12 Calorie Sugar Free Gummy Bears Recipe

I love gummy bears!  A few months ago I began experimenting with online recipes for sugar free ones.  There are quite a few recipes, and they all have different thoughts on the sweeteners and flavorings.

I was looking for something specific, a certain texture that would have a very chewy bite and a burst of intense flavor.  Most gummy bear recipes are based on gelatin, which is usually made from pork.  If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you can substitute Agar Agar for the gelatin in this recipe.  The gelatin is what gives the gummy bears their texture, and how much gelatin you use will determine how chewy they are.  Less gelatin, and the gummies are more like Knox Blox; more gelatin, and they’ll have a rubbery texture with more resistance to the bite. (The more gelatin ones also bounce like crazy, which is fun!)

In my experiments I tried a number of flavoring options: sugar free Jello, extracts like vanilla or anise, flavored hot teas, and powdered single serving drink mix.  These flavorings all affect not only the taste, but also the texture.  There was one experiment however, that gave me exactly what I was looking for: liquid water enhancer!

flavorings-1These liquid water enhancers are the kind that you squirt into your water bottle so that you can control the intensity of the flavor of your water.  Mio was the first brand on the market, but there are a lot of other brands (including house brands) that provide a wide range of not only flavors, but also options like caffeine and vitamins. The sweeteners vary from brand to brand, aspartame to sucralose to stevia, so you have your choice about which sweeteners you prefer.

12 Calorie Sugar Free Gummy Bears Recipe

  • Servings: 12 servings of 25 gummies each
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp liquid water enhancer, any flavor
  • 2/3 cup of very cold water
  • 7 packets unflavored Knox gelatine

Tools you’ll need:

  • small sauce pan large enough to hold a glass measuring cup
  • 2-cup glass measuring cup
  • fork
  • spoon (one with a more pointy tip works best)
  • Silicone candy molds (Gummy bear one at Amazon)

Directions:
Fill the saucepan half full with water and place it on the stove with the heat set to medium-low (3.5 on my electric burner). Pour the tablespoon of liquid water enhancer into the glass measuring cup and add 2/3 cup cold water. Stir well.

Add all 7 packets of unflavored Knox gelatine to the liquid. Do this quickly, as the gelatin will begin to absorb the water immediately and gel within less than a minute. Stir well, making sure to scrape down the sides of the measuring cup. The gelatin will set into a firm mass. Set your timer for 10 minutes.

After the timer goes off, carefully lower the measuring cup into the pan of hot water. The gelatin will begin to melt and after about 10 minutes or so (depending on how high your heat is), the gelatin will return to a liquid state. It will resemble a thin syrup in consistency. There will be a skin of foam on the top, and you can either stir that back into the melted gelatin or skim off the top. It’s up to you. The foam makes for a slightly softer gummy (and makes more gummies per batch) while removing the foam makes for fewer gummies but slightly firmer ones.

Begin carefully spooning the melted gelatin into your gummy molds, filling them to just below the surface of the mold. If you only have one mold like I do, it will take 4-6 batches of gummies to use up all the liquid gelatin. Keep the leftover gelatin warm on the stove in between batches. The gelatin will get a thin skin on the top, and just break the skin and tip the glass to allow the melted gelatin to be accessible.

Chill the molds in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, then remove the chilled gummies. Store gummies in sandwich baggies in the refrigerator. Do not freeze, and do not store at room temperature. The gummies will last a week in the fridge, although I’ve never tested that personally because I eat them all before that time!

Nutrition Information:
Calories: 12 per serving of 25 small bear-sized gummies
Protein: 5 grams (but keep in mind that gelatin is an incomplete protein)
Carbohydrates: 0
Fat: 0
Sugars: 0

There’s a lot to be said about getting gelatin in your diet, and while I don’t have room in this post to share about it, you can Google the benefits of gelatin and it may just convince you that you need a daily dose of 12 Calorie Sugar Free Gummy Bears in your life!

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Finally, a Great Tasting Low-Carb Bread!

If you’ve followed any of my food exploits you may have heard me mention Laura Dolson of the about.com network.  She runs the Low Carb Diets section, and she’s shared a truly wonderful recipe:

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This recipe makes delicious garlic bread

Foccacia-Style Flax Bread.  Let me tout the wonders of this bread and why I love it:

–It is super easy to make. Mix, pour, bake.
–It holds up to use for sandwiches, grilled cheese, and pizza. And garlic bread. And french toast. And regular toast. And anything you could think of to use sliced bread for. Not very crumbly at all.
–It doesn’t taste like a sponge. Or cardboard. It tastes kinda like a really nutty cornbread. But moister than cornbread and doesn’t fall apart when you pick it up.
–It’s high in fiber! 5 grams per slice.
–The recipe itself is super versatile. You can make savory or sweet, as bread or muffins, etc just by changing what flavors you add to it.
–It’s very low-carb. Literally 1 net carb per slice. Plus 6 grams of protein, so a sandwich has an additional 12 grams of protein in it!
–It’s a great way to eat eggs if you don’t like eggs. Eggs are great protein but… well, I’m not really that fond of them by themselves.

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pizza with flax crust

So a couple things I’ve learned:
–Definitely DO plan on using some spices or flavorings in the recipe. By itself it’s a little bit flax-y. Which is fine if you like that flavor and all. But if you aren’t used to it, then it’s a little weird. So add onion, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, or Italian or Greek seasoning, or grated parmesan, or anything that strikes you.
–Definitely do use GOLDEN flax seed, not the darker flax. It lightens up the flavor of the bread so that it’s less like canned brown bread or rye bread, and more like a mild cornbread. Unless you like those stronger flavors, of course!
–Make sure the flax you use is finely ground and nowhere near it’s sell-by date, and not in a see-through bag or container when you buy it at the store. Air and light are flax’s worst enemies.
–Store any unused flax in the freezer in a sealed container or ziplock freezer bag, as it has a short shelf life once it’s opened, even in the fridge. If you smell it and it smells fishy at all, then it’s rancid. The oils in the flax go bad easily, so I don’t recommend buying it in bulk from the health food store’s bulk food area because it’s likely rancid already.
–To give your flax a finer texture, you can run the ground flax through a coffee grinder. This makes it almost flour-like.

Have you tried this recipe?  I’d love to hear any variations you have used with this recipe, too.

Freezer Meal Party, 10-7-2014

In the fall of 2014, my daughter, daughters-in-law, and I decided to do a meal exchange.  Each of us would make 4 copies of the same main dish (one for each person in the exchange).  This exchange went over really well with our families, and it was nice knowing we’d have a few pre-frozen homemade meals that we could use on days when we didn’t feel like cooking.

A few months later, we decided to up the game a bit, and have a full-blown freezer meal party.  But this time, we’d do all the shopping and preparation together, in one day.  Everyone would get some of each item, same as before.  But instead of only 4 meals, we’d do 17.  Triple the work!  But also more economical. It cost us only about $110.00 per person for the 17 meals.

Each person received the following main dishes, with 4 servings each:

3 turkey breads

3 sausage cheese breads (unpublished family recipe; similar to this one)

2 honey mustard chicken

3 shredded pork barbecue sandwich filling (unpublished family recipe; similar to this one)

3 lasagna (unpublished family recipe; similar to this one)

3 Italian meatballs (unpublished family recipe; similar to this one)

bread-dough-rising

For the turkey and sausage bread loaves, we started with pre-made frozen bread dough.  It’s cheaper to make your own, but for the sake of time and doing all the prep for the meals in one day, we bought the pre-made ones.  Follow package instructions for thawing and rising.

turkey-bread-fillingFor filling the breads, you’ll want to roll them out with a rolling pin, then add your fillings and seasonings. Don’t forget to add lots and lots of cheese.

Fold the sides in lengthwise and pinch them together to completely seal the edges.  Then carefully flip each loaf over so the seam is on the bottom (it’s easier to do with two people). Then add whatever toppings you want on your bread.  The turkey bread uses butter and garlic, yum!

sausage-bread-sealing

turkey-bread-risingHere’s what a dozen turkey breads look like…

After the glaze is on, you’ll want to fold the aluminum foil up around the bread and seal it closed.  Then place each loaf in a 2-gallon ziplock bag to put in the freezer.  This way, the loaves don’t stick together, and you can remove only as many loaves as you need because they’re individually wrapped.

crock-pots-porkThe pork barbecue was the only thing we purchased and started cooking the night before.  We bought pork loin instead of pork butt or shoulder, because it’s leaner.  Just throw it in the crock with some water and onions, turn it on to low, and forget about it for the next 12-14 hours!  The pork just about shreds itself, and all you have to do is drain off any excess liquid (which would make an excellent stock for pork gravy) and add your favorite barbecue sauce.

filling-pork-bagsWe figured the quart freezer bags would be easier to fill if we did this, and it worked great! All you need is a large container that’s taller than it is wide.  Then you can measure the amount of pork filling you want for each bag.  We figured about 3 cups per bag– which is really alot more than 4 people will eat in a single meal, but it makes good leftovers for lunch the next day.  It’s also great for last-minute company.

forming-meatballsThe Italian meatballs went over with our families like gangbusters!  It’s a super simple variation on meatloaf but very versatile. You can add all sorts of sauces to it, anything from savory sauce to marinara to French onion soup! We used a cookie scoop to get evenly sized meatballs, and then baked them in the oven to cook them before freezing.  That makes it easy to just pop a few in the microwave when you really want a filling snack.

baked-meatballs-coolingmeatball-scooper

We did have a little trouble finding an appropriately-sized scoop.  Most of the ones we found were too big.  You want one that’s about 1.5 inches in diameter, maybe 2 inches at the most. Ice cream scoops don’t work as well for this, so keep that in mind.

honey-mustard-chicken-2The honey mustard chicken is another recipe that’s become a favorite with everyone.  Preparation is super simple, and because there isn’t a need to cook anything besides the bacon (or you could use precooked bacon bits for that, if you wanted to), it’s a really quick meal to prep for the freezer.  Just make sure to keep your cheese and bacon separate from the sauce, so that they can go on right at the end of the cooking.

marinara-sauceThe lasagna was next, and we worked the preparation in assembly-line fashion.  First the sauce!  We make our marinara from scratch, which also gave us the bonus of some leftover quart freezer bags of sauce to have for spaghetti.  We could also tailor the sauce to taste and for salt content, which is alot healthier for you.

layering-lasagneWe lined up all the lasagne pans and each person had a job to do, whether it was laying the cooked lasagne noodles, spooning in some sauce, or adding the cottage cheese/mozzarella mixture.  Doing it this way, we were able to make a dozen lasagna pans very quickly.

freezer-meals-stackedWhen everyone was finished, this is how much room it took up in an average freezer above the refrigerator.  It’s surprising how much room is left, because the containers we chose were all similar sized and easily stackable.

We have done another Freezer Meal Party since this one back in December of 2014.  You can take a look here and see how we made 15 family-sized main dishes for $56.94!

Easy Peasy Low Carb Freezer Toffee

Low Carb Freezer Toffee

Low Carb Freezer Toffee

I was really wanting some toffee.  Like crunchy Heath Bar kind of toffee.  But I didn’t want the full-sugar kind because then I could only have a little and it would leave me wanting.

I looked online for a sugar-free toffee recipe, but didn’t really find what I wanted.  There were a couple, but they had ingredients that weren’t things the average person would have in their pantry.  So, I experimented.  The result?

Delicious~!!  Easy, tasty, gluten-free, and not gonna last long because I keep getting these gleeful “there’s toffee in the freezer!!” thoughts.

Ingredients: 

1 cup butter
1 cup Truvia
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 dash sea salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Melt butter in a heavy 2-quart sauce pan on low heat. Add Truvia and chopped nuts. Stir constantly and slowly increase temperature over a period of 5 minutes to medium-low, or until a very slow boil (candy thermometer should read 250-275 degrees. Mixture should be frothy and there should be small bubbles that rise and pop pop from the bottom). When candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees, remove pan from stove and stir in the vanilla and dash of salt. Pour quickly onto a baking sheet covered in foil and sprayed well. Spray a rubber spatula and spread toffee mixture across the pan. Let cool 5 minutes, then sprinkle chocolate chips across the top. Allow another 5 minutes, then spread the chocolate to cover the toffee. Cool for 30 minutes, then freeze overnight. Break frozen toffee into pieces and store in a freezer bag.

 

Nutritional value:  serving size, 4 pieces approximately 1″x1″ square.  Servings per pan: 20.  Calories, 161; Carbs, 11; Fat, 14; Protein, 1; Fiber, 1.

Roasted Garbanzo Beans

roasted garbanzo beansAlso known as Chick Peas, I ran across a recipe on Facebook, for making these crunchy little treats, and last night I gave it a try.  Man!  Talk about easy to make.  And super tasty!  Here’s the original recipe and I’ll share what I did to change it a bit.

Roasted Garbanzo Beans

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and patted dry, then placed in a quart ziplock baggie

1 tbsp either olive oil or melted coconut oil, more or less depending on how much you like

1 tsp seasoning mix, like creole seasoning, greek seasoning, italian seasoning, etc.

 

Drizzle the olive or coconut oil onto the beans in the baggie, sprinkle the spices over the top, seal the bag and shake.  Pour the seasoned beans onto a cookie sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper.  Resist the urge to eat your garbanzo beans before they are roasted.  Okay, maybe eat half a dozen.  Then roast the rest of them for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or depending on your level of desired toastyness.

Nutritional information per 1/2 cup serving:  Calories, 150; fat, 7 grams; carbs, 18 grams; fiber, 6 grams; protein, 6 grams.

I was reading that garbanzo beans are great for snacking when you’re trying to lose weight, too.

 

Cinnamon Almonds and Chocolate Almonds

More low-carb snacks!

cinnamon almondsCinnamon Almonds:  You can’t beat the smell and taste of a cinnamon roll on these almonds.  They are sweet and satisfy the need to munch.  And they are sooooo easy to make.  Here’s the recipe:

1 lb plain, raw, whole almonds (not roasted, not salted, just plain almonds.  Walmart has them, so does Aldi)

2 tbsp. melted butter

2/3 cup of powdered sucralose  (or sugar substitute of your choice that equals 2/3 cup of sugar)

1 tsp salt

1/2 – 1 tsp ground cinnamon (to taste)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Place everything except butter and vanilla in a large bowl.  Melt butter, mix in vanilla, then pour mixture over almonds and spices.  Stir until well coated, then spread almonds over a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, turning once or twice to make sure almonds are completely coated.  Cool pan on a wire rack.  Store almonds in the refrigerator, because of the butter.

 

chocolate covered almondsChocolate Covered Almonds:  I took these to a convention once….  the whole bag was gone in one day.  It’s like Puppy Chow for low-carbers.

1 lb plain whole almonds

2 oz semisweet chocolate chips (also could use dark chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, sugar free ones– whatever)

2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate

1/4 cup baking cocoa

1/4 cup sweetener (stevia, sucralose, erythritol, etc)

Roast the almonds on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring frequently.  Melt together the semisweet chocolate chips and the baking chocolate.  Put the roasted almonds  in a bowl and pour the melted chocolate over the top.  Mix well.  In a small bowl, combine baking cocoa and sweetener together, then pour over the chocolate almonds.  Stir well to completely coat the almonds in the powder. Pour the coated almonds onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Cool.  Store in a covered container at room temperature, or can be refrigerated.

 

 

Easy Homemade Coconut Butter

coconut butterI had no idea you could make your own coconut butter!  And it’s so easy.  I’d picked up some shredded unsweetened coconut.  All you do is fill your blender about 3/4 full of shredded coconut, and turn the blender on.  You’ll want to turn it off every minute or so, give the coconut a good stir, and then go back to blending.  It will take about 5-10 minutes, depending on the power of your blender and the coconut you’re using.  If you feel like the coconut isn’t shredding well enough, you can always add a tablespoon of coconut oil to it.   But the transformation is amazing to watch (and would even make a good science lesson for elementary school kids).  First the shredded coconut seems like powder spinning around.  Then at the bottom there seems to be some liquidation going on.  Then it turns to a thick white sludge, then finally it liquefies as it gets warmed from the friction of the blender blade.  Pour the coconut butter into a jar with a good seal and as it cools to room temperature, it will solidify again.

What do you use coconut butter for?  Well it’s a great substitute for regular butter if you’re lactose intolerant.  And here’s a list of 25 ways to use coconut butter.

Did you know that Big Lots carries the Bob’s Red Mill line?? I stumbled across it one day and was so happy to find it.   There’s a Big Lots about 1/2 a mile from me, and the prices are about a third less than at the health food store.

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