Elli Quark, Micro Nail, and more

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Creative title, right?  Oh well.

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Have you guys heard of Elli Quark?  Yes, it sounds strange, quark, but it’s very similar in taste to Greek yogurt, but with less tang.  A little while ago, Elli Quark sent me a pack to try out their flavors – – – I love that they have a good variety of flavors, and I really love that they use stevia and erythritol to sweeten instead of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners.  Here is the description from their site:

Elli Quark is a spoonable FRESH CHEESE with a creamy texture similar to Greek yogurt, but with a richer, LESS SOUR taste. It also has a better protein-to-carb ratio than Greek yogurt, with HIGH PROTEIN and NO ADDED SUGARS or artificial sweeteners.

So first off, a note about shipping/packaging – everything arrived neatly packaged and nice and cold.  Now onto the flavors and my actual opinions about the quark:  I did not dislike any of them!  I had a few I thought weren’t really my particular cup of tea carton of yogurt, but there were also some definite favorites.  My 3 favorites were Strawberry, Peach, and Pineapple, with Lemon coming in 4th.  I love chocolate and desserty flavors, but I guess I prefer fruity flavors for yogurt-type things.  But the dessert ones were still good.  I used the Plain to make a recipe (below), but ate what was on my spoon.  I dislike plain Greek yogurt (I always buy plain but then sweeten with NuNaturals stevia), but this plain Elli Quark was not bad at all and I could def. get used to, and enjoy, eating this plain.

The website is also fresh and easy to navigate.  Customer service was awesome.  What’s not to love?  Oh, yeah, and if you want to try a cup of Quark for yourself, you can – a voucher for a complimentary one of your choice!

I apologize in advance for these measurements being approximate…I’ve always been an approximate measurement kind of cook and forget that that doesn’t always translate so well for others, but I’m sure however you measure or if you put your own spin on this, it will be equally as good!

Elli Quark Alfredo Sauce

1 container of plain Elli Quark

1/2 C of cottage cheese

1/4 C or so of milk (I used almond)

garlic, sea salt, black pepper to taste

a few drops of stevia to taste

1 T butter (optional)

1/4-1/2 tsp of gluccomanon powder (or 1 T all-purpose flour) to thicken

Mix everything up in a blender until smooth and then heat over medium.  Add to a package of pasta and you’ve got a really great, simple, and healthier option than most alfredo.  (I’ve made this before and after with plain Greek yogurt and it tastes just as good, however often it does curdle a bit, but still tastes good, but with the Elli Quark it doesn’t curdle.

I added Dreamfields rotini pasta and apple chicken sausage to the Elli Quark alfredo and served green beans on the side:

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If you make this, I’d love to hear what you think!  🙂

While you’re cooking your pasta or waiting on the sauce, why not give yourself an easy manicure?  No polish or stinky fumes and no mess.  The Emjoi Micro-Nail was something else that’s been on my “to review” list.  So the claim is – well here – watch for yourself:

So, what do I think?  Here are my results:

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It was easy and fun to use, so fast, and I like how it looks.  They say it lasts 2 weeks, and I would say the smoothness lasts at least that long, but I found the shine to fade before then, but when it’s so easy to do, I just use the white roller to touch up the shine a bit when needed.

*Products above were sent to me for consideration.  Like always, that fact does not impact my opinion/review whatsoever – if it’s something I love and think you will too, I will share.

Next post:  Updated beauty routine

Breakfast Oatmeal Cookie plus Review/Giveaway Plant Powered Families and Plant Pure Nation Cookbook

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Ever tire of eating oatmeal, but like the taste of oatmeal?  Do you like cookies? (um, who doesn’t??).  So make yourself a giant oatmeal cookie – not the kind laden with tons of oil and sugar, but a lightly sweetened breakfast version of oatmeal goodness.  oatmealbreakfastcookie

No way is that winning any photography awards, but if it tastes good, that’s all that matters!  And tasty it was!  I used a recipe from Dreena Burton’s Plant Powered Families cookbook, but modified it to fit my needs.  I may not be a vegan any longer, but I was happy to receive these 2 cookbooks below because I need to keep veggies and plants at the forefront of my eating-thinking.

In the end, I probably modified this so much it doesn’t resemble the original very much, but the original was my inspiration, and oatmeal and cinnamon and raisins…I don’t think you can go wrong no matter how you modify.

1/2 C old-fashioned oats, uncooked

1/4 C quick oats, uncooked

1 T Great Lakes geletin (in the green container) for added protein

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp vanilla

a few good shakes of cinnamon

stevia or sweetener to your taste preferences

handful of raisins

2 tsp or so of sunflower seed butter or peanut butter or oil of choice

water to thin to oatmeal consistency (maybe think waffle batter, not pancake batter?)

Bake 350-degree over for about 8-12 minutes or until done.  Makes one gigantic cookie, or you can share if you wish.  There are no eggs or anything in here, so no worry about that.

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I’m really looking forward to delving more into these cookbooks.  Like I said earlier, even if you’re not vegan, you can still find ways to make this work.  I am pretty much following Trim Healthy Mama way of eating, so it’s more about figuring out how to stay within E and S guidelines (most will be E because there are a lot of recipes that use beans and grains).  The photography on both books is amazing.  This is just a silly thing, but I really like the rubberized(?) type coating on the Plant Powered Families cookbook (I’m a nerd when it comes to how things feel and so I notice these details).  I am sure I’ll be making many of the recipes from both of these cookbooks!

From the PlantPure Nation Cookbook, I already have one planned – so I used to make an alfredo sauce from cashews for fettuccine alfredo.  It was very delicious, and this cookbook also has a recipe for a cashew-based alfredo sauce.  In order to keep it within THM, I could have it over Miracle Noodles or Caulirice, or I bet it’d be good on a salad as well!  But if I wanted to have some sort of pasta (maybe a sprouted grain pasta or Dreamfields), I could use the lighter version recipe for alfredo sauce in the book that is made from cauliflower instead of cashews.  I love that there are options like that so you can take the recipes that you like or will work for your particular diet and still get lots of plant-based goodness!

So does all this make you hungry?  I bet what’ll make you even more hungry is if you check out BenBella (the lovely people who publish these cookbooks) pages for Plant Powered Families and The PlantPure Nation linked above.  You will find beautiful pictures and sample recipes and a link to purchase your own copy (but make sure to enter my giveaway first, as you might win one of them)

BenBella is giving one of you a copy of your own!  Giveaway open to entrants in any location. US and Canadian entrants will receive a hard copy of the book that they choose. Anyone outside of the US and Canada will receive an e-copy of the book.

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Skinny Chocolate Cocomint Bark

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Did someone say chocolate???  Yep, skinny chocolate cocomint bark to be specific!skinnychocolatecocomintbark

 

It’s no secret I love chocolate… milk, dark, with peanut butter, with mint….pretty much any combination and I’m in my element eating it!  Since following Trim Healthy Mama, if anything, chocolate and I have become even closer.

I apologize in advance that these might not be “pretty” pictures…. but, you know, when inspiration strikes, there’s no waiting until better lighting!  (I say this as if I’m some incredibly creative chef….  No, in actuality, this is just my version/altering of a few other recipes I’ve tried or seen this past week.  But I’m still proud of it.  My inspiration came from THIS recipe.  Her’s sure is prettier, and I’m sure it tastes amazing!  But I didn’t have the avocado, and I just altered things a bit.   Oh, and another reason you probably should *not* consider me a good food blogger?  Check out my chic Ziplock lid used as a tray… Hey, you use what you’ve got, people!

(Plus then you can turn the chocolate over and see the cool Ziplock imprint on the back 😉

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Okay, so let’s get to it:

For the chocolate bottom layer:

In a bowl, mix the following together –

* 1/4 C melted coconut oil

* 1/4 C cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

* 1/2-1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (I used About Time)

* 5 packets of stevia or Truvia or whatever you use to sweeten

* a few drops of peppermint extract

Pour this into a shallow container that you can fit flat in your freezer, and let it freeze while you make the coconut layer  (If you’re cool, you’ll use a lid like me 😉 )

For the Coconut layer:

In a saucepan:

* 6 T coconut oil

* 1-1/3 C unsweetened dried coconut flakes (mine were finely shredded)

* 1-3 teaspoons sweetener of your choice (I used erythritol/stevia blend)

* pinch of sea salt

* pinch of glucomannon (I thought it would be runnier – I wouldn’t have needed this, but since I used it, I wanted to put it in here)

Heat over low until the oil is melted, then continue to heat until the coconut is just lightly toasted.

Spread this mixture onto the chocolate layer and pop back in the freezer.

Optional:  After it has hardened up, I drizzled NuNaturals Cocoa Mint Syrup on top, then broke apart into bark.  Now is when you can actually use the container your lid came from, hehe.  Keep in the freezer so it doesn’t melt on you since coconut oil will melt quickly.

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I think these are so yummy!  They’re just the right sweetness without any bitterness.  The thin layer of chocolate is good, the mint is there but not overpowering, and I’m not even that much of a flaked coconut fan, but love these!

 

Natvia – A Sweeter Life

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I was sent Natvia samples and have been using their products for much of my sweetening in the past nearly two months.  Something so simple, but I think is delicious is iced oolong sweet tea ~ Just pour hot water over 2-3 oolong tea bags, allow to steep until slightly cooled, add your Natvia sweetener of choice, and then add lots of ice cubes.  I love sweet tea, but hardly ever drink it because it’s so bad with all the sugar.  I love herbal tea sweetened with honey, but have been sort of avoiding honey for awhile.  Hot tea sweetened with Natvia is okay, but because I am sooo used to it sweetened with honey, it just lacks something to my taste buds.  So the Iced Oolong Tea is perfect!

I had been trying to come up with a recipe for their Bake-Off Easter promotion, but the creative juices just weren’t flowing, and I didn’t want to waste product.  But finally, this afternoon, I came up with something….albeit sort of strangely.

I had high hopes for this cupcake recipe, but thought all was lost when it didn’t turn out as I had hoped.  Thankfully, I was able to turn a flopped dessert into a pretty successful one.  I had no eggs or egg substitute, and that’s how this whole thing got started.  Trying to find a recipe for a cake with no eggs, especially one that uses coconut flour, was proving near impossible.  So I basically married together bits and pieces of a few different recipes I found online, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best.  As they were baking, they puffed up so nicely, I was so happy.  But then…  they fell flat.  However, this just created the perfect spot to spoon on the “icing” (i.e. cream cheese filling).  I’m not going to lie and say these were the best-tasting cupcakes/dessert I’ve ever made or ever had.  But I had my parents try them and my dad thought “These are all right”, and my mom likes them a lot, so I guess that means they’re not too bad.  I’m *sure* with eggs, this recipe would be much easier and probably yield a better result, so if any of you attempt this with eggs, let us know your results (I would reduce baking powder and oil).  ** My initial reaction to these was just ho-hum.  However, after having time in the fridge, I really like them now!  They taste quite convincingly of a cheesecake-type dessert – don’t think of them as cupcakes – they are denser and wetter than cupcakes, but I will be planning to make these again**

Natvia

 

Berry Cheesecake Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 dozen
 
Ingredients
  • 3 T almond flour
  • 2 T coconut flour
  • 5 T all purpose flour
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 3 t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 3 T Natvia sweetener (I used their Norbu monk fruit sweetener)
  • 4 T melted butter
  • 1 C almond milk
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 3 T water
  • 3 T coconut oil olive oil
  • FROSTING/FILLING
  • 1 C low-fat cottage cheese
  • 3 Natvia sweetener of choice
  • a few drops of red and blue food coloring
  • ½-3/4 t gluccomannon powder
Instructions
  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Pour into cupcake tins and bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Then lower heat to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 8-12 minutes.
  2. To make frosting/filling, blend the cottage cheese with sweetener, food coloring, and gluccomanon powder. This will thicken as it sits (I put in the fridge while the cupcakes cool). Spoon frosting/filling on cupcakes and top with a berry or two.

Natvia

 

 

Sugar Free Bake Off

 

Would you like your own Natvia samples?  Open to US readers.  A reader will be chosen at random on April 1st.

How to enter?

Leave a comment for each thing you do (one comment = 1 entry)

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Enjoy Life Chocolate Chip Scones

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Enjoy Life Foods (which I’ve blogged about before), sent me one of their newest items to try out – their dark chocolate chip morsels. Life all their products, these are allergy friendly and free of the eight most common allergens. This was before I was really trying hard to avoid all sugar (even evaporated cane juice that these contain), so when I got them, you can imagine I did what any sane person would do… I opened the bag and ate a handful of course!  Because they are dark, they’re not super sweet, which is great for someone like me who is trying to watch the sugar content. (they are very low in sugar, so I wouldn’t personally feel bad having some here and there)

But I wanted to actually make something with them and not just eat them plain (as tempting as it was!).  So I found this recipe for chocolate chip scones and got in the kitchen to bake these beauties.

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They turned out really great – not overly sweet, but sweet enough (I ate mine with Dandy Blend – a coffee substitute). Because of the coconut flour, they are very filling! I will probably be tinkering with the recipe to eliminate the honey and maybe adding blueberries or something instead of the chocolate chips, maybe adding lemon or poppy seeds…