OMFGGGG Fall, Part 2 (We are the cider we’ve been waiting for)

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so I wanted to make sure all y’all had these recipes in hand just in time for the holiday. (Hey! I got you. No one should be drinking vodka soda water on Thanksgiving, for fuck’s sake)

But before we talk Thanksgiving, I must first note that it’s National Diabetes Awareness Month (#NDAM), which as you can imagine, is a big fucking deal to all of us diabetics because it’s an opportunity to raise awareness (and funds) about the disease and educate folks. This blog is light and irreverent, but the truth is, Type 1 Diabetes is no joke and every day, people around the globe work their tails off to raise research dollars and to do the research itself – to help us find new, cutting edge ways to manage the disease and god willing, eventually find a cure. If you’re reading this blog because I told you to and you felt obligated, or because you’re amused by my rude tone, or even if you have no idea how you got here, please also take some time to read up on Type 1 Diabetes and how you can help.

Here are some great places to start:

Okay, now that I’ve covered the serious stuff – time to talk about APPLE CIDER. In my prior fall-themed post, I covered an Old Fashioned-style beverage and a martini, because I was still waiting for my sugar-free apple cider mix to arrive, and pretty much any fall-themed drink recipe I could find involved apple cider. At long last it arrived, and this post will cover two cider-themed recipes so you can formally get into your boozy holiday spirit (whatever that means for you).

In case you were blissfully unaware, apple cider has a shitload of carbs and sugar. I mean, it’s basically pressed apples, right? Many of the recipes I skimmed in my research had a section devoted to making homemade apple cider for their beverages, no less – and many of their recipes called for an extra half-cup or cup of sugar on top of what comes out of pressing apples to begin with. Holy shit. So, what is a diabetic to do?

Naturally, I went searching for sugar-free apple cider, because there’s a sugar-free option for everything. Weirdly, the product that got the best reviews (and that I ended up ordering) was a powdered mix called Sugar-Free Alpine Spiced Cider Mix, which sounds gross, but I decided to trust the reviews and go for it. When I first made a batch (which is done by basically tossing a pack into hot water and stirring), I tried it and felt like it was ok but missing something, so I added a pinch of cinnamon and a cinnamon stick to soak, and that actually did the trick. It really tasted pretty good.  Then I chilled it in the fridge to make my drinks and the flavor held. So I’m going to go ahead and recommend this as well because it really wasn’t half bad, and it turned out really well in my drinks. Another option would be to just get some damn apple cider and try to use as little as possible, maybe by diluting in some seltzer water or something – but that wouldn’t give you the intense cider flavor these drinks call for, and what fun is that?

This time I really did plan on following some drinks recipes, but changed my mind again because I didn’t like them, or they had an ingredient I disapproved of. So both of the following recipes are D4D originals!

And, PS – I recommend making a big batch of this apple cider mix and chilling in advance of your drink making. The toddy can be made hot, but the mule should be cold.

The Caramel Cider "Mule"

The Sugar-Free Caramel Cider “Mule”

Sugar-Free Caramel Cider “Mule”

*This recipe resulted in a net zero BG affect for me. There is no actual sugar in this drink, other than what is naturally in the Bourbon!

**You will want to make your cider in advance and chill in the fridge for this beverage.

Ingredients (makes one beverage):

  • 4 oz sugar free apple cider (using the Sugar Free Alpine Spiced Cider mix as described above)
  • 5 oz diet ginger beer
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 0.5 oz Sugar Free Salted Caramel Torani Syrup
  • Cinnamon stick for garnish/flavor

Recommended steps:

  • Light one of those apple cinnamon holiday candles so your house smells like you just made actual apple cider. If you also turn on Christmas music that’s fine, but please just don’t tell me.
  • Fill a copper mule mug with ice
  • Pour all ingredients into mug (over ice) and stir
  • Top with cinnamon stick

 

The Sugar-Free Apple Cider Toddy

The Apple Cider Toddy

Apple Cider Toddy

*This beverage is a close relative to my “Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Toddy” referenced in the prior post, but has a cider twist and can be made hot.

**This beverage resulted in a net zero BG affect for me; there was some sugar in the flavored whiskey but the acidity of the bitters and lemon, plus the consumption of alcohol kept any rise minimal.

***You may want to make your cider in advance and chill in the fridge for this beverage, but this one would also be good hot so it’s your call.

Ingredients (makes one beverage):

  • 6 oz sugar free apple cider
  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz apple whiskey
  • 4-5 drops Angostura bitters
  • Slice of fresh lemon

Recommended steps:

  • Light one of those apple cinnamon holiday candles so your house smells like you just made actual apple cider. If you also turn on Christmas music that’s fine, but please just don’t tell me.
  • Pour cider, bourbon, whiskey, bitters and some ice into a cocktail shaker and mix well
  • Add large spherical ice cube to your glass (they melt more slowly and are better for complex beverages like this one because they won’t water it down)
  • Pour mixture in cocktail shaker into glass, over cube
  • Squeeze lemon slice(s) into glass. Stir. Can add another lemon slice for garnish.
The Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Toddy

OMFGGGG Fall, Part 1

You guys, it fucking snowed this weekend. SNOWED. One second it was 65, bluebird skies and beautiful fall colors, and the next it was fucking freezing ass cold and I was walking my dog in snow boots. FUCK. THIS. And welcome to Colorado, where we have all four seasons, but fall is like 1.5 days so don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

I’ve been insisting for weeks that I’m not ready for winter (and truly, I’m not), but I’ve also been preparing for the change of seasons by stocking up on the AMAZING BOUNTY that Trader Joe’s offers in everything pumpkin flavored, ordering sugar free pumpkin pie syrup and apple cider EVERYTHING, and, naturally, stalking TJ Maxx looking for dog costumes. I’ve also been hard at work researching fall-themed beverages, because I plan to booze it up in style while also carbing up in preparation for my 2.5-month hibernation (don’t tell my Orangetheory gym), where I like to hide in my house in order to avoid psychotic Christmas shoppers.  The only time of year I feel as though I can legitimately sport my office ass is between now and New Years, and I take that job seriously.

That's the dog in a unicorn hoodie, because fall.

I find the best shit in TJ Maxx. That’s the dog in a unicorn hoodie, because fall. And obviously, she learned side eye from her mom.

It turns out that the holidays don’t favor diabetics (color us surprised), and finding recipes, and alternate ingredients, that are not pure sugar or extremely high carb has been harder than expected. Good thing I like a challenge.

Not gonna lie, I didn’t find much to work with on the drink recipe front. When researching “low sugar fall themed drinks” I found a lot of quote unquote “low carb” apple cider recipes. It was rather confusing. Do people not know what sugar is or where it comes from? However, I did learn a few things. Fall-themed drinks tend to favor the following flavors: apple cider (or anything apple in general), cranberry, pomegranate, vanilla, caramel, pumpkin/pie, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. They also seem to favor heavier liquors, like bourbon, dark rum, and flavored vodkas, as well as creams, and hot bases, like tea and coffee. This can make fall flavor combinations a little tricky, since it’s not always easy to find low carb or perfect alternatives for some of the key flavors – but not impossible. And, the higher fat content in some of the drinks can be a plus, since fat absorbs more slowly, giving insulin time to get to work on any associated sugars in the drink.

Amazon’s whack shipping system screwed me a tad last week, so I’ve decided I’ll share my fall recipes in two phases since my sugar free apple cider mix is still somewhere in the middle of the country. (And also, just the fact that I had to order sugar-free apple cider mix online should tell you something about diabetes and fall).

Because of the limited recipe options, I actually concocted my own drink for the first recipe, and then used a recipe I ended up tweaking for the second drink.

The Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Toddy

The Old Fashioned Caramel Apple Toddy

The “Old Fashioned” Caramel Apple Toddy

*This beverage resulted in a net zero BG affect for me; there was some sugar in the flavored whiskey but the acidity of the bitters and lemon, plus the consumption of alcohol kept any rise minimal.

Ingredients (makes one beverage):

  • 1 oz Apple Whiskey
  • 1.5 oz Bourbon (get the good shit for this drink)
  • 0.5 oz Sugar-Free Salted Caramel Torani syrup
  • 3-4 drops Angostura bitters
  • Squeeze in a couple of fresh lemon slices
  • Cinnamon stick for flavor
  • Large ice cube (I have sphere molds but a square mold would work just fine)

Recommended steps:

  • Measure whiskey, bourbon, Torani and bitters into small glass. Mix.
  • Add large spherical ice cube (they have a larger surface area, and thus melt more slowly and won’t make your drink taste like melted water)
  • Squeeze lemon slices over mixture and ice cube.
  • Stir drink with cinnamon stick. You can leave it in if you like a stronger cinnamon flavor, or remove for future use after a few stirs.

 

Pumpkin pie martini. Pictured with chocolate chip pumpkin protein cookies.

Pumpkin Pie Martini. Pictured with pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies.

Pumpkin Pie Martini (Though I’m calling it Halloween Eggnog in my head)

*This drink caused a moderate rise in my BG after consumption, but I was also eating these pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies while I was making the drinks, so that may have had something to do with it (ya think?). This is not a perfectly controlled experiment… what can I say.

Normally I’d credit the person who provided inspiration for this recipe, but I had to make a lot of tweaks because I thought their recipe was a little nasty. So, I’ll just say this is like 50% a D4D original.

Ingredients (makes two martinis):

  • 2 oz vodka (again, go with the good stuff – I had some Tito’s left over from the previous round of martinis so I used that). For the record, the original recipe actually called for vanilla vodka, but those can be very sugary, so I used good vodka and added vanilla extract to capture the flavor.
  • 1.5 oz dark rum
  • 0.5 oz Sugar Free Torani pumpkin pie syrup
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp half & half (the original recipe called for heavy cream and I didn’t have any handy; half & half seemed to do the trick for me)
  • 3/4 cup skim milk (or milk type of your preference – I can’t stand heavy milks or creams so I try to go as light as possible)
  • Optional: 1 squeeze liquid Stevia or similar if not sweet enough
  • Optional: A couple shakes of pumpkin pie spice if you really want to up your pumpkin ante
  • Optional: some crushed nuts and Stevia crystals to rim the glass (that was too much work for me so I skipped it)

Recommended steps:

  • Combine vodka, rum, syrup, pumpkin, half & half, and milk in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously to ensure pumpkin puree distributes evenly in the liquid.
  • Pour equal amounts of liquid into martini glasses.
  • Shake small amount of pumpkin pie spice over the drinks for garnish.

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Two Low-Sugar Martinis to Get Tipsy (…I Mean, Busy) Over

Happy Labor Day, everyone! Long weekends are so great for like a million reasons, but one of my favorite things about the Labor Day long weekend is that we can all agree that its primary purpose is to celebrate the hard work of our ancestors by drinking. Cheers to that.

I used some of my long weekend to experiment with some, quote, “low carb” martini recipes I discovered. Martinis really have nothing to do with the month of September, but I was feeling the need to mix things up before I get overwhelmed by everything pumpkin spice and we have to head down that road (again – how is it fall AGAIN?).

I’ve encountered a lot of the usual suspects on the menu in my culinary travels lately; well-known drinks that remain strangers to me because they’re filled with a shitload of juice or only good because they’re a mix of some kind. I actually left a restaurant recently (bringing a large group with me) because I was informed, condescendingly and haughtily (and like five times, five different ways, because apparently being a diabetic means I’m also slow to process information/was born yesterday), that “they were a WINE BAR and the only liquor-based cocktails they offer contain a sugary mix and I should have come there for wine but because I want a cocktail and I’m a diabetic, I can basically SUCK IT”.  (For anyone looking to avoid this experience, never go to Bitto Bistro)

This made me more determined to find some really common household beverages and whip up a fantastic alternative. And so, I bring you a low-sugar Sex on the Beach martini (suck THIS, Bitto Bistro) and the Watermelon Basil Martini.

Both recipes I’d found for these drinks initially didn’t work for me at all (so I won’t credit their authors here); the measurements on the watermelon basil drink had way too much watermelon juice which put it way high on the glycemic scale (and totally spiked me for like 3 hours) and the “low carb” Sex on the Beach was just, well, gross. I did some tinkering with both to bring down the natural sugar content and try to at least go from gross to halfway decent.  I think they both ended up pretty quality, but you’ll have to let me know (and no judgment here on your timing for making Sex on the Beach…promise).

Oh, and a note about flavored vodkas.  My Sex on the Beach recipe requires the use of flavored vodkas, to maintain the fruity flavors of the drink without the added juice. I spent some time talking with the knowledgeable folks at the liquor store about which flavored vodkas were best to purchase from a lesser sugar perspective (but that weren’t crazy expensive), and they said go for the flavored vodkas that infuse flavors rather than use sugar to add flavors. The difference was, no big surprise, reflected in the price; by purchasing infused-flavor vodkas rather than the Smirnoff-type choices I probably added about $20 to my total price tag when checking out. But for staying low sugar I think it’s worth the extra money.

Low sugar Sex on the Beach martini

Low sugar Sex on the Beach martini

Low Sugar Sex on the Beach Martini

Ingredients (makes two martini glass-sized beverages):

  • 2 oz Vodka (best to keep it quality because there’s a lot going on in this drink – I used Tito’s)
  • 2 oz Peach vodka
  • 6 oz Diet cranberry juice
  • 1 tsp Orange Extract
  • Sprite Zero (or club soda, if you want a less sweet drink)
  • Ice

Recommended steps:

  1. Combine vodka, peach vodka, orange extract and cranberry juice in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well.
  2. Pour equal amounts of liquid into martini glasses.
  3. Fill glasses the rest of the way with either Sprite Zero or club soda, depending on your sweetness preferences, and stir.
  4. Garnish with a slice of lime.

 

Low Sugar Watermelon Basil Martini

Low Sugar Watermelon Basil Martini

Low Sugar Watermelon Basil Martini

*A note about this one: watermelon is one of my absolute favorite fruits, but it makes my pancreas go nuts. I can manage it in small amounts, but it does make my BG go up and this drink required a couple of units of insulin. If you’re one of those people too, keep that in mind when consuming this drink.

Ingredients (makes makes two martini glass-sized beverages):

  • 2 oz watermelon juice from watermelon (I got half a watermelon, cut it into chunks and basically smashed them into a strainer to juice it – it makes a lot of juice so this is a good recipe for a larger group, or if you’re a lush)
  • 3.5 oz vodka (best to keep it quality – I used Tito’s)
  • 2 oz St Germain
  • 3-4 large basil leaves
  • Slice of lime
  • Club soda
  • Sprite Zero
  • Small chunk of watermelon and another basil leaf for garnish
  • Ice

Recommended steps:

  1. Smash watermelon chunks to obtain juice.
  2. Combine watermelon juice and basil leaves in cocktail shaker. Try to smash basil leaves to extract flavor without spilling watermelon juice all over counter/floor like I did.
  3. Add vodka, St Germain  and a few ice cubes to cocktail shaker and shake well.
  4. Pour mixture into martini glasses.
  5. Top off with club soda and Sprite Zero in equal amounts (I found the drink too sweet just adding Sprite Zero, but that’s personal preference most likely)
  6. Squeeze in a slice of lime, and stir.
  7. Garnish with a small chunk of watermelon and a basil leaf.

Summertime Sangria (and Some Info About Wine)

I was pondering what my next post was going to cover and realized I’ve got some bias going on, in favor of liquor-based beverages. I’m not really sorry about that and it will probably continue because I like fun cocktails (and, uh, there’s only so much you can do about the contents in wine and beer) — but I’m acknowledging my bias and so here’s a post about wine.

Oh, and I actively dislike beer and all of it has a shitload of carbs (even the light stuff… and really — “light” beer? Come on), so it’s really unlikely you’re ever going to see a post about beer.  You beer drinkers are on your own for now, unless someone would like to write a guest post. Sorry not sorry.

I made a friend recently who is a sommelier and I’ve been holding out writing about wine hoping he’d guest post about diabetes and wine, but we’ve been literally unable to physically connect to discuss, so you’re stuck with me for now (he sounds interesting so keep your fingers crossed for me). The good news is, as far as I can tell it’s pretty basic — it comes down to how much residual sugar (the fruit sugars in wine grapes) is involved in making any particular type of wine. This article and the images below from our friends at Wine Folly break it down in more detail, but the gist: the drier and less sweet the wine, the less residual sugar it is likely to have – and thus, the less it will jack up blood sugars when consumed.  They note that unless you have a tech sheet handy (I don’t even know what the hell that is), it will be hard to determine how much residual sugar is in a given wine, so follow these two tips:

  1. Watch the cheap wines because they likely have more residual sugars and possibly some additional sugars added to improve the taste (OH, so THIS is why the headaches – aha!). Bottles of wine typically ranging from $15+ are considered better in the long run.
  2. Drink in moderation. Wait, seriously? Screw this article.

    Sugar in wine - by Wine Folly

    Calories & Carbs in wine - by Wine Folly

So let’s apply our newfound knowledge about wine to a Sangria recipe. Sangria is a lovely summery/refreshing beverage that I don’t make often because it’s a pain in the ass to cut all the fruit and requires more than four ingredients, but I’m always happy when I make it, and it’s still summer, DAMMIT.

As an aside, I tend to avoid ordering these when out because restaurants pre-make big batches and the folks selling them don’t always know what’s in them, and between the type of wine used as the base, plus any added liquor, plus all the fruit – you could end up drinking the equivalent of three cokes and not realize it.

Sangria is a subtly strong drink because it contains both wine AND liquor (Cointreau or a similar orange liqueur is recommended), so there are several ways to proceed depending on how drunk you’d like to be after consuming your first glass. It’s also a bit of a “choose your own adventure” regarding how much sugar you add to the recipe and, consequently, whether insulin may need to be involved. Given that there’s liqueur involved as well as fruit, the sugar content can easily add up, so for this recipe it’s important to take both into account when sugar/carb counting. I used my own special pancreas as a guinea pig for the recipe below, and I’d say after about 1.5 hours of sipping approximately 1.5 glasses of my concoction (and sneaking a handful of fruit while I was making it) I’ve gone from about 110 to 135 mg/dL, so all in all not too bad.

D4D Peach Berry White Sangria

D4D Peach Berry White Sangria

I think I found a decent balance for the best of all worlds. I used a dry white wine to make a white Sangria (sorry you red wine drinkers… that shit gives me headaches) so I’m starting with less sugar in my base.  I used peaches and nectarines and other berries because I like them and they’re a little lower on the glycemic index than some other fruit options. I also tested out adding some seltzer water and about 1/2 tsp of liquid stevia to cut the strength of the wine and add a little sweetness. I must say, the overall result wasn’t half bad.

Peach Berry White Sangria (serves 2-3 and/or makes a full pitcher)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5-2 bottles dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc are best)
  • 2/3 cup Cointreau (or Grand Marnier, or any other orange-flavored liqueur)
  • 2 peaches, diced, skin on (you can peel them but I don’t mind the skins)
  • 1 nectarine, skin on (you can peel them but I don’t mind the skins)
  • 4-5 strawberries, diced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, a little squashed to let out flavor
  • Few mint leaves for garnish/flavor
  • 3 cups seltzer water (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp liquid stevia (optional)

Recommended steps:

  1. Cut all the fruit and throw into a fancy pitcher
  2. Pour wine and Cointreau into pitcher and stir; in a perfect world, let sit in refrigerator for approx. 3 hours before consuming
  3. Add seltzer and stevia (optional)
  4. Pour into glass, add ice if desired

The whole concoction can be stored about two days in the refrigerator.

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Gin gimlet

Drink Review: Diabetics Doing Denver

What do you immediately think of when I say summer and alcohol? Yup, that’s right: patios and refreshing beverages. (if you thought of something else, I don’t want to know what it is)

In between recent extracurricular adventures, I’ve been upping my hipster quotient in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood, checking out the patios of some of the chic new restaurants that seem to be popping up everywhere in an area that was until very recently a sad row of abandoned warehouses. These are the kind of restaurants that attract snobby assholes who eat inside buildings wearing their sunglasses, are rude to the waiters because they believe it’s their birthright and assume we’re all here to wait on them hand and foot — but, for better or worse, there’s a reason they’re there: the food is damn good. These restaurants view food as an art, and I’ve been gratified to discover this extends to their mixology, as well.

At two such places, I wasn’t able to find cocktails on the menu that I was interested in/that seemed safe to consume, so I decided to risk it: I told the bartenders I was a diabetic and challenged them to make me a refreshing low sugar cocktail.  It’s been a lucky couple of weeks for me, and my luck extended here, as well — both restaurants delivered excellent beverages. In both cases, when I asked them to leave out the simple syrup and mentioned that I used Stevia to sweeten my drinks instead, the bartenders offered to mix in my Stevia packets without a second thought.  One of them actually spent about 10 minutes talking to me about his experience working with Stevia, said that he thought it was the best option for alternatives for alcoholic beverages, and suggested I grow my own plant.

(As an aside, it has literally never occurred to me to grow my own plant – I frankly hadn’t put much thought into where Stevia came from, much less that I could create my own sweetener. Who the fuck knew? I might look into this, so stay tuned for an update in a future post.)

Until recently, I’d have felt like a high maintenance asshole asking a bartender to use my artificial sweetener in their fancy, carefully created artistic drink – but I’ve decided the risk of social shaming is worth the positive outcome.

So, new D4D tip — if you have the balls and the social skills, ask your resident bartender to cut the simple syrup and mention you have Stevia they could use, instead… and suggest they mix it in for you.

Drink 1: Blueberry Saketini, Mr. Tuna

IMG_1863

Blueberry Saketini, Mr. Tuna

This was a twist on a drink listed on their menu. When I asked the bartender what she recommended I try, she suggested a twist to one of the drinks on the menu because of its simplicity and used Stevia to replace the simple syrup.

Key ingredients:

  • Blueberry sake
  • Crushed mint
  • Bitters
  • Simple Syrup/Stevia

Score on the D4D scale of 1 to 5: 4.

Drink 2: Gin Gimlet, Acorn

Gin gimlet

Gin Gimlet, Acorn

Acorn didn’t have any drinks listed on their menu I was interested in (or that looked manageable) so I asked the bartender to make me something using cucumber and basil. He suggested a gin gimlet because of the relatively few ingredients, and then used my Stevia in place of simple syrup.

Key ingredients:

  • Gin
  • Lime juice
  • Crushed cucumber and basil
  • Soda water
  • Simple syrup/Stevia

Score on the D4D scale of 1 to 5: 4.2.

 

I Got Fancy With a Mint Julep

DERBY WEEKEND… SQUEEEEE. Ya’ll know what that means… FLAIR! Parties, fancy summer dresses, ridiculous HATS, spectacular / bourbon-flavored / fried / #superfatteningfoodthatgoesstraighttomyass / uh, great food… and Mint Juleps!

It’s a great excuse to fancy it up on all fronts, including at one’s personal diabetic bar. So D4D got fancy this weekend in honor of the Kentucky Derby, and in honor of Justify, who looked like he was on steroids and in honor of Mr. Dollar-sign Bob Baffert winning with another horse AGAIN (dude seriously… haven’t you won enough? there are some starving type 1 diabetics out there who could use some free CGMs or something at least, you know?).

IMG_1742

The fancy Mint Julep (sparkly straw recommended for flair)

THE D4D SUGAR FREE MINT JULEP WITH FLAIR

Ingredients:

  • Bourbon (get the good shit – this drink is centered around bourbon so don’t fuck it up with a cheap replacement)
  • Stevia mint simple syrup
  • Crushed ice (again, the ice made the drink so definitely try to stick to crushed ice for this recipe… and this time I went to Sonic and got a bag for $2 – less pretentious than Whole Foods and plenty of ice for everyone)
  • Fresh mint
  • Optional:
    • Seltzer water (recommended for those who aren’t a fan of straight up bourbon)
    • Limes
    • Other types of fruit to muddle in that pair well with bourbon, such as blackberries and pomegranate

Recommended steps:

  1. Prepare your Stevia mint simple syrup about 1 day in advance of drink mixing (not required but recommended for better taste and so it’s cold). To make enough to serve about 12-15 drinks, I recommend the following steps:
    1. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup of Stevia crystals (use between 1/4 cup and 1/3 cup depending on level of sweetness you’re aiming for) into 2 cups of boiling water and stir until dissolved.
    2. Add a nice full cup of fresh mint leaves to boiling mixture and allow to continue boiling for approximately 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    3. Pour mixture into container to cool using a sieve to strain out mint leaves, but before discarding press mint leaves down into the sieve to get all the last flavor/juice out.
    4. This stuff will keep for a while (~2 weeks) if you store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
  2. Fill a medium-sized fancy glass with crushed ice
  3. Add 2 oz bourbon
  4. Add 1.5 oz Stevia mint simple syrup
  5. Add about 1/4 cup of seltzer water if you don’t want a straight shot of sweet bourbon
  6. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig
  7. Optional: muddle in some fresh blackberries or pomegranate seeds, and/or add a couple of lime slices for added flavor
  8. Optional: add flair with sparkly straws or other over-the-top decorations
IMG_1740

A D4D Mint Julep with blackberry ready for the race

 

 

 

 

Tried it, fixed it, then liked it: The Blackberry Bourbon Smash

I had actually never heard of a blackberry smash drink until last weekend, when a tasty-looking photo caught my eye on a menu. I had gone with some friends to a what-shall-remain-unnamed chain restaurant and it looked like one of those drinks that would have a lot of fruit and where I could cut out the sugary crap and still have a pretty tasty drink. I ordered it without simple syrup and my friend ordered it as-is.

Both drinks were total crapola (too many fake sweet liquor flavors and really nothing fresh), but my friend’s was literally undrinkable. It was so sweet it made my blood sugar rise just looking at it, and when I tasted it it hurt my teeth. She sent it back.

Classic D4D inspiration, of course.

A week later, I was perusing some of the drink recipes I’d collected on my “Drink” Pinterest board, and a recipe for a “blackberry bourbon smash” caught my eye. It had a grand total of four ingredients, almost guaranteeing I wouldn’t even lose my attention mid-recipe. It looked tasty. Time for my first D4D recipe experiment.

I made the drink last night and adapted it a bit, and what I came out with in the end was pretty damn good (and I had company who can attest to this). So, I bring you the sugar-free (and way more kickass, IMO) D4D Blackberry Bourbon Smash.

TAKE 1: FOLLOWING THE RECIPE

The Pinterest recipe called for the following ingredients:

  • Handful fresh blackberries
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • Crushed or shaved ice
  • Simple syrup in case you’re not a big fan of straight bourbon

I followed the recipe to the letter, and came out with a drink that looked like this:

IMG_1680

Take 1 – basically a straight up shot of bourbon on ice. Nope.

If that looks like bourbon on the rocks to you, then we’re on the same page. I didn’t even have to try it to know I wouldn’t like it. (Now, if you’re a hard core bourbon drinker, yay for you – you’d probably have loved this)

TAKE 2: FUCK THE RECIPE AND DO WHATEVER SOUNDS GOOD

So I went to work fixing her up, D4D style. I added 2 tbsp Stevia simple syrup  and then added about a half cup of seltzer water. Then I added a little more ice and mixed everything up so the fruit mix at the bottom was incorporated throughout the drink.

BOOM.

IMG_1682

Take 2 – sooooo good.

THAT shit was really good. I had more than one. Okay, maybe a few. It tasted fresh but not super fruity and the bourbon paired nicely with the blackberries and mint. And of course, who doesn’t like crushed ice. Great summer drink.

And, I watched my blood sugar throughout the evening and while there is never a perfectly controlled situation with a diabetic, I don’t believe these drinks affected it in any substantial way. Win all around.

D4D BLACKBERRY BOURBON SMASH

Ingredients:

  • Fresh blackberries
  • Fresh mint
  • Bourbon (I recommend splurging for some nice Bourbon. I live in Colorado so I’m spoiled, because you can’t throw a mountain goat without hitting a distillery anymore so I tend to get the good local stuff)
  • Crushed or shaved ice  (I do think in this case the consistency of the ice made the drink in large part, so this matters. The author recommended getting shaved ice at Whole Foods for free – but the Whole Foods I went to gave me crushed ice in a small bag, which you can pretty much get anywhere (and FYI, you can get a giant bag of crushed ice at Sonic for $2).
  • Seltzer water 
  • Stevia simple syrup (to make my Stevia simple syrup, I do a ratio of 1/8 Stevia crystals to 1 cup water but you can experiment based on your preferences for sweetness – or if you’re lazy AF you can use liquid Stevia from a bottle)

Recommended steps:

  1. Mash ~5 blackberries and 3 decent sized sprigs of mint together to make a jam-like consistency (use a masher or your fist or whatever you have on hand). Pour into bottom of medium-sized glass.
  2. Fill glass about 3/4 full with crushed ice.
  3. Add 2 oz bourbon
  4. Add 2 tbsp of Stevia simple syrup
  5. Top with about a half cup of seltzer water
  6. Mix, ensuring blackberry mix is distributed evenly throughout (and btw, I think this would be great if you followed the same steps but put everything in a shaker and then poured it more martini style, if you’re not a fan of all the crap floating in your drink)
  7. Enjoy while sitting on a patio.

 

 

 

Random handy tips & tricks: Installment 1

By necessity, diabetics are a pretty resourceful lot. Being a healthy diabetic requires a shitload of supplies and a level of preparedness usually reserved for a girl scout (raise your hand if anyone has ever called you that when you hauled out your bag of diabetic crapola to calibrate/adjust a sensor/inject, etc.). Having a fickle/dead organ can result in some fun surprises, most often at highly inopportune times (my favorite diabetic surprise so far was having a low while in the middle of negotiating the purchase of a vehicle and having to explain why I was consuming Skittles while signing $30k+ of my life away – I really like to keep it classy) and I’ve found the more prepared I am, the less intrusive my disease needs to be.

Now that I’ve launched the blog, I’ve become a little more woke to my day to day coffee/cocktail consumption routine, and have noted some of the little tricks I’ve learned that make my life easier and the disease less obnoxious. These are aggregated both through my own trial and error, but also from reading learnings from other diabetics and diabetic blogs, so the credit belongs fully to the community.  These are by no means comprehensive and this is an evolving process, so I’m loosely calling this Installment 1.

Oh, and BTW – please leave your own learnings in the comments! We can keep this discussion rolling.

Anything in liquid sugar form is a fucking PITA for my pancreas. What I mean by this is that for diabetics, managing sugar intake is the name of the game, period, right? And I’ve found, in my limited experience, that managing sugar in liquid form is extraordinarily difficult because it absorbs much more quickly into the bloodstream and it’s nearly impossible for any short-acting insulin to keep up in order to manage it (unless you really time an injection/bolus carefully). Therefore, from the perspective of a blogger writing about things in liquid form, one of the main goals of my recommendations, recipes, ideas, etc. will be to avoid sugary liquid in any form as much as possible. The good news is that there are a lot of ways to swap/skip those ingredients, as well as several methods to slow down the rate of absorption so it’s much more manageable if you really must consume sugar.

Artificial sweeteners in varying forms have changed my life. I’m going to talk about these a LOT, because they are my go-to replacements for a lot of sugary ingredients. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I’m NOT A DOCTOR and I am aware there are mixed reviews on artificial sweeteners and their potential affects on health. In fact, here’s an ADA overview of a few, or feel free to google “artificial sweeteners and Diabetes” and go to town. Ultimately, these are just my opinions and you should do what’s right for your own health.

My personal favorite of all of the sweetener options is Stevia in its varying forms; the research indicates that it’s the most natural option (because it’s literally plant-derived) and to me, has the least chemical flavor. I use it in almost everything I make.

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Varying Stevia options currently in my cabinet, both in crystal and liquid form. Most of these can be found at any major grocery store.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another flavor assist: Sugar-free Torani syrup. Anyone who has had fancy coffee drinks with some kind of flavor added has had Torani, which, as far as I know, is the most widely used brand of syrup for flavoring coffee drinks nationwide. And because there is a god, Torani makes a ton of sugar-free flavors that are GREAT. More on Torani and its amazing-ness coming in other posts.

I carry my sweetener of choice with me, everywhere I go. I cannot tell you how many times a couple of Stevia packets have saved my ass. And, if you’re thinking “I don’t want to carry extra shit” — for those diabetic girl scouts, are a couple of square sized packets really going to push you over the edge in terms of space management? I mean, really.

Here’s a couple examples of why these things save my ass:

  1. I like to go to fancy, pretentious new coffee shops to try their espresso or cold brew because I love good coffee and I like trying all the new roasts in my vicinity. I’m also a coffee snob, but not hard core enough to drink coffee black; I like a little cream and sweetener in it (and I’m assuming most of you are wusses like me because places like Starbucks are still in business). Because these places are so pretentious, they often only offer “organic agave nectar hand-picked by your local dude with a beard and a trucker cap” and they believe in minimalism, so if you don’t want agave because you can’t consume liquid sugar, you can pretty much suck it. Hey, look at that! I’ll just surreptitiously pull out my Stevia packet, sneak half into my coffee when no one’s looking, and enjoy my snobby coffee like a champion.
  2. Wayyy more to come on this later, but when I go out and have drinks, many times it’s at places that don’t actually have artificial sweeteners on hand if I ask them to cut sugary ingredients out of drinks. Think: bartender at club who is like “WTF dude you’re at a skeevy club and you want Sweet & Low? Are you fucking kidding me?”. I don’t want to suffer through something bitter and horrible because I’m at a skeevy club, so voila! Order gin & soda & lime and add Stevia, enjoy excellent drink as though you are an excellent dancer.

And, I keep my sweetener and the rest of my shit classy. Even though I’m making jokes about girl scouts, the truth is that if you’re a diabetic and you plan to make a night of it drinking/clubbing, you can’t be a dumbass because alcohol and diabetes have some issues when running in parallel. If I plan on really making a night of it, I will always make sure I have the right stuff with me to deal with a severe high or low. But I do like to keep it classy, and I’m not going to haul around my Harry Potter purse if I actually plan to dance, which is why I love my Myabetic purse. I’m not getting paid to say anything about Myabetic and there are plenty of blogs out there touting their amazingness so I’ll keep it short – my point is that there are plenty of ways to be a classy, drinking diabetic without again, having to sacrifice much of anything, including style.

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My Myabetic purse with all my crap (note, importantly, Stevia packets on left which are always in there). You can use the cross body strap or remove it and just use the wrist strap.

I really would have thought this was all a no-brainer and maybe it is for you, but I can’t tell you how many diabetics I recently surprised at a Type 1 social in Denver when I whipped out my handy Stevia packet to add to my sugar-free drink.

I’ll see you at the club, sweetener in hand.