Low Fat Diva Blog

Low Fat Lifestyle Recipes & Lowfat Cooking Tips

Not A Man’s World Anymore! June 29, 2012

Gone are the days when women are found only drinking fru-fru cocktails with little umbrellas. For years women didn’t drink a great deal of beer, it was classified as “a man’s beverage of choice” but that thought process is gone by the wayside as women are not only becoming very diversified in beer types but they are also brewing beer.  Now women are ordering a Blonde Ale, Vanilla Stout, Belgian Tripel, Lambic or an IPA.

Female brewers are still something of a novelty but they do exist and the good ones, like Rachael Holland, are well respected by their fellow male brewers.  I met Rachael almost a year ago at a homebrew club Christmas party.  At first, my thought process was “ oh I wonder if she is a newby like me in the brew world”,  but that foolish notion went right out the window when a man came up to Rachael and wanted her opinion about a certain yeast combination he used in his beer!  Before I knew it, more men were coming up congratulating Rachael on a recent brew she made and wanting to discuss water chemistry or other brewing questions with her.  Rachael Holland definitely was not a “newby” like me, this was a woman I definitely wanted to get to know better and like normal for me, I needed to ask a ton of questions!

I recently sat down with Rachael to talk about female brewers in Sparta at Michigan Beer Cellars where she has been a professional brewer for the past two years (Rachael started off working for free at the brewery so the owner, Dan, could see she really knew about beer brewing).  Rachael told me she has been homebrewing beer since 2007 and “cut her teeth” on a book by John Palmer, How To Brew. As I learned more about Rachael, it didn’t surprise me when she told me she started right out brewing with all grain and not a Mr. Beer type of system.  Yes, Rachael is that woman, you know the type go big or go home!   Although she does not compete much anymore in homebrew competitions, Rachael’s boss Dan won Best in Show at the 2011 World Expo of Homebrew Competition with her recipe for Dunkelweizen.

We talked about women brewers and how tough it might be for a woman to break into the world of brewing.  Rachael is totally aware that she has been fortunate in this arena; most men really respect her as a brewer. She has proved that she not only can talk about brewing but she is really good at it.  There are not a lot of female brewers but Rachael told me about another woman, Manda Geiger, who is working at a brewery called The Hideout (Rachael’s boss Dan’s son).

Manda started out at Hideout Brewery as a bar tender (she still does work part time) but always had an interest in craft beers.  She had not done any homebrewing but found herself intrigued with the brewing process at the brewery.  That is when Wob, the head brewer at Hideout, took her under his wing and began teaching Manda the process of brewing.  Now she does pilot brews, which is brewing a 25-30 gallon batch of beer.  This step allows the brewery to try out a recipe and tweak it before it’s passed to Wob who will make the recipe in the larger system.  The experience of pilot brewing has been great for Manda as she learns more about the whole brewing process and she loves it!  Wob has been a patient teacher and even asks for her opinion on some of the specialty recipes they have been working on, like the recipe for peanut butter cayenne beer.  Manda hopes in time she will be doing pilot brews at least 5 days a week but for now she is only brewing for two and the rest of her time is tending bar at the brewery (a girl has to pay her bills).  Manda has found that stepping into the brew world has not been easy but she said due to her independent, competitive nature (with men) in time Manda feels she will gain the respect from men after they try a batch of her beer and really like it!

I asked both women if their taste in beer has changed since they have gotten into the brewing business.  Manda said at first she was more into wheat beers but now she considers herself a “hophead” (this type of beer is made with selected hops and the beer can have 3 different types so the beer has a very strong flavor).  Rachael likes a huge variety of beer types and enjoys specialty beers like Sours.

I discovered that Rachael is a foodie like myself and cooking is the other passion in her life.  Lately she has been working on ideas of how to blend different herbs to develop herbal beers.  After learning this I knew I had to tell her about my homemade beer marshmallows!  It was awesome to see Rachael’s eyes light up and I could see her trying to picture what beers the brewery had so she could make some too.  I told her about some of the other recipes I had made with our homebrew and Rachael was taking mental notes as fast as I was writing my notes for the interview!  Manda shared with me some ideas about making breads and granola out of the spent grain.  I can’t wait to share some of the recipes with you that I’m working on the grain.

So, what do you do if you are a woman who has been homebrewing for a long time and you think you are ready to venture out into the world of owning your own brewery?  You contact the next woman I recently came across who is part of a group called the Brewers Professional Alliance (BPA) and her name is Lynda Nance.  Lynda works for H&S Companies in their brewery division where she actually was the first member of the alliance and helped create the steering committee.  Lynda’s specialty is the internal part of the brewery business and makes sure you know what your SWOT is (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).

Lynda told me she was introduced to craft beer about 25 years ago and was hooked.  Although she doesn’t homebrew herself, believe me when I say, by the end of our conversation this woman knows her stuff!  Currently the BPA has about 8 breweries they work with around the state (Mount Pleasant, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Saugatuck, etc) but are hopeful in three to five years they will have breweries in the surrounding states and eventually be nationwide.  Lynda writes for the newsletter the BPA puts out and believe me there is a ton of information on the ins and outs of brewing, the industry, laws, taxes and a great deal more.

I love the motto of BPA that Lynda told me about, “if we are drinking we are working”. I guess that says it all.   I have really wanted to start a brewery and I think I have found my head brewer in Rachael, my fellow pilot brewer with Manda and Lynda with BPA to consult us with the internal issues, yup we are set!

Be sure to check my blog all month long for some taste tempting recipes (like a chocolate espresso stout float) that you and your friends/family will surly enjoy!!

 

Hello Fellow Female Brewers! June 28, 2012

Filed under: Diva's Brew-ha,Low Fat Diva Blog — lowfatdiva @ 12:14 pm

For many years I was not a “beer girl”, then after college when I was super poor I found I really liked Rolling Rock, which at that time was a pretty cheap beer.  Then as I moved around my taste changed and beer was not a favorite at all.  Speed ahead a few years, marriage happened, children happened, children left home for college, moved away, bla,bla,bla.  Enter one Mr. Beer Kit for Christmas, whalaaaa – homebrew.  Actually the kit was given to my husband but after some time we started making the different batches together.  We graduated him to a much larger system and kept the Mr. Beer for me so I could do  “pilot brews” (new phrase I discovered when I interviewed female brewers).  Right now I have a Himmel Beer in my 2.5 gallon carboy and I’m so excited to taste the end result.

If you brew or are wishing you could start a brewery (like me), I have a pdf I want to post here from the Brewers Professional Alliance.  This group has it all for you from thinking stage until you pour your upteenth glass of beer in your brewery.  Check them out!

BPAHopsnsuds.com-1

 

Revised Baked Potato Grilled Cheese Sandwich June 25, 2012

Filed under: Main Dishes & Sandwiches — lowfatdiva @ 6:37 pm
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One of my readers sent me this recipe off Pinterest (awesome site that is very addicting).  She really wanted to make the sandwich for her husband but the fat content was way too high and would totally blow their new healthy lifestyle choices.  So, I took the recipe (from BS’s In The Kitchen) and changed it up a bit.  Now, I think any of us should be able to enjoy this tasty sandwich without any guilt.   Enjoy!!!     For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

 

Revised Baked Potato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2-3 strips of turkey bacon or real lean bacon

1 potato ( Yukon Gold is a nice butter flavor)

2 Tlb. no fat sour cream

Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar  (no dairy and it’s low in fat)

Green onions

Chives

Pam Canola Spray

Spray Butter (refrigerator section at grocery)

Salt & Pepper

Cibiatta Bread

Cut your potato into even slices, you will need about  4-5 slices for each sandwich.  Place the potatoes into a saute pan that has been sprayed liberally with Pam Olive Oil.  Cook each side until browned and crispy.  Be sure to salt and pepper the potatoes to taste as they cook.  In the recipe it suggested to sprinkle a light pinch of garlic powder over the potatoes.  I did it both ways and the flavor is up to your personal preference.

While potatoes are cooking, In another pan cook your bacon on medium heat to desired tenderness.  Crispy is a better way to prepare the bacon (even if you like wimpy bacon, this is not an application for it).  While everything is cooking, slice your bread . On the inside, put about 1 tablespoon of sour cream on each slice as well as a couple of thin slices of cheddar cheese. When the potatoes and bacon are finished frying, fan the potatoes out on your bottom slice of bread, put a little more sour cream on top of the potatoes.

Slice up one green onion stalk and sprinkle it on top of the potatoes along with the bacon.  Place another thinly sliced cheddar on onion and then top with your other slice of bread!  Spay the outside of the bread with spray butter, place on grill/panini maker/or fry pan.  Spray top piece of bread while bottom cooks.  Cook to lightly brown and enjoy!!!

Now just grill the sandwich in a pan on medium heat until each side becomes golden brown.

 

Delicious Lemon Bars

Filed under: Desserts — lowfatdiva @ 11:32 am
Tags: , , ,

When I was first given this recipe  with only to ingredients to try, I thought someone forgot to write out the rest of the recipe.  Two items in the lemon bar recipe?  Seriously?  I love lemon bars but let’s face it we all know there is a great deal of butter in them, so when I was given this recipe I was thrilled but also a bit cautious.  But I threw that to the wind and decided to try the recipe and sample it out on some friends we would be seeing last weekend (yes, everyone seemed to enjoy them because the 13×9 pan was totally empty in one day)!

So when you read this recipe, don’t panic there really is only 2 ingredients, I didn’t forget anything.  Just mix, bake and…..Enjoy!!!

For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

Lemon Bars

2 boxes of angel food cake mix

1 can of lemon pie filling

Mix the cake mix and the filling together with a hand mixer until blended.  Spray a 9X13 pan with Pam.  Pour batter into pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  You will notice the bars raise way up while in oven and fall when you remove them, no worries, it’s suppose to happen.   You can sprinkle powdered sugar on the bars once they have cooled but to me it’s a bit to sweet and the bars are wonderful without it.

 

Shortcake Cookie For Fruit June 20, 2012

Filed under: Desserts — lowfatdiva @ 2:12 pm
Tags: ,

I recently made this shortcake cookie for some fresh Michigan strawberries and took it to the rehab facility my mom is currently in (replacement on hip replacement).  One of mom’s table mates had a daughter visiting and wanted the recipe.  Well to my surprise when I referred her to the site to get it, there was nothing like it on the web site…oops.  I often create recipes, don’t write them down and think I have them on my blog.  Well hopefully Gretchen will find this recipe and it’s close to what I made before 🙂  I like to do the cookie type because it’s different from just a typical “biscuit” and I add just a little bit of something that I love – chocolate –  the crunchiness goes well with the berries.    Enjoy!!!   For comments/questions  email ramona@lowfatdivablob.com

 

Shortcake Cookies

3 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1Tlb. baking powder

2 Tlb. fresh grated orange or lemon peel

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup cold Blue Bonnet Margarine cubed

1 1/2 cups no fat half & half

1/4 cup egg beaters

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 – /13 cup mini chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine the flour 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, zest and salt.  Cut in oleo until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Whisk half & half, egg and vanilla together.  Add to flour mixture, stirring until just moistened, you can add chips at this time (do not over mix).  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead about 7-9 times.  Roll out to about 1″ thickness and cut with a scalloped edge cutter that has been dipped in flour.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 400 for about 15 min or until light brown.  Cool on wire rack about 5 minutes before removing.

The cookies will be a bit crispy on sides and soft in middle.  Top with berries of your choice.

 

Chicken Salad Sandwich

There are a bazillion versions of chicken salad but one thing many have in common is the tarragon that is added.  Some people will put grapes or nuts or pineapple but tarragon seems to be a consistent ingredient.  The prime thing  to remember when you make chicken salad is to use just the skinless breast of the chicken or you are defeating the purpose of selecting something that is low in fat.

Use either ciabatta or a really good multi  grain bread for your base.  You will be amazed how the two flavors will come alive so instead of thinking it’s just a boring chicken salad you will have your taste buds dancing in your mouth!  Enjoy!!  For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

1/2 cup low fat or no fat mayo

1 Tlb. fresh lemon juice

2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

1 cup green grapes sliced in half (optional)

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/4 tsp. tarragon

salt & pepper

field greens

multi grain bread or ciabatta bread/rolls

In a bowl, mix mayo, lemon juice, tarragon, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Add chicken and fold together gently.  Cover and let chill for at least 1 hour so flavors can blend.

Using bread, or rolls place chicken salad on one half, top with field greens, place remaining bread/roll on top.  Yum!!!!  Eat and Enjoy!!

 

Fabulous Summer Salad

The uniqueness of the salad will allow it to accompany anything including a sandwich.  My daughter’s friend Meryl Aja Humphrey Lotz shared this recipe with me.  Meryl put some pics of the salad on face book and it looked so wonderful I wanted to make it myself.  Meryl is a fantastic cook and uses a lot of fresh vegetables/herbs in her recipes.  The pics she sends us make the food look so beautiful and inviting, you just want to try them no matter what the ingredients and that is what happened with this recipe!  The base of the salad is Quinoa (keen’ wa), I know, probably not something you have sitting in your pantry.  I was actually not even sure what it was until I did some research on it (and checked out my pantry).  I knew that it had to be Gluten Free because Meryl, like my daughter, has a Gluten intolerance.

I can’t really describe Quinoa except it’s a cross between rice and a cereal grain.  It sort of “pops” in your mouth.  Quinoa is a very healthy food and is used in a variety of ethnic dishes. When I received the recipe I noticed there was olive oil and avocado, which yes I know is “good fats” but I would have to do a bit of converting with.  Meryl told me whatever I did, I really needed to keep a bit of the avocado in the recipe so I did and she was right, it really does help make the fantastic taste come alive in the salad.

If any of you tried the couscous breakfast parfait I posted , remember you may have been skeptical with that too and in the end you found it to be delicious!  As you will with this wonderful salad that can be a meal or eaten as a side.  If you have texture issues….get over it…..you are missing out on some great food finds!   Enjoy!!             And thank you Meryl for introducing me to Quinoa and sharing this tasty recipe.     For comments/questions email ramona@lowfatdivablog.com

Quinoa Summer Salad

Make a batch of Quinoa according to package directions except instead of water use chicken stock.  Allow to cool to room temp. I had Red Quinoa in my pantry.

The amount of Quinoa as well as the vegetables for the top will depend on how many you are serving.  I made enough for 2 people.  You can adjust the amounts of vegetables to your liking.

1/2 pound (or 5 slim stalks fresh asparagus) cut and trimmed into 2″sections (after removing the bottoms, cut remainder in half)

1 small onion roughly chopped

1 carrot julienne into 2″ pieces

1 cup sliced portabella mushrooms

1 clove garlic minced

1/4 cup diced red onion

fresh chopped parsley

avocado slices

fresh lemon

After Quinoa has cooked and is cooling, liberally spray a saute pan with Pam Olive Oil. Add the white onion that was roughly chopped.  Saute until just starting to become translucent, add carrots, garlic and mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes(they should be still crisp ) add asparagus pieces and cook for a couple more minutes. Be sure to not to over cook any of the vegetables and keep moving the vegetables around to cook evenly.  They should still be crisp tender when finished. Remove from heat.  If you have a Mister for your olive oil, this is the time to use it.  I actually found white truffle oil in a mister and used that for this portion of the recipe.  Mist/spray a little olive oil or you can add a 1/2 Tlb of butter to melt over the warm vegetables.

Arrange some of the Quinoa onto a plate.  Top with your sautéed vegetable mixture.  arrange a couple of very thinly sliced avocado on top of vegetables, sprinkle  red onion and some chopped fresh parsley.  Squeeze  fresh lemon juice over the entire salad (maybe a 1/4 quarter of lemon for both salads).  Now, Enjoy!!!  Delish.

 

 
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