Thursday, May 28, 2015

New Ingredient : Organic dehydrated coconut palm nectar (Coconut Palm Sugar)

I have brought a new ingredient into my formulating kitchen; Organic Coconut Palm Sugar.

Organic dehydrated coconut palm nectar

I am excited about this new arrival. It is a healthy low-glycemic sweetener that is loaded with minerals. When I opened the bag, the scent of sugary caramel notes wafted up to my nose. It looks a lot like brown sugar, except it is drier looking. The taste is very pleasant and full-bodied.

It can be used as a 1:1 replacement for regular sugar. It is not sugar-free however. My understanding is that it has the same glycemic rating as carrots or peas, which is a lot better than cane sugar.

Organic dehydrated coconut palm nectar is Vegan and Paleo diet approved.

This sugar goes through minimal processing and is much healthier for you that other sugars. When my parents lived in Fiji, they met natives who loved their coconut palm nectar, and swore that they did not get cavities from it as they did when they ate cane sugar. Interesting. More research to come...

I will be having fun experimenting with this tasty sweetener, so stay tuned!

Look for it at your local health food store.

See my recipe for Vanilla Creme Brulee Instant Pudding, which is my first creation using coconut palm sugar.

Happy formulating!


Vanilla Creme Brulee Instant Pudding (No Cook, Low Glycemic, JELL-O Copy Cat Recipe)

This is a truly delicious instant no-cook pudding mix I created today, and it's lower glycemic too...

Vanilla Creme Brulee Instant Pudding.

This Vanilla Creme Brulee Instant Pudding is full-bodied and creamy. It has a decadent vanilla caramel flavor. You will be surprised that this is an instant pudding mix when you taste it! It is good enough to serve as a stand alone dessert.

This pudding has a secret, it is made with pure organic coconut palm sugar. Coconut palm sugar gives a nice caramel color, scent, and flavor to this pudding mix. It looks a lot like brown sugar, yet it is high in minerals like potassium and phosphorus. The thing that awesome about organic coconut sugar, is that it is a healthy, low glycemic alternative to other sugars like regular table sugar. It can also be used as a sweetener in beverages, desserts, and other recipes that call for regular cane sugar.

We make this pudding truly decadent by substituting some of the milk for cream, which just so happens to lower the carbs even further. Party.

Bonus: This is a true instant (no cook) pudding mix recipe you can use to replace the commercial 3.5 ounce boxed instant vanilla pudding mix called for in recipes. Party.

This is my second trial with no cook puddings. These instant pudding mixes will be evolving. I have plans to make instant protein puddings.

My goal: They have to taste good, like dessert, or I won't enjoy eating them much. I'd like to have a healthy pudding snack, say, before bed? Or maybe for breakfast. I have wanted to make delicious protein puddings/protein drink mixes for years. So now I'm going for it!

One hurdle has been how to get an instant pudding consistency without cooking it and without having to source ingredients only available to commercial food manufacturers. So this recipe is definitely progress. earlier I made a chocolate instant pudding that had a great consistency... I think I will post about my progress, then you can see how the instant pudding recipes evolve too.

See my first trial recipe of instant chocolate pudding too.

Vanilla Creme Brulee Instant Pudding & Pie Filling Mix:

3/4 c. (120 g) Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
6 T. (30 g) Ultra Gel Instant Non-GMO Modified Corn Starch (Cornaby's brand)
1 t. Lecithin granules (like Now brand)
1/8 t. (1 g) Sea salt or BioSalt (up to 2 g, to taste)


Grind the coconut sugar, Ultra Gel, lecithin powder and salt together 30 seconds until fine textured in a VitaMix blender. Let the dust settle before opening up the lid.

Store the pudding mix in an air-tight container.

To Prepare Pudding:

Liquid Ingredients:

1 3/4 c. organic whole milk
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 t. real vanilla extract
1/4 t. caramel flavoring (like Brickford brand), optional


Pour 1 3/4 cups cold milk into a mixing bowl.
Add 1/4 c. heavy cream to the milk (you may cut cream down to 2 T. and increase the milk by 2 T.).
Add 1 t. real vanilla extract and caramel flavoring, if using.
Add 1 recipe of Instant Pudding Mix above.
Using a hand mixer or whisk, blend for 2 minutes.
Let the pudding set up for 5 minutes in the refrigerator.

Photos of the process:

Organic Coconut Palm Sugar

Put the dry ingredients into a blender and grind fine, with the lid on!

Pour the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl and then add the pudding mix.

Whisk pudding ingredients together.

Adding the heavy cream to the pudding.

Whisk until smooth and glossy, and starting to thicken.

Pour into small serving dishes and chill at least 5 minutes to set up.

Top with sweetened whipped cream if desired.



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rich Lactose-Free Milk - with many Vegan options

Here are several delicious milk alternatives suitable for just about every diet out there!

My mom has made several kinds of milk alternatives over the years. Some are dairy free and vegan. Some are nut-free. Some are made with homemade seed milks. Some are protein enriched. All of them are sugar-free.

Here is our families favorite, creamy, dairy-like beverage that is lactose-free with lots of vegan options. This basic recipe of hers offers you a lot of versatility. Play with different variations and blends of milks to find what you love best. For example, one great combination is almond and coconut milk. You can either make a sweet or neutral tasting milk, depending on what you plan on using it for.

Mom's Rich Lactose-Free Milk Recipe:

1 quart lactose free milk *
2 to 3 T. whey protein powder (unflavored and unsweetened), or more to taste
1/8 to 1/4 t. BioSalt, to taste
2 to 4 T. coconut milk powder (for a creamier taste), optional
1/4 t. stevia glycerite, to taste
A few drops of real vanilla extract
A few drops almond extract, optional


Warm the lactose-free milk or combination of lactose-free milks to 80 to 100 degrees.
Put half of the warmed milk (2 cups) into a blender.
Add the whey protein powder and coconut milk powder, and blend together.
Add the rest of the milk and blend.
Add the flavoring. (Vanilla and/or almond extract is especially good with coconut milk.)
Add the salt to taste, until the mixture does not taste "flat or watery".
Add stevia glycerite, to taste.

* You may choose from a variety of unflavored and unsweetened lactose free milks:
Almond milk (in milk section of grocery stores)
Coconut milk (in milk section of grocery stores)
Organic Soy milk (in milk section of grocery stores)
Rice milk (in milk section of grocery stores)
Cashew milk (homemade)
Hemp seed milk (homemade)
Sesame seed milk (homemade)
Sunflower seed milk (homemade)

See our Copy-Cat Almond Breeze Recipe for an example of how to make your own nut milk.


You can make this milk rich and sweet enough to be similar to Half & Half.

You may add a little bit of non-GMO lecithin powder to this lactose-free milk, especially when making the vegan versions, particularly with coconut milk - It helps emulsify the fat, and adds wonderful nutrition for the nerves. Lecithin also makes the milk taste even creamier and richer.

Almond extract is the best thing we have found for complimenting the flavor of coconut, in fact going so far as to partially neutralize the coconut taste for people who do not like the taste of coconut milk.

This milk is wonderful used in many ways:

Added to hot cocoa mix
Poured over hot cereal like oatmeal
Used as a base for smoothies
Used as an ice cream base
Chilled for drinking a tall cold glass along with a side of cookies


Leila & Nancy.

Mexican Black Bean, Avocado & Corn Salsa

Chow down on this delicious salsa, which is almost a meal in itself!

My daughter brought this to my Mother's Day dinner this year and it was a big hit. She doesn't really measure everything when she cooks (I wonder who she got that from), but I had her write down what she estimated was in her salsa.

The next day, I went about recreating it (because we ate it all - and it was a double batch!), writing down the exact amounts of everything as I went. It turned great, although I liked my daughter's even better - because hers was made with love. Both of my eldest daughters cooked for me on mother's Day and it was wonderful!

Here is my daughter's salsa recipe, with the exact measurements I worked out. This recipe doubles perfectly, if you want a bigger batch.

Feel free to play with the seasonings to suit your tastes.

Note: Her version did not have the onion salt, fresh tomato, lime zest or fresh minced jalapeno. Nor did it have fresh ground black pepper (she was out of it). She used garlic salt instead of garlic and salt.

Black Bean, Avocado & Corn Salsa Recipe:

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained (or 1 1/2 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed)
1 can Rotel (Mexican-style tomatoes with green chilies)
Zest of 1 lime, optional
1 lime, juiced
1 avocado, cubed
1 tomato, diced, optional
1/4th bunch cilantro, minced
2 large scallions, minced
2 t. minced jalapeno, to taste, optional
1/2 T. mild flavored olive oil
1/2 t. sea salt or BioSalt, to taste
1/2 t. onion salt
1/4 t. garlic powder (or 1 small clove garlic, smashed)
1/8 t. chili powder
1/8 t. ground cumin
1/8 t. ground coriander
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste


Dice the avocado and place in a medium sized bowl.
Pour the lime juice over top and lightly toss.
Add the Rotel, oil and seasonings to taste.
Add all of the other ingredients and gently mix together.
Taste for seasoning and adjust as desired.
Let the flavors blend an hour or so before serving with gluten-free corn chips.



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The BEST Tasting D.I.Y. Low-Carb Milk (3 Variations)

I thought you may enjoy a tasty yet inexpensive "Milk" to enjoy with your new low-carb breakfasts.

I have been posting some nice low-carb breakfast options, but they all go well with milk! We need a low-carbohydrate milk too, right?

You could always use unsweetened almond, coconut, or soy milk, but I thought I'd give you a really affordable option for all you dairy lovers out there (me). You most likely have milk for the rest of the family, so it will be easy to make this recipe for yourself.

I have included other low-carb milk variations, but the first one tastes the best. Try them all and see what you think. I know I love to have lots of options, so I try hard to provide you with a variety of options too.

The Best Tasting Low-Carb Milk Recipe:

1 c. organic whole milk (12 grams total carbs)
3 to 4 c. purified cold water
2 to 4 T. heavy cream (from about .80 to 1.60 total carbs)
1/8 t. sea salt or BioSalt, to taste
1/4 t. stevia glycerite, to taste
1/2 t. real vanilla extract, to taste (optional)


Measure everything into a glass mason jar.
Tighten the lid and shake together well.
Chill in the refrigerator.

To make 1 serving (3.2 grams carbs):

1/4 whole milk (3 grams carbs)
3/4 to 1 c. purified cold water
1/2 to 1 T. heavy cream (from about .20 to .40 total carbs)
1 pinch sea salt or BioSalt
1 to 2 drops stevia glycerite, to taste
1/8 t. real vanilla extract, to taste (optional)

Notes & Variations:

This Low-Carb Milk has a combined total of about 12.8 grams of carbohydrates for the full amount made (with only 2 T heavy cream added).

If you want more of a skim milk taste, mix it with the 4 c. water.

If you want more of a whole milk taste, mix it with only 3 c. water.

If you want a richer milk, increase the cream up to 8 T.

If you want to make chocolate milk, add a paste made of cocoa powder and sweeten to taste

If you want to use powdered milk instead of fresh whole milk: 

Omit whole milk and add 1/4 c. plus 1 T. plus 1 t. instant dry milk powder (dried whole milk is preferred to dried skim milk). Increase the heavy cream to anywhere from 4 to 8 T., according to your tastes. This version does not taste as good as when using fresh whole milk. (The carb count is the same for the powdered milk and the fresh milk.)

If you want a higher protein content Low-Carb Milk (1 serving): 

Mix together these dry ingredients:
1 T. buttermilk powder (a low carb variety)
1 T. whey protein isolate *
1/4 t. Table-Top Sugar Replacement Blend
1 pinch sea salt or BioSalt
Slowly add:
1 c. purified water
2 T. heavy cream
Mix well until everything is dissolved, then add: 
A splash of real vanilla extract, if desired
Chill well. Shake well before using.
(0.5 g carbs and 11 g protein per serving.)

* Source: Now brand or get from the Protein Factory (online).

Now you can enjoy some low-carb milk with your High Fiber Hot Cereallow-carb pancakes or low-carb buttermilk pancakes!



Monday, May 18, 2015

Ginger Almond Dark Chocolate Bark

Exotic, spicy, chewy bits of crystallized ginger take this delicious almond bark to the next level!

A beautiful friend of mine who's hair I cut & color-weave, brought me a taste of some chocolate bark that she made. It had crystallized ginger in it, and I think it had almonds in it too, I can't remember, I just know I loved the ginger! I wanted more...

I have been playing with chocolate in my kitchen again (a regular occurrence). The weather has been cool and rainy here, so I can't work on my garden or plant flowers right now. Obviously, creating with chocolate was the next best thing to do with my time. Chocolate is a great distraction any time, right?

I love the chewy bits of ginger in this bark. They create a nice contrast with the crunchy roasted salted almonds. I added extra dried ginger powder for an added dimension of ginger flavor. The ginger flavor also deepens with time, as the ginger's essential oils are infused into the dark chocolate.

Added bonus: Ginger is great for your digestion. Almonds add protein and fiber, while the dark chocolate is high in good-for-you antioxidants. All good reasons to make and eat this luxurious chocolate!

This recipe is very easy to do, taking hardly any time at all to make. So when that craving hits, you can have gourmet chocolate in no time!

I like the grown-up flavor of this recipe. The dark chocolate flavor stands out beautifully here. I hope you enjoy it too.

Ginger Almond Dark Chocolate Bark Recipe:

500 grams high quality French dark chocolate (or Lakanto Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate!)
50 to 100 grams (1/4 c. to 1/2 c.) chopped crystallized ginger, to taste
300 grams (2 cups) roasted salted whole almonds
6 grams (1 T.) powdered dried ginger root


Chop the dark chocolate if it is not already in small wafers, and place in a microwave-safe bowl.

Gently melt the chocolate in 45 second intervals in the microwave, stirring in between.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator a few minutes.

Stir the chopped crystallized ginger into the melted chocolate and mix well.

Add the powdered ginger and stir in well.

Add the whole roasted salted almonds and stir in well.

Scrape the chocolate mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet and spread out evenly.

Chill in the refrigerator until completely set, up to 30 minutes.

Break up the bark into serving sized pieces and store airtight.

Photos of the process:

Chop the crystallized ginger.
Seed the melted chocolate by adding a bit of unmelted chocolate pieces.
Stir the chocolate pieces thoroughly into the melted chocolate to cool it down.
Keep stirring until the added chocolate is completely melted.
Add the chopped ginger, ground ginger, and then the almonds and blend well.
Pour onto a prepared baking sheet and spread out evenly.
Chill until completely set up.
Break up into pieces.



Easy Wasabi Potato Salad - A Real Restaurant Recipe - Improved!

I like collecting real restaurant recipes. This is a recipe for an unusual potato salad that I acquired along the way from the Asia Dog Restaurant. 

My Wasabi Potato Salad

We love the heat of wasabi. It is like horseradish in that the heat dissipates quickly through the nose, verses burning your mouth and throat for a prolonged length of time, like chilies. In fact most of the wasabi found in the United States is actually horseradish that has been colored green! Sad but true.

I have given you the original recipe that feeds 20. I am also giving you my revised scaled down version, for when you just want to make a little. I'd try the smaller version first, to test out how you like wasabi in your potato salad. You can even make more wasabi to put in this salad if you want to. I know I want to...

If you decide you want to make wasabi salad to feed 20, just multiply my revised recipe by 4.

Now, to be totally honest, I don't care for the original recipe from the Asia dog restaurant. Sorry Asia Dog. I think it is way too vinegary and boring. I do like the concept of wasabi potato salad however.

In our family, recipes are always evolving. You are probably starting to notice this if you have been following our blog. For example, more pancake recipes are coming. The pancakes just keep evolving, we can't help it. Who are we to stop their progress?

There are some comfort foods my mom used to make when I was little that I do not like to mess with though. Isn't it interesting how memories can be so closely associated with food?

Anyway, I posted the original potato salad recipe that serves 20, below for your own information.

But first, I am posting my version of Wasabi Potato Salad. I will probably mess with the recipe some more later, but I do like my version a lot as it is now. The vinegar is mellowed out and balanced, but the salad definitely has some kick!

Notice that I switched to white wine vinegar. I think rice vinegar would be terrific here too. I added fresh scallions (green onions), and added a bit of xylitol (which is sugar-free) for balance.

If you end up tweaking this recipe and love what you end up with, write in and tell us all about it.

Leila's Version of Wasabi Potato Salad:

Yield: Serves 6

28 ounces whole new red potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed
6 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and sliced
4 large scallions, minced
1/2 c. to 2/3 c. white wine vinegar
2/3 c. Best Foods mayonnaise
2 T. xylitol or Lakanto White Sugar Substitute (or sugar)
1 T. wasabi paste (1 T. wasabi powder plus 1 T. water)
1 to 1 1/2 t. sea salt or BioSalt, to taste
40 grinds freshly ground black pepper


Put the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Cook until a knife inserted into the center of the potatoes meets little resistance, but they still hold their shape. Do not overcook.

Carefully drain the potatoes, let them cool to room temperature, and chill for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

Prepare the wasabi paste by mixing 1 T. wasabi powder into 1 T. water and set aside.

Halve the potatoes lengthwise and then slice into pieces (thickness up to you).

Stir together the mayonnaise and wasabi paste in a medium bowl. Slowly add the vinegar, blending smooth as you go. Add the xylitol, salt, and pepper, to taste.

Place the potatoes, celery, and scallions into the bowl with the dressing and mix well. Chill until serving time.

At serving time, check for salt and adjust if needed.

Origional Asia Dog Restaurant Wasabi Potato Salad Recipe:

Yield: 20 servings (bulk recipe).

5 lbs whole russet potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed
1 bunch celery, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 c. white vinegar
1 1/2 c. mayonnaise
3 T. wasabi paste
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper


Put the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a bol over medium-high heat.

Cook until a knife inserted into the center of the potatoes meets little resistance, but they still hold their shape. Do not overcook.

Carefully drain the potatoes, let them cool to room temperature, and chill for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

Halve the potatoes lengthwise and then slice into pieces (thickness up to you).

Stir together the potatoes and celery in a large mixing bowl, and then stir in the vinegar, mayonnaise and wasabi.

Season with salt and pepper. Mix well and chill.

Photos of the process:

Look at the ingredient list here...