Another Califia Farms Product Review: Cafe Latte Cold Brew

I don’t often recommend a product with cane sugar in it, but this is an exception.

The Califia Farms Cafe Latte Cold Brew is excellent, not too sweet and only 3 WW Freestyle points per 8oz serving.

At only 8g sugar for 8 ounces, it’s certainly a better choice than most Latte drinks with sugar (I’m looking at you, Starbucks).

I can also attest to the fact that the 8oz of Califia Farms, blended with ice, is a fantastic iced coffee drink.

I found several Califia Farms products at Kroger, and I’ll probably try their Double Espresso Cold Brew this week, over ice, and see if it lives up to the standard the Latte set.

Anyway, I just wanted to pass this product along since my review of the basic creamers they make was not all that positive.

 

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Product Review: Califia Farms Better Half Creamer

Looking for a coffee creamer with lower calories, but that still adds a creamy flavor?

Califia Farms Unsweetened Better Half  may be the one you want.

For Weight Watchers Freestyle purposes, up to 4 Tablespoons is 1 point, 6 Tablespoons is 2. It’s slightly lower in calories than Nutpods (at 10 calories per tablespoon), but has a slightly creamier taste.

It’s only 15 calories for 2T, Soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, carrageenan-free, non-GMO, kosher, and vegan.

It is NOT half and half or cream, it’s more like a beefed up almond milk.

On Amazon, comparing prices, the Nutpods 4 pack comes in at $0.32 per ounce, and the Califia Farms as an “add on” Prime item at $0.16 per ounce.

If you’re placing a Prime order, the Califia is definitely a better deal.

While neither of these products add the creaminess of a real heavy creamer, they are not bad!

I don’t use them to cook, however they are both recommended as acceptable alternatives to dairy in recipes that call for milk. I do use unsweetened almond milk, and honestly I can’t see using the Califia or Nutpods for a recipe that calls for 2-3 cups of milk, simply for the cost.

The Califia seems to make a better iced coffee as well. It seems to disperse and stay mixed better than Nutpods.

That’s my opinion on these products.

Happy Mothers Day to you all as well 🙂

Tzatziki Sauce or Ranch Dressing?

On Weight Watchers, creamy dips and dressings can add a lot to your salads and veggies.

The  basic Ranch dressing is just non-fat Greek yogurt mixed with ranch dressing powder, and enough almond milk to thin it to the consistency you like.

At zero points per serving, it’s a very popular option, but the powder itself does have 6 points per packet (Hidden Valley brand).

While you’re not likely to eat an entire packet, something to keep in mind.

Tzatziki is my personal favorite, but the brand of yogurt really makes a big difference.

I really liked Fage fat free Greek yogurt, but it is very tangy and not smooth.

Someone recommended Siggi’s Icelandic Style yogurt and it’s amazing.

It’s more savory and less tangy, smoother and has a wonderfully fresh flavor. If I had to describe it, I’d say it’s almost like sour cream and cream cheese blended. The zero fat ones are WW friendly and they do not taste like fat free yogurt.

For my Tzatziki: (0WW freestyle points)

  • 1 cup Siggi’s fat free icelandic yogurt
  • 1/2 a medium cucumber, peeled and grated
  • 2T lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill (or more, to taste)
  • garlic salt*

Simply stir everything together and refrigerate at least an hour for the flavors to develop.

*I use McCormick Culinary Garlic Salt with Parsley in this because I’ve found that raw garlic can easily overpower it.

I use this on grilled chicken, in place of mayonnaise, as a dip, thinned with a little almond milk as a dressing, and it works great as a cole slaw dressing.

With grilled chicken, pickled red onions, lettuce and tomatoes in a Joseph’s Middle Eastern Bakery low-carb pita, makes a great, summer refreshing meal.

Buffalo Chicken Balls and A WW “UNofficial” Site

Skinny Taste Buffalo Chicken Meatballs are really, really good and easy to make.

They also freeze well. I’ve found reheating by putting them on a steam rack in a pan of water makes them as good as new.

I mentioned that the site I’ve called my online home base for many years, Lowcarbfriends.com, is closing June 1st.

Since that announcement, I’ve been trying to find a new place for support and just chat.

I thought I’d found one, but within just a few weeks, it’s deteriorated into a mean spirited snark-fest where the owner has joined the “mean girls” clique.

However, I did stumble upon a really nice, already established site: Weight Watchers Message Board.

Being already up and running, it isn’t going through the growing pains of the other one.

While it is a Weight Watchers support, they’re welcoming of any variation of the program.

I just wanted to update this since I felt I needed to withdraw my recommendation of the previous site.

I may be offline a bit, life stuff, busy and well you know how that goes!

Take care friends 🙂

The Incredible Edible Egg: Recall & Safety

Eggs can be  a huge part of our diets, regardless of plan.

Recently there has been a massive recall on eggs. One of the largest sellers, the Great Value (Walmart) brand, is included.

Salmonella on eggs is fairly rare, only about 1 in 20,000 eggs is contaminated normally. So when a recall is announced, you may think it’s not a big deal, but it can be.

Illness from salmonella can be life threatening, so use caution when handling and storing eggs, and keep an eye on the federal recall site for updates. If you don’t see anything on the news, I highly recommend checking this site weekly, just to be on the safe side.

I don’t know about you, but I love a good medium or hard boiled egg. If you’re buying store bought eggs, for cooking that requires peeling, opt for the ones that have the closest “use by” date. Older eggs tend to peel easier.

I used to store my hard boiled eggs, in shell, in the egg carton they came in. This is probably not a good idea “just in case” there was salmonella on the shell, you’re likely to transfer it back to the cooked egg. Since cooking an egg in the shell weakens the shell and makes it more porous, the risk of contamination goes up.

Buy the largest eggs you see. A jumbo egg is approximately 3/4 of an ounce larger than a medium egg. At Kroger here, a medium dozen is $1.79(0.15 per egg) and a jumbo dozen is $2.29(0.19 per egg). For $0.50 more, you’re getting an “additional” 5 medium eggs, without taking up extra space in the fridge.

 

Most recipes call for large eggs, so you’ll have to adjust up or down if you don’t use large eggs. You can usually eyeball the difference, but here’s a handy site to help if you get stumped.

Chickens are scavengers. They LOVE bugs and worms. So buying eggs that are from “vegan chickens” is your choice.

I used to buy “flax fed” eggs for the higher Omega content, and it’s certainly a consideration, but long term flax feeding for chickens is bad for laying hens over time.

For helpful info and recipes, check out the https://www.incredibleegg.org/ site.

 

 

Willpower -versus- Pill-Power

I know, even though I need to lose weight, my appetite is relatively controlled with simple willpower. Many times, I just get busy doing something and forget that I was hungry.

But, it’s not that way for everyone.

Since the fen-phen side effects became a public issue in the 1990’s, there was a very dry spell for weight loss drugs. And rightly so. “Dying to be thin” should only be a saying, not a reality.

In 1997 the FDA approved Orlistat for prescription use, then in 2007 it approved a lower dosage version for OTC use.

Alli became a best seller, but the side effects (and the commercials!) were pretty bad. Does anyone really want to have the potential for explosive diarrhea? The horror stories on the internet about the whens and wheres were pretty detailed!

More are available through prescription now:

Orlistat (Xenical), lorcaserin (Belviq), phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia), naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave) and liraglutide (Saxenda) are approved for long-term use.

They all have good and bad effects, and individually we have to decide what’s best for us.

Contrave is being heavily marketed on television, especially  during the peak “womens” times: soap operas and talk shows. There are no men in the commercials, which kind of leads one to believe that ONLY women have weight issues. But that’s a topic for another day.

“The most common side effects of CONTRAVE include nausea, constipation, headache, vomiting, dizziness, trouble sleeping, dry mouth, and diarrhea.”

Well, that would cause me to lose weight. Kind of reminds me of the time I had bad oysters…

What bothers me is this: “CONTRAVE is believed to work on two important areas of the brain—your hunger center and your reward system—to reduce hunger and help control cravings”

and this: “The exact neurochemical effects of CONTRAVE leading to weight loss are not fully understood.”

I’m sure this is really a disclaimer on many prescription drugs, but that also tells me that these manufacturers may not have all the data for long term effects (back to fen-phen again).

The decision is intensely personal. “You do you”. But be fully aware and read all the data before hopping on the pill-power band wagon.

Obviously, if one thing worked for every person, the diet industry wouldn’t be a $60 billion dollar a year business(US news Jan 2013 data).

It’s never as simple as “I have no willpower”. Health, age, physical abilities, metabolism, stress, medical conditions.. so many things can prevent us from losing weight on our own.

Product Review: Dash Rapid Egg Cooker

Our home was built in the 1940’s.

It’s small and has the typical “galley” style kitchen: long and narrow, with limited counter top space and storage.

So I have to be cautious about kitchen gadgets that take up any space. I rarely will buy into a “1 trick pony” type gadget.

However…

The Dash Rapid Egg Cooker (linked for your convenience if you want to see what I’m talking about) is one that I can recommend with more-or-less a glowing 2-thumbs up.

It’s small. If you take 2 typical Corelle cereal bowls and stack them so it forms an egg, that’s about the size of this cooker.

To be honest, when I got it I thought there was no way 6 eggs would fit in that sucker. But they do, and easily.

The good:

  • rapid cooking for 6 eggs. 7 if you don’t use the central stem that’s removable for storage.
  • It does a great job on soft, medium or hard cooked eggs.
  • It’s a no brainer: you get a little measuring cup that you fill to the lines indicated for the doneness of egg you want and let it do the thinking.
  • Very small footprint.
  • Storage is easy: take out the central stem and everything fits neatly inside, clamp down the lid and it’s ready to sock away until you need it again.
  • Holds 6 (or 7) small to large eggs.
  • It comes with an “omelet” pan and a little poaching egg pan.

The not so good:

  • The alarm is obnoxiously loud. Do NOT leave it unattended unless you want a good scare when  it finishes cooking.
  • It won’t hold 6 extra large or jumbo eggs, though you can fit 3 or 4 extra large in it.
  • The dome does have a steam vent that does burn you (lol).
  • You have to poke a hole in the eggs before cooking them, which isn’t a problem since the poker is on the underside of the measuring cup that comes with it, but if you have fragile eggs, you’re probably going to end up breaking some trying to pierce them.
  • The omelet pan is small-ish. I can fit 2 beaten medium eggs, 1T crumbled bacon and 1T shredded cheese in it, but that’s getting it pretty full and you will need to put in additional water to make sure it cooks through.
  • The poaching pan is helpful, but it also doesn’t hold larger eggs.
  • Did I mention the alarm is obnoxiously loud?

So anyway, that’s my take on this gadget.

If I’m only going to need 4-6 eggs, this is hands-down the fastest (11 minutes total for hard boiled eggs)way and easiest cleanup of any method. I still use my Instant Pot for larger numbers of eggs.

One food safety note: while a hard boiled egg will stay safe to eat, in the shell, for about a week refrigerated, a soft or medium egg is only safe for about 1 day, 2 maximum, since the yolk is not heated enough to kill bacteria.

What I do is put my 6 eggs on to cook, then take 2 out at the 7 minute mark for a medium/soft yolk, and eat those right away, and let the other 4 eggs finish cooking to hard boiled.

Another tip: if you get tired of hard boiled eggs, try adding a flavored finishing salt like a Truffle Salt or, my new favorite, a Blue Cheese Salt . There are also seasonings, like this Bagel Spice  one that give your boring eggs a real kick in flavor.

Just remember: a little goes a long way on these flavored salts!

**I am only linking to amazon to show the items, I do not get paid for linking content!

Product Review: Teami Skinny Blend

Ok, it’s not what I was expecting as a tea.

It’s grassy, really earthy tasting.

If you don’t like flax taste, you probably won’t like this either.

This is the link to my “share and get a discount” thing. I usually don’t do that, but if you try it fine, if not, no loss lol.

The ingredients are:

Yerba Mate, Oolong Tea, Jiao Guam, Lotus Leaf, Lime Leaf Extract, Ginger Root, Rhubarb Root. CONTAINS PLANT BASED CAFFEINE.

The site says you can get 3 steeps out of 1 teaspoon of the leaves, and it’s technically true, but obviously the 3rd steep is pretty weak tasting.

After trying it for a  few days, I will say I’ve noticed a decrease in appetite and a decrease in water retention and bloating, in spite of eating beans and other foods that usually cause bloating.

It also doesn’t cause intestinal distress, cramping and um.. explosive bathroom issues like many senna based teas.

I LOVE the tumbler though. If you don’t buy the tea, try to find a tumbler like this that’s got an inner tea strainer. You can use this for any loose-leaf tea and it’s great.

One drawback is that the flippy cap drink thing part (I’m sure that’s a technical term :p ) doesn’t open flat, so you can’t really just tip it back and guzzle it.

All in all, I like this tea, grassy taste and all, but honestly you can probably buy the loose leaf of each ingredient and make your own for less than the $30 a month price tag of this one.

If you’re in the market and don’t mind spending the $$, give it a try.

 

The End Of An Era: Low Carb Friends Will Be No More

As of June 1, 2018, the lowcarbfriend.com site will close it’s (cyber) doors after 19 years of service to the health and diet community.

Announcement of Closure

For a lot of people, this is an extremely tough time.

Many, like myself, have been a member there for a very, very long time.

I have been there, quite literally, since day 1 in August 1999 when it was the Atkins Friends forum.

In 2002 Netrition bought it and it rolled on with amazing success and numbers for nearly 2 decades.

With the popularity of social media, the bulletin board format has declined tremendously.

So it is with a heavy heart that I bid my farewell to a wonderful site filled with amazing people and a really caring staff of admins and owners who dedicated thousands of hours to making sure it was a safe and friendly place for people to “hang out” and get support.

 

Fat, Fiber or Protein: Which One Satiates You Most?

On low-carb, the mantra was “eat more fat, it keeps you full longer”.

On low(er) calorie it’s “eat more veggies, they keep you full longer”.

Both sides can agree quite often that, overall, none of us really get enough fiber.

I never found that to be true, for me. For me, it was protein. But that too comes with many warnings. Red meat is bad for you…; too much very lean meat is bad for you…; eggs are bad for you – no wait, they’re fine…

It can be a fine balancing act, somewhat akin to a circus performer, to find out what works for you as an individual.

For me, doing a hybrid low-carb/Weight Watchers, I’ve found that balance is somewhere between fiber and protein.

I am eating a lot more veggies, and more variety.

Squashes that I limited on low-carb alone are now filling a big part of my diet. Butternut and acorn squash, which I rejected on low-carb; more spaghetti squash than I was eating on low-carb.

Did you know that you can beat 1 egg with 3T pumpkin puree(technically a squash, according to a lot of nutrition sites) and 2T flax meal, microwave it and get a passable whatever? It’s not a cake, not a muffin, not a souffle… not sure what it is, but it’s good and it’s very filling. I top it with a poached egg and a little sugar free pancake syrup. My point is, for me, this gives me a good ratio of fiber and protein that really keeps me full. If I had this without the flax, I’d be starving in an hour.

The saying is “you do you”, which generally means: if it works for you, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks!

Happy April everyone 🙂