RECIPE: Coconut Cocoa Rice Crispy Treats

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Have you ever been sitting watching a marathon of your favorite show and suddenly get a hankering to make something delicious for a snack? If you stay up late enough, your body is going to want another meal for energy. Hubby and I really get into our shows and sometimes we are up pretty late binge watching Homeland, The Newsroom, Ripper Street or Downton Abbey. 

This was last night's concoction. I am still on my FMD diet so I could only eat a small nibble to taste it's post-worthy-ness. Hubby and child loved them-and they're gluten free!

We used a Costco brand of rice cereal called Cocoa Rice Crackles. You can use plain old Cocoa Crispies. And be sure to use some parchment paper so these just come right up without sticking to your pan.

Now we're all set for tonight's T.V. binge watching-Fargo. (Man, Billy Bob Thornton knows how to play crazy. Yikes.)

Coconut Cocoa Rice Crispy Treats

Ingredients
3 Tbsp. butter
6 cups cocoa rice crispy cereal
7-8 dove milk chocolates or chocolate eggs (about 2 oz. total)
1/3 cup shredded coconut 
8-10  oz. mini marshallows

Directions
Line a rimmed cookie sheet or 2 inch deep rectangular pan with parchment paper.

In a large stock pot, melt the butter and chocolate over medium low heat. Once melted, add the marshallows and stir until melted. Take pot off heat and mix in the cereal and coconut until all is well combined. Pour onto the parchment and press the mixture into the pan until evenly distributed and flattened. Let cool.

Once cool, cut into squares and keep in an airtight container using parchment in between layers to prevent sticking. Or you can wrap each square in plastic wrap so they are already to throw into lunch bags the next day.

CRAFTS: Video on how to make a DIY Ornament Topiary Tree for Any Festive Occasion

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I know...I know. I am late. Christmas is very much over, and I know we are all a little bit grateful for it. But I was planning on getting this up and if I don't do it now-it may be lost forever in my ipad camera roll.

And honestly, Valentine's day is around the corner-and you could make some super cute versions of these to celebrate the holiday of love! Use red, pink and white ornaments, wrap it with metallic heart garland or Valentine ribbon and voila! Eat your Dove chocolate hearts your partner (hopefully) gave you and enjoy the glam.

FMD Phase 2 RECIPE: Beef, Leek and Mushroom Soup, AMP'D UP

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Moving along on the Fast Metabolism Diet, and I have to admit one of the things that's pretty tough is the whole no oil/fat thing for phase 1 and 2. This recipe in the book looked like a winner for my family. It had all the flavors that even my picky daughter would enjoy. But I wanted to use the meat as a way to cook the vegetable base in the juices/fat from the meat-seeing as I couldn't use oil. I thought this would richen the flavor.

The recipe in the book had all the ingredients thrown in a slow cooker after browning the meat. I made this on a Sunday when I was making a ton of other meals for the diet, and my slow cooker was being taken up by oatmeal. So I needed to make this in a giant stock pot. It worked out great!

Below is the adapted recipe, and I would admit that cooking some of the vegetables in the meat juice made the soup extra delicious.

Beef, Leek and Mushroom Soup, AMP'D UP

Ingredients:
2 lbs. boneless, lean stew beef
4 cups organic vegetable broth
4 cups organic beef broth
3 cups chopped kale (ribs removed)
2 cups baby spinach, roughly torn up
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 medium leek, white parts and some tender green, chopped up (around 1 cup or so)
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Directions:




 In a large stock pot, brown the stew meat in batches over medium heat until no longer pink. Transfer browned meat to a plate and continue until all browned. To the brown bits and juices, add the onion and garlic, and splash of water. Cook until beginning to soften, splashing water if things are beginning to dry up and brown up too fast. Scrape the bottom as you cook the vegetables.

 
Next add the leeks and soften, scraping the bottom.


 Once the leeks are softened, add the broths slowly to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom as you go. Add the mushrooms and bring the pan to a boil. Lower the heat, and add the greens, salt and pepper. Stir well, and cover, leaving the lid askew to let some of the steam out. Simmer, with the lid on in this manner, on medium-low heat for 2-3 hours. Stir occasionally. I freeze the soup in single servings as well as reserve a bigger serving for a family dinner mid week, when phase 2 hits. This recipe does not yield as much as the others. You may get a family dinner and one or two single servings.

Crafts: Tips and Tricks on an A+ Undersea Diorama, Sunlight Zone

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My daughter was OBSESSED with all things nautical all through elementary school. Now that she is a tweener, she is obsessed with all things digital. Oh how things go by so fast in parenting!

One of the things I felt she was making all the time for school were dioramas. So many, that we got very good at making them. This one was based on the sunlight zone of the ocean. To make a diorama similar to this, you will need to visit a craft store, print a few things off the web in color, and scrounge around your house.

Supplies:
A large cardboard box
Colored construction paper, crayons or markers, glitter, paint, scissors
Bilowy feathers
Pipecleaners, wavy ones preferable
A fish/ocean plastic animal TOOB
Brown paper bags
Tape, glue
Iridescent cellophane
fishing line
Sea sponges, usually used for painting affects on walls

The project:


First get some color printouts of the "sunlight zone" where you can see under water, a water line and a sky. Print these large to cover the backs of the box with glue. This sets up the scene, and gives you the water line. the sunlight zone is not so deep in the water, so your student needs to show the water line. The cellophane will help you specify this too, but put that cellophane in after you build out the sea floor. Also have your student use a sand color construction paper and draw and color what lives on the sea floor. Glue it on the bottom of the box.


To add dimension, cut a large rock formation in construction paper, and make a folded glue tab along the side and bottom, and set it somewhere a few inches from the back. Next add "coral or grasses" by clumping wavy pipecleaners and glue them sticking up. If your TOOB has some coral, glue them down here and there too, as well as and sea life that lives on the floor or on rocks.

Feathers are a great way to show sea grasses and corals, and they move and sway as if they were really underwater. Glue them into the sea sponge "coral", and whatever rock formations you have going on.


Sea sponges can look like coral beds if you paint them with watered down acrylic paint. Use them to build out coral beds, and there you can add pipecleaners or feathers on it to make a coral reef. Even add some bits of glitter glue, too for glimmer and interest.




Here is how we nestled coral in the back corner and added feathers around it.


To make a rock cave, take a brown paper bag and twist it up, then curve it in an arc. Glue the bottom ends to the bottom of the box, and ht it with some paint or glitter glue for dimension. Pop a fish in there as if it was swimming into the abyss.


Finally using fishing line and poking holes in the top of the box with a needle, hang the swimming fish around there home. Thread the line through the hole in the top, anchor it with a knot and secure it with some tape.


We cut wavy strips of iridescent cellophane to the length of the box. We added one mid way for dimension, gluing a folded tab on either side. We also taped a strip horizontally, matching the water line of the box. We secured it tightly on both ends and glued a plastic seal right on top of the "water".


Finally, we glued some plain construction paper along the outer sides to make the outer box look nicer. We then taped down a sandwich bag on top to hold the "book" that accompanied the project. We cut the top off so it was a simple pocket that the teacher can pull out to read.

Yes, We got an A+ of course! And yes, I did help, but my daughter had a lot of the ideas and we worked on it together, but I made sure she did most of the work and art. I just helped with tying knots and dealing with fishing line-a tough thing for a second grader.

FMD Progress and a Recipe: Phase 3 Coconut & Chocolate Pudding

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Hiya!
It's week number 2 on the Fast Metabolism Diet, and I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised by my progress on it. I'll know my total weight loss for the week tomorrow morning, but by yesterday morning I was at 7 lbs. lost! SO in my excitement, I treated myself to a phase 3 dessert out of the companion cookbook by Haylie Pomroy. I did make a few adaptations to the original recipe, which is why I am sharing it with you here. I am hoping I did not throw off whatever fat balance Haylie calculated into the original recipe! I added cocoa to the almond coconut pudding recipe, and added some extracts to kick up the coconut. Cocoa does have natural oils in it, which is why I cut down on the ground nuts a little to try and balance it out.

This is AMAZING. My hubby who has been complaining all month about all the dinner restrictions had this and kept saying "MMMM, YUM! It's like our famous New Year's fondue recipe but in pudding form! This is healthy?
So this is a keeper.

One final note on desserts. Most of the desserts after a meal need an extra day of exercise. You can also use it as a snack if you pair it with a phase appropriate vegetable. This can feel odd with a pudding, so I prefer to do an extra day of exercise. One other note, Haylie asks for very minimal exercise on this diet. But I still am having trouble carving out time to do it. I think if I was more diligent about exercise the weight would come off even faster. I bought a yoga app, a 7 minute workout app and a meditation app. I also put a free weight in the living room by the arm chair. I think I can fit in the exercise better for my final two weeks with these apps.

On to week 3!


Phase 3 Coconut & Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup unsweetened coconut cream
2/3 cup plus 3 Tbsp. birch xylitol
1/4 cup small tapioca pearls
1/8 cup ground almonds, pecans or hazelnuts
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. good quality ground cocoa
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. coconut extract

Directions:
In a large saucepan, whisk the coconut milk, coconut cream, xylitol, eggs, salt and tapioca until well combined. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. Once things are well blended, add the ground nuts and cocoa. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking the whole time, until things begin to thicken. Manage your heat carefully so you don't scald things. Cook until thick, about 8-10 minutes. Take off the heat and whisk in the vanilla and coconut extracts. Either serve warm in small bowls, or chill then serve.




FMD Progress & RECIPE: Phase 1 or 3 Slow Cooker Steel Cut Vanilla Oatmeal and an Apple Topping

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Steel Cut oatmeal is a delicious and nutrient rich breakfast food, and a must have for the Fast Metabolism diet-of which I have bravely taken on this month!

 The challenge with Steel Cut oatmeal is that it takes time. So enter the slow cooker! Make a giant batch during the day or while you sleep. 7-8 hours later you have breakfast to take you through quite a few phases. I cook it up, divide it up into individual servings, top some with some fresh fruit and keep some plain, label which phase the oatmeal is for and freeze.

A couple things to note, depending on the phase, you will need to switch out your "milk" ingredients. I am using quotes because it's NOT dairy I am talking about, but dairy replacement. Dairy is a NO-NO on this diet.

On the diet, phase one is about grains and phase 3 is minimal grains/carbs and more healthy fats with balanced other good things. So for phase 1 I recommend using unsweetened vanilla organic rice milk and for phase 3 I recommend using organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

One other thing, I am adding in this post an apple topping variation which I thought was for phase 3. After I made it and ate it, I went to log it into the FMD app. That's when I found out apples was a no-no for phase 3! (any of you FMDers out there, help we with this one? Apples I thought were good for diabetics because they are lower in sugar? Surprised they are a No for phase 3?) So I am giving you the apple topping I used but perhaps use it as a maintenance recipe once you are off the phases. Or you can sub in another fruit that's phase 3 approved.

How am I doing?
-Well I lost 4 pounds in week 1!
-The water amounts looked insurmountable but now that I am doing it, my body seems to be craving it-more than coffee.
-I went to a restaurant for my bookclub first night of phase 3 and try as I could to stay on the approved foods, the restaurant was limited with healthy foods. It set my body in a tailspin the next day. I did not feel well at all. It seems the clean eating really sets your body up for NOT liking anything you are not making yourself. So my advice is, no eating out until you take yourself off of the FMD with some maintenance. You just don't now how your meals are prepared in the kitchen of a restaurant. Is there dairy snuck in there? What oils are they using? What quality are their ingredients? I just know I wasn't feeling well all weekend because of some restaurant visits.
Overall, it's a tough diet but it seems to be working, so on to week 2!

Enough chit-chat. Here are the goods!

Phase 1 or 3 Slow Cooker Steel Cut Vanilla Oatmeal

Ingredients:
2 cups organic steel cut oats
8 cups water
2 cups rice milk (phase 1) OR almond milk (phase 3)
1/3 cup stevia or Birch xylitol (I prefer xylitol! I am so happy I discovered this stuff.)
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions:

Mix together in a slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Divide among containers, top with fresh berries if you wish and an extra sprinkle of sweetener, label and freeze. Defrost then heat when ready to eat, add a little extra rice/almond (depending on phase) milk to make it creamy.

Maintenance phase Apple Oatmeal topping

Ingredients:
2 small Johnathan apples, cleaned, cored and diced (I keep the skin on for extra nutrients)
1/2 Tbsp. coconut or olive oil
dash of salt
3 Tbsp. Birch xylitol
dash of nutmeg
1/2 tsp almond extract
splash of vanilla extract
2 dashes of cinnamon
2 Tbsp. chopped almonds

Directions:






Cook over medium heat until apples are well softened and a syrup forms. Pour over your hot oatmeal and enjoy!



FMD progress: My Pumped Up Version of the Fast Metabolism Diet's Loaded "Egg White Muffins", Phase 2

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Hello and Happy New Year! My New Year's resolution is all about getting healthier. After doing some research and reading, I decided to try the 28 day Fast Metabolism Diet by Haylie Pomroy. It's medically sound, and many people have gotten off major medications and lost weight just by healing their metabolism on this diet. After watching her PBS special and reading her book, I was sold.

I am on week one, and I have to admit-it's not an easy diet to do because you have to do a lot of preplanning and cooking. You can buy products from the clinic, and that would make it much easier. But I am a foodie so I have been having some fun learning how to cook Haylie Pomroy's recipes with healthier ingredients and no oil, sugar, dairy or unhealthy fats (not easy!)

But after a couple of days of cooking and shopping, dividing and freezing and making a meal plan for the month I am on day 3 and cranking along!

Her recipes are really delicious, and some I played with to make even better. These egg white muffins from Haylie's newsletter seemed right up my alley for Phase 2 breakfasts. But I kicked things up a little and did some precooking of the ingredients before adding the egg whites so the flavors could really meld and come together.

The recipe makes 12. A serving is 3 muffins, and I divided up single servings in plastic bags and froze them. I grab one for work, and when I get there it's usually partially defrosted. I just throw them in the toaster oven at 325˚ for 15 minutes or so and there is a delicious breakfast for Phase 2! 

And if you're not on this diet, these are still a super healthy low carb breakfast option to have on hand during the week.

My Pumped Up Version of the Fast Metabolism Diet's Loaded "Egg White Muffins"- Phase 2

Ingredients:
2 oz. nitrite free turkey bacon, chopped
10 egg whites (the store bought liquid kind is fine)
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 cup fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms
1/4 tsp salt and pepper
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Directions:


Preheat oven to 350˚. In a large saute pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until beginning to brown. Next add the garlic and onion and cook until beginning to soften and become translucent. Next add the Jalapeno and mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms begin to release their juices. Next add the spinach and zucchini and cook. Add the seasonings and rest of the spices, and cook until zucchini are beginning to soften and the spinach are beginning to wilt. Take off the heat.





Divide the turkey and vegetable mixture among each of the muffin molds. Once all the filling is divided, pour the egg whites into each until they are about 1/4 inch from the rims.



Bake the muffins for about 20-25 minutes. The muffins will puff up and have a golden brown color on top. Use a spatula to pull them out and cool before freezing.

Special note, make sure you have non stick tins. These did stick a little in my tins, but my tins are old. You can't use oil in phase 1 & 2 so you can't spray the tins with non stick cooking spray. That's why I would recommend some good non stick tins or using silicon muffin pans.
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