Desserts & Ice Creams

Make My Own Yogurt? Not So Much

I won a yogurt maker about a year ago on a blog giveaway. It wasn’t until just the other day that I finally tried to use it. I had thrown away the directions (oops!) but found them online, thankfully. The directions were fairly straight forward, but I was annoyed to find out I had to purchase dried starter cultures separately. Sorry, but no thanks. They did provide the option of using store-bought yogurt for a starter culture, even though it was pretty clear they did not recommend this. Despite the company’s recommendations, I used store-bought yogurt as my starter culture….Make My Own Yogurt? Not So Much 2

I used unsweetened almond milk but right before I turned on the yogurt maker I started thinking…“what are the cultures going to use as food? There is no added sugar or lactose in this milk….”Make My Own Yogurt? Not So Much 3

I ignored my thoughts and pushed “start”. Within one hour there was proof of heat and condensation on the lid.Make My Own Yogurt? Not So Much 4

12 hours later I opened the lid, very excited to try my yogurt.Make My Own Yogurt? Not So Much 5

Don’t be fooled. This spoonful may look appetizing, but it tasted like curdled milk (which, it was!).Make My Own Yogurt? Not So Much 6

My yogurt making experiment was a failure. As you can see the only “yogurt” was at the top of the glass jars. The rest was just all the water from my almond milk. Gross.Make My Own Yogurt? Not So Much 7

Well, at least my refrigerator is at the proper temperature….Make My Own Yogurt? Not So Much 8

I scrapped out all the yogurt and it made a total of about 6 ounces. I saved it for about 3 days, thinking maybe I would eat it in a smoothie, but that never happened. I went back to read the directions and realized almond milk was indeed listed as an option, but not unsweetened almond milk. I should have listened to…myself.

I think I spend enough time in the kitchen making things from scratch; ice cream, popsicles, granola, granola bars…you get the idea. I really never had the desire to make my own yogurt, therefore I’m sticking to my favorite store-bought brand.Make My Own Yogurt? Not So Much 9

At least I know it’s the good stuff, with live and active cultures, and a nutrition profile that’s hard to beat!

Want to try making your own yogurt at home? I found this recipe on It sounded simple enough, but I’ll leave it up to you to make it. Yogurt making is not for me!

QUESTION: Have you ever attempted to make yogurt? Have you ever been successful?

Desserts & Ice Creams

Alton Brown’s Squash Frittata

Nick and I love the show Good Eats, featuring our favorite Food Network star Alton Brown. The reason we like it so much is because he doesn’t just cook, but he teaches us about food science. It’s truly an educational and entertaining thirty minutes. Speaking of food science, have you seen the show Brew Masters? It’s a show all about one of my favorite brews; Dogfish Head Beer. It’s one of the most interesting shows I’ve ever watched. If I hadn’t gone into dietetics, I would have chosen food science as my major. I really think it’s fascinating, especially when the knowledge is used to create something healthy and delicious!Alton Brown’s Squash Frittata 11Ok, so anyway, after watching Alton make frittata on his squash episode, which aired earlier in the fall, Nick and I both knew we had to try it. I found it online after the show but when I went to make it of course I couldn’t find it online anywhere! I did manage to find a different frittata recipe by Alton Brown, which can be found here. The recipe below is a slightly modified version (of course!).

Alton Brown’s Squash Frittata


1 pound yellow squash, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
1 T chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 t salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
6 large eggs
(** Want to make this recipe lighter? Use egg beaters! 1.5 cups of egg beaters would equal 6 large eggs**)

1/2 cup reduced fat ricotta cheese
1/2 ounce parmesan cheese


  1. Heat the oven to the high broil setting and place the rack 3-4 inches from the broiler.
  2. Gab a medium bowl and toss the squash slices with the oil, rosemary, nutmeg, and pepper. Lay the coated squash in a single layer on a baking pan, which has been lined with foil.
  3. Broil until the squash is golden brown on one side (~4 minutes)
  4. Whisk the eggs, ricotta, and parmesan together in a medium mixing bowl. Put the browned squash in an oven-safe nonstick saute pan (~ 10 inches wide). Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the squash and use a spatula to make sure some of the mixture gets under the squash.
  5. Cook without stirring until the egg mixture starts to harden on the sides and set on the top (~4 minutes). Put the pan under the broiler until the frittata is nice and brown on the top (**watch carefully!! I burned mine the first time!!**).
  6. Take out of oven and scoop onto a baking sheet to cool for several minutes.

Alton Brown’s Squash Frittata 12Nick and I had his mom and sister over for dinner on this particular night. We served the frittata with some good red wine and a side spinach salad.Alton Brown’s Squash Frittata 13Alton, you never fail to impress me. My new year’s resolution (well, one of them) is to get through more of his recipes from his cookbook I received for Christmas last year. So far I think I’ve make three things. Yikes.Alton Brown’s Squash Frittata 14QUESTION: Have you ever made frittata? Have you ever tried any recipes from Alton Brown?

Desserts & Ice Creams

Peppermint Chocolate Ice Cream and Cat Cora

Before I start today’s post I want to let you know that I updated my last post, which focused on the Five-Hour Energy product. I was wrong, the serving size is not one half of the bottle!! My bad. Please click the link above to read my updates, if you wish. I also added a bit of information about the folic acid in the product.

Now it’s holiday recipe time! What was your favorite flavor of ice cream as a kid? I can remember being obsessed with mint chocolate chip ice cream. I still love it, actually, and for some strange reason it took me over two years to finally make some with my ice cream maker! But alas, I have created the perfect peppermint chocolate chip “light” ice cream.


~1 T Peppermint extract
(more or less, depending on your preference, but I like my ice cream minty!)Peppermint Chocolate Ice Cream and Cat Cora 16

~ 6 Dark chocolates
(you can use any chocolate you want, but obviously Dove is awesome, and dark has more health benefits than milk)Peppermint Chocolate Ice Cream and Cat Cora 17

2 cups chilled half and half
(you could use fat free half and half, but the texture just isn’t the same)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
(you can use any milk, but if you want your ice cream to contain less fat use skim milk. You could also use soy or rice milk.)Peppermint Chocolate Ice Cream and Cat Cora 18

~ 3 T unsweetened dark cocoa powderPeppermint Chocolate Ice Cream and Cat Cora 19

3/4 cup sugar
(I used a little less than 3/4, just to reduce the sugar a bit)


In a medium bowl mix together the sugar and almond milk. Once the sugar is incorporated into the milk, add the chilled half and half. Mix well.

Add the peppermint extract, mix again.

Pour into the ice cream maker, turn it on, then add the cocoa powder while the machine is churning.

Set your timer for about 18 minutes and make sure the cocoa gets incorporated well (I had to use a rubber scrapper a couple times to scrape the edges as the machine was churning).

Meanwhile, cut up the chocolate into chunks or shreds of chocolate (I chose a bit of both)Peppermint Chocolate Ice Cream and Cat Cora 20

After about 18 minutes the ice cream should be ready. Turn off the machine and add the chocolate! Mix the chocolate into the ice cream, then put in freezer so it gets a bit more solid.Peppermint Chocolate Ice Cream and Cat Cora 21

Don’t have an ice cream maker? I think this would be great even if you used a blender, then put it in the freezer to freeze. The texture wouldn’t be quite the same as ice cream, but it would still taste amazing.

Final product; 10 out of 10

My best ice cream YET!Peppermint Chocolate Ice Cream and Cat Cora 22

QUESTIONS: Who’s your favorite Iron Chef? What was your favorite childhood ice cream?

Desserts & Ice Creams

5-HOUR ENERGY!!!!!!!!!!!

Like the title? It’s supposed to signify my “five hour energy rush”  . But no, I did not take one of these. I get my energy from food….and caffeine.

Nick and I had Mark and Nicole over for dinner about a month ago. After finishing our meal Nicole’s husband, Mark, pulled one of these out of his pocket:

5-HOUR ENERGY!!!!!!!!!!! 24


He wasn’t going to take it, he was just showing it to us because he knew it would get a rise out of Nicole and I. He was right, it caused quite the conversation! We talked about some pros and cons, and the next week Mark even posted about this product on Nicole’s blog. You can read his post here.

I thought he did a great job, but like I said in my comment to him, he missed a few key points (only a dietitian would write a follow-up post!). Here are some things he could have added:

1) While there is a warning to NOT EXCEED TWO BOTTLES DAILY, I would be willing to bet many people do. This is a huge problem. It’s not that there is a lot of caffeine in this product, because there isn’t, but the problem is the excess of vitamin B6 (and in my opinion, folic acid).

5-HOUR ENERGY!!!!!!!!!!! 25

Many energy supplements supply huge doses of the B-vitamins, including B6 and sometimes folic acid, and this one is no different. Out of all of the B-vitamins the ones about which you should be cautious are B6 and folic acid (B9).

5-HOUR ENERGY!!!!!!!!!!! 26

So 1 bottle provides 40 mg B6. The Upper Limit (the amount you should not exceed due to the possibility of side effects, such as neuropathy in the case of B6 excess) is 100mg. The Office of Dietary Supplements explains this in a bit more detail. So if you are really sticking to the one bottle, I suppose you would be ok, but do you think there are people out there taking two of these a day? Definitely. This adds up to 80mg B6. Not good because it’s close to the 100 mg upper limit. Take another one and you’ve exceeded it!

This is not to mention the 400mg of folic acid in one bottle, which is a dose I would NEVER exceed (I have read research about cancer risks with higher doses).

2) This product contains another B-vitamin called niacin. We need about 14-18 mg of niacin per day and this product contains about 30mg in one bottle. According to the Natural Standards Database, the recommended supplemental dosage is 15-35 mg. And what do studies show it may help with? Pallegra and cholesterol reduction. What about energy? Nope, not a thing about that. So what’s the point?! Niacin has many side-effects too, including flushing of the skin, so watch out for that.

The extra strength version of this product has more Niacin and ~40 mg more caffeine. Seriously, watch out for flushing if you take the extra strength!

3) The commercial for this product is ridiculous, but the marketing team who put it together deserves a bonus! The commercial conveys the idea that in each bottle of 5-Hour Energy you are consuming nutrients equivalent to broccoli, avocado, and banana. Wow, wouldn’t that be nice?! Personally I would much rather eat the real fruits and veggies, but other people see this commercial and think, “this is great! I don’t have to eat those foods but I can gain the benefits just by taking one of these!!” Fabulous. Little do they know this bottle is simply a bunch of manufactured vitamins and minerals. The product lacks the fiber and the array of phytonutrients, which are present in whole fruits and veggies, and which work symbiotically to provide the benefits to the host (us).

BOTTOM LINE: If you take this product, stick with 1/2-1 bottle. Never take more than one bottle, in my opinion, especially if you are taking a multivitamin in addition!

Just a quick holiday update. Nick and I finished our decorating on Monday. We did white lights on the outside (not the best picture, but I swear it looks pretty neat!).

5-HOUR ENERGY!!!!!!!!!!! 27

And we used colored lights on our tree. The lights actually flash but I think it’s so tacky when lights flash (no offense to anyone who loves flashing lights….) so we keep them locked so they don’t flash.

5-HOUR ENERGY!!!!!!!!!!! 28

The only thing left to do this month, other than gift wrapping, is to make 7 loaves of my “famous” pepperoni bread. Today I made peppermint chocolate ice cream, which I will post soon.

Desserts & Ice Creams

Do You Ever MOJO?

Are you a fan of snack bars? I have a love/hate relationship with them, but the Mixed Nut Clif MOJO bar is one of my favorites! Here are some of my thoughts on this delicious and cheap snack bar.

A Few Additional CommentsDo You Ever MOJO? 30– Glycemic index, which I indicated “has to do with the fiber and protein” also has to do with the carbohydrate content of the food. It was designed for diabetics, but for some odd reason it has now become a huge marketing tool, making people believe that it’s incredibly important for anyone to look for low glycemic index foods. There is some research that says the glycemic index isn’t very helpful for blood sugar management, but some research says the opposite. Either way, I don’t like it. Sure, it’s good to know that a food won’t cause a huge spike in blood sugar, but I would rather focus on having people look at labels for low sugar and higher fiber content, rather than focusing on glycemic index.

– The vitamin E from this bar isn’t just from the almonds. They also added vitamin E. I don’t always appreciate this, but I believe this was mainly for preservation purposes.

– You’ll also find another source of sugar in this bar, called oat syrup. Just because it’s from oats, doesn’t mean it’s any better for you. But again, the total sugar is only 8 grams so I’m still satisfied with this snack.

– For those of you following the low FODMAPs diet, I will just say that this bar may give you stomach troubles. Lately I have been paying attention to how I feel after eating these bars and sometimes I do get bloated and gassy. It could be all the different types of syrups, or the pretzels (with wheat), or the nuts, I’m not sure. I have found that eating only one half at a time doesn’t bother me.

Desserts & Ice Creams

Agave, HFCS, and Some Banana Chocolate Dreams Fro Yo

Before I begin this post I want to answer I question I received about my yogurt post. I was asked why I don’t buy fat free yogurt. The reason is because I just don’t think it tastes as good as yogurt with a little fat. I don’t buy the full fat yogurt (because full fat yogurt typically has a lot of saturated fat) but I usually buy yogurt with about 3-4 grams of fat per serving, simply for the creamy texture and wonderful taste!

I’m glad everyone enjoyed yesterday’s Thurman Burger post! I loved reading about all of your recent indulgences. I was drooling the entire time

Sugar is Sugar
Agave, HFCS, and Some Banana Chocolate Dreams Fro Yo 32The other day I was contacted by our local NBC4 station to provide my thoughts on High Fructose Corn Syrup. While I don’t have a clip of the video, you can read the article here; High fructose corn syrup. If you read my blog regularly you know that I don’t really consider HFCS any worse that regular table sugar. It’s 55% fructose, compared to table sugar’s 50% fructose. Not much of a difference in my opinion. Need more evidence? I tweeted this article earlier this week.

What about Agave Nectar? A few weeks ago I tweeted an article about Agave Nectar, which confirmed my opinion that it’s really not any better for you than other sweeteners. To read the article, click here. The bottom line was this;

The bottom line is that refined agave sweeteners are not inherently healthier than sugar, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, or any other sweetener. Nutritionally and functionally, agave syrup is similar to high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose (Karo) syrup. It does contain small amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium, but not enough to matter nutritionally.

Question: What are your thoughts on HFCS and Agave?

Coming Up

Tomorrow I will also be posting a bit of info about the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Have you see the preliminary write-up yet? I will also provide a little update of my life. I’ve been quite busy!

Desserts & Ice Creams

Dark Chocolate Sorbet on a Hot Spring Day

Happy Hump Day everyone (although it still feels like Tuesday to me!). I hope everyone is having a nice week so far. My week has been relaxing, yet nerve-racking at the same time. Relaxing because I don’t have many responsibilities, and nerve-racking because I will find out if I got my “DREAM JOB” this week! Thanks for all of your kind comments and positive support.

I forgot that moving into a new home meant house warming gifts galore! Here is one of our favorite gifts so far:Dark Chocolate Sorbet on a Hot Spring Day 34Not only did we get some dark chocolate sorbet mix, but included was a fantastic new ice cream scoop! I know what you’re thinking, “An ice cream scoop, what’s so cool about that?!”. Let me explain. This is no ordinary ice cream scoop. This thing cuts through even the coldest, hardest ice cream (or in our case, frozen yogurt) because it has antifreeze inside! If you shake it you can hear the antifreeze. And let me tell you, this baby works.Dark Chocolate Sorbet on a Hot Spring Day 35We followed the simple directions for the Dark Chocolate Sorbet…..Dark Chocolate Sorbet on a Hot Spring Day 36Dark Chocolate Sorbet on a Hot Spring Day 37And I even put some of the sorbet (prior to freezing it) into a popsicle mold and made a fudge pop. I wish I would have filled all of the molds, but I only filled one as a “tester”. This thing was amazing. Better than any store bought fudge pop.Dark Chocolate Sorbet on a Hot Spring Day 38

The sorbet (sorry, I didn’t take a picture of any scoops!) had 60 calories in 1/2 cup. I wanted to march over to that Gelato shop and say to the lady “This has 60 calories in 1/2 cup, NOT your gelato!!” hahaDark Chocolate Sorbet on a Hot Spring Day 39Today’s Trivia
(Source: Why Does Popcorn Pop? By Don Voorhees)

Ice cream, by law, must not contain any less than 10% butterfat, 2.7% protein, and 20% milk solids, and must not contain more than 50% air, per gallon. Most commercially sold ice creams have about 15% sugar and 0.3% vegetable gum stabilizers as well (sounds enticing). Sorbet (also called sherbet, sorbetto, or Italian ice) is made from pasteurized fruit pulp, fruit juice, and sugar syrup. In this case there was no fruit, just chocolate and sugar.

More Trivia

Can you guess the number one selling ice cream? Breyers! Breyers uses all natural ingredients, with no preservatives or stabilizers. But soon the best selling ice cream will be GINA’S!
Flashback Wednesday……….

Check out this dark chocolate sorbet recipe I posted last summer! It’s homemade, not from a box. It definitely took longer than the one from Crate and Barrel, but I really think they both taste similar. There are pros and cons of both.

Coming Up

Tomorrow I will be posting some garden updates. We’ve been busy! Soon I’ll have pumpkins so I can make my own pumpkin puree. Yeah, I’m that desperate.

Desserts & Ice Creams

Agave vs. Honey, Carob vs. Dark Chocolate

We did it! We signed the papers and made an offer…..Agave vs. Honey, Carob vs. Dark Chocolate 41Agave vs. Honey, Carob vs. Dark Chocolate 42but it was counter-offered by the owners last night  What are we doing? Making another counter-offer of course! We’ll hear back tonight. What an ordeal.

Last night, after hearing that our offer was declined, Nick and I watched the movie 2012. Do you want to spend 2.5 hours watching the most ridiculous movie ever made? Go ahead and rent it yourself! It was so lame. I laughed pretty hard throughout the movie, just making fun of it.

Q & A

About a month ago Kristen of Change of Pace asked me about Agave Nectar vs. Honey, and Carob Chips vs. Dark chocolate. Here is some information.


I recently did a post about HFCS and Agave nectar on our new workplace wellness blog. To read the post, click here. For a brief overview, dietitians really aren’t recommending agave nectar as an alternative, “healthier” sweetener. While it may be “slightly less processed”, it is actually 84% fructose! This is much higher than high fructose corn syrup. What’s wrong with fructose? Nothing, really, especially in the form of fruit, but too much can cause major health issues. Fructose is not used for energy quite as readily as glucose, and most of it is taken up by the liver and turned to glycogen or stored as fat. THIS IS ONLY A PROBLEM IF YOU CONSUME TOO MUCH OF IT! Since sweeteners such as HFCS are found in so many foods, it’s no wonder it gets the blame for all the chronic disease and the obesity epidemic. In comparison, honey is 50% fructose, 44% glucose, and 1% sucrose (fructose and glucose combined).

My opinion? I’d choose honey over agave nectar in a heartbeat. If you want the less processed honey, choose organic.


It’s hard to compare carob chips to dark chocolate because it really depends on what kind of dark chocolate you buy. Some brands are much better than others. For example, if you buy “Dark Chocolate Chips”, chances are they are just darkened chocolate, and are not much different than milk chocolate chips. If you buy Ghirardelli 85% dark chocolate, or Lindt’s 85% dark chocolate, they actually provide many benefits. The same might be true with the different brands of carob chips, but I really don’t know enough about carob chips to be sure. Overall, here are some nutritional differences between the two:

  • Carob chips are said to be free of oxalate;Oxalate binds many minerals, such as calcium and iron, and may impede their absorption. It’s ok to get some oxalates in your diet, just not too  Dark chocolate has a good amount of oxalate. So does spinach.
  • Dark chocolate is packed with heart healthy and chemoprotective (cancer preventative) phytonutrients!Carob chips? Not so much.
  • Carob chips have more calories than dark chocolate, but this probably depends on the brand.
  • Carob chips have more calcium, but dark chocolate has more iron(again, this depends on the brand).
  • Carob chips have about the same amount of fiber, but more protein than dark chocolate (again, this depends on the brand).
  • The author of one of my favorite books, Dr. Steven Pratt, tweeted the other day that a serving of dark chocolate a day (60% or above) may have a beneficial effect on metabolism!

Bottom Line: There are benefits of both. I’m sticking to my dark chocolate

Coming Up

I’m really not sure what’s coming up in future CandidRD posts. Obviously I will keep you updated on out quest to buy a house, but as for topics, I’m not sure. I guess you’ll have to be surprised!

Have a great day everyone. Thanks for reading!