<![CDATA[Vanilla, Spice, and Everything Nice - Blog]]>Tue, 28 Jun 2016 11:26:39 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Curry Crab Cakes]]>Tue, 28 Jun 2016 17:15:31 GMThttp://vanillaspice.me/blog/curry-crab-cakes
I liked these better with lump crab meat, but canned was SO much cheaper, so I tried it out.  Not bad!  I tried a coconut crusted one too which was pretty good. but the curry was everyone's favorite.  Next I want to try this recipe using canned salmon- if you do, let me know how it turns out in the comments.  I'd love to hear about your experiments!

Makes 8 mini crab cakes

1 egg
2 T sour cream
1/4-1/2 t Garam Masala (depending on your taste)
1/2 t curry powder
1 clove garlic
1/4 t sea salt (get the good stuff- tons of health benefits!)
1/2 c almond flour
8 oz crab meat (2 cans, drained) 

4 T butter

Beat egg and sour cream together until well mixed. Stir in next 4 ingredients, then almond flour. Incorporate crab meat. Form into 8 mini patties or 4 larger ones. Chill for about an hour. 

Fry in butter until golden brown on both sides.  Drizzle any butter remaining in the pan on top of crab cakes (yum!). Serve with spicy mayo (mayo mixed with a little sriracha or hot sauce of choice.)

Makes 8 mini crab cakes
Nutrition info for 1 serving:

106 calories
9.1 g fat
0.9 g carbs
0.4 g fiber
(0.5 g net carbs)
5.6 g protein  

Make it a meal! Serve it with Portobello "Pizzas" (recipe coming soon) and roasted asparagus.  
Coconut Crusted Crab Cakes
<![CDATA[Micronutrients]]>Thu, 23 Jun 2016 17:10:35 GMThttp://vanillaspice.me/blog/micronutrients
A lot of people focus on their macronutrients and making sure they get the right amount of each (fat, carbs, and protein), and I have certainly done my fair share of that.  While macronutrients are important, of course, I decided recently to shift my focus to make sure I get enough MICROnutrients.  I read a great article about how cravings stem from micronutrient deficiencies, and will manifest in cravings for typically unhealthy food as quick fixes.  Really, those foods are just bandaids to cover up our body's cry for more nutrients.  
The solution? More produce, of course! Finding a way to increase your vegetable intake while making your psyche happy is one of the best things you can do for your health. Then, if you're happy and healthy, you will naturally achieve your body's ideal weight.  This super simple recipe from my childhood is a way to eat your greens and enjoy them too. Bring on the spinach!

Spinach with Browned Butter

1 (9 oz) bag of organic baby spinach, kale, or any cooking green
1 T butter
sea salt

Boil about 6 cups of water and 2 T sea salt.  Add greens and cook until tender.  Drain.
Put the pot back on the stove.  On medium heat, add butter and cook until browned. (First the butter will melt, then bubble, then foam.  The foam will start to go down and the butter will begin to brown.  When all the foam is almost gone, but before the butter burns, it is considered "browned butter.")
Add the spinach back into the pot, stirring and cooking until most of the moisture is evaporated.  Serve with as a side to any meal.

​Side note- did you know that sea salt also contains important minerals and micronutrients?  If you tend to crave salty foods, you might need to increase your sea salt intake.  Regular cheap salt at the grocery store contains almost no nutritional value, but sea salt is chalk full of healthy benefits- and it's delicious.  Include sea salt whenever possible! These are some of my favorites. 

<![CDATA[LCHF Bacon Egg Nests]]>Tue, 14 Jun 2016 14:22:22 GMThttp://vanillaspice.me/blog/lchf-bacon-egg-nests
What is eating "healthy?"   One of the sayings I carry with me from my mother is "moderation in all things."  That, to me, is healthy.  With very few exceptions, most food is neither good or bad in itself.  It's how you use it that matters. (My main exception? Processed sugar! VERY BAD!)
I love eggs, and have recently discovered, as you know if you follow my viewpoints, that fat in and of itself can have a key role in our diets.  Mainly, it helps you feel full, or satiated, and also provides important nutrients.  Clearly, the more natural and unprocessed the source, the better.  
That is why I love to pair my sister's home-laid duck eggs with Applegate Farms bacon.  Add a fresh green salad with avocado and I'm good to go!

High Fat Low Carb Bacon Egg Nests
1 Serving

2 slices bacon
2 eggs
1 oz Colby Jack cheese (or cheese of choice)
Sea salt
Preheat oven to 400. Cut bacon to line the bottom of rounded muffin tin (I love this orb cake pan, but you can use a regular muffin tin if needed), 1 piece per tin. Bake bacon for about 15 min, then crack an egg into each bacon cup and top each egg with 1/2 slice of cheese, salt and pepper. Bake 7-10 more minutes or until whites of egg are cooked, cheese is melted, and yolk is set to your liking. 
Optional toppings:
Salsa verde

Approx Nutrition info

318 calories
24 g fat
1 g total and net carbs
23.3 g protein

<![CDATA[Blue Cheese Hot Wing Dip]]>Tue, 07 Jun 2016 20:07:47 GMThttp://vanillaspice.me/blog/blue-cheese-hot-wing-dip
A creamy, bubbly, satisfying, decadent compliment to veggies and chicken, this hot dip was inspired by a dinner I had on a recent trip to the Watkins Glen race track.  I have since used it to stuff mini peppers with and roll salami around (yum.)  So versatile and an absolute crowd pleaser!

Serves 2

Microwave 30 seconds to soften:
1 oz cream cheese

Stir in:
1 oz sour cream
4 T boathouse farms blue cheese yogurt dressing
1 oz chopped grilled chicken strips (optional- nutrition info includes chicken)

Pour into oven safe ramekin. 
Sprinkle on top:
1/4 cup shredded cheese of choice
Drizzle hot wing sauce (I used Frank's)

Bake for about 20 min at 350, until bubbling and just starting to brown on top. 
Serve with cut veggies of choice (celery, red pepper, cucumber...) and/or baked chicken wings or thighs. 

Nutrition info for 1 serving (half of recipe)
189 calories
15.3 g fat
2.7 g carbs
10.5 g protein
<![CDATA[Blender Beet Breakfast Brownies]]>Tue, 31 May 2016 13:55:41 GMThttp://vanillaspice.me/blog/blender-beet-breakfast-brownies
Beets? In brownies?
Trust me!
They not only add sweetness, they make these a healthy, decadent, super fast treat for any time of day. Also, they are made entirely in the blender, so they come together very fast. Add the extra sweetener if you like them more like dessert.
1/2 c coconut oil
2 small cooked, peeled beets (about 5 oz)
1/2 c sour cream
4 oz softened cream cheese
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 t maple extract 
1 T honey
1 c almond flour 
1/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder
1 T inulin chicory root fiber
1 t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt
(1/4- 1/2 c optional sweetener of choice, i.e. erythriyol (for Keto), coconut palm sugar, coconut nectar...)

Preheat oven to 325 and spray a muffin tin (or use this super cool Wilton orb cake pan that I used!) generously with coconut oil. 

​Using a powerful blender (I used a Vitamix), blend coconut oil and beets together long enough that the oil melts and the beets are completely smooth.  Add eggs, sour cream, cream cheese, vanilla, maple, and honey.  Blend until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and blend until fully incorporated.  

​Fill muffin tin or orb cake pan with batter.

​Bake at 325 for about 15-20 minutes, checking to make sure they don't over bake.  They are done when an inserted knife comes out clean.

<![CDATA[Cheat...meal? day? week?]]>Tue, 31 May 2016 13:32:25 GMThttp://vanillaspice.me/blog/cheatmeal-day-weekWe've all been there- we have "good" diet days and "bad" diet days. I don't even mean "diet" in the sense of losing weight, I just mean whatever method of eating you're doing right now.  It's ok!  Try to get back on track, but don't beat yourself up over it.  

This is where the idea of cheat meals comes in.  Some people can implement a cheat meal periodically to help them stay on track.  For some, though, that can derail them.  The key is to know yourself and experiment.  

Personally, I'm more of a binger.  I need to stay very clean on my diet consistently for a long time and build up to a cheat day- or week!  2 weeks ago I had my binge week.  I had a vodka seltzer, which snowballed into many bad food choices.  One such choice was to eat an Oreo, something I haven't done in many years.  Guess what?  I found it to be disgusting.  Truly gross.  I realized how artificial it tasted and how terrible it made me feel - and as a result of this and the other things I ate (cereal! ack!) I caught a cold the following week.  (Sugar lowers your immune system, making it more likely to catch whatever is going around.)

The take-away of this binge week was surprising.  I am now firmer in my resolve to be healthy, since it reminded me how miserable it is to be sick.  It also made me realize at a deeper level that I don't actually like the treats that I used to crave.  This is huge for me! I'm not depriving myself, I'm enjoying myself even more by eating healthy and delicious real food.

Sometimes, you need to cheat in order to remember that your current diet is better than anything that used to be a treat.  Don't beat yourself up over it.  Learn from your experience, move on, and keep improving.  

Life is about living, not depriving.  Enjoy the journey! 
<![CDATA[Low Carb Blueberry Coconut Flour Pancakes ]]>Fri, 20 May 2016 19:31:41 GMThttp://vanillaspice.me/blog/low-carb-blueberry-coconut-flour-pancakes
This week I decided to see how my body would respond if I was less strict and increased my carb intake. So far, so good! I love experimenting with food, and always encourage everyone to pay attention to their body and what it needs. The Keto lifestyle should be a tool to find your groove, as I believe any "diet" should be used. I truly love how I felt while in Ketosis, and believe I'll keep going back. In the meantime, these pancakes were inspired by a recent trip to a friend's house on Mother's Day. So moist, so flavorful, so easy. Thanks again Molly!

*In the time it took me to post this, I already decided to go back to low carb-high fat living, and have taken my husband with me.  These pancakes have been husband approved, and are delicious for the 
low-carber and "regular" person alike!

Serves 2
1/4 c almond milk (plus up to 2 T if needed)
1/2 t vinegar

2 eggs
1/4 c cottage cheese
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t maple extract
1/4 t cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Zest of 1 lemon (opt)

1/4 c coconut flour 
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 c blueberries

2-3 T coconut oil for cooking

Stir vinegar into almond milk and let curdle while gathering other ingredients. 
In a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup, put eggs, cottage cheese, extracts, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest if using. Add almond milk and use an immersion blender until completely blended. Stir in coconut flour and baking powder until just incorporated. Stir in blueberries. 

Heat coconut oil in pan, add batter. Flip when center of pancakes appear to be set, or edges are browned to your liking.  Be gentle when flipping, as they might not hold together like traditional pancakes.  They are done when the center is cooked (clearly!)

Approximate Nutrition per about
4 pancakes (half of recipe):
Calories 322
Fat 22.8 g
Total carbs 17.8 g
Fiber 7.6 g
Net carbs 10.2 g
Protein 12.7 g

<![CDATA[Creamy Mint Brownies- at last!]]>Fri, 29 Apr 2016 02:07:28 GMThttp://vanillaspice.me/blog/creamy-mint-brownies-at-lastI so appreciate how many of you have requested that I finish the recipe for the Creamy Mint Brownies!  My challenge was getting it to taste as good as it looked, be very low carb for my keto lifestyle, and use no artificial sweetener.  Here is the final product, having been kid and in-law approved.
8 oz pecans (about 2 heaping cups) (or most nuts would work, like walnuts)
1/2 c sour cream (120 g)
4 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 t maple extract
1/2 t peppermint extract
1 T honey (can sub Swerve sweetener for lower net carbs)
1 T inulin chicory root fiber*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
(1/2 c optional sweetener of choice, i.e. erythriyol (for Keto), coconut palm sugar, coconut nectar...)

Mint topping:
1/2 c coconut oil (112 g)
4 oz. softened cream cheese
1 T honey (or 5 drops stevia, or Swerve confectioners)
1/3 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/4 t peppermint extract (or 2 drops food grade peppermint essential oil)
1 t alcohol-free vanilla extract

*Inulin is a naturally sweet pre-biotic fiber with practically no net carbs.  Can be omitted but you might have to add another sweetener to stand in. 

In a food processor, blend pecans or walnuts until smooth and starting to turn into almond butter consistency.  Add eggs one at a time, blending completely after each of them.  Once fully incorporated, add sour cream, cream cheese, cocoa powder, vanilla, maple, mint, honey and inulin (and optional additional sweetener if using). Blend until smooth. Pulse in baking soda and salt. 

Line an 8x8 inch baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with coconut oil. 
Pour batter into dish. 
Bake at 325° for 25-30 minutes until knife inserted in center just barely comes out clean.
Don't over bake!

Cool to room temperature. In the meantime, make mint topping. 
Add all ingredients into the high speed blender (I used a Vitamix). If desired, you can always add more honey to taste. Blend until creamy and smooth (might take a few minutes unless you melted the coconut oil first).  Put in the fridge to firm up until brownies are cooled enough to frost. 
Frost cooled brownies with mint topping.   Store in the fridge- even better the next day!

Makes about 16 brownies. 
Each brownie is approximately:
247 calories
24 g fat
6.5 g total carbs
2.5 g fiber
4 g net carbs
3.8 g protein
So, during my first attempt at these brownies, I was running the food processor as I dropped the egg in.  True to Stephanie style, I managed to drop the egg shell into the food processor, which immediately became incorporated into the batter.  Delicious.  Hey, at least it wasn't my finger for once!
Oops! Egg shell in the walnuts
So, into the garbage that went. And, having only about 6 oz of walnuts left, I had to improvise.  But it turns out that pistachios worked just as well. Eventually, on my final try, I used pecans, which has the same low net carbs as walnuts and tasted almost identical.      
I hope you love them as much as I do. 
Please share your pictures, comments, wins, and fails- I'd love to see!

<![CDATA[A day in the life...]]>Sun, 10 Apr 2016 11:53:48 GMThttp://vanillaspice.me/blog/a-day-in-the-life
So you want to try the ketogenic diet but don't know where to start?  Here's a day in the life of what I eat.
It took me several months of keeping my net carbs* between 20-30 g per day (and I certainly still cheat sometimes!) to be able to go the intermittent fasting** route but I do that now most days and love it.
That doesn't mean it's right for you! You can eat these meals any time of day that you want. This is just a sample of what my day usually looks like because of my schedule (and yes of course, sometimes I have to deviate from the plan!), and it's all approximate time-wise.
You can use this as a guide to eventually find your own groove.

*net carbstotal carbs (g) - fiber (g)
**Intermittent fasting: surviving off of only my bulletproof coffee until the afternoon

My sample day

Meal 1 
9 am

Vanilla Spice Coffee

Meal 2
3 pm

Either 1 can tuna or 3 oz chicken breast, mix with 1 stalk of chopped celery and 2 tablespoons mayonnaise. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. 

2-3 cups romaine or any salad lettuce, 1/2 an avocado and 1/2 a cucumber.  Top with your favorite low carb (but no sweeteners added!) dressing or with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a splash of apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.

Meal 3
5 pm

2 slices bacon- cut up and pan fry. 
Add a handful of mushrooms (or veggie of choice) and cook at same time with bacon.
Beat 3 eggs and pour into pan , stir and scramble quickly until cooked through. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Meal 4
8:30 pm

2 thighs of Gram's Chicken. Serve with  steamed broccoli or Roasted Asparagus

Warm up some unsweetened almond milk, blend in 1 T coconut oil and 1/2 tablespoon chia seeds. Add vanilla extract and cinnamon to taste. Make sure to emulsify with an immersion blender!

1600 calories
92 g protein
20 grams net carbs
143 g fat
Vanilla Spice Coffee
Chicken Salad
Gram's Chicken
Roasted Asparagus
<![CDATA[NaiNai's Salmon]]>Fri, 01 Apr 2016 16:39:08 GMThttp://vanillaspice.me/blog/nainais-salmon
What's for dinner?  This 2 ingredient, no-fail salmon!

1 filet of salmon, about 12 oz

4 T mayonnaise (no sweeteners added- check the label!) 
Sea salt (I used this Red Alaea Sea Salt)

Preheat oven to 425.
Cover a shallow baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with cooking oil if desired. Lay the salmon on top. Spread mayo on top of salmon.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
Cook until center flakes easily with fork, anywhere from 10-25 minutes depending on thickness of fish.  Don't overcook, and remember that the fish will continue to cook a little longer once it's out of the oven. 

Makes 2 servings. Each serving weighs in at about:
550 calories
38 g protein
0 carbs
0 fiber
43 g fat
My mother in law (or NaiNai, to my kids), made this for dinner shortly after I met her. We still enjoy this quick, healthy dinner with some roasted asparagus on the side, over a decade later. Dinner? Check!