Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My favorite Cure for a Sugar Craving

Have you ever had one of those moments where you just need sugar? Well, I have. I have them a lot. One Saturday after a delicious dinner of salmon and sweet potatoes, I had one of these moments, and I decided to do something about it. My mom had just bought some fancy cookbook with food for athletes, and I found a recipe for Flourless Chocolate Cake. It looked so delicious, and I was also avoiding my homework, so my mom and I made it. It took a satisfying 60 minutes, but we had our cakes and knew all the secrets to making them, and I'm here to share those secrets.

Don't these look so delicious?

The recipe looks like this:

  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup liquor (our house was lacking liquor, so we used agave instead)
  • 10 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (sadly, we were out of that too, so we used almond extract- the cakes ended up tasting a bit like almonds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • sprinkle of cayenne pepper (who would want cayenne pepper in their dessert? We used cinnamon instead)
The process of combining these ingredients is slightly confusing, and hard to do, but lucky my mom worked in a bakery and she showed me how. 

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tim or use cupcake liners in the tin.
  2. Put water in bottom half of a double boiler or fill a small saucepan halfway with water. Bring to a gentle boil. - This is where it gets tricky. Let me explain it in more detail. Find a metal, or glass bowl and rest it on top of your sauce pan. Then fill up the saucepan with water, but make sure the water won't touch the bottom of the bowl - thats what keeps the chocolate and butter from burning. 
  3. Into top of double boiler or metal bowl in sauce pan, add chocolate chips, butter, and liquor. When the chocolate and butter begin to melt, blend thoroughly. It should have an even, shiny finish. Remove from heat. - Try to keep stirring as it melts.
  4. While the chocolate is melting, whip eggs in a separate bowl until frothy. Add sugar, vanilla, salt, and cayenne/cinnamon/other spice. - Beat the eggs until they're a lovely pale yellow
  5. Ladle a bit of the egg mixture to the warm chocolate mixture and whisk quickly so that the eggs don't cook. Continue adding egg mixture and whisking until about one-third of it is incorporated into the chocolate mixture. Then pour the chocolate mixture back into the larger bowl containing the remaining eggs, and stir to combine. - Don't get lazy and skip the beginning of this step! If you don't do this right, you cake will loose all of it's fluffiness, which would be such a shame. Try having someone else ladle the egg in while you whisk.
  6. Pour batter into muffin tin, filling each tim halfway. Bake 15-20 minutes. Cakes should be light and dry on the outside (with cracks on top) and dense and moist on the inside. - Yield! It took me 1 muffin tin, I mini muffin tin, and 7 ramequin bowls to use all of this batter. Feel free to cut the recipe in half.  
Recipe courtesy of The Feed Zone Cookbook

I couldn't get over how amazing these little cakes tasted! I loved the almond undertone, and it was amazing with cinnamon. These little cakes are amazing because they are on the low sugar side of deserts, and aren't really rich and chocolatey. They are a new favorite of mine! 

Fun Fact- According to the cookbook, these are also a favorite of Lance Armstrong.

~ Mia

Monday, October 20, 2014

What to Eat While Far, Far Away

So, I'm in sunny San Diego trying really hard not to walk down the beach and grab my favorite vanilla milkshake. But, I am on vacation right? How can you know whether to give yourself a week off or to crack down even harder on your healthy eating? Well, I'm here to tell you my favorite strategy for having a great vacation, but still fitting into your favorite jeans by the time you get home.

While on a trip to my favorite place, I also like to eat my favorite foods, and that doesn't include kale. My policy for eating while on trips goes kind of like this - I can have one sugary thing a day, and very small amount of other food that I usually won't eat, like pasta. For me, sugary foods are stuff like sweets, baked goods, desserts, and drinks other than water (like a double chocolate chip frappuccino).  I try to eat these things as little as possible, but on trips I'll eat one sugary food everyday, whether a chocolate lava cake for dessert or, as previously mentioned, my favorite vanilla milkshake. Fun story, I have to sneak into the pool at the Hotel Del Coronado to get my favorite bartender (his name is Brett) to make me this delicious drink.

A beautiful sunset on my favorite beach

When I'm at home, I'll try to not eat gluten, especially pasta, but while on vacation I often abandon that rule. If I'm at my favorite Italian restaurant (Asti Ristorante) in San Diego, I'll happily eat a heaping bowl of pasta. But if I'm on vacation, I won't sit by the pool eating a bag of chips. I still try to avoid too many snack foods, and eating when I'm not hungry. Most of the time it's not a problem because I'm too busy having fun!

Another thing I make sure to do while on vacation is keep exercising. In different places, I'll do different things so it doesn't get boring. For example, when I'm in San Diego, I'll go running on the beach every morning, or I'll try to. For me, it makes me feel so much better the rest of the day if I do something active. These are just some of the ways I like to have great vacations!

~ Mia

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Breaking News! Donuts are Bad for You

How often have you seen something that advertises a "no carb diet," or how carbs are the enemy? I can't tell you how many times my dad has sat me down and told me all about the good and the bad of carbohydrates after seeing me eat a chip. As you can probably tell, my family is very heath oriented. But, lucky you! Now you have me to pass on all of their wisdom. The most important thing to know about carbs is that it isn't completely black or white whether you should eat them or not. As with most foods, your body needs carbohydrates for bodily function, but only if you eat the right kinds of carbs.

There are two different kinds of carbohydrates- simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates, also known as simple sugars, are something that you want to stay away from. Carbohydrates are your main source of energy, but simple carbs immediately turn into glucose (sugar) into your body, which is exactly what you don't want. Having too many simple carbohydrates is like eating a donut. Or multiple donuts.

  Courtesy of The Creative Place

The most common foods that simple carbohydrates are in is anything with corn syrup, soda or any other sugary drinks, essentially anything with sugar (apple pie, ice cream, chocolate cake, the list goes on and on), natural sweeteners, and the most important, anything with white flour in it. A common misconception is that foods with white flour are complex carbohydrates, but it is in fact the complete opposite. Things like white pasta (who eats whole wheat pasta, anyway?), white bread, breakfast cereals, pastries, and pizza all have simple (a.k.a bad) carbohydrates. So, if you have to go run a marathon or do something athletic that I wouldn't do, you definitely shouldn't have a heaping plate of fettuccine alfredo the night before.

The good guys in this fairytale are complex carbohydrates. Thats what gives you the energy to get through a 7 hour school day then a 3 hour dance rehearsal. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods like vegetables, whole grains like oatmeal, beans, rice, and so many more. It's so important to know what your putting in your body. After all, you're stuck with it for awhile.

~ Mia