The best sugar-free Strawberry Jam is homemade

homemade peanut butter and strawberry jam

I have been eating peanut butter and jelly/jam since I was a kid, as most everyone has.  We normally buy whatever is the cheapest because of how pricey they are these days.  It never crossed my mind until recently that I could actually make something that I have enjoyed all of my life and it would be not only cheap, but low cal, sugar-free and actually taste good.

I’ve been making my own peanut butter for the last week and it’s been fine, but I didn’t make the strawberry jam until yesterday.  It has sat in our pantry for the last 24 hours because, well, the person in the instructional video said to give it 24 hours lol.  Also, I was kind of afraid of how it might taste.  Why?  Well because I have bought sugar-free strawberry jam and they don’t taste good… at all.  I mean, they’re okay, I guess, but they aren’t great.  When we came home from the movies today I had myself a half of a sandwich, just because I was curious and I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually good.

So I got the recipe from the Ball website, but I had to go to SparkPeople to type in all the ingredients and servings to get the calories and it came up to 2.3 calories per 1 tablespoon, that’s if 1 8oz jar has 16 tablespoons, which according to my food calculator it does.  Although the recipe says that 4 cups of strawberries makes 6 jars, I did the half recipe to make 3 jars and it actually only filled 2, so I had to adjust it for that missing jar and the calories only went up to 3.4 calories per tablespoon.  So at least when you look at it from a caloric perspective, it’s basically just a big bunch of nothing, so eat all you want.

The recipe calls for 4 cups of strawberries, 1 cup of unsweetened white grape juice (which I couldn’t find, all the store had was light which is what I used to calculate the calories) and 3 tablespoons of pectin.  That’s it.  If you made that recipe you’d end up with 4 jars, even though Ball says 6.  4 jars makes 64 servings.

Yesterday I was thinking that perhaps I made a big mistake and that it’s probably not going to taste good at all without any sugar and that I would make the sugar recipe, but it actually tastes like real strawberry, and that is all you can taste.  Real strawberry jam with a ton of sugar is good and all, but you’re not eating strawberries since half of it is pure sugar.  You might as well pour sugar onto your bread.  At least with this recipe you are getting the strawberries.  And you can make it as chunky as you want, or if you don’t want any chunks you can just mash it all up.  Either way it’s the way you wanted to make it.

So yeah, I will never ever buy peanut butter and strawberry jam ever again for the rest of my life.  I am even thinking about making strawberry and banana jam, see how that works out lol.  Can you just imagine how good that would be?  If you figure that the recipe calls for 4 cups of strawberries, just use 2 and 2 cups of bananas.  Mash most of the bananas up, but then cut half of one of the bananas up so you get some chunks.  Although I haven’t tested that theory, but you bet I’m going to lol.  When strawberries aren’t in season I’m going to make some other jams, like maybe peach, apricot, blueberry, blackberry… and whatever other fruits they have that would make a good sugar-free jam.

I love it when I have good ideas that work out.

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No Flour Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

gluten free no flour peanut butter cookies

Did you know you could make peanut butter cookies with just 3 ingredients?  1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar and 1 egg.  That’s it.  My mother taught me how to make homemade peanut butter cookies when I was a teenager, but I don’t even remember what the recipe was, but it did involve a lot of ingredients.  They were really good, but these are better.  And the fact that they are gluten-free is even better.

So here is the recipe.  Combine 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar and 1 egg and mix until it’s like a dough and the peanut butter isn’t sticking to the bowl.  Make 36 balls and smash them with a fork and bake them at 375F for 9 minutes each.  That’s it.  No muss no fuss.  They are 67.9 calories per cookie.

But… if you want them to be healthier, make your own peanut butter.

If you have a food processor (if not a blender would work), add 1 cup of unsalted peanuts and grind it until it’s chunky.  Add 1 tbsp of peanut oil, 1 tbsp of packed brown sugar (or any sweetener that you prefer) and 1 tsp of salt and blend it until it’s as smooth as peanut butter.  Then add 1 cup of sugar and 1 egg and blend it some more until it’s like a dough.  The calories go down to 62 calories per cookie.  That’s not a lot, but it’s something, and at least you know what went into your peanut butter because you made it.

Look at your store bought peanut butter, look at the list of ingredients.  It has high fructose corn syrup and more corn syrup.  That is what you aren’t putting into your peanut butter cookies and that makes it healthy.

Want your cookies to have even less calories?  Replace the peanuts with pecans and your cookies go down to 52 calories per cookie.  I created this recipe for the SparkPeople website for No Flour Pecan Butter Cookies because we have a pecan tree that drops a lot of pecans.  Instead of wasting them, I’m going to make pecan butter and pecan butter cookies out of them.  I’m not sure how they will taste because I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m looking forward to trying it this week.  I will blog about it with a picture.  If it doesn’t work out then I will blog about my failure LOL.

Candy Corn e-Liquid from Zeus E-Juice

When I say that I have a sweet tooth, I’m not joking.  I look forward to October every year for the Candy Corn.  It is one of my guilty pleasures in life.  Some people think that Candy Corn is awful because it’s sickeningly sweet.  Everyone has different taste buds so one person might hate it, while someone else might love it.  I am the one that loves it.

Vaping was one of the ways that was supposed to allow me to indulge my sweet tooth without actually having to buy candy or any other junk food, and still be able to maintain my diet and not gain any weight.  It has worked so far.  This Candy Corn flavored e-liquid from Zeus e-Juice taste almost exactly like Candy Corn, but without the guilt.  You get a lot of flavor in your throat when you vape it.  You actually get flavor on your tongue when your tongue touches the tip, and when your tongue is near the tip as you are taking a drag.  You get the best of both worlds with every hit, without any of the sugar, calories and fat that comes with it.

I would definitely recommend this flavor to anyone who loves Candy Corn.  Just for October 2012, Zeus E-Juice is offering this and 3 other flavors in the 10ML sized bottle for only $3.99 while supplies last.  Don’t forget, if you are a new user, enter the coupon code “iget20” and you get 20% off your first order.  Also, when you are checking out, make sure you let them know that Mike McDonald aka @xanapus sent you.

I personally like 80%PG and 20%VG, the PG gives you more flavor.  I would get 100%PG, but I’ve heard of throat burn from that, so I’d just rather not have to experience that every time I vape.

Disclaimer: I am not a paid spokesperson for Zeus E-Juice, although the owners of the company are Twitter friends of mine and they have given me some of their e-liquid samples to taste.  I review them and tweet about them because I want to, not because they are paying me to.

Disclaimer: I don’t encourage smoking and/or vaping with nicotine, I vape with no nicotine so I am not addicted to anything.  Do not start smoking and do not start vaping if you are under the age of 18 as it is against the law.

If you are a smoker already and want to quit or you want to stop smoking poison and start vaping a healthier substitute, might I suggest heading over to www.Smoktek.com and buying a eGo battery, charger (that is compatible with the battery) and a Changeable Coil Clearomizer in your choice of color with some extra replacement coils.  These flavors are so much better in a Clearomizer than an atomizer with a cartridge.  I suggest you use Zeus E-Juice for all your e-liquids because they are simply the best because they add more flavor than their competitors and it’s the least expensive you can buy anywhere else.

Banana Nut Bread E-Liquid from Zeus E-Juice

I am on a taste crusade to see if I can finally replace eating junk foods that I crave with vaping them instead. I have found the exact thing that has finally gotten me to stop snacking. It’s called Vaping, and this is one of my new favorite flavors to vape with.

Never in my life did I ever think that I would get the taste of banana nut bread, without actually eating banana nut bread, but here we are.  I bought this fabulous flavor from the Zeus E-Juice website in the Delicious Desserts category in a 5ML bottle for a mere $2.49, which is probably about the same amount of money that you would pay for the box at the grocery store to make actual banana nut bread.  The thing is, I have been vaping this flavor the whole day and I don’t feel the least bit guilty because it has absolutely no calories, sugar or guilt.

The amazing part of that is that I only used a few drops for the whole day.  I didn’t use the whole bottle, so there is plenty more where that came from.  In fact, you can’t even tell that I used any from looking at the bottle.  I can have more whenever I want to and I don’t have to keep baking and cleaning pans and plates and forks, and I don’t have to worry about spoilage.  I think that is the most awesome part about vaping to replace food cravings.

This whole experiment has been successful so far.  I haven’t been snacking at all lately.  I may look into the fridge every once in a while and I may take a swig from the milk, but then I come back to the room and take a few hits off of the PV with this wonderful flavor, and my cravings are gone.  I don’t even have the hunger pangs anymore.  I think that this might actually be making my stomach shrink because I haven’t been eating as much food.  I still haven’t lost any weight, but as I’ve said many times before, I can’t expect to lose any weight without proper diet and exercise.  This is not a diet tool, this is just an experiment to see if I can cheat the sweet tooth cravings so I don’t snack.  It seems to be working so far, but it has still only been a week and a half, so I’m not counting any chickens before they hatch just yet.

Tomorrow I will be vaping Demeter’s Harvest and I will blog about it later.

Oh, I feel I should put in a disclaimer.  I am not getting paid to blog for anyone, I am just very excited about this whole adventure that I am on and I want to share my experiences and my opinions on the matter of vaping for weight loss.  The e-liquids that I buy have absolutely no nicotine in them, so I have no risk of addiction and I advise anyone who is reading this to not buy any e-liquid or e-cigarettes with the intentions of getting addicted.  You must be 18 years or older to buy any products with nicotine in them.

Gay Pride Jello

A few weeks ago I was sent an invitation to a pot luck here in Bakersfield at Grace Episcopal Church.  I don’t normally go to church but since I am trying to be a part of the gay community in Bakersfield, I figured I would pitch in with something.  What better dish than a gay pride jello mold?  Of course I have never made a jello mold in my life so I’m hoping this works out so wish me luck lol.

I found the idea because I was curious to see if it was even a real thing and I found an image.  I also found a recipe on a typepad blog called Porter House complete with pictures for all of the steps.

They don’t show any measurements or what size boxes you need.  The instructions just say to use half of the jello then use the other half with the yogurt or cool whip.  Of course I had to pour water into the mold to make sure I knew how much it could hold so I don’t make any mistakes.  Mine holds 13 cups so I can do 2 layers of each color which is 1 cup each layer.  It doesn’t have to be filled to the top.

I will be using cool whip because I’m not a huge yogurt fan.  I’d rather use something light anyway because this thing is going to have so many calories and I don’t want to make everyone fat lol.

My gay pride jello mold is finished but I have to leave it in the mold overnight.  I will take it out tomorrow before we go to the church so I can get a picture then.  It took me 3 hours to make so it better not fall apart when I take it out of the mold lol.  We will see tomorrow.

My Faster Bike Rides and New Goals

I was riding my bicycle this morning and was paying close attention to my average speed.  Lately it has been 11.5 mph give or take.  Today it was 12.5 mph.  That meant that I got home 30 minutes earlier than I usually do.  Riding faster doesn’t just mean that I will exercise faster, it also means I will burn more calories every time I ride.

I have these index cards which I used to use to keep track of my bike riding.  I would write it out so I had a hard copy because digital seems to get deleted a lot.  I first started writing it down on November 3rd 2008.  My average speed was 10 mph and I only rode for 38 minutes burning 345 calories.  Gradually over time I can see that my speed goes up to 10.7, 10.9, 11.1 etc.

My last entry was when I hurt my shoulder and I stopped riding, that was July 20th 2009.  My average speed was 14.0 mph.  That of course was doing 23 miles in 1 hour and 38 minutes.  Of course I was probably gone from the house for 2 hours with breaks but I don’t seem to recall.  I also see that I started riding in October 2009, I only got 3 bike rides logged then stopped, my shoulder was still in a lot of pain but I wanted to get exercise.  Then my shoulder got better and I started riding again and had 2 entries in July 2010 for 23 miles each but the next day after my 2nd bike ride my back wheel broke and the log entries end right there.  Of course I wasn’t used to riding anymore so my average speed was only 11.9 and 11.0.

I will add all of those old logs to my Bike page soon.

Today my average speed was 12.5 mph which has gone up from 11.2 since July 6th, 2 weeks ago when I started logging my cycling times again.  I had been riding since early June but couldn’t get my bicycle computer to work since I put the tire on backwards which meant the magnet was on the wrong side.  Oopsie.

I think that I am progressing very well and I’m sure that it won’t be too far off when I’m going 14 mph again, or even 15 mph.  The riding times will get shorter even though I will still be doing the same 23 mile route.  If that becomes the case then I will step it up and continue on to Hart Park.  That will add 10 miles to my route, 5 miles each way.  I have mapped it out:

That start point (A) is my halfway point where I stop riding and rest for a few minutes so this still might be a resting point before I continue on to Hart Park.  Once I get used to the ride then I will probably just continue on until I get to Hart Park and rest there.

Of course I’m probably talking many months before I’m in enough shape to do it but I will eventually do it.  When my average speed gets up to 15 or 16 mph then I will definitely do it.  In fact, I was ready to start doing it just before I had to stop riding because of my shoulder in July 2009.  I made a video and put it on YouTube that showed my bike ride from where I get on the bike path over on Truxton all the way to Manor St. and made a sequel from Manor all the way to China Grade Loop.  I wanted to do a 3rd video from China Grade Loop to Hart Park but… my shoulder and all.  So that never happened.

My goal now is to continue as I am now (training) until I am not in as much pain from the bike ride so that I may ride to Hart Park.  The day that I plan on that is the day I will bring my video camera with me to film it.  I know it’s boring to most people but it is an achievement to me and I’m sure to others.

I can’t wait to see how many calories I will burn from riding 33 miles every day.  The fat will just melt off, I hope lol.

Back On The Road To Being Healthy

I made a commitment to start riding my bicycle again regularly as soon as I got my new wheel for my bike last month and I didn’t start riding as regular as I had liked because I was too out of shape from not riding for a few years.  I went out with a friend a total of 3 times in the last month and it just isn’t enough so I have made that commitment again but as a solo act.

When I was riding with the friend I was riding with, I didn’t feel like I was getting anything out of the experience.  First of all, she was riding so slow, which I can’t blame her because she is more out of shape than I am, but it was too slow for me.  I wasn’t even breaking a sweat.  I came home with a dry t-shirt every time.  If I don’t come home with a soaked shirt then I know I didn’t try.

Summer is coming and this week is supposed to be in the mid 90’s which means bike riding is not going to be very pleasant during the day.  If I wake up at 5:30am and leave at 6am then I can get out on the bike trail and hopefully be back by 8 or 8:30am before the city starts to heat up too much.

Last night I set the alarm on my cell phone for 5:30am and I got up just as I wanted to and got ready to go and yes, I did go.  My bicycle computer isn’t registering so I can’t say how many miles I rode or how long or calories burned or anything.  All I can say is I rode my ass off and my thighs are in pain to prove it.

When I came home and took off my camelbak then took off my t-shirt I knew I did a good job because the back of my shirt was completely soaked.  I feel like I was beyond productive and I’m very satisfied with the solo ride.  I don’t think I will be riding with anyone anymore unless they can keep up with me and go my route instead of wanting to take shortcuts.

My new schedule will be 5 days a week from 6am to 8-8:30am.  I can’t make any promises on how much weight I may or may not lose but I can promise that I will do my best.