Friday, July 4, 2014

Of cabbages and kings... Cashews, BP, maple syrup, et all

I've been pretty busy lately, dabbling with multiple things. I've made a Dex+ ketchup, which my daughter says tastes too much like tomatoes (?!); it does need a bit more zing. Not ready for prime-time yet, but it's promising. It tasted better warm than it did after chilling down. I'm close on some other new recipes too; wish there was more time in the day!

Hypothermics and the Beach

I started trying to do Hypothermics (get colder to burn more energy). It has been a slow adjustment. No more steamy showers. :( Coming off the steam wasn't too bad though. The first few doses of cold water were a different story. Took about four days to go beyond just getting my back cold. However, it's definitely easier now; well, physically it is. Mentally, I still strongly object to the cold water. Physically, it's much less of a shock now. I also have been wearing lighter clothes, and when driving, I run the AC full-blast the whole time. Brrr!

Then after the first week of cold showers, I promptly went to Florida for a week. Direct sunlight is in direct conflict with this plan, but I didn't want to wait until after vacation to start! We ate Dex+ style on the trip, although I ate more than usual anyway. My DH loves to cook; even the sandwiches were killer, especially when I made the bread. My dog now loves the Frisbee like never before, and will leap into the air, plunge her whole face into the salt water, and endure a mouth full of sand to catch it! :) We had great fun! It was a great place for star gazing; we saw the Milky Way very clearly. I was up a couple pounds when we got home, then lost that plus more within two days. To be fair, my feet had swollen unexpectedly on the last day because of deer fly bites while packing the van to go home. Wish I'd had bug spray! There have been too many changes in routine lately to have any real read on Hypothermics yet.

Maple; how the mighty have fallen...

A bit of disappointing news, and my apologies for some misinformation: I found out that I misunderstood my maple syrup reference, making maple not such a great thing. The document lists the glucose:fructose ratio as 5.6:1, which sounds great! The thing I missed was that this number did not include the glucose and fructose that was combined as sucrose. The syrup contains 99% sucrose, making the amount of free fructose and glucose so small that it doesn't even matter. :( So in reality, maple syrup is pretty much as unhealthy as plain white sugar. What an important study, not. Again, sorry for that; I should have read closer before using that data.


Cashews and BP: a beautiful friendship

Roasted Cashews: I like salted and unsalted mixed together.
In the last few weeks, my blood pressure readings started bouncing around. What? I've been doing so well! Low fructose, good cholesterol, loosing weight, eating fiber. The only thing I could think of that was really different is that I'd run out of cashews. Out of convenience, I've been keeping a stash of cashews at work, and eating them for lunch most days. Probably 1/2 cup or so, sometimes adding an apple. I ran out, and had been eating some mixed nuts, sometimes a Dex+ item, etc. Could it really be the cashews? Google says yes, it could. There are studies. Also, I started eating them again, and my bp smoothed out and went down. Very interesting. I'm much happier eating cashews regularly that I was taking medicine. Now I have a real excuse for eating tasty nuts, or whatever they are. :)

Good times!

My family is embracing Dex+. They are eating less at meals, and commenting that they are too full to eat more, even when it's something that is usually tempting. Fiber really seems to be a key too. We had Benefiber in our water or milk last night with our pizza. I'm looking into what foods have the most fiber per calorie, and plan to start serving those more too.

This concludes my musings this Independence Day morning. I need to go start some dough for rolls, play a little Guild Wars, buy some fireworks, shuck some corn, and start making another batch of Greek yogurt to make frozen yogurt with. I have fresh cherries to put on top. :) Happy 4th of July; remember those who helped make your nation a place to be proud of, and enjoy some fireworks!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Thermogenex: another thing to try

A friend recently started trying Dex+, and also mentioned adding exercise. Next thing I know, I'm telling her cold showers are probably better. That sounded kind of crazy, even to me. My husband had been telling me about this crazy self-experimentation guy has been loosing weight by taking cold showers. A crazy guy that worked for NASA, seems to have a spread-sheet and data collecting fetish, and worked on ECLSS for Space Station. Then I thought, wait, do I know him? Why have I been ignoring that guy? Just because I like hot showers? Ummm, yes, I think that's it.


Now I've been reading his Hypothermics blog, trying to catch up. It makes a lot of sense to me. Wouldn't sacrificing steamy showers be worth loosing weight a lot faster? Today the answer is yes, it's certainly worth a try! So, I've downloaded the spread sheet. I've taken measurements, and recorded all my starting data. And, I took my first Thermogenex contrast shower. Not so terribly bad... if the payoff is high, it just might be worth it. It should complement Dex+ nicely. It's free, and if it works, I'll give him a donation. And maybe once the weight is gone, I can have my hot showers back...

Trust but verify. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Controlling Fructose: Yep, I got it! Dex+

Took me a while to notice there was a second "Bitter Truth" video: 
Fat Chance: Fructose 2.0


I watched it to see if I'd missed anything, or gotten anything wrong. There is new info, and it tracks with what I've been experiencing (happy!). TL;DR: Here's my take on it:

  • Metabolic Syndrome is the name of the problem here, and it is caused by fructose and/or alcohol; obesity and low energy are symptoms.
  • This is worth stating again: people become fat and lazy BECAUSE OF what fructose does to them, not because they decide to be that way.
  • Fat inside the abdomen is the dangerous stuff, not what's on the surface. Metabolic syndrome causes these fat deposits.
  • More than half the people with metabolic syndrome are not obese; they are unhealthy though. Not all obese people have metabolic syndrome.
  • Fructose leads to insulin resistance, which leads to increased insulin output, which leads to the body thinking it is starving, which leads to over-eating and feeling weak and tired, which promotes energy conservation.
  • Reverse: When fructose is removed from the diet, the body adjusts back to normal insulin levels, leading the body to an "awareness" of fat reserves rather than starvation, which leads to lowered appetite, and feeling energetic, which leads to burning off excess energy and loosing weight.
This is what I've been experiencing. I get full and satisfied on much less food. I have more energy, and need less sleep. I'm more active. Last year, I could barely keep up with my afternoon-walk buddies at work; today they (accidentally) left without me (oops), and I was able to catch up with them, without even being short of breath or feeling near death. ;) Now that's a truly significant change! Some days I do wish I could eat more without feeling so horribly full, but that's something I can live with!

I mentioned in my European hot chocolate post that my daughter found regular hot chocolate and Dr Pepper to be sickly sweet. Today my son mentioned having a regular Coke when at a friend's birthday party, and he thought it tasted like a glass of syrup; as in: totally disgusting. Check out the "Sugar and Fiber" tab above for a few more thoughts along these lines. This summer is starting out awesome! :) 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

European-Style Hot Chocolate Dex+

I'm so pleased! My daughter went to Hamacon last night, and got hot chocolate. Now, here's the awesome part: she said it tasted so weak and sickly sweet that she had to give it away! She also couldn't drink the Dr Pepper! My scheme is working; my children don't like fructose-laden foods any more. Of course this also means that her friends think our "sweets" aren't sweet enough... I may need to add extra sweeteners when they visit.

In her honor, I wanted to make some real hot chocolate. I've had Jacques Torres' hot chocolate on Valantine's before (hugs to my DH); it's delicious, rich and thick. If I could Dex+ that, wow! But he doesn't share his recipe; hmmm.

I came across this European hot chocolate recipe by Recchiuti, and was very disappointed to find that it is made primarily of his chocolate; not really a recipe at all. However, I like the idea of frothing it, and he's got an interesting list of flavorings, spirits, and garnishes. It would be fun to set up a hot chocolate party like he does, and offer the selection for friends to customize their chocolate with. Home-made marshmallows may be in my future too...

Ok, the next thing I found was this one by Helen McLean. Her recipe is so simple; but it relies upon sucrose-sweetened chocolate. A visit to the spread sheet, the pantry, and some nutrition websites, and two tries in the kitchen, and I've got something pretty special now. :) Next time I'll add vanilla. I didn't realize it was missing until later, but vanilla makes everything just a little better, right?


 
Simmering the water, syrup, cocoa, dextrose, and salt will take this mixture from gritty to luxuriously creamy.


















 
Adding the milk, cream and cornstarch, and bringing to a boil, will thicken everything nicely. Increase or decrease the cornstarch by 1/4 tsp to make it thicker or thinner.









 
Off the heat, add the chocolates, then go to town on it with a whisk or a stick blender with an air whipping attachment, like the one above.
A larger pot would have made it easier to whip without splashing the precious chocolate over the sides. The bubbles are really nice though. Maybe I'll use a bigger pot next time. 
I can't wait to spring this on my daughter! She's at the con again today though. The three of us that are home have split two "single" servings in tea cups. I'm thinking next time we each need our own serving in a jumbo mug. Mmmm.

European-Style Hot Chocolate

Ingredients (per person):

¾ cup milk
¼ cup cream
¾ tsp cornstarch (+/- ¼ tsp as desired)
10 g unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp water
2 tsp (14 g) simple syrup Dex+
5 g (1 Tbsp) dutch process cocoa (Guittard's Cocoa Rouge or Hershey's Special Dark)
16 g dextrose
1 pinch salt

Directions:

  1. Whisk together milk, cream, and cornstarch; set aside.
  2. Measure out unsweet and semi-sweet chocolates; set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, combine water, syrup, cocoa, dextrose, and salt until smooth. Bring to a simmer over low to medium heat, while stirring. Continue to simmer for a minute or two.
  4. Stir the milk/cream/cornstarch mixture again, and pour into the saucepan while still stirring. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently. Stirring constantly, allow to boil for a minute or two to allow cornstarch to thicken. Remove from heat.
  5. Add chocolates and optional flavoring and spirits. Mix and froth with a stick blender, add optional garnish, and serve.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tasty Salad with Basil Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette


This is one of my son's favorite things. In fact, he claimed the over-filled bowl in the photo here, because it was the largest. :)  I've been making vinaigrette and tossing it into salad before serving ever since I saw it done on America's Test Kitchen, although I skip the shallots and mustard. Then my sister-in-law gave us a bottle of basil olive oil, and a bottle of fig balsamic vinegar; that added a new lovely dimension I would not have thought of! Now that we've run out, I add those flavors back in myself.


I like the tomato in small cubes, so it blends with the other flavors, and the nuts toasted to bring out their flavor. A small sprinkle of dried fruit adds a nice touch; even if there is sugar added, a little is ok because of the fiber in the rest of the salad. I hope you enjoy it like we do!

Tasty Salad with Basil Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • whole pine nuts or crumbled pecans
  • mesclun mix, romaine hearts, or fresh spinach
  • tomato cut into ½” cubes
  • dried fruit, such as cherries, cranberries, or mixed berries
  • Pesto and Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • plain chevre or feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Place nuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from pan immediately onto a paper towel or in a small bowl to cool. Do not leave unattended while toasting: they go from perfect to burned in the blink of an eye.
  2. Place salad greens in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, dried fruit, and a moderate amount of vinaigrette. Gently toss to combine. A light amount of vinaigrette should cling to all the greens. Taste a leaf and add more if needed.
  3. Add toasted nuts and toss very lightly.
  4. Reserve the chevre or feta to add last on individual servings, so that it will be pretty and white on top.

Fig Balsamic Vinegar

Ingredients:

Directions:
  1. Chop the fig and place in a small pan with about ½ cup Balsamic vinegar.

  2. Simmer slowly about 15 min, then allow to steep until figs are soft. Remove from heat, and add about ½ cup more vinegar. 
  3. Blend the mixture until fairly smooth; a stick blender works well. 
  4. Store in a jar; makes enough for several batches of vinaigrette. Refrigerate.

Basil Fig Balsamic vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 25 g extra virgin olive oil
  • 25 g fig balsamic vinegar
  • 25 g balsamic vinegar
  • 15 g basil pesto
  • 15 g mayonnaise
  • 3 pinches sea salt
  • pepper to taste
Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, fig balsamic vinegar, balsamic vinegar, basil pesto and mayonnaise. Whisk together until well blended.
  2. Whisk in salt, a pinch at a time, until the flavors balance and it becomes nicely tangy and full. Add a few grinds of pepper.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lessons Learned: Dex+

Look at my beautiful weight chart!

My weight chart, starting from the beginning of Dex+; each line is a pound.
Last August, I discovered "The bitter truth" about fructose. That day, I started my mission to control fructose.  I also started telling my kids all about what I had learned. They clearly found my enthusiasm humorous, but they also appreciate my quirks and determination. And they like my cooking; if reducing fructose means more tasty food experiments, where's the down side?



I started using my scales again. The initial readings were unimpressive; the end of September shows no real improvement over the beginning. But since my goal was general health, I continued anyway. I'm not going to be posting awful "before and after" photos, so this graph of my scales readings, above, will have to do.

Even better than weight, in April, my Dr. cancelled my blood pressure prescription! I don't need it any more! My cholesterol is down too. I feel really good, more energy.

I noticed something else along the way. It seemed like my weight loss rate was better when I was eating more Dex+ goodies, and that it flattened out when I was simply not eating any sweets. What could that mean?? Hmm, the other part of the equation is the fiber. When not eating Dex+ hacked sweets, I'm also not getting much fiber. To test this out, rather un-scientifically, I started drinking a glass of water with Benefiber or similar on days that I otherwise did not have much fiber in my food. That seems to have done the trick!

This is so awesome, I want to spread the message. Sadly, the message I hear bouncing around out there is "stop eating sugar". That just doesn't work for me, and it is not necessary! The real message is this:

Eat Less Fructose! Eat plenty of Soluble Fiber!

Food is too much a part of who I am to simply chop out an important element like sugar. I enjoy preparing tasty foods, sharing them, and eating them. Cooking is a wonderful hobby, and it is an important cultural element. Dex+ hacking is the way to go!

I hope that one day other people will create and share their own Dex+ recipes, food labels will proudly list grams of fructose and of soluble fiber, and stores will offer lovely Dex+ confections. Now, I'm really happy that I've discovered this new path, and I don't see ever turning back.



Friday, May 30, 2014

Berries and Vanilla Yogurt Dex+

We wanted some dessert, so I added a little Simple Syrup Dex+ and vanilla to some yogurt, and poured it over some fresh blueberries. Perfect! I love it when berries are in season.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Blueberry or Strawberry Jam Dex+

Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, these are very nutritious and healthy to eat. What a shame that all the jars of jam at the grocery are sweetened with extra doses of fructose without the fiber to balance. It's not hard to do, especially with a bread machine that has a "jam" cycle. That's right, my Zojirushi bread machine. For more on fructose and Dex+, see the tabs, above.

I'm sure this could be made on the stove; I tried once, and was disappointed. Apparently they mean it when they warn about not over-stirring tapioca. If I didn't have the Zo, I'd probably try different thickeners that are easier to handle, but keep the rest of the recipe.

How does it taste? Well, like intense blueberries. Nice, clean, bold solid flavor. Same for strawberries. My daughter says it's way better than regular jam. It's a little less thick than store-bought jam, which makes it easier to spread, and it can also be used as a topping.

 
Blueberry preserves, left, and strawberry jam, right. Blackberries would be good too, or maybe a blend.
Measure a pound of blueberries, and put 4 oz of them in a bowl. These are frozen wild blueberries. I really like how small they are.
 
I thaw the 4 oz of berries, and mash them a bit. I've found the tapioca needs to be mixed with liquid before starting the jam cycle (left). Dextrose in; sugar in; I love using scales. "Tare", pour in stuff, "tare", pour in more. No dirty measuring scoops! (right)
The berries weren't juicy enough for all that dextrose and sugar. Thankfully the lemon juice was enough to bring it together.
 
On the left, a pinch of salt (two fingers). The white sugars make the blueberries look pink. And on the right,  a half-pinch of Accent (one finger).
 
Three droppers of vanilla (left). I love it when I don't get more things dirty! Tapioca is in, and the blended chia seeds (right).
Mix it all together with the frozen berries, close the lid, and press "start". In an hour and twenty, fresh preserves!
I like the little beads of tapioca in the preserves, although my husband hasn't really noticed them.

Blueberry or Strawberry Jam Dex+

Blueberry preserves; almost fits in a pint jar.

Ingredients:


  • 1 lb frozen or fresh blueberries or strawberries
  • 138 g dextrose
  • 30 g sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 droppers vanilla, about 1/2 tsp
  • 2 pinches salt (maybe 1/4 tsp?)
  • 1 half pinch accent
  • 2 Tbsp pearl Tapioca
  • 2 Tbsp Chia seeds, ground in a spice grinder
Strawberry, blended into jam.

Directions:

  1. Pour 12 oz of berries into bread machine pan, no need to thaw.
  2. Thaw and crush the remaining 4 oz of the berries in a medium bowl.
  3. Stir in dextrose, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, and accent, then add Tapioca, followed by ground chia seeds.
  4. Mix the crushed berry blend into the bread pan, and stir to combine.
  5. Run the jam cycle.
  6. Keep as-is for preserves. For jam, scoop out berries, puree with stick blender, then stir back into the liquid.
  7. Store in a pint jar and eat what doesn't fit, or use a slightly larger container.