Sunday, March 23, 2014

More info on yogurt, awesome waffles, my doctor and tests this month

I have made more yogurt since I posted about making the last batch.  I also made some almond milk yogurt last week and I have to tell you that stuff sucked big time.  I had read a blog called fairytalecomesalive that used almond milk and they had a picture of yogurt that resembled kefir...  I thought I will make it and use it in blender drinks!  What I didn't read the part that said I needed to make my own almond milk!  I used Blue Diamond Almond Milk from the store...great idea didn't set up right and had the smell of spoiled eggs and I bet would have tasted nasty.  There was a watery whey on top, chunky clabbered almond milk bits in the middle then the arrowroot starch was a gelatinous mess at the bottom.  Another site I visited said you had to use home made almond milk cause the processed milk lacked the proteins necessary for yogurt.  Lexie's Kitchen has all sorts of help fun information about various alternative diet cooking.  I am going to try again cause it looks really easy to make your own.  I sort of paraphrased the almond milk recipe from fairytalescomealive! so go there or Lexie's kitchen to get an exact recipe. 

Homemade Almond Milk

1 c almonds
4 c water

Soak almonds overnight in water.  Drain and put in blender add 4 cups of water and blend till chopped fine.  (I don't have a Vitamix blender so I will have to go to my daughters and use hers when I make my milk.)  One site I read said a regular blender will grind fairly coarse and you really need the Vitamix style of processor.
Put several layers of cheese cloth in a bowl or use a kitchen towel in the bowl securing it around the outside of the bowl.  Pour the blended almond milk through the towel into the bowl.  Then gather up the towel and squeeze the milk out until all you have left is almond pulp.  Save this pulp to use in other recipes.

The second batch of milk yogurt was made using boxed UHT milk and the culture from the last batch of yogurt I made.  It came out tasty but a little thin.  I think I am going to try whole milk from the store and add some of the capsules that I read about next week.

Found a great waffle recipe that Chuck said he loved and thought was the best waffles ever on the Daily Dietribe blog.
  Gluten-Free, Vegan Pancake & Waffle Recipe (Please scroll down and read the tips before making these!)

1 1/4 cups or 158 grams flour (or mix of flours)***
1/2 cup or 86 grams starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 to 1 3/4 cups liquid

*** I know that cups and grams are different for each flour. HOWEVER, I tested this recipe out with EACH FLOUR with cups AND grams. Whether you measure your flours by cups or the gram measurements given, your pancakes/waffles will work. If you use almond flour, you'll only need about 1/2 cup of liquid. If you use a thick liquid like full-fat coconut milk, you'll need more (up to 1 3/4 cups). Otherwise, you'll need about 1 cup of liquid (milk, water, juice, etc.) regardless of the flour. 

1. Whisk together your dry ingredients.
2. Whisk together the applesauce, oil, and 1/2 cup of liquid. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir. Add more liquid slowly (I do it by the tablespoon so as not to pour too much) until you've reached the consistency of a thick pancake batter. Always start with less liquid and test the batter on one pancake or waffle first. If it's too thick, you can add more liquid, but you can't take liquid away once you've added it!

  • To make waffles, make sure to oil the iron frequently and keep the batter thick. It won't spread on the iron, but you can use a spoon to spread the batter out evenly on the iron. If the batter is too thin, it is much more likely to stick. (See note at end of post from a reader on sticking waffles before making.)
  • To make pancakes, you can use a little more liquid than with waffles (about 2-4 tablespoons more), depending on how thick you prefer your pancakes.
Visit the Daily Dietribe for the tips before making these waffle/pancakes.  I used almond flour and potato starch for my flours.  I also chopped up pecans and added chopped apple and cinnamon.  They were truly yummy!  Make sure you spray with Pam between each waffle cause they tend to stick.

I had two doctors appointments this past month the first being with a dermatologist trying to determine what is going on with my face.  I am having a lot of flushing and red spots on my face and neck.  Haven't taken hormones in months so it isn't hormones and randomly comes on mostly in the evenings.  At first I thought it was due to drinking red wine...only red wine causes it...but twice now I haven't had wine and it has caused a vibrant red flush. I went to the ER before going to the dermatologist because I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something I had eaten and my lips were tingly...what a mistake!  Once again I was treated like a nut case and sent to sit in the waiting room so by the time I got to go the back exam rooms most of the flush had disappeared and had left the rash behind.  I was glad my daughter and friend were with me to let them know exactly how red it had gotten!  The dermatologist said it was probably my roscea and started me on more meds and changed all my face cleansing and moisturizing products.  I look like a broken out, acne blessed teenager today!

I visited Dr. Malik my rheumotologist for a routine exam and took Heather with me cause I was having trouble remembering things and wanted her there to remember what Malik said.  Turns out most my depression and worsened memory issues were due to the medication Lyrica.  I couldn't tell that it was helping my pain so she said to quit taking it slowly.  Doing that now.  Secondly I have been having problems with my hands and them hurting so bad so I had an MRI done and I am waiting to hear what that has to say about the pain.  I really like Dr. Malik and would recommend her as a very caring and sensitive physician that is truly interested in helping her patients get better and to understand what they have happening to them.  I haven't once heard her say that the pain is in my head and she goes out of the way to determine what is going on with you not just your chart!  btw the MRI of my left hand was an interesting experience!  I had to lay on my belly about 45 minutes with my arm extended over my head and restrained in a device to do the exam.  Of course for a person like me I started hurting about 15 minutes after it started and I am still aching and hurting all over today!

I am going to start working in my garden tomorrow.  Here is what it looks like today!  It is a mess but it won't take long to get it cleared up.  I am planning on trying a square foot gardening type garden this year so I will keep you informed how it goes.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Yogurt and other fun stuff!

I love yogurt...not that flavored stuff that they carry at WalMart in the 20 whillion artificial flavors but the good old fashioned plain cultured yogurt.  Thats the big difference between what I like and the other...culture.  The Yoplait, Dannon, Walmart brand etc have very little if any culture and it is sweetened and thickened using gelatin or other agents.   I love Greek Gods plain yogurt.  It has a little tangier taste then most yogurts but it is so thick and yummy I could eat it by the gallons.

I haven't tried any of the flavored versions but I hear that they are really yummy also.  I tried the lower fat version but I really like the full fat version best.  Only problem with this yogurt is the price!  I guess making a full fat, cultured (they say 5 different ones), probiotic healthy yogurt is expensive but almost $5 for a 24 oz container is a bit steep if you ask me.

I used to make all my yogurt back in the hippie days but we would buy live culture from the healthfood store to make it with....That is expensive now days.  I made most of my bread too...another story.  Anyway I got on line and started reading articles about making yogurt and I got so confused that I decided to make it easy on myself and do it the way I used to but borrowing the culture from the Greek Gods yogurt.   It worked...sort of!  I was so pleased with my experiment even if it came out a little thin it tasted and had the tongue appeal of the store bought stuff!  There is so much you can do with a good yogurt.  Here is what I did!

Homemade Yogurt (the easy way!)

1 quart of milk, fat, no fat, minimum fat whatever you like
1/4 c yogurt
2 Tbl dry milk

Preheat oven to 220 degrees.
Make sure all your utensils are sterile clean so your culture stays pure.
  1. Pour milk in jar and heat to just below boiling...allow to cool to 110 degrees before adding the culture.
  2. Put dry milk in stir well.  
  3. Now temper the yogurt to the milk by adding some of the 110 degree milk to it in a bowl and mixing well.  Pour all back into the jar and shake, shake, shake.  
  4. Turn off the oven.  Wrap the jar in a towel and put in the oven.
  5. Leave in the oven for 4-5 hours for the cultures to grow.  The longer it is in there the better it is but make sure the oven stays at about 100-110 degrees the whole time.  I have a warmer drawer on the bottom of my stove that I use to incubate my yogurt.
I ate it with fruit for breakfast! Doesn't that look yummy with the strawberries cut up in it.  I think I will use it in smoothies too until this batch is gone because it is a drinkable yogurt. 
Another use was making a tsatsiki (tzatziki) sauce to use with some left over gyro meat that Chuck brought me home for supper the other night.  We go to a place here in Norman called the Greek House that has a child's plate for $6.50 that has so much food on it I usually have 2-3 meals out of the meat.  OMG! such good food!  Anyway carrying on here...tsatsiki sauce is a creamy dressing made using yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, onion, oil, and vinegar.   I have found that you can't go wrong with these ingredients however you mix them up just don't leave the oil, vinegar, or yogurt out.  My recipe is simple:

Vickie's Tsatsiki Sauce
makes about 2 cups
1 1/2 cups yogurt or sour cream
2 baby cucumbers (about 5-6 ounces)
onion chopped
garlic to taste
2 tbl lemon juice or 1/2 lemon squeezed dry (you can use vinegar too!)
2 tbl oil
salt and pepper to taste

I throw all the above into the food grinder (Cuisinart) and mix it all together for a few seconds.  If you like chunkier veggies then chop them fine and then mix in yogurt.  Its good how ever you to it.  I like it mixed in with fresh veggies as a salad dressing and in the summer on a Greek salad...oh my! 

The white stuff in this picture is the tsatsiki sauce/dressing.  There is a secret here too...the chicken is covered with it and baked....I know it took me a few minutes to get my head wrapped around cooked cucumbers but this turned out so yummy I will be making it again!  Want the recipe?  Okay here it is!

Chicken made with Tsatsiki sauce

Chicken, cut up or boneless/skinless pieces
1 recipe of Tsasiki sauce from above
Curry Powder
salt and pepper to taste

sprinkle chicken with curry powder, paprika, salt and pepper to taste.  Drop in a bag and then cover with the tsatsiki sauce.   If you want a little tangier sauce add the other half of lemon left over from above recipe!  Let sit in the refrigerator overnight or as long as you can let it sit...longer the better.  I baked this in in 350 deg oven for 45 minutes but the next time I am going to put it on the grill outside and see how it turns out.  It has a taste quite similar to a tandoori chicken, not as spicy, and I just wanted to keep eating it. 

Hope you give the healthy living recipes a try.  I really enjoyed them myself.  Stay tuned for more about the yogurt because I read on line I could make the yogurt using almond milk so I will be giving that a try and posting my results here.