One of my challenges in losing weight is battling my tendencies to get more food for each point in the Weight Watchers food plan. Those zero-point foods become more attractive, and that’s the way WW intended it to be. If we focus on lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables, we will become healthier and lose weight.
However, a problem arises when we start manipulating foods with artificial flavorings and sweeteners in order to stretch out those WW points. When we start doing that, we aren’t learning to be satisfied with smaller portions, and we aren’t learning to rely on whole, natural foods.
A few days ago I bought a diet lemonade (sweetened with Splenda) from Chick Fil A. Within a little while I had a headache. I’ve noticed that several times recently – a headache and usually stomach upset not long after drinking or eating something with artificial sweeteners. Yesterday I made a dozen muffins using a sugar-free cake mix as the base. “Sugar-free” typically means “sweetened with artificial sweetener,” and that was the case with these muffins. I ate one of the muffins for lunch, and all afternoon I’ve had digestive issues as a result. The rest of the muffins are going in the trash.
When I consider the fact that I started this WW health, fitness, and mindfulness journey in order to become healthier, then I don’t want to eat or drink anything that doesn’t foster that. Every now and then, I will still enjoy a Diet Coke. However, rather than a multiple-times-a-day thing, it is now something I consume maybe two or three times a month. And that is okay for now. I may cut them out entirely at some point.
My mother is 97 years old, and one of the reasons (I believe) that she has led such a long and mostly healthy life is that she sticks to healthy food: lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grain bread. She almost never eats pork, and she has lots of meatless meals.
No major insight for this post – just a reminder to myself of the importance of natural, whole foods. That will continue to be one of my focuses for my daily life.
When I got home from an appointment earlier today, I wanted a latte or macchiato; I needed an early afternoon energy boost. I started to make a caramel macchiato but then noticed that the jar of sugar-free caramel had “Refrigerate after opening” on it. It has been sitting next to my espresso machine for a couple months. I tossed it in the trash.
With no caramel (except full sugar – which would add 6 points for 2 tablespoons – and I would want more than 2 tablespoons!), I decided to go with a latte instead.
I got a large glass and filled it with ice. Then I poured 4 ounces of espresso over the ice. And since I REALLY like my coffee drinks sweet, and since I had just bought a bag of golden monkfruit sweetener, I added 1 1/2 Tablespoons of it to my latte. I finished filling up the glass with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and stirred it.
The golden monkfruit sweetener is a brown sugar replacement. So it gave the latte a caramel-y flavor – which I loved.
Weight Watchers points? The only ingredient with points is the almond milk – and it’s 1 point for 1 cup. I used less than a cup, but will count a full point anyway. It is delicious! Just imagine: a large coffee drink for 1 point! I will be making these more often!
My experiment today was to make chocolate muffins without a sugar free cake mix as the base. I wanted to develop my own recipe. It sounded so simple. However, I found that I greatly over-estimated my creative baking skills. It was such a disaster that I won’t even list the recipe, but here are the ingredients I used:
They looked so nice in the pan and cooked up beautifully. I couldn’t wait to taste them.
I took one bite of the warm muffin – and promptly spit it out into a napkin! There was no sweetness at all – it actually kinda set my teeth on edge. All 12 muffins (minus that one bite) went right into the “chicken bowl” that we keep in the kitchen for scraps to feed the chickens.
I decided to give it another try immediately. I decided to add some monkfruit sweetener, vanilla extract, and a little Fage nonfat Greek yogurt. Surely those additions would make the muffins wonderful – or at least palatable.
So I made a second batch with those modifications. Again, I was eager to try them out. They looked and smelled wonderful. This time I got 2-3 bites down before tossing all the rest into the chicken bowl. The second batch didn’t set my teeth on edge, but they simply didn’t taste good. Sigh.
I have to say – those sugar-free cake mixes are looking a lot more appealing at this point! I’ve run out of muffin-making steam for today, but maybe tomorrow I will be go back to the original sugar-free cake mix chocolate muffin recipe!
Today I was thinking about all the foods I’m eating lately that have artificial sweeteners. Not good. I don’t want to live the rest of my life using artificial sweeteners because they definitely do not promote good health.
So, with that in mind, I am going to phase them out. I will figure out healthy ways to enjoy sweets naturally with moderation and common sense. It may be that I have to stop them altogether, or I may only use Stevia and monkfruit. I need to do some research to get more information to see if there are any that are truly safe.
I’ve enjoyed the muffins that I have made with sugar-free cake mixes. However, I bet I can find muffin recipes without the fake stuff that will be low points AND tasty. So that will be my goal for the next few weeks.
One of my favorites at Starbucks is a Caramel Macchiato. However, usually after the first few sips, it becomes cloyingly sweet to me. So I started making them at home. The secret is leaving out the vanilla syrup that Starbucks adds in addition to the caramel syrup. The vanilla syrup is too much sweetness.
So I’d fill a glass up with ice, squirt caramel syrup over it (I like LOTS of caramel syrup), add 8-10 ounces of milk, and then pour a couple shots of espresso over it. Finally, I’d drizzle more caramel syrup on top. Yum! Before WW, I never measured the caramel syrup – I loved it creamy and sweet.
Since I started Weight Watchers, I wanted to skinny down the recipe. I still wanted it creamy and sweet, though. So today I made one using unsweetened vanilla almond milk and sugar-free caramel syrup. It was a hit! It’s not as sweet as what I used to make during my non-measuring days – but it sure satisfied my sweet tooth.
Here’s the recipe:
4-Point Caramel Macchiato (Weight Watcher’s Blue Plan)
(1) Fill glass with ice
(2) Drizzle 1 tablespoon of sugar-free caramel syrup over the ice.
(3) Add 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (1 point)
(4) Pour 2 shots of espresso into the glass (0 points)
(5) Drizzle another tablespoon of sugar-free caramel syrup (2 Tablespoons of syrup is 3 points)