfast cereal? Try this instead! Have it with unsweetened coconut milk.

Also makes a YUMMY parfait. To do that...put a ½ cup of unsweetened yogurt in a bowl or large glass. Stir in one teaspoon of Truvia to sweeten it. Then mix in or layer the granola.

Servings: Notice this is 10 servings; a half cup each. (about nine grams per serving of carbs). That’s not bad. Just take it easy and don’t eat it too often. This batch should last a good week if kept tightly sealed. You can freeze it in little batches too so it will last longer.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups cashews
  • 1-1/2 cups pecans
  • 1 cup flax seed meal (you can get this in the grocery store. Look for Bob’s Mill brand)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds (these are really good for preventing cancer. Order on line or get in health food stores)
  • 1/3 cup vanilla whey protein powder (we order this online and use it in smoothies too. Keeps you full all morning)
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated erythritol (I use ZSweet. You can order this online too or it is in some stores)
  • 5 – 8 drops of liquid stevia (most stores have this now)
  • ¾ cup of craisins
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, process cashews and pecans until they resemble coarse crumbs with some larger pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in flax seed meal, chia seeds and vanilla protein powder.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt peanut butter, butter and erythritol together until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in stevia extract.

Pour peanut butter mixture over nut mixture and stir well, tossing lightly. Stir in water. Mixture will clump together.

Spread mixture evenly on prepared baking sheet and bake 20 minutes, until golden and beginning to crisp. Turn off oven and let sit for another 20 minutes and then break up. Store in a container with a tight lid.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


White Chocolate Crème Brulee (custard) with Strawberry Coulis (sauce)

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z3 (ZReboot) recipe. I adapted this recipe from the Ghiradelli white chocolate package. Most crème brulee recipes call for caramelizing sugar on top of the custard. I love that, but the sugar is too much. So, in this case, I made up a simple strawberry sauce to go on the top instead. With Plan Z we work to reduce the carbohydrate count on a recipe but still keep the flavor. This recipe has about 10 grams of carbohydrates per serving. For a dessert, that’s pretty darn good. And for one this pretty and satisfying, it’s GREAT.

You can also use raspberries or blackberries for your sauce if you prefer.

Servings: Serves 8

Ingredients:

For the Custard

  • 4 egg yolks (save the whites for something else or toss them)
  • 4 tsp of Truvia
  • 4 oz of high-quality white chocolate. Ghiradelli is good. Don’t use the white block stuff.
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract

For the Coulis

  • 1 quart of fresh strawberries
  • ¼ cup of Grand Marnier or sparkling water
  • 1 tsp of Truvia
  • mint (optional)

*You'll also need 8 small ramekins (1/2 cup size)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Put your egg yolks and the Truvia in a medium bowl. Whip with a whisk until the Truvia dissolves.

Chop the white chocolate into very small bits.

Heat the whipping cream on medium high. You want to keep an eye on it and watch for little bubbles to form on the sides of the pan. Don’t let it boil. When the bubbles form the cream is hot. Add the chocolate and take it off heat. Mix with a whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture smooths out. Add the vanilla and stir again.

Now, carefully and SLOWLY add the chocolate to the egg mixture. DO NOT do this fast or the eggs will scramble and you’ll have a lumpy mess. It’s not difficult. Just go very slowly at first and then add in a slow stream while you keep stirring.

When the mixtures are combined in the bowl you are ready to fill your ramekins. You’ll need 8 ramekins in the half-cup size.  Fill all 8 ramekins equally. I use a measuring cup to make this easy. It’s sort of like filling cupcake tins.  Make sure you don’t fill them all the way.  You’ll have about a ½” open at the top. You’ll fill that with sauce later.

Next step is to put the ramekins in an oven proof pan. I used a 9" x 13" for six of them and a 9" x 9" for the other two. Set the filled ramekins in the pan and then add water so it comes up halfway to the top of the ramekins. It’s about a ½” of water.

Carefully put the containers in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until set. They might jiggle a bit but not much.

Remove from oven and set on the counter. I use a hot pad and a spatula to carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath and then I set them on a cookie sheet. Put them in the refrigerator to cool. 2 hours minimum would be good.

While they are cooling you can make your coulis (sauce).

Clean and slice the strawberries. Put them in a medium saucepan and add the Grand Marnier. If you don’t cook with liquor just add sparkling water instead. Add the Truvia and cook until the strawberries are softened. You can cook them until just softened or even down to almost a jam consistency.

You have two choices. You can either serve the sauce cold/room temperature on the crème brulee or you can heat it just before serving and have hot sauce on the cold custard. Both options taste lovely.

You can garnish with a mint sprig if you have one handy.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Tarragon Mustard Shrimp

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z2 (ZReduction) and Zola To Go! recipe. This dish made a wonderful lunch salad entrée in our Plan Z kitchen. I think it would be GREAT as an appetizer at a cocktail party, too. If you are on ZReduction you can take this with you and you’ll have what you need to eat. As an appetizer it can be served, hot, room temp or cold. The other guests at the cocktail party will NEVER know you are eating diet food. They will love it, too.

Servings: Serves 6. Can easily be doubled for a party.

Ingredients:

For the Shrimp:

  • 1/3 cup of Dijon mustard
  • 1 large shallot or 3 green onions, minced
  • 2 tsp of minced garlic, jar garlic can work
  • 3 Tbl of minced, fresh tarragon. (You need the fresh stuff for this dish)
  • 2-1/4 pounds of medium-large shrimp, (3” long) thawed, shelled and deveined.
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • a sprinkle of cayenne

For the optional salad:

  • 3 small heads of leaf lettuce cut up into bite-sized pieces. Remember, salad greens are unlimited so have at it.
  • 1 large red pepper cut into strips
  • 1 large yellow pepper cut into strips
  • 1 large orange pepper cut into strips
  • 2 cups of celery bits
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes cut in half

Instructions:

In a large bowl add the mustard, shallot bits, garlic and tarragon. Rinse and drain your shrimp. Add them to the big bowl with the other ingredients and stir. Add a grating of salt and either cayenne or black pepper. This is not a spicy dish. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for an hour or up to 3 hours. Don’t go longer than that without cooking them or the vinegar in the mustard will start to cook the shrimp like ceviche.

Preheat your broiler.

Spray a large cookie sheet with sides. You’ll use olive oil spray. Then add the marinated shrimp. Spread them around so they are in one layer. Spray the top of them with a bit more olive oil spray. Place on the rack below your broiler about 4” below the element. Broil for 2 minutes. Take them out of the oven and turn them over; just sort of stir them up. Put back in the broiler and broil for another two minutes.

Remove from oven and serve. Be sure to get the ‘sauce’ from the bottom of the cookie sheet.

If you are serving this on top of salad, your sauce becomes your dressing. It’s amazing how buttery this dish tastes with no butter added. Just don’t overcook the shrimp and the natural oils of the shrimp will come out and make the sauce taste buttery.

For a cocktail party you can just put these in a bowl and pass out toothpicks to grab them. Don’t ever leave shrimp on a cocktail party table for more than an hour; even if they are cooked. Encourage your guests to eat them and they will be gone in a flash.

For the salad:

Throw all the veggies in a bowl and mix. Take a handful or two, watch your veggie portion so you keep it to one cup with the lettuce as extra and toss it on the plate. Then arrange your shrimp however you wish, I centered mine.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Coconut Milk Eggnog & Double Cream Eggnog

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z3 (ZReboot) recipe. I tinkered with several eggnog recipes to come up with two that you can make for your holiday. The first one is a coconut milk version. This one is lighter in texture so if you family doesn’t like the thick taste of eggnog this will be their preferred version.

The second one is a double cream version. Very rich and just wonderful.

Either can be made with brandy or rum. Rum is more of the tradition but the brandy in the coconut milk eggnog lends a lighter zip to the drink.

In both cases I am suggesting “Eggnog Cordials” or “Eggnog Shots.” Eggnog cordials would be served in a cordial glass so it’s a smaller portion than the tradition of serving it in a mug. The shot would be even smaller. We all know it’s not the fat that makes us fat but you can over do your portions and if you are serving this with a dessert it’s probably just as well to back off and not have too much. Besides these are so good you don’t need much to get the satisfaction. It’s all about not feeling left out of the party and still be low carb. This does the trick.

Servings: From 6 to 12 servings (see notes above)

Ingredients:

For the Coconut Milk Eggnog

  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • ½ tsp of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of organic vanilla
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 tsp of Truvia
  • 1-1/2 cups of brandy
  • 1 cup of whipping cream
  • Pumpkin pie spice for garnish

Instructions:

In a medium sauce pan add the coconut milk, nutmeg and vanilla. Heat on a very low setting for 5 minutes; just to get it warm. Then slowly bring it up to a mild boil

While that’s heating you can deal with the egg yolks and Truvia. Put them in a mixer. Whisk on high until fluffy.  3 – 5 minutes. The mixture will become a frothy, smooth and lemony color. With the mixer running VERY SLOWLY begin to drizzle the coconut milk mixture into the eggs. Keep it SLOW or the eggs will scramble and you’ll have a mess. Keeping adding the mixture until it’s all incorporated.

Then take the mixture out of the mixer bowl and put it back into the sauce pan. Cook over medium heat CONSTANTLY STIRRING for 3 minutes. This is a critical part of the process. The mixture will thicken. In the coconut version it will not thicken as much as in the whipping cream version. DO NOT BOIL it.

Turn off and IMMEDIATELY strain it into another bowl to cool. Do not leave it in the sauce pan. I made that mistake once and if you do it will continue to cook leaving a coating on the bottom of the pan that you don’t want. The milk solids will separate out and curdle in the bottom of the pan.  YUK.

When the mixture is cool, stir in the brandy. Cool in the refrigerator and serve with a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg. The eggnog will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

Double Cream Eggnog

Servings: 6 to 12 servings (see notes above)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of whipping cream
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg
  • 2 tsp of organic vanilla
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 tsp of Truvia
  • 1.5 cups of golden rum
  • Pumpkin pie spice for garnish

Instructions:

In a medium sauce pan add the whipping cream, nutmeg and vanilla. Heat on a very low setting for 5 minutes; just to get it warm. Then slowly bring it up to a mild boil.

While that’s heating you can deal with the egg yolks and Truvia. Put them in a mixer. Whisk on high until fluffy.  3 – 5 minutes. The mixture will become a frothy, smooth and lemony color. With the mixer running VERY SLOWLY begin to drizzle the cream mixture into the eggs. Keep it SLOW or the eggs will scramble and you’ll have a mess. Keeping adding the mixture until it’s all incorporated.

Then take the mixture out of the mixer bowl and put it back into the sauce pan. Cook over medium heat CONSTANTLY STIRRING for 3 minutes. This is a critical part of the process.  The mixture will thicken. DO NOT BOIL it.

Turn off and IMMEDIATELY strain it into another bowl to cool. Do not leave it in the sauce pan. I made that mistake once and if you do it will continue to cook leaving a coating on the bottom of the pan that you don’t want.  The milk solids will separate out and curdle in the bottom of the pan.  YUK.

When the mixture is cool, stir in the brandy.  Cool in the refrigerator and serve with a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg. The eggnog will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.  It tastes even better on day 2 so you might want to think ahead and make it the day before serving.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Potluck with Purpose

I held a potluck dinner party recently. It was my first potluck in decades.

Years ago, I got turned off by potlucks. The last ones I attended didn’t work very well. No one did anything to organize what people brought so when you went through the line, got your food and sat down to eat, nothing coordinated. The food didn’t taste as good as it could because so many things were competing for your taste buds’ attention. It made me sad. People worked so hard on their dishes.

The other thing that happened was there was no balance. One time there’d be way too many desserts, only one or two sides and maybe even no entrée. Or there’d be three vegetable trays with dip that clearly all came from the same deli counter. So much food got wasted that way.

This year I decided that I was going to need some help in putting on a dinner party, so I asked people to bring a dish. I asked them to bring a dish that had a family history. It should be something their family made at the holidays that had a story to go with it.

I asked them to let me know what they were bringing so I could make sure we had a balanced buffet and see if I needed to make anything to round out the offerings.

This turned out to be a great idea for a few reasons.

Under the balance category, I had no fewer than three people tell me they wanted to bring mac and cheese. Well, if I had not asked that I would have had a buffet FULL of mac and cheese and not much else. So the first person to offer it up was given that deed and the others were asked to come up with Plan B. That was easy.

A couple of people brought desserts. A couple brought appetizers and the others brought side dishes. I was able to make just a couple of things to make sure the vegetarians and vegans in the crowd had enough to eat. I also provided shaved rare roast beef and turkey from the deli so everyone got a protein option. They could go low carb with it or I provided little buns and toppings so they could make sliders. That turned out to be the entrée. We had plenty of food but not massive amounts of anything that had to go to waste.

Before I served dinner, I gathered everyone around the buffet. This was my favorite part. I asked each person in turn to tell the story of what they brought. This got everyone to speak up and participate but it was the stories that were so grand. Each person had a funny or touching story to tell. Everyone in the room got to know a little bit about the family histories of those gathered and it kicked off dinner with a delightful opening.

I thought the hints in here might give you some direction for your next potluck. It might be a winter holiday party, Valentine’s Day party or even the 4th of July.

This plan is going to work great any time of the year. Try it!

Cheers,

Thai Basil Chicken

This dish will be ready in about 20 minutes. All you have to do is a little chopping.


Chocolate French Silk Dessert

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z3 (ZReboot) recipe.

Chocolate!  A recipe for a creamy, decadent chocolate dessert.

It's not the chocolate that's bad for you.  It's the sugar.  Use full-on chocolate coming in at least at 62% or more cacao and you're set to have chocolate in small quantities on ZReboot.

Servings: 4 – 5 servings, ½ cup each.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of heavy cream, whipped
  • 2 tsp of organic vanilla
  • 8 oz of cream cheese softened (use the full fat kind)
  • 3 Tbl of unsweetened cocoa
  • 6 – 8 tsp of Truvia (stevia)

Instructions:

Whip the cream with your mixer. While it's thickening, you can add your vanilla.

When the cream forms peaks turn off your mixer and add the cream cheese, the cocoa and the stevia. Turn back on to whip some more; just to mix it up. Taste it. This is intended to be a very deep-flavored chocolate confection. Start with six tsp of Truvia and see if you like it. If it's not sweet enough for you add the extras but try to train your taste buds not to need so much sweetness.

Serve this in pretty cups and shave chocolate curls on top for an extra bit. Use bittersweet chocolate; Scharffen Berger is fabulous! Even serve using demitasse spoons if you have them. Eating this in teeny bits makes it last so long and helps you enjoy it even more.

Chill in your refrigerator until ready to eat. If you are going to serve it the next day cover it with plastic wrap.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Chocolate Cupcakes

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z3.5 (ZReboot 3.5) recipe. These cupcakes are courtesy of Plan Z dieter Ashley, a professional pastry chef. She has done an amazing job of coming up with these cupcakes. They taste just as good as regular cupcakes but they contain just 12 grams of carbs each. The average cupcake will come in at 29 grams of carbs or more. Thank you Ashley!

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz of high quality chocolate, 70% cacao. Dice into small bits.
  • ½ cup of virgin coconut oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • ¼ tsp of grated sea salt
  • ¼ cup of high quality Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbl of coconut flour
  • ½ tsp of baking soda

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a small sauce pan melt your coconut oil on medium heat. When it’s clear and hot remove from heat and add the chocolate bits. Stir until they are fully melted. Set aside to cool down.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla and sea salt. This will take a minute or two to get them nice and frothy.

Now, for the tricky part. Take just a bit of the cooled chocolate mixture and blend it into the eggs. If the chocolate is too hot or you put in too much too fast you risk cooking your egg mixture. So be careful and take your time. Once the first bit it blended in you can begin to slowly drizzle the rest of the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and continue blending until you have it all mixed in.

Add the coconut flour and the cocoa powder. Mix again.

Add the baking soda and make sure that’s mixed in. Now let the batter sit for five minutes.

Grease your muffin tins or put in paper muffin cups.

Pour the batter up to ¾ of the way up to the top. I got 11 cupcakes when I made my batch.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. No fair peeking. These bake similarly to an angel food cake so you don’t want to be banging the oven door. The finished cupcakes will be rounded and beautiful.

You can frost them with a simple, light smear of French ganache or even eat them with no frosting. They are delightful.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Raspberry Pate de Fruit from Chef Josh

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z2 (ZReduction) recipe. These are delightful little jellies. They taste so French and so fresh! Not like those little gum-balls you can buy at the candy store. These are the real deal. BIG YUM!  I'd recommend making a batch of these and sharing them with friends and family. Even just one makes a great treat. Chef Josh served them on the side of a little teeny chocolate cake that is also a Plan Z menu choice.

For those of you who like to give gifts of food for holidays or other special occasions, consider making these. You'd be giving your friends and family a gift of a healthy treat. I'm sure they'd love you for it.

Servings: 1 per person

Ingredients:

  • 2-10 ounce jars of raspberry preserves (no sugar added) (POLANER is the brand to buy. Other sugarless jams are sweetened with sucralose and you don't want artificial sweeteners. This one is sweetened with only fruit juice.
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 packets of gelatin
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of Truvia (for coating). Truvia is stevia, a natural sweetener.

Instructions:

Place the raspberry preserves into a thick-bottomed metal pan with 1 cup of water. Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a boil.

In a separate bowl place 1/4 cup of water, and sprinkle the three packets of gelatin on top of the water. Stir in with a spoon, and place into the microwave for 20 seconds to melt.

Remove the gelatin and pour into the boiling raspberry preserves, incorporating it with a whisk.

Continue to lightly boil the fruit mixture until you reach 225 degrees. You can use a candy thermometer, or another great trick is to take the whisk you are using to stir and hold it horizontally. If any fruit puree falls back into the pan you need to keep cooking it. When the puree sticks to the whisk, you can turn the heat off. Be careful because at this hot of a temperature the puree can really burn you. It also can begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, so continue to stir while you are waiting for the right consistency.

There are a few options for molding these beautiful jewels. I use a rubber dome silpat, which creates demispheres. But alternatively you can use a small non-stick loaf pan greased with a little butter, or anything that will create a 1” inch deep pate de fruit.

After pouring into the mold of your choice place in the fridge or freezer for an hour.

The puree should have firmed up at this point. You can now un-mold the jellies and roll them in the Truvia. Alternately, you can cut your pan-jellies into little squares or use a teeny hors d’oeuvre cutter to make shaped candies. You can now leave them out of a refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for up to a week!

I love how the Truvia coats the outside perfectly and adds a little crunch to the chewy texture. Serve these with anything dark chocolate, but they are perfectly delicious on their own.

Chef Josh


What To Do With All Those Tomatoes

When you grow a garden, you know what it’s like when the tomatoes start coming in heavy and you have to figure out what to do with them. My mother used to can stewed tomatoes. It took her one long weekend, but we had enough for the whole winter.

I had an even worse problem than tomatoes one year with zucchini. When those things ripen, they start taking over the yard! They can get the size of footballs in no time flat. That summer lead me to design a recipe for zucchini lasagna. This was back in the late 70’s before zucchini lasagna became a "thing." I made zucchini lasagna for my family, my friends or even anyone at the office who would take a casserole home.

Now that I live in the mid-South, I am trying to learn more and more about the cooking here. On the surface, it looks like it’s all biscuits and chicken. I do have to admit they make better fried chicken in these parts than I have had anywhere else in the country! Juicy on the inside and super crispy on the outside.

But what else do they eat besides biscuits, chicken, collard greens and okra? (I’m not really a fan other either of those last two. Collard greens are too earthy for my taste-buds and okra tastes like a glue mass to me.)

I have discovered I love fried green tomatoes and just recently I came across tomato pie.

Well, it is tomato season and the grocery stores and farmers’ markets around here are bursting with tomatoes. Heirloom, plum, beefsteak, cherry; you name it. They are all ripe, too. They didn’t have to travel far to get here; likely just around the corner, so they don’t have to be taken home and ripened. They are ready to eat today.

I decided to research tomato pie. I was interested in the history of such a Southern delicacy.

This is what I found on Wikipedia:

The Southern tomato pie is a tomato dish from the Southern United States. It consists of a pie shell with a filling of tomatoes (sometimes with basil or other herbs), covered with a topping of grated cheese mixed with either mayonnaise or a white sauce.[1][2] It is considered a summer dish, to be made when tomatoes are in season.[3]

A sweet version uses buttered and sugared green tomatoes, with a recipe dating at least as far back as 1877.[4] The taste has been compared to that of green apple pie.[5][6]

I was not all that surprised that this recipe has a long history. I also thought about how it’s not expensive to make and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner; and even a brunch dish. With a side salad this can be an entire meal. One pie can give four people a hefty serving each, or with the side salad it can serve six generously.

I was curious about the mayonnaise. I love a BLT so the mayonnaise was not totally shocking but how might it taste baked up and warm?

I know now. Fabulous!

My husband looked at the notes that I took from various recipes that I researched. He was a bit skeptical about the mayo; not sure he was going to like it. It was the only offering for dinner, so he sat on the side sort of observing where this was going.

In the end, he praised it highly. He loved it.

You’ll love it, too.

I made mine with a tart pan instead of a pie pan. You can decide what you like better.

Cheers,


Southern Tomato Pie

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z3.5 (ZReboot 3.5) recipe.

Serves: Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 prebaked pie shell. I used this for convenience and it only has 16 grams of carbs for one slice (6 portions) so it’s doable on a low carb diet. You want to be very low carb, make this almond flour pie crust.
  • 4 – 6 tomatoes cut into ¼” slices. I do not bother to peel them. The skin melts right in the pie
  • 1 Tbl of butter
  • ½ cup of onion or leeks
  • 1/2 tsp of powdered garlic (or to taste)
  • 10 fresh basil leaves sliced thinly. You’re shooting for a quarter cup.
  • 1 cup of grated mozzarella, divided
  • 1 cup of grated cheddar (when you review different recipes not everyone suggests cheddar, but I thought it gave it more color and flavor
  • 2/3 cup of mayonnaise (In the South, Duke’s mayo is popular)

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to bake your pie crust according to the directions on the box or in the recipe for the almond crust version.

Take your tomato slices and spread them across paper towels set on your counter. Don’t let them touch. Spread them out. Lightly grate sea salt on top. Let them sit at least 15 minutes or up to 30.

Bake your crust in a pie pan or 9” tart pan with a removable bottom. This will take less than 12 minutes depending on the recipe.

When the hot crust comes out of the oven spread on ¼ cup of the grated mozzarella. You just want a few shreds to cover the bottom of the crust.

Let cool.

In a saute pan, melt the butter and put in your leeks or onion. Saute’ just until loosened. If you are in a hurry you can just spread the onion on the bottom of the crust and put the butter bits on top. Sprinkle on your garlic powder.

Put on a layer of tomato slices. Then sprinkle on the basil. If you are using a tart pan it’s probably going to be just one layer of tomato slices. If it’s a pie pan you’ll likely have a second layer of tomato. Grate on sea salt and pepper to taste.

Then combine the rest of the cheeses and the mayo in a small bowl. Top the tomatoes with this mixture and spread it to the edges.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until the top is lightly browned.

Let it set out of the oven for 5 – 10 minutes so you don’t burn your mouth. This also makes it easier to cut and hold together well.

Serve warm.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Best Food for Kids, Before and After School

When I was a grade-schooler my brother and I would walk home from school each day.  He was one grade behind me.  It was about a mile from school to the house.  If we didn’t get any other exercise at least we got that.

I do know that we went out to play after school but when we got home and dropped our books on the dining room table we had a snack routine that followed immediately after.

Most often I’d do my snacking in the kitchen.  I’d go to the pantry and pick up a donut or other pastry my mother had gotten at the bakery.  I’d wash that down with a big glass of milk while I watched TV. My shows of choice were to watch Julia Child whip up a dish or I’d watch Graham Kerr, (another famous chef), cook a meal.  Little did I know that interest in cooking would carry on into adulthood and become so integral to my life.  My brother had different tastes.  He would grab a bag of potato chips and a 16 ounce Pepsi and he’d go off to the den to watch his favorite shows.

After that we went out to play with friends until dinner.

I never really worried about my weight until boys came into the picture. At 12 years old I became rather obsessed with diet and food. It didn’t stop me from eating donuts. My overall tactics were to just eat less and less. The education at the time revolved around counting calories. I became really good at that. I bought one of those pocket calorie books they had by the cash register at the grocery store. I memorized it.

Now I know that calorie counting was a waste of time. What I needed was a low carb way of eating. I needed options and I needed to eat the right stuff.

So now when I think of what kids could be eating, potato chips and donuts assuredly don’t hit the list. What I am going to do here is give you ideas for breakfast, lunch and after-school snacks. Your kids deserve tasty, healthy food.

Breakfast

Fruit: First off, don’t give your kid a glass of juice. There’s enough fructose in it to cause real problems. The nation’s preeminent childhood obesity expert, Dr. Robert Lustig of UC San Francisco calls fructose “poison” and he backs up his claims with science. Mother Nature gave you the antidote to the fructose when she invented whole fruit. The antidote is the fiber. Little kids will love a clementine. They are small and peel easily. It will take a kid a lot longer to peel and eat a clementine than it does to down a glass of juice. It’s deliciously sweet and has plenty of vitamin C in one dose.

Eggs: Hard boiled eggs are transportable if you have to rush your kids off to the bus. If they have time to sit and eat, any kind of eggs are good. Cook them any way they like. You can even make Breakfast Quiche Casseroles so you have more than one day of breakfast. They keep in your fridge easily.

Sausages and breakfast meats: There is no cereal that is going to keep a kid full and focused. Protein and fat will. Kids love to pick up a sausage link with their fingers. You can serve them any kind of meat, too. There are plenty of breakfast meats to choose from if they like bacon, Canadian bacon, or ham. But don’t limit yourself to traditional breakfast meats. If your kid wants the leftover chicken from last night, give it to them. Steer clear of sausages packed with sugar. Quality control is important here. Read the label on the box, or better yet, buy them from the butcher. Stay away from processed food as much as possible.

Pancakes: Yep, there are healthy pancakes. When pancakes are made with almond flour they are healthy. You can smash berries and mix them with a bit of Truvia (instead of syrup), or spread them with unsweetened peanut butter. You can find good peanut butter in stores now. Steer away from peanut butter with high fructose corn syrup in it. Again, read the label.

Apples with peanut butter: Slice up an apple and give your kids access to the peanut butter jar. They can take out a big scoop and then dip their apple in it or spread it on the slices. It's plenty of protein to get them through the morning, and it's filling too.

Smoothies: Have a teenager who wants to run out the door? Hand them a smoothie in one of those ‘go cups’ usually reserved for coffee. It will stay cold. The secret is to use full fat Greek yogurt. Steer clear of the huge aisle of flavored yogurt that is all full of sugar. You can sweeten the shake with frozen fruit and Truvia. Just follow the recipe. Little kids love these, too. They think they are getting an ice cream treat. Play that up!

Lunch

Any of the transportable things above can work for lunch. Even the pancakes. They travel well. Who says you can’t have breakfast for lunch? Brunch is good.

Meat rolls: You can go back to your butcher and ask for lunch meat that has been roasted in house. Steer clear of the stuff in the packages hanging on the wall. You want fresh, unprocessed lunch meat. Choose your kid’s favorite slice. Then add a slice of cheese and their favorite spread (mayo, mustard, etc) and roll it up. You can add lettuce, cucumber sticks, you can even add a few pickle spears for fun. They look like little meat cigars. Kids have fun eating them. They transport well in the sealable lunch bags in batches. They can have a few of them. Who says they need bread? Skip it. They can eat their meat rolls with their fingers and have fun.

Salads: Any salad packed in a Tupperware-style container and put in an insulated bag will work.

High protein salads: Think chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad, ham salad, etc. You can make them with or without mayo. Kids like the crunch of celery. You can add nuts, too. More protein and fat for an afternoon of focus.

Baby meatloaves: Kids love these. They can be eaten cold or reheated in the microwave.

Drinks: NO SODA. Not even diet. Steer clear. Find healthy options. La Croix, for example has come out with a whole line of naturally flavored sparkling waters. They have a ton of flavors. If you get your kid hooked on this stuff they won’t get a sugar buzz. They won’t get a caffeine buzz. They just get a sparkling experience that tastes amazingly like regular soda. Fun kid flavors, too.

This is just a start on the options for lunch.

After School Snacks

Everyone wants to give a kid a snack when they get home from school. One thing I’ll start off saying is if the kids eat more protein at lunch they are not likely to be so ravenous when they get home, like they are when they eat carbohydrate-laden meals. Carbs don’t really fill you up or do much to nourish you, so they wear off and leave you feeling hungry and unsatisfied.

Nuts: A great snack idea to replace chips of any kind. Here’s a pecan mix that’s actually sweet! Leave out the spicy bit if you want a straight sweet snack. If you feel the need to give them something sweet you can use some dried fruit bits. Just don’t load it with fruit. The ratio can be more like 10:1 (10 nuts to one raisin or apricot bit).

Fruit: When you get your kids off of all the sugar you’ll be amazed at how sweet fruit tastes. We are back to the clementine idea. Also plums, peaches and nectarines can be a sweet treat. Just feed them a whole piece of fruit and steer clear of the canned stuff with all the sugar. Berries are a sweet treat that is easy to eat. Steer clear of high glycemic index fruits like grapes, watermelon, pineapple and bananas. If you give them grapes give them one or two. They will taste like gumdrops but they don’t need a whole bunch.

Candy: Yes you can come up with healthy candy. Just serve in moderation. I’m giving you two recipes. If you’re a ‘gourmet cook’ or adventurous in the kitchen you’ll love these. Frozen yogurt bark is fun to eat and super delicious.

My friend Chef Josh offers up this gelee recipe. That’s French for gummie. These are all natural candy with no sugar. They taste sweet nonetheless. Just get a candy mold at the craft or kitchen supply store and you’re set.

Cheese: Kids can snack on cheese cubes. It won’t take a lot of them to fill them up.

Sweet Treats: Investigate low carb baking. The regular white flour we are accustomed to is full of carbohydrates. There are other options. It just takes a little education on how to replace the gluten that holds baked goods together. My favorites so far are coconut flour and almond flour but there are even more options. Just get on the internet and start to learn.  It’s just like going back to home economics class. Fun.

Here's a simple recipe to get you started: 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies. They are oh so yummy.

If your kids want something cold you are in luck. You can make this. It can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for days. It's way better for you than commercial ice cream and has the same kind of decadent feeling in your mouth. You can use it at your next dinner party too! Adults love this stuff! Chocolate French Silk.

One last one: If you have a food processor you can always whip up a batch of what I call Smoosh. It’s just like a frozen snow cone without the paper cone. Kids and adults both love this stuff. Some tell me they are never going back to ice cream after eating this stuff. They get the same satisfaction and no sugar.

I hope this sets you up for the school year. My goal is to see the lives of children changed by changing their eating habits and it starts with those of us who pay for the food.

Cheers,


Making Sweet Tea

I’m not a fan of iced tea but a whole lot of people are. It’s especially popular in the South. Sweet tea and unsweet iced tea are on the menu at every restaurant.

Obesity is also a bigger issue in the South than most of the rest of the country. Some of that obesity challenge comes when you consume a lot of sweet tea.

I did my research. The average recipe for sweet tea contains 8 cups of water and a cup of sugar. A single cup of sugar contains an astonishing 200 grams of carbohydrates! Most humans can’t eat more than about 80 grams of carbs per day before they’d be setting themselves up for weight gain.

So, let’s say you drink just ONE glass of sweet tea a day. That one glass is probably 12 ounces. That’s about 37 grams of carbs in that one drink. And who has just one? Not many.

The good news is you can have your sweet tea and drink it, too. I’ve come up with a new recipe and had it rated and perfected at a party at my home last night.

I’ve tried lots of ways to brew tea, but my favorite is the simplest. It doesn’t even require turning on a burner. I “brew” my iced tea in the refrigerator.

Another simple way to “brew” iced tea is called sun tea. I used to employ this method when I was younger and foolish enough to sunbathe. My friends and I would lay on the deck all afternoon, chatting and reading. We’d set a pitcher in the sun on the deck filled with water and tea bags. Sometimes we’d be out on that deck for up to 8 hours and the tea would be ready when we were done.

In doing my research on iced tea I found this disturbing piece written by a food blogger about sun tea.

What’s Wrong with Sun Tea

“While sun tea has long been a favorite summer drink, there are concerns about brewing tea for a long time in the hot sun. The primary reason for concern is that the heat and rays from the sun can cause bacteria to grow in your tea. If you ever noticed long strands in your sun tea, that’s bacteria.

This is particularly true if you are like many sun tea brewers and allow your tea to steep for many hours. Three or four hours is the recommended maximum. Refrigerator tea might take a little longer to brew, but the results are the same. You can also feel good about serving this safe tea to your family and friends.”

So, if I ever thought about going back to brewing sun tea this little tidbit has caused me to give up that idea -- forever.

Another thing I’ve learned is it matters what tea you buy. In the South there is a favorite brand called Luzianne.

They sell Luzianne’s at pretty much every grocery store in the South. I had never heard of it before I moved to Chattanooga. Of course, I bought some.

The other popular brand around here for making iced tea is Lipton. That one I know from up North, too.

I’m sure there are others that make great iced tea. You can discover which one works best for you.

I think another important element in making iced tea is the pitcher. I have a favorite made by Anchor.

I found it at Target. It’s not expensive. It has a top that seals perfectly. It doesn’t take up much room in my refrigerator and it has a handy handle/grip. This one holds a full 12 cups.

In order to make sweet tea that has no sugar I am going to recommend that you sweeten each glass of tea individually. At the party last night, I had each guest take the bottle of stevia sweetener (I used a new Truvia liquid sweetener) and sweeten their own tea. Remarkably the amount of sweetener required to sweeten the tea to individual preferences ranged from one tiny squirt up to 4 squirts. That’s a big range. You can also buy liquid stevia that has a dropper. I think that solidifies that I’m not going to be sweetening the tea by the pitcher, but rather set out a liquid stevia sweetener and let them do it themselves. Just takes a second.

So enjoy your sweet tea, regular or decaf, and feel safe that you’re not over-consuming the calories and carbohydrates.

Cheers!


Sweet Tea (the no sugar way)

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z2 (ZReduction) recipe.

The average recipe for sweet tea contains 8 cups of water and a cup of sugar. A single cup of sugar contains an astonishing 200 grams of carbohydrates! Most humans can’t eat more than about 80 grams of carbs per day before they’d be setting themselves up for weight gain.

So, let’s say you drink just ONE glass of sweet tea a day. That one glass is probably 12 ounces. That’s about 37 grams of carbs in that one drink. And who has just one? Not many.

The good news is you can have your sweet tea and drink it, too. I’ve come up with a new recipe and had it rated and perfected at a party at my home last night.

Servings: Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 10 cups of water. I try to use filtered water.
  • 6 – 8 tea bags (The Luzianne’s are double bagged so keep that in mind). The number of bags used depends on how bold you want your tea flavor.
  • Liquid stevia to taste
  • Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

Instructions:

Fill your pitcher with the water and drop in the tea bags. Gently push them down a bit so the whole surface gets wet but don’t worry about the fact that they are floating on top. They will make their magic anyway. Be sure not to poke any holes in the bags or you’ll end up with gritty tea.

Put the filled pitcher in the refrigerator and let it sit overnight (or approximately 8 hours).

After the 8 hours is up your tea will be fully “brewed.” You can take out the tea bags and serve. Optionally you can leave the bags in but as time passes you’re more likely to have a bag leak tea into your brew so I prefer to take them out and toss them.

Pour a glass and then sweeten with stevia drops. Serve with lemon wedges.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Three Months In

I’ve lived in Chattanooga, TN for three months now. I thought I’d chronicle some of my observations.

Friendly

I always thought Chicago was a friendly town, but it pales in comparison to this place. The best part is it’s not an ooey-gooey fake friendly. The folks here are genuinely happy to talk and share their experiences.

Our restaurant strategy when we first got here was to sit at the bar and eat rather than get a table. That way we could pick the brain of the bartender. A bonus has been that when people sitting at the bar hear that we don’t have a southern accent they jump into the conversation. They ask why we moved, how long we’ve been here and what can they do for us. I have more business cards, emails and phone numbers in 3 months than I thought I’d get in a year. Some folks are even becoming friends but those who are not recognize us when they see us again and the conversations just take off from where we left off. This is so refreshing! Life in a new place can be lonely. Not in Chattanooga.

Trees

People warned us about heat and humidity before moving here. It’s not as bad as I was predicting. Our office is smack in the middle of downtown. The city fathers had this brilliant idea about 100 years ago and planted tons of very large shade trees. The canopy covers the whole wide sidewalk. So, when you go out for lunch for example, you can stay in the shade as you walk to a restaurant. The temperature under the canopy is about 10 or 15 degrees cooler. You don’t have to walk in the sun except to cross the street. Another bonus is the birds. I have never heard so many chirping birds in the middle of a city as I do here.

My new favorite tree is the crepe myrtle. These trees are planted all over town! You can hardly look in any direction and not see one huge one or a cluster of smaller ones.  If you check out this link you’ll see they come in whole host of colors; some of them are my favorite colors. They bloom from Spring to Fall. I thought with the first rainstorm they’d lose their blossoms and they’d be all over the pavement. Not true. They are hearty and handle even thunderstorms. I can’t believe they bloom in full glory all summer long. I’m used to crab apple trees or lilacs that bloom only a short time. Crepe myrtles make my drive down the road a pleasant one with a reason to smile every day. And now I read that they are just as beautiful in the Fall. Fall is my favorite season so I can’t wait. Big crepe myrtles have a shady canopy, too!

Weather

Back to the weather. Yes, it’s been around 90 degrees for weeks. That would normally make me miserable. I’m grateful I work in an office. I don’t think I’d do well working outside in this temperature, but those trees I mentioned make it more bearable. And there’s always at least a light breeze that travels over the Cumberland Plateau, so the air is not stagnant. It’s really not bad!

Then there’s winter. I’ll be ready for plenty of rainy days, but I don’t have to shovel it. And there won’t be huge black and gray piles of dirty snow that don’t melt til June.

This last winter was the first time in 36 years of running a company that I had our employees stay home from work for 3 consecutive days. The temperature in Chicago had dropped to -57 degrees. I’m done with that.

Cost of Living

Almost everything down here is about 30% cheaper than Chicago. Rent. Gas. Even a glass of wine. The sales tax is about the same as Chicago but there’s no state income tax. There’s no tax on retirement income withdrawals either; or Social Security. We had planned to retire somewhere mid-south, but I had no idea until now how economical this all is.

The only things I have found to be as expensive as Chicago are the cost of getting my hair cut and colored, getting my nails done and dry cleaning. There’s not much competition around here for dry cleaners so they can charge more. In Chicago you could toss a tennis ball from one dry cleaner to the next. Not here.

Mountains

It’s amazing to be surrounded by mountains. I am not much for beaches and palm trees. I’d much rather see lakes and greenery around me. The mountains around Chattanooga are not high. Maybe 2000’ at the most but we are just a couple hours from 5000’ feet if we really want to be immersed.

I come out of the grocery store most days and look up at Lookout Mountain. The novelty has not worn off. That’s another thing that makes me smile just about every day.

This place is called The Scenic City. Easy to see why. The architecture (new and old) are well kept. The city is clean, and the surrounding beauty is not to be missed. This place was dubbed the dirtiest city in America a couple of decades ago. They sure have cleaned up their act; literally!

Sports

I have not done much besides get the apartment in order but if I want to indulge in sports, we are in sporting heaven. We have everything from rock climbing and hang gliding to biking, paddle boarding, kayaking and even whitewater rafting. It’s all right here. There’s a race or an event pretty much every weekend. Sporting enthusiasts move here for the variety and low cost. So far, we have taken a bit of time to watch things like a paddle board race and a shell racing event that is the second biggest in the world. Over one weekend there were 9000 rowers here with 2300 shells. That’s a sight!

Internet

Chattanooga has the fastest internet in North America. They built a huge company and took everything fiber optic. Zoom! Lots of entrepreneurs are moving here to take advantage of the technology. That means the city is getting younger instead of older. Welcome Millennials!

Driving

Driving is so easy around here. I marvel at how it only takes me about 10 minutes to get from one side of the city to the other and to just about anything I want. I drove on Sunday to Whole Foods at 8:30 in the morning and I was greeted by every guy in the produce department. I practically had the place to myself. You can’t get that in Chicago where the Whole Foods has five restaurants, a wine bar and patrons galore. The jam in the Whole Foods parking lot in Chicago is crazy. Here I get to park right out front and enjoy my shopping time. They even store the carts outside under an overhang. Compared to up north that makes me laugh. Works here though.

Granted, this place has some traffic problems. There are a couple of commuter routes I would not care for at all. There’s also a highway that runs up Missionary Ridge. That highway connects to Hwy 75 to Atlanta. You can just imagine the car traffic, but the truck traffic makes it even worse. The trucks are trying to climb up the ridge, so they end up going into a lower gear, slow down and have their flashers on. I can see this spectacle from my patio. I just laugh and tell myself to stay away from that; far, far away.

The downtown traffic is super-manageable. I am starting to recognize hardly anyone beeps. That must be why I can hear the birds so easily.

Target and Walmart

I have to admit, I’m a Target gal. There are two Target’s in Chattanooga but they are both 20 minutes away. The Walmart is less than 15. I do go to Walmart on occasion but mostly I save the “Target Run” and bite the bullet.

GPS

I thank my lucky stars for my GPS every day. I am still lost here. I do fine on the main streets but most of them are not straight. This town is not laid out in a normal grid pattern. Because of the mountains and the ridge, the streets wind around. Sometimes they cut through a tunnel. Other times they wind up and down the ridges or hills. I remember having to use my GPS in Chicago too; when I first moved there, so I’m not really complaining. Every new place takes getting used to.

Respect

I am getting used to being called “ma’am.” Men and women hold open the door. People say good morning on the street; total strangers smile at you.

The clerks at stores say nice things. I was at the County Clerk’s Office recently and the young woman who waited on me called me Miss Sarah. Even the bureaucrats are nice here and show their respect to all those around them.

Stress

My stress level has gone down some. I sleep pretty well. I think I am smiling more. I know for sure I am appreciating my new environment and soaking up all it has to offer.

As the months go by maybe I’ll check in again and let you know of a new set of observations. I just hope they are all filled with the positivity I am feeling so far. Chattanooga has been welcoming for sure.

Cheers,

Caramelized Onion Pie

Caramelizing onions makes the natural sugars in the onion come to the forefront. No more bold onion taste. Just dreamy flavor.


Eat Your Veggies

My mom never had trouble getting me to eat my vegetables; except those times when she served lima beans. I hated lima beans. I thought they were so disgusting to chew, that I’d swallow them like pills. I flushed them down with milk.

My family believed in the “Clean Plate Club.” You didn’t leave the table without eating everything on your plate, whether you wanted to or not.

In the summer, after dinner, we’d go back out to play and that play might include a rousing game of football. We’d play on the grass by the school around the corner. If I got tackled, my brothers often mushed my face in the grass; sort of a final motion conducted at the end of a tackle. I hated the smell of getting my face planted in the grass so I worked hard not to get tackled. I got faster.

When I got to college, sprouts became popular. I tried them. They were all the rage. They smelled like the grass my faced had been mashed into. I gagged and sprouts came off the list of vegetable options for me.

I never got into kale, either. It had that same kind of earthy smell and tasted, to me, reminiscent of dirt. Arugula, too.

There are so many vegetable options offered up by Mother Nature that I thought I could go my whole life skipping the ones I didn’t like.

Now, I’m reconsidering some of them.

This article by Dr. Mercola gives me pause. I am considering eating more spouts and eating those microgreens that come on the plate at some fancy restaurants. I always thought they were just there to lend a delicate decoration.

One study shows that eating an extra helping of leafy greens can lower your chances of Type 2 diabetes by 14%! That’s major.

Have a look at this article. It’s packed full of veggie data that will have you choosing your veggies from a different perspective.

You don’t have to get wrapped up in all the vitamin micro-data included in here. Just pick through for the juicy bits that apply to your tastes and interests.  Then on the backside I’ll make some other comments and suggestions; including a fun recipe.

https://youtu.be/C-uSfnpkOLc

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/06/13/top-low-carb-vegetables.aspx?utm_source=wnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art3&utm_campaign=20160623Z1_NB&et_cid=DM111189&et_rid=1541261837

There are so many, many reasons to eat your veggies!  And there are so many delightful ways to cook them, or they can be added as an extra to many of your favorite recipes.

For example, I add a bunch of spinach to almost every soup recipe I make.

Based on the advice in Dr. Mercola’s column, I’m going to start adding watercress to more of my salads.

I’m going to start eating sunflower seeds. I had no idea they were so good for me. Add those to salads or just munch on them.

I’m also going to get back in the habit of taking my turmeric supplement. It’s easy because it’s just like a vitamin pill. Quick.

Notice there is no mention in here of potatoes, peas, or corn. All high carb vegetables; as are things like parsnips and carrots. They maybe taste so good they borderline addictive, but not your best vegetable bets. Branch out.

Here’s a recipe for chips! Next time you want a potato chip, make these kale or Swiss chard chips. My favorite is to make them with Swiss chard. I even serve them as an appetizer before a dinner party. People gather round as I take them off the hot cookie sheet and they dive right in.

Cheers,

 

Baked Kale Chips

If you have a hankering for potato chips, try these instead!


Stuck No More

“I was stuck at 300 pounds,” says Kris Allen. He’s our radio spokesperson in Bellefontaine, OH. He watched as one of his co-workers lost 250 pounds on Plan Z, but still couldn’t imagine it would work for him. You can see that it did. Listen to his story about how fast he dropped 74 pounds and how much better he feels.

Kris umpires women’s softball. His knees would ache after a game or two. Not anymore.  He’s sleeping better. And the GERD is gone. No more drinking two bottles of Milk of Magnesia per week. He hesitated starting on Plan Z, but now he has no hesitation telling his listeners and friends to get on it.

This interview took place when Kris was down 49 pounds:

Take care of yourself. We only get one shot. Our bodies get used to what we feed them. There's an old computer programming lingo phrase that says, garbage in, garbage out. If you don't take care of your body and feed it stuff that it's not supposed to have, then sooner or later it's going to start breaking down. I look at it like this, I was given a second chance. I've lost the weight and I'll do what I can to help people see that they don't have to live this way.

I thought I was stuck. I was 52 years old, 300 pounds, I was a heart attack waiting to happen...[but] you're never too far gone to come back.


The Hidden "Danger" of Losing 40 Pounds on Plan Z

Some Plan Z dieters send us before and after pictures.

Some send us emails telling their story.

But Plan Z Dieter Margaret sent us this picture of the inside of her closet.

She wrote:

"THIS is what happens when you lose 40 pounds and go from a size 18 to a size 10. The folks at Goodwill thanked me for my donation. I’m on ZReboot, loving it and maintaining my weight loss nicely."

Listen to her motivating interview:


I Scream, You Scream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Remember that jingle?

When the cravings get tough, I think some people DO scream!

The good news is there is a way to have your ice cream, eat it too, and not gain weight.

Food companies are getting a clue that we want to have it all, but we know we can’t eat it all. So, they are making smaller portions. Ice cream bar mini’s are multiplying in the grocery freezer section. Many of the manufacturers are using higher quality ingredients, too, and leaving out all the artificial stuff.

You can in fact have a dessert every day if you keep your total carbohydrate count for the day under 20% of your total intake. Follow this rule of thumb: 20 grams of carbs (or less) in your dessert. 15 grams or less is better, but I do make a couple of exceptions.

So read the back of the box. If the carb count is under 20 grams, eat one. One per day should be safe. Just keep an eye on the scale...and scale back if you start to go overboard.

I went to the grocery store recently and found all kinds of new options. I even taste-tested a few so I could report out.

 

Klondike Mini’s

These come in 3 flavors: original, Reese’s mint and double chocolate. I tried the Reese's, of course I did - peanut butter!

They have a mild peanut butter flavor and melt quickly. Next time I'd put it in a little bowl and eat it with a spoon so I can savor it better.

Carbs:
Original =13 g
Reese's mint = 14 g
Double chocolate = 13g

 

Mayfield’s Brow Cow Junior

Dean Foods makes Mayfield. I had never seen this ice cream brand until I moved to Chattanooga. If you live up north, you might find these under a Dean Foods label. The ice cream bar is just enough and reminded me of a Dilly Bar from when I was a kid.

Carbs: 8 g. You could almost have 2 per day!

 

Carb Smart Almond Bars

This Breyer’s product comes in a mini size. Don’t buy the big ones. Stick to the bite-sized version. The almond gives it a nice extra crunch if you are into that sort of thing.

Carbs: 13 g

 

Dole Dippers

These come in the cutest little packs. You get 4 per pack which is plenty to give you mighty satisfaction after dinner. They come in pineapple, banana and strawberry. Banana was the big hit in our family and the dark chocolate version is our favorite. We don’t eat a lot of bananas so we found this one to be special.

Carbs:
Pineapple = 8 g
Banana = 13 g
Strawberry = 6 g

 

Magnum Minis

This is high level chocolate eating. Belgian. They come in classic, almond and double caramel. I made an exception to my normal 15 gram limit for the double caramel. It’s downright sinful.

Carbs:
Classic = 13 g
Almond = 15 g
Double caramel = 18 g

 

Outshine Bars

If you have someone on your home team who is not a big fan of ice cream but wants a mini-bar these are fruit bars of the right size. There is a variety pack with three flavors including a lime one. Be sure to read the ingredients on these. They have several variety packs, and some have the artificial sweetener sorbitol in them. You don’t want that. Believe it or not, regular sugar is better than that artificial stuff, and these come in at a very reasonable carb rate so the small amount of sugar in these is ok.

Carbs: 8 g

 

You can have your ice cream and live a healthy life. No need to scream.

Enjoy!

Cheers,

Tipsy Plums with Sweet Cream

A simple, tasty seasonal desert.


Tipsy Plums with Sweet Cream

Plan Z Phase: This a Z3 (ZReboot) recipe. Here’s a dessert recipe that you can team up 2 or 3 people to make (depending on the size of your gathering). The plums could be made along with the cream before dinner. They can be stored (the cream in the fridge and the plums covered on the counter). Then, when dessert time comes the plums can be reheated. Or not. You choose.

These can even be set out on a buffet for self-service.

The recipe can be doubled, tripled or more. Just multiply as the ingredients are listed in equal proportion.

Servings: Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the Plums

  • 3 ripe plums sliced thinly (no need to peel them)
  • 1/3 cup of vodka. I use orange or vanilla-flavored vodka. If you do not cook with alcohol, use sparkling water.
  • 1 tsp of Truvia

For the Sweet Cream

  • 1/3 cup of crème fraiche (find this in tubs in the cheese section or near the cream cheese)
  • 1 tsp of organic vanilla
  • ½ tsp of Truvia

Instructions:

Heat plums vodka and 1 tsp ot Truvia on medium and cook until the plum slices are softened. Remove from heat and set aside so you can make your sweet cream topping.

In a small bowl, mix the creme fraiche, vanilla and 1/2 tsp of Truvia well with a spoon. Serve over the warm plums.

BIG YUM!

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Barbecue Burgers - Zola Style

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z3 (ZReboot) recipe. There’s no way to use a commercial sauce for barbecued meats. They ALL have copious amounts of sugar in them. I know. I checked every bottle in the store, so I set about to come up with a rub and a sugarless barbecue sauce for Plan Z.

There are three stages to making burgers this way. The Rub. The Burger. The Sauce. If you are not a major cook don’t worry. This looks harder than it is. Stick with this and you’ll love your burgers.

Servings: 3 burger patties (1/3 pound each) -- In ZReboot the portions are a bit bigger than during ZReduction.

Ingredients:

For The Rub:

  • ½ tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp of chili powder
  • 1 tsp of Truvia
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp of celery salt
  • 1 tsp of dry mustard

For the Barbecue Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion minced
  • 1 clove of garlic minced (you can use jar garlic)
  • 1 tsp of liquid smoke
  • 6 oz of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of white wine or low carb beer (or water if you are on Z2)
  • ¼ cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbl cider vinegar (or a bit more of you like your sauce to have a vinegar bite)
  • 3 Tbl of dry mustard
  • 2 pinches of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of Truvia (stevia)
  • hot sauce to taste

For the Burgers:

  • 1 pound of ground sirloin
  • olive oil spray

Instructions for The Rub:

Mix all of these together in a bowl. If you want you can make double and it will keep in your cupboard in a sealed container.

Instructions for the Barbecue Sauce:

Put the onions in a sauce pan. Heat on medium until the onions wilt. Then add the garlic. Stir to heat.  Add the other ingredients and cook on medium for 15 – 20 minutes to blend the flavors.

Instructions to prepare the Burgers:

Get your charcoals going so they're nice and hot. If you use a gas grill, you'll want to get your grill heated up a bit before cooking up your burger patties. If you're using a grill pan indoors, spray it with a little bit of olive oil spray and heat the pan on medium high.

Spread the rub on both sides of your patties.  You can let the rub soak into the patties or grill them right away.

Grill your patties for about six to eight minutes per side, depending on how well you like your burger cooked. You want to get a nice crust on each side to seal in the juices (the rub will help form this crust better on a charcoal or gas grill).

Brush a couple of tablespoons of the Barbecue sauce on the burgers just a few (two to three) minutes before you're ready to pull them off of the grill.

Check the flavor and make personal adjustments as you please. Some people like spicier burgers so you can add a dash of Tabasco sauce to spice it up a bit.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Mexican Chicken Stew

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z2 (ZReduction) recipe.

Serving Size: Serves 4 – 6. Each serving is 1-1/2 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 tsp of chopped garlic (jar garlic will work)
  • 1 Tbl of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • ½ of a poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 medium banana pepper, diced
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 6 large dashes (blurps, I call them) of Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cups of organic chicken stock or broth
  • 1 lime or 2 Tbl of lime juice
  • olive oil spray

Instructions:

In a medium sauté pan add the chicken breasts and enough water to cover them almost to the top. Heat to a low boil and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until no pink remains in the middle. Turn them at the halfway point. Remove from the water bath and let drain. Then shred the chicken. I just pull it apart with two forks. Go with the grain for longer shreds.

In a medium soup pot add some of the olive oil spray and then add the onion. Cook on medium heat until the onion loosens. Add the garlic, oregano, and cumin. Stir and heat until the spices are aromatic (the smell will come up to your nose and you can whiff it in). Then add the pepper bits, the tomato paste, Worcestershire and the broth. Stir to break up the tomato paste so you have a light red broth. Add the shredded chicken to the broth and cook for 10 – 15 minutes on medium so it bubbles along and begins to thicken. The pepper bits will cook and you’ll have your finished product.

Just before serving add the lime juice and stir. Serving size is 1-1/2 cups. You can have an additional ½ cup of veggies and salad greens if you wish.

Enjoy!

Cheers,


Bacon Avocado Toast

Plan Z Phase: This is a Z3.5 (ZReboot 3.5) recipe.

Sourdough Bread and Blood Sugar. Based on the research, regular non-sourdough white bread has a glycemic index of 71 (that's High GI), while sourdough bread has a glycemic index of 53 (that's Medium low GI). The bacteria and yeast consume the starches and sugars in the flour, so it has less starch when you eat it.

So, if you are choosing your breads and don’t have access to low carb bread, this is a very good option. I bought a tiny, round loaf (boule) and sliced it up. Freeze the rest for later.

Servings: Serves 2. Can easily be doubled.

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bacon fried to your liking. I like mine crispy. Try to find no nitrate/no nitrite bacon.
  • 1 large, ripe avocado
  • 5 green onions, chopped. White and light green parts only.
  • 2 slices of sour dough bread. Mine were about 6” long and 2.5” wide.
  • Grated sea salt
  • 1 Roma tomato or any small tomato, sliced
  • Pepper flakes (optional)
  • an egg or two (optional)

Instructions:

Making avocado toast is a very free-form exercise. You can build it the way you want to; that's what makes it so easy - and delicious!

In a medium bowl, put in your scooped out avocado. Mash with a fork until it still has some lumps.  Stir in the green onions and mash a bit more to your liking. I like mine lumpy. If you want to add your favorite guac herbs or seasonings, now's the time. I like mine plain.

Toast your pieces of sour dough bread. While it is still warm, spread on some of the avocado spread. Lightly dust with grated sea salt (optional, but this is what really brings out the avocado flavor for me). If you are wanting yours spicy this is when you’ll spread a light dusting of the pepper flakes on, too. That way they mix with the avocado; giving it a guacamole feel.

Top with the bacon and the tomato.Or the egg. Whatever you want! Sometimes I nix the egg and spread radish slices across the top.

You are ready to serve. Light meal. Or you can make it bigger with a side salad.

Enjoy!

Cheers,