Boston Banana Cream Pie

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Sunday was Mr. Cake’s birthday. And for Mr. Cake’s birthday, we made unhealthy cake.

I know what you’re thinking .. “Omg but you just did a poor review of a government diet! And you could’ve done reduced-sugar this and organic that and replaced some of that butter with <blank> and used this ‘lighter’ ganache recipe and ..”

And I know that. But Mr. Cake doesn’t like that, and I’m not going to force him to eat it.

Also, it’s his birthday. It’s not like he’s going in for heart disease surgery or anything (in fact, Mr. Cake is a whopping 5’7″ and 133lbs. Even I’ve got 1/2″ and 4lbs on him 🙂 ).

I believe in eating in moderation, and moderation means birthdays! Woo!

(And Valentine’s, apparently, because I made a cakey thing for that too. Whoops).

I also believe in people doing what they want, to an extent. Mr. Cake stands 8 hours a day and walks 45 minutes a day. I’d say that’s enough. I like a half hour run and lifting weights about 10 mins a day. It’s no excuse, but as long as you’ve made a good habit of something, one ‘off’ day every few months isn’t going to ruin anything. In fact, I just recently had a week off of ‘dieting’ (I use the term loosely because I was eating at my caloric maintenance, right now I’m slowly losing about 1/2lb a week so my muscle will show). Then again, I subscribe to the bodybuilding ‘hivemind’, which some say is unhealthy, but I say is a-okay if you want to put on muscle and protect your heart while being quite active. There is still a lot of controversy as to whether eating 1g of protein per pound of lean bodymass can cause kidney or liver troubles, but so far I have seen little evidence of it as long as you’re not on a zero-carb diet (which obviously I am not if I am still eating cake once a month, lol).

I also made cookies, because screw it. He likes cookies, I like cookies. Most people like cookies. And believe it or not, I made my own peanut butter for the cookies, too. I recently bought myself a Vitamix just after Christmas and wanted to see if it actually CAN make peanut butter in 1.5 minutes flat. It can. The peanuts I used cost 84 cents for 3 1/2 cups, and made a $3-4 jar’s worth of peanut butter 🙂 (not that it’s going to pay off the $500 blender right away … but I had fun regardless!).

So if it’s ever YOUR birthday and you want to make some Boston Banana Cream Pie, well, here it is 🙂 :

(Sorry for all the smiley-faces in this post! They kind of do that on their own. Creepy!)

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Boston Banana Cream Pie:

Cake:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease and lightly flour a 9″ pan.
  2. Beat eggs for 4 minutes on high. Add sugar, and beat another 4 minutes on high. You want a result that looks almost like soft peaks. Fold mixture into flour and baking powder. I find it’s easiest to use a spatula to do this.
  3. Heat milk and butter in saucepan until butter is melted and milk is scalded. Add to rest of batter, stirring constantly.
  4. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cake should be golden and ‘spring’ to the touch.

Filling:

  • 1 1/4 cup milk (using a higher fat milk, like whole milk … custards have trouble ‘setting’ with low-fat options, and may get watery as a result)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • pinch of salt (1/8 tsp)
  • 2 sliced bananas
  1. Combine sugar, flour, salt, and milk in saucepan.
  2. Cook on medium until bubbling, then for 2 more minutes (I suggest using a whisk so the mixture doesn’t clump).
  3. Temper egg in separate dish and add to pan. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, stirring in butter and vanilla.
  5. Set aside bananas for assembling cake.

To prepare cake: Cut cooled cake in half width-wise (like the photo, you want it to look like a big ‘sandwich’). Spread with half of filling. Top with bananas. Spread with other half of filling (I just flipped the other half of the cake over and spread it on that instead, like a sandwich) and gently replace top. Top with ganache, which I have listed below:

Ganache:

  • 4.5 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 4:1 mixture Callebaut ‘dark’ and ‘milk’ chocolate chips, but you can use any sort of chocolate as long as it’s not too sweet)
  • 1/2 cup heavy/whipping cream
  1. Place cream in saucepan and gently bring to a boil over medium.
  2. Add chocolate, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth and glossy.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool until just slightly warm.

You may have extra ganache, depending on how good you are at topping cakes. I had about 1/3 left over. It can be used as a dip for strawberries or pretzel sticks if you don’t want it to go to waste. You can also top doughnuts with it, drizzle it on cheesecake or shortcake, or even ice-cream if you’re more of a gourmand.

Tips: Ganache will adhere better to a chilled cake. I suggest putting your cake in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before pouring on the ganache. You can do this while you are making the ganache.

I use a spatula to help the ganache adhere to the centre of the cake, and then kind of turn it around so it spreads by itself. Any ‘thin’ spots can be covered with extra ganache, as long as it’s still slightly warm.

Ganache will not harden right away (takes about an hour at room temperature, or a few in the fridge). Expect it to ‘set up’ like the topping of a good-quality doughnut. That’s when you can safely cut the cake without making a mess! 🙂

Enjoy!

Nutritional info per 1/8 of cake: 423 calories, 15g fat (9g saturated), 109mg cholesterol, 133mg sodium, 65g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 47g sugar, 7.5g protein

Protein Pudding

Protein pudding is a little concoction I have been living off of (well, not literally) when I can’t exactly decide what to snack on. It tastes strongly of protein powder but also kind of like pudding. Because of this, my suggestion is to find a protein powder you really like first before making protein pudding with it. My favourites lately have been Vanilla Caramel Whey HD by BPI Sports and Vanilla Cake by Muscletech Platinum.

Some people may look back on protein powder and shudder (I used to), but I promise you, in the last half-decade alone, protein powder has evolved drastically. It no longer tastes like chalk! In fact, the 2 I listed above taste pretty close to frosting to me. Perhaps that’s because I’ve been eating ‘clean’ long enough to appreciate less-desirable food (well, not less desirable .. but more healthy, really — and ymmv on what ‘healthy’ means), or perhaps it’s because I’ve been used to supplementing with tons of smoothies and powders during my 3 years without meat back in the day. However, those looking to jump on the fitness bandwagon have no fear — there are wonderful websites out there like bodybuilding.ca where you can order samples of protein powders for under $10. And these aren’t just little sample packets either. You can get a 5-7 serving tub for about $10, so you can really see if you like it before you buy a bigger size. They ship from Richmond, too, so it only took like 6 days (and $5 for shipping!) for my order to get to Northern Alberta (and I believe they have another warehouse in Ontario for those on the other side of Canada, but forgive me if I’m wrong). They also have a US website! (which I don’t get as excited about, because almost everything has a US website 😉 ).

No, I’m not affiliated with these guys in any way whatsoever. I just really, really love that website because I am indecisive. I’m so indecisive that I ordered 8 different samples of vanilla-based flavors alone. I wanted to make sure I could have a staple in my cupboard that I am absolutely sure I love. So if you’re tired of the sugar content of RTDs like Boost and Ensure; and you’re tired of the price of Vega ($70 a tub in some places! Ack!), it’s certainly an option!

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For this photo, I used my good ‘ol faithful, Isoflex Chocolate. It’s nice to find a product you can get locally, and you can find that particular brand in many grocery stores these days. Even Wal-Mart has it! I know a lot of people knock Wal-Mart for having poor quality supplements (and to me, their Pure Protein and IsoFemme powders taste like ass), but it can be handy when you need it. And heck, for those of you who are on a budget, or go there often enough anyway, I fail to see the difference between Wal-Mart and some of the generic GNC-brand stuff that’s 3x the price. Alas, I am getting off topic.

Protein pudding. It tastes kinda like pudding but it has protein.

Anyyyhoo. Here’s the recipe:

Protein Pudding:

  • 1 serving protein powder. Use any you like!
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup milk, depending on the thickness of your protein powder (if your shakes come out the consistency of pancake batter – use more milk, if they come out more like the consistency of milk – use less milk .. some brands are thicker, some thinner, so it’s best to experiment a bit)
  • 1 tsp – 1 tbsp coconut oil, depending on how creamy you like it
  1. Scoop or weigh protein powder in a bowl. Add coconut oil.
  2. IMPORTANT – heat your milk in the microwave for about 15 – 20 seconds. This makes it warm enough to melt the coconut oil, but not hot enough to ‘cook’ the protein powder. If you heat it too much your protein powder could clump as the protein denatures. That was the mistake I made the first time I tried protein pudding (then I tried it cold and the coconut oil stayed solid and became chunky). This is what makes the recipe.
  3. Slowly pour in the milk and stir, stir, stir!
  4. Enjoy!

Note: The nutritional information on this will vary wildly depending on the amount of oil, and types of milk and protein powder you use. Protein powder is generally 100-200 calories a scoop, and milk can range from 40 calories a cup for unsweetened almond, to 160 a cup for whole or goat’s milk. My suggestion is to use whatever fits your goals.

Chocolate Almond Cheesecake Shake

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Here’s yet another concoction I’ve come up with in the past few days having to do with protein. I know what you guys are thinking, “What’s with all the protein, man?!”

Well, to be honest, I was diagnosed with a heart infection right before I started this blog. The pinnacle of health, right? Why should you be following someone’s health blog when they have/had a heart infection?

It wasn’t my fault, I swear. I just happened to get a fever when I was camping last August and it went a little too deep for comfort. Probably started with strep bacteria because my throat was mighty sore at the time. Believe it or not, heart infections are actually somewhat common in people my age (I am 23). I felt a little bit of chest pain starting in October … nothing major, just a bit of burning. Kind of like acid reflux but a bit to the left. Went to the doctor in January when it wouldn’t go away, and BOOM, pericarditis.

Did you know that your body usually goes for muscle first if you’re an active or dieting individual? I mean, active enough that carbs don’t even have a chance. What muscle does the body like to choose, of all things? The heart muscle. And because my habit of staying healthy includes running 3 miles a day and eating in moderation, I figured it would be best to up the protein just in case my body decides to have a little snack on my ticker.

I’ve also been taking 600mg of advil a day, a bit of potassium citrate every other day (about 1/4 tsp pharmaceutical grade powder, roughly 600mg), and 200mg magnesium citrate every other night. Electrolytes are important when the heart is involved. I can also afford to eat a bit of salt because I have a low resting blood pressure.

However, if you ever get something wrong with your heart, I highly, highly suggest you go see a doctor. That’s not something to be screwing around with. The only reason I am is because I was directed to take that much advil a day, and my test results came back completely normal, so it’s likely just a very mild infection. Even my thyroid was normal, which is unusual, because it’s autoimmune (I know, I’m sooo healthy, right? That one is hereditary, though!). Only 1 in 3 people experience spontaneous thyroid remission. I guess I have good gambling odds.

Anyhoo, in order to force more protein into myself (my macros are about 35% fat/ 35% carbs/ 30% protein right now, it is recommended that active individuals looking to burn fat/maintain muscle eat between 20 – 40% fat, 20 – 40% carbs, and 30 – 50% protein), I’ve been tinkering around with a bunch of recipes involving protein powder. I even just had a whole stash mailed to me from bodybuilding.ca so I can find the best vanilla flavour ever (even though I did find a pretty good one from Superstore in the meantime, the Vanilla Whey Isolate – PC brand). But I’m not sure what to do with vanilla (yet!), so on with the chocolate!
chocolateshake2(Look, it’s my blue sippy-cup again! Boy do I love that thing. You can get a whole set — orange, purple, and blue — from Costco, for about $20.)

Chocolate Almond Cheesecake Shake

  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • sugar or sweetener to taste (I used just a few drops of stevia)
  1. Place everything in the blender; almond milk first, followed by sweetener, protein and cocoa powder, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and ice on the top.
  2. Blend for a minute or two.
  3. Pour and serve.
  4. Mmmm.

Nutritional Info using unsweetened almond milk, 2% cottage cheese, regular cream cheese, and Isoflex: 267 calories, 9.5g fat (4g saturated), 450mg sodium, 9.5g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 3g sugar, and 38g protein

Berry Chocolate Protein Shake

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Everyone loves smoothies, am I right? 🙂

.. At least, everyone SHOULD love smoothies. With the near-endless selection of ingredients, there seems to be something for everyone.

Some people are fruit purists, others are brave enough to venture into savoury territory. Personally, I prefer protein powder and berries; and boy, am I fussy about my protein powder.

I made the mistake of buying a cheap vanilla whey protein the other day. The texture is nice and silky but whenever a company tries to put in that artificial ‘french vanilla’ scent or flavor, I just can’t stand it. It’s like some sort of Alice-repellent. I’m considering ordering a whole bunch of samples of vanilla protein online just to find one I like. Being fussy does have its expense.

One protein powder I HAVE been able to tolerate, and for many years, is the VEGA protein line.

Even if you’re not vegan (I was for 4 years, but began eating meat again after I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism), the combination of pea and hemp protein is very palatable. In fact, I prefer it to whey.

There are sample packs of the stuff just about everywhere; health food stores, grocery stores.. I love a good sample pack.

However, if alternative protein ain’t your thing, feel free to chuck a scoop of whey into this recipe. But while you’re at it, tell me your favourite protein in the comments. Maybe I’ll give it a try 🙂

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Berry Chocolate Protein Shake

  • 1 scoop Vega Choc-a-Lot instant smoothie
  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used lactose-free cow milk, but try using goat or nut if you’d like!)
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 tbsp chocolate syrup (I use 25% reduced sugar. Regular would likely work, but you might need to reduce the amount so it’s not too sweet.)
  • 4 ice cubes
  1. Add ingredients to blender; liquid first, followed by protein powder, and then berries, syrup, and ice.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into your favourite cup (my to-go container kind of looks like a sippy cup, doesn’t it? haha) and enjoy!

Nutritional info using 2% milk and reduced-sugar syrup: 332 calories, 8g fat (3g saturated), 191mg sodium, 49g carbohydrates, 7.5g fiber, 36g sugar, and 18g protein