They Say Variety is the Spice of Life….

Cinnamon and Nutmeg...my favorite spices in place of sugar

Cinnamon and Nutmeg…my favorite spices in place of sugar

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Using a microplane to shave a little nutmeg

Using a microplane to shave a little nutmeg

Sammy cakes Pumpkin Brûlée...I had mine without the "carmelized sugar" and no sugar spike later ...hurray...

Sammy cakes Pumpkin Brûlée…the perfect size with a little grated nutmeg…no need to brûlée sugar on top for me, it is still so satisfying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPICES are the variety of life for me…Recently, they have been my savior when I am just about ready to binge on something I know I will later regret.  I’ve discovered that my craving for sweets is abated when using various spices – thus keeping me on track in managing my glucose levels. Hurray!

My obsession these past couple months has been with cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, or a splash of high quality vanilla (with no sugar) as that satisfier for my need for something sweet –  A bit of cinnamon on yogurt or on peaches or apple slices takes my dessert up a notch, yet keeps me within my carb goal.  That bit of spice contributes to fulfillment and satisfaction in the dish.

Creamy, custardy dishes have always been my idea of comfort foods…

My new favorite after dinner treat is a quick, fluffy tapioca pudding… here’s the recipe –  I use one/sixth of the sugar called for on the recipe on the box.  My recipe, which is a hearty sized portion, is only 15 – 18 grams of carbohydrate… with grated nutmeg and a dash of cinnamon on top…I don’t miss that extra sugar, it is truly delicious with texture and flavor.

Kraft Minute Tapioca...

Kraft Minute Tapioca…

My recipe …

1 egg separated     3 T. Tapioca     1 tsp Vanilla

1 T. sugar               2 C milk

Beat egg white until foamy.  Mix tapioca, milk, egg yolk and 1 T sugar

in a medium saucepan.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Bring to full boil on medium heat

…stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add egg white mixture, stir until blended.  Stir in vanilla.

Cool…serve warm or chilled… keep refrigerated… grate fresh nutmeg and/or a bit of cinnamon on top and consume… yum… the Kraft box calls for 6 Tablespoons of sugar…I have tested this with reduced amounts and we have concluded that 1 Tablespoon works well with the addition of the freshly grated spices…also…we use really good ingredients…organic eggs and milk, Madagascar vanilla.. I used 2% milk and it is wonderful. With less sugar, you get to enjoy the texture of the tapioca even more and really taste the other ingredients, they are not masked by the sugar…

Note…I always use real ingredients…real sugar (not artificial), real dairy…and always use fresh spices…if they are over one year old, get new ones.

Just when I think I am going to break and have a decadent sweet … I make this and it feels completely indulgent to me, yet when I test my glucose level two hours later…I am perfectly in range which makes me feel like I’ve just won a prize!  Being diabetic doesn’t mean you can’t have a full portion of a dessert…it may take a little “testing” of a recipe on your part to find the level of reduced sugar that works for you, but it certainly is worth it when you get it to that SPOT where the “convergence of good for you” meets “it still tastes great!”  Give it a try.

This fluffy tapioca with a cup of tea is perfect!  And good for me!

And, as always, drink tea…it’s good for you.

 

 

 

 

What I Learned In My Diabetes Nutrition Classes…

Vodka has zero (0) carbohydrates & Creme Brûlée is better for me than cake!

Darjeeling tea martini at "tea and tinis" end of 2013

Darjeeling tea martini — 0 carbs but still…one is probably enough 🙂

While intending a bit of wit and tongue in cheek perspective on “what to eat” that’s still yummy and fitting within the parameters of one’s diabetic diet, these two facts were actually helpful for me to learn.

Ten years ago, I participated in an 8 week course for diabetics (I was pre-diabetic at the time).  When my numbers shot up last summer, I went back to see what knew news was available from the nutritionist’s world regarding this insidious disease. My dietician said, “really, nothing had changed in the last 10 years.”  I told her I was flying somewhere soon and usually needed a drink or two to relax during the flight, but didn’t want to hurt myself with too much alcohol (wine was my usual drink – 4 grams of carbs are in five ounces and anticipated needing 10 ounces for a good buzz…her comment…”vodka has no carbs”…hmmm…    Vodka it was! (I decided I’d rather eat my carbs than drink them that day.)

What I realized at that nutritionist appointment, (an epiphany of sorts), was that I am now “on my own” in figuring out “what to eat.” I know all the general info. about what’s good and what’s not, what I want now is a personal, individualized, actual, customized action plan that let’s me still love my meals….and the only place to get that kind of detail, specifically designed for me, was from one source… me!  So I went to work on one.

Thanks to getting my own glucose monitoring device, I can check my blood sugars after eating and see what actually happens with certain foods – which ones spike my sugar levels and which don’t.  While I thought I’d drive my wonderful husband crazy with my diligent measuring, logging, testing, and cheering and/or bemoaning the results …he’s  been so supportive (no surprise really) and has gotten into complimenting my efforts.  There are other factors I am figuring out too, like the “dawn phenomena” of sugar spikes in the early a.m. hours and how to manage that.  It’s a work in progress – but I can assure you, I AM making good progress.  Each day, I am more comfortable with knowing “what to eat” and am expanding my testing to more exotic and once forbidden items with tweaks in the recipes. What’s working for me…using a little math (45 grams of carbs at a meal is my target) and ensuring balance between fats, carbs, and proteins.  Also, I eat real food, not artificial substitutes (more on that in upcoming posts).

Recently I’ve put puddings, brûlées, & custards back into my diet.  I just love them, savory and sweet, but have stayed away from the sweets completely for a couple years.  The reason a brûlée or pudding is better for me than cake is that there are normally more protein and fats in a pudding than those that exist in a cake.  Refined grains and sugars spike a diabetic’s sugar levels enormously.  Eggs and dairy (in puddings) are proteins and fats, which you actually need for balancing the sugars.  It’s all about balance…think balance and you can have a bit of everything.  Last month I enjoyed my niece’s pumpkin brûlée, and another day, a savory flan from Market Restaurant in San Diego.  Neither spiked my sugar levels…yay, I got to have my pudding, and eat it too 🙂

Sammy cakes Pumpkin Brûlée...I had mine without the "carmelized sugar" and no sugar spike later ...hurray...

Sammy cakes Pumpkin Brûlée…I had mine without the “carmelized sugar” and no sugar spike later …hurray…

Parmesan savory pudding with corn bread from Market in San Diego

Parmesan savory pudding with corn bread from Market in San Diego

 

 

Along with a lovely cup of tea…usually an oolong in the evening.

 

Aging and Eating….Whatever Your Age May Be

For the past few years I’ve struggled with managing my diet in an effort to keep my borderline type 2 Diabetes “borderline”… and after ten years, “borderline” went to actual “diabetes”.  It is a progressive disease.  I now know what that means.  After slinking into myself for several weeks – contemplating how to deal with this diagnosis, along with newly prescribed medicines, I’ve come out with a wider perspective on what to do, how to do it, and still and alwayscompletely enjoy my meals, because as some of you know, every morning I wake up just thrilled and excited about the prospects of “what to eat” and pair that with my favorite teas.

At 30 years old I went through something similar to this drama about “what to eat” when I first remember “ever” putting on weight. At a checkup, I actually asked my doctor, “what is all this stuff around my middle area?”  I was serious, she laughed and said, “That’s fat!  Quit eating so much.  You’re 30 now, your body is changing.  You can’t eat the way you did in your teens and 20’s.”

And, I ask you, “Is this happening in your house?” Christmas dinner was at our home. The menu needed to have the following options: gluten free, soy free, low sodium, low carb, vegetarian and carnivore dishes while being delicious, traditional, and cohesive…whew!!!  With a little thought, we did it.

I have concluded the once “niche” diet is actually the “mainstream” diet today.

Thank goodness for tea!  Always a great fit with an enormous variety of options for varied tastes… and here’s the deal with tea… it’s gluten free, vegetarian (vegan), no carb, no sodium, soy free, and can be paired with any type of food you desire…I say… awwwwwwesome 🙂

Eat . Be . Tea is taking a little different road going forward…focused onto  “a new way to eat”… Answering the question “What to eat?” and still feel good after consuming – with the caveat that we continue to just LOVE our meals and not just “settle” for some calories that are supposedly “good for us!”  It will be interesting, enlightening, and fun…and pertinent to each of us at any stage in our lives…if I had known all this at 30, I might not have two to three sizes of clothes in my closet today 🙂

You will see my favorite finds over the next several weeks … (I would have started sooner, but have had a multi-week glitch with my technology…now corrected we think,,yay)… I’m back!  And with a vengeance towards eating deliciously and well…my numbers are totally under control after 26 weeks of figuring out what works for me (and I now have to buy new clothes…a lower size)…all the way…there was always always tea.!!!!

See you soon…with foods and recipes to meet your needs today.

 

 

Just My Cup of Tea

The idiomatic expression “my cup of tea” is used to describe something you like or enjoy.  This morning, as I left my exercise class, I decided that I would enjoy exhorting a cup of tea from my sister as I knew she still had this awesome chai oolong on hand that was “calling my name”.   She happily let me in, made us breakfast, had me steep the tea and said, “get whatever cups out you like”…I spied her gorgeous Italian tea cups and pulled them out.  The tea tasted so refined out of these cups.   It reminded me just how special a beautiful, porcelain or unique serving vehicle can make one’s tea experience.  I’ve been rushing around lately, consumed with the “stuff” of life…but this little experience brought me back to appreciating the calm and joy of a simple ritual…made more special by using the “good cups”…

What I just love about tea....every day, if I am lucky, I get to take comfort in the ritual of steeping a pot

Every day, if I am lucky, I get to take comfort in the ritual of steeping a pot

I came home thinking about how much I enjoy tea tastings and that tasting cups are intriguing to me…the anticipation of trying new varietals is exhilarating and is one of my favorite things to do.  In flipping through photos, I came across these favorite tasting experiences of recent months…

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My niece and friends tea tasting at Seventh Tea Bar in Costa Mesa Ca...

Tea tasting at Seventh Tea Bar in Costa Mesa Ca…beautiful stainless tea pots with temperature gauge, timers, gongfu lidded cups for steeping….quite the fun ritual of which I was saddened to find out when meeting friends for lunch this month that Seventh is gone, now a French bistro 🙁

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samovar in San Francisco, as one might expect, offered the most contemporary, and yet traditional individual tea services.  D. ordered the Matcha, served in a personal beaker, I had the Russian menu, with a smoky Russian black tea and milk to temper and fine the tannins…just a delightful experience – I also love their press tea pot.  Each tea comes out with it’s unique steeping accessories.

Our tea service at Samovar...individual Matcha for D and Russian Caravan with milk for me

Our tea service at Samovar… Russian Caravan with milk for me

Another sleek individual tea service, using a press from Samovar

Another sleek individual tea service, using a press from Samovar

Matcha tea service for one at Samovar (SFO)... what a cool beaker

Matcha tea service for one at Samovar (SFO)… what a cool beaker

While I haven’t actually experienced the Italian tea shop, La Vie Del Te.  I am enjoying their Special Oolong (a gift from my good friend A…) and imagine drinking it from the beautiful white and fleur designed individual service here, photos from their website… with a French Macaron? (what?, notice the pastry stand) (I’d actually rather go for a little biscotti) 🙂  What a gorgeous, stylish personal tea pot and cup.

La Vie del Te...in Italy I want this set!

La Vie del Te…in Italy
I want this set

Lastly, two of my favorites – Tea with my darling husband in Carmel this winter…enjoyed while playing dominoes

Tea Time in Carmel with a game of dominoes with D.

Tea Time in Carmel with a game of dominoes with D.

And tea with my sister…using her Italian tea cups…and some scrambled eggs with salami…a spontaneous awesome sister experience!

This morning's tea and eggs...V's Italian tea cup brought out the best in the tea

This morning’s tea and eggs…V’s Italian tea cup brought out the best in the tea

Remember…get out the good cups!!!!

Tea Shirt ... at Samovar, San Francisco... I love the tasting cups depicted on our server's shirt...and DRINK TEA...It's Good for you!

Tea Shirt … at Samovar, San Francisco…
I love the tasting cups depicted on our server’s shirt…and DRINK TEA…It’s Good for you!

 

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes…

Valerie's heirloom tomato + awesome Di Stefano Burrata...is there anything better? Well yes, when slathered onto a crusty piece of ciabatta bread

Valerie’s heirloom tomatoes with awesome Di Stefano Burrata, calamata olives and EVOO…is there anything better? Well yes, when all this is slathered onto a crusty piece of ciabatta bread

A few years ago, I discovered that when it’s tomato season, eat them!  Particularly heirlooms in August and September.   I am a little bit picky about eating a fruit or vegetable that is marred in any way.  I’ve actually spent most of my life steering away from fresh tomatoes as, often, I found them to be mealy or tasteless, unless cooked down into my Mom’s fabulous pasta sauce (the best mmm)  or slow roasted in a low oven.  My father did not enjoy fresh tomatoes…he preferred them cooked…(and here we are from an Italian household :-).  But that’s because we did not have accessibility to the gorgeous varieties now found at our farmer’s markets, healthy food stores, and from discerning restauranteurs ….

I just love quality ingredients and foods that burst with flavor without being manipulated too much.  I haven’t posted much lately because I have been struggling with figuring out just what is o.k. for me to eat (needing to identify ingredients that won’t make my glucose levels spike up). It’s been a frustrating time for me working through which foods work and which don’t for me …and being a professed foodaholic, I’ve been a little down about some necessary restrictions (but more about that on another post)…in the meantime, I have been ordering and preparing fresh, heirloom and dry farmed (from Whole Foods) tomato salads … often…almost daily.

Below are a few photos of my favorites.

Beautiful tomato, fresh mozzarella bruschetta with fresh basil from a Napa Restaurant

Beautiful tomato, fresh mozzarella bruschetta with fresh basil from a Napa Restaurant…

 

Caprese Salad with fresh bur rata, heirloom tomatoes topped with Caviar from Bottega... Chef Michael Chiarello's fine restaurant in Yountville (Napa Valley)... I just love the drizzle of basil oil

Caprese Salad with fresh burrata, heirloom tomatoes topped with Caviar from Bottega… Chef Michael Chiarello’s fine restaurant in Yountville (Napa Valley)… I just love the drizzle of basil oil

 

Most satisfying and healthy heirloom tomatoes, fresh arugula, interesting beans I can't remember the name of, a bit of ricotta salada cheese and aged balsamic from Chef David Pratt at Brick Pizzeria in San Clemente, Ca... I go there at least once a week to order this until the season is over...a meal by itself and all farm fresh, organic ingredients...delightful!

Most satisfying and healthy heirloom tomatoes, fresh arugula, interesting beans I can’t remember the name of, a bit of ricotta salada cheese and aged balsamic from Chef David Pratt at Brick Pizzeria in San Clemente, Ca… I go there at least once a week to order this until the season is over…a meal by itself and all farm fresh, organic ingredients…delightful!

 

Truly refreshing...tomato gazpacho with Maine lobster from Market in Del Mar, Ca... perfect with a glass of Sancerre

Truly refreshing…tomato, cucumber, and radish gazpacho with Maine lobster from Market in Del Mar, Ca… perfect with a glass of Sancerre

 

Thus far, these have been my favorite tomato dishes of this season (although I’ve made a few of my own at home that rival them…

One thing I did notice this week in checking my glucose levels after consuming huge slices of heirloom tomatoes on a slice of artisan bread I got from the farmer’s market…my numbers did jump up a good bit…guess I need to remember that “tomatoes ARE a fruit” and higher in sugars that other veggies…oh well, they are still good for me…moderation may be in order going forward though. I’ll wash them down with a lovely cup of whole leaf oolong…which is very good for me anytime 🙂

Drink tea…it’s good for you!