Friday, May 20, 2011

My Summer Challenge

Somebody needs to tell Mother Nature that we're coming into summer, not leaving it. The weather here has been dreary, cold, and wet. More like an unpleasant October than a green May. There have been a couple of sunshiny days keep us hopeful for more, but every time we get our hopes up, they get dashed into little sleety bits of hail...

In spite of the gloom, we're all happy because summer has officially begun in the Hyzy household. The kids are out of school. That's really when summer begins, right?

So, what's my challenge?

You may remember that I have a vegetarian daughter. No problem.
My husband and I are currently counting carbs. He and I had very good luck with an Adkins-ish diet ten years ago, and we know that if we watch our carb intake we'll both lose the ten (or so) pounds that crept back over the past few years. 

Right now you may be nodding. You're seeing my dilemma. Adkins and its many derivatives call on participants to increase their protein intake (i.e. more meat) in order to avoid carbs (i.e. pasta and bread). Main dishes of meat won't work for my daughter. Main dishes of pasta won't work for us.

So, how do I keep everybody happy?

Fortunately, my vegetarian daughter really is vegetarian. She loves all vegetables except possibly asparagus (gets that from her dad), and those carbs are more complex than simple carbs found in pastas. I've upped our already respectable veggie intake by a lot.

But that doesn't make for especially exciting meals. At least not every day. Rather than prepare pasta dishes for her that would only serve to tempt us, I've pulled out some cookbooks and have begun experimenting with vegetarian dishes that aren't too high in carbs.

Mind you, my husband and I still enjoy our proteins at most meals. (Notice how lately "meat" has suddenly morphed into "protein"? If I had more self-discipline, I'd try to wean myself away. Maybe when these ten pounds disappear...)

Anyway, I digress.

Today I wanted to start with something that pleases everyone!

No, this isn't carb free, but it isn't terrible. When my husband and I follow our plan, we allow ourselves one "reward meal" per day. We have it in the evening and at that meal we're allowed to have one helping of carbs, in any shape we prefer. Sometimes I choose corn on the cob, sometimes a piece of fresh Italian bread with butter. Today, it's an ice cream sandwich!

These are *fairly* low in carbs. I checked the nutritional info on the ice cream before I bought it. A half cup has 15 carbs (I use less than a 1/2 cup per serving, maybe 1/4 cup). Add in the peanut butter 7g for 2 Tbsp (I used less of this, too) and 11g for one chocolate graham cracker, and that's probably less than 30 grams. Yeah, not zero, but as long as I only have one, I'm okay.

My vegetarian daughter, and my other daughters (who don't have to count carbs) think these are a delicious, fun treat. They actually prefer them over ice cream sandwiches because the graham cracker is sturdy; that their fingers don't get gooey while eating.

To me, they're my reward for staying carb free during the day.

And they're so easy to make.

Here goes:
Break chocolate graham crackers in half to form two squares.

Slide a thin layer of peanut butter on each side (left)

Scoop a small helping of softened vanilla ice cream onto one of the sides

Top with the other.

Squish slightly

Wrap in foil
Place in the freezer for about an hour.


All that's left is to enjoy them. Just be aware that the graham crackers tend to shed a few crumbs every time you bite. Totally worth it, though!

BTW - I tried making them with smooth and with crunchy pb, and I have to say--much to my surprise--I prefer the smooth.

My kids are already talking about changing the ice cream flavor to Chocolate Chip Mint, or to change out the pb in favor of caramel.

The possibilities are endless.

Darn... I'm hungry now.


Over the next few weeks I'll be posting some vegetarian offerings and a few meat-based ones as I search for the right balance here at dinner time.
Wish me luck!


Don't forget - Grace Interrupted comes out June 7th! There are plenty of exciting moments in store for Grace and the gang this time. And you're invited to help launch it!

If you'll be in the Chicago area on Sunday, June 12th, please come to my book signing party! (I'll be on the WGN - Rick Kogan's Sunday Papers radio show that morning, too!)

Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore
7419 W. Madison
Forest Park, IL
1:00 - 3:00


  1. Julie, I love this and I can see the whole thing dipped into warm chocolate and enjoyed almost like a S'more. Oh, yum!

    Let's hear it for vegetarian-inspiration! :) LOL


  2. bake dessert! Looks like a yummy, homemade ice cream sandwich!

    We're trying to cut back on carbs here, too...such a pain! Veggies do get a little old after a while. :)

  3. Ooh, dipped into warm chocolate! What a brilliant idea! That would help prevent crumbs from falling with every bite. Great idea!

    Elizabeth - Counting carbs *is* a pain. But at least there's dessert at the end of the long road... sometimes

  4. Yum! This would be a great treat for beach rental weeks. No cooking involved and easy cleanup. Plus everyone would love them!

    ~ Krista

  5. A beach rental week. Wouldn't that be heaven? We have a little sunshine today and a bit of a warmup, so I'm eager to head to the lake (or ocean, if I can convince my family) any time!

  6. Sweet idea! Looks like a great snack for my writer's coffee breaks. I'll probably go with a non-fat ice cream and try a sugar-free strawberry jam instead of the PB. As you say, this idea lends itself to many variations! I'm counting the days to GRACE INTERRUPTED! Your launch plans sound like fantastic fun. Congrats, Julie!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. Thanks, Cleo. It's a perfect little pick-me-up! Love your idea for non-fat ice cream and sugar-free jam. Sounds delicious!

  8. My husband needs to avoid carbs for medical reasons, and our vegetarian daughter will be with us for six weeks this summer, so I'm in the same boat you are and am interested in your recipes. I've never cared much for beans but am willing to try recipes with black beans and chickpeas, so am looking for those. No kidney beans though!

  9. Wow, CindyD, we really are on the same page. I just bought a bunch of black beans myself. Haven't figured out what to do with them, yet, but I have a couple of ideas.

  10. Ooh, Julie, this dessert sounds so nice & easy! Will try it soon to use up the rest of the ice-cream!

    As for black beans, I use them all the time--frequently in Tex-Mex and Southwestern dishes, like pork stew w/zukes & green chiles. And I love them in salads and salsas; one of my faves is a Mango-Jicama- Avocado Salad w/Red Onions-- I just throw in a handful of rinsed drained beans, toss with lime vinaigrette & voila, healthy salad!

  11. I love fun food and you nailed it, Julie!

    Thank you!

  12. Lynn - I adore Tex-Mex, but I usually eat it out rather than prepare at home. Thanks for the salad idea. Sounds perfect!

    MJ - Thanks! Enjoy!