Category Archives: Beverages

Book Review: Dining Out at Home Cookbook 2

Ever wanted to imitate those dishes you enjoyed while eating out for much cheaper at home? I do. I do this all the time, I taste something, then I go home, imitate it and try to make it healthier. This book comes from a fellow blogger, Stephanie Manley of, who has had so much success in food imitation she has filled a second book of recipes. I’m a sucker for a great icon guide, this one indicates recipes for cocktail parties, vegetarian, make ahead (always great for dinner parties or freezer cooking), impress the guest (really who wouldn’t want to?), dinner for one (which happens around here a bit), and dinner for two (which happens a lot around here happily) just to name a few. There are so many tantalizing tidbits in there. The thing I love about this book for people like myself who are trying to eat healthier is, now that you have the recipe, it is so much easier to make substitutions. Want that cheesy goodness that comes from Logan’s Roadhouse loaded potato skins? Flip to page 32, substitute light sour cream, light cheddar and monterey jack cheese, and light butter. You are in tasty heaven and for less fat and calories than eating out in the first place. I love to do take out from home. It is always, cheaper, healthier, and often faster (consider driving time, ordering, etc). What about the Melting Pot’s Wisconsin Trio Fondue? Yeah, it’s in there…you know what to do. I do not have access to a lot of these restaurants, being Canadian, so a book like this adds extra excitement. Many a time my husband and I have been watching tv and seen commercials for places like Sonic, Panda Express, Red Lobster (we don’t have one on the island), and Cheesecake Factory (that is actually due to all our Big Bang Theory watching), they look so good but are nowhere near here. Happily they all have recipes in this book, I can’t wait to make some of those red lobster biscuits, healthy version of course. So many great restaurant recipes are represented in this book including my own addiction, a version of starbucks pumpkin spice latte which I get to share with you right now! Perfect timing too right?’s Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin Syrup

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tblsp grated nutmeg
  • 3 cinnamon sticks or 1 1/2 tblsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tblsp canned pumpkin

Pumpkin Spice Latte Serving

  • 1/2 cup espresso or strong coffee
  • 2-3 tblsp pumpkin syrup
  • 1/2 cup milk, warmed and frothed
  • whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Make pumpkin syrup:

  1. Bring water, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Strain through a coffee filter. You want the seasoned water to be free of the spices.
  4. Pour the strained water back into the pan and add the sugar and pumpkin. Mix well.
  5. Simmer another 10 minutes. Makes approximately 1 pint of pumpkin spice syrup. Store in and airtight container in the fridge. Will stay fresh for up to a week.

Make the Latte:

  1. Brew a 4 ounce serving of espresso or strong coffee.
  2. Place 2-3 tblsp of pumpkin syrup in a coffee cup and add coffee.
  3. Gently pour the frothed milk over the coffee and gently stir.
  4. Top with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg if desired.

Serves 1

Want to make it a skinny pumpkin latte like I do? Substitute the sugar with stevia or splenda, choose skim milk or unsweetened almond milk, and skip the whipped cream. A skinny pumpkin spice latte serving (with unsweetened almond milk) comes in at 28 calories, 2 grams fat, 5.4 grams carbs, 1.2 grams fibre, and .9 gram protein. Nummy! I make this with organic canned pumpkin and stevia. Watch for sales throughout the year and enjoy!

Sham Shake of the Shamrock

I hummed and ha’d about posting this one since there are already so many recipes of this out there. You know…it can’t hurt to have another one. So no picture this time sadly since I consumed this bad boy last night without snapping a single pic. I was so excited when I heard the shamrock shake was out again…I love mint…mmm…mint. I figured I deserved that tasty minty treat, so I looked up the nutritionals on it to see how hard of a hit I would be taking. Then I found out for an itty bitty small it would cost me 530 calories and 14 grams of fat. Big time frowny face over here. Might as well have a big mcnaughty for 10 more calories and 10 more grams of fat. Sheesh. Well, this was in need of a hungry hobbit makeover bigtime. So, I celebrated last night with an attempt that won me over…granted I had no taste comparison since I haven’t had a shamrock shake in years.

  • 1/2 cup vanilla frozen yogurt
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 tsp mint extract
  • green food colouring (optional, I don’t since food colouring like that weirds me out a bit)
  1. Combine and blend, blend, blend!!!
  2. Omnomnom.

This makes one serving of sham shake goodness. Contains 175 calories, 2.3 grams of fat, 27.7grams of carbs, 8.9 grams of protein, and no fibre. Although, I totally recommend adding a clear fibre supplement to this. Does nothing to hurt the taste but makes this even better for you. Now those values make me much happier. I will sip my sham of a shake and think no more of this other shake silliness.


My husband has been on a liquid and mush diet this week due to having his wisdom teeth removed. I asked him if it was painful losing wisdom stats, it was. A friend suggested he have a smoothie to help. So in the parade of things that were made I figured this was one of those I would actually eat too, and did. It’s nice to have the occasional smoothie. I haven’t made one for awhile but they are wonderfully simple and as I discovered great for when you sitting in front of a game all weekend. Hehe, so bad. I keep reading smoothie recipes that overly complicate the matter. Honestly a great tasting smoothie is not difficult and does not have to come from a lonely bottle on a supermarket shelf.

  • 100 grams light yogurt (I like source, this one used exotic coconut, pineapple, and banana but any flavour will do)
  • 1 small banana
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  1. Using a blender combine until smooth. Serve!

Now wasn’t that easy? Serves 1, contains 171 calories, .7 gram of fat and 2.4 grams of fibre. I had one for breakfast the other day with a fruit cup and was all set until lunch…aaand I had started my day with a couple of fruit servings and calcium under my belt already. How awesome is that?

The Amazing Travelling Pumpkin Spice Creamer

I belong to a group that meets every week. While I’m good about resisting the food temptations by making sure I have eaten before I get there, the coffee and tea is proving difficult. These lovely ladies make a point of having coffee and plain black tea at all these meetings. Like the good hostesses that they are they offer it often to their guests. The only problem is these are ladies who are not watching their weight, their coffee and tea comes with only cream and sugar to dress it. While I can often have my tea without sugar or milk, coffee just does not work that way with me. So I needed something I could bring without being a bother.No picture this week since it’s just a white powder, nothing really fun to look at there.

Pumpkin Spice Creamer

  • 1 cup skim milk powder
  • 1/2 splenda
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  1. Blend ingredients in a blender or magic bullet until a fine powder is produced.
  2. Add 2 tsp to a cup of coffee. Enjoy!

Each serving of this creamer has 39 calories, and 0.3 grams of fat. The creamer should keep at room temperature for about 12-18 months. Longer if you refrigerate it.

This does really well on camping trips if you are like me and still want to have your fancy coffee while you are sitting in the wilderness.

Foamy Latte

Awhile back I found this helpful little tool that I just have to talk about.  Ikea brought out this foamer, I believe part of it’s “Produkt” kitchen line which is no more than 4.99 and does the trick. I have seen other frothers around and they seem to be a bit pricey…some of them even go for fifty to a hundred dollars! I love a good frothy coffee to start my day, especially flavoured with those Torani syrups I see around (sugar free ofcourse). Check it out…

It feels like *insert your over priced coffee place of choice here* without the *overpriced coffee barista invention* and the *inflated fat and calories* which leads to an *inflated you*. hehe got a little carried away with the stars there. The nice thing about this frother is that it seems to get it’s frothiest with skim milk and soy milk. My husband has tried it with cream and with those special flavoured coffee whiteners. Just not the same. It forces you to have a healthier coffee just to get that nice foamy latte. No need for whip cream to feel indulgent. For me I find it actually helps to kick any whip cream craving.

We’ve gone beyond coffee with this thing too. Hot chocolate and even chai tea has gotten a nice fancy topper. Now if only I could do some of that coffee foam art.

All you do is fill your cup about a quarter of the way with milk. Some folks like to heat it for about 20 seconds in the micro…I’m in too much of a hurry for some coffee, I skip it just fine. Foam it up to desired lift. Pour in your coffee, hot chocolate, tea, whatever. Flavour and tada! Fancy hot drink to help you start your day. If you go with tea or coffee all you have to worry about is the calories and fat in your bit of skim milk you used. Which really won’t ruin your day so go ahead and pair that bad boy with a nice low fat and low calorie scone, muffin, or bagel for that coffee shop feel.

Note: we have one of those keurig single serve coffee things. Which I must say has totally been worth it, especially with my husband being on various shifts at the base. He’s not always there in the morning to share a cup. Just one cup, not a lot of waste, and you can get all sorts of fair trade varieties!

Mango Lassi

My favourite thing to have when we go out for indian food. So refreshing, so tasty. They are really tasty anytime of day. Do I really even have to mention how good yogurt is for us? Watch tv, even Jamie Lee Curtis tells us so. Yet again, I dragged out my Lord of the Rings cup of awesome to have a mango lassi today. Been wanting one since this tasty indian restaurant commercial graced my tv screen the other day.  A well deserved treat for not running out and getting some chicken korma. Sadly, my mint that is currently growing is having issues so I had to keep my sprig farming to a minimum. No mint garnish for the picture.

  • 1 1/4 cup plain fat free yogurt
  • 4 tbl honey
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut
  • 6 ice cubes
  • 4 sprigs of mint or more
  • 1 cup skim milk
  1. Place everything except the mint in the blender. Sometimes I like to add some to the blend but that is purely optional. I recommend chocolate mint if you can get your hands on it. Tasty! You usually have to raid the garden stores early to get your hands on one to grow.
  2. Serve with a sprig of mint for garnish.

Makes four servings. Each serving is 196 calories, .5 grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber. A bit decadent for a drink I know but considering how thick and tasty it is you can chalk it up as one of those snack drinks. It’s certainly lower in fat and calories than most shakes you will pick up…and a whole lot better for you. Hurray for the mango lassi! I should make some curry to go with this sometime.

Pumpkin Pie Frosty

I love those wendy’s frosties. I have made chocolate versions like it but decided there must be a way to get a serving of vegetable in along with this tasty treat. Behold! There is. I love pumpkin pie, I love frosties, it’s totally win win!

Yes, that totally is a Lord of the Rings goblet. I love that thing. This recipe actually makes more than will fit in this goblet. I recommend a nice big cup for yours!

  • 1 cup of skim milk
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, pure pumpkin is where its at)
  • 2 tbs vanilla fat free pudding mix
  1. Throw it all in a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Serve!

This is indeed a frosty drink. Great on those warm summer days or anytime you need to fill that creamy frosty craving.  I tend to say its one serving…it’s definitely one large serving, 175 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 3.8 grams of dietary fiber. Sure you can share and cut all that in half but…do you really want to? Don’t forget! This has a serving of veggie in it…and it will keep you full for quite some time. Enjoy!

Bursting that Soda Pop Bubble

When I was in university there was an old time soda shoppe nearby and I used to love going there for a burger and a gourmet pop. They would make all sorts of fun pop, even customized creations where you would pick and choose the flavours.

Well…I don’t live close to that shop anymore…and even if I did that pop would most certainly burst my challenge. With signs of those warm summer months starting to cross my mind I find myself trying to think up fun treats that are drinks to satisfy my occasional craving for a fun pop. Afterall doing pop like this all the time would hardly make it special now would it?

One of my great loves is cherry coke…I live in Canada though, so cherry coke zero is just plain wishful thinking. Instead I have been taking coke zero and blending it with Torani syrup sugar-free black cherry. Usually about 1 or 2 tbl will do it. Tada! Zero calorie cherry coke. This got me to thinking. What about vanilla coke? What about all those other fruit flavours they have in sugar-free? Yes, over here we have been amassing a group of syrup flavours to rival any coffee shop…well…a sugarfree one at least. Those syrups just plain are not for coffee alone anymore.

Italian sodas are another fun drink treat that reduces the amount of Splenda you are actually drinking. Grab yourself a case of club soda, mix the sugar-free syrups of choice and tada! Your own custom pop.  Sometime later throughout the summer I will have to start keeping track of some really nice craving busting drink combos.