For the past little while it seems all I’ve posted is recipes for baked goodies, desserts, and *SANE versions of all those things we love to eat but hate what they do to us. Consequently, I regularly get asked whether these SANE versions are really SANE, and how much or how many you can really eat, so I thought it was time for a little clarity.
I have focused on creating SANE versions of your favorite treats because the majority of you repeatedly tell me your biggest struggle with maintaining a SANE lifestyle is the feeling of having to “give up” all your beloved foods – many of which are just downright emotionally comforting. When you realize you have to give up the regular versions to reach your goals you feel deprived, and that feeling is never going to help you stay on the right path. My goal is to give you baked goods, desserts, and treats that taste better than the regular ones, while supporting you in your health and fat-loss goals. We all recognise that we’re WAY more likely to stick with a healthy eating plan when it involves fantastic-tasting food, and we’re not constantly battling hunger pangs. We’re also agreed that deprivation does not help us reach our goals long-term. You tell me I am filling that void for you, and helping you stay the course. That makes me hugely happy.
But to be sure we are on the same page, let’s get down to some nitty-gritty for a moment.
Are these SANE cupcakes, muffins, pancakes, desserts and other treats really SANE?
Not necessarily, especially when you eat them on their own. Remember that *SANEity focuses on protein, fiber and water. My recipes are all wheat-, grain-, unhealthy fat-, and sugar-free, so they are a HUGE step forward in the health and SANEity stakes, but they generally contain a relatively large amount of nuts and seeds, which are lower down the SANEity scale than non-starchy veggies and good sources of protein. It’s worth repeating the PSA I wrote in my first SANE baked goods post: Cheesy Scones (Biscuits):
“When we say these are *SANE, what we really mean in this instance is that they do not contain any sugars, starches, grains or unhealthy oils. They do not provide a huge amount of protein, fiber or water which is what makes a food truly SANE. They DO provide healthy fats, some fiber & the other nutrients that almonds bring to the table. So, enjoy these as a treat, but not to the detriment of your day dose of SANE protein, fiber and water.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. HA. Plus I got an A++ on my report card from Bailor for that.
So how do you recommend that I include these in my SANE lifestyle?
Continue to focus on the basics of SANEity – protein, fiber, and water – for the majority of your meals and snacks.
Generally speaking – eat these SANE treats in moderation. I have found these SANE versions are WAY more filling than their wheat-, unhealthy fat, and sugar-filled counterparts, so it’s much easier to stop at one or two instead of downing half a dozen.
Take into account your own unique health and fat-loss goals. If you have a large amount of body fat that you want to lose then you will want to be more careful with fat intake, and bump up the proteins and non-starchy veggies in your day. If you are nearing your desired body fat percentage you can enjoy more SANE baked goods and other treats. It will be different for everyone. Check where you are now, and where you want to be, and adjust your intake accordingly.
Don’t hold back on special occasions. Enjoy. You can easily adjust your intake the next day or two to allow for any perceived over-indulgence.
Remember that per portion the amounts of fats and xylitol are small, unless you are planning on eating the whole batch! For example, in these SANE Orange Coconut Cupcakes, you are only eating ONE FIFTEENTH of the recipe, per cupcake. Totally nothing to be concerned about. Enjoy!
A lot of the recipes are fortified with whey protein or egg whites, and also usually have fiber in the form of fruit, nuts, and / or seeds, which makes them more SANE.
If you live with other humans who are not following a SANE lifestyle, it will be easier for you to stay the course if you keep these SANE versions in the house for them to eat rather than the regular versions from the store. They won’t be able to tell the difference if you do not tell them they are SANE. I have blind taste-tested these recipes extensively on people who do not know what I do and they were stunned to find out afterwards they are wheat-, grain-, and sugar-free.
If you are having desperate wheat, grain, starch, or sugar cravings these SANE versions are a FAR, FAR BETTER choice. Overeating on these SANE versions would always be preferable over the regular alternative. You can compensate once the cravings have subsided. Don’t panic!
If you have allergies, or are intolerant to xylitol or nuts, be careful. You will need to manage your consumption of anything that irritates your body or has an undesirable side-effect. This management may mean not-at-all or small amounts, depending on your individual situation.
There are no hard and fast rules here, so – bearing the above points in mind – strive for balance between SANEity, your current state of health, your fat-loss goals, taste, emotional comfort, and banishing feelings of deprivation. Whatever keeps you on the SANE path most successfully is what you should do.
Progress not perfection! Especially if perfection is so hard that it makes you throw up your hands in desperation and give up, or stop progressing altogether.
Way back when I posted the recipe for Chocolate Yogurt Supreme, y’all got very excited. I got lots of notes asking me to make a whole range of yogurts, to spice – as it were – your breakfasts and desserts up. It’s been a while. Sorry about that.
I am thrilled to release the second supreme yogurt: Lemon. Because I do love lemon. Plus I made this SANE Lemon Curd, and almost immediately my brain exploded with a million uses for it. This is one of them. I urge you to get the SANE Lemon Curd recipe down pat, and keep a pot of it in your ‘fridge at all times. If you like lemon, that is. If not, well, you wouldn’t want to make this Lemon Yogurt anyway, so we’re good. Although, I should share that the day after I made this, I took some into the office and offered a spoonful to my colleague-who-doesn’t-like-lemon. She went nuts over this stuff. The next day she wore a yellow blouse to work, came into my office and said, “I am wearing this shirt so that it will encourage you to post the recipe for that yummy-lemon-cheesecake-tasting stuff immediately.”
So, maybe, just maybe, even if you don’t like lemon, you’ll want to try this.
If you like lemon, and you’re a busy person, I suggest making a big old batch of this for the week, so you only have to do all the mixin’s once. Stash in an airtight container in the ‘fridge and you’re good to go for breakfasts or desserts for days. Hurrah!
PS. No, I don’t eat my yogurt in a cute little porcelain cup and saucer with a Greek yogurt and lemon zest garnish on a pretty napkin. I sling it in a glass lidded Pyrex dish and schlep it to the office. But on high days and holidays you can totally turn this into a fabulous dinner party dessert or special breakfast-in-bed treat in under a minute. We love that!
Matilda, one of our lovely readers from Australia, has a friend with a lemon tree. I wish I had a friend with a lemon tree, because I have a suspicion that there is an awful lot of SANE Lemon Curd and Lemon Yogurt Supreme in my future.
Greetings from sunny Seattle! That is to say, it’s sunny as I type this. What it will be doing when you read it is anyone’s guess. Seattle is unpredictable exciting like that.
Unlike Seattle, you may have noticed that I am fairly predictable in the kitchen and tend to work in themes. One week I’m all about blueberries, the next I’ve gone gaga on turkey, then I’m crazy over cranberries, and suddenly along comes a large splash of lemon. I am not entirely sure why this is so, but it seems reasonable to suggest that I buy too much of whatever ingredient it is for the first idea, and then have to think up other ideas to use up the rest. I hate to see good food go to waste. Another possible explanation is that once I get an idea about flavor combinations, or a theme, or some new technique for using something, my brain darts off in a myriad different directions about all the possibilities that offers up. I am all for making the most of everything. Strike while the iron’s hot!! As they say.
A week or so ago I went on a bit of a stuffed mushroom fest. It wasn’t intentional when I started out, but after I had so much fun with the Mushroom Tuna Melt, every time I saw a mushroom I wanted to stuff it with something. Those Portobellos with Tuna Salad were really good, and I didn’t even miss the whole bread part of a traditional Tuna Melt.
So at the grocery store a few days ago I was staring at some mushrooms – wondering, as you do, what I could stuff them with – and before I knew it, my brain was being sabotaged by the word ‘P I Z Z A’. Who knows. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to make individual pizzas out of Portobellos; then I thought how much more fun it would be if they were bite-sized pieces of pizza.
Aren’t they fun?
I love eating food with my fingers – not very British of me, I know – but the messier I can get when eating, the better it is as far as I am concerned. These totally fit the messy-to-eat bill. More to the point, they’re scrumptious.
Being single – with kitties that are not the least bit interested in eating mushrooms – I made this like a personal pan pizza and scarfed down the whole thing. You could also serve it as a side – two mushrooms each for 4 people, or 4 pieces each for a couple of you.
I used Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Style Chicken Sausages, but by jove you can use any pre-cooked sausage you darn well choose. I say pre-cooked because you really only heat the meat through under the broiler (grill), so pre-cooked sausages makes these super-easy, and ensure that the meat is cooked properly. Look for sausages that have no added sugar, no starchy fillers, no artificial ingredients, and are high in protein. Like sausages should be.
These are super-fun, super-fast, and super-flavorful – everything that your mouth and brain need to forget there’s no pizza dough involved. All of the upside, none of the downsides. We love that!
You can adapt these by topping your pizza bites with whatever you fancy – as long as it’s SANE of course.
I really should have titled this post “Things I learnt In My Therapist’s Office”, but I am as certain as I can be that 99% of the things I learn in my Therapist’s office are of zero interest to anyone but me; oh, and my long-suffering Therapist. I say long-suffering, but he’ll sure miss me when he’s finished fixing me. I can be highly entertaining when I circle myself into some ridiculously non-sensical argument. He’ll also miss the generous amounts of sass I serve up on a weekly basis. I’ll definitely miss having someone hold my feet to the fire, and forcing me – ahem, I mean encouraging me – to view things in a different way. I’ve learned a lot, in therapy. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my Therapist.
One of the things I learned in my Therapists’s office a few weeks ago, however, is something that apparently a lot of you are very interested in learning too, and that’s how to cook a pork chop. I must have shown up way early that day because I had enough time to read some crazy scientific paper on the science of cooking a pork chop to retain maximum juiciness. Nope, I am not kidding you. It was like 7 pages of graphs and charts and data analysis and other scientific gobbledygook. I suspect that you don’t have the time – or the inclination – to read 7 pages of pork chop geekery, so just like I tend to do with Bailor’s stuff, I am going to boil it all down into just 6 words for you. There’s just 6 sweet little words between you and pork chop perfection.
But before I do, let me just say THANK YOU, Mr. Therapist, for putting up with my BS for over 6 long years, for telling me when I am being ridiculous, for being one of my biggest cheerleaders, for only calling the EMTs on me once, and for teaching me many, many, manyimportant things. Including how to cook a pork chop. Eddie, you’re awesome.
THAT, is a perfect pork chop, people. Perfectly cooked, perfectly juicy, perfectly perfect. So what’s the 6 word secret?
Do not heat the pan first.
Or, put another way:
Start with a stone cold pan.
That’s it. THAT, ladies, gentlemen, and beloved SSoS’ers, is the secret to pork chop nirvana. A cold pan.
I had to try it out because it sounds so absurd, but also because I really want juicy pork chops for the rest of my life. So I got my cold chops, slapped them in a cold, dry pan, put them on the cold stove, and then whacked the heat up.
And then I watched. I seared them with a spatula. I turned them over. I seared them with a spatula.
Then I peered warily into the pan, my forehead wrinkled with worry when I saw that the pan was completely dry. And I do mean COMPLETELY. I became convinced I was going to have the driest pork chops EVER. UGH.
Then I turned them over. Then, when they were golden brown, I slid them onto the waiting plate, because despite not pre-heating the pan or using oil, they did not take any longer to cook than the way I had always cooked them before. Which is both impossible, totally weird, and completely awesome, all at the same time.
Then I ate them.
Want to know why the pan was completely dry while they were cooking? Because all of those divine porky juices were sloshing around inside the chops. True story.
I have no clue why or how this worked. I don’t care. It does; I have done it 7 8 9 10 11 times.
Now, hurry up over to your stove and getting cooking. Chop, chop!
PS. No, these were not fancy schmancy organic, grass-raised pork chops from rainbow-grunting pigs fed on truffles and warm milk, and housed in heated apartments with running water and duck-down mattresses. These were regular pork chops from the grocery store. Actually they were really cheap regular pork chops from the gorcery store. I’m thinking that if this technique makes the beaten-up old Honda of pork chops taste like this, I am not sure I could handle a Rolls Royce pork chop cooked the same way.
My life, lately, appears to be revolving around blueberries. This is quite odd because I never grew up with blueberries. I grew up with raspberries – tons of raspberries – and strawberries, and gooseberries, and with the odd blackberry thrown in for good measure. Not one single blueberry was to be had.
The first time I ate a blueberry was in Canada – pretty soon after I ate my first American pancake; which was a few weeks after I ate my first nachos, and a few weeks before I ate soft-serve ice cream that you could take home in a cardboard box. That soft-serve-at-home moment got me way more twitterpated than it really should have, but when you grew up thinking that soft-serve could only come on a cone from the ice cream van, being able to buy it in a waxed carton to take home and eat at your leisure was THE BOMB. Then there was my first view of a 15″ pizza, my very first ever hotdog, and canned pumpkin. Gosh, Canada was quite the food experience now I look back on it.
I like blueberries, but they’re not my favorite. Raspberries will always be my favorite because my father grew raspberry canes, and every summer I would get to go down to the bottom of the garden and pick bowlfuls of huge, juicy, magnificent red berries. Some of them were so huge and heavy I wondered how the slender stems held them up. We always had far more raspberries than my mother knew what to do with. She made a lot of jam, and I regularly ate Raspberry Flan for breakfast. (Note: Flan in England is completely different to flan in America. An English flan is a light sponge cake with raised sides that you fill with fresh fruit and serve with cream. In America, flan is what we Brits would call crème caramel or caramel custard). Americans pronounce flan with a really long ‘a’ which always makes me want to giggle.
My favorite way to eat raspberries was to pop a frozen berry in my mouth and let it thaw onto my tongue. My mother open-froze them before stashing them in the deep freeze, so in summer there was always at least one tray of raspberries balancing on top of everything else in the freezer, waiting for her to pack them into boxes. Mmmmm, frozen raspberries. Like the best popsicle ever but with none of the time or effort.
While blueberries would never be my first berry pick, I am always happy to eat them if they are there. Blueberries are an American institution, though, so I completely understand that I need to make stuff with blueberries in. My current blueberry-itis started with Vanilla Blueberry Pancakes. Actually, that’s not quite true. It started when Fred Meyers had fresh blueberries on sale for $1.88. To give you context, they normally sell – in Seattle anyway – for $3.99; so it was a given that I was taking some of those squidgy blue berries home to my kitchen. Right away.
I started with SANE Vanilla Blueberry Pancakes. “Not a day too soon!” I heard many of you cry. Then I whipped up some Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream, which went down an absolute storm at the first SANE Ice Cream Taste Test I conducted at the office. Then I had a desperate plea on the Marmalade Facebook page from Deb saying that she had just bypassed the most amazing looking Blueberry Scone at Starbucks, and that I needed to make a SANE version. PLEASE!! So when I peered in my ‘fridge and saw blueberries left over from the ice cream and pancake adventures, I knew exactly what to do with them. Blueberry Scones with a twist – because I was still high from Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream success.
I am not sure what else I really need to say here. These scones are stinkin’ awesome, and you should hurry off to your kitchen right now and make a batch. And that’s coming from a non-blueberry lover.
I deliberately made these thick and rustic looking – a little bit rough and ready around the edges. The cooking temperature and time reflect this, so if you choose to make your scones thinner so that you have more, you will need to tweak the cooking time and temp accordingly.
They are a light, buttery scone studded with juicy blueberries that ‘pop’ when you bite into them. Eat them hot out the oven, naked. (I meant the scones, not you – but hey, who am I to tell you how to dress when you eat your SANE Blueberry Cheesecake Scones?). Eat them slathered with butter. Pile on some SANE jam and whipped coconut cream. Or eat them my favorite way – with SANE Lemon Curd. However you decide to do it, just eat them.
PS. Want other SANE scoones and biscuits? Go here.