Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I have a love/hate relationship with bread. I love it. It hates me.

Forget that it makes my blood sugar skyrocket. The real problem is that I want to make it. It does not want to be made by me. Every (yeast) bread I make falls flat. Literally. They never rise!

Maybe I should take it as a sign. Maybe it's the universe trying to tell me something. Maybe it's because Jerry didn't let me pick that used breadmaker up off the sidewalk that would have forever changed my bread-making ability. I just have not been able to make a good, solid yeast bread that we could use for everyday sandwiches instead of breadcrumbs (since my breads are usually a messy crumble).

Until now....

Breadmaker, schreadmaker. I've gots my crockpot, yo! Yes, my crockpot. It has helped me produce some damn good bread without even turning on my oven!

And Jerry wanted to get a breadmaker. Pssssh.

Whole Wheat Crockpot Bread

by Bonnie Graham
Cook Time: 3 hours
Keywords: slow-cooker bread

Ingredients (1 loaf)
  • 1 c warm milk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp vital wheat gluten (optional)
  • 1 1/2 c whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1/3 to 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1. Grease a loaf pan or other baking pan that will fit inside your crock-pot.
2. Combine milk, oil, honey, salt, yeast, dough enhancer, 3/4 cups wheat flour and 1/3 cup all-purpose flour. With a handheld mixer, mix at medium low speed for 2 minutes.
3. Gradually add remaining wheat flour. Mix until completely combined. Unlike other bread recipes, dough should remain sticky.
4. Pour dough into greased baking vessel. Place into crock-pot and cook on high for three hours.
5. For a more browned top, put the bread loaf under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes or until desired brownness is acquired.
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dates: Nature's Candies

I love dates. Not the dinner and a movie kind, but the ones that slightly resemble insects.

I've totally turned you off to dates now. But really, they're awesome despite their bug-like appearance. Okay, the last time I refer to them like that, I promise. 

I've talked about the benefits of dates before. But just for ha-ha's, here is my spiel again. Dates are an excellent source of carbohydrates, contain no cholesterol, are high in fiber, and boast a wide range of nutrients. They aid in digestion and help to regulate blood sugar levels. They also make an excellent all natural sweetener. 

I pretty much covet any recipes that use dates as its sweetener. Luckily, all of the crunchy, granola-munching blogs I obsess follow provide me with plenty of options. 

In constant pursuit of the perfect snack to bring with me to Yoga Teacher Training, these Peppermint Patty Bars on Oh She Glows have been begging to get in my belly! After a recent trip to BJ's and the purchase of a 3 lb bag of dates, it was on! 

Peppermint Patty Bars

by Bonnie Graham
Keywords: vegetarian sugar-free dates oats nuts
Ingredients (12 small bars)
  • 1 c packed, pitted Medjool dates (approx 12)
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c hemp seed (or protein powder)
  • 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 3 tbsp chocolate chips
1. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap. Set aside.
2. In a food processor, process the pitted dates until chopped and sticky.
3. Add in the rolled oats, cocoa powder, protein powder, salt, peppermint extract, and milk. Process until combined, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed.
4. Finally, add in the nuts, and chocolate chips and pulse until combined and sticky. It should be sticky enough to easily make a ball. If it's too dry, add some milk. If it's too wet, add some oats.
5. Add mixture to loaf pan, smushing evenly into the pan.
6. Freeze for about 15 minutes or until set. Slice into 6 rows and then slice rows in half to make 12 small bars.
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The Lowest Low

I like to think that I have already had my lowest low. The low so low that you never want to be low again. That's how low your lowest low is. In case you didn't catch it....it's pretty low.

When I was diagnosed, my first night in the hospital, I experienced my very first  hypoglycemic episode. My head was spinning. My brain slowed down. My body didn't cooperate. Nearly passing out, my entire body tingled. I did a very dangerous thing that night.

I waited.

Not knowing what was going on or what to do, the whole concept of hypoglycemia as a life-threatening event being completely new to me, I waited. The nurses were doing regular checks each hour and I figured that she would come eventually. Rookie mistake. 

I have quickly learned that hypoglycemia is not something that you wait to treat. The longer you wait, the shittier you feel and more dangerous it becomes. I think this is in part to the "slow down," where my brain slows to the point where stringing together a coherent sentence becomes increasingly difficult as though I am a recovering stroke victim. My only diabetic friend says that she knows she's in trouble when she finds herself staring at the same box of cereal for an uncertain amount of time.

Occasionally, I read blogs written by other diabetics. Some of these bloggers talk about lows so low that other people might need to intervene to help them treat their hypoglycemia. Posts like that make me nervous.  I felt pretty cocky content that I haven't needed help to treat a low. That was until I realized that I was lying to myself.

This realization happened the other night. Jerry and I had been out drinking, which is always tricky at the end of the night since alcohol may initially cause a high blood sugar but drop my levels later on. I'm not sure which happened first, Jerry getting out of bed to use the bathroom or my waking up sweaty and shaking.

When Jerry got back from the bathroom, I asked him to get my tester from the living room. Through bleary, sleepy eyes, I held my shaking finger to the test strip. Before I had even heard the familiar beep of my meter announcing my low, Jerry was standing there with an apple sauce packet in his hands.

Could I have gotten up and retrieved my tester myself? Yes. Did it help that he was there? Certainly.

It definitely doesn't reach the level of not being able to get out of bed and needing someone there to guide my arm to my mouth, but it counts as an intervention, as help.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ebb and Flow

Ebb and flow.

Isn't it strange when several, completely unrelated people share similar sentiments that so perfectly fit your present life? Maybe it's this whole hippie-dippie yoga thing rubbing off on me, but the concept of "ebb and flow" has recently become a theme in my life.

While I can expound on how this theme is so perfectly playing itself out in several areas of my life, I am going to narrow this post to a recent experience I had at a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) appointment.

Remember back in September when I had a zen approach to my 7.2 a1c, a number that would have previously sent me into hysterics, I was somehow able to take that number in stride, recognizing that I will have a million a1c tests in my lifetime and I can't fall apart every time one comes back higher then I want.


How quickly that fell apart in the CDE's office last week. While I didn't get a new a1c test done, we reviewed the data from my insulin pump. Which seemed horrendous. I had thought that my numbers were better. That I had been more in line with my blood sugar goals. As we looked through the list of numbers, I saw more 180's, 190's and 200's then I had expected.

I could feel my heart sink in my chest.

When I said to the CDE "I thought I was doing better" and repeated several times throughout the appointment how disappointed I was, she assured me that I was looking at skewed data. That most of the numbers on the insulin pump are going to seem high because that's when I will use it most. I won't plug my blood sugar numbers into the pump if I am in range. There's no reason to.

Regardless of all the perfectly logically reasons why numbers appeared so high on that sheet, I was feeling pretty shitty. I tried to remind myself of that zen feeling from only a few months ago. Reassure myself that I am getting back on track and that my a1c will be lower when I test again in December. That "doing better" isn't just about numbers on a page.

Sometimes things will be better. And sometimes they won't. And chances are, even when things seem rough, that better times will return. It's just the ebb and flow.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mind Games

Every weekend, Jerry and I play this game. It's the "Let's Ask Each Other What We Want for Breakfast Until the Other Person Says What I Actually Want for Breakfast" game. Except he doesn't know we're playing.

Me: What do you want for breakfast?
Jerry: I don't know. What do you want for breakfast?
Me: I don't know.
Jerry: How about some oatmeal?
Me: No, definitely not oatmeal. Oatmeal's okay for my regular weekday breakfast, but NOT my special weekend morning breakfast. How about some muffins?
Jerry: I don't like muffins. (Liar) How about....?

On and on, until someone either agrees to the other's breakfast choice OR we just make separate breakfasts. One morning, I announced that I really wanted to make Chocolate Zucchini Muffins. I didn't care that Jerry doesn't like muffins (Liar). I wanted to make them.
Then, Jerry suggested something amazing! Chocolate Zucchini Pancakes (made with oat flour)! The muffin versus oatmeal dilemma was solved.
For now.

Chocolate Zucchini Pancakes

by Bonnie Graham
Keywords: breakfast oats zucchini

Ingredients (9 - 10 pancakes)
  • 1/2 c oat flour (or use all whole wheat flour)
  • 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flours
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp sweetener of choice (I used Sucanat)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 to 2/3 c milk, depending on consistency
  • 1/3 c chocolate chips, optional
1. Mix all the dry ingredients until well combined.
2. Add liquid ingredients, including zucchini. You can add chocolate chips to the batter or put them on top of the pancakes when done.
3. Heat a pan over medium high heat.
4. Using a 1/4 cup measurement, pour pancake batter onto the pan. Flip pancake when you start seeing bubbles rise to the top. Cook until golden brown.
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The squash situation had definitely gotten out of control here. Here a squash. There a squash. Everywhere a squash squash.

Here was the Squash Countdown:
1 gigantic butternut squash
1 spaghetti squash
3 acorn squash
1 patty pan squash

That's six squash in total! Six squash! All locally grown. Never mind the 5 cans of pumpkin I have sitting in the pantry (which is also squash). Ironically, despite having an abundance of squash, I kept waiting for the perfect squash recipe to come along. To be inspired to make something different then the usual.

By the way, I've already used the word "squash" 15 times so far in this post. Make that 16 times. 

Finally, I had to give in and just cook something. This soup is a variation on the usual seasonal butternut squash soup. And it's gooooood.

Garnish with spiced pumpkin seeds for some crunch

Spiced Butternut-Apple Soup

by Bonnie Graham
Keywords: blender soup/stew vegetarian butternut squash apples carrots

Ingredients (8 cups)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tart apple, peeled, quartered, and chopped
  • 4 c chopped butternut squash
  • Coarse salt and pepper
1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Add ginger, sage, cinnamon, and cardamom and cook until fragrant.
3. Add carrots, apple, squash, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil; cover partially and reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.
5. Working in batches, puree until smooth in a blender. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dirty Veggies, Part 13

Dedication. That is what I have to the farmer's market.

Despite the freezing temperatures and swirling snowflakes, I (proudly) made my way through the market yesterday. There was part of me that wasn't going to go. It was too cold. Too rainy. Too snowy. But then I thought those vendors who drive down (or up) from their farms to set up shop in weather that is too cold, too rainy, and too snowy. I figured if they could do it all day long, I could do it for the 15 minutes it takes for me to park, shop, and leave.

I am also in storage mode since winter has made its early arrival and feel I need to take of advantage of the last few weeks of the market that I can! Which also, of course, means that I have bought an abundance of squash again this week! Which also means that there will be a squash recipe at the end of this post. Yay!

This week's round-up:
1 spaghetti squash - $2.35
1 butternut squash - $1.45
1 1/4 lbs Brussels sprouts - $2.45
5 large parsnips - $2.25
1 large head of kale - $2.25
5 onions - $1.50
1 head of garlic - $1.25
Total: $13.50

Onwards to the recipe!

I am always looking for new ways to use spaghetti squash. It's fine plain with butter and cheese. Better with tomato sauce. But I was really trying to think of something even more creative then the usu. That's when I thought of Spaghetti Squash Gratin! It was actually quite good. And low carb!

Until Hurricane Sandy came and I had to let it go to waste. Or force myself to eat 2 pounds of squash gratin! It was good, but it wasn't that good.

Sage-Infused Spaghetti Squash Gratin

by Bonnie Graham
Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours including roasting
Keywords: bake vegetarian low-carb spaghetti squash sage

Ingredients (6 - 8 servings)
  • 1 large spaghetti squash, roasted
  • 1 c milk
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1 to 2 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 4 - 5 chopped fresh sage leaves
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 c almond meal mixed with 1/4 c nutritional yeast (or use bread crumbs)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half and place face down on a cookie sheet. Roast for 40 - 45 minutes or when squash is soft. Let cool. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.
2. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, whisk milk, butter, cheese, anchovies, and sage until combined and anchovies are brown up.
3. Shred spaghetti squash with a fork. Add to a greased 2-quart baking dish.
4. Pour milk mixture of the squash and mix to combine.
5. Top gratin with almond meal mix or breadcrumbs.
6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. You can also place gratin under the broiler for a few minutes to brown up the top.
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Meat and Potatas!

I am not much of a meat-eater. I usually keep meat consumption to once or twice a month. And the more often I eat meat, the more convinced I am that I would be okay never eating meat. It is not something I ever buy or prepare at home unless its for a special occasion. It's just not my thing!

Jerry usually indulges my faux-vegetarianism and will even dabble in it himself every now and again. Since Whatever They are Calling It Now Sandy hit last week, Jerry has been working 12 hour shifts every day, coming home to a cold and dark apartment until Saturday afternoon when our power came back on.

When he said he wanted pot roast for dinner, how could I refuse? Even though meat isn't my thing, he definitely deserved a home cook meal of his choosing.

Since I don't usually cook meat, this meal was a bit of an adventure...in that I almost messed it up in 12 different ways! I didn't have some of the ingredients I wanted to use! I forgot ingredients altogether! Miraculously, it came out pretty good. Jerry (and our fat, naughty kitties who tried to break into the garbage to eat the scraps) seemed to enjoy it.

Pot Roast with Root Veggies

by Bonnie Graham
Cook Time: 2 1/2 to 3 hours
Keywords: bake entree carrots parsnips potato meat

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 3-pound chuck roast, trimmed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 cup dry red wine (optional - add 1 c beef broth instead)
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/3 c less-sodium beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 c baby large carrots
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1. Preheat oven to 350º.
2. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.Salt and pepper roast and add to the heated pan.
3. Cook 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove roast from pan.
4. Add onion to pan; sauté until tender.
5. Return browned roast to pan. Add the red wine, thyme sprigs, chopped garlic, beef broth, and bay leaf to pan; bring to a simmer.
6. Cover pan and bake at 350° for 1 1/2 hours or until the roast is almost tender.
7. Add carrots, parsnips, and potatoes to pan. Cover and bake an additional 1 hour or until vegetables are tender.
8. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf from pan; discard. Remove veggies and roast from the pan leaving the juices.
9. Skim excess fat off of the juices if desired. Return the pan to the stovetop over medium-high heat.
10. Whisk in 2 tsp of corn starch to pan with juice. Continue to whisk until juices thicken slightly to make a gravy. Pour over meat and veggies.
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

What Do You Do....

...when the power goes off and you have 12 vials of insulin in the fridge?

I may have mentioned before that insulin needs to be kept cold otherwise it will degrade and become less effective, becoming altogether useless. Jerry and I were a little arrogant when preparing for Hurriance Sandy, in that we didn't really prepare at all. Sure, we filled up a few water bottles, had plenty of food, knew we had flashlights somewhere in the apartment, but I think we assumed that we would maintain power and go on our merry ways. I'm sure that's what most people assume....up until the moment the lights go out.

I was hopeful naive in thinking that the power would be out only for a short time. Five days later, we're still sitting in the dark.

My first thought when the lights went out was "What do I do with all my insulin?" Actually, my first though was "Shit, I just made pumpkin mousse and now it's going to go bad." Priorities, people.

I had just received a three month shipment of insulin which means that every single vial I will need for the next three months was in a slowly warming fridge. You think that in all of our "extensive" planning, I would have thought through what to do with these extremely valuable, life-saving vials.

Luckily, Jerry's brother maintained power and has been able to baby-sit my insulin until we can give them a good home again. I'm worried that they still have become too warm in the 24 hours without power, but I guess I'll have to wait and see.

Friday, November 2, 2012


For the three of you who read this blog, you might have noticed that I have been MIA these last few days. That's primarily because we have been without power since Monday evening as a result of Hurricane Sandy. No power means no cooking. Or so one would assume.

But not I. I can't go  more then a few days without cooking! When we had finally given up on preserving what was left of our freezer goods, I got to cooking. Thankfully, our stove top is gas! Probably the only time I've been truly grateful for gas in our apartment. That was a Jerry/flatulence joke in case you didn't get it.

To reward us for not going completely insane without power or real running water for three days, I made us as delicious a dessert as one can make in the pitch black. Nothing like cooking by camp latern!

Black-Out Berry-Peach Dumplings

by Bonnie Graham
Keywords: dessert berries peaches cinnamon

  • 1 bag of mixed frozen berries, de-frosted
  • 1/2 bag frozen peaches, de-frosted
  • 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 c rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 c sweetner (or more depending on your taste)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 c milk or water plus 1 - 2 more tbsp depending on consistency
1. Add your berries and peaches to a skillet over medium-high heat. Allow to come to a low simmer.
2. Meanwhile, add all dry ingreidents to a bowl and mix well.
3. Slowly add in liquid, mixing as you go. The amount of liquid added will depend on the dough consistency. You want to be able to form the dough into dumplings, but they shouldn't be stiff.
4. Once the berry/peach mix has started to bubble, form your dumplings using a spoon on drop on top of the berry mix. Cover pan with a lid.
5. Lower to medium-low heat to allow the dumplings to cook.
6. Allow to cook 15 - 18 minutes or until the dumplings are firmed up.
7. Serve and enjoy!
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