Archive of ‘By Cravings’ category

Low Carb Low Fat Ice Cream (with a secret ingredient, shh!)

Every once in awhile I think I have an original, particularly ground-breaking idea. 99% of the time, that isn’t the case. This is one of those ideas that gave me false hope. Oh well, it was fun feeling creative until some googling showed me this link to Jessica Su’s cottage cheese ice cream at her Su Good Sweets blog (WARNING: NOT low carb). Do I get points for making it sugar-free and all natural?

This one goes out to the body builders, PSMFers, and those with gall bladder issues (love you, Mom!). Fool your friends with this creamy, delicious frozen treat that’s low cal, low sugar, and guilt-free. It doesn’t taste like cottage cheese, honest! My faithful testers weren’t able to detect anything except lemony goodness, although one of them made a face after I revealed the secret ingredient. You don’t have to portion control here, since a 1/2 cup serving has 90 tiny calories and 5 grams of carbs! It’s basically the most delicious way ever to get in a whopping 18 grams of protein and 15% of your RDA of calcium (I’m looking at you, vegetarians!) Yes, you can have ice cream while losing weight and eating for optimal health.

Be sure to look for a cottage cheese without scary additives. Gum thickeners are pretty natural, but the phrase “artificial flavors” is probably a bad sign. Use full-fat or low fat cottage cheese if you’re not watching your calories. I like Organic Valley products–no hormones! If organic cottage cheese doesn’t fit into your budget, Friendship 1% blends up nice and creamy with no strange additives. If all else fails, compare labels and pick the one with the lowest sodium content–the saltiness is noticeable, especially with the lemon flavor. You don’t have to fear dietary salt, but some people are more sensitive to the taste than I am. Did you know it’s actually more dangerous to eat a low sodium diet than it is to just eat how your tastebuds tell you to?

Bust out your old ice cream maker (or find a nifty automatic model on Craig’s List like I did) and get ready to be amazed. Even if you are enjoying your low carb cream n’ egg yolk based ice cream, give cottage cheese ice cream a fair chance. The protein is very satisfying, so it’s a wee bit easier to portion control than the best ice cream recipe in the world by my man, Alton Brown (low carb tweaks coming soon!).

Protein Packed Low Carb Ice Cream

Makes two servings

Ingredients:

Lemon Variation:
1 cup of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese (recommended: Friendship No-Salt Cottage Cheese)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
4 tablespoons sugar-free sweetener–
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use both of the following:
-3 tablespoons erythritol
-1/4 teaspoon Trader Joe’s pure stevia extract


Chocolate Almond Variation:

1 cup of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese (recommended: Friendship No-Salt Cottage Cheese)
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup liquid egg whites or lite coconut milk
4 tablespoons of sweetener–
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use both of the following:
-3 tablespoons erythritol
-1/4 teaspoon Trader Joe’s pure stevia extract

Optional:
1 Tablespoon glycerin (to keep ice cream soft)

Preparation:
Combine ingredients in a blender or magic bullet. Puree until smooth and free of lumps, scraping down the food processor a few times. Freeze according to your ice cream manufacturer’s directions. Store in a tupperware container in your freezer and consume immediately, or within two hours of making your ice cream. It turns into an icy rock beyond that point (unless you add a tablespoon of vodka to the mix). You can always pop the container in the microwave for a few seconds to defrost.

This is all that was left of the chocolate almond!

The Taste of Summer, pt. 2– Sugar-Free Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

This time of year, I like to cool off with my treats. My new Cuisinart ice cream maker has been running constantly lately. To mix things up and take a break from the brain freeze, I decided to try something new. Cheesecake is the ultimate cool, creamy indulgence that’s naturally low in carbs. There are tons of variations and different recipes out there for this classic dessert. I’ve never made it, though. The idea of using a whole pound of cream cheese, a giant round pan, and a water bath was always intimidating. It just sounds hard, worrying about cracks in the top and achieving the right consistency and whatnot. Though I’ve never experienced intense cravings for this particular food, cheesecake seemed like the perfect excuse to use up a CostCo-sized tub of blueberries sitting in my fruit bin.

Blueberry cheesecake called my name! It’s rather simple to de-carb cheescake–you simply remove the sugar. Erythritol (see the bold term for info) works like a charm for “wet” applications like cheesecake, so you don’t have to worry about using any special ingredients to offset its menthol-like “cooling” effect. Stevia rounds out the sweetness of these incredibly creamy bars. This sour-cream based cheesecake recipe posted in its original form here is a real winner. Thanks to BawdyWench for her simple, delicious recipe!

Even if you’re not a “cheesecake person,” you should definitely give this recipe a try. It takes minutes to whip up, and doesn’t have that thick, gummy mouthfeel elicited by a ton of cream cheese. The blueberries burst in your mouth as you bite through the silky base and nontraditional but oh-so-delicious gluten-free shortbread crust (check oats for gf label!). Get your brain-boosting antioxidants in for the day with these fresh blueberries. Studies show that blueberry consumption positively affects your memory. These delicious summer fruits are naturally low in carbs, so eat up! The batch of cheesecake bars from yesterday is almost gone. Some serious nibbling has been happening. I don’t blame the cheesecake bandit–it was love at first bite with these babies!

Creamy Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Adapted from this recipe by BawdyWench

Makes eight servings

Ingredients:

Shortbread Crust:
3/4 cup finely ground almonds
2 tablespoons sifted oat flour (check for gluten-free certification if necessary)
1 tablespoon erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1/4 cup butter, melted

Filling:
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup organic sour cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons erythritol
1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract
8 ounces cream cheese (1 package), softened
1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk together dry ingredients for crust. Mix in melted butter and press into the bottom of a foiled lined 8 by 5 loaf pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Let crust cool.

Turn oven down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Blend together eggs, vanilla, sour cream, and sweeteners. Beat cream cheese and melted butter together until smooth, then add to first ingredients and beat until just combined and smooth. Stir in half of the blueberries. Pour cheesecake batter into loaf pan and sprinkle the rest of the blueberries over the filling. Bake for 35 minutes using the water bath method (see this post). Remove from oven and let the cheesecake bars cool completely, still submerged within the water bath. Remove the loaf pan from the water bath and move it to the refrigerator when the bars have cooled to room temperature. Cover with a layer of paper towels and plastic wrap. Refrigerate for four hours or until firm. Don’t sneak a bite until they have set up properly and attained the perfect creamy consistency!

~6 grams net carbs per serving

Cuts like a hot knife through buttah!

Ooey, Gooey and Gluten-Free: Brownies, Baby!

 

On certain very special Saturday mornings when I was growing up, a sweet aroma would tickle my nose, gently nudging me out of bed and into the kitchen. It was the smell of freshly baked brownies, cooling on the stove top in their 8 by 8 tin pan. It was my number one favorite treat when I was growing up–dense, fudgy (never cakey!) squares that fell apart in your napkin when you scooped ’em out of the hot pan. My mom always made the standard recipe out of the red checkered Homes and Gardens cookbook, never using a packaged mix or fancy toppings. The beauty was in the simplicity of these unadorned and positively addictive chocolate treats. They never lasted long around our house, although I do remember peeling back saran wrap and gnawing on cold brownie bits from the freezer. Yu-umm.

My first attempts to adapt that treasured recipe failed. There was something not quite right about my sugar-free concoctions. I tried tweaking the Homes and Gardens recipe by replacing the flour with various flour blends, and the sugar with erythritol. I would end up with shapeless goo or dry, flat blocks that were light and airy–decidedly unbrownie like. The standard low carb brownie recipes made out of various combinations of almond meal, flax meal, and cream cheese always lacked a characteristic “heaviness” of the stick-to-your-ribs treats of my childhood.

Enter the hero of our story, coconut flour. If you haven’t heard of it, listen closely, because what I’m about to say will change your life. It’s just coconut meat with the fat pressed out, pulverized into a fine powder. Though it may look like all purpose flour (cue ominous music), this magical substance is so fragrant and alive compared to its refined evil twin. Get it here, or pay twice as much at your local health food store.

I always have to stick my nose in the bag and inhale before baking with coconut flour. Now coconut flour can be tricky to work with, so you must follow a tried and true recipe, or be stuck with a pan full of door stops. The moisture-sucking quality of coconut flour must be tamed with copious amounts of eggs. Once you get the hang of it, you will be turning out moist muffins and fudgy brownies that put my Mom’s old recipe to shame. Blasphemy, I know!

Coconut flour is low in carbohydrates and high in dietary fiber, which correlates with a lowered glycemic index for whatever you’re baking. Low-carb, sugar-free, and gluten-free, these brownies can be part of a wholesome breakfast… or maybe a midnight snack. 😉

These are ah-mazing. The center of the brownie pan is almost molten chocolate. I like to eat this part first, with a spoon. The edge pieces are firm, but moist. These brownies are a hit of pure chocolate to the brain–not the least bit coconut-ty, if you’re worried about that. They’re perfectly sweet with a subtle hint of caramel flavor from the molasses. They’re so incredibly rich that one serving should be enough, with all of the healthful natural saturated fat these brownies contain. Make a small pan if you are feeling emotional, ladies.

UPDATE, 5.2.09: This recipe for coconut flour brownies is MUCH more reliable, and even more delicious!

Tribute to Peanut Butter, pt. 3– Low Carb Sesame Noodles and Buckeye Candies

sugar-free-paleo-peanut-healthy-chinese-food-recipe

It’s a toasty 92 degrees outside in southwest Florida, so I’m not in the mood to heat up the kitchen. Been digging cold foods lately. To fulfill this need, I bring you Tyler Florence’s Cold Sesame Noodles, with a few tweaks to make it diabetic-friendly and gluten-free, of course. It incorporates my obsession with peanut butter into a savory dish, and is a delicious way to get in your daily veggies. So what if you’re impatient like I am, and just can’t wait for whatever you’re cooking to cool down because it smells ridiculously good? Fear not my impulsive friend, because these flavorful noodles are amazing served hot as well. I enjoy them most after they’ve been chilling in the fridge, though. Gotta give time for the flavors to meld, baby!

To make over this dish, we gotta ditch the sugar and standard noodle varieties, which pack a carby punch. This feat is simpler than it sounds!

You can make zucchini noodles (“zoodles”) with this nifty spiral slicer and some zucchini or summer squash.

The alternative is a new product called shirataki noodles. They’re nothing short of miraculous! They contain only 2 grams net carbs per 8 ounce package if you can believe it! The only caveat is their chewiness, which I don’t mind, but a couple of my pasta-loving testers called it out. I guess when you haven’t had noodles in a year, you take what you can get!

Another note about this recipe is that it makes a ton of the peanut dressing, so I reserved about one third of it for later use. This sweet and spicy sauce would be delicious with some chicken or a crisp salad. It’s seriously good enough to drink.

sugar-free-low-carb-diabetic-chinese-food-noodles

Cold Sesame Noodles
Adapted from a recipe by Tyler Florence

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
2-8 oz packages of shirataki noodles, or 4 cups spiral sliced zucchini (2 large zucchinis)
1 carrot, julienned (optional)
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons unrefined peanut nut oil (any neutral-tasting cooking oil is fine)
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced (or 1 dried ginger)
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoons sweetener of choice (I used 2 tablespoons erythritol and a pinch of stevia)
1/2 cup creamy all natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
6 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Cucumber, julienned, for garnish
Peanuts, chopped, for garnish
Green onion, for garnish
Sea salt

Preparation:
If you are using shirataki noodles, empty out both packages into a colander. Rinse for 1-2 minutes, until there is no lingering fishy smell. Line colander in paper towel and mix a few big pinches of sea salt in with the noodles, stirring them around to coat. Drain for 30 minutes. Rinse again and dry well. Heat sesame oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Stir noodles around skillet for a couple of minutes, until they start to release some moisture. Transfer noodles to a plate or a bowl.

If you are using zucchini, use a spiral slicer to julienne into noodles.  Salt zucchini liberally, then transfer to a paper towel-lined colander. Let sit for 30 minutes to draw some of the moisture from it. Rinse well and gently squeeze dry with a paper towel. Heat sesame oil in skillet over medium low heat. Add zucchini and carrots to skillet and stir it all around for 1-2 minutes, until heated through and a bit more tender. Just barely cook the veggies. You don’t want them soft and mushy! Transfer to a plate or bowl.

Mince up ginger, green onions, and garlic cloves. Whisk sweeteners, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, and hot water together until sweeteners are dissolved and a smooth sauce is formed. In a skillet, heat the macadamia nut oil over medium-low heat. Add the minced mixture along with the red pepper flakes and cook for 3 minutes, or until fragrant and softened. Add peanut sauce to skillet and cook for one minute. Add noodles or zucchini to pan, and remove pan from the heat. Stir well to coat, adding half the sesame seeds if desired. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for later use. Garnish with the rest of the sesame seeds, julienned cucumber, red pepper flakes, and chopped peanuts if desired.

Using 2/3 of the sauce—
With shirataki- 5.5g net carbs each for 4 servings
With zucchini- 7g net carbs for 4 servings

Using all of the sauce—
With shiritaki- 9g net carbs each for 4 servings
With zucchini- 10g net carbs each for 4 servings

A peanut butter-y main course must be followed up with an equally peanut butter-y dessert! Any Ohio State fans out there? I never realized that Buckeyes were associated with anything other than Christmas until Google enlightened me. Whatever these addictive candies mean to you, they rock, with a smooth and sweet peanut butter filling coated in rich chocolate. To replace the copious amounts of powdered sugar in the traditional recipe, I used a couple of surprising ingredients–ricotta cheese and coconut flour. I promise they don’t taste like cheese or coconuts. They’re basically a party in your mouth. Make a small batch if you like PB as much as I do!

**Updated recipe for Buckeyes HERE!**

So I had to sample a few before the photo. Had to make sure the recipe was just right!

Chomp!

Fourth of July Fun: Gluten-Free Low Carb Chocolate Cupcakes

I was in a celebratory kind of mood after class today, so I whipped up something indulgent for Independence Day!

We had been discussing fourth of July plans in my lab group, and I was thinking about what kind of dishes we’d have at the table this year. This time last year, I wouldn’t have given the issue a second thought. I wasn’t a reformed carboholic at that time. Thinking back, I’m having visions of potato salad and oh, those Lofthouse cookies. Now the thought of how sickly sweet those bland disks of white flour and sugar were is making my mouth pucker.

It’s funny how much your taste buds change after giving up processed food. After taste-testing the fruit puree for this dish, I had to gulp down my sparkling water because of the sweet taste coating my tongue. Even natural sugars are sometimes too intense for this steak salad lovin’ palate. Methinks this is a good thing, if considerably less exciting in how it limits my exploration of the bounty that processed food companies have to offer. No cute snacks to nosh on, exempting what I cook up myself, which basically entails cheese sticks and zucchini slices with salsa. Too lazy to put effort into snack food. It’s hard enough finding time to makeover the good stuff, the piece de resistance of the meal, the apex of the dining experience… dessert!

Bring these festive sugar- and gluten-free chocolate cupcakes to your fourth of July picnic, and be good to your friends and family. Or just save yourself the expense (Let’s be real–the weird natural ingredients add up!) and partake in one of these rich, dark chocolate treats before you’re surrounded by Ruffle chips, baked beans, and American flag sheet cake. One you’ve had your sweet fix, you can thoroughly enjoy your bunless burger and first and foremost, the good company. That’s what living well is all about, huh? It’s not having to worry about feeling uncomfortable from what simply fuels our bodies.

Witness explosions of tangy berry goodness.


Fudgey Firework Cupcakes

adapted from this recipe by Linda Sue

Yields 16 cupcakes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup organic butter
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup sweetener equivalent
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use all three of the following:
-1/2 cup erythritol or xylitol
-1/4-1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract
5 organic eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups plus two tablespoons nut meal (almond, pecan, etc.)
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum (optional, to reduce crumbliness)
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
4 squares 85% cacao chocolate (Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie is my new favorite)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Soften butter and cream cheese in the microwave in 10 second intervals. Cream butter and cream cheese along with sweeteners until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat to incorporate. Add eggs one at a time, beating continuously. Stir together nut flour, baking powder, sea salt, gum, and cocoa powder. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in 2 steps, incorporating thoroughly after each time. Finally, beat in melted chocolate (use microwave and 15 second intervals). Grease muffin tins or silicone cups with non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening or butter. Mound batter just up to the tops of the tins, because it will rise and settle back down to the original level. Bake for 20 minutes, and remove cupcakes from the pan in their liners as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Let cupcakes cool individually on a wire rack for 20 minutes and store in an airtight container just as the cupcakes are lukewarm to the touch. You want to keep them moist, as erythritol doesn’t hold water in the baked good like sugar does. If you refrigerate the cupcakes, warm ’em up in the microwave for 10 seconds or so to get them soft again. Best consumed fresh, like anything made with all natural ingredients!

Tips:
~I used pecan meal because it’s more reasonably priced, but almond meal or any other finely ground nut would work just as well.
~Use Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa to give your cupcakes that super chocolatey taste you remember from when you were a kid!
~Use 1/2 teaspoon stevia if you want them to be as sweet as traditional chocolate cupcakes. I don’t like anything that sweet any more and use 1/4 teaspoon stevia.
~Remember to look for SUGAR-FREE vanilla extract! Many products have added sugar.

I used my Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting recipe with pure raspberry and blueberry puree. You might add some organic blue food coloring to the blueberry puree to make the color scheme truly patriotic! If you have extra puree, save it to flavor some Almost Instant Ice Cream or sweeten your morning cup of Fage yogurt.

Cowering in terror, waiting for the chocoholic to come back for more…

Berry Puree

Makes lots of puree!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup fresh or frozen organic raspberries or blueberries
stevia, to taste
Pinch of xanthan or guar gum (optional)

Preparation:
Microwave berries until soft and heated through. Blend until liquified. Add a pinch of veggie gum and stir well. Let puree rest for a few minutes to let it thicken. Spoon into a ziptop bag and snip a tiny piece off one of the corners. Pipe puree onto cupcakes.

Sweet and Sugar-free Raspberry Lemon Swirl Bars

To make use of the gorgeous produce we have readily available right now, I decided to make something I hadn’t really even liked in my carb-addicted dark past. Lemon bars had never really appealed to me, probably because they don’t involve chocolate. And yet they just sounded really good the other day for some reason, with their refreshing tartness and shortbread crust. The recipe is well-suited to a healthful makeover because of the low carb content of eggs and lemons, so I just couldn’t resist trying a batch. After demolishing a trial batch along with my faithful testers, it’s safe to say these gluten-free low carb lemon bars are just as church picnic worthy as their high carb counterparts!

In all their tangy, swirled glory…

As far as the technical baking stuff goes, you do need erythritol if you want to add bulk and lessen the carb count per bar, not to mention the nice rounded sweetness from combining it with the stevia. It also adds a nice crunchiness when it crystallizes, but no overwhelming cooling effect. However, if you refrigerate these bars, you’ll want to pop ’em in the microwave for 10 seconds or so to warm them up for the best mouth feel. Furthermore, you can use a product like ThickenThin Not Sugar (or pure acacia gum) to lessen the amount of recrystallization if you want a smoother texture. You can forgo the erythritol altogether, but you’ll have to use a lot of stevia or just accept a less sweet finished product. Finally, the xanthan gum takes the place of flour in the original recipe to firm up the top of the bars. You could probably use a bit of coconut flour for a similar effect.

Health-wise, these bars are a delicious vehicle for the goodness of raspberries and lemons, which are bursting with vitamin C and cancer-fighting compounds. In lemon, the limonins have the free radical scavenging cytotoxic effects. In red raspberries, ellagitannins may block carcinogens and ward off sickness. Both raspberries and lemons are low in carbs, which makes them perfect candidates for a after-dinner treat or a pre-workout snack. I sip at stevia-sweetened lemonade all day, which is supposed to aid in the absorption of the catechins (antioxidants) in my green tea. I’ll drink to that!

Healthy Raspberry Lemon Swirl Bars

Makes eight bars

Ingredients:

Shortbread crust:

1/4 cup butter
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening:
-1 tablespoon erythritol or xylitol
-1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Pinch sea salt
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons almond meal
1/4 cup oat or buckwheat flour (oat flour is a lot prettier!)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum

Filling:
2 large cage-free organic eggs
1/2 cup erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract (NuNaturals brand)
1/4 cup organic lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Raspberry Swirl:
1/2 cup organic raspberries
1 teaspoon organic lemon juice
1 teaspoon erythritol
Fresh raspberries for garnish

Preparation:
Soften butter for shortbread. Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or blender. Cream butter and erythritol together, then work in flours and gums with a fork until thoroughly combined. Add a pinch of salt and stevia. You want it to be a bit sweeter from the stevia than you can stand it, because some of the stevia’s sweetness breaks down under heat. Press or spread into an 8″ by 4″ loaf pan lined with buttered parchment. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. Let crust cool while you prepare the filling. Stick it in the freezer to speed the process.

Powder erythritol. Beat erythritol with eggs, lemon juice, and zest. Add gums. Add a pinch of sea salt and stevia to taste. Pour over shortbread crust.

Puree raspberries with lemon juice and erythritol. Strain through a mesh colander, pushing the puree through with a spatula, if you don’t want seeds in your bars. Drop raspberry puree onto lemon filling in different spots and swirl with the spatula. Dot batter with fresh raspberries if desired. Bake for 20 minutes or until just set. I left the center of mine slightly jiggly, and it firmed up after cooling.

~3.75g net carbs per bar!

(Almost) Instant Low Carb Ice Cream

After making many batches of my ice cream bars, I got sick of the peanut butter flavor and wanted something more creamy and spoonable for my fix. More traditional. Ice cream is still my first love in terms of treats. Nothing can replace the milky cold sweetness of it, and during summer time the feelings of longing are the strongest. Fortunately, I can’t remember the last time I caved to the craving and stopped at a DQ for a blizzard. And if you have this quick and dirty ice cream sitting in your freezer, you won’t have to think twice about it. It’s thick and creamy, just like you remember. And the best part? No fancy machinery required!

This sugar-free, all natural ice cream made with luxuriously thick ricotta cheese will give you 50% of your RDA of calcium per half cup serving, and contains 4 measly carbs. Use your favorite minimally processed cocoa powder for an antioxidant boost. I’ll admit to using Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa for that Wendy’s frosty chocolate flavoring, but the non-Dutched stuff is best for the preservation of nutrients.

Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes two servings


Ingredients:

1 cup ricotta cheese (part skim or whole milk)
1 fresh organic egg yolk (Egg Beaters if you’re afraid of salmonella)
Tiny splash of pure vanilla extract
Sweeteners, to taste
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening:
-2-3 tablespoons erythritol (get it here and here) or xylitol
Pure stevia extract
Pinch of xanthan/guar gum (optional, for a creamier texture)

Jamocha Almond Flavoring:
2-3 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
sliced almonds
85% cacao chocolate, grated

Mint Chocolate Chip Variation:

a few drops of pure peppermint extract
85% cacao chocolate, grated

Preparation:
Blend ricotta, egg yolk, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, sweeteners, xanthan gum, and other flavorings together in a blender or food processor until totally smooth. Stir in nuts and chocolate shavings if desired. Pour into plastic tub with a lid and freeze for an hour, stirring well every 20 minutes to break up the ice so it freezes properly. Serve as soon as it’s frozen enough to be scoopable. If you decide not to eat it immediately, let it sit out for 10 minutes when you remove it from the freezer before serving.

~5g net carbs per serving!

Topped with hard shell topping, fresh whipped cream, and slivered almonds. Best lunch EVER.


Hard Shell Topping


Makes two servings

Ingredients:
1 square Lindt 85% cacao bar (I’m loving Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie lately)
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil or non-hydrogenated palm shortening
1/2 teaspoon heavy cream or coconut milk
sweeteners, to taste (I use NuNaturals stevia)

Preparation:
Nuke chocolate and coconut oil together, stirring at 20 seconds intervals until smooth. Stir in cream and sweeteners, tasting and adjusting if necessary.

Digging in…

Give it a try! If you have a flavor idea, let me know about it and we can work on re-creating it.

The taste of summer– Creamsicle Cupcakes

First things first: I am still working on the perfect sugar-free gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe. I tested a fourth batch today, but it was a bit crumbly. The flavor is spot on, though. They’ve come a long way from the hockey pucks I was making when I first started this journey a year ago. Re-creating processed foods out of all natural ingredients takes some trial and error, but it is so worth it when you get it right. For me, anyway. Sticking to a whole foods plan can get monotonous if you don’t mix things up! Interestingly enough, I eat pretty much the same thing every day except when a specific craving hits me. I think we all have a routine that we stick to, food-wise. My biology professor said we do 99% of our actions without thinking. That other one percent of the time I spend in my kitchen, with a full sink of dirty dishes as evidence!

Do you remember creamsicles? They’re still around, and they even make ’em sugar-free for us health-conscious folk. Unfortunately, the pre-packaged treats are laden with sugar alcohols (the scary kind with unpleasant side effects) and artificial sweeteners, so I stick to one mini creamsicle a couple times a week. They make up the only Splenda intake in my diet, so I think my brain is safe from whatever as yet unknown side effects the sucralose molecule is inflicting on us. We are all human guinea pigs with this stuff!

Back to creamsicles. The pairing of vanilla and orange is so fragrant and complementary, with the tang of the citrus balancing out the cloying sweetness that vanilla can impart. These moist, dense cupcakes showcase the full spectrum of the fruit’s bright flavor, containing one whole orange pureed in the batter. The health benefits of oranges are concentrated in the peel, which contain prebiotic oligosaccharides which promote intestinal health. With 13 grams effective carbs per orange, you can eat 1/2 at a time as a healthy snack. Furthermore, the flavonoids have been shown to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol. Psh, like you need more reasons to try these cupcakes.

Top the cream cheese frosting with fruit puree to imitate the old-fashioned ice cream bar, or just drop a dollop on top with some zest.

Healthy Creamsicle Cupcakes
adapted from this recipe by Martha Rose Shulman

Makes 20 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups almond meal, ground fine
6 eggs
Sweetener, to taste
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use both of the following:
-1 cup erythritol or xylitol
-1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract

4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 medium thin-skinned organic oranges (yielding 1 1/4 cups fruit puree)
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation:

Wash oranges well and boil for 20 minutes in a microwave safe dish with a cover until fork tender. Wait until oranges are cooled, then slice them (but do NOT peel them) into sections and remove seeds. Puree in food processor until smooth. Measure out 1 and 1/4 cups of the puree and reserve the rest for a glaze to go with the cream cheese icing.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Beat eggs and sugar substitute until batter is thick and golden. Beat in vanilla extract. Stir in fruit puree, almond meal, baking powder, and sea salt. Pour into buttered silicone muffin cups, paper tins (filled at least 3/4 way full), or a bundt pan and bake for 40 minutes or until slightly browned. Do NOT overbake. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Place in tupperware container with a lid when the cupcakes are lukewarm to the touch.

~2.5 grams net carbs per cupcake!

Orange Glaze

Ingredients:
reserved orange puree
lemon juice
sweeteners, to taste
-powdered erythritol
-stevia

Preparation:
Stir lemon juice into orange puree until soupy. Add sweeteners to taste. Spread or drizzle on top of cream cheese icing.

And now for the best part. I had to swat my friend’s finger out of the bowl numerous times (but I let her lick the spatula). 🙂

Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes more than enough cream cheese for twelve cupcakes

Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese
5 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
sweetener, to taste
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use both of the following:

-1 or 2 tablespoons powdered erythritol or xylitol
-stevia, to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:
Bring butter to room temperature by leaving out on the counter for 20 minutes or nuking for 10 seconds. Beat butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract together until Smooth. Add sweeteners to taste. Spread on cooled cupcakes or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for later use. Just bring to room temperature and beat until creamy before use.

My batch made fresh this morning is mysteriously almost gone!

Low Carb Pizza and Ranch– the Dynamic Duo

UPDATE on 7.23.08: I made this recipe again here, using coconut flour in place of the protein powder.

Quick update. I just had a blog-worthy lunch, and felt the recipe needed to be shared. It’s a healthy take on everyone’s favorite–PIZZA! What’s make a pizza a pizza? The crust, of course! I modified this recipe for an easy and delicious gluten-free low carb (almost no carb) crust. Many thanks to NancyElle at the low carb friends forum who came up with the amazing original recipe.

Simple Low-Carb Pizza Crust

Makes two to four servings

Ingredients:
2 cups whole or part-skim organic mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 large organic eggs
2 tablespoons golden flaxseed meal (optional)
2 tablespoons unflavored whey protein powder or coconut flour (optional)
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder

Preparation:
Mix cheese, eggs, flax meal (if using), protein powder or coconut flour (if using), and baking powder. Spread with a spatula to 1/4″ thickness on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes on 350 degrees, flipping halfway through the baking process. Remove from oven, slide off of parchment paper, and flip over again onto the pan so the crust cools with the pretty side up. Once crust is cooled, top with sauce, pre-cooked veggies or meats, and cheese. Broil on high for 2 minutes, or until cheese topping is melted and bubbly.

~8g net carbs, 974 calories per crust (made with coconut flour)

Now comes the fun part… toppings! Ranch makes everything better (try it on eggs, I kid you not), and it’s the star ingredient in this Bacon Chicken Ranch pizza. I had some homemade ranch sitting in the fridge (recipe coming soon!), and it really made a difference in the flavor. This half of the pizza pie is definitely my favorite. For you less adventurous types, I tossed sauteed red pepper and onions on the other half. It’ll make for some good cold pizza come breakfast time tomorrow!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

Makes two to four servings

Ingredients:
10 slices nitrate-free bacon, fried and crumbled
1 lb cooked organic chicken breast or thighs, chopped into chunks
organic cheddar, shredded
ranch dressing (check for carb count and additives)

Preparation:
Spread ranch over crust in a thin layer. Top with chunks of chicken and crumbled bacon. Sprinkle shredded cheese over everything. Broil until cheese melts, and drizzle ranch dressing over slices before serving. Leave the dressing off of leftovers.

Tips:
~Use chicken thighs for better flavor and value. If you’re buying organic, the cost savings can be huge.
~Cut up the chicken thighs and sautee them in the bacon grease conserved from frying, and season with a ranch seasoning packet or herbs to add another layer of flavor. It’s quick and easy!
~Look for nitrate-free bacon for a healthier option. Niman Ranch makes a delicious all natural product.


~1g net carbs per slice (plus toppings)

Apple Crisp Nostalgia

I’m interrupting the series on peanut butter to fulfill a sudden craving. Yesterday I was trying to figure out what to do with some chayotes I found at the farmer’s market which have been sitting in my fruit bowl for a month. Considering their use as an apple substitute in low-carb cooking, I went over the possibilities. Fried cinnamon “apples,” stuffed “apples,” “apple” muffins… nah. And then it hit me. I saw visions of steaming casserole dishes full of fragrant, crumbly apple crisp. The red box with the ready-made topping mixture stands out in my memory, as does the extensive peeling over the sink required to reap the rewards. Labor intensive, but so worth it. I had to recapture the magic of this childhood favorite sans the sugar so it wouldn’t leave me furtively cleaning out half the tupperware container at midnight, Redi-whip can in hand.

Instead of replacing all the apples to cut down the amount of fructose sugar, I let a couple of big, juicy organic apples work their magic with some thinly sliced chayotes. These ugly green squashes are pretty nondescript in flavor, and have the perfect texture after some heavy duty steaming to play well with the sweeter, softer apples. The chayotes will suck up all the apple-y goodess in the marinating and cooking process, leaving anyone who tastes this dish blissfully unaware of their presence. Flour and brown sugar are usually the main ingredients in the crunchy topping, but nuts and a touch of blackstrap molasses work just as well, with a ton more flavor. With this sugar- and gluten-free apple crisp, you get all of the health benefits of apples with none of the blood sugar spike and fat storing insulin response. The phytochemicals in apples may promote lung health, protect against cancer, and prevent cardiovascular disease. Okay, need any more reasons to eat apple crisp?

Nutty Apple Crisp

Makes 10-12 servings

Ingredients:
2 medium-sized apples, thinly sliced (1/4″ thick)
2 chayotes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup organic lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
Sweeteners
For ALL NATURAL sweetening, use all three of the following:
-6 tablespoons erythritol
Pure stevia extract, to taste
-1/2 teaspoon blackstrap molasses

1 cup nut meal (almond, pecan, hazelnut, etc.)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans and walnuts)
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon oat flour (optional)
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum (optional, firms up the filling)

Preparation:
Peel and slice apples and chayotes, tossing apples in a bowl with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and placing chayotes in a microwave safe dish. Add the other 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, water, and 3 tablespoons of the erythritol to the chayotes, stirring the squash around to coat. Microwave for 12-14 minutes on high or until fork tender, stirring half way through the cooking process. Remove from microwave and let cool. Taste and add additional sweeteners to the chayotes if necessary. You want them to be as sweet as the apples.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Melt butter in the microwave until liquified. Whisk in erythritol, blackstrap molasses, and vanilla extract. Mix with dry ingredients until crumbly. Taste and add additional sweetener to the topping if necessary. Add chayotes to bowl of apples and fold in xanthan gum thoroughly. Butter a baking dish, and fill it with layered chayote and apple slices. Sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until crisp is bubbly and browned. Crisp the top under the broiler setting for a few minutes if necessary. Let cool for 10 minutes. This is best eaten fresh, so make a small batch if you have to!

~5.5 grams net carbs per serving

Serve with fresh whipped cream and garnish with cinnamon sticks (50 cents in the Mexican aisle!) for a classy touch.

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