Monday, May 22, 2017

Low Carb Life: Chocolate Coconut Candy

Candy is of course one of those indulgent things that isn't at all good for anyone, and yet it is so very good. If you look at the ingredients on a bar of chocolate it is loaded with stuff that we shouldn't eat. When you begin a restricted diet, you start to want those things even more just because you have to avoid them...I began researching how to make chocolate and found it to be very easy and if you are on a paleo diet that isn't highly restrictive, making your own is actually okay in limited quantities and dark chocolate that isn't full of sugar and other additives has beneficial properties.

The recipe that I have come up with does have a small amount of maple sugar, to cut the bitterness of unsweetened chocolate, but not enough to make it sweet.


Chocolate Coconut Candy

Coconut Layer
2 cups of unsweetened coconut flakes chopped super fine
1/3 cup of coconut butter
2/3 cup of coconut oil
1-2tsp of maple syrup (if wanted not really necessary)

Melt the coconut oil and butter in a pot. Stir in the maple syrup if using. Add in chopped coconut. Stir until combined and pour into a parchment lined pan. 9x11 seems to work great. 9x13 will make a thinner candy, but you will get more pieces. Put coconut layer in the fridge to harden while you work on the chocolate.

Chocolate
2/3 cup cocoa butter
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 cup of high quality unsweetened cacao powder(cocoa powder can be used but it has less nutrients)
1-2 Tablespoons maple syrup honey or other sweetener (more if you want it sweeter, but I don't recommend it if you are trying to get the sugar out of your diet)

Melt the cocoa butter and coconut oil heating it to about 100 degrees. Stir in the maple syrup and unsweetened cacao powder. Stir the mixture until all of it is incorporated. The mixture will have to be tempered in order for it to work right. Personally I am still working on getting this right but there are many tutorials on the internet. Tempering the chocolate is a way of realigning the crystal structure of the cocoa butter so that it has the correct texture and feel.

When the chocolate is ready and the coconut layer is hardened, gently pour a layer of chocolate over the coconut and put back in the fridge until it is all solid an hour or two. I usually pour a thin layer of chocolate over the coconut and prepare another pan for the rest of the chocolate either to save for another batch of coconut, or to have on it's own.

After it is hardened use the parchment to remove it to a cutting board and break it into pieces. It needs to be kept in the fridge or freezer(if you find it difficult to resist).

Other things can be added to your chocolate, be creative...
If you can have nuts try different kinds depending on your mood.
Add a few drops of mint essential oil
Zest some orange and add it to the top
Dried fruit if you can eat it
Cayenne Pepper
Candied Ginger
Sea Salt
Caramel(if you are not diet restricted)
pumpkin seeds

What would you put in your chocolate?




Sunday, May 21, 2017

Farm and Garden: Bees a new start


 These are our new nucs. Last year was our first year with bees and for the first few months everything was going great, then our hives were attacked by a huge hive of robber bees that eventually took every drop of honey and killed many of the bees. There were so few left in the fall that there was no way for them to recover...so we are trying again to make it work.

On the way home I joked and said keep an eye out for bees in the car. When we got to the street before our street Nathan said hmm, there is a bee on the ceiling...drove a little further and there were 2...turned onto our driveway and there were 8...by the time I parked and got out there were 20+...it didn't bother me that much until I started to realize I still have to move the nucs from the car to the back yard.


One of the boxes was still sealed and easily moved. Then I stood and watched the growing swirl of bees trying to decide my next step. My first thought was to suit up and try to be quick...I knew this was not going to happen, at least it wasn't' going to happen safely , so I checked with the beekeeper that I bought them from and he said suit up and smoke the bees it should be fine...so I thought okay then here we go...

Then I decided to put the nuc in a plastic tub, cover it and have Nathan help me carry it down to the backyard. I suited up, smoked them and gently moved them to the tub and covered it. As we walked it to the back I couldn't help but think about the "can of worms" I was about to open. I made Nathan stand back, opened the box, picked up the nuc and put it in place.






We let them settle out a bit and I pulled back the screen to let them explore their new surroundings...

 Happily, no one got stung.




Saturday, May 20, 2017

Low-Carb Life

Recently, I was diagnosed with Diabetes and slightly high cholesterol. The doctor I'm seeing has given me roughly 3 months to reverse some of the years I've abuse and damage that I have inflicted on my body over the first 40-ish years of my childhood. So I have now been sent on a new venture in my life these next few months I am ditching all sugar, and as many carbs as I can. Over the last 6 weeks, at least 10 pounds have come off, so some progress has been made in the right direction. My goal in this new adventure is to actually reverse and heal the damage created, but also to reset the way we all eat as a family and to teach better habits for our kids future's. There is a risk of diabetes on both my side of the family and Matt's side of the family and that is really bad for our children's future because it seems to be showing up younger and younger in our family line. The diet that we follow(SAD Standard American Diet) with all the pre-packaged sugar laden high carb, pasta based, rice and grain based convenience foods that we have been taught to love have to be replaced by wholesome fresh foods that will nourish us not just fill us up until the next meal. I really like the idea of going back to a more simple eating plan even though it is not the most convenient in our hectic overscheduled fast-pace lives.

Early on, when my symptoms were fitting in with thyroid problems, I began by following a strict paleo diet by removing all carbs, dairy, sugar, nuts and grains from what we are eating(mostly me, somewhat Matt; it is a little more difficult to wean the kids that will come in time.) I am not going to pretend...IT...IS...SO...hard to stop eating all the "good" stuff, but...when you are faced with the threat of being medicated for the rest of your life it gives you encouragement to do what needs to be done. I refuse to be diabetic. Being diabetic while pregnant has taught me that I do not want to live that way.

Recently we have been adding in some nuts and dairy, but still sticking to a strict no sugar, low-carb meal plan that is mostly vegetables and meats.

Changing eating habits has not been the most difficult part...that would have to be exercise...exercise has got to be the most difficult thing to do consistently especially when there is very little time to schedule it in, and very little energy to be motivated to do it. We will continue to try to make it a more normal part of our week though.

I will try to post some of the recipes we have begun using that we like and want to keep...