Bread Machine Spiced Pumpkin Bread

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I bought a bread machine a few years ago from a thrift store for only $6, and I think it was one of the best investments I’ve ever made because I get to enjoy specialty bread whenever I want, at a fraction of the cost.

Every holiday season from October until December I make Spiced Pumpkin bread, and I thought I would share the recipe.

This is the recipe that came in the book that I had to download since it didn’t come with the bread machine. What do you expect? I found it in a thrift store. I was lucky it had all the parts and that it actually worked. They had some better looking machines that were missing the kneading paddle. Is that what it’s called?

I had to experiment with some of the recipes because sometimes you might get soft fluffy bread, while other times it might be hard and will leave a brick feeling in your stomach. If the bread is too hard, it’s because it didn’t have enough water. If it falls apart, you put too much water in it. This particular recipe says to add 1 egg and enough water to make 1/4 cup. Well, I learned to add 1 egg, plus 1/4 cup of water, and no more water after that.

There are some recipes that have raisins in it, this one does not, but I like to add raisins to it anyway. I don’t add the raisins in the beginning because it turns them into dust. I wait until the machine is finished kneading the dough, then I add the raisins, then the machine starts to knead again for about 15 or 20 minutes before turning off to let the dough rise.

One thing that I don’t like to do is to let the bread machine bake the bread because the container that it is in doesn’t give you a normal shape loaf of bread. I just let it knead the dough, then when it’s finished, before it allows it to rise, I remove it from the pan and put it in a regular bread pan and put it in the toaster oven at 150F for 45 minutes to rise, then I turn it to 350F to bake for 45 minutes.

I love this bread for 2 reasons. 1 it has a pumpkin flavor, and 2 because it’s sweet from the raisins. I like to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with this bread more than anything else. It just makes it better. I have had ham and/or turkey sandwiches, but nothing beats PB&J.

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Spiced Pumpkin Bread

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Have you ever had Spiced Pumpkin Bread? No, I’m not talking about that cake stuff that you buy, or that grandma bakes for dessert, I’m talking about actual bread that you can make sandwiches or toast with. Yeah, actual bread. No? Well, you are in for a real treat my friend because this is the best bread that I have ever had and it is too awesome not to share.

Okay so disclaimer it is high in calories. I’m not going to lie. You know that diet that you’ve been struggling to stay on? Well, you can go off your diet just this once. I swear off bread when I am dieting, but from October to December I throw caution to the wind because screw it, your weight can wait until January 1st when you make your New Years resolution to lose weight.

Now back to the bread. This bread is so fantastic. You can literally make a ham or turkey, or ham and turkey, go wild. My favorite is Peanut butter and Jam. It really brings out the taste of the pumpkin more for some reason. You can also make toast or garlic bread. Whatever you want, just freakin’ do it!

This is what you do. If you have a bread machine then wonderful, if you have a mixer that works too. If you have neither and you are low on funds, just head on over to the thrift stores. I bought my bread machine at a thrift store for $6. I shit you not. If you can’t find one then well, get your hands ready to start kneading dough. Trust me, it is so worth it.

spiced pumpkin breadThe ingredients are very simple. You start with the top and work your way down to the bottom. This is the recipe that comes in the recipe book for my bread machine, but I have a couple alterations for you because this recipe doesn’t make the best loaf of bread.

The recipe I use is in the middle for the 1 1/2 pound loaf. I don’t actually let it bake in the bread machine, I just use the machine to knead the dough for me. So just use the normal dough setting.

Start with 1 egg. Crack it directly into your cup. It says 1 egg with enough water to equal 1/4 cup. Well, I make it 1/2 cup. 3 tablespoons of oil. It doesn’t really matter what type of oil you use, so use whatever you want. I used canola for this recipe. 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. You can use a real lemon, or just buy one of those little plastic lemons with lemon juice. Just go down the list and add everything else verbatim.

Once you’ve added all of your ingredients, turn on the machine (or if you are actually doing this by hand, and if you are I applaud the hell out of you) and let it start kneading the dough. Don’t walk away from it, stand there and watch it. Does it just spin dry as if it were a baseball stuck to the bottom? If so, it is way too dry so add some more water, I would say about 1 tablespoon at a time. I would also suggest adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of more pumpkin. More pumpkin doesn’t hurt. What you want to see is your dough flapping against the side of the pan or bowl. Don’t make it too wet, but if you do, just simply add another tablespoon of the flour. Just keep watching it to make sure that it’s not too dry and it’s not too wet.

The bread machine should go for about half an hour or so. Once it finishes its kneading cycle, it will rise in the machine, just allow it to rise until it beeps and turns off. When it does that, what you want to do is turn the machine on again so it starts spinning the dough again. Let it work long enough until it’s back to a ball of dough. When that happens, take out your bread loaf pan and grease the sides to keep it from sticking, then dump the dough inside the pan.

I use a toaster oven since my oven doesn’t work, but that is the perfect place for me because I don’t have to wait for it to preheat, and I will tell you why. You want to put it in the toaster oven on warm, not bake, 45 minutes on 150F to rise. When 45 minutes is up, you should notice that it has risen again, and if it has, you want to turn the temperature up to 375F and switch it from warm to bake and let it bake for 45 minutes. When the 45 minutes is up, turn the temperature back down to 150F and switch it over to the warm setting again and let it warm for 20 minutes.

Oh and if you are using a toaster oven, you don’t need the rack because the bread will rise so high that it will touch those 2 coils at the top. You do not want that to happen. Just take the rack out and put it on the counter to use later. If you have 2 coils at the bottom, if they are wide enough that your bread pan sits in between them then you are golden, if not then you may have to sit it on top of them. I hate to give the advice to do that because it could break them, and we don’t want that. So if that is the case then it’s probably a better idea to use your oven.

Most people would say to take the bread out of the bread pan and put it on a rack to cool, but I found that it falls when you do that, so just leave it in the pan on the counter for a 10 minutes. When it is sort of cool to the touch, flip it over into your hand and lift the pan off. If the bottom is kind of wet, just take 2 paper towels and place it over the pan and drop the bread back in. I know this sounds odd, but it is wet because it is no longer in the oven, so it gets wet. Give it about 10 minutes and take it out and put it on the rack. It should be nice and cool by then, and the paper towel will soak up the moisture from the bottom of the bread. Let the bread sit on the rack until it cools down and the bottom will dry out.

I bought a bread slicer, it’s more of a guide that allows you to cut even slices and trust me, it really helps. You want to give it a couple of hours to really cool down before you start slicing it. Some say to wait a full 24 hours, but screw that, you want some bread now! Just let it cool down and then cut the bread to your hearts content. I use a plastic grocery bag to store it in.

Your bread should be light and fluffy and really soft. If it is too dense, you didn’t add enough water when mixing the dough. If it is too fluffy, you either sliced it too soon, or you added too much water. If you did it right, it will be so delicious that you will never want to buy regular bread ever again.

I normally don’t eat bread because I get so addicted to it that I can’t stop lol. Most people are addicted to chocolate, I get addicted to bread. I mean, not just regular bread, if it’s really good bread, then yes, but like regular bread, not so much. Give me a bag of bagels and get the rest while you can. Forget about English Muffins, those are ALL MINE! LOL. You see, I didn’t get fat because I couldn’t stop eating junk food, it’s from all that damn bread.

New Year, Noom Me… Again

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What do we always do on January 1st?  We make a new years resolution.  What is the number one resolution?  Say it with me.  To lose weight.  I did just that in 2013 with Noom and I plan on doing it again starting today.

We have already been to Food Maxx to buy our Weight Watchers Smart Ones frozen dinners which is what helped me to lose 70lbs in 2013.  We also have our frozen veggies and fruit in the fruit bowl.  I start physical therapy on January 3rd and I will most likely ride my bike to get there and use the Noom cardio trainer app to log my bike ride and my PT.  I took the Noom app off my phone and put it on my Nook HD+ because I like the bigger screen and because I need the space on my phone.

Like i said, last year I was lucky enough to lose 70lbs and every week I had weight loss, and no gain.  I would love to do the same exact thing this year, but even I know that is nearly impossible.  If you try hard to do something you did before, you won’t do it and you will become frustrated and you will end up doing the opposite, so I’m just going to relax and hope for the best.  If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.  But I hope it does lol.

So from right this moment, every breakfast I will measure the exact amount of cereal and pour the exact amount of soy milk and slice exactly 1 banana into it for breakfast.  For my snacks I will stick with fruits and lunch and dinner I will try to stick with veggies and the weight watchers meals.  That is how I did it in 2013.

It’s not difficult to do something if you set your mind to it.  I said that I will NOT eat chocolate or cookies or ice cream, and I kept my word.  Instead of eating those bad things, I substituted them for fruits.  Instead of eating chocolate ice cream, I chopped and froze a banana or cantaloupe and blended them in the food processor and made my own healthier ice cream.  Instead of eating store-bought cookies, I made my own from a recipe that I found.  In fact, here are all of my healthy recipes that I found and altered to make them healthy.

I don’t drink soda or any alcoholic beverages, so that’s a blessing, but I do drink coffee with creamer and no calorie sweetener.  I did okay on the diet last year with the coffee, so that’s not a problem.  I tried to drink water, but I just can’t stand plain old water.  I drink Crystal Light, or well the Food Maxx generic version of it anyway.  It’s 5 calories per 8oz which is not too bad.  Although people are always telling me to cut out the sweeteners and blah blah blah, but again, 70lbs last year speaks for itself.

Anyway, so that’s my plan and I am hoping to drop down to 160lbs this time.  I would like to get down to 150lbs, but I’m just going to try for 160 and see how that goes.  If I find myself wanting to drop another 10lbs then I will.  Once I get to my main goal then I will continue using the Noom app to maintain my weight.  And of course I will start blogging every weigh in day again.  My weigh in days in 2013 were Fridays, so how does Friday sound?  Sounds good to me.  So it’s settled.  This coming Friday will be my first official weigh in and blog post.

Bread Slicer

bread slicer with pumpkin bread

I know, this is a very strange thing to blog about, but I’m excited because the bread slicer that I bought on eBay actually works.  I tried using it when I first got it, but it didn’t really work out because I sliced the bread too soon, so it wasn’t slicing right because it was too soft.  The trick is letting the bread harden a little before slicing it which usually takes a day.  I was also pushing down on the top when I was slicing it the first time because it was wobbling too much in the slicer.  That gave me uneven bread.  If I don’t touch the top, it gives me perfect slices every time.

The bread in the image above is spiced pumpkin bread.  I normally only make 100% whole wheat bread to use for sandwiches or toast, but the spiced pumpkin bread is awesome to eat during the holidays.  In case you want the recipe, here it is.

spiced pumpkin bread

I substituted the oil with butter, and I don’t use the lemon juice and it comes out just fine.  I don’t use the lemon juice because I found a recipe for cinnamon raisin bread from Betty Crocker that uses butter instead of oil and it doesn’t use lemon juice.  The recipe for cinnamon raisin bread that came in the recipe book that this recipe came in used oil and lemon juice, so I simply just cut out the oil and lemon juice and replace them with butter in all of my bread recipes and they still come out good, amazing in fact.

I use the 1lb recipe for my bread machine and the bread usually goes over the top, if I use the 1 1/2lb recipe, it goes way over the top and touches the vent and the glass on the door of the machine.  That’s way too much bread, so the 1lb recipe is perfect.  The Betty Crocker recipe must be the 1 1/2lb recipe because it always goes over the top.

So I just wanted to show the slicer and how thick the slices come out.  I was hoping for thinner slices, but this is fine.  At least they aren’t too thin on one side and too thick on the other which is what usually happens when I don’t use the slicer.  It’s a good guide to use.  Oh and this bread slicer was only $7.99 on eBay.  I give this bread slicer a thumbs up.

Here is this same bread slicer on Amazon and here it is on eBay for $6.99.  Naturally they lowered the price by $1 the day AFTER I bought it lol.

Oh and just in case someone asks, because I was thinking about it too, you can buy an electric knife if you want to, but a regular bread knife works just fine.  Although an electric knife will probably give you a more even cut on each slice, a regular one works just as well.  The bread in the image above isn’t 100% perfect, it’s uneven, but it’s not too uneven so it doesn’t make too much of a difference to me, but I’m sure you will get the same or near the same results with an electric knife.  So if you already have a regular knife like I do, save your money and just use that.  If you don’t have either then buy whichever one you want, but a regular bread knife will work just fine.

Vaping and Weight Loss

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I am constantly getting messages from people who have read my posts about vaping and weight loss asking me if it works, and not all stick around in the chat for me to respond properly.  Let me just say that it is not going to help you lose weight.  I have said many times in my posts that vaping is not a replacement for diet and exercise.  If you want to replace the sweet tooth with vaping that’s one thing, but unless you are eating a balanced diet, eating fruits and vegetables and watching your portions and exercising, you are not going to lose weight.

When I started vaping, it was with the understanding that it might help me lose weight, but I discovered that it didn’t do a damn thing.  The only thing it did was get me to stop snacking on candy and junk food, but I was still going to the buffets and still eating bad carbs and all that other bad stuff that you know you shouldn’t eat.  Vaping only replaced one thing for me, but it didn’t help me lose 1 ounce of fat.

From January 5th to today April 15th 2013, I have lost nearly 50lbs.  Want to know how?  Sure you do, that’s why you are here.  I downloaded the Noom app from the Google Play store for my Android phone.  I have been scanning food which are mostly all green items.  Here is a typical day for me.

  • Breakfast at 8 a.m.: Exactly 1 cup of Cheerios with Silk Soy Milk (not measured, I pour it until the cereal rises then I stop).
  • Morning Snack at 10 a.m.: Fruit, like a banana or an apple.
  • Lunch at 12 p.m.: A Weight Watchers Smart Ones meal or Lean Cuisine.
  • Afternoon Snack at 3 p.m.: Either fruit, steamed vegetables or Wheat Thins.
  • Dinner at 6 p.m.: A Weight Watcher  Smart Ones Meal or Lean Cuisine.
  • Evening Snack (Optional): Either Fruit, steamed vegetables, Wheat Thins or Jello.

I’d like to note that I buy the Weight Watchers Smart Ones at Food Maxx for $1.88 and I also get coupons for $3 off when you buy 10, so that is a very good deal for me since it is way more expensive at Albertson’s.  I only buy the Lean Cuisine when they are on sale for the same price which isn’t too often, but I like to have the variety when they are on sale.  Some people may have an issue with them, but they are good and they are real food despite some people saying they aren’t.  They are made with healthy ingredients.  You should give them a try, they might surprise you.

That’s basically my day and that is 1400 calories or less depending on what I decide to eat for my snacks.  I drink coffee in the morning until the pot is empty and then I drink Crystal Light the rest of the day.  I should say you should drink water, but we all know that water sucks.  I should be telling you to cut up a lemon or an orange and soak it in your water pitcher, but come on, Crystal Light tastes so much better lol.  Plus it’s like 50 cents a pitcher, or if you buy the generic version, half that per pitcher.

So that is how I lost nearly 50lbs in 3 1/2 months.  Not everyone agrees with my method, but it works for me.  I haven’t had 1 week where I didn’t lose weight.  Most every week I lose 3 to 4 pounds, but this week it was 1.8lbs.  Why?  I honestly don’t know, but I know that my next weigh in will make up for it.  I probably shouldn’t jinx myself by saying I have lost weight every week, but it’s true.  I normally plateau after the first month, but I’ve kept up the routine and it’s working so I’m going to continue to do that until I am at my goal weight.

I am still vaping from time to time to get the sweet taste in my mouth, but I really don’t need it as much as I did when I was still eating junk food.  I feel as though I have kicked the sweet tooth.  I have all the sweet flavors I need with the fruits and the crystal light.  I don’t even bake fruit cookies anymore to satisfy my sweet tooth because it’s practically gone.

To anyone who doesn’t smoke who thinks that vaping might help them lose weight I will just save you the time and money now by saying it does not.  If you want to lose weight, download the Noom app on your Android phone if you have one, iPhone coming soon.  If you don’t have an Android or iPhone, well what are you waiting for?  Get with the times, sheesh!

The most important thing I can tell you that if you want to lose weight you need to stop going to the buffet and the fast food restaurants and start eating healthy for goodness sake.  That’s your problem right there.  Even if you don’t go to the buffets or to the fast food places, if you are overeating the food you cook at home and not eating a balanced portion then that’s why you are overweight.  You have to look at the label on everything you make and eat the exact portion you are supposed to eat.  Like if you buy a box of Macaroni and Cheese, you can’t eat the whole box, that’s too many calories.  That’s like half of your day right there.  You have to be mindful of how many calories you are putting into your body because that’s why you can’t lose weight.

Also, no more ICE CREAM!  You know you don’t stop at half a cup, admit it.  You put 3-4 scoops in your bowl.  That’s too many calories and that was my big issue.  I have discovered that you can eat ice cream as long as it is made with natural healthy ingredients.  Like this Banana Ice Cream recipe.  It’s just a frozen banana pureed in a food processor with a tiny splash of milk, that’s it.  It’s frozen like soft serve so it tricks your brain into thinking you are eating actual ice cream, but it’s just a banana.  You can do that with any fruit you like.  I tried it with a cantaloupe and it was delicious.

I haven’t mentioned exercise yet.  Guess what?  I haven’t been exercising.  I know I should and I don’t mean to make excuses but I have to.  I have a spinal disease called Degenerative Disc Disease which is very extremely painful.  I can walk for maybe 5 minutes before the pain starts and after 20 it’s debilitating.  I can ride my bike, but guess what?  I started to ride my bike a month ago when the weather started to warm up and I broke my arm.  A broken arm means I can’t ride my bike.  So I have no more options until my arm is healed.  I’m not saying you should eat healthy and not exercise and lose nearly 50lbs in 3 1/2 months, but that worked for me.  I do plan on getting back on my bike when this heals in the next couple or few weeks, so I’m not trying to be lazy, I’m just in a lot of pain and you can’t ride a bike with one arm in a sling lol.

So anyway, I hope I’ve made my point about vaping and weight loss not being a good way to lose weight.  I do recommend that if you are a current smoker and you want to quit smoking cigarettes and start vaping that you should because it is way healthier for you than cigarettes are.  You can quit smoking if you switch to vaping because you can step down on your nicotine.  When you order your e-liquids from Zeus E-Juice (which I highly recommend) you can order as much or as little nicotine as you want with your e-juice for your eGo e-cigarette.  You get a lot of sweet flavors (my favorite is Banana Nut Bread) and you aren’t inhaling or exhaling smoke, it’s water vapor, so you aren’t harming yourself, spouse, children, friends, co-workers or pets.  It’s perfectly safe for everyone if you switch to vaping.

Good luck on your weight loss and I hope my suggestion helped you.

I’ve Lost 28lbs In 2 Months with the @Noom Android App

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I didn’t think it would be possible for me to be as happy about my body as I am right at this very moment.

My weight loss journey began on January 5th 2013.  I didn’t want to make a cheesy New Years Resolution because every time I do, I don’t keep it.  I was afraid of jinxing myself, so I decided that I wasn’t going to do it.  But then I started thinking about it and figured, what’s the harm in saying I want to lose weight, but not because I feel obligated to make a New Years Resolution, but because I want to lose weight and be healthy.  Not just go on a diet, but try to change my eating habits for good.

As I was looking for a new weight loss app, I found Noom right on the Google Play Store page on my new HTC One V from Virgin Mobile.  It was a free app so I figured what the heck, let’s install it and see what it looks like.  I fell in love with it right away because of all of the things it can do compared with some of the other diet apps I had installed.  I wanted the pro version, so instead of paying a monthly fee for it, I just paid for it for life.  I know, I should have played with it to see how it would work for at least a week or so, but I already knew it was going to help me lose weight, and well, here I am today.

This is only half of my weight loss journey though, not even half yet.  I want to lose 63lbs, so I still have a way to go.

I know people are going to ask what I did to lose 28.4lbs in 2 months.  Well, I logged everything I ate everyday in the Noom app.  They have Green foods, Yellow foods and Red foods.  So say you are eating vegetables like Broccoli or Brussels Sprouts, those are green.  The Weight Watchers Smart Ones frozen dinners are green, and that is what I ate for lunch and dinner every day for the last 2 months.  Basically, I’ve been trying to eat anything and everything that is green, but I have been eating a few yellows and reds here and there because you can have them, just not as much as the greens.

Just to note, I am not just going to eat healthy to help me lose weight.  I am changing the way I think about food and I do plan on continuing to eat healthy after I have lost all the weight because I want to stay healthy.  I do not want to gain the weight all over again.  I’ve also been learning what is in the food that I have been eating that made me fat and that is also my motivation to eat healthy.  They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but this old dog is learning new tricks everyday and will stick with it.

I have been making my own peanut butter and sugar-free strawberry jam and sugar-free applesauce and even making my own banana ice cream.  I have also been finding recipes for healthy treats like cookies made out of fruit and oatmeal.  Those are really good.  I made a recipes page on my website that I thought I’d share.  I’m still adding more when I find them.

The only thing I have not done yet to help me lose weight is exercise, and I have a very good reason.  I have tried to go for walks, and we went out a few times in the beginning, but I have degenerative disc disease in my lower spine which makes walking very painful.  I can ride the bike because I am sitting down, I just can’t walk for too long.  The back wheel on my bicycle kept deflating because the rim tape broke and I didn’t know it, but I have fabric rim tape on it now and the tube is filled with air so I can finally start riding again.  Thankfully my back doesn’t hurt when I’m on the bike.

So, like I said, I am only halfway there.  I just wanted to give an update of my current progress.  See you again when I have lost all 63lbs.

Banana Ice Cream

banana ice cream

How many calories are in 1 serving of ice cream?  I looked up Häagen Dazs® Banana Split ice cream and it has 270 calories for 1/2 a cup.  HALF A CUP has 270 calories?  Well, how would you feel if I told you that 1 cup of banana ice cream only has 116 calories if you make it yourself?

It’s really simple.  I found this recipe on Facebook of all places.  All you do is slice up 1 banana, freeze it for about 2 or 3 hours, put it in a food processor or a blender with a dash of non-fat milk until it’s the consistency of ice cream, scoop it into a bowl and viola, banana ice cream.  It’s more like soft serve, and technically it’s not ice cream, it’s just pureed frozen fruit, but still, it’s like ice cream.

What makes this healthy is that you are eating fruit not ice cream, but it tastes and looks like ice cream so you are fooling your brain into thinking you are being bad, but really you are just eating a banana.

Say you don’t like bananas, well you could try this with a cantaloupe or honeydew melon, I have even read that you could make this with watermelon, but I haven’t tried it yet.  I’m going to when they are at the grocery store though, so stay tuned for that.

The Noom app that I am using says that any green fruit like banana, cantaloupe and watermelon is 25 calories for 1/3 of a cup, 50 calories for 2/3 of a cup, 100 calories for 1 1/4 cup and 150 calories for 2 cups.  The SparkPeople recipe page says it’s 116 calories for 1 medium banana.  I’d rather go with Noom’s calories because 100 calories is better lol.  Any way you slice it, it’s better for you than ice cream that you buy at the grocery store and you can eat more of it, guilt free.