11/11/18

No-bake Brownie Bottom Chocolate Spoon Pie

The holidays are here!

The holidays are here!

Aka- time to make allllllll the low carb, no sugar, ketogenic friendly, HOLIDAY TREATS!

Last year I had a blast whipping up some delicious low carb snacks, appetizers, and desserts to support my new low carb lifestyle, and I never once felt deprived! 

This year I’ll be bringing you some new recipes that are still in line with this way of eating (since I am never turning back to my old ways!) and I’m so excited to start with THIS concoction! 

This is THE perfect plate to bring to your next holiday party, your Thanksgiving table, or for eating with family and friends in your pajamas watching holiday movies. It’s SO easy to make, and you won’t need to turn on your oven!

If you are a chocolate fan looking to satisfy your low carb, sugar free chocolate craving, I’ve got you covered with this dish! The base is a no-bake chewy, fudgey, and rich chocolate brownie. The middle layer is a rich milk chocolate pudding. And it’s finished with fresh vanilla whipped heavy cream. It is decadent! 

Here is the recipe! Go make this TODAY!

Low carb, no-bake brownie bottom spoon pie
Serves 12
Pudding recipe for the middle layer adapted from https://lowcarbyum.com/creamy-milk-chocolate-pudding/
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
For the brownie bottom
  1. 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter
  2. 1/4 cup Swerve brand powdered sweetener (Publix and Sprouts carries it)
  3. 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  4. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  5. 1 cup blanched almond flour
  6. 1/4 tsp. salt
  7. 1/4 cup chopped roasted pecans or walnuts (optional)
  8. For the pudding: Recipe from https://lowcarbyum.com/creamy-milk-chocolate-pudding/
  9. 1/3 cup Swerve brand powdered sweetener
  10. 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  11. 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  12. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  13. 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  14. 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  15. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  16. 1/4 tsp. salt
For the whipped topping
  1. 1.5 cups of heavy whipping cream
  2. 1/4 cup Swerve brand powdered sweetener
  3. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  4. 1/4 tsp. salt
For the brownie bottom
  1. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Whisk in sweetener, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and salt to the butter until well combined.
  3. Stir in almond flour and nuts (optional) until a doughy paste forms.
  4. Press the dough mixture into a lightly greased casserole dish and set into the fridge to firm.
For the pudding
  1. Whisk together the Swerve, cocoa, and stevia in medium saucepan.
  2. Gradually stir in coconut milk and heavy cream.
  3. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture starts to boil. Boil and stir for another minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Sprinkle in xanthan gum, stirring to completely mix in.
  5. Stir in butter and vanilla extract until incorporated.
  6. Pour pudding mixture over the cooled brownie layer and place plastic wrap directly on surface to prevent skin from forming.
  7. Chill in refrigerator for several hours until thickened.
  8. Top with whipped cream and serve cold!
http://orangespoken.com/

10/20/18

Low carb, sugar free pumpkin spiced cinnamon rolls

The other day I was chatting with a friend about childhood memories when Grandy’s came up. 

When I was a kid, we’d make trips to our local theme park, Busch Gardens, quite often. And we always, ALWAYS stopped for breakfast before heading into the park at a place called Grandy’s nearby. Although it’s not there anymore. I have fond memories of those breakfast stops- full of excitement and anticipation of what was to come that day- and full of the BEST cinnamon rolls ever. 

These cinnamon buns were SO delicious. They melted in your mouth and were the perfect way to start a day of sight-seeing, animals, and roller coaster rides. I hadn’t thought about Grandy’s in years, but ever since those fond childhood memories popped into my mind, I have been thinking about cinnamon buns. 

I’m a foodie. What can I say? It doesn’t take much to ignite a craving! 

I’ve made a few low carb, sugar free, keto diet friendly cinnamon rolls in the past that turned out AMAZING, so I knew I’d have some options to satisfy my nostalgic craving. I decided to make a batch of these today, adding a little spin as a nod to the most wonderful time of the yeeeeearrrrr: pumpkin and warm spices! 

These cinnamon rolls are soft and gooey, sweet and buttery- just like all cinnamon rolls should be! And the addition of pumpkin puree, golden monkfruit sweetener, and warm fall spices just takes these rolls to another level of deliciousness! 

Get the recipe below! And as you read the directions, if you need a visual on how to flatten and roll the dough, here you go! 

Low Carb, Sugar Free Pumpkin Spiced Cinnamon Rolls
Yields 16
A delicious twist on traditional cinnamon rolls perfect for your fall table, Thanksgiving dessert table, or Christmas morning!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
  2. 1 tbsp. baking powder
  3. 2 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  4. 2 oz cream cheese, cubed
  5. 2 large eggs, whisked
  6. 1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  7. 2 tbsp. cinnamon powder
  8. 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  9. 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  10. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  11. 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
  12. 1 cup no-calorie sweetener (I used Truvia or Golden Monkfruit)
  13. pinch of salt
  14. cooking spray for greasing pan
  15. wax paper or parchment paper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Stir together almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Combine shredded mozzarella and cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 2 minutes, stirring once in between.
  4. Let the cheese mixture cool for a minute, and then add in the eggs and the almond flour mixture and stir until all combined into a dough.
  5. Place the dough on a sheet pan lined with wax paper (or parchment paper) sprayed with non-stick spray. Place another piece of paper over the dough and press with hands until flat. Remove top layer of paper and then set aside.
  6. Stir together pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla extract, butter, and sweetener. Spread onto the flattened dough.
  7. Carefully use the bottom layer of wax paper to help roll the dough lengthwise to make one long roll. Use a sharp knife to slice 1 inch pieces from the roll.
  8. Place each piece with the filling side facing up side by side into a greased round cake pan. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.
Notes
  1. Optional- Top with powdered no calorie sweetener (I used Swerve) mixed with a little water or milk to form an icing to drizzle over the cinnamon rolls!
Adapted from Wholesome Yum (dough recipe)
http://orangespoken.com/
09/30/18

Low carb crispy pan fried fish with avocado tartar sauce

A few weeks ago my husband and my mother-in-law went on a chartered fishing trip out in the Gulf of Mexico. They had some success bringing back some fresh snapper, grouper, and Key West grunts! 

Even though we live in Florida- literally surrounded by salt water- I don’t cook fish too often. If we get a craving, we typically will go out to a seafood restaurant to avoid having the house smell like fish for a day or two.

Lucky for us, there are tons of options in the Tampa Bay area to choose from, like one of our favorites, Ballyhoo! 

But because the husband and his mom came home with the catch-of-the-day that day, I was excited to cook what they brought home!

I fried the fish two ways that day: battered in a light cornmeal and flour coating and deep fried until golden brown and crispy, and a pan-fried version with the fish coated with a low carb “breading” made of crushed pork rinds and parmesean cheese that was so amazingly good that I just had to make it again today! 

This recipe really is a winner. The breading, although strange sounding, has this buttery, crispy, and salty flavor to it that pairs so well with a flaky white fish like mahi-mahi or even cod. Although I haven’t tried using it on other proteins, I have a feeling this would make an unbelievable fried chicken, or even a vegetable like an eggplant for eggplant parm or on zucchini for zucchini fries! And since pork rinds have no carbs, and the parmesean cheese adds very little in carb count since I am using just a tiny amount, this is the perfect recipe if you are following a low carb lifestyle or if you are trying to remain in ketosis! 

Even though I’m currently stuffed, my mouth is watering just talking about this dish and looking at the pictures! 

Go make this ASAP!

Low carb crispy pan fried fish
Serves 4
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
10 min
For the breading
  1. 2 cups of plan pork rinds
  2. 1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese
For the fish
  1. 2 eggs, whisked in a bowl
  2. 3-4 filets of a fresh white fish of your choice (I used Mahi-Mahi and grouper) cut into smaller chunks
  3. olive oil and butter for frying (I use mostly oil + a pat of butter- the flavor is awesome!)
For the avocado tartar sauce
  1. 1/2 cup good mayo
  2. 1 small-medium avocado
  3. 2 tsp. capers
  4. the juice of 1/2 lemon
  5. 1 tsp. onion powder
  6. 1 tsp. garlic powder
  7. 1 tbsp. hot sauce
  8. 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
  9. 1 tsp. anchovy paste (optional)
For the breading
  1. Place the pork rinds and the parmesean cheese into a food processor and pulse until fine (you can also use a gallon sized bag and a rolling pin). Place into a bowl and position next to the whisked eggs.
To prepare the fish
  1. Heat oil and butter in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Place enough oil in the pan to coat the bottom (you will be shallow frying the fish, so the oil only needs to come up to just under the fish).
  2. While the oil heats, pat down the chunks of fish with a paper towel to remove excess water.
  3. Place chunks of fish into the whisked eggs to coat completely, and then into the pork rind mixture to coat on all sides. Place into the hot oil and let it cook for 4 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 4 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. *Note: thinner fish will need 2-3 minutes on each side. My fish chunks were 2in x 2in.
  4. Serve with a dollop of avocado tartar sauce and a squeeze of lime!
To prepare the avocado tartar sauce
  1. Throw all of the ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth. You could also use an immersion blender or just a whisk. 🙂
http://orangespoken.com/
ENJOY!

 

 

08/30/18

My Health Journey Year 1

In the spring of 2005 I weighed 388lbs. 

It was one of those numbers that you never thought you’d actually see on a scale that YOU are standing on. That number was reserved for really obese people-like the ones you see on tv that have difficulty leaving their house because of their situation. I wasn’t that big. At least I didn’t think I was that big. But there I was. That number was my reality. 

I didn’t understand what that number meant, how I got there, or why there was so much shame attached to it. I just knew it was a LOT, and I would never, ever admit it to anyone. Ever. The scale became my enemy, and that number became the only identity I fixated on. And, the only identity I attempted to fix.

Truth be told it’s been the Stephanie vs. the scale show for as long as I can remember. 

I was an average-sized (whatever that means!) baby and toddler, but by kindergarten, I was already labeled as “the chubby girl”, and still hold onto vivid memories of being aware of my size compared to my classmates. 

I don’t recall a single grade where I wasn’t one of the biggest (and often THE biggest) student in my class- including college. 

Being overweight was who I was, and to be honest, aside from my career, it was all that I was. Being overweight got in the way of everything because it’s all that I ever thought about. It was difficult for me to form friendships, be in relationships, and, most important, understand how to love myself. Life revolved around my weight. It made me angry, sad, and embarrassed. It made me feel as though I wasn’t good enough. It made me settle for things. I couldn’t look any deeper into who I was as a person and how to get better at being ME because my mind was obsessed with the idea that fat=broken.

From 2005-2011 I decided to try something, anything, to lose the weight once and for all. I dieted, exercised, started running (I even completed a few triathlons!), went to weight loss meetings, downed weight-loss shakes, and although I never tried anything drastic or dangerous, I tried many, many things. 

In that time I discovered a love of running. Although I was slow, when I ran, I didn’t feel fat. I felt strong. 

I felt strong enough to complete multiple 5ks, a 10k, a 15k, and even two sprint distance triathlons! 

I also began learning how to cook and experimenting with creating and cooking healthy, clean, and nutritious recipes and sharing them on my first blog, Faked Goods (a play on the words Baked Goods). Running, cooking, and sharing my story with the few blog followers I had gained were game changers. In fact, they were my life changers. 

Through these newfound passions I was able to begin to gain strength and confidence that I never thought I had, AND I was able to lose around 80lbs. For the first time in a long time I was feeling good, and beginning to figure out that I was capable of so much more than I had ever imagined. I began to realize that I wasn’t limited by a number on a scale, and that the only person putting these limits on me was ME. I began to realize that I wasn’t just the chubby girl. And even if I was, it didn’t matter. Registering for races, committing to training, crossing finish lines, sharing recipes, and connecting with like-minded people was something so much bigger than the value, energy, and time I gave to the number 388. 

In the spring of 2011 my life did a complete 180. 

I went through a divorce, and my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 of an aggressive form of metastatic breast cancer. In 2012, she passed away, and my mindset took a hit. That first year of my grief journey was the most difficult year of my life. Nothing had prepared me for what it would be like to lose a parent at the young age of 32. Anything that had happened in the past- my divorce, weight loss struggles- it all paled in comparison to the emotional tornado I had just been unwillingly thrown into. I lost my motivation, I ate whatever I wanted, and crept back up to 340lbs. 

Fortunately, I had some bright spots to support this unexpected life chapter. While my mom was facing cancer treatment, I met Brian, my now husband, and shortly after her passing, I decided to join Orangetheory Fitness

Watching my mother suffer through cancer, and witnessing her taking her literal last breath was more debilitating and traumatic than I could have ever imagined. And although I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, being there for my mother’s last year of life helped me see that I needed to prioritize myself, my health, and my happiness.

It took a year for me to even begin to think about how to go about doing this. Fortunately, falling in love and gaining a strong push and support system through my new coach friends at Orangetheory (plus grief therapy, and lots of vent sessions with the best girlfriends I could ask for), I was able to begin to heal, rediscover my motivation, and get back into the groove I had lost. 

I began to sign up for races again.

I began blogging again (specifically about my grief journey).

I began living again.

For the next 4 years I pretty much tossed around the same 50lbs. I continued to run, cook healthy meals, and attend classes at OTF, but something was always getting in the way of truly controlling my health and my weight. Now I know that weight is just a number, and should not define overall health, but those extra pounds I was carrying on my body day in and day out were getting in the way- literally and figuratively. Even though I was in a much better place in my head than the girl that fixated on and placed way too much value in “388”, I knew I needed to take control of my future. The excess weight was preventing me from feeling good- not only mentally, but physically. I wanted to run faster. I wanted to feel confident in my skin. I wanted to feel comfortable in clothes. I no longer wanted to fear the numbers I’d see on my annual bloodwork paperwork (or fear going to the doctor for that matter!). I didn’t want to be *this close* to being pre-diabetic anymore. And most of all, I didn’t want to go down the same tragic road as my mother. 

When you lose a loved one to cancer, especially someone in your immediate family, you think about your own mortality and fate. Everyday is a battle to not take my mind down dark thoughts of “what if it happens to me too.” While I know that I cannot control every situation, I know that I CAN control how I take care of my body in hopes to possibly play a significant part in avoiding disease.

Two years ago Kristen, a dear friend of mine, started following a way of eating that I had heard a little bit about, but didn’t really understand what it really was. She would talk about the ketogenic, or “keto” way of life, being in ketosis, and foods and recipes that were “keto friendly”, but all that I ever got out of our conversations was how she was eating as much butter as she wanted, while still managing to lose weight.

I sat back and watched her lose 100+lbs in a year, and keep it off. I watched her get rid of aches and pains (she fought Plantar’s Fasciitis for years, like I did), and use this low carb, no sugar, high healthy fat way of eating to help manage her MS, which she was diagnosed with last year. Because the ketogenic way of eating is super anti-inflammatory, she was also able to  heal her plantar’s fasciitis, and improve all of her bloodwork numbers immensely which has been one of the most significant benefits of this lifestyle. She continued to encourage me to try it- that if I already cook, and eat pretty clean, this wouldn’t be such a difficult transition. And how it’s not about eating mass amounts of bacon, and zipping through the drive thru for bunless double cheeseburgers on the regular. That it’s about eating clean, whole, nutrient dense foods- a moderate amount of good quality proteins, a higher amount of healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, and real butter, low glycemic vegetables and fruits like spinach, asparagus, squash, and berries, natural sweeteners like stevia, low carb nuts like macadamias, and real dairy products, including cheese (my favorite). It sounded completely doable, and not far from what I was already doing, but for some reason I just wouldn’t take the leap and try it. 

In 2016 I started a new career which completely changed the 8am-3:30pm teacher’s routine I had become accustomed to over the past 13 years. This new position had a steep learning curve and significant travel away from home. Along with that life change, Brian had also proposed! That same year of learning a new career also brought a fun (and stressful!) year of wedding planning. We had a beautiful, amazing, and wonderful wedding in the spring of 2017, and I was on cloud 9. But by the summer of that same year, I knew that I was on the path back to square 1. Between travel, and wedding planning, I was cooking less and running through drive-thrus more. I was stress eating, and using travel and wedding planning as an excuse to do so. 

In August of 2017, a wellness coach I know was starting a group for clean eating and exercise accountability. She invited me to join and so I did. At the same time I decided to finally take Kristen’s advice and expand on the clean eating goals by giving the ketogenic way of eating a try too. For two weeks I’d go all in to see how I felt. If by the end of two weeks I wasn’t feeling good, or if this was too difficult to keep up with, I’d quit and add the carbs back in. But I promised myself two weeks. Two weeks to give it a chance and see what it was all about.

I didn’t decide to take this leap for anyone else but myself. I wasn’t doing it to gain approval from people that don’t know the real me. I wasn’t doing it to be skinny, or to look beautiful (because I already felt beautiful). I wasn’t doing it because I thought I needed to change my body to be happy (because I was already deliriously happy- and still am). I decided to make this commitment as an effort to regain control of my health, of my body, and my future. I watched others do it, and I felt hopeful that this might be something that I could do too.

I quickly realized two things- there is SO much to learn about fueling my body this way, AND there is a ton of support, and information in the form of blogs, social media groups, and of course, Kristen out there. There was definitely a learning curve (like knowing that I needed to up my salt intake because as my body began to flush out excess fat, it will also flush out necessary salts, AND that fat=fuel), and, of course, there was some carb/sugar withdrawal the first couple of days (showing itself as a headache mostly). But by the first few days into my two week experiment, the headache had subsided and I was feeling GREAT. Like really, really great. I felt GOOD. I felt energized. I was sleeping better, thinking better, and was less bloated. In two weeks, the scale had even moved, and my clothes were fitting better. 

I decided to do two more strict weeks. Which turned into 2 strict months, then 4 months, then 6 months. Aside from days where I might have eaten too many carbs in the form of vegetables (I love a good salad!), I only went off plan once- with too much wine and jalapeno jelly while on vacation in the mountains. I ate Lily’s chocolate bars while passing out Halloween candy. I whipped up low carb blackberry crisp and creamed spinach for Thanksgiving. I gifted ketogenic Christmas cookies to family and friends. And even enjoyed biscuits and gravy on Christmas morning. I was feeling TOO good to do anything else than what I was doing. So I continued. And it was awesome. 

And now, here I am celebrating 1 whole year of following a low carb, no sugar, ketogenic way of life with no intent on going back! 

I have lost a total of 65lbs since starting a year ago, have lowered my average blood pressure readings significantly (they used to average 132/85, and now they average 120/70. I have also reduced my A1C from 5.8 to 4.6 (no more pre-pre diabetic!), have increased my good cholesterol by 20+ points, have lowered my triglycerides by 40+ points, and have lowered my total cholesterol by 50 points! 

In addition to all of those things I have completely healed the heel pain I have fought for two years (I tried EVERYTHING to heal my severe plantar’s fasciitis before- shots, boots, therapy, you name it!), significantly cleared up my skin, gained confidence, energy, mental clarity, and so much more. Making the commitment to give the ketogenic way of life a try was the best decision I have ever made for myself! While I wish I hadn’t waited so long to jump in, I’m so glad I did!

And it’s not over yet! I’m excited to see what year 2 brings. I want to continue to drop the excess weight, especially before our next vacation to the mountains so that I can hike, and climb to the tops of the peaks with ease! I want to be able to run another half marathon. And most of all, I want to continue to regain control of my own destiny. 

If you are feeling stuck in a health or fitness rut, facing weight loss struggles, feeling like you don’t have the energy or ability to do all that you want to do, or if you just want to be a stronger, healthier version of yourself and excess weight is getting in the way of that, I want you to know that you are not alone and you CAN make changes that will benefit your life in the present and change your course for the future. 

If you have heard about keto and have been on the fence about trying it out, or if reading this blog post has inspired you to take a chance and try it out for two weeks like I did, I encourage you to begin some research and think about how this way of eating might fit into your life. As always, I am not a medical professional, and am nowhere near qualified to give nutritional advice, but I urge you to do some research and think about what two weeks of changing the way you fuel your body might do for you and your situation.

YOU CAN DO THIS. 

Here are some great places to start: 

Cooking Keto with Kristie- Getting Started Guide 

Ruled Me- Keto 101

Inspiration 

 

 

08/18/18

Low Carb, Keto Friendly Vanilla Gooey Butter Cake!

The first time I tried gooey butter cake was in the early 2000’s. 

We had taken a trip to Savannah, Georgia and made a stop at the infamous Lady and Sons for lunch. 

Gooey butter cake was on the buffet, and of course, knowing Paula Deen’s love of all things butter, we had to try it. 

It was out of this world! Sweet and melt-in-your-mouth moist, with the deep vanilla flavor, a crispy exterior, with a gooey inside-and of course #ALLTHEBUTTER. 

Once I learned how easy it was to make, it became one of my go-to sweet treat recipes to make- especially around the holidays. 

And because the main ingredient was a box of cake mix (yes a box of cake mix!), it was always easy to play around with flavors. 

Devil’s Food gooey butter cake.
Red velvet gooey butter cake.
Lemon gooey butter cake.
You get the idea. 

I haven’t eaten any form of gooey butter cake in years, but was reminded of it a few weeks ago when it came across my Instagram feed. Then, of course, the craving hit, and I started researching ways to make a low carb, sugar free, keto friendly version of it so that I could have my cake and eat it too! 

I read some recipes that were floating out there on the Internet, but many of the reviews referred to the cakes as “eggy”. I found another one that had pretty good reviews, but when I played around with the recipe, it just wasn’t sweet enough, and the texture was all wrong. 

Today I decided to play around with some ideas again and boy am I excited to share this with you! 

It. Is. Out. Of. This. World. An almost perfect recreation of the real thing! If you are missing gooey butter cake in your new low-carb lifestyle, make this immediately! Or just make it because you NEED to try it if you never have. 

Here’s the recipe:

Low carb, keto friendly gooey butter cake!
Yields 18
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. Bottom layer
  2. 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
  3. 1/4 cup coconut flour
  4. 1/4 cup Sukrin Gold (Amazon) or Golden Monkfruit sweetener (Sprouts)
  5. 1 large egg
  6. 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, melted
  7. 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  8. A pinch of salt
  9. Top layer
  10. 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
  11. 2 large eggs
  12. 8 oz cream cheese
  13. 3/4 cup Sukrin Gold or Golden Monkfruit sweetener
  14. 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  15. A pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper for easy removal of the cake. Set aside.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients for the bottom layer in a bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Press into an even layer at the bottom of the lined baking pan. Set aside.
  4. Heat butter and cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl until melted. Whisk to combine until there are no lumps, and the mixture is shiny and smooth.
  5. Whisk in vanilla extract, and sweetener until smooth.
  6. When the mixture has cooled a bit, add in the eggs and whisk again.
  7. Pour the mixture over the crust into the pan.
  8. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. At 40 minutes, grab a pot holder and jiggle the pan a bit. If the cake is still jiggly, bake for another 10 minutes and check again. When the top is golden brown, and the cake doesn't jiggle anymore, it's ready to take out!
  9. Let it cool completely- preferably overnight, or in the fridge for a few hours before cutting and serving.
Notes
  1. You can also melt the butter and cream cheese on the stove top if you prefer to not use a microwave.
  2. Optional- dust with powdered Swerve sweetener!
  3. Just 1.5g total carbs per square!!!
http://orangespoken.com/

08/18/18

Low carb, Keto Friendly Mini Ham & Cheese Balls

Today is August 18, but my mind is already in holiday mode.

If you are one of those types of people who get annoyed by early seasonal celebrators, and like to enjoy the current season they are in, you may want to skip this post- or at least hear me out! 😉

When it comes to my favorite holiday season (for me, it starts in mid-September when I pull out all of my Fall & Halloween decor, all the way through New Year’s Day), I like to prepare early. 

When the school supplies hit the clearance shelf making room for fall decor to make its yearly appearance, and the holiday recipe videos start to flood my timeline, I get a major case of the giddies, and I’m ALL in. 

I love having a chance to prepare for the moooooooost wonderful tiiiiiiiiiime of the yearrrrrrrrr by purchasing new items to add to my holiday decor collection (and spacing out these purchases so I’m not spending a million dollars in one Target trip!), AND having the opportunity to experiment with new recipes to bring to my holiday table! 

With that said, I’ll be upping my game here on the blog by sharing some of my favorite tried and true and some brand new low carb, no sugar, ketogenic friendly holiday recipes to kick off the pre-holiday season that will be PERFECT to share with the carb eaters and low-carbers in your life this holiday season! (PS- I’m approaching 1 year of following a ketogenic lifestyle this month! I’ll be posting an update on the successes I’ve had with this way of eating soon!). 

I’m starting with this yummy recipe I recently whipped up for a pot-luck get-together! 

I was first introduced to the Ham and Cheese ball when my cousin Stacy brought one to a family gathering. I had never had one before, with the exception of its cousin the store-bought pub cheese ball covered in nuts that you can pretty much pickup at any grocery store deli. 

However, the addition of ham was new to me! And her version was SO much better than the pre-packaged stuff. But isn’t that the case with most things? Fresh is best! 

I hadn’t thought about her recipe in forever, but the other day it popped up on my “On This Day” feed and, well, I had to have it! I decided to make a batch of mini bite-sized versions for my get-together. I looked up a few ham and cheese ball recipes, and ended up putting my own spin using what I had on hand, and making sure to keep these keto friendly! 

These are made with whipped cream cheese, shredded Colby jack, uncured ham, pecans, and some savory seasonings, but what I love about these is that there is no limit to the flavor combinations you could whip up! 

You could use cream cheese, shredded mozzarella, diced prosciutto, and pistachios! 
Or maybe cream cheese, shredded pepper jack, diced pepperoni, and walnuts! 
You could even use the combination of cream cheese, shredded cheddar, bacon, and almonds! 
If you’re not a meat eater, you can definitely omit and add nuts or finely chopped veggies like celery, carrots, dried fruit like cranberries, or fresh chopped herbs!

They are also spreadable, so you can easily enjoy them on crackers, or celery sticks!

The possibilities are endless!

Here’s the recipe:

Low carb, Keto Friendly Mini Ham & Cheese Bites
Yields 30
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 8oz. packages of full fat cream cheese
  2. 1/2 lb. thinly sliced ham (I used uncured Dietz and Watson)
  3. 1 1/2 cups of shredded Colby jack cheese
  4. 1/2 cup shredded parmesean cheese
  5. 1 tbsp. fresh finely minced chives
  6. 1 tsp. onion powder
  7. 1 tsp. garlic powder
  8. 1 tsp. black papper
  9. 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  10. 2 tbsp. hot sauce (I used Crystal brand)
  11. 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
Instructions
  1. Use a stand or hand mixer to whip the cream cheese with the dry seasonings.
  2. While the cheese is mixing, chop the ham into small pieces.
  3. Add the shredded cheeses, hot sauce, and chives to the whipped cream cheese and stir to combine.
  4. Add the ham to the cheese mixture and stir to combine. Set in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm a bit. Add the pecans to a small bowl to prepare for rolling.
  5. Using a melon-baller or small cookie dough scoop, scoop out gumball sized balls of the ham and cheese mixture and roll into the toasted pecans.
  6. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve. These will stay fresh for up to a week! Enjoy!
http://orangespoken.com/

 

08/9/18

Am I too fat to workout at a gym?

Lately I’ve had people searching for some interesting things that have led them to my blog:

“Am I too fat to workout at a gym?”
“Too heavy for Orangetheory?”
“Weight limit for rower”
“How to overcome humiliation at a gym.”
“How much should I weigh before I buy a gym membership.” Continue reading

05/23/18

Low Carb Escalloped Cabbage and 17(ish) truths!

Here are a few truths about me:
1. When I graduated from high school, I chose teaching children as a profession because I thought it was the only thing I would be good at. 

2. I LOVE teaching children. And teenagers. And adults. And friends. And you guys. And everybody! 

3. Pizza is, and will always be, my favorite food of all time. Period. Cliche, who cares. Pizza is FANTASTIC.

4. I’m loyal, and sentimental, love to feed a crowd and bring people together. I honor the idea of building people up, checking in, speaking my truth, helping others, and passionately protecting my joy. I believe in self-improvement, self-worth, self-love, positivity, growing, learning, evolving, and never, ever pretending to be someone I am not- especially for approval. And I have a mutual expectation of these qualities from family and friends. If I ever drift apart from you (yes, even if we are tied by genetics), it’s because I no longer feel that those qualities are mutually shared, and I will walk away in order to honor my own peace and my own healing. Being negative and toxic is not good for your health. Instead, give others, and yourself, authentic strength and love. Try it. It’s never too late. 

5. I love soapboxes. 

6. Did I already mention my love for pizza? 

7. We took a lot of road trips when I was a kid, and I still prefer them over flying anywhere to this day. 

8. I don’t like sports. Well, only baseball. 

9. My husband is a sports enthusiast.

10. We’ve got that whole “have separate interests” thing down pat. 

11. We do share a love of police shows. 

12. And Dave Matthews Band concerts. 

13. And pizza. 

14. And chickens. 

15. I am still on a grief journey, but there are days when I forget I even HAVE a grief journey. Life is so rich, and full of zest and love that there is no more room for daily grieving. I think of my mom everyday- the memories, the fun times, the traditions- but I don’t grieve for her anymore. Thinking about her is much different than grieving for her, because I feel as though grieving means I’m longing for what once was. Now, I understand that things are different, and that it’s OK to be different than it was. It’s OK to not feel a longing or a huge gap in my life. It’s OK to just LIVE, and to walk onward, and to be lifted by her spirit and by her memory. It’s OK to be reinvented after loss. It’s OK to create your new normal. It’s. All. OK. I promise. 

16. Still here? Yippee! I’ve got a recipe for you. Are you ready?

17. Bonus truth- I love, love, LOVE The Pioneer Woman. I loved her blog before she started her Food Network show. I want to visit The Merc and #buyallthethings. I love her family, her outfits, her recipes, her dish ware, pans, and knives! I want to cook with her, and chat with her, and be her 2nd best friend (I think Hyacinth will let me in). I just adore Ree! 

18. I wonder if Ree will ever read my blog?

19. Maybe.

20. I was watching her the other day and she made a delicious looking recipe from her aunt Edna Mae’s archives that I couldn’t wait to whip up: Escalloped Cabbage! 

21. Then I remembered: I hate cooked cabbage. 

22. Crap.

23. I’m going to make it anyway. It has cheese and jalapeños on it.

24. I love cheese and jalapeños. 

25. And I could easily make this low-carb and keto friendly! Done. Making it. 

26. Flash forward to today: It was SO good. Not as good as pizza, but GOOD. You should try it. All you can taste is the cheesy goodness and the cabbage just melts in your mouth! I served it alongside this recipe for chipotle slow cooked pork loin (minus the honey the recipe calls for- you won’t miss it!). 

27. Here’s the recipe!

28. Happy Wednesday! 

Low carb, keto friendly Escalloped Cabbage
Serves 8
A low-carb take on Ree's delicious escalloped cabbage from her aunt Edna Mae's original recipe!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 whole head of green cabbage sectioned into 8 wedges, leaving the core on
  2. 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  3. 2oz. full fat cream cheese
  4. 1 cups of heavy cream
  5. 1 cup of freshly grated Monterey jack cheese
  6. 1/4 cup jalapeno pub cheese (I buy mine at Trader Joe's)
  7. 1/4 tsp. salt
  8. 1/4 tsp. pepper
  9. 1/2 whole jalapeno pepper, sliced into rounds, seeds removed
  10. paprika for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9in x 9in baking dish.
  2. Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Parboil the wedges of cabbage for about 3 minutes. Drain very well, slice off the cores, then arrange in the buttered dish. (You could also steam them in a steamer basket for 4-5 minutes).
  3. In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt and stir the butter, cream cheese, and pub cheese until melted.
  4. Whisk in the heavy cream and cook for a minute or two. Turn off the heat.
  5. Stir in the shredded cheese, salt and pepper, and let it melt until smooth.
  6. Pour over the cabbage. Dot with the jalapeno slices, and sprinkle on some paprika.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
Notes
  1. 4.5g total carbs per serving (2.3g net carbs per serving deducting the fiber)
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
http://orangespoken.com/

 

05/16/18

The best grilled wings ever

There’s just no way else to describe these.

They are, in fact, the best grilled wings ever. 

They’re crispy and juicy.

They’re super flavorful.

And they literally fall off of the bone.

In my opinion, they are everything a wing should be. 

The best part? They are PERFECT if you’re following a low carb or ketogenic way of eating, they’re super easy to make (even if you say you don’t know how to cook), and they’re damn delicious. 

The start off swimming in an ah-may-zing marinade overnight (or for at least 2 hours if you’re short on time)…

Then, they get slow baked in the oven for 45 minutes…

Finished on the grill for a few minutes on each side…

And served topped with carmelized mushrooms and onions! 

This wings are EVERYTHING and they don’t need any sauces or dips to cover up their natural flavor. Enjoy them as is, hot off the grill! Here’s the recipe! 

The Best Grilled Wings- EVER
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Ingredients
  1. 20 chicken wings and drumettes (with tips removed)
  2. 1/2 cup mayo (I use Duke's brand)
  3. 1/4 cup lemon juice
  4. 1 tbsp. coconut aminos (you can also use Worcestershire or omit)
  5. 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
  6. 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  7. 1 tbsp. hot sauce of your choice (I use Crystal brand)
  8. 2 tsp. onion powder
  9. 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  10. 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  11. 1 tsp. dried thyme
  12. 2 tsp. sea salt + extra for sprinkling as they come off of the grill
  13. 1 tsp. black pepper
  14. **Carmelized onions and mushrooms for serving with the wings- optional, but SO delicious (see recipe in the Notes section)
Cooking instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and arrange wings on the sheet in a single layer (no need to remove excess marinade).
  3. Bake the wings for 45 minutes, and then remove from the oven, keeping them on the pan.
  4. Preheat a gas grill (or grill pan) on medium-high heat.
  5. When the grill is hot, grill wings for 2-3 minutes on each side until the skin is crispy! I love char on these wings, so feel free to leave them on a little longer if you like char too!
  6. While the wings are still sizzling, top them with a sprinkle of sea salt, and serve them topped with the onions and mushrooms!
Notes
  1. To make the onions and mushrooms: https://addapinch.com/mushroom-and-onion-saute-recipe/
http://orangespoken.com/

04/22/18

1 year

We said “I do” exactly 1 year ago today!

What a beautiful year it has been. 365 days of adventure, travel, giving back, quiet moments at home, markets, projects, growth, friendship, fun times, challenges to overcome together, and so much love- more love than we could have ever imagined. 

People say marriage is hard work. But after waiting so long to find one another, after loss (we have both lost a parent), after previous heartaches, there is just no time for anything less than joy. 

Everybody should feel like that. Everybody should feel deep, authentic, joy in their hearts from a partnership. Everybody deserves to love that fully. 
I thank my lucky stars every day that we found each other. And I’m even more thankful for the experiences we had to go through before getting here. Without them, our paths might have never crossed. 

When you share more than just a marriage certificate- when you share a friendship, when you deeply honor and respect one another, when your love is true and unconditional, when you lift one another to achieve great things, when you release anger and baggage from the past, when there is kindness and forgiveness, you’ll find that problems are short-lived, troubles come and go like waves in the ocean, and good times are abundant and overflowing. 

And to us, that is what marriage is all about. 

It was so fun looking back at pictures taken during our first year as husband and wife. We have made the best memories not only in and around our home here in Tampa, but also in the places we have visited this year- Chicago, New York City, Boston, the beach, and the mountains of north Georgia!

And we cannot wait to discover what’s next. 

Cheers to a lifetime of more sweet moments of love and joy!