Goat Cheese Pizza

Pizza is probably my favorite food of all time.  It comes in so many delicious varieties, and has something to offer everyone.  It was a relief to see that there were some low cholesterol pizza recipes out there.  However, I was worried about the overall flavor I would get from the pizza.  Luckily, it turned out awesome.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Wheat pizza crust
  • Red onion
  • Walnuts
  • Olive oil
  • Goat cheese

You can find the original recipe here, or check out my pin on my Yum board.

goat cheese pizza

Review

I made some changes to this recipe (as you probably noticed in the picture).  My husband is not a fan of tomatoes, so I took those off and added some additional greens.  I also decided to add some spices to my olive oil as well as some garlic.  I warmed them together in a pan on the stovetop to help mix the flavors together.  I did not add salt to anything.  (Actually, it’s safe to assume I never add salt to things.  I rarely enjoy salt as an added flavor.)  Also, I did not pre-roast my walnuts.  So, even though I made these minor changes, the overall integrity of the dish was maintained.

This dish was, to date, my favorite dish from my initial search for low-cholesterol diets.  I really liked the flavors of everything.  I probably should have left the whole thing in the oven longer to get a more crispy crust, but that’s really the only thing I would do differently (besides what I outlined above).  The prep time for this dish was minimal, and I felt like the final product was a delight.  This dish is definitely going into my dinner rotation.

Butterbeer Latte

I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan.  When the final two books came out, I was working at a bookstore and we did midnight release parties.  Each of them rank very high on my all-time favorite work experiences. Once, when my husband was gone for the weekend, I marathoned through all eight movies.  So, obviously, when I saw this recipe for a Butterbeer latte, I had to give it a try!  You will need:

  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cinnamon

Check out the full recipe and ingredients list here, or see my pin on my Drinks On Me board.

butterbeer latte

Review

This drink is full of things that I shouldn’t be eating any more, but I simply had to try this out. The flavor is amazing!  I loved this latte.  I also like that there are variations on the recipe to add coffee as well as how to order this at Starbucks.

One of the things that I found a little difficult with this recipe is the initial sugar and butter step.  Because the amounts are so small, you really need to keep an eye on everything so it doesn’t burn.  I think an excellent solution to this would be to have a friend over and make Butterbeer lattés for two!  That will increase the butter and sugar and make it a little less likely to burn quickly.  Also, you could use a smaller saucepan, but make sure that the saucepan is still large enough to hold the milk when you add it.

I LOVED this recipe.  I think that I will try it again with my soy milk and see how it turns out.  That won’t take care of the butter in the recipe, but it’s a change toward being better for my low cholesterol diet.  If you like Harry Potter, this is a recipe you HAVE to check out.

Fish and Chips

One of the first things I did when I got home from my doctor’s appointment was start looking for low cholesterol recipes.  Over and over again I was being reassured that low cholesterol doesn’t have to mean low on taste.  So, I picked a series of recipes that looked like things I would want to eat and went grocery shopping.  Firs up on our list:  fish and chips.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Fish (I used tilapia)
  • Cornmeal
  • Bread Crumbs
  • Potatoes

You can check out the full recipe and ingredient list here, or check out my pin on my Yum board.

fish and chips

Review

First of all, this was a simple dish to create.  The process is very straightforward.  One of my annoyances with the recipe itself is that there are no guidelines about how long and what temperature to cook the fish and potatoes at.  Luckily, I purchased frozen tilapia fillets, so the bag had some cooking instructions.  As for the potatoes, I put them in the oven while I prepped the fish, and left them in the over for another 10 or so minutes once the fish was done.  Mostly I looked for a bit of a crispy edge to my potatoes.

One of the main drawbacks to this recipe is the lack of seasoning.  I didn’t have malt vinegar or lemon, so that would have helped, but I was surprised by the overall lack of flavor.  The recipe does call for seasoned breadcrumbs, and I did use them.  However, that was not enough to really add flavor to the fish.  In the future, I will probably add some pepper and other spices to my coating in order to amp up the flavor a bit.

I will definitely make this again.  It was easy to make and the main drawback is easy to overcome.  Obviously watching what I choose to add as a seasoning is important (no salt!), but, overall, it won’t change the low cholesterol benefits. Both the husband and I agreed that this was worth a second try and a place in our dinner rotation.

Low Cholesterol

Last week I traveled back to Arizona from Indiana, got back into my routine here, and had a follow-up visit with my doctor for some blood work that was drawn before I left.  Turns out, I have a cholesterol problem.

Now, the doctor seemed to think that there was a decent chance that some of the problem was genetic; that I had inherited some of this cholesterol issue from my family.  But that couldn’t be everything, so we needed to discuss a plan of action.  What we came up with was simple:

  • Start medication.  The numbers were just too high to not medicate.  Could I ever be in a place where I don’t need the medication?  Well, it depends.  If genetics does play a role, how much of a role it plays will determine if I can overcome this without medication.
  • Make some diet changes.  It doesn’t have to be everything, but I need to start being more conscious of the choices I make and where the cholesterol is coming into my diet.  So I’ll be using a lot less red meat when I make dinner, and I will be focusing on adding fiber.  I’ll also be tacking my biggest obstacle:  dairy products.  I love cheese, so working on the dairy aspect will be hard.  I’ll probably start by shifting my milk consumption over to something like soy or almond milk.
  • Think about my exercise routine.  I have tried a ton of different work outs.  Back in Indiana, I used to go to Zumba 5 days a week, but it had, essentially, no effect on my weight or my muscle mass.  Obviously a mostly cardio workout didn’t work for me.  I had started a work out called 30 Days of Change right before I got sick, but the sinus infection put me out for about a week and a half (it’s hard to work out when you can’t breathe), and then I didn’t work out while I was in Indiana.  I’ve started that up again as the few days I was able to do before I got sick really did seem to work for me.

If you don’t have regular blood work done, you should talk to your doctor.  I would have never known that I had this problem if my doctor hadn’t ordered a full work-up since I was a new patient.  I wouldn’t be making these changes because I didn’t know I needed to.  I haven’t felt any sort of adverse health effects related to my cholesterol level, so it probably would have been something drastic that finally clued me in without this blood work.

As for the blog, you can expect me to try out some low-cholesterol recipes.  I am a firm believer that, no matter what diet you need to follow, that shouldn’t mean that you sacrifice taste.  I’ll also review the workout program at the end of my 30 days.  I’ll let you know what, if any effect the program had on me and my body.  Finally, when I do my follow-up in three months, I’ll let you know how these changes have impacted my overall numbers, so you can have a little anecdotal evidence about how these three simple changes have helped.

Itch Relief

While cleaning my grandparents house I was bit all over my feet and ankles by, what I assume, were fleas.  My feet looked just like they did back in third grade when I had chicken pox.*  And the itching was terrible and intense.  It was possibly the itchiest I had ever been.

Mom and dad to the rescue!

She shared with me a little home recipe to help relieve the itch.  To mix up this home remedy, you will need:

  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide

That’s it!  No, really!

All you need to do is pour some baking soda into a bowl.  Then, slowly pour in hydrogen peroxide.  Only add a little bit at a time. You won’t need much.  Mix in the peroxide until you have a spreadable paste. Once the mixture is ready, coat the affected areas with a layer of your paste. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.  Wash the paste off with a wet washcloth.  You should feel relief from the itching.  My relief lasted for a few hours, but your mileage may vary.

Tips and Tricks

  • Use a very light hand with the hydrogen peroxide. I added what I thought was a small amount, but turned out to be too much and I had to add more baking soda which meant I had more paste than I actually needed.
  • The paste will dry and harden and flake off.  I wish I had thought to do everything over a towel for easier cleanup.  Instead I ended up leaving a little trail of dried paste as I walked to the bathroom.
  • Have your wet washcloth ready to go by your towel for even easier cleanup.
  • This paste can dry out your skin, so keep that in mind.

I was almost in pain from the crazy itch that these bites gave me.  I spent a week trying itch creams and trying to ignore the pain before my parents came home and made this suggestion.  So, I do need to say that the itch had decreased from the original bites since they were a week old when I tried this.  However, they were still worse than a fresh mosquito bite. I am now two weeks out from the bites, and they are basically gone.  This mixture seemed to help more than any of the creams I tried.

*No pictures this week because it was seriously gross looking.

 

As a programming note, there will probably not be posts next week as I will be traveling back to Arizona.  I have blown through my cache of saved projects, and will need a few days to get to the grocery store and get back into my Arizona groove before I have something to post again.

Riding Amtrak

**This post originally appeared on my personal blog.**

 

In order to get to Indiana, I decided to try something different;  I took the train.  The longest train ride I have had prior to this would be taking the South Shore into Chicago. Not really a “long distance” ride.  This time, I got on the train in Flagstaff and rode it to Chicago where I switched to the South Shore.  I got on the train at 4:45 AM Flag time (2:45 AM Central) on Sunday morning, and arrived in Chicago at 3:15 PM on Monday.  So, around 36 hours total on the train.  I was riding in coach, which has a few distinct differences from the other options.

When you ride in coach, you are essentially riding in a seat that is like a much nicer airline seat.  The seats are larger than a plane, and they recline farther and have a little foot rest thing you can flip up.  They do have a tray table in the seat back in front of you.  The seats are in pairs with one aisle.  It’s not the most comfortable sleep I’ve had, but it certainly was doable and not totally awful.  You are allowed two carry on bags, and there is ample overhead space for them.  If you’re short like I am, there is plenty of room to put one of your bags at your feet.

Unlike a plane, you are welcome to move about the train as much as you please.  There is a viewing car that has more and larger windows than the passenger car.  You can go sit there for hours and watch the countryside.  By far my favorite view on my particular train was northern New Mexico.  I didn’t expect it to look like it did.  I tend to think that New Mexico looks like what I saw when driving across 40, but it is so much more varied than that.

If you get hungry, you can visit the Café car for a snack or the dining car for a meal. The café car is more like a nice snack bar.  You can get some chips, but you could also get some ramen.  The dining car is actual meals, but, of course, it costs more than the snacks.  I averaged $12 for breakfast and lunch, but dinner starts at $16.  What’s fun about the dining car is that you get seated with other people because they need to put four people to every table if possible since the car is small.  Thus, at meal times you can sit and meet new people, find out where they are going, and enjoy Somme decent food together.  I met a mother/son pair that were going from LA to Boston where her some was going back to college, a retired couple that was going home after visiting their kids and grandkids, and a woman and her daughter that were moving across the country.  Breakfast and lunch are come any time while the car is open, but dinner is reservation only.  The dining car staff will come through the train asking who is interested in dinner and give you a set time to come to the car.

Riding in coach wasn’t bad, but next time I would definitely get a sleeper or a roomette.  Those rooms allow some privacy as well as a more secure feeling when leaving your belongings at your seat.  Plus, all your meals are included if you have one of those cars.  You can even have your meals delivered to your room if you like (though why would you?  Then you’d miss out on meeting new people).

All-in-all it was a kind of neat experience, though it did get boring at some points (I did not pack enough reading material).  The crowd I traveled with had mostly gotten on at the start of the ride in LA, so there were a few interesting things about traveling coach with LA people.  I decided by the end of the trip that they didn’t really understand how public transportation works and that is probably why they didn’t understand why certain things needed to be done in certain ways.  It was also fun to watch them be amazed as the train got into Chicago and they looked at how large all the buildings were.  Several of them were taking pictures of random apartment buildings because they thought those were so big.  I wish I could have seen them get out into the town at Union Station.

I’m excited for the trip back to Flag on the train.  I think it will be a cool experience to see what kind of people I end up with going the other way, and seeing everything from a different perspective (the stops will be the same, but it will be a different time of day).  I would suggest traveling by train at least once just to see what it is like.  It’s certainly an interesting way to see the country!

Fun Friday: GG

Today is just a quick fun post as I have been busy all week helping care for my grandparents. One thing that is always bound to pick me up is a good episode of Gilmore Girls.  I love the witty banter and the interesting relationships depicted.  So, for today I’d like to share one of my favorite screencaps from the show.  I feel like this is something we can all relate to.

Gilmore Girls!

Original source

My pin

Lavender Hot Chocolate

I have been dying to do some cooking with lavender.  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any cooking lavender in Arizona.  Luckily, I am currently in Indiana, and my brother happened to have some lavender that I could use.  So, I decided to start simple with this hot chocolate recipe.  For this hot chocolate, you will need:

  • Milk
  • Dark chocolate
  • Milk chocolate
  • Lavender

You can check out the original recipe here, or my pin on my Drinks On Me board.

lavender hot chocolate

Review

As you know, I have a bit of a fear of things that involve heating milk, but have felt more confident with the success of the cream sauce for my quiche.  Well, add this to my list of successes!  This was not only super simple to make, but also amazingly delicious!  The lavender is a great complement to the chocolate, especially the dark chocolate.

The only thing I would recommend is making sure you have a good strainer.  The holes in my strainer were just a tiny bit too big, and not all of the lavender was caught.  You could probably use something like a tea ball to help with this.

This recipe is easy and tasty:  my favorite combination!  If you like hot chocolate and are looking for a twist, give this a try!

Jarlsburg Crustless Quiche

First of all, I want to apologize for not blogging on Friday.  I am on vacation, and I planned on having plenty of time to blog, but then life attacked.  I am visiting Indiana, and now I am caring for my grandparents due to a medical emergency.  Needless to say, everything else went by the wayside while I was dealing with that.  So, today I have for you the post that was originally slated for Friday.

I kept my trip to Indiana a bit of a secret because I wanted to surprise my book club.  This month they decided on something a little bit different:  we read a mystery book that included recipes.  Everyone picked one of the recipes and brought it to book club to be enjoyed by all. Since I was keeping my visit a secret, I had to pick from the recipes no one else selected.  That’s how I ended up with the quiche.  For this recipe, you will need:

  • Eggs
  • Cream cheese
  • Jarlsburg cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Milk
  • Butter

There are a few other ingredients in small quantities as well.  This recipe can be found in the book Dying for Chocolate by Diane Mott Davidson.

quiche

Review

I was a little worried about this recipe because it starts off with making a cream sauce that gets added to the egg mixture.  I don’t have the best track record with things that involve heating milk, so I felt this worry was justified.  Turns out, though, it was very simple.  I have never been as excited about cooking as I was when that sauce started to thicken.

I was also a bit weirded out by the cottage cheese in the recipe.  I am not a fan of cottage cheese, so I wasn’t sure if I would like the final taste because of that.  Again, I need not have worried.  This recipe is delicious.  I really liked the final outcome.  With the ingredient list the quiche could have been heavy and overly-filling, but instead it was fluffy and not too dense.  The flavors were great too.  Everything came together beautifully.

This is not a low fat recipe, but darn if it isn’t delicious. Every recipe in the book was tasty.  I wouldn’t suggest reading the book (I was not a fan AT ALL), but the book is worth it for the twelve or so recipes.  Apparently the book is part of a series, so there are several other books, all with recipes.  If your library carries them, it’s worth checking out.