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Posts from the ‘Diet and Food’ Category

Bliss Balls.

Do you know what bliss balls are?  I had never heard of them before.  There’s a coffee shop near the beach out here that sells these bliss ball things.  They look like desserty meatballs and are kept in a glass jar near the cash register.  If you’re sleep deprived, they look like pets held captive by the bakery ladies.

Chris bought one on a whim, assuming it would taste like garbage and we’d laugh about eating balls, but instead we thought it was delicious and felt ashamed at our immaturity.  To reclaim adulthood, we decided to attempt making our own bliss balls at home.

The sign at the coffee shop claims the ingredients are oats, peanut butter, honey, pepitas, coconut, and cinnamon.  The girls who worked at the coffee shop had no idea how much of each ingredient to use (Of course I asked; I’m baby-wearing and existing without sleep … no shame in going full-Mom and asking the college kids how to make bliss balls, right?), so I had to wing it based on the ingredient list alone.

I’m not a good cook, but I am good at baking, so I decided to give these bliss ball things a try.  The only missing element was that I didn’t have a recipe to follow.  Instead, I combed the web for different recipes and mushed them together, eventually following this one mostly, only tweaking it to fit the ingredients on the coffee shop sign.


1/4 cup honey
1 3/4 cup peanut butter (the oiler, the better)
3/4 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup pepitas
cinnamon (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Put all of these items, except the pepitas (have you Googled that word to find out what the hell pepitas are yet?  I’ll wait …), into a bowl.  Stir everything together.  The mixture will resemble cookie dough.  Or meatloaf.  Cookie meatloaf.  (Mistyped that as “meatdough” initially.  Gross.  Going with it.)
  • Take the meatdough mixture and taste it.  Does it taste kind of like a snickerdoodle cookie with the texture of an almost-granola bar?  (My descriptions are not good when it comes to bliss balls.  On the whole, I think they look like meatballs or truck nuts, but they taste so nice and they are so mellow on my blood sugars that an embarrassing appearance becomes a non-issue.)
  • If the mixture tastes right to you, add the pepitas.
  • Shape the meatdough into round balls about the size of a golf ball and place them on a cookie sheet.  We put ours into the freezer for 20 minutes, then moved them to a tupperware dish and layered them in there, separated by sheets of parchment paper.
  • After about two hours, the meatdough will have “set” and the bliss balls will be all blissful.  Eat them with your face and forgive them for what they look like.

(Note:  I do not have an artsy-bloggy photo of the bliss balls, as they do not photograph well.  Use your imagination.  Or look at this Pinterest board for hints on how other people have done this sort of thing will more success.)  

The Vegetable Recipes That Didn’t Suck.

The battle remains uphill (couldn’t remember how to turn the stove on the other day, which is a testament to how scrambled my pregnant brain is becoming – add that to last week’s inability to use the gas pump on a car I’ve owned for over six years), but I’m still working diligently to cut more meat out of our diets and integrate more vegetable-based dishes.  Call it an experiment in vegebetes, if you will.

And I will.

There have been a few spectacular failures (undocumented) and a handful of poorly-photographed successes (documented and to follow), but we’re slowly making progress, and I’ve yet to burn the house down.  Pluses on all fronts.

Here are a few of the vegetable dishes that tasted nice, were Birdzone approved (for the most part), and didn’t kill anyone:

This eggplant from Jamie Oliver.  As mentioned, no one died.  And we’ve made it ten different times so far, with leftovers extending for a day or so, making it useful on several fronts.

I make it exactly as the recipe dictates, except I use gluten-free bread crumbs and I also add more garlic than should be humanly consumed.  We’ve eaten it on its own, served over quinoa, or over pasta.  Even Birdzone said it was “okay,” and the neighbor’s kid actually said it was “awesome!”  Everyone seemed surprised by this realization.

Eggplant. (Man, all my food pictures look mildly horrifying. Food blogger I am decidedly NOT.)

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

I also took a crack at making falafel last night, which was surprisingly awesome (and the patties stayed together much more effectively than the quinoa and sweet potato ones that haunt my dreams).  Birdy really liked these, and they actually tasted like something instead of me wishing they tasted like something.  The recipe came from a Better Homes and Gardens 365 Vegetarian Meals cookbook, which was more than worth the purchase because most of the recipes seem really easy … even for a novice like me.

Falafel attempt (before they were tossed into the pan).

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on


For the falafel patties:
1 15 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup shredded carrot
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, halved
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Once these ingredients are measured out, put them all in a food processor and mess them up together. That’s kind of it; it took more time to measure things out then to obliterate them in the food processor.

Problem was I used a food processor that was a teeny bit too small for the project.  I had to blend things by the half portion, and then smash them together in a bigger bowl, which was kind of fun in a chickpea snowball sort of way, but really messy to clean up.

Once everything is mixed up, you split the contents into four sections and shape the mixture like giant cookie dough balls.  Then, in a large skillet, you heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat, then put the patties in there.  The recipe called for the patties to cook for 6 minutes, but mine required more like 10.  Once they are brown on one side, flip them over and brown up the other side.  Then they are done.

(Note:  We liked the taste, but next time I make these, I’m splitting the mixture into smaller portions and making 8 patties, not 4.  That way, they’ll end up a little crispier and not be so gigantic.)

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Once the patties are ready to go, put them on a bed of spinach, top with the mayonnaise mix and some cucumber slices, and eat them with your face.

More experiments coming soon, but thank you guys for the recommendations and advice as I take a crack at this new way of cooking. I appreciate all the input, and should mail you all some cookies (like these cookies, because they are so damn good).

Plant-Based Faceplant.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve made an attempt as a family to eat more plants/eat less meat.  This is decision is rooted in a dozen different health reasons, but the end result is a move towards cutting back on the meat we’re consuming and integrating more than just a “meatless Monday” philosophy.

All well and good, right?

Except I still can’t cook.  And this is making anything “new!” a bit of a challenge.

Last summer, I worked towards a decent grasp on using our grill, making chicken and grilled vegetables and hamburgers that didn’t highlight my inability to create edible meals.  That learning curve was steep, though, and now the idea of trying to get creative in the kitchen with a renewed focus on plant-based meals is daunting as eff.

Because, as mentioned, I still can’t cook.  I’m having a plant-based face plant.

I tried to make these – sweet potato quinoa patties – and assembling the ingredients was easy enough.  I could get everything into a bowl and if I were to eat it like a salad, it would have worked out beautifully.  But the goal was to cook these on the stove top, creating a hot meal where the patties are crisped to a golden brown and cause people to put their fingertips delicately to their collarbones in delight – “My goodness – did you MAKE these?  They are DELIGHTFUL!” and then everyone gets drunk.  (This fantasy takes place post-August, when wine can re-enter the picture for me.)

Instead, I ended up with patties that didn’t ever crisp into golden perfection.  My attempt was more a lump of burned-on-one-side-barely-held-together-on-the-other-side patties, where they needed to be coaxed aggressively out of the pan and had to be eaten immediately or else they’d taste like not-awesome hash browns.

I’ve tried to make them twice now.  The first time, Chris and I had a “ho, ho, ho this is an experiment! and we’ll figure this out” response.  The second time, I was a hormonal mess and just about threw the pan across the kitchen with a pathetic sob of, “I can’t COOK I only make burnt vegetarian DOG FOOD.”  The third time, I’m afraid I will pitch a fit and then a tent in the backyard and force myself to sleep there until I can happily eat grass.

(Have I mentioned hormones?  I have them.  There are many of them.  Would you like some?  AHHHHHH!!!)

So what I’m hoping for is this:  Do you have a favorite non-meat recipe that is easy to make and that you enjoy eating?  I’m looking for recommendations to help expand my palette and my culinary skills without causing emotional chaos.  My kitchen prowess is limited, but I’m willing to try anything at least three times, and I’m really eager to reduce the amount of meat we’re eating.

Prebolusing the Sh*t Out of Things.

Now, at the halfway mark of my pregnancy, insulin resistance is becoming a bit of a thing, and is going to progress into an Actual Thing as the weeks go on, which happened last time and I’m prepared for but it still a bit whoa and this sentence is a run-on.

Which means that basal rates are creeping up ever-so-slightly (my pre-pregnancy basal total was around 13u and I’m now up to 16.2u) and my insulin:carb ratios starting to dance (pre-pregnacy was 1:10, am now 1:9 … except lunch is 1:12 because why would things be consistent?).  When I first found out I was pregnant, my endocrinologist told me that post-prandials contribute most to macrosomia, so keeping my post-meal blood sugars as in-range as possible would help mitigate that risk.  (But let’s take a look at the risk list … pre-existing diabetes?  Check.  Over 35?  Check.  Previous pregnancies?  Check.  Having a boy?  Check.  Cool.)

The plan?  Actively and aggressively pre-bolusing the shit out of my meals.

This sounds like an excellent plan, in a perfect world.  Pre-bolusing works well for me when the bolus is delivered at least 20 minutes before eating, the meal is properly carb-counted, and nothing delays the process of eating.  But one monkey wrench in that process can muck the whole mess up.

Pre-bolusing can feel spooky, like I’m tempting fate and inviting a low.  Not doing it is like opening the door for a high.  The middle ground could use some xanax.

Over the last few weeks, my pre-boluses have been executed with precision.  A few fistfuls of jellybeans have worked their way into rotation when I’ve bolused too early, but that’s to be expected.  The temp basal option on the t:slim is stupidly easy to employ, so sometimes I use a temp basal to help back me out of a mild low, but overall, I’ve seen my post-prandials come down nicely and hopefully my ultrasounds continue to show a very boring, predictable pregnancy progression.

Makes meals interesting, though.  They’ve become a game of roulette.

“Do you think we’ll get seated right away?”  Or, “I forgot to pre-heat the oven and now dinner is going to be 15 minutes later than I thought.”  Or, “Fuck.  I forgot to eat!”

I’m pre-bolusing all over the place.  Usually it works fine.  Sometimes I end up wicked low.  But every time, it’s in effort to keep my post-prandials from causing chaos in my kid.

Gimme a Beet!

Beets haven’t always been top-of-preference for my palette.  I read somewhere that people either love the taste of beets or think they taste like dirt, and I used to be in the latter camp.  But these days, beets are most desirable and I am looking for a calendar dedicated entirely to them, preferably wearing suspenders … and only suspenders.

Problem is, I had no idea how to cook them and preparing them leaves my kitchen counter looking like a game of Clue.

“It was in the kitchen!  With the carving knife!  And included spinach salad … ?”

But the Internet! This is what it was made for: Googling problems and then solving them with pixel power.  A quick search for “simple beets recipe” on Google images brought me to photos, and then to recipes, that were manageable with my limited kitchen talents.  (I prefer to search by images because if the image looks simple and easy, then the recipe hopefully is as well.  Also, images help me weed out evil food things, like weird, crumbly cheeses.)

Raw beets are what I’m craving, so a simple wash, peel, slice-and-dice plan of attack works perfectly and makes the beets easy to toss into a spinach salad.  I’ve read on several sites that cooking the beets strips away a lot of their power (read: they can’t fly and their x-ray vision goes to shit), but this salad looks awesome and I’m trying this one later today (minus the crispy toast bit).

Desperately, this morning I sliced and ate a beet on top of toast with cream cheese.  Which might read as disgusting and vile, but slap some olives on the side and chase it with a decaf iced coffee and that meal fast becomes a breakfast my pregnant-self craves, while my pre-pregnancy self shudders in the corner and makes faces of disgust.


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