Back to Weight Watchers

I rejoined Weight Watchers about a week ago, the online version this time, and I’m pretty glad I did. the last time I did WW was 7 years ago. I lost over 115 lbs, and I felt great, but I got too skinny and WW still wanted me to lose more. I couldn’t. I got depressed and gave up.

WW has changed a lot since then. I was able to select my own goal weight (I chose a number that was usual for me my freshman year of college.), the points system is more flexible, I can eat all the fruit I can get my hands on (Green Bean Delivery keeps me in fruit!) and the tools on the online plan do make it easy for me to track. I’ve been cooking more. Making my own tortillas (more experiments on that to come), creating chicken-based alternatives to my usual pork sausage/beef taco meat. It’s all new again right now, so I’m not bored with it yet. I hope I can stick with it and not get frustrated this time.

One thing that is part of my diet these days is kombucha. I did a post on it a while back; my first experiments didn’t go so well. I have a system now. My SCOBY is nice and thick, and I am able to brew up a batch of about 2L every other week. I’ve found that adding a little POM juice before the second ferment makes a really tasty “soda”. I do my second ferment in 1L mason jars in the pantry. Works marvelously!

Today is the last day of 2012. Better than 2011 for me, but I am ready to let it go. 2013 should be amazing. I’m turning 40 (30), I’m going to be getting the house ready for my move to the west coast in 2014, I’m going to be busier and healthier than I’ve been in a long time. Happy New Year!

French Toast Tip

You don’t need the freshest bread to get a great result; buy clearance bread off the post-sell date rack at the bakery after 9pm! Save a few bucks. In fact, I find that if I slice my bread the night before and set it in a colander in the fridge, the slightly stale, dryer bread soaks up my batter better and I get a lighter, fluffier breakfast.

Any day French Toast

Serves 1
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 5 minutes
Total time 10 minutes
Meal type Breakfast
Misc Serve Hot

Ingredients

  • 2 medium slices Italian Bread
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tablespoon Half & Half
  • 1 tablespoon Flavoured Syrup ((eg. Vanilla or Blackberry))
  • 1 tablespoon Butter

Directions

Step 1 In a heavy or cast iron pan, melt butter over medium heat. Allow to become a light golden color, but be careful not to burn it.
Step 2 Whip egg, half & half, and syrup together in a shallow bowl.
Step 3 Soak bread in egg mixture, flipping once, for about 2-3 minutes per side. Egg mixture from one egg should be fully absorbed for two slices of Italian bread.
Step 4 Set bread in pan, allow to cook about 1 minute per side. Check for even browning.
Step 5 Plate and cover with fruit topping (see blueberry recipe), chocolate syrup, powdered sugar, etc!

Blueberry syrup two ways

These are great ways to use up overripe berries (it doesn’t have to be blueberries: I’ve made this with raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc.). The recipes calls for frozen because they tend to give off the most liquid when you boil them, but add a little water when you use fresh berries and you will get a pretty good result. You can also freeze your overripe berries to change the texture of them before making syrup. The freezing process breaks down the cellular walls and makes the fruits “pulpier”.

For a berry soda with no HFCS, add a tablespoon of the soda syrup to club soda.

Blueberry soda syrup

Serves 30
Cook time 10 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Beverage
Misc Pre-preparable

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • .5 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions

Step 1 Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan
Step 2 Bring to a boil
Step 3 Ensure sugar is completely integrated
Step 4 Remove from heat, allow to cool
Step 5 Strain to bottle

Note

Store in refrigerator

Fresh or frozen berries can be used; I sometimes do this with berries that are "overripe". You will need to adjust the amount of water/berries to get the right consistency.

For a tasty anti-oxidant rich topping on your breakfast or dessert, try this:

Blueberry syrup topping

Serves 15
Cook time 10 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Breakfast, Condiment
Misc Pre-preparable

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions

Step 1 Combine in a small saucepan
Step 2 Bring to a boil, ensure sugar is fully integrated
Step 3 Remove from heat, allow to cool
Step 4 Bottle with berries intact

Note

Refrigerate.

Use as a topping on pancakes, French toast, ice cream, etc.

Experiment with boil times to get the right thickness. Remember, the syrup will thicken on cooling.

Homebrew Syrups Part 1

I started making syrup because I’m impatient in the morning. Adding sugar to my coffee and then stirring and stirring until it was fully integrated just irritated me. Making simple syrup and using that instead made it easy. Adding flavors to simple syrup created more options, for coffee and for soda. Add a tablespoon to coffee, club soda, or water. Below are some of my favorite recipes.

Simple Syrup

Serves 30
Cook time 5 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Beverage, Condiment
Misc Pre-preparable

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar (white sugar works best; organic will give a somewhat cloudy final product)
  • 1 cup water

Directions

Step 1 Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan, cover.
Step 2 Heat until boiling.
Step 3 Boil about 1 minute.
Step 4 Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Note

I pre-boil my water in an electric kettle to speed things up.

No need to refrigerate, but I keep mine in a speed pour bottle (like a bartender) so I put it in the fridge mostly to keep bugs out.

When adding flavors there are a few things to consider. Some ingredients change flavor dramatically when they are boiled, so you need to work a little differently.

Citrus syrup

Serves 30
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 20 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Beverage
Misc Pre-preparable

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh squeezed juice (lemon, lime, orange, etc.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • .25 cup water

Directions

Step 1 Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan
Step 2 Bring to a boil
Step 3 Boil about one minute
Step 4 Remove from heat, allow to cool
Step 5 Mix with juice

Note

You don't want to boil citrus, it will alter the flavor. Store in refrigerator.

Add 1 tbl to 8 oz water or soda for lemonade/limeade.

Other flavors fill out on boiling, like a tea, and are ideal for the simple syrup process.

Vanilla Bean Syrup

Serves 30
Prep time 3 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 13 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Beverage
Misc Pre-preparable

Ingredients

  • 1 vanilla bean (separate and scrape)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.5 cups water

Directions

Step 1 Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan
Step 2 Bring to a boil
Step 3 Boil about 10 minutes
Step 4 Remove from heat, allow to cool
Step 5 To preserve and intensify flavor, bottle with the beans

Begin the Kombucha experiments!

About a week ago I found myself absolutely craving a Garbanzo Grill burger and Jon’s amazing home brewed kombucha tea. Unfortunately, this little gem of a food stop is on the other side of the country from me.

Jon is in the process of preparing to ship his burgers, which will be a start. (Although it’ll never be quite the same as nibbling on one under that big old oak(?) tree.) But I can get kombucha down at the health food store and….

Nah, still not the same. So I decided to try my hand at it. With a little help from my friends, I found several online how-tos, went to Cliftonatty and got myself a nice big bottle of live culture tea, and am starting a SCOBY. Here’s a photo of what it looks like after 5 days, with a little added sweet tea.

Take that, Her$hey’s!

Last night I made the Chocolate Sauce recipe I found here. I love to make syrups, flavored and otherwise, and thought this would be a wonderful replacement for the HFCS loaded stuff that comes in a plastic squeeze bottle.

½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Mix the cocoa powder and the water in a saucepan. Heat and stir to dissolve the cocoa. Add the sugar, and stir to dissolve. Boil for 3 minutes over medium heat. Be careful not to let it get too hot and boil over! Add the salt and the vanilla. Let cool. Pour into a clean glass jar, and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for several months, but trust me it will be gone before then. Yields two cups.

From: Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette

Tried it today, drizzled over my favorite additive free coffee ice cream. As George Takei would say, “Ohhhh Myyyyy!”