Friday, February 22, 2013
Treat Yo Self! Without The Side Of Guilt!
Being a trainer and in the fitness industry, I read and hear a lot of the push push push talk. I am the first to admit, I push all the time. My clients, my kids, my husband and myself included. I have a pretty rigid plan for myself and I don't stray from it...ever. This makes me less forgiving on myself and really not good at spur of the moment types of things.

Over the past couple of years, I've been working on being a little more easy breezy when it comes to plans. I'm sure having babies didn't help me in the going with the flow mood, but now that they're older, I'm getting better with it and can't blame them for my rigid behavior. The other problem I had with letting things go was with food. When you have a restricted diet with allergies and intolerances, it makes you a lot less easy going when it comes to going out to eat. I have since overcome that by not being ashamed to bring some food with me when we go places. I typically order a salad and then bring some embellishments to make it a complete meal. 

My protein loaded flatbread and some nutritional yeast make me a happy girl when I'm heading somewhere I know I will be limited to a side salad. 

The other problem I have is budget. Yeah, I'm a stickler for keeping our costs down as much as possible. We work for ourselves and, truth be told, it could be feast or famine (good thing we all like beans here). I like to eat, I like having a roof over my head and I like providing for my kids. So, I'm always asking how much everything is before we do anything. 

This all has a point...I'm getting there, I promise.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I was working on a Saturday morning. We have one car and Tony came to pick me up at 1:00. He asked if I minded if we went to the store for a few things. I love the grocery store, so yeah, we can go, but what did we need? He said he wanted to treat us all to banana splits during our movie that night! We were all so down after his uncle had passed away. Everything seemed gloomy. Life was just not fun at all. I told him the kids would love that! We hadn't had them in years, so it sounded like a fun change. We walked into the store, started getting everything and then we walked over to the ice cream section. Immediately, Tony walked over to get me some too. I saw the price and my heart sunk. I told him I would come up with something else to have when everyone was doing the ice cream thing. It was just too expensive for the dairy free ice creams. I told him not to worry, I would do some sort of banana treat for myself too (since we can't always eat the same thing, the guys all seem to love it when we can eat the same). He told me he really wanted to do this for all of us. He opened up the freezer and grabbed me some SoDelicious Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream. I just felt guilty. I didn't want to spend the money. He looked at me and said everyone needs a treat sometimes. Gosh, was he ever right. I never let myself just give in and enjoy something totally ridiculous. I realize it was just ice cream, but for some reason, the act of what we were doing felt incredibly freeing and fun. A feeling we all needed badly! We got everything we needed for our banana splits and walked out. On the way out of the store, I asked if they had eaten lunch. It turned out that none of us had eaten lunch yet. I then looked at him and asked why don't we have banana splits for lunch? I figured if we were going to have some fun, why not go all out? He agreed and when we called the kids down for lunch, they were shocked and excited to have banana splits for lunch! We had a blast that afternoon by simply letting go and acting like kids. Tony called it "Treat Yo Self Day". Everybody really could use that kind of day sometimes.    

I think we are due for another "Treat Yo Self" kind of day! Do you ever do that? Treat yourself to something that you normally wouldn't? If you have, what was it? For me, this was not about the food, but more the act of doing something out of the ordinary. Kind of like when we got the boat. Sadly, it's too cold for the boat, so banana splits were definitely a nice alternative to the salad lunch I had planned. ;) I highly recommend dessert for lunch! Acting like a kid in a candy store really does feel good! Happy Friday all!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 5:30 AM   14 comments
Monday, February 18, 2013
Tagatose Sweetened Gluten and Dairy Free Banana Muffins!
The boys had a long weekend with an unused built in snow day on Friday and Presidents Day today. So, we headed to Tennessee to visit Tony's parents. The funny part about the weather is that we were supposed to have flurries on Saturday at home, but didn't, however it snowed for about 15 minutes in Tennessee, so the boys saw snow anyway (during their "snow day" long weekend). Sadly, there wasn't a significant amount, but it was beautiful. This was the sky right after the snow passed...

It looked beautiful, especially since I was inside by the warm fire and not in the freezing weather.

There is no way to lead into this one, so I'm just going to go right to it...I want to talk for a minute about a new sweetener I tried recently from NuNaturals.


From NuNaturals:

"PreSweet Tagatose is safe for diabetics because it will not raise blood sugar levels. It is also being studied for other health benefits.

One of the health benefits of PreSweet is that it is a prebiotic ingredient. Prebiotics feed probotic bacteria like acidopholis found in yogurt. Prebiotics help the good bacteria in the digestive system multiply. This improves the overall health of the digestive system and may improve the general health of the body.

PreSweet Tagatose is a naturally-occurring sweetener found in milk, fruits and vegetables. It is 92% as sweet as sugar. PreSweet is a low calorie (6 calories/serving), low GI (3 on the glycemic index), and low in carbohydrates (especially considering that many of the carbohydrates are not digested).
PreSweet is anti-hyperglycemic and great for those on weight loss programs because it will satsify your sweet tooth without adding the calories that sugar will.

Unlike sugar alcohols like Xylitol and Erythritol, PreSweet Tagatose browns like sugar.
While Xylitol has a unique cooling taste and Erythritol has a distinctive taste, Tagatose as a very clean, neutral taste like sugar."

I was excited to bake with this one! I'm a huge fan of prebiotics and I love finding great sweeteners that offer health benefits! When I'm trying something new with sweeteners, I normally go with something that we all love and are familiar with flavor wise. I chose banana muffins since we had bananas that needed to be used for baking. Otherwise, I would have made cinnamon bread...that one's next!

I made these on a Monday morning after training a client at 5am. I measured my flours the night before to make things a little easier. When I got home, I mixed everything together, popped them in the oven and we had freshly baked muffins for our crazy Monday morning! Now that's how you start the week off!

Gluten and Dairy Free Banana Muffins
(makes 12)

3/4 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown rice flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 cup amaranth flour ( I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
1/3 cup tagatose
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp  cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/16 tsp cardamom
 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup egg whites
1 1/2 cup mashed banana
1 dropper vanilla stevia (or an extra 1/4 cup sugar)
1 TBSP + 1/2 tsp turbinado sugar for topping

Combine the almond milk and cider vinegar in a measuring cup; set aside (I did this the night before).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.

In a bowl, combine the flours through xanthan gum. Mix well. Next add the egg whites, banana, stevia and milk mixture to the flour mixture. Stir with a whisk to make sure everything is fully combined. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with the remaining turbinado sugar. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

We all loved these! I always mix my low/no calorie sweeteners with sugar to ensure there is no aftertaste. These banana muffins turned out perfectly! They had an extremely clean flavor with no aftertaste at all. The boys devoured them without hesitation! They are my true test since I know there is a different sweetener in my baked goods and they will tell me if they detect something if I change it. I could not get them to stop eating them! That's a good sign and they're already asking for more!

I've made a microwave cake with tagatose too and I will share that one soon! Think spicy, sweet, moist and chewy...YUM!

For now, I've finished training a couple of clients already, the kids are out of school today, so I'm going to enjoy some coffee and blog reading! I hope you all have a great Monday!

I'm sharing these on this week's Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Allergy Free Wednesday.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 6:00 AM   11 comments
Friday, February 15, 2013
Roasted Kabocha Squash Topped With Coconut Peanut Butter Cream
Confession time, I am truly addicted to kabocha squash. Seriously, people, this is going to be a problem! I know I mentioned on here a long time ago that I used to have an addiction to pumpkin. Since some of you are newer readers since that time, I will tell was bad. So bad, in fact, that I got sick with an upper respiratory infection, ended up at the doctor's office and they thought I was jaundice. I also ended up dehydrated from a horrible colonoscopy incident that put me in the emergency room. They thought the same thing. Yeah, not jaundice at all...just a nice winter glow from all the beta carotene I was ingesting.

I decided at that point that it was time to give it a break. I now only buy whole pumpkins during the fall, roast them and then freeze bags of them to take out occasionally. That way pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin rice pudding, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin chia pudding and pumpkin muffins were treats (see, I get carried away)! I've been so good!

For years, I've watched bloggers talk about kabocha squash. I love buttercup, which is very similar except the skin is not so good to eat. I've been eating it here and there...nothing overboard. I've been such a good girl! Then, after all these years of looking...

I FOUND KABOCHA! Yep, there is now a problem! Sunday, I ate an entire one in one day. No, I'm not proud (eh, I kinda am), but here me out. When roasted at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, these babies are buttery smooth on the inside, slightly sweet, crispy on the outside from the skin and really just all around heavenly. You can not blame me!

So, the day I got these, I knew right away that I had to get one in the oven because this was gonna be my dinner. Forget side dish, this was gonna be the showcase of my meal. I haven't played in the kitchen in what seems like forever. I miss making my fun foods with crazy toppings. As soon as I tasted one piece from the oven, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I knew it would be perfect for Sprint 2 The Table's Strange But Good post!

Sprint 2 the Table

I don't normally do sweet salads. However, I shocked myself with a strange craving for a sweet salad. I LOVE romaine lettuce since it's so crispy and neutral in flavor. This mixture was a nice mix of textures and flavors that perfectly complemented each other. Let's talk topping, shall we? The first thing that came to mind was my coconut cream. I'm really into peanut butter and coconut together lately and that's exactly where I headed with this one.This topping was creamy, sweet, rich and luscious (think similar to a sweetened cottage cheese)!  Absolutely perfect for this sweet salad!

Coconut Peanut Butter Cream

1 TBSP Peanut Flour
1 TBSP Coconut Flour
NuNaturals Liquid Vanilla Stevia drops to taste (make it as sweet as you want)
2-5 TBSP Coconut Milk or water (go with the lower amount and add as you need)

Mix everything together and enjoy!

I felt like my old self back in the kitchen with my strange concoctions! Now, I need to stop eating all the squash before I can make more recipes with it! 

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 6:59 AM   13 comments
Monday, February 11, 2013
Finding My Happy Place...
It's Monday! I am hitting this week full speed! I had a client at 5am and then a full schedule of cooking and nutrition clients to work for. BUSY day, but I'm excited to have so much going on. Keeps me from thinking too much, ya know? Also, Jolene and Jessica, I saw a bunny this morning on my way back from the gym! That's a good sign, right?

Before I get too far into this post, I want to first thank all of you for your kind words and thoughtful messages. I will admit, we were all in a pretty dark funk. Everyday is a new day and we are all working towards finding closure. It really meant so much to me to read everyone's perspective on handling death. Lisa said something that completely hit me in the right way and I'm going to do exactly what she said.

She started by quoting me and then led into this...
"You said, "The man was like another father to Tony and a grandfather to me. He was the kind of person that brightened your day the second you set eyes on him. He had the most amazing smile that rubbed off on me every time I saw his face."

I think one way to keep him alive in your hearts is to aspire to be like him. Maybe it's that whole thing---people won't remember the things you did, but they will remember the way you made them feel."

Those words have seriously walked with me since you wrote them Lisa.

Ok, since we're moving forward these days, I will get right to the chase...I'm addicted to instagram (I'm stshasteen). Seriously, I'm all over taking quick shots of my boys...

First box of Cracker Jacks ever...this is Max's happy face.

This is Jay's awkward teen face.

my cats...

Tippy trying to get Max's chicken. Yes, every meal here includes Franks!

Luke right after eating my hair. Does anyone else's cats do that? He sits on the top of the couch and gets my hair. Leia stayed in her happy place on top of the cat palace this weekend so I spared all from that. You're welcome!

the food...

Gluten free Banana Muffins! Recipe coming soon. I used a new NuNaturals sweetener. 


Monster omelets! Bacon, potato, cheese and broccoli for the boys!

Scrambled egg whites with steamed broccoli seasoned with garlic and onion powder. This was not my usual bowl of oats and it was weird for me to crave this, but I gave in to my cravings and it totally hit the spot!

My first kabocha squashes!!!

Yeah, it took me all of 5 minutes to get these things in the oven when I got home from the Asian market! I'm totally in love! So much so that I ate an entire one all by myself yesterday. I would ask you not to judge, but yeah, I'm judging myself for that. Sweet, creamy, crunchy...really, it has everything. Oh and the topping, I'm sharing that on Friday! Gotta wait for Laura's Strange, But Good!

These slightly sweetened rice treats from the Asian market are highly addictive! The bag is about 3 feet tall and full of deliciousness! 

And this salad, this salad is my all time favorite mix of flavors! Crisp Romaine lettuce, green beans, roasted baby bella mushrooms, quinoa, crisp fresh red peppers, an over easy egg for extra protein and the best dressing ever (the yolk). 

I guess all of this is to say that we are finding joys in the little things these days. Being in the kitchen again definitely helps me. It's my happy place. I'm going to spend more time there and focus on getting myself back on track mentally. I have a tendency to shut down when things get rough. I look at the big picture instead of taking everyday one day at a time and appreciating the small things that give me joy. I'm working on it, but it's a tough one for me.

Do you have a happy place?

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 6:27 AM   18 comments

Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen
Home: Atlanta, GA, United States
About Me: Lactose Challenged
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