Camper Cooking: Blueberry Bliss (aka blueberry crisp with a yummy twist)

I ❤ blueberries, Nature’s skittles. 🙂

Luckily I can have berries on my low carb diet. But we had a lot of blueberries leftover after I made Shane a Waldorf salad with a twist (blueberries and blueberry yogurt), and I can’t eat enough before they’ll go bad. So I made a gluten-free crisp with a twist. 🙂

I’d guess I had somewhere between a cup and 2 cups of blueberries left from the 18 ounce carton. I apologize for not measuring! But use enough blueberries to fill an inch at least in a quart Corningware or half a ramekin. You could easily make a dessert to last for days, feed a group, or individually one day at a time. This recipe doesn’t need any science behind it. It’s an art. 😉

Basically this Blueberry Bliss is willy nilly, and oh so numnum!!!! I probably can’t reproduce what I’ve done, but it would turn out roughly the same yummy. I’ll guide you through my willy nilly steps. Pretend you’ve entered Willy Wonka’s factory. Just don’t turn into a blueberry! 😉

A dash of nutmeg sprinkled on the blueberries with a splash of lemon juice. You can add a little sugar, sweetener, or syrup, but ripe blueberries are sweet naturally so try to omit. I did add about a teaspoon of corn starch (organic, non-GMO) so the filling would thicken as it baked. Stir it magically or with a spoon/spatula. 😉

I used the rest of our oats. I think about a cup, maybe more. I didn’t even take them out of the canister. *snicker snort*

To this, I dumped in some cinnamon and finely chopped walnuts. Let’s say I chopped a cup’s worth. 🙂 Yep, I mixed it all up with my butcher knife. Told ya’. Willy nilly.

Then I melted what was left of my stick of butter. Hmmm, 6 tbs I believe. About-ish.

I added the crisp topping and blended into the melted butter. Then I had a BRIGHT IDEA!!! Why not add protein powder???

And there you have a nutritious protein-boost twist that lends a sweet vanilla flavor. 🙂 This I did measure because it comes with a scoop. I put in 2 scoops. 😀

All filled and topped, the blueberry bliss is ready for a 375* preheated oven!

I baked it for 40 minutes, and let it cool. Not too long though. I wanted my blueberry bliss warm!!!

Ingredients (about-ish measurements)

Filling

  • 1-2 pints of blueberries
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1-2 tsp cornstarch

Topping

  • 1 c oats
  • 1 c chopped walnuts
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 scoops pea protein vanilla powder (contains monk fruit as a sweetener)

If you don’t want sugar free, add a tbs of sugar to the filling and 1 tbs brown sugar to topping.

Add whipped cream or ice cream to your crisp. Go willy nilly!! I have to eat mine naked. But….oh so sweet and yummilicious!!!!

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Camper Cooking: Glaze N Blaze Veggie Kabobs (Vegan)

Warm weather at the campground means grilling, and it’s lighting up my food world! 🙂 I’m experimenting, of course, since I haven’t had a grill. But, I can say thus far grilled corn is the only way I ever want to eat it! I place the naked cob on the grill and baste in butter while it grills. Super sweet! So onward to other vegetarian grilled dinners!

I’ve been wanting to try veggie kabobs for the longest time. Finally had my chance, and wow, the results set our hearts aflame! As were the kabobs. Gloriously so. Lol

What set these veggie kabobs ablaze?

The glaze, of course. I basted the kabobs with balsamic vinaigrette.

Much to my surprise, being a newbie griller, flames burst upward as if I’d awakened a dragon. 🙂

Oops, ooooohhhh!

Turning the kabobs is both art and sport. 😛

If you can’t tell, I used zucchini, yellow squash, sweet onion, and baby bellas. I also used sustainable bamboo skewers. Just be careful not to torch the skewer in half while grilling. 🙂

Check out these sites for the health benefits of eating these veggie kabobs.

9 Reasons to Eat Zucchini

Benefits of Yellow Squash

Benefits of Baby Bella Mushrooms

Portobello Mushroom Benefits

Onions; Health Benefits

Basically these kabobs are swords, fighting inflammation and disease, guarding your health. And as low calorie, low carb food, you can slay a dragon’s worth for dinner!

We did ruin the vegan meal by adding grilled bread cheese. Feel free to keep it vegan friendly, and add marinated tofu to the kabobs for extra protein. Since I have EDS, I need more protein to repair and maintain muscles. Even with 2 vegan protein drinks daily, I don’t get the required protein. So I try to boost protein while keeping carbs low in every meal and snack. Though because breast cancer runs in my family, I limit soy. So…I don’t eat as much tofu as others can.

Ideally we all should eat for our body’s needs while balancing our ecological impact. A vegan, vegetarian, or Mediterranean diet has the lowest. Enjoy your food and world!!

Camper Cooking: Zoodles with Lemon Cream Sauce (low carb, gluten free, vegetarian/vegan option)

Oh how I ❤ zoodles. I want oodles and oodles of zoodles because they’re so goodles for me. 😛

When the supermarket puts zoodles on sale, you buy two! They’re not cheap otherwise. I couldn’t bring my spiralizer, so I’m stuck buying premade zucchini and squash noodles.

My preferred way to cook zoodles is to saute them with onion and spices in oil. I like them to carmelize a little for extra flavor. For this dish, cook your zoodles as you please: sauteed, boiled, microwaved, baked, or raw & uncooked. Simply cook until desired tenderness. I included Italian spices and garlic to my zoodles.

Since this would be a cream sauce, I sauteed my finely chopped onion in butter (from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows). Again I added Italian spices. Then the cream (from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows).

The vegan option is to make cashew cream. Soak and cover a cup of cashews in water for 4-12 hours in cold water, or 15 minutes in boiling water. Drain the water. In a blender, puree the soft cashews in 2/3 cup water, lemon juice, and sea salt. Cashews are high in carbs though, so this won’t be as low carb.

Most recipes call for a couple tablespoons of flour before adding the cream to make a white sauce roux, but I omitted to keep it low carb and gluten free. Add your zoodles to the pot too.

Now I know some of you are wondering how it thickens as a sauce to stick to the ladles of zoodles. Trust me, it will thicken naturally as you stir over heat. You must stir continuously or you risk burning the cream to the sauce pan. If you find the cream sauce isn’t thickening as quickly or to your liking, you can incorporate some parmesan cheese or textured vegetarian protein (TVP). Once thickened, dump in lemon juice. A lot. Make the zoodles turn into lemonoodles! (I should quit this, but it’s too fun for me. My apologies to you.) 🙂

It’s yummy lemonicious!! I could eat this every day I think. But I’m still waiting for another sale. They should stop their canoodling and put my zoodles on sale!!! 😛

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pkgs zoodles
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 onion chopped finely, halved
  • Italian spices 2-4 tsp
  • 1 c cream
  • 1/4-1/2 c lemon juice or juice from 2-3 lemons

Serve with a salad!

Wonderful Wanderful Life!!!

Spring has sprung! 🙂 Living fulltime in a tiny camper in the middle of nowhere is some of the best living I’ve ever done. ❤ All day I hear my favorite songs.

I hope the video of the Baltimore oriole singing plays for you. They say listening to birdsong is the antidote to stress, and I agree. Nature’s AntidoteIf you listen closely, you’ll hear structure in the choral cacophony. Such as two orioles communicating with each other. Last night it was either a female or juvenile male in “our” tree, and in the background you hear another. We’ve seen the mature male in “our” tree as well. Possible pairing? Or possible competitor? But, so many different birds, so many different songs. ❤ All day I see painted masterpieces.For all my hiking years, I longed to glimpse the blooming of the woods. I finally enjoyed the opening of the vernal gallery. I cannot describe the awe, and my camera could not truly capture the beauty of pastel and primary colored landscapes in shade and sun. Having the ability to observe the subtle differences in hue and texture as the days of spring march toward summer, I feel such gratitude and grace. I’ve been to the Louvre, but its art pales in comparison to Mother Nature’s. Her art breathes life into itself and into me.We’ve had a lot of visitors to our feeder. Golden finches. House finches. Tufted titmouse (last image of it dive bombing for seeds!). Nuthatches. Chickadees. Downy woodpecker. Cardinals. Sparrows. Morning doves. Brown-heased cowbirds.Robins and grackles hunt for worms and nesting material in “our yard”. The grackles like apple core cut up for them. 😉 The oriole sings in our tree. I saw an Eastern bluebird sitting on our fire pit this morning. 🙂 I watch the feeder often. Even my camper neighbors watch our feeder. 🙂 It’s such a trill! 😛 Yes, a bad pun. As I write this outside, I’m watching the birds peck at the ground for fallen seed. 4 morning doves and 4 male cowbirds. My “pet” oriole below.All day I feel peace, joy, and harmony. Even if I spend my days indoors because of rain or work (preparing for my summer class and developing a class for the fall), I’m loving this wonderful Wanderful Life. You know how you feel losing yourself in a book? Yeah, I’m lost in my own adventures, and it feels like a fantasy. I don’t doubt I will see real faeries soon. (My friend warned me to stay social or I’d get weird. Oops) The North Country trail passes along the campground, and 1.1 miles from the trailhead up the road (literally a steep up) Indian Rock sits face up. 🙂I predict I’ll spend most of my time along the NCT. I don’t need to drive and I can increase my distance. I’m not worried about the time. I belong to the Sloth Hiking Club. “We’ll get there when we get there.” 🙂 I have a lot of hiking days ahead of me. Not today though. Storms. Until then, I’m going to watch the birds and research journal articles for the best ones to assign my students. Enjoy your day and your world!!! ❤

Camper Cooking: Sweet & Spicy Citrus Salad

Ever since I went low-carb, I crave salads. I’ve always been a fan of salads with fruit though. I’m also a fan of sweet and spicy. Today I paired the two for an amazing lunch salad to enjoy outside on this beautiful spring day!

The planters hold future salads: Spinach and romaine lettuce. 🙂 Also have sugar snap peas, marigolds, chamomile, red peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Still need to plant squash.

The air trilled with the song of a Baltimore oriole. An overly friendly spider joined me for a romantic lunch. ❤

The salad was as vibrant as the day. Plump blueberries. Succulent pineapple chunks. Fresh local greens.

I sauted Quorn chik’in tenders with the pineapple and sprinkled generously with red pepper.

I ❤ Quorn chik’in tenders and meatless crumbles. They’re staples for us. High in protein, low in carbs, no gluten, soy, or maltodextrin or dextrose that other vegetarian proteins contain. Maltodextrin is like crack in foods, raising your insulin, making you addicted, harming your health. I avoid it like the plague. It’s amazing how many prepared foods and snacks contain it. Actually it’s not, considering how most food is prepared in a lab to “improve” taste, shelf life, irresistability, and craving.

Don’t mind me. My brain’s on my class on food security and the future of farming I’ll teach in the fall. 😛 Part of food security involves access to nutritious, healthful food, and many popular and accessible items in the supermarket really aren’t good for health, only for supplying calories and reducing hunger.

And that’s why I eat as healthily as possible. Hence, a salad loaded with fruit and protein. 🙂

And taste. Yum! The extra boost of flavor comes from drizzling a little of this Cuban-style citrus vinaigrette. Sweet & spicy!

You could add grilled tofu, wild-caught salmon, or pasture raised chicken if you eat other proteins. Blacken them with red pepper/cajun spice or marinade in a Caribbean jerk sauce.

You could experiment with the fruit too. Mandarin oranges, red grapes, mango.

But I enjoyed the unique pairing of pineapple and blueberries.

I say try it. Even with the Quorn chik’in tenders, vegetarian or not. Vegans will have to use tofu or another meat alternative. This Quorn product has egg whites in it; other Quorn products are vegan though.

Grab whatever greens you like. Add as many blueberries and pineapple chunks as you want. I have to limit my fruit intake unfortunately. But this salad satisfied my craving for fresh, fruity, and zing!!!

Camper Cooking: Flourless Mini Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Muffin Cups (low carb, high protein)

That’s a mouthful. To say and to eat if you pop one or two mini cups into your mouth. Except me. I have to take small bites because I can’t open my mouth very far. I have TMJ dysfunction with a closed lock, courtesy of EDS. My oral surgeon and my former PT don’t even know where the disc is. It’s dislocated mysteriously.

Eating is challenging when your food falls off forks and spoons due to narrow passage. But, my other issues create even more eating limitations and difficulties. One, I’m a vegetarian. Two, I have to eat a very low carb diet because I have an insulin problem. My pancreas overproduces insulin (assuming it’s related to EDS like everything else!). All of my life I’ve suffered hypoglycemia, otherwise known as low sugar. However, over time, my cells stopped uptaking insulin. This led to high insulin in my blood, and lots of water weight gain (16 pounds to be exact). Water retention and high insulin can cause organ failure. My doctor told me to “eat like a diabetic”. Except I already did.

So I did a bit of research. I found literature on high insulin diets, and one diabetic expert who had diabetes stated the ADA recommendation for 120 g of carbs daily was too high. He suggested 50-60 g/day. And like any good scientist, I did an experiment for 6 weeks, eating only 50-60 g/day. Oh, it was very hard as a vegetarian. But I adjusted AND my next blood test revealed optimal insulin levels. Best of all, I lost all the water weight. 🙂

While on this low carb diet, I learned I had a gluten sensitivity. It would trigger the worst headaches. I thought I would cheat with French toast. Nope. Thus, I also can’t eat foods with gluten.

But I’m a hobbit and always hungry. It’s super easy to blow my carb limit if I don’t count or “budget”. Then I end up peeing like a bladder-bloated racehorse. Copious and frequent. Annoying to say the least.

What’s a hungry hobbit to do? A hobbit with a sweet tooth, mind you. Experiment with almond butter, clearly. 🙂

Almond butter has 3 g of carbs per 2 tbs. As well as 7 g of protein and 8 g of fat. Fat and protein help vegetarian hobbits feel full.I decided to see what would happen if I mixed almond butter, cream cheese (the secret to baking with almond flour), eggs, Swerve, and mini chocolate chips and baked in a mini muffin pan.

The result:

They turned out like muffins. Flourless muffins. 🙂

They’re dense and not very sweet. But the little bits of chocolate chips touch my sweet tooth. 🙂 These will not appeal to people who eat sugar or soft white flour. Lol Though I have made gluten-free pumpkin scones that pleased those lucky can eat anything in a bakery types.

The recipe is quite simple. Soften half a brick of cream cheese and a cup of almond butter in the microwave for a minute or two, then blend. Remember to store your natural nut butters upside down so you don’t have to stir the oils. You’re welcome. 🙂

Add 1/4 cup of Swerve. The erythritol doesn’t affect my insulin at all, so I use it in baking. However, if you can have sugar and don’t count carbs, by all means, sweeten it your way! Blend.

Next beat in 2 eggs. Stir in 1/4 cup of chocolate mini chips (or more if you don’t have to watch your sugar). They do make chocolate chips with Swerve or sugar substitute, but they’re too expensive for me. Therefore, I can’t use a lot.

Line the mini muffin pan and fill the cups. Bake at 375* for 10-15 minutes, or until puffy and firm. Or soft. I’m not sure yet how done I want them yet. 🙂

Ingredients

4 oz. Cream cheese (from grass fed, pasture raised cows)

1 c almond butter

1/4 c Swerve (or your favorite sugar substitute or sugar)

2 eggs (from pasture raised hens)

1/4 c mini chocolate chips

If you’re low carb like me, enjoy 2 a day as a snack. Should be about 10 (15 at most) carbs total. Maybe enjoy with a cup of unsweetened almond milk. 🙂

Honnnneeeyyy! I’m HOME!!!!

Clearly we’ve nicknamed our camper “Honey.” 🙂 For the last 3 weeks, our camper sat at Camping World, awaiting service to fix the water heater, a few leaks, and the DVD player on the TV. It sat without a single look-see. It sat neglected, while we parked ourselves in a hotel, feeling deprived of home and wasting money. 😡

During that time when Camping World failed to do their job, I did my job hiking still. I visited Beaver Creek State (OH), Raccoon Creek State Park (PA), Sewickley Heritage Park (PA), Brady Run Park (PA), and Tomlinson Run State Park (WV). None compared to Mcconnells Mill, but I enjoyed each wandering into wonder. Spring has sprung!!!For a few days, I did have to stay in the hotel room. Shane had either gotten toxic exposure at work or sick (tested negative for the flu). On his worst day, he had a 102.2 fever and a throat filled with pus. I had to play nurse, and it felt like a hospital room. Luckily he recovered quickly, even though he missed 4 days of work.I didn’t get sick, but I’ve had vertigo and dizziness for 2 weeks now. I’ve had to grab Shane or nearby structures to stop my fall. Once I fell on the bed, and another time I fell seated on the toilet when I hadn’t quite removed my pants. *sigh*I was diagnosed with benign positional vertigo about 15 years ago. They believe it stemmed from the head injury when I was hit by a car as a pedestrian. But I’m starting to wonder if it’s inflammation from cervical instability or my elongated styloid process pressing upon my carotid artery. I now spin when lying straight back or sitting up. Don’t even need to turn my head.Perhaps I can even blame the hotel bed. It’s hard as a rock, and my shoulders pop out every night and snap back in every morning. Hello, Arthrosis. I’ve had unrelenting pain between my thoracic spine and scapula. Not sure what’s out of place.But we’ve felt displaced without our camper. It might be too small, but it’s home. We’re more comfortable body, mind, and soul.So on the day his jobsite closed for the afternoon because of inclement weather, he decided we’d pick up the camper despite the lack of attention and repair. He figured he’d try to fix it. But he didn’t want to stay another day in the hotel, and we had new campground reservations we wanted to honor.I told Shane I wanted to speak to the manager to lodge a complaint and get the corporate number. We were supposed to have the camper back on the 6th, and it was the 12th and they hadn’t even looked at it. Unacceptable!!! Shane didn’t think I should bother, but you never know right? And what do you know…the service manager listened to me calmly and politely explain the situation and he asked if it would help if he brought two technicians out to inspect camper. Of course my t-shirt may have motivated him.Lo and behold, a couple hours later they addressed all our concerns. Supposedly we never even needed to drop off the camper. This triage work was how it wa s supposed to be handled. While I’m happy and grateful to the team we have an operable water heater, seals on the leaks, and a new TV with DVD player on order, I’m steamed about the situation. They really dropped the ball in the beginning and the following weeks. Each call was answered with “soon” until Shane’s like “What is soon? It’s been 3 weeks, brother.” Grrrrrrr!!!!But now we can shower and do dishes. :)And we have made a few other changes to our former ways. We replaced the mattress I didn’t like with an air mattress and gel foam topper. It’s definitely more comfortable for my joints, and I’ve slept better! Additionally we bought a shepherd’s hook upon which to hang our bird feeders and tiki torches to ward off bloodsuckers.Soon we’ll enjoy eating outside!!! When I go back home, I’m going to pick up my planters and our veggie seeds. I’ll do some container gardening!! :)It’s good to have the Wanderful Life again!! ❤