Thursday, September 11, 2014

Homemade Vanilla Coffee Cream

I love coffee but even more, I love my sweetened coffee cream.  Waking  up and having a warm mug between my hands is such a comfortable feeling.  Sometimes I wonder if I crave the warm routine or the coffee itself.  

Over a year ago, I parted ways with my chemical creamer that I loved oh so much.  Since I started this health journey the past year, I've decided that if I can't pronounce all the ingredients then I shouldn't have it.  Needless to say, my Coffeemate cream was one of the first things to go.  Lately, half and half has been a bit boring so I finally decided to make my own French vanilla coffee cream.  

I had it this morning and boy is it yummy.

French Vanilla Coffee Cream
1 TBSP = 55 calories

14oz Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 3/4 Cup Milk or Cream* (I used 1% milk) 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*(whole, lowfat, skim, almond, soy, heavy cream, half & half etc.  The more fat, the more creaminess)

1. In a bowl, add all the ingredients.
2. Using an immersion blender, blend for about 30 seconds.
3. Pour mixture into a mason jar or old coffee container, cover and date.

The mixture should be used within a week of making the creamer.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Most of the items in our garden aren't growing anymore with the exception of our peppers.  I personally am not a pepper fan but my husband loves them.  When all the peppers started piling up on our counter, I was lost as to what to do with them other then cut them up for lunches.  I finally decided to make one of my husbands favorite meals with a healthy twist.  

All of the stuffed pepper recipes called for beef and rice.  I decided to switch it up and used sweet turkey sausage and quinoa.  If there's one thing my husband doesn't hide from me it's his approval/disapproval of the meals I make.  This not only received a thumbs up but he was more than happy to take the extras for lunches. 


1 lb ground sweet Italian turkey (removed from casing)
1 1/2 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 onion chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can (28oz) Crushed Tomatoes or 2 fresh tomatoes diced
1 can (15.25oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cup quinoa (cooked)
6 medium fresh sweet peppers (I used yellow, red and green)
1 cup reduced fat Colby Jack cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Wash peppers, slice the tops off each pepper and remove the seeds. Stand each pepper up next to each other in a large baking dish (13x9).
  3. In a large skillet, brown ground turkey until fully cooked with onion and garlic. 
  4. Drain and return to skillet. 
  5. Add cumin, salt, tomatoes and black beans. Simmer about 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package.
  7. Add cooked quinoa to skillet, combining completely. 
  8. Remove from heat. 
  9. Fill each pepper with turkey mixture. 
  10. Cover dish with foil and bake for about 40-45 minutes. 
  11. Remove foil, top with cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes, until cheese is melted. 
  12. Remove from oven enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Is sparkling water just as good as tap water?

The question regarding sparkling versus tap water came up in one of my challenge groups and it made me curious.  Is sparkling water just as healthy as drinking tap water?  

After reading and researching, the answer 99% of the time was YES.

When choosing a sparkling water, though you need to read carefully.  Not all sparkling waters are created equal.  Tonic water, club soda, and mineral water are all types of carbonated water, but will have added sodium, vitamins, or sweeteners which make them not a healthy alternative.  

So are there any health concerns with drinking carbonated water as there are for drinking soda? I've broken down some of the most common questions.

1.  Will sparkling water cause lower bone density?

"In reality there's no good evidence that carbonated water causes harm to your bone," registered dietitians Jennifer Nelson and Katherine Zeratsky said on the Mayo's Clinic's blog. "The confusion may arise because of research that found a connection between carbonated cola drinks and low bone mineral density." As for carbonated water, research has compared bone turnover in women drinking still water with those drinking carbonated water — after eight weeks, there was no difference.

2.  Will sparkling water strip the enamel from teeth?

There may be a little truth to this.  While artificially carbonated water is slightly more acidic than still water, it's not as acidic as sugary sodas, and does not seem to significantly damage tooth enamel. Research has shown that flavored sparkling water has the same effect on tooth erosion as pure orange juice.

3.  Is sparkling water high in sodium?

The majority of brands don't add sodium but you need to read the labels!  Most sparkling water contains no sodium, so there is no risk to it affecting your blood pressure.  

So what are the downfalls of drinking sparkling water over tap water?
The potential to be gassier than your tap water drinking friends.  

 For those of us who need a little variety to our everyday tap water, sparkling water provide a great option.  Both beverages are calorie free and good choices for staying hydrated. No need to feel guilty about drinking your sodium free sparkling water.  In fact, when you're feeling drinking a glass of your favorite bubbly water can help keep you fuller when you're feeling hungry.
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