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.

Food Addiction

Been thinking this week about sobriety when it comes to food addiction. Of all the addictive behaviors to modify, food is the toughest because you can’t abstain from it like an alcoholic can abstain from drinking. The line between sobriety and giving in to the addiction isn’t obvious – sometimes even to the addict. There are skinny food addicts, just as much as there are obese food addicts. There isn’t a set of clear sobriety guidelines to follow, because sobriety will look different for each food addict.

Perhaps you don’t believe that there really is such a thing as food addiction. Well, consider this: The same chemical brain patterns that cause cravings for drug addicts and alcoholics also cause cravings for the food addict. It’s a stimulation of the opioid system in the brain, the same system that drugs and alcohol stimulate. Glucose in the food activates the neurotransmitters in the opioid, causing it to release dopamine, resulting in a sense of relaxation and “feeling good”. Overstimulation of the opioid system causes changes in that system’s balance — resulting in intense cravings if the increased stimulation level isn’t regularly met.

The majority of people who suffer with food addiction are women; and the majority of those women are emotional eaters. The intense physical need to soothe feelings by eating can be overwhelming when the woman is under stress. The logical part of her brain is telling her, “you shouldn’t eat that”. But the craving is so strong that she struggles with resisting the urge. It’s a powerful mental and physical battle going on inside her. The greater the level of stimulation required by her opioid system to release dopamine, the more intense and persistent the craving.

This is why people who have normal opioid systems cannot understand those who are chronically obese. They wonder why overweight people don’t just change their habits, get exercise and eat right. To them, it seems so simple, right?

Unlike alcohol or drug addiction, many people who are food addicted don’t even realize it. They have no idea that there is a chemical component going on in their brain that is fighting tooth and nail to keep them eating the things they know aren’t good for them. Just like a smoker who has tried to quit a hundred times, a food addict will go through the same frustration and sense of defeat when they can’t break the food cycle.

So back to sobriety. Think about this: an alcoholic will always be an alcoholic, whether they are drinking or not. They still have a physical, chemical, and emotional temptation to get their need met by the addiction, to take the shortcut to feeling good. A recovering alcoholic has become convinced that to do so is destructive and that there are other ways to meet their needs. They replaced the alcohol with healthy habits that release “happy hormones” — like regularly working out to release endorphins; creating and reaching healthy goals to release dopamine; developing healthy relationships with healthy boundaries that lead to deep trust to release oxytocin; and getting adequate sleep to build seratonin. Addicts are usually characterized by breakdowns in these four areas, and they are positive things to do that set the foundation for lasting change.

Food addicts often suffer from the same breakdowns in these areas. They don’t exercise, and have an bunch of self-talk excuses as to why. They feel defeated by their addiction and project that defeat to other areas of their lives, so they don’t set healthy goals and actively pursue them. They often have unhealthy interpersonal relationships in their lives, and don’t have the tools to fix those relationships, which result in isolation and a lack of support for their efforts to make positive changes. The combination of all the above results in not making enough time for sleep, insomnia, disturbed dreaming, restless sleep, and not enough REM (deep) sleep.

In order for a food addict to achieve lasting change, they must have support from others who have been where they are. They must develop healthy relationships that build trust, so that they have support when they begin the long road to sobriety.

it’s why I talk so openly about these things. I’ve come to accept the fact that I am addicted to sugar and fats and carbohydrates. That I sometimes fall off the wagon, and that I need help getting back on, that I cannot make lasting change alone. Now that I know I am an addict, I refuse to use that knowledge as an excuse to continue behaving in unhealthy ways. It doesn’t define who I am– it just gives me a handle to know what it is that I struggle with and why I do some of the things I do.

 

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.

 

Disc Golf

discgolf1Also known as Frisbee Golf, this sport began on college campuses in the late 70’s.  It follows most of the same format, jargon, and rules as traditional golf.  But instead of golf clubs and holes to sink a ball on the green, disc golf uses frisbees and a steel basket.  Disc golf is still popular on college campuses, and the sport is gaining momentum with people of all ages.  There are national and  international tournaments, local clubs and associations, etc.  Sporting goods stores now regularly carry the discs, bags to hold the discs, portable baskets, and other game paraphernalia.

discgolf1bOur kids started playing the game at a local park which has a nice, easy disc golf course on it.  As their interest grew, and they began playing the game together, they invited Allen and I to join in.  At first I had no interest in learning the game.  But I didn’t mind the walking, so I said I’d bring the dog and walk along the course with them.  (Unlike traditional golf courses, leashed pets are allowed on disc golf courses).

disc golf 1cAllen took an interest in it right away, but it took me a few times going out with them to really even be willing to throw a disc.  But I gave it a try, the results weren’t as horrible as I feared, and I agreed to give it a go.  The exercise certainly couldn’t hurt!  It’s a very low-impact sport, and anyone of any age can participate.  Our granddaughter, Gracie, has her own disc and she plays with us — she’s two years old. But she knows how to sink her disc into the basket!

disc golf 1dOur family soon went from just playing occasionally to playing 3-4 times a week and entering local tournaments.  Allen and the boys are frequent players at tournaments, and I’ve been in one or two myself.  But the girls usually play for the exercise and the socializing.

disc golf 1eThe sport is predominately played by men in their late teens to early thirties, but there’s also a decent number of seniors who play — usually men there, also.  However, there are some women who’ve risen to international championship levels and are sponsored by disc golf corporations to play in high level tournaments.

disc golf 1fSo what discs do you use?  Well, the traditional frisbee that you’d play with on the beach isn’t the same thing as the frisbee you use for disc golf.  Disc golf discs are about 1/3 smaller than traditional frisbees, and the weight is heavier as a general rule.  They have different shapes to the edges of the disc, depending on what that disc is for:  pointy edges are for distance throwing off the tee and the fairway.  Round edged discs are generally for putts into the basket.  An avid disc golf player may have 10-15 discs on him at any given game.  The terrain, the wind conditions, the distance to the basket – those all play a factor into deciding which disc to use, because just like golf clubs, the discs are designed to do specific things.

disc golf 1gThis is a very beginner-friendly and inexpensive sport.  Disc golf courses are free, and there’s no need to reserve a tee time.  The financial outlay may be as little as nothing (because a player gives you a disc– this happens ALL the time).  Or you may decide to buy a disc, and they can range in price from $8.00 to $20.00, depending on the type of disc you buy.  Most sporting goods stores will sell a beginner kit that has 3 nice discs in it for about $25.  And those discs will last you for years.  You may want to buy a bag to carry your discs in, or you can find instructions for sewing, crocheting, or leatherworking a disc bag on Pintrest.  Some great disc brands are Inova, Discraft, MVP, and my favorite, Latitude 64.

We’re members of the local disc golf association, but there’s also the PDGA – Professional Disc Golf Association.  You can get discs locally from sporting goods stores, record stores or even sometimes large superstores like Walmart or Target.  But if you want a great selection of discs to order, you can go to discnation.com.    Want to find a disc golf course in your area?  Go to Disc Golf Course Review.  

 

 

 

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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