Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Low Carb Jello with Sugar/Stevia Blend

A few years ago I added a recipe to my blog for Unsweetened Jello using Stevia as the sweetener. At the time, it was hard to get Stevia in stores or anywhere else, other than very over priced products on the internet. One of the few products available in stores was Stevia in the Raw Baking mix, which is what I ended up using for my Jello. My husband is diabetic so creating a sugar free jello product without Aspartame was the goal. 

My husband and I both like sweets, so I've spent a lot of years finding ways to still include sweets in our diet without eating manufactured premade sugar free items that are sweetened with Aspartame, which IS a chemical with crazy, serious health effects. Why it's still on the market and included in foods is a mystery to me.

As time has passed, I've read more and more about Maltodextrin, the first ingredient listed on Stevia in the Raw Baking Mix. The company claims this adds no calories and has a low Gylcemic Index which does not affect the bodies blood sugar levels, making it safe for diabetics. They claim it is a safe filler, added to make baking easier, so you can use it cup for cup in all your recipes. 

On the other side of the fence, critics claim Maltodextrin has a high Gylcemic Index, which can cause spikes in blood sugar levels and should be avoided by diabetics and those with insulin resistance.

A continued search on Maltodextrin brings up good info and bad info, so which is it? Is this stuff good for us or like so many other products on the market, bad for us? 

This is the conclusion I've come to. It's just my opinion, I'm not a medical professional, just a person trying to make the right food choices.

Maltodextrin is a sweetener derived from cornstarch. It is derived from a chemical process called hydrolysis. High Fructose Corn sugar is also derived from the same source and process. 

There are three red flags in that description I'm not too excited about. The first is that it's derived from cornstarch. Cornstarch is a product of corn. Unless organic corn is used (and it isn't for anything mass produced), it is a GMO product. We are trying to cut GMO's out of our diet. Some Maltodextrin is derived from potato starch or wheat, but from what I have found, for these mass produced products, corn is the product used because it is cheap.

Next is the word "chemical". We are being bombarded with chemicals these days and are seeing the vast array of health issues caused by them. This may be a simple chemical "process", but it is a chemical, non the less. The result is a filler product with no nutritional value. Should we be ingesting this?

The third warning sign for me is "High Fructose".. If you are paying attention to the health warnings associated with high fructose sugar intake, this is something we are very much trying to remove from our diet. If high fructose sugar is made using this same process and ingredients, how can Maltodextrin be very far removed from high fructose corn sugar? 

I'm not trying to say Maltodextrin is bad for us, I'm just saying, I'm not really sure it's good for us, and with that in mind, I started looking for something else to use. At the very least, it does contain GMO corn, which is enough reason to stop using it.

I found a newer sweetening product called Whole Earth Sweetener Baking Blend with Raw Sugar and Stevia. It has 50% less sugar, but all the sweetness of sugar. I've been using it for all kinds of things and so far, I really like it. It is sugar, but quite honestly, what is better for us? Using man made sugar products or products made in nature? I just can't see where ingesting chemically laden sugar substitutes is better for us than ingesting real sugar, in moderation, of course. 

I really like Stevia but it is hard to get just the right amounts in cooking, baking, etc.. I use it in my hot chocolate, ice coffee, lemonade and sometimes in my ice tea.. I used to use it in my morning coffee, but for some reason, I just suddenly stopped liking hot coffee.. I've used Stevia as a sweetener for so long now, I really prefer it to real sugar.

So, with all that in mind, I've created a new recipe for jello.. I guess I'd have to call it low carb jello now since it does contain real sugar, just not as much. It's still low carb and isn't affecting my husbands sugar levels, and I have to say, it taste exactly how I remember Jello tasting from my childhood.

It's actually faster and easier to prepare, too. 

So, here it is:

2 cups cold water
2 Tbl Knox Unflavored Gelatin (or two packets)
1 pack of unsweetened koolaid
1/2 cup Whole Earth Sweetener Raw Sugar Stevia blend
2 cups boiling water

In 2 cups of COLD water, slowly add 2 TBL Knox Unflavored Gelatin (or the unflavored Gelatin of your choice). Whisk or stir until Gelatin is completely dissolved. I just sprinkle it on top of the water to prevent lumps, whisking as I do this. You'll end up with a kind of thick liquid when done. 
Set aside.

Pour the contents of one unsweetened pack of koolaid in a bowl along with 1/2 cup of the raw Sugar/Stevia blend. Pour in 2 cups of boiling water and stir until completely dissolved. 

Pour in the 2 cups of gelatin mix, stirring while pouring it in. Keep stirring or whisking until completely combined. 

Stick in the fridge for at least 3 hours. 

I hope you enjoy this jello recipe. If you prefer a recipe using just stevia, try this recipe.

I have noticed that some unsweetened kool-aid flavors contain maltodextrin, so I'm careful about which flavors I use.  However, I think I may have older packs that don't use it, because when looking at the ingredients for Unsweetened Kool Aid online, it has it listed??? Next time I go to the store, I'm going to check the flavors for myself to see if they all contain it or just some of them. 

I use Black Cherry, Cherry, Orange and Strawberry Unsweetened Koolaids, and the packages I have do not list Maltodextrin as an ingredient.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

18" Vinyl Doll Much Like American Girl Dolls

African American skin tone, dark brown eyes and black curly hair
Ever wish you could find an affordable alternative to the more expensive American Girl dolls? 

I sell handmade doll clothing for a variety of dolls, including 18" vinyl dolls like American Girl dolls. 
While I think the AG dolls are really cute, I was rather amazed at how much they cost, especially when you start adding outfits and accessories.. 

I raised 4 children, and I know how tight money can be at times for young families. When you have multiple children, buying the popular, expensive toys, can just be out of the question for many budgets. 
I remember trying to find something just as nice, but at a sweeter price, for my own children!

That's why I decided to add 18" vinyl dolls to my website about 10 years ago. I wanted to offer 18" vinyl dolls that were much more affordable, but would last a long time and be just as cute as the American Girl dolls.

I call them Sweet Pea Girls.

I originally used Springfield dolls, which are sold in craft stores. I shaved off their hair and replaced it with a high quality wig, made a cute outfit for each doll and sold them at a much nicer price than some of the more expensive dolls.. 

I've had a lot of fun designing outfits for these dolls and giving them a fresh new look with wigs of many styles. The Springfield Girls really are adorable dolls, and hold up very well. They appear to be made pretty sturdy, just like the American Girl dolls, and to me, they have a cuter face. However, their hair is just so so. That is the one thing American Girl dolls have over all the competition dolls. But once I gave them a new do, they really took on a whole new life! 
Dark Biracial skin tone, green eyes, dark brown hair

Eventually I started adding different dolls to the lineup, all with new wigs and outfits. 
Over the years I've used many different brands of dolls. One of my favorite brands are the
'Our Generation", who recently came out with a new variety of BiRacial dolls with different skin tones and eye colors, plus a really cute Asian mold..It seems impossible to find these dolls in stores (at least in my area), but I guess I just happened to check their website at the right time, because I was able to grab quite a few of these unique dolls. However, since then, I have not been able to get any more of them and they are no longer offered online! But how neat that a doll manufacturer finally started offering more than just your typical skin tone/hair color/eye color dolls. 

I think those dolls are just adorable! Howver, like the Springfield Girls, their original hair is just so so and ends up being pretty ratty after being played with. Both styles of dolls also have very thin hair, so you can see their scalp through the hair. 
But once I gave them a new do, what a difference! 

The Our Generation dolls are offered with very unique and cute outfits.. They really are adorable. However, as a seamstress, I can't help but notice that they are made from very cheap materials, aren't that well made and are quickly made on an assembly line..They also don't fit especially well. The shoes are plastic and not attractive. There's nothing wrong with this, but for me, I like a well made doll outfit, one that's going to last for a long time, wear well, and even stay nice long enough to hand down to future generation of doll lovers. 
Asian skin tone, dark brown eyes, black hair
Unfortunately, after 10 years or so of offering the girls, I've come to the decision that it's time to close down the Sweet Pea Girl shop.. 
I'm getting closer to retirement, and have come to realize I need to start downsizing little by little. I'm not sure I'll ever totally retire from making dolls and doll clothing, but it is time to just let go of a few things.. 
 Latino skin tone, brown eyes and black hair.
I still have quite a few dolls left from my last batch, ready for instant purchase, so I've decided to go ahead and sell them at a close out price.. 

I originally sold the girls for $75 with a complete outfit and accessories, but have now marked them down to $45 each until they are sold out. They include everything shown with them.
I offer dolls with Light Skin tones with blue eyes, green eyes, brown eyes, Biracial skin tone, Latino skin tone, African American skin tone and Asian skin tone.  They have a variety of hair colors, hair styles and outfits. 
No two dolls are exactly alike! 

At this price, you can buy two dolls for less than one American Girl doll costs!
They are an affordable alternative to the more expensive 18" vinyl dolls like American Girl, or make great friend dolls for the American Girl. They wear the same sized clothing and each come with the complete outfit they are shown in. 

I know I will miss the girls, but know it's time.. 
I hope if you are looking for an 18" viny doll, you might find the perfect one on the 
Sweet Pea Girl website! 
If you have any questions about the girls, feel free to contact me with any and all questions. 

Light Skin, brown eyes, red hair

Light Skin, blue eyes, brown hair
BiRacial skin tone, blue eyes, golden brown hair
Asian skin tone, dark brown eyes, black hair

Light skin tone, green eyes, dark brown hair

Bitty Baby, Gotz Maxy Muffin and Gotz Pottery Barn Kid Doll Comparison

Have you ever wondered what the difference between Bitty Baby, Gotz Maxy Muffin or Gotz Pottery Barn Baby is? 

I've been making American Girl Bitty Baby doll clothes for quite some time now, along with a number of other doll clothing, and something I've noticed along the way is how similar many dolls actually are. 

For example, Gotz Maxy Muffin and Bitty Baby Twins are pretty much identical, yet made by different doll companies? I suspect they are probably made by the same manufacturer. I don't know that for sure, but they sure seem to come from the same mold. Bitty Baby has a slightly different mouth than Maxy Muffin, but the Bitty Baby Twins come in two face molds, one with the closed mouth like Bitty Baby, and one with the open mouth like Maxy Muffin. They all appear to have the same hands, feet and body style. 

The first doll is a Gotz Pottery Barn Baby Doll, the 2nd is a Gotz Maxy Muffin Doll and the 3rd if Bitty Baby. 

Here's a stock picture of a pair of American Girl Bitty Baby Twin Dolls.. One doll has the closed mouth like Bitty Baby, and the other has an open mouth like the Gotz dolls.. 
All of these dolls sure seem very similar to me, if not identical, other than skin tone, cloth body color and hairdo.

Gotz Pottery Barn Kid is listed as being a 16.5" tall, Bitty Baby is listed as 15" tall and Gotz Maxy Muffin is listed as 16.5" tall. But as you can see from this picture, they're all pretty much the same height. The two dolls with hair look a little taller, only because of their wigs. 
However, I have 3 Gotz Maxy Muffin dolls, and they all vary in size, up to an inch difference. 

Pottery Barn Baby costs $69.00

Gotz Maxy Muffin cost $64.95
American Girl Bitty Baby costs $60

I purchased a Gotz Pottery Barn Baby on ebay, for about $13 to use as a Bitty Baby Twin doll. I glued a wig on him and use him as a doll model along with my Bitty Baby Twin girl doll. The only real difference I can see between the Pottery Doll and the Gotz/American Girl dolls are the shoulder seams. The Pottery Barn dolls have a seam running down the arm at the shoulder but the other dolls don't.. That seam makes clothes fit slightly different, which I don't like. I'm not sure why they added this seam? 

I love this size doll. Their clothes are fun to make and look so cute on their body styles. 
I have purchased all my dolls as used dolls from Ebay sellers for a fraction of their original price. 
They're very well made dolls and even in used condition, they have held up for years, and though I'm not playing with them as a child would, I do change their clothes over and over again, and they really have held up well. 

If your little one is ready for a bigger baby doll, these dolls really will make a great friend for them. 
Bitty Baby is my personal favorite, and I'm 62 years young!!

Bitty Baby Twin doll clothes, shoes and socks.

Despite the difference in listed sizes, I use the same pattern pieces for all three of these dolls, and they all fit the same. 

Bitty Baby Jumpers and Rompers

This is an older Maxy Muffin that is signed on her back by Franz Gotz. She's adorable! I had to replace her hair, as the original was a matted mess that some little beautician practiced hair cutting on. I replaced it with a pig tail wig and think she is just so sweet.
I make a variety of pj's, nightgowns and housecoats for both Bitty Baby and Maxy Muffin.

Gotz Maxy Muffin always looks very cute in her outfits. Her doll clothing page can be found Here.
I offer a lot of Bitty Baby dresses. She just always looks so darn cute in dresses! I also offer a lot of shoes, socks and undies.

Bitty has a fairy outfit, ballet outfits, skating outfits and fancy dresses, all available on the Dress Up page.