Christmas Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

Christmas is the only time I like to eat sweets. There is something about the time of year that just makes me crave sweets. Today I got my hair cut and the hair salon had a huge tray of homemade cookies displayed in the sitting area. Needless to say, I may have indulged in a few lemon bars and peanut clusters.

I am known in my family for baking all of these tasty sweets. Around Christmas time, I usually have many requests for my famous cheese cake. This year I ca ved in because of the season, and because I wanted to treat my family at least IMG_1089once.

I first made this recipe when I went to visit my exes family for the first time. Needless to say, they were a winner and EVERYONE loved them. I knew Cody (my ex) loved cheesecake, and I wanted to make a good impression. My ex may not be around any more, but this recipe still is. It is one of my favorites especially during the holidays.

Christmas Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

  • 12 cupcake sleeves
  • 1 Family size bag of Reese’s Peanut butter cups (Make sure they are the original size, not the mini)
  • 2 8oz packages of cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbs vanilla

Place cupcake sleeves inside cupcake tins. Unwrap all of the reese’s peanut butter cups -there should be around 14 IMG_1090[2]cups- and place the candies on the bottom of the cupcake tins. In a separate bowl, add cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat mixture with a beater until the mixture forms waves. Spoon mixture into cupcake sleeves and on top of the reese’s peanut butter cups. Bake cheesecakes in the oven for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow cheese cakes to cool and chill before serving.

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Cheese Chips

IMG_1075Sometimes you just need a good crunchy food and nuts just do not cut it! When I first started eating NSNG, there were some foods that I absolutely missed. Potato Chips, unfortunately was one of these foods. When I first took a bite out of these cheese chips, I thought I was biting into a cheese nip. Once the cheese is baked, they are crunchy just like potato chips are. I make these chips about once a week, and trust me they are excellent. Sometimes I eat them plain, and sometimes I dip them in a cheese spread or salsa.

Try these for yourself, because you will not believe it until you try them!

Cheese Chips

  • Sliced/shredded cheese
  • Parchment paper
  • Seasoning if desired ( I like to sprinkle cheese with dill)FullSizeRender

Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Slice cheese into thin pieces that are about 1square inch. If you are using shredded cheese place about 1 tbs of cheese on the sheet. Cheese should be placed on cookie sheet like cookie dough. Season Cheese to taste if desired. Cook cheese in the oven for 10 minutes or until the edges of the cheese turn golden brown. Allow chips to fully cool before eating.

**Note: When I made my batch of Cheese Chips, I forgot that my homemade yogurt was in the oven. Do not turn on your oven if you yogurt is resting like I did. Oops!

Tomato Feta Salad

When I was younger, I hated eating tomatoes. I think it was the texture of them that made me want to spit them out whenever I ate them. As I grew older, I began to understand the health benefit of Tomatoes.

Tomatoes are one of the best foods you can eat. They are high in an ingredient called lycopene. Lycopene is the main ingredient that causes the deep red color in the plant. Some studies say that tomatoes may help prevent osteoporosis, cancer and may even lower cholesterol.

I cannot eat a tomato plane! So when I want to eat the plant, I need to mix them with other things. Here is a simple recipe for a Tomato Feta Salad. Literally this will take you 5 minutes to make and it is DELICIOUS! I have also included optional dishes to liven up the dish.

Enjoy!

Tomato Feta Salad is a great dish to make on a summer day

Tomato Feta Salad is a great dish to make on a summer day

-C

Tomato Feta Salad

  • 2 Packages cherry tomatoes. (You may use any type really.)
  • 1/2 of a Red Onion finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs Vegetable Seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbs basil
  • 1/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese

Optional Ingredients include

  • 1 Avocado Cubed
  • 1 Cup Steamed Corn
  • Fresh Basil

Chop up tomatoes and add to a mixing bowl. Add chopped onions. Mix olive oil into the tomato mixture. Add all seasonings to mixture. Add feta cheese just before serving.

Serves about 4

Pumpkin Curry Soup

I have mentioned this before… When I get in the cookin’ mood, I always scan my fridge to see what I have to work with. Last Monday, I was in the cookin’ mood and my main ingredient to use was pumpkin. Like usual, I logged onto Pinterest and scanned through all of the pumpkin recipes I could find. Chicken Curry made with Pumpkin was a recipe that caught my eye. The only downfall was that I did not have nearly enough Chicken to make the recipe, and I didn’t have curry paste.

So, doing what I always do, I went off the books and just started adding ingredients. AND this is what I created!

Pumpkin Curry Soup with Shrimp

1 Tbs Cocoanut Oil

2 Cloves of Garlic

1 Red Onion Chopped

1 tsp Red Pepper

2 Tbs Curry Powder

1 Tsp Cumin

2 Cups Milk

1 package of mushrooms sliced

1 green pepper chopped

1 tbs Ketchup

2 1/2 cups of pumpkin (I used fresh Pumpkin, but you could use a can too)

1 Tbs Salt (more or less according to taste)

1 Tbs Garlic Powder

1 Package of frozen Jumbo shrimp

Add Coconut Oil to a hot kettle. Add diced garlic and red onion once the oil has melted. Allow garlic and onion to saute until onions become caramelized. Add Red Pepper, Curry Powder, Cumin and stir well. Add Milk, Mushrooms, Green Pepper and Ketchup to kettle. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add pumpkin to the mixture and allow soup to simmer for 30 minutes. Devein, de-shell and wash shrimp. Saute shrimp in another pan until the shrimp are fully cooked (Shrimp will turn pink) Add shrimp to soup and stir. Stir in garlic powder, and salt to taste. I usually like soup on the salty side, so you may want to use less salt.

Why I Decided to Avoid Sugars and Grains

1929931_41118940356_5476_nWhen I look back at my life, I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t dieting. I remember being a fifth grader and thinking I need to lose about 20lbs so that I could look like the rest of the girls in my class. When I was in 7th grade I decided to become a vegetarian because I thought it was a healthy way to loose weight. Somewhere between 8th and 9th grade I tried becoming anorexic. I knew this was wrong at the time, but I wanted to do anything to look like the girls in the rest of my grade and my sister who was known in our family for being stick thin. Luckily the last diet failed miserably, and after 15 hours of not eating I realized that this lifestyle was not worth it.

 

Right before I graduated College I became serious in running. Although there were other reasons I turned to running, one was because I thought I could finally loose that extra weight. As I ran more and more, I started wanting to learn about running more and more. I started to listen to different running podcasts to improve my running.

One day, I was listening to Runner Academy Podcast, and I heard Timothy Noakes talk about the affects of sugar on the body. When I heard him speak, I was skeptical because I was brainwashed that the body needs carbohydrates, especially during long distance running. The next week I was listening to Marathon Training Academy which had this crazy man called Vinnie Tortorich. For the first time, I began to consider removing sugar from my diet. Trevor and Angie-the hosts of Marathon Training Academy- had tried out the lifestyle and made me interested in trying.

Last January (It was the end of January, so it wasn’t a New Year’s Resolution) I decided to finally give up sugar. I soon learned that there are a lot of grains that also have sugars in them, so I gave them up too.

The first week was awful. I had this dull headache for the whole week that became worse every time I thought about food. Cupcakes just looked amazing, and I wanted to eat all of them!!!!! I loved Reeses peanut butter cups and I contemplated driving to the store and buying a whole bag to eat before I got home…But I resisted these urges and eventually they disappeared. One day I woke up and I just felt GREAT! For once I could focus my mind on one thought without being distracted. I could walk into the Teacher’s Lounge and resist the mountain of sweets that looked delicious! I felt empowered.

A year later, there are several things that I noticed that have changed with my decision to live No Sugar No Grains. First of all, I have reduced the stomach pains I received after I ate a meal. I never realized that these pains were something other than digestion until I eliminated digestion. Secondly, I realized that my acid reflux and heartburn was eliminated. I always thought that because this problem ran in my family I was screwed. Lastly I lost about 30lbs and reduced my pants size.

Now, I have a degree in Education, NOT in any type of health or medical field. I am not a

My Mom and I, by the bean in Chicago

My Mom and I by the bean in Chicago

doctor, nor would I ever try to be one. But this is a lifestyle that I believe in that works for me. I understand that there are many people who may disagree with what I choose to eat. Suck it up Buttercup! I am doing what I feel is best for me. Finally I feel like I have won the diet war!

The Truth about Kale Chips

I have been attempting to live the #NSNG lifestyle for almost a year now. Recently, I have been browsing Pintrest, trying to find new and exciting recipes to try. When I search for recipes, I want to find ones that I can make NOW!!! I usually open up my fridge and ask myself “What can I do with all this Kale?” I have no idea what I was expecting to come up with. Kale Doughnuts, or Kale Cookies? I wanted some magical recipe that instantly made kale sound exciting. However, after the search was made, the truth came out that there was no magical recipe. What did come up, was recipes that I have already heard of…And lots and lots of recipes for Kale Chips. Disappointed in my failed search, I reluctantly clicked on a pin for Kale Chips.

Numerous bloggers compared eating Kale Chips to potato chips. I do not know what secret spice these cooks are sprinkling on their kale chips, but I highly doubted that the end result was comparable to potato chips. Eager to prove the bloggers wrong, I decided to whip up a batch and see for myself how awful they tasted.

I plucked off the leafy parts from the thick stem and ripped the leafs into smaller pieces. Then I added about 2 Tbs. of Fat Louie Olive Oil to the Kale and mixed it until every piece was saturated in the oil. I then spread out the Kale on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and seasoned the Kale. Lastly, I placed the Kale into the oven at 250 for 30 minutes.

Finally, the buzzard broke the silence of my kitchen. I was surprised, because the Kitchen actually smelt good. For about a minute, I just stood by the oven, trying to decided if this was a good idea. Reluctantly, I grabbed a small piece that looked like it got seasoned well. Now, I will not compare these to Potato Chips, but this was actually tasty. Because the kale is baked at a low temperature for a longer amount of time, the water seems to dry out of the kale, leaving a dry crunchy snack. Season the Kale to your preference and you have yourself a tasty alternative to eating junk food.

I dare you to try this for yourself!Casey's Kale Chips

Casey’s Kale Chips

1 cup Kale (remove thick stems)

2 Tbs. Fat Louie Olive Oil (Sicilian)

1 Tbs. Dill

2 tsp. Garlic Powder

1 tsp. Salt (add more to taste)

Chop up kale into bite size pieces. Add olive oil and toss in kale until everything is completely covered. Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Combine spices and sprinkle evenly onto the kale. Make sure to only have one layer of kale on the sheet. If you have too much Kale, it will not dry out and will be left soggy. You can be creative and season the kale with your favorite seasoning.

Enjoy-

C