Baking: Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes

280 calories

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So you bought two packages of cream cheese to make cheesecake for your elderly family friend, but it turns out you needed four. You could go back to the grocery store, but it’s a million degrees outside and also you sort of don’t feel like it because you’re already feeling put out about baking stupid cheesecake in the first place. Whatever shall you do?

Make smaller cheesecakes, duh.

Makes 11-12 cheesecake cupcakes.  Preparation time about an hour and thirty minutes.

Approximately 282 calories for 1/12 recipe.  Calories in the whole batch: 3,383.

Additional Nutrition Information (Per Serving)
Carbs 28g, Fat 17g, Protein 5g, Sodium 259g, Sugar 20g

Tools

Mixing Bowls, Measuring Cups/Spoons,Whisk, Baking Tray, Aluminium Cupcake Tins, and an Oven.

Materials/Preparation

This recipe requires the filling and crust be prepared separately. To make the crust, you need:

  • 1 Sleeve Graham Crackers (1-1/2 cups)
    + Keepler Original: 585 calories per sleeve.
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar
    + Domino White Sugar:  68 calories for 3 tbsp.
  • 1/3 Cup Unsalted Butter
    + Publix Unsalted Butter Sticks: 528 calories for 1/3 cup.

Put the crackers into a zipper bag and beat them with a stick until they turn into crumbs. Pour them into a bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave (2o seconds should do it) and add to the same bowl. Finally, add the sugar and stir.

Press the crust into the bottom of the tins. You might have a little left over. This goes in the garbage, not your mouth, because you aren’t a slob who nibbles on crap while you’re baking, thereby absorbing extra calories you don’t need.

In another bowl (or the same one after you’ve cleaned it out because why make more of a mess then you absolutely have to), prepare the batter. You can reduce the amount of sugar, because the sauce is already sweet, if you don’t want to send little old ladies into a diabetic coma. You need:

  • 2 Packages Cream Cheese
    + Philadelphia 1/3 Less Fat: 1,120 calories for 16 oz.
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
    + Domino White Sugar: 180 calories.
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla
    + Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks: 25 calories for 2 tsp.
  • 2 Eggs (70 calories each.)

Whisk the batter until smooth. You could use a hand mixer, but that’s lazy. Then pour the cheese paste into the tins. You should put the tins on a baking tray first so you don’t spill anything. I know this because I spilled a few of them. Bake for an about 2530 minutes at 325 degrees F (or until a toothpick comes out clean).

Now you need blueberry sauce. Don’t just spread jam on cheesecake. Pre-made anything is bad and you should feel bad for even suggesting it. Instead, put a pint and a half of fresh blueberries into a pot along with a 1/2 cup of sugar. Add 2 tbsp of unsalted butter, ~4 tbsp of lemon juice, and reduce the berries until they start to break down. You could add cornstarch to thicken the sauce, but I didn’t have any and 1 tbsp of baking powder or flour can serve the same purpose in a pinch. Or, just reduce it for longer. Once the sauce has thickened, turn off the heat and let it cool.

Remove the finished cheesecakes from the oven and allow to cool. Spoon the blueberry sauce on top of the mini cakes and stick them in the fridge for a few hours. Give them to your elderly family friend with a smile on your face and secretly resent them for demanding expensive desserts.

Soylent Diet: Week 3

TL;DR: It’s food. Nothing more, nothing less.

So, this week was weird. It started with my having a bit of a breakdown where I just totally lost my cool over an unplanned extra 250 calories. Truthfully, I was already in a foul mood owing to a particularly stubborn clogged drain, so maybe it’s unfair to put all the blame on Soylent. In any case, I went from “blubbering mess” to “fine and dandy” after I had a few strawberries. I’m telling you, the GI on V1.5 is worse than terrible.

The breakdown did make me realize that my approach to Soylent is wrong. I’ve kind of been viewing it as a punishment for spending too much money on food, or as penance for the sin of having to eat to stay alive. I need to ditch the attitude and think of the product as simply “food,” rather than ascribing some kind of value judgement to it. Soylent isn’t a lifestyle, unless you make it one.

One thing that’s strange about Soylent is just how judgey everyone is about it. The people who really like it treat it with a kind of orthorexic reverence, and “muggles” act like eating Soylent is an insane, snobbish practice. I’m seeing religious parallels here. Apparently there aren’t a lot of people who have a healthy relationship with food, and Soylent is obviously triggering crazy reactions. I think the advent of meal replacers is showing just how deep this dysfunction goes. When you think about it, it’s kind of creepy how people fetishize what they eat.

Anyway, after that one hiccup, I managed to adhere to the diet for the remainder of the week without incident. My willingness to do so was because I was traveling. One of my policies before I go on a long trip is to starve myself for a few days. The stress of having to ride a train, sit in a car for endless hours, or go to an airport for my free sexual assault courtesy of the TSA always leaves me feeling sick. With Soylent available, however, I can eat something before trips without getting ill. So, that’s something.

Even though I feel a little better about the Soylent, I’m ditching it for the next week or two. Since I don’t have to pay for my own food when I’m here, I can eat whatever I want. I still haven’t gained that pound back, but maybe a week and a half of a non-liquid diet will fix that. When I get home, I will do a week of V1.6 and make my final determination about whether or not the diet is sustainable long-term, or at least until the next version comes out.

Soylent Diet: Week 2

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This is my life.

TL;DR: Meh.

This week has been better. My Soylent intake is still hovering at around 50 or 60%, but I’m able to eat more of it and less solids. I’ve been consuming about 3 scoops a day, plus a small bowl of crackers, some cheese, or the occasional coffee.  Basically, anything I still have left in my cabinets and fridge. The lack of energy is definitely still cutting into my productivity, such as it is, but aside from being sleepier, it’s not that bad.

The calorie management situation, however, remains difficult. I’ve been drifting over 1200 more often than not. I must be making up for it with those 90-120 minute walks, because I haven’t gained anything. On the contrary. I somehow lost a pound. Just great. I can’t wait for everyone who hasn’t seen me in a while to tell me about how disgusting I look (despite the fact I keep telling everyone to keep their unsolicited opinions to themselves).

Maybe I’ve been worse at calculating my calorie intake than I thought.

My biggest challenge this week has been overcoming the dehydration and the shakiness. After my walks, I’m usually trembling. I have a scoop afterwards, usually, and that helps a little. I guess I get low blood sugar, but IANAD.

I’ve read some of the release information about V1.6 and I think it will be an improvement. I like the macronutrient ratios, at least in comparison to V1.5. Maybe fewer carbs and more protein will mean higher energy levels. I notice that if I eat protein, I don’t have the awful hunger pains and hypoglycemic sickness. It’s probably going to be a while before I get a shipment of the new batch, though.

If I sound overly negative, here’s what’s eating my cheese. I actually don’t want to think about this crap: calories, blood sugar, nutrition, any of it. I’m supposedly paying Rob Rhinehart to do my food-related thinking for me. I appear to be made out of the same biomatter as everyone else so, if Soylent works for him, it should work for me.

Also, next week I’m leaving town for 10 days. I am probably going to ditch the Soylent until I get back. I might bring a bag or two, but I can’t carry a lot with me. Maybe I’ll just stick to liquids (like soup). Thinking about eating solids is actually starting to sound very unappealing. Progress?

Eat the World: Japan

As risk of sounding like a weeb, I loved Japan.  Tokyo was a pristine, modern paradise compared to the polluted podunk town I lived in during my last stint in Thailand.  The food was also really good, when I could actually eat it.  Not a lot of vegetarian fare, but quality over quantity is important sometimes.

In Shinjuku, my favorite places to eat were those cramped, back alley restaurants that specialize in skewers and snack-sized dishes (yakitori-ya).  They seem to be a popular place for stressed businessmen to get sloshed on sake after work.  Another unique experience I had was visiting a maid cafe in Akihabara, where ladies dress in maid outfits, dance, and serve you booze.  It sounds raunchy, but it was quite harmless; I had a lovely omelet at Heart of Hearts.

Speaking of eggs, I discovered my favorite Sanrio character at a stationary shop in Japan: Gudetama the “Lazy Egg.” Eggs in general appeal to me for some inexplicable reason, so an egg with a face drawn on it amuses me. I know. I am a simple, simple person.

Soylent Diet: Week 1

TL;DR: Blugh.

It’s been a week since I began my beige and futuristic lifestyle modification and, like any other big change, there’s definitely been an adjustment period. I’ve eaten plenty of Soylent over the past few years, but never in this quantity. Rather than being at 80% Soylent, I seem unable to break 50%. This is for a few reasons but, overall, it’s because I haven’t been feeling well. My brother says I’ve been a “vector for misery” over the past seven days, while I accuse Soylent of the same. Not eating sounds like the easiest thing in the world; doing things is hard, thus not doing something should be the opposite, right? Especially when it isn’t automatically handled by your body, like breathing. Not the case with Soylent. In fact, I’d rather eat nothing than Soylent. This is not because of cosmetic issues such as taste or some attachment to the behaviors involved in the eating process (I don’t miss cooking at all), but rather a distaste for the lack of energy and productivity I’m experiencing. I’ve spent the last week in a low-blood sugar induced daze, plagued with headaches, heartburn, and diminished mental acuity. This is the opposite of what Soylent is supposed to do for its users.

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What’s in my fridge? Oh, it’s a bucket of Soylent.

Here are my observations thus far. I will list the positive, negative, and neutral effects of Soylent for the purposes of providing data for a cost/benefit analysis. YMMV.

Pros

  • I am definitely saving money. My biggest grocery expense this week was cat food.
  • Excellent dental hygiene. For some reason, my teeth seem really clean. I have to brush right after I eat Soylent to get rid of the gritty aftertaste, but I usually brush after meals anyway. It seems that real food is more destructive to tooth enamel than Soylent.
  • Cleaner kitchen. Less dirty dishes, at least. My stove is developing a layer of cat hair and dust.

Cons

  • Mental fog. “Huh, what?” are the two most common words in my vocabulary.
  • Obsession with food. I can’t stop thinking about food because of how hungry I am. Rather than making me more productive, my thoughts are so centered around food that I can’t do anything else.
  • Hunger. I’m constantly hungry, which was not a problem when I ate real food. I’ve even had to up my caloric intake because I get so hungry that I start to get a little weepy.
  • Dehydration. Maybe it’s because humans get liquids from their foods, and the water mixed with the Soylent isn’t enough to replace it. I can’t stop drinking, but no amount of water seems to be enough. My skin is completely dry and desiccated.
  • Stomach Pain. I have GERD and acid reflux, which is what I think is causing the stomach pain. Without food to soak up acid, the acid starts attacking the stomach lining. I’ve gone back to taking omeprazole to try and deal with this issue.
  • Headache. I don’t know if this is a water issue or a food addiction issue. What I do know is that I’m spending more time thinking about my symptoms and how to solve them than it takes to just eat.
  • Low energy. I’m tired all the time, my heart is pounding in my chest, and I still can’t sleep because my stomach keeps me awake at night. I don’t want to do chores, think, or write. Evening walks have become difficult to get through. Basically, I’m getting lazy. Well, lazier.
  • Social. I see a lot less of my brother now that we don’t eat meals together. I instead spend this time looking at the computer monitor, but I’m too tired and hazy to actually get more work done. I’ve also felt morose and irritable, so I have to avoid talking to anyone to minimize the whole “misery vector” thing.

Neutral

  • No change in weight. The number on the scale hasn’t budged in either direction. However, I look a bit thinner, despite the fact I’ve been eating more calories. I am unsure as to whether this is my imagination, or due to the dehydration/lack of food mass in the abdomen.

Despite the challenges, I am still broke, so I’m going to stick with it. Most individuals appear to completely adjust to Soylent within a month (based on what I’ve read on the forums), so I will wait a few more weeks and then reevaluate. Right now, it’s simply too early to answer the questions posed in my previous post.

In other news, I hear V1.6 is out.