There’s a fat man inside me struggling to get out.
I’m not going to let him.
Part one of my three-step plan to thwart the fat man is to cut sugar out of my diet. Part two removes fat and carbs. Part three eliminates food altogether. That’ll show him.
Turns out it’s not so easy to forego sugar when it seductively whispers your name throughout the day, promising ecstasies beyond mortal comprehension. To silence the voice (that lovely, wonderful voice), I have tried sugar-free everything, but I just can’t get past artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, and the thought of contorted, glowing green lab rats with cancerous pustules oozing atop other festering cancers.
The after-lunch cravings are the worst.
Here’s Where the Cocoa Comes in…
I had a solution… nurse a cup of sugar-free cocoa, like a baby with a pacifier, but more dignified and adult-like. The only problem, I couldn’t find a good sugar-free, packaged hot cocoa, or even a decent recipe for that matter. Empty-handed, I had little choice but to attempt to create a recipe of my own. Keep in mind, I’m no chef, but the bar was low. As long as it didn’t taste like wrung-out sweat sock juice, I was good. A quick analysis of the problem indicated three major hurdles:
First I needed to find a sugar-free, low fat substitute for milk (even 1% milk is loaded with sugar and fat, albeit the good stuff apparently), with a non-watery, pleasantly thick consistency. After testing every form of liquid known to man, including numerous varieties of tequila (those were good days), I settled on Silk’s Unsweetened Cashew Milk. There are other brands available, but they are too strong and nutty for my taste.
The next hurdle was finding a sugar-free sweetener that wasn’t potentially harmful or just plain icky (I’m looking at you Stevia. Yuck). Frankly, the sweetener was the toughest part. Monk fruit extract was my prime candidate for a long time, but no matter what I mixed with it, the fruity, sickly aftertaste remained (not as bad as Stevia, but not good either). I suspect it tastes fine in fruit drinks, but definitely not cocoa. Then I came across Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener. It’s a granular substance that looks like sugar, tastes like sugar, but is comprised of a tiny bit of Monk fruit juice mixed together with a whole lot of Erythritol (a scary sounding alias for fermented corn). The name alone almost turned me away, but I felt better after doing some research. Apparently it’s the Great, White Hope of sugar substitutes. You can find it at Whole Foods or online.
Finally, I needed a cocoa richer and tastier than the standard Nestle or Hershey powders typically found in grocery stores: a dark and rich chocolate, but not bitter (I don’t ask for much). The answer was Dutch-processed cocoa. My preference is Cocoa Barry Extra Brute. If you don’t want to order a two pound bag online, many grocery stores carry a wonderful, but more expensive, alternative by Droste.
Yet, something was still missing. I think it was the absense of Cocoa Butter. I needed something to replace its buttery taste. That something was English toffee extract. Amoretti is the gold standard with no alcohol, no chemicals and no artificial flavors or colors. LorAnn makes a great economical alternative.
The result is an all-natural, very dark chocolate loaded with flavonoids and antioxidants – read the 7 Health Benefits of Drinking Hot Cocoa.
If you are looking for a milky, hot cocoa… this isn’t it.
It’s dark. “As dark as your soul,” says my wife, Robyn, “and thick, like your B.S.” I think it’s like drinking a candy bar.
Best of all, it’s:
- Sugar-free with no artificial flavors and non-GMO
- Zero on the glycemic Index
- Relatively low in calories and fat, with just a few token carbs
- Gluten, lactose and anchovy-Free
- Compatible with all the trendy diets: Vegan, Mediterranean and possibly Martian (we won’t know for sure until we discover their ancient ruins). Sorry, it’s not Paleo. I guess cavemen didn’t ferment corn or use state-of-the-art industrial processing facilities.
Dark Chocolate, Banana Cream Pie Hot Cocoa
The four ingredients required for basic dark cocoa are listed above, but if you want to try the chocolate banana cream pie, you will need these, as well :
LorAnn Marshmallow Flavoring (an extract without alcohol). Who needs all the sugar and gelatin of real marshmallows. You know where gelatin comes from, right? If you want to have fun with your cocoa, try some of their many other flavorings, from Hazelnut to Cookies and Cream.
Here’s the Recipe…
Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate, Banana Cream Pie Hot Cocoa
Zero Sugar, low carbohydrate, low fat, dairy-free, soy-free, non-GMO, Vegan
- 1 cup Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk
- 2-1/2 T Cocoa Barry Extra Brute or Droste Dutch Cocoa
- 4 T Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener, Classic
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 drops Amoretti English Toffee Extract (use an eye dropper)
- 1 glop LorAnn Banana Emulsion (1 glop = 1 giant drop)
- 5 drops LorAnn Marshmallow Flavoring (use an eye dropper)
- 1 pinch Nutmeg
- 1 sprinkle Coconut Shavings
For basic hot cocoa, simply mix the cocoa, sweetener, English toffee extract and salt into the hot cashew milk.
For hot cocoa with an essence of marshmallow, also include the marshmallow flavoring.
For chocolate, banana cream pie hot cocoa, add all of the ingredients together.
For even richer, sipping chocolate (like drinking a candy bar), add 2 additional tablespoons of cocoa powder and two additional tablespoons of monkfruit sweetener
This cocoa is best prepared on a stovetop with a light and loving touch by gently warming the cashew milk until it is ready to accept the subtle nuances of the cocoa (I just nuke it in a microwave).
Don't care for sugar-free? Substitute sugar 1:1 for the sugar-free sweetener, and prepare to toss and turn all night wallowing in your guilt.
Designing an island home led to this logic puzzle. If you haven’t read the puzzle, follow this link (preferably before reading the solution below).
The ferryman takes the contractor across to the island, leaving him there, alone.
He goes back to the shore and brings the architect across to the island. But instead of leaving the architect and contractor together, he brings the contractor back with him to the shore.
The ferryman then takes the engineer across to the island, leaving him and the architect to swap recipes.
Finally, the ferryman goes back to the shore and takes the contractor across to the island.
All ends well.
An architect, engineer and contractor are constructing a home on an island. They are not getting along. As happens frequently on construction projects, the engineer is having an affair with the contractor’s wife. To add to the friction, the contractor has stated in no uncertain terms that his two-year old child could draw a better set of plans than the architect (this also happens frequently, but not to us 😉 ).
At the start of the workday, they arrive together at the shore. It’s a low budget project and the only way onto the island is via a small ferry that can hold two people (and one of the two must be the ferryman).
If the contractor and architect are left alone on either the island or the shore, the architect will pummel the contractor.
If the engineer and contractor are left alone, well, let’s just say the engineer will require additional structure for support.
The architect and the engineer, on the other hand, are BFF. They can safely be left alone together.
When the three are together, one of them always intervenes in the others’ dispute, thus avoiding calamity.
So, how can the ferryman bring everyone to the island without incident (alive and unbound), and save himself the extra trip of ferrying a medic across to clean up the mess?
Solution to the light switch puzzle:
Flip the first switch and leave it on for a minute, then switch it off.
Ignore the second switch.
Flip the third switch and leave it on.
Hoof your way, painfully gasping, up the many flights of stairs to your apartment.
Examine the lamp.
If the bulb is off, and warm, then the first switch controls the lamp.
If the bulb is off, and cold, then the second switch controls it.
If the bulb is on, do I have to tell you…?
Here’s a logic puzzle for your amusement:
You live on the top floor of a highrise. On your desk sits a lamp which is currently off. The lamp has no integral switch. Instead, it is conveniently controlled by a switch in the sub-basement (the architect of the building won an award for creative, ‘green’ building design by placing all of the light switches in the sub-basement to reduce extravagant and wasteful wiring. You may take comfort that the architect also lives in the building, which curiously maintains a box of rotting tomatoes near his apartment door).
Further complicating your life, the light switch is one of three, with the other two switches not connected to anything (the electrician got a deal on salvaged light switches from Botswana). All of the switches are off.
Your task is simple: determine which of the three switches controls the lamp.
Oh, did I mention you are malnourished and only have enough energy to make the trip down to the sub-basement one time (the contractor ‘forgot’ to build the elevator and is currently living like a king in a cardboard box under a bridge. It’s a single-storey box.)
You may go downstairs one time, flip the switches up and down as much as you like, take a nap, or play fetch with the rats, and when you finally arrive back at your apartment, gasping, you must determine which of the three switches controls your lamp. Easy.
You may not use trickery. No tools, voltage meters, cameras, mirrors, trained seals, telephones to talk with someone in your apartment, etc. Just you, the switches, and the lamp.
Here’s the solution.
Cross-country flight today, seated next to a young girl, 6 1/2 years old (not 6 or 6 1/4, but 6 1/2. Very important) and her mom. She didn’t have anything to do, so I gave her my sketchbook to color in and we chatted for much of the flight. Kids like Disney World. Who knew? She left me this note.
Yet another reason to always carry a sketchbook (and multi-pencil)!
To those of you who have subscribed and read this blog via email (sorry, Mr. President), I regret to inform you that you only receive some of the images (at least I won’t get a call from the Secret Service. Again) and none of the videos.
There is some quirk in the blog hosting software that strips out multiple image galleries (the good stuff, really and video links). It doesn’t appear fixable. You will have to click your way to the blog page (www.arteriors.com/blog) to see them. Sorry for the inconvenience.