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Monday, March 30, 2020

Broccoli Tots

The original recipe for today's ego thrasher came from Produce for Kids. This is one of my favorite recipe sites for simple and fun, yet healthy recipes. I've actually made this recipe before, in my previous life as a grocery store dietitian, as well as several others from this site. I'm sure we'll be seeing more recipes from Produce for Kids show up on RAG.

The previous recipe, Coconut Raspberry Fingers, hurt my ego quite a bit. Not only did I forget to add the baking powder, there was a nice thin uncooked layer of egg at the bottom. So, this time, I decided to use a recipe I've done before, modified to be gluten free. This will help fluff up my bruised ego, right? HA HA. 😭

The RAG modified recipe is below, as well as my final star ratings. Once again, these ratings apply ONLY to the modified version of the recipe I made. In no way do these stars represent the original recipe.

Final star rating
Taste: *** (3 stars - edible)
Texture: *** (3 stars - edible)
Easy to Make: **** (4 stars  - I've impressed myself)
Overall rating: ***.3 (3.3 stars - edible)

ingredients for broccoli tots on a table. ingredients include cornmeal, frozen broccoli, potatoes, and spices
What I used to make the broccoli tots

Broccoli Tots
Serves 4 (8 tots per serving)

cooking spray
2 russet potatoes
1 (10 oz) bag of frozen broccoli florets
1 large egg
1 cup corn meal
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

  1. Preheat oven to 400℉. Line baking pan with aluminum foil, spray lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Wash potatoes well, then slice and cube into chunks. Put into a stock pot or deep sauce pan. Add enough water to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. 
  3. Once boiling, reduce to medium-low and simmer for 3 minutes. Add bag of broccoli, then cover and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes at a low simmer. Drain water from broccoli and potatoes. 
  4. While potatoes and broccoli are on stove top, in a large bowl stir together egg, cornmeal, seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder. 
  5. Add potatoes and broccoli into a food processor. Process until finely grated, and pour into bowl with cornmeal mixture. Stir well to combine. 
  6. Using a spoon, scoop tots into mounds and place on lined baking sheet. Lightly smash tops to make them flat. You should have around 32 tots. 
  7. Place in preheated oven and cook for approximately 10 minutes. Flip and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven when tops are golden brown. 

Nutrition info per serving (calculated by hand)
1 serving = 8 broccoli tots

235 calories
3g fat
     0.5g saturated fat
303mg sodium
47g carbohydrate
7.5g fiber
1.5g sugar
     0g added sugar
6g protein

Recipe Source: Modified recipe by Recipes Are Guidelines www.recipesareguidelines.com. Based on an original recipe from Produce for Kids. 

Notes for Next Time: This should be an easy recipe. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES, DEAR READER. First, I cooked the potatoes and broccoli for way, way too long. They were too soft, so instead of ending up with "finely grated," I got "thick soup." This does not bode well for making nice "mounds." So, at this point, my cooking prowess went off the rails. I doubled the cornmeal, dumped spices in willy-nilly, and screamed at the potatoes to get thicker. The cornmeal kind of worked. In the end, it's the reason there's so much fiber in this recipe. DEFINITELY will keep a closer eye on the potatoes and broccoli as they cook - either I need to cook them for less time or cut the potatoes thicker. Or both.

The tots did end up cooking nicely with lightly golden browned tops. The first set, I forgot to smash the tops, so they were nearly impossible to flip over. But the second batch ,I remembered, and they were a lot easier to flip. I also sprayed the tops with cooking spray to prevent them from sticking to the foil after the flip. This caused....a lot....of smoke. 😒

In the end, the flavor was actually fine. I thought they tasted like gluten free chicken nuggets. The next time I make this, I might try 1/2 cup cornmeal and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Even though I quadrupled the spices from the original recipe, I felt the cornmeal overpowered anything else in the tots. Less cornmeal should help alleviate that. I might also try a bit of chili powder or Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb. It just felt like it was missing something, but I couldn't quite place what. The tots dipped well with both ketchup and light ranch dressing. Not bad plain, either, just a little dry.

My ego did not recover trying this recipe. I might need to re-evaluate why my normally awesome cooking skills are failing in every way possible. Have people always just been nice to me and spit their food in a napkin when I'm not looking? Are my tastebuds broken?

oak table with green glass chalice and a plate arranged with ketchup, light ranch salad dressing, and broccoli tots. behind is a nice spring setting with a wooden bunny and pink flowers.
You can't see me waving my arms around to get the smoke out of the kitchen before the smoke alarms go off.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Coconut Flour Raspberry Fingers

The original recipe for today's blunder can be found at Ditch The Carbs. 

My first baking expedition!
...It did not go well.
...I forgot an important ingredient. 😬

The modified recipe I made, as well as my final votes, are below. PLEASE remember, my voting system is based on what I have made and is in NO WAY a reflection of the original recipe.

Flavor: *** (3 stars, edible)
Easy to make: ***** (5 stars, delicious award)
Texture: **** (4 stars, I've impressed myself)
Overall: **** (4 stars, I've impressed myself)

ingredients for the recipe, packages shown. 1 bowl with uncracked eggs, 1 bag of coconut flour, 1 bag of Splenda sugar blend, 1 stick of butter, 1 bottle of vanilla extract, 1 jar of baking powder, 1 package of frozen raspberries
Coconut Raspberry Bars
cooking spray
1 stick (110g) melted butter
1/2 cup (50g) coconut flour
1/3 cup Splenda sugar blend
1 tbsp vanilla extract
7 large eggs
1 cup (120g) frozen raspberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉ (180℃). Spray 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. With a handmixer, mix together the melted butter, coconut flour, Splenda, and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing batter in between each egg.
  4. Pour batter into prepared 8x8 inch baking dish.
  5. Gently press each raspberry into the cake. This will help prevent the batter from turning pink during cooking. 
  6. Bake at 350℉ for 45 minutes or until the center is cooked and top is browned. Once cooled, slice the cake into 8 pieces. 

Recipe Modified by: Recipes Are Guidelines www.recipesareguidelines.com, based on an original recipe from Ditch the Carbs 

Nutrition Information (calculated by hand)
1 serving = 1 bar (1/8 pan)

Calories 238.5
Total fat 16.5g
    Saturated fat 9g
Sodium 156mg
Total carbohydrate 16g
Fiber 3.5g
Total sugar 3g
     Added sugar 0.5g
Protein 7g

Notes for next time: This recipe was incredibly easy to make - which is why forgetting the baking powder is even more embarrassing. I'll actually remember to put the baking powder in next time. Cooking it for 45 minutes was no fun. With the 1 tsp baking powder addition (should be added during Step 2), I am guessing it will take around 25 minutes (??) to bake at 350℉.

Because I can tell this recipe has a lot of potential to be delicious, I might also try making it with almond flour and almond extract next time. The final product has a very eggy flavor and because almond extract has a powerful taste, I think that may help hide some of the egg. However, using almond flour - while still gluten free - will decrease the fiber. 

small piece of yellow cake with raspberries baked in, placed on a ceramic plate with cherries painted on it. Next to it is a wine goblet with the Hogwarts Houses painted on it.
I'm not a food stylist, but I'm trying. The Harry Potter goblet was a nice touch, yeah?

Saturday, March 21, 2020

What's in your cupboard?

What do dietitians really eat? No, I mean really. 

We eat food. Just like you. So what's in our cupboards? Probably the exact same things you have. Here are some peeks inside my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.

pantry shelf full of packaged candy, potato chips, crackers, cookies, and snack bars
The Woo Hoo Shelf
All the sweet and salty snacks I can shove onto one shelf
pantry shelves with canned soup, canned tomatoes, salsa, boxes of rice, boxes of noodles, and Pepsi Max bottles
Canned goods, boxed foods, and Pepsi Max

refrigerator with fresh vegetables, salad, eggs, butter, condiments, and an excess of cheese
All the cheese one drawer can fit. 

freezer drawer with gluten free bread, gluten free donuts, gluten free waffles, gluten free pizza
Gluten free quick snacks

freezer drawer full of a variety of frozen fruits and vegetables and frozen meat
Frozen fruits, frozen vegetables, meat

Right now, my kitchen is more full than usual. I have a compromised immune system related to multiple autoimmune disorders and scar tissue both inside and outside my lungs, making a COVID-19 infection more dangerous than the average, healthy, 30-something. I am at the end of week 3 of self-isolation, without an end in sight yet. My cupboard is about the only place to have fun now.

Pandemics aside, what are key items a dietitian thinks are important to always have available in her kitchen? Here are my suggestions for "must have" food items to keep on hand. As always, name brand doesn't matter. I tend to lean towards generic or what's on sale. Quantities are up to you - I like to buy things in quantities of three. Don't ask questions.

Canned Foods

  • No salt added canned diced tomatoes
  • Salsa 
    • I adore black bean and corn salsa for the sweet and savory flavor
  • Tuna
  • Pasta sauce
  • Low sodium broth or stock 
    • Chicken broth mostly but I also have beef and vegetable broths too
  • No salt added beans
    • Any variety works - my personal favorites are black beans and pinto beans
  • Soup

Boxed Foods
  • Gluten free pasta
    • I've been using Barilla GF noodles because they were very cheap using Subscribe & Save on Amazon. If you've never checked out Amazon Pantry or Amazon Subscribe & Save, I encourage you to do so. Lots of coupons and great deals available.
  • Brown rice
  • Gluten free crackers
  • Cheerios (or other cereal)

Snacky Snacks (the "Woo Hoo" shelf)
  • Cookies or packaged sweet snacks
    • Normally, I limit myself to one box at a time, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and I just signed up for 18 boxes of gluten free cookies on Amazon Subscribe and Save. 
  • Chips (or crisps depending where you live)
    • For some reason, I like tortilla chips, but you can choose your own adventure
  • Bars
    • I like to toss these in my purse, and I buy whatever is on sale at the time I'm shopping
  • Something sweet (usually candy or frosting) to treat low blood sugar

  • Diet Pepsi
    • Pepsi is superior to Coke in every way possible, so I have an abundance of Pepsi Max (black label Pepsi). Pepsi Max has no carbohydrates and is calorie/carbohydrate free (in the US). One bottle has 97 mg caffeine - about the equivalent of a weak cup of coffee, so I put it in a coffee cup and call it cold brew. 
  • Water flavor/water enhancers
    • You don't need added vitamins or "energy" for your water. Just something to make it taste less....watery.

  • Bag of spinach or salad blend
  • Bell pepper(s)
  • Onion
  • Eggs - yep, real eggs
  • Butter or margarine (your choice)
  • Cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. 

  • Frozen vegetables (peppers, onion, corn, broccoli, veggie mixes)
    • When fresh is out of season or more expensive, I substitute frozen veggies. Serves the same purpose, just take a little longer to cook. It's also nice to have the convenience of pre-chopped frozen veggies available for when I don't feel like pre-prepping my food.
  • Gluten free bread
  • Meat
    • I don't go through a whole lot of meat, so I buy 3 packages of beef, chicken, and turkey when they're on sale and pop them in the freezer. Only take about 24 hours to thaw in the fridge.
  • Gluten free pizza (or other quick cook item)

These are what I consider the "staple" items - the things you can throw together easily to make a quick meal and don't require a whole lot of though for snacks. Of course, my favorite part is the Woo Hoo Shelf. Everyone has a Woo Hoo Shelf stocked with their own favorite treats. In times of emergency, always keep your Woo Hoo shelf full. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

HELP! How do I (responsibly) eat my way through a pandemic?

By now, regardless of where you live, I am certain you've been doomsday prepping for COVID-19 (or insert whichever disaster we have retreated into our bunkers for). A question I have gotten a couple times from family and friends is: what foods do I keep on hand during this extended period of isolation?

STOP. Put down the toilet paper. Slow your roll (get it?). You don't need to stockpile TP. Unless you used bathrooms outside your home 47 times per day, you're not going to need all 3,001 rolls of toilet paper. Remember, you are not the only one exiled to your home during this time. Everyone else needs to wipe their butt too. When the threat of COVID-19 is over, and we're all allowed to see the sun for the first time in months, you don't want to be next to one of those buttholes that hasn't been wiped in 93 days because TP became a legend people had heard of but never seen.

Below is a list of suggested foods. I have a tendency to shop generic brands to save on money. You can also shop according to the weekly ads, coupons, or by shopping several stores for the lowest prices. However, because of the current state of things and most of the country being in a State of Emergency, ordering online for pickup/delivery and avoiding large crowds is encouraged as much as possible. I know not everyone is privileged enough to have this available. If you can, please check on the neighbors, elderly, disabled, immunocompromised, etc. They may need help or be without necessary items because they can't get to a store. Please, think of those who are at high risk or those who need extra assistance. Offer a (clean) hand (from six feet away) to help. 

Canned Goods
Low salt/sugar, reduced salt/sugar and full salt/heavy syrup are also available. If these are more abundant or less expensive, you can simply rinse these items in a strainer before using. Rinsing will decrease salt or sugar by roughly 50%. Don't do this to soup. Unless you like chunky water for lunch. 
  • No salt added canned vegetables and tomatoes
  • No sugar added canned fruits
  • Low sodium/no salt added/light soups and broths
  • No salt added canned beans
  • Tuna or salmon packed in water (fish is already higher in fat, so packed in oil is unnecessary)
  • Natural applesauce (no sugar added)

When possible, use no sugar added juices. If you have diabetes or hypoglycemia and are at risk of low blood sugar, please keep at least one full-sugar option on hand.
  • Diet juices
    • usually low in calories and carbohydrates (under 10 calories and 2 carbohydrates per serving)
  • Light juices 
    • tend to have reduced calories and carbohydrate - generally somewhere around a 50% reduction.
  • V8 vegetable juice (also available in low sodium)

Boxed Foods
  • 2% milk (reduced fat) macaroni and cheese or whole grain macaroni and cheese (unless noted on packaging, these are not GF)
  • Whole grain pasta/noodles (not GF) or chickpea/lentil noodles (usually GF)
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Wild rice
    • double check ingredients to make sure nothing wheaty snuck in there
  • BelVita snacks 
    • generic brand is fine, these are not GF
  • Fiber One bars 
    • generic brand is fine, these are not GF
  • Quest Protein bars 
    • other brands of less expensive high protein, high fiber bars are fine
  • Larabar
  • KIND bars

Snack Foods
When it comes to chips, cookies, and candies, there isn't anything listed below. Simply eat what you would normally choose. Eating should still be enjoyable, and not everything needs to be "healthy." Pay attention to mindless eating. If you are eating for a reason other than hunger, ask yourself "why" you're eating, and what else may be able to fill that deep hole of loneliness you're feeling from a quarantined lack of human interaction. We both know food isn't the answer the all our problems - just some of them.
  • Dried fruit (no sugar added, if available)
  • 50% reduced sugar craisins or cranberries
  • Light salt, reduced salt, raw or no salt nuts of any variety
  • Popcorn 
    • microwave bags are the simplest, but any kind of popcorn is a good snack

Read labels carefully on these products as some of them may require refrigeration after opening. In some of these products, if you cut back on fat, there may be an increase in sugar (or vice versa). Again, check labels and choose what's right for you.
  • Chunky vegetable pasta sauce
  • Natural peanut butter (or any nut butter)
  • Ken Davis 2Carb barbecue sauces 
    • or any brand of lower sugar BBQ sauce
  • Low sodium soy sauce 
    • not all are GF, check ingredients carefully for "wheat starch" or "wheat gluten"
  • Light salad dressings 
    • no need for fat free - we don't want to take all the fun out of life

Cereals/Breakfast Foods
  • Rolled oats, instant oats, or steel cut oats (not GF unless package specifically states)
  • Cream of Wheat (not GF) or Cream of Rice (GF)
  • Cheerios 
    • certain flavors are GF - check ingredients/package for GF label
  • KIND granola
  • Bear Naked Fit granola (not GF)
  • Whole grain pancake/waffle mix (not GF unless package specifically states)

  • Mrs. Dash seasoning mixes (or other no salt added spice mixes)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Any oil you prefer
  • Cooking spray 
    • note: cooking spray with baking flour is not GF
  • Preferred sweetener 
    • Splenda and Stevia are non-caloric sweeteners with no affect on blood sugar, though any alternative sweeteners is safe to consume, generic brand is fine
  • Powdered milk 
    • this is a shelf stable alternative to refrigerated skim milk - can also be used as a protein powder substitute - simply follow package directions to reconstitute with water

Any frozen fruits, vegetables, and potatoes are encouraged (preferably with no sauce, sugar, or salt added) as long as you have freezer space for them. If you have it within your budget, a few frozen meals/pizza/convenience items may also be useful. Because of the high sodium content of many frozen prepared items, please pay attention - especially if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or are prone to water retention. You may need to limit some high sodium items according to your care team's guidance.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. As much as possible, I tried to offer suggestions for low-sodium and higher fiber food options. Please use this list as a guide, not a bible, as your specific food needs may vary. Do not take this as medical advice. This is simply a list of suggestions for those unsure what to purchase.

Remember, you don't need to stock up on every item in this list. Select only the ones you need and don't over purchase (remember the buttholes). Keep enough in your cupboards to last you a couple weeks and always shop according to your budget. To make grocery shopping easiest, I keep a running list on my fridge of foods that need a restock. 

If you have questions about anything listed here or are looking for specific suggestions, please leave a comment on this post or email RecipesAreGuidelines@gmail.com

Now, I'm off to eat my own well thought out isolation dinner (at 10:00 pm!) that took me hours to to make: Baked Cheetos and hot chocolate. Not every meal is a winner.
White Lazy Susan that says "happy everything" in black lettering, on top of a wooden table. On top of the Lazy Susan is a soup bowl with cheetos inside and a Harry Potter coffee cup that says "I solemnly swear I am up to no good." The coffee cup is full to the brim with hot chocolate and mini marshmallows

Sunday, March 15, 2020

New blog. Who dis?

Welcome to Recipes Are Guidelines!

This is an opportunity for me to push myself further into the cooking and baking realms than I have ever ventured before. When I previously worked as a retail dietitian, I loved helping our food service department and customers modify recipes or find substitutions to fit specific health needs. Since college, I have been intrigued by how ingredients and cooking methods can alter recipes - a lot or a little!

I am not a chef, nor have I had any chef training. I'm someone who enjoys cooking and doesn't mind messing things up in public. Everyone can learn from my mistakes! Because of this, I call myself a "cookatitian." I hail from a family of bakers and chefs - some professionally. It makes me feel very inadequate. After I have made and sampled each recipe I try, I will give it a rating of 1-5 stars. Below is the rating scale:

* (1 star) - baked garbage
** (2 stars) - meh
*** (3 stars) - edible
**** (4 stars) - I've impressed myself
***** (5 stars) - delicious award

In addition to regularly ruining recipes and making a fool of myself, I'll also try to post suggested grocery lists for various situations. As I'm starting this new adventure during a global pandemic, an emergency non-perishable list seems like an appropriate place to start.

When I'm not pretending I'm a professional, I enjoy spending time with my 10 year old doghter, Lola. She is small and fluffy and really wishes I would drop more food on the floor. She likes snacks and naps. She gets that from me. Lola and I live in a small rural town of just over 500 people. It's quiet with lots of open spaces, several different types of manure smell, and everyone knows your business. I absolutely love where I live, and in a time of quarantines and self isolation, this is the perfect place to be - friendly people who look out for you and plenty of space to be outside but not alone.

small white dog with curly hair and long ears yawning widely while spread out over multiple pillows
Lola, Queen of Everything

As you read along, please leave comments or post reactions. If you have suggested recipes or would like to reach out to me, please email RecipesAreGuidelines@gmail.com. If you have a recipe you would like me to attempt, please provide a weblink to the original recipe. I want to provide credit to the people it belongs to.

Thanks for joining me on this adventure.