Thursday, July 28, 2011

The 3 S’s = Sugar, Stevia and Surgery

For many years now I’ve found ways to incorporate more natural sources of sugars to sweeten my morning cup of Joe, my yogurt and even in my baking.  I’ve gone from white/brown sugar to cane sugar, sucanat, maple syrup and even Agave nectar.  In particular I’ve enjoyed agave because it scores low on the glycemic index and therefore does not spike your blood sugar levels as quickly.  It is also much sweeter than other sugar, some sources I’ve found claim up to 40%, therefore much less is needed to sweeten your food. 

In my attempt to find new ways to reduce my sugar consumption, I’ve recently incorporated some Stevia into my diet.  I tried it a few years ago and didn’t really like the taste.  I wanted to tweak my diet once again and am working extremely hard at reducing my stubborn belly fat.  Since I already eat very healthy, I figured reducing my sugar intake will definitely help me get one step closer in getting leaner and attaining that flat belly that I so desire. So my experiment with Stevia has begun once again.

So what is Stevia you ask? 

It’s actually a native herb of Paraguay.  It’s been used as a sweetener and flavour enhancer for centuries by the people of South America.  It’s an all-natural zero calorie sweetener, something that cannot be said about Splenda or those other artificial sweeteners. 

So how can you buy Stevia? 

It comes in a variety of forms.  The most natural form of stevia and the most unrefined state is the Fresh Stevia Leaves.  But you have to dry the leaves and then put them through an extraction process in order to make use of the leaves in a more practical way.  Too much work for me.

You can also buy dried stevia leaves that have been crushed and are sold in a powder format.  It is slightly green in color and can be used in a variety of foods and drinks.  The powdered stevia would probably work really well in baking.  But remember, it’s a lot sweeter than regular sugar, so a 1-1 exchange would definitely not work.  

Stevia extracts are mostly used as a sweetener and can be bought as a white powdered extract or as a liquid extract.  Websites I’ve come across have said that this form is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar (by weight).  Therefore, you should only use a pinch or drop at a time to sweeten your food since it’s so sweet. 

I went to our local health food store and came across this brand.


NOW Foods sells a Dark Chocolate Flavoured Stevia extract….heck yes!  If it has chocolate in it, it HAS to be GOOD. 

So far, I’ve put it in my morning coffee, oatmeal and yogurt. And there is no aftertaste. By doing this, I’m already eliminating 3 tsp. of Agave and 2 tsp. of Maple syrup from my daily diet.  Bye Bye Stubborn Belly Fat Smile

Apple cinnamon Oatmeal (sweetened with 4 drops of Chocolate Stevia)


I am still experimenting with my use of Stevia and am hoping to find ways to replace the sugar in some of my recipes with the powdered or even the liquid stevia. 

Does anyone have any experience baking or cooking with any form of Stevia?  We would love it if you shared with us some of your tricks or ideas.

Disclaimer – I am sharing with you my knowledge about sugar and stevia. I do not claim to know everything about these topics. This information is based solely on my own research, opinions and experiences.

So my surgery is set for tomorrow.  I’m having my tonsils and adenoids taken out since they have been causing me nothing but trouble in the last couple of years.  I’m looking forward to not catching so many colds and my days of tonsillitis are over.  I am going to be spending the night in the hospital, which I am nervous about as I’ve never been in the hospital for longer than a day. I will not lie and admit that I am getting nervous about the procedure. But I have prepared myself for the weekend by stocking up on soup, applesauce and I made a bunch of popsicles. 

Wish me luck Smile  I’m sure everything will be just fine. 

How many of you have had your tonsils taken out as a kid? Adult?

I am hoping to be back posting something new by the end of the weekend or early next week.



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Won’t you walk with me?

Since my surgery is coming up rather quickly (2 days away), I’m working hard at finishing up some of the food in my fridge.  I’ll be on a soft foods diet for a little while after my tonsils and adenoids get taken out, so don’t expect me to be making too much yummy food.

I went shopping yesterday and stocked up on applesauce, a variety of soups and juice.  The doctor told me to have lots of popsicles and other soft foods at hand since I will need to rest for a few days later.  If the pain is anything like when I get tonsillitis, I understand what he means.   It also means I won’t be a happy camper. 

Last night I took the dog for his evening walk.  Since I’m not posting any new foods this week, why not come take a walk with me?  I took my new camera along and once again jumped at the opportunity to take more pictures.  There are also a few random pics of Buster and Misty too.

Hope you enjoy!

One of many driftwood carvings along the seawalk…we have a chainsaw driftwood carving contest every Canada Day Long Weekend.


A beautiful evening for a walk.


I thinks it’s cool that my city is situated on the 49th and 50th parallels.  One of our many tourist attractions only moments from my front door.


I think whoever owns this boat is into some serious salmon fishing. (drool)


I caught Buster squirming around on his bed. 



And this is my beautiful kitty Misty.  She likes to lay at the top of the stairs.  Sometimes Buster steals her bed.


Back tomorrow with a new post on Stevia.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chicken and Wild Mushroom Bake

Greetings to all you lovely bloggers that have ventured or stumbled upon my blog today.  I’m so glad that you are here. 

Did everyone get a chance to check out and/or partake in yesterday’s The Great Fundraising Act?  Oh my gosh, there were some amazing items to bid on. Over $26,000 was raised on behalf of Susan, a truly amazing Canadian blogger behind The Great Balancing Act.  She was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and has quite the battle and medical bills ahead of her. My thoughts go out to her and her family during this difficult time in their lives. 

Now on to food...

Last night I decided to make something with chicken.  And that’s how my chicken bake came to be.  Sometimes I really do enjoy making things that are simple, especially on busy nights. 



  • 1/3 cup Gluten-free flour mix (or all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 can cream of Wild Mushroom and Garlic Soup
  • 1 cup Non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 6 fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese of your choice

Set the oven to 350F.  Combine your flour, salt, paprika and pepper in a ziplock bag.  Shake the chicken, one at a time, in the flour mixture.  (remember to shake off the excess flour).


In a large frying pan, brown the chicken on all sides.  Place them in a baking dish large enough to hold them all.  In the same pan, sauté the mushrooms and pepper until tender.  Spread over the chicken.








In a small bowl, combine the soup and yogurt.  Pour over the chicken and vegetables.


Bake for 1 hour until the chicken is tender.  Sprinkle the casserole with cheese and return it to the oven until the cheese is just melted and a little brown. ( I didn’t have enough, but oh well).

Serve with a tossed salad or over some rice or gluten-free rice noodles. 


This casserole can even be prepared the night before.  Just refrigerate it and when you get home from a long day at the office or after running the kids to swimming, soccer or hockey practices, just pop it in the oven and get ready to enjoy. 

Bon appetite!  Back soon.



Monday, July 25, 2011

It’s a great day to be alive

Happy Monday morning to you all! 

The sun is shining once again and summer is finally here.  I hope that everyone had a chance to take advantage of the gorgeous weather this weekend.  I definitely did just that.

Great news!  Today I begin the 30 miles in 30 days challenge that Jess @ Dairy Free Betty threw out to us last week.  The way it works is like this.  Every time we walk, rollerblade, bike or run (amongst other physically active activities), we document our progress and check in our results on Jessica’s blog or Facebook Page.  It’s a friendly challenge and a cool way to inspire each other to get off our butts and get moving.   You can also find more details on her Facebook page by clicking here

So I am going to try my best at completing the 30 miles in 30 days, although it may be a little tough since I’m going for surgery to have my tonsils and adenoids removed this Friday.  Once I’m feeling a little more mobile, I’m sure I can take longer walks again.  I just don’t want to overdo it while my body is recovering.  It just means that I’m going to have to kick some butt this week to try and make up the lost weeks after surgery.  Think I can do it?

This is also the last week for the Get Sexy Challenge hosted by my boot camp instructor Jason Hart.  It started just 11 short weeks ago and he challenged us to not only transform our bodies, but our lives as well.  Since I started classes with Jason about 14 weeks ago, I have noticed weight loss, fat loss, way more energy, my posture has improved and I just feel happier.  We will be doing my final weigh-in this Thursday and I’m hoping to post a before and after picture of myself to show you how much progress I have made. I am excited to see my final numbers and I’m definitely looking more toned and can finally begin to see my upper abs.   Who knew they were there?  Smile

So Sunday afternoon we went for a walk.  We went out to take in the beautiful views and scenery on one of our nature trails about 20 minutes south of here.  I must say it was rather hot out and Buster sure got hot walking on the fine sand along parts of the walk.  We had a ton of fun though.  I love where I live !








Hope everyone has a wonderful start to their week.  It’s the last week of July 2011, which means there is only one month of summer left.  Crazy!

Remember to enter the 30 miles in 30 days challenge over at 

Bye, Bea


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pesto Turkey Burger

Before I talk about these amazing Burgers… I wanted to let everyone know that you can now find me on Facebook and on Twitter.  Actually, I’ve been on Twitter all along, but I finally got around to inserting the links on my webpage.  Click on the Facebook or the Twitter widgets and you’ll be on your way.  But don’t forget to post comments or send me emails through my blog either.  I will be on both!

OK!!!  In the mood for a burger but want to stray away from the ordinary beef burger?  I know that I love options and when I took out a package of ground turkey, I knew I had to make burgers. 

What I love about Turkey Burgers is that they are juicy, tender and flavourful.  And definitely not boring. 


Ingredients (this will make about 6 patties)

  • package of ground turkey
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 free-range egg

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Use your hands to gently mix the ingredients together.  I find this part very therapeutic Laughing out loud.  Just make sure you don’t over mix it. 

Next, divide the mixture into 6 equally sized patties. 

Preheat your BBQ to medium heat.  Don’t forget to grease the grates so that the patties don’t stick when they go on the grill. 

You will want to grill the burgers on one side until they are brown, then flip them over.  It took about 5 minutes per side.  Just before they were done, I added a couple slices of my favourite cheese and melted it.  I also noticed that these patties shrunk a little bit, but thickened as they cooked.

Serve the burgers with whatever toppings and condiments that your heart desires. 


I served mine with one Tbsp. of pesto, 1/4 apple, spinach and a bit of mayonnaise (which exploded all over my burger as I opened the lid of the squeeze-bottle). 

Hope you enjoy your burgers! 

Question:  What is your favourite meal to BBQ during the summer ? Do you BBQ all year round?

Back soon



Saturday, July 23, 2011

Picture blog post

Hope everyone is having a good weekend.  I still can’t believe how quickly the month of July is just flying by.  In less than a week I’m having my tonsils and adenoids taken out.  Eek…now I’m starting to get a little more nervous.  This time next week I’ll be home from my overnight stay at the hospital and I’m sure I won’t be in much of a mood for posting.  I promise though, as soon as I feel better, will let everyone know how I’m doing.  But don’t worry, you will be hearing from me before then.

For today’s edition, I thought I’d just do a picture post.  I got my new-to-me camera Thursday and found ways to try it out almost immediately.  I made  some of them a bit smaller this time so that I can put more on here.

Hope you enjoy the pictures. 














































Be back soon.



Friday, July 22, 2011

I am a Protein Cookie Monster

Who does not love cookies?  Some have actually called me the Cookie Monster because I just love them so much, but I try to stay away from too many baked goods if I know what’s good for me. 

But that doesn’t stop me from trying or coming up with new recipes for “healthy” cookies.  Just as long as they contain chocolate chips and no raisons, I am one happy camper.  At least if they are relatively healthy, I do not feel too guilty eating them all by myself.

So let me introduce you to a healthy cookie.  Yes, that is correct.  These contain absolutely no artificial flavours, refined sugars or flours. They do however have healthy grains, fats and protein and I even managed to make them Gluten-Free .  My belly will be thanking me



Combine all of the following ingredients into a medium-sized bowl and mix well.  Makes 12 cookies.

  • 1/4 cup Gluten-Free flour mix (I used a mixture of Millet, Potato Starch, tapioca flour and xanthan gum)
  • 3/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/8 cup ground flax/chia seeds
  • 1/8 cup  Navitas Naturals Protein Twister Power
  • 1/8 cup Agave Syrup
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts'
  • small handful of chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. Gluten-free Baking Powder
  • 1/8 cup  olive oil
  • 6 oz.  plain non-fat Greek yogurt

Preheat your oven to 375F.  Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with Pam.  Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups, about 1/3 cup full.  Then bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Mine only took 12 minutes.  The cookies are moist and tender.  I think next time I will add a smidge more agave since I found they were lacking a little in sweetness.  I think it’s because of the yogurt.  Perhaps I could buy the vanilla Greek Yogurt and use that instead. 

I will definitely be making these again.  They would be great right before or after a workout because they contain healthy grains and lean fats and protein to help repair and build muscle.  I think though, that I will make them slightly larger next time and try on a cookie sheet.

Just for fun, I entered the ingredients into a recipe nutrition program I found on the internet to see the nutritional value of these cookies….here is what some of the data gave me (per cookie)…

  • 55 calories, 3g protein, 4g fat, 1g sugar, 7mg magnesium, 51mg phosphorus, 88mg potassium, 12mg sodium
  • Yup, these ones are a keeper! Smile



Question – Do you have a favourite pre-workout snack to help you power through your workouts?  How about after your workouts?



Thursday, July 21, 2011

Trout…take 2

Remember this guy? 


So I caught this trout the other day… and I wanted to create a different dish with it instead of BBQ’ing it in tin foil.  Don’t get me wrong, I love BBQ’d trout, but I like to change things up too.  So I became creative…and baked trout was calling my name.  I didn’t mind turning on the oven since the weather has not been hot. 

Since I recently taught myself to fillet a salmon, I figured a trout was probably not too difficult either.  It was probably easier as it was smaller and easier to work with.  And I definitely did a better job.  The backbone came off much cleaner and I didn’t leave behind a ton of the bones.  I still had to use tweezers to remove some of the pin bones, but that is normal. 

So once the trout was split into 2 beautiful fillets, I put them in a casserole dish.  I then covered them with onions, garlic, salt, pepper and fresh herbs.  Then I gave it a bath in a nice white Chardonnay – about a 3/4 cup.  Next, I covered the fish with gluten-free cracker crumbs to mimic a breadcrumb topping.  I drizzled about 4 Tbsp. of melted Earth Balance over top and stuck it in the oven for about 12 minutes, on 400F.  Once the buzzer went off, I quickly switched to the broiler to give it a nice brown top. 

My verdict?  I thought it was tasty.  The fish was flaky and did not taste fishy one bit.  The only thing I caution about is that the trout did have a stronger wine flavour, so if you are not a big wine fan, I would suggest subbing it for chicken broth? 

I served my baked trout with my yummy Vegetable Risotto

risotto and trout

Enjoy and be back soon. 

I have a yummy cookie recipe for you soon…healthy and filled with protein… you’ll love it.