Archive for Product Reviews

Stay Fit Salad Container

I spend most of my work day in the car which makes packing my lunch practically impossible since it’s so hot in South Texas that in less I carry a cooler, everything spoils. However, this salad container includes a gel insert that you can stick in the freezer that holds the veggies seperate from the rest of the salad and has a place to keep the dressing so I can carry a salad with me, even in the car! Best part? It’s under seven dollars at Wal-Mart!

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Zhi Tea’s Turkish Mint Spice Tea

(Image from Zhi Tea)

My tastes in hot tea usually run to the bold, fragrant, or nutty.  I drink an awful lot of genmaicha and jasmine. I don’t like cream, or sugar, or honey, or lemon in my tea. I like my tea to taste like tea. So this probably isn’t the tea I would have normally picked, but Greenling is now offering the sample-sized packs of Zhi tea on their website and the flavor combination of the Turkish Mint Spice looked interesting enough that I decided to give it a try. And it’s delicious! The website lists it as a mix of Organic peppermint, licorice, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger root, stevia leaf, clove, and vanilla essence.

Stevia is a GI diet “green” sweetner and is a nice compliment to the other flavors in this blend. Quite possibly my new favorite tea! And bonus! Zhi Tea is made in Austin which makes it a local product for me!

Buy it here.

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Drinking the water from Mexico

 I’ve been working hard to reduce my caffiene intake (for my blood pressure, which is just high enough to worry my doctor because I’m diabetic).  I’ve switched to herbal tea in the morning at work during the team meeting, but my biggest challenge is giving up Diet Dr Pepper.  I keep flavored waters (both carbonated and not), no sugar added juices, diet juices and the above, Topo Chico water.

Topo Chico is made in Mexico and can be bought by the case at any local grocery store as well as Sam’s Club in south Texas.  It reminds me of the German mineral water, it’s super bubbly and almost a bit salty.  I also love the lime flavored Topo, but haven’t found it by the case.  I buy cases of it, drink it straight, with True Lime, or with a dollup of sugar free rasberry syrup.  Delish!

More info here: http://www.topochico.com/

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Books About Bread

Most low carb diets make bread out to be the enemy.  It’s not, of course.  But it is my drug of choice (bread, popcorn, and potatoes far outweigh sweets anyday).  If you eat breads that are made from whole grains and are higher in fiber they can be a good part of a glycemic index/diabetic friendly diet.  There are plenty of good ones on the market, already.  My favorite whole wheat bagette? The one made by Panera Bread and is one of the side options available to you for no extra charge.  I also really like to bake my own bread, and have been adapting recipes to make them more GI friendly and sharing those recipes here on the blog.  But alot of people are scared of baking bread.  Working with yeast is a bit scary, isn’t it?  My first (many, many) loaves of bread were shapeless nasty lumps.  I finally got successful with foccacia, but it wasn’t until I discovered the Tassajara Bread Book did  I finaly really start to understand the chemistry of bread.  Here are my three going to a deserted island with me bread books:

The Tassajara Bread Book By Edward Espe Brown — This is the one mentioned above.  It explains the chemistry of how yeast reacts, how to manage the temperature of water, how to speed up and/or retard the rising, and all those scarey aspects of bread making in a way that even an idiot (me) can understand.  I have never, ever had any of his bread recipes fail on me.  Ed Brown is my bread hero.

Beard On Bread By James Beard — If the one above is Bread Baking 101, then this book is a good 201.  It’s full of delicious recipes (including the un-GI friendly but so delicious potato bread, a carb lovers dream) that are easy to follow once you feel comfortable with the basis.

The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide To Whole Grain Breadmaking by Laurel Robertson — A great understnading of working with whole grain breads, before whole grain breads were cool.  I wouldn’t start with this one (I tried that back when I was about 19, whole grains are harder to work with hence the bricks) but once you are comfie with the chemistry of bread and want to start getting more GI friendly with your recipes, this book will be invaluable.

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Pillsbury Reduced Sugar Mixes

 

I tried the Pillsbury low sugar brownie mix recently.  The low sugar cake mixes and frostings have been available for about a year now but the brownie mix was new to me and probably the best  low-sugar mix they currently have.  It actually tastes…just like brownies!  The texture is at the cakey end of the brownie spectrum (I prefer fudgey) but still very good.

I have tried the cake mixes in  yellow and chocolate.  Both taste good as well and have a good texture, I actually prefered the yellow over the chocolate.  The chocolate frosting tastes good but the texture is different from the full-sugar frosting.  This will probably be where you notice the biggest difference.

It’s nice to have an easy lower-sugar option at the same price point as other cake mixes, kudos to Pillsbury for offering this diabetic-friendlier option!

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Penzeys for Herbs and Spices

 

Penzeys is probably no big secret, I’ve been ordering from them for years (and shopping at their Houston location when I lived up there), and most people I know do the same. Their shipping is inexpensive and quick, and they always throw in some other new spice blend for me to try.  The products are high quality and there are several of their blends that I insist that I cannot live without, which says alot for someone who likes to create her own seasoning ratios!

Cake Spice —  Mixed from China cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves.  I use it in sweet breads, cookies, and pies.  I often use this when a recipe calls for cinnamon and sprinkle a little bit more on top for extra flavor and color.

Pizza Seasoning — My secret for great spagetti sauce and pizza sauce is this.  I buy inexpensive canned, no sugar added spagetti sauce and add Penzey’s pizza seasoning.  Sometimes also olive tapenade or sun-dried tomato pesto, but always, always the pizza seasoning. It’s blended from  salt, cracked and ground Indian fennel seed, Turkish oregano leaf and powder, sugar, garlic, Tellicherry black pepper, sweet California basil, white onion, crushed red pepper and cayenne red pepper powder.  That bit of fennel in the mix gives it a nice hint of italian sausage without having any actual so it’s a wonderful vegetarian option as well.

Bouquet Garni — Made from savory, rosemary, thyme, Turkish oregano, basil, dill weed, marjoram, sage and tarragon.  This is my go-to dried green herb mix.  I add it for more depth of flavor to just about everything.  It is salt free so you can control the amount of salt you get in your dish as well.  I make croutons by cubing old bred and tossing the bread cubes in a skillet with olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and bouquet garni.

Ok, it isn’t a blend but I love their Double Strenth Vanilla — Yes, it is expensive but you only have to use half as much and the flavor is amazing.

I purchase almost all of my spices here, both mixed and unmixed and I like to try new things, which they always have tons of.  They also make great hot chocolate mix (though not sugar free) and wonderful salad dressing mixes.  Their catolog is full of wonderful recipes and information about the different types of each herb and spice and how their flavors work in food.

You can download their most current catolog here. 

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Glycemic Index Diet Staple — Brown Rice

Brown rice is a pain to cook.  I’ve tried cooking it from scratch and I thought it might possible make me cry.  I’ve tried to make rice pilaf using brown rice and THAT was a joke.  My big brown rice secret is that I use…..instant.

That’s right boys and girls.  I have a confession to make.  I freakin’ LOVE Success Boil In Bag Brown Rice.  It comes in a regular size and family size boil bags and it’s the primary rice I use now (I don’t even keep white rice in the house anymore, too tempting).  And it’s GOOD, really good.  I made chicken and veggie stir fry for a work potluck and brought brown rice to go with it.  I had people ask me what rice cooker I use because brown rice won’t work in theirs, and they didn’t believe it was instant.

If cooking brown rice is an overwhelming pain in the butt for you like it is for me, try the boil in bag version.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

There are several othered flavored brown rice varieties that I have tried.  There are many more out there, so please share a review of your favorites!

Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain and Wild Rice — Mushroom Recipe.  This one is my favorite of the pre-seasoned whole grain rice mixes.  It has a nice flavor and my kids love it too!

Bonus:  Click here for a coupon for $1.00 off two boxes of Uncle Ben’s rices.

Rice-A-Roni Savory Whole Grain Blends Chicken and Herb Classico.  This one is my favorite of the Rice A Roni blends and is a good side to chicken dishes.

Rice-A-Roni Savory Whole Grain Blends Roasted Garlic Italiano. Is also good, and one I purchase regularly.  I need to experiment with adding some more garlic and herbs to it though.

Rice-A-Roni Savory Whole Grain Spanish  is the only substitute I’ve found for Spanish rice that is GI friendly.  It’s not bad but it doesn’t come close to the Mahatma Spanish Rice mix that I LOVE but is made with white rice.

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