Monday, January 15, 2018

Low Fat/No Added Salt Navy Bean and Ham Soup

With it starting to snow, Sunday seemed like a great to make soup to go with

 especially as I had some slices of ham leftover, not enough for a meal but enough to add to a soup. If you're a vegetarian with no soy issues Yves makes a good veggie "ham" substitute you could use.

This is one of those "you really don't need to measure" dishes.  Plus it turned out deliciously thick and creamy without ANY flour or other gluten-containing thickener and there is no added salt (just what was in the ham)  I'll tell you my secret soon.

Since it was just two of us and my husband was going to be gone for two weeks on business. I made enough for 5-6 bowls.  If you want more, this easily doubles.

Gluten and Soy Free Ham and Bean Soup (lower sodium)

1/2  of a 16-ounce bag of dry navy beans, sorted for any stones or debris then soak in water overnight.

1/3 sweet onion chopped (if you don't like onion, add extra celery)
a handful of chopped celery and carrots (optional, I just had some in the fridge).
large handful of chopped cooked ham, all visible fat removed. (I like Pederson's all natural ham, ethically raised with quality feed, no additives, nitrates, MSG, lactose, sugar, or soy added and you don't have to buy a WHOLE ham as they sell them in halves (leftovers freeze well and I'll tell you  right now if you try and blueberry maple breakfast sausages you will be addicted).

Available in several health food chains and online through a food delivery service at:

Mrs. Dash Original seasoning (I use about 6 shakes)
black pepper (about 3 shakes)
crushed red pepper (2 shakes)
pinch of Sage

After beans have soaked overnight, drain water.  Put beans in a deep saucepan (if they aren't already in one) and cover with FRESH water - enough so there are 2 inches of water over the beans. Make sure the pan is big enough so that as the beans cook and expand there is room.

Bring to a boil on high, reduce heat to medium.kiw, cover and simmer for an hour.

Add veggies and seasoning, stir and simmer another 30-60 minutes (check at 30 minutes, beans are nearing done when they are soft and will "squish" if pressed in a spoon with another spoon).

Carefully remove (as its hot!) with a large ladle about 1 and 1/2 cup of beans and liquid plucking out any larger veggie bits to go back into the pot.  Warm your blender jar with warm water so the heat from the soup doesn't shock the glass, then add beans and liquid to the jar and blend on high until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Stir this mixture back into the soup, adding ham.  Taste and season more if you wish.

Heat uncovered until ham is heated through and beans are fairly soft. (on my old gas stove it was 2 and 1/2 hours total cook time from stove to finish, but will vary by stove and water amount).

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Kate Farms - Protein Shakes Don't Have to Taste Like Chalk

We've all survived the holidays and this year I managed to avoid gaining any extra weight even with all of the holiday treats.  It's helped that I've had a meal replacement protein shake several times a week instead of a big plate of holiday leftovers.

I've tried a number of protein shakes and powders to use as a meal replacement.  Some were seriously gritty, others had soy, which I can no longer eat, having developed a serious sensitivity to it.  Dairy I also have issues with in large except in small quantities of cheese, yogurt, or cottage cheese. Some had a weird aftertaste or an ingredient list that sounded like a mad scientist experiment.

I also preferred to get one ready mixed so I could just "grab and go", one that didn't need to be refrigerated until after opening so I could keep a few in my desk at work.

I think I have found my favorite.

Kate Farms was started by Richard and Michelle Laver to save their daughter Kate, who was born with cerebral palsy and was failing to thrive.  Kate weighed only 16 pounds at age four, despite her parents being devoted to her health, finding many nutrient-rich foods difficult for her to digest.  So they created their own formula in their kitchen using all natural ingredients and leaving out all synthetic ingredients.  Those handcrafted shakes were the foundation of the current Kate Farms Komplete and they changed their daughter's life.  She is now lively and thriving, enjoying each day with her family.

I  initially saw the product on a Facebook feed, perused the website and ordered a trial pack of all three flavors (chocolate, vanilla, coffee). Online payment was secure and easy and the products arrived about a week later.

For start, NO allergins -  no soy, no dairy, no gluten, no corn.  The coffee flavor comes from real coffee, not a chemical coffee "flavor".  The chocolate flavor was real and rich.  They're organic and Non-GMO. NO white sugar (they're sweetened with brown rice syrup and agave syrup) and the 5 grams of fiber in each shake comes from an all natural source.  The protein is 100% plant-based and depending on the flavor they have between 16 and 18 grams per serving.
My favorite part is the 29 superfoods added,

Concentrates of: Broccoli Sprouts, Camu Camu, Tomato, Broccoli, A├žai, Turmeric, Garlic, Basil, Oregano, Cinnamon, Elderberry, Carrot, Mangosteen, Sweet Cherry, Blackberry, Chokeberry, Raspberry, Spinach, Kale, Brussels Sprouts; Extracts of: Green Arabica Coffee Bean, Green Tea, Onion, Apple, Acerola, Quercetin (Japanese Pagoda Tree), Blackcurrant, Blueberry, Bilberry.

Each shake also has only 1 gram of saturated fat and they're low in sodium and they have 35% of most daily vitamin and mineral requirements.

Taste:  VERY good, even the vanilla which normally is NOT my favorite flavor for shakes.  They're pretty creamy, just the barest note of fiber mouth feel in them and there is no odd aftertaste which I found with some vegan protein drinks.  I could easily have one of these every day.  They are also very filling at 290 calories and 5 grams of fiber.  I'll have one for lunch with an apple, air-popped popcorn, or some raw veggies as a snack later and I'm good until dinner.

Purchasing 12 (or more) to be shipped monthly they're about $3 per shake, and as a meal replacement, that's pretty good.  I've already ordered more.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hey Gorgeous - A female Owned Skin Care Company that is the (Bath) Bomb

My husband is a mechanical engineer by trade, but he is a team leader for a group of engineers that travel the world to his employer's many facilities to troubleshoot things that make my brain tired.

He always brings me back a gift, sometimes something delightfully tacky from an airport gift shop (sucker with a scorpion inside an example) but very often bath and beauty products as I just LOVE them. (You know your husband loves you when he'll drive 100 miles to find a Boots store in London to get you the skin lotion you can't find in the States any longer).

This was a wonderful surprise from South Africa, where his company has a large production facility, and after trying some of their products I made my first online order.

The company is called Hey Gorgeous.

I had to say I was impressed with their online presence, verified customer reviews., and how quickly and safely the products got here, traveling many thousands of miles.

"All of our products are formulated by real women for real women and are made with the highest quality organic and natural ingredients that are completely beneficial for the skin. From organic essential oils to bio-dynamically grown botanicals and fruit and nut oils, these ingredients are individually and carefully selected from local suppliers (wherever possible) for their ability to heal and nurture the skin naturally. Seekers of more natural cosmetics and skin care alternatives can now try our gorgeous products and experience the difference of completely natural skin care. The benefits will reveal a complexion that is soft, supple, and glowing."
Hey Gorgeous.  They use all natural products, lots of essential oils, all carefully crafted for the best in skincare without being a lab experiment.  Don't panic when you look at the online prices - they are listed in the "Rand", the countries currency which is about 7 U.S. cents for each of their dollars, so the prices were quite reasonable, including the shipping. More than drugstore but much less than department store brands.

But hey, they had me at cupcake bath bombs (photo is from their website).
I won't review them compared to my husband's DIY bath bombs that looked like pink sticks of dynamite. (and came with their own antique "blaster's handbook")

I ordered the  Hey Gorgeous Gogi Berry Face Mask, a Rosehip night cream. and a Marshmallow body wash (it's the little kid in me but I LOVE the scent of marshmallow).

The products arrived within 10 days, very well wrapped and in great condition.They shipped the body wash with a different cap than the one you use to dispense (which was enclosed) to avoid leakage which was a great idea.
I LOVE the smell and feel of the products.  The Rosehip night cream had a fairly strong fragrance, but it was a very pleasant one and subsided somewhat within minutes, so I smelled good post bath but not overpowering.  It was very moisturizing while also absorbing quickly and cleanly so it could be used for both combination and dry skin. It felt WONDERFUL on after the Gogi Berry Mask.

 The mask was listed as follows:

The most exciting benefit from Goji berries is its anti-aging potential. Goji berries contain 11 of the 22 essential dietary trace minerals, including calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and selenium. Though each performs different functions in skin, they all help fight off the damaging effects of free radicals, and many encourage the production of collagen and elastin, helping to maintain tautness and flexibility. Many minerals also are essential to the skin’s ability to heal and regenerate itself. Our gorgeous Goji Berry Face Mask will smooth and hydrate the skin, plump up fine lines and leave your skin feeling incredible.

I have to agree, with just a few minutes of application my face was plump and soft and smooth, with a light gentle fragrance and unlike 90% of the over the counter products I try (I have rosacea and its resultant acne) - it didn't irritate my skin or cause any new breakouts. After just one use of the mask and night cream, my skin was noticeably calm and soothed. My husband, who normally before several cups of coffee would not notice an angry Honey Badger in the dining room said the next morning, "your skin looks really nice".

The body gel, I added to my evening bath water for an all-natural bubble bath and it left my skin soft and smooth and smelling so good. (Never underestimate the spouse that smells like a Rice Crispies Treat).  I can't wait to use it in the shower tomorrow when I do my every other day hair wash.

Hey Gorgeous is female owned and operated and so far I love the products I've tried and I've already placed another order for hair and skin care.
Click on photo to enlarge and read the ingredient list.

You can see the natural ingredients listed on the jars. I love my goat milk products, but these are a wonderfully addicting addition during the arctic winter months here in Chicagoland.  Whatever your skin care needs they should have a natural source for it with great customer service.

Note:  Since this is a foreign company the first time I tried to order my credit card declined it with a fraud alert. This is NOT unusual for ordering from overseas.  A quick phone call to my credit card company cleared that up and was so worth it and I was able to re-place the order within minutes. The online ordering site is an internet secure one but my credit card company just saw the continent and flagged it.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


This isn't exactly low cal, but it's a tasty dessert that can be adjusted with low-calorie pudding to make it a little less of a guilty pleasure and it easily adjusts for food allergies.

 The vanilla really pairs well with the peanut butter, so it isn't too rich or overly sweet.  Top with whipped topping or whipped cream, it's a super easy to make holiday treat that people will think you fussed over all morning

Vanilla Peanut Butter Pie

1 9" pre-baked regular or gluten free pie crust (a gluten free graham cracker crust is also nice.
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 small package vanilla instant pudding (3.5 ounces) (Jello brand vanilla, chocolate, lemon, pistachio and banana cream flavors are soy free, gluten free, and vegan).
2 cups 2% milk or almond milk
8 ounces whipped topping, whipped cream, or non-dairy whipped topping

1. In a small bowl, crumble together the peanut butter and powdered sugar.
2. Sprinkle 3/4 of the peanut butter mixture on the bottom of the baked pie shell. Save the rest to garnish the top of the pie.
3. In a small bowl, mix one small package of vanilla instant pudding with the two cups of milk. Whisk until smooth.
4. Pour the pudding over the crumbled peanut butter mixture in the pie shell. Allow the pudding to set for 5 minutes.
5. Spread the whipped topping over the pudding and then sprinkle the remaining peanut butter crumbs on top.
6. Cover loosely and store the pie in the refrigerator