Archive of ‘Egg-Free’ category

Kid-Friendly Indulgences: Healthier Gingerbread Cookies

This is my entry to Eat Christmas Cookies, an event sponsored by FoodBlogga! Check out all of the drool-worthy recipes there.
Healthier Gingerbread Cookies (Paleo, Low Carb)
Get the little ones into the kitchen with these easy-peasy healthy gingerbread cookies, dolled up with colorful sugar-free cream cheese frosting! These classic Christmas cookies are adapted from my versatile recipe for Honey Nut Cookies. The only changes are the addition of blackstrap molasses and lots of yummy spices to impart that distinct gingerbread flavor to these gluten-free, egg-free, low carb cookies! The texture is chewy and crispy all at once. They’re a bit different from traditional gingerbread, but just as delicious and fun to decorate.

A word about the food coloring: Don’t try to make it “all natural” by using the organic food coloring you see at the health food store. With good intentions, I bought some natural blue food coloring on sale for $3.99 (yow!). It’s made from “pure blueberry extract,” so I thought it sounded like it would be a healthier substitute for the artificial stuff. It dyed my cream cheese frosting a lovely brownish purple hue. If you want to go the natural route, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Gingerbread Santa and Rudolph, poking his nose in
Healthy Gingerbread Cookies, pt.3

Simple Nourishing Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 25 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters

Ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter or nonhydrogenated shortening (for dairy-free)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon organic blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves (optional)
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 275 (yes, 275) degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt butter and mix with honey, molasses, and vanilla until smooth. Add dry ingredients. Dough will be soft and sticky. Cut out two long pieces of parchment paper. Roll dough to 1/8th of an inch thickness (or thinner) sandwiched in between pieces of parchment paper. Peel off top sheet of parchment and flip dough from bottom sheet to the top sheet so that dough has been peeled off of both sheets of parchment, ensuring that it will be easier to transfer to cookie sheet. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and peel away bits of dough around cut outs, or flip cut outs onto cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 18 minutes. Let cool completely for about 10 minutes or so before moving to a work surface. Decorate with piped cream cheese frosting and bits of chopped raisins and dried apricots.

Simple Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz cream cheese or neufatchel cheese
1/4 cup of erythritol, powdered
Good-tasting pure stevia extract, to taste
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Drops of food coloring

Leave cream cheese at room temperature for 30 minutes. Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or Magic Bullet. Beat together cream cheese, vanilla, and erythritol for 1 to 2 minutes, or until very smooth and erythritol has mostly dissolved. Mix in stevia starting with 1/16 of a teaspoon, taste, and adjust sweetness level if necessary. Spoon frosting into separate bowls, and beat in drops of food coloring, wiping off the beaters after each color has been mixed. Transfer colored frosting into zip top bags and snip off the corners. Use immediately.

Poor gingerbread lady. 🙁 She was too yummy for her own good!
Healthy Gingerbread Cookies, pt. 2

~1.6g net carbs per 1/25th of the cookie recipe

~13g carbs for the whole batch of frosting

Chocolate Giveaways, Healthier Buckeyes, and Christmas Candy Making

Sugar-Free Buckeyes, how I love you so!
Sugar-Free Buckeye Candies (Low Carb)

To celebrate the season, I’m giving away two prizes to two readers who comment on this post. Up for grabs is a package of Green & Black’s Organic 85% cacao chocolate along with my cooking chocolate of choice, the Lindt Excellence 85% cacao bar. I have two of these bundles all wrapped up for the lucky readers!

Contest closes December 25th. The contest is closed. Thank you for your entry!
chocolategiveaway

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Healthier Magic Cookie Bars (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free)

Seven Layer Bars a.k.a Magic Cookie Bars, are my absolute favorite holiday treats. The combination of rich chocolate chips, toasted coconut, and the sticky sweetness of condensed milk all coalesce into an incredibly addictive bar cookie. My take on Seven (Six?) Layer Bars is sugar-free, gluten-free, and low carb. It’s a good thing they freeze well ’cause the batch I made today was just too tempting, sitting around on the counter top lookin’ all delicious and gooey!

Healthier Magic Cookie Bars (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free)

You’ll need to make a homemade sugar-free caramel sauce to replace that Eagle Brand Condensed Milk that holds these bars together. With a touch of real honey, the sauce is smooth, creamy, and perfect for any dessert that calls for a drizzle of caramel. It doesn’t keep well, so you should prepare and use it immediately. Fortunately, it takes minutes to make.

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Twelve Days of Baking: Honey Nut Cookies and How To Make Almond Flour

This is my submission to Kimi’s Nourishing Sweets and Treats event at her wonderful blog, The Nourishing Gourmet.

Honey Nut Cookies (Low Carb, Paleo)

Exams are over and I’m back in Florida, where the mood is festive despite the 80 degree beach weather. I’ve planned a bit of Christmas baking for you guys, so stay tuned! In addition to attempting to make over classic holiday treats like chocolates and gingerbread cookies, I’ll be mixing it up with a few original healthful creations that will hopefully tantalize your tastebuds just as much as familiar favorites. Once you get the hang of working with almond flour and alternative sweeteners, non-traditional baking gets a lot easier. Make these upcoming weeks, filled with office parties and decadent meals, nourishing for your soul and your body, with good friends and healthful food.

This first recipe calls for a bit of honey as a sweetener, which works so well with stevia to achieve the perfect flavor in these gluten-free, low carb Honey Nut Cookies. These cookies are also, incidentally, egg-free! I’m still waiting for my erythritol to get here, and thought it would be good to share some recipes that don’t involve it. Erythritol is all natural and delicious, but it is so expensive that in these hard times, it’s nice to have a more reasonably priced healthy option. If I am using honey, I make sure to use as little as is necessary to sweeten adequately, and just count the carbs. If you’re worried about the fructose content, just know that per serving, you’re probably not ingesting enough to worry about. I feel much safer using a bit of honey and blackstrap molasses here and there than artificial sweeteners. It’s a personal decision!

In the pioneering footsteps (hah!) of Ree Drummond, I’m doing a step-by-step photo spread for making these cookies. They are so simple that this tutorial really isn’t necessary, but my sister and I had fun killing time this first afternoon back home, bumming around the house for the holidays!

Let’s make some cookies, shall we?

First things first: We need to make almond flour, the star ingredient in a low carb healthy baking arsenal. It’s so flippin’ easy.

Tutorial: How To Make Homemade Almond Flour

Step One: Add sliced, blanched almonds to food processor. Refrigerate or freeze the nuts beforehand for the best results.
Sliced almonds in food processor

Sliced almonds in food processor

Step Two: Whizz ’em up for a minute or two until finely ground.
Homemade almond flour

Homemade almond flour
Homemade almond flour

Pecans!
Chopped pecans

NuNaturals stevia
Nunaturals stevia!

Cookie dough!
Cookie dough

Scooping cookies

Cookie dough, patted and poked into cute rounds
Flattened cookie dough

Chewy Honey Nut Cookies

Chewy Honey Nut Cookies

Makes eight to twelve cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey (raw, if you can get it)
4 packets or 1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/16 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 275 (yes, 275) degrees Fahrenheit.

Chop pecans, and toast them for 12 minutes. Melt butter. Stir together all ingredients except almond flour and pecans. Mix in almond flour until a smooth dough forms, then fold in nuts until dispersed throughout dough. Shape into flat cookie rounds on parchment paper. Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until slightly browned around the edges. Let cookies cool and harden for a full 10 minutes before removing from parchment.

~6g net carbs per 1/8 of a recipe, 4.5g net carbs per 1/10th, and 3.5g net carbs per 1/12th

Holiday Indulgences: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy-Pumpkin-Chip-Cookies

Thanksgiving and holiday baking are on the horizon. My upcoming recipes will be incorporating my absolute favorite seasonal ingredient: pumpkin! Yes, it’s everywhere right now on the food blogs, but for good reason. Pumpkin embodies the taste of fall, with its smoky warmth, mirroring the auburn spectrum painting the leaves. It lends vibrant color and an air of comfort food to every dish it touches. Not to mention the health benefits! It’s low in carbs and packed with beta carotene. You may associate it with just desserts, but it pairs beautifully with caramelized onions and black pepper, making a mean dish of breakfast faux-tatoes (more on those later!).

Due to limited access to a real grocery store and fancy ingredients this semester, I am paring down my cooking arsenal and sticking to what I can find on campus. A bit of honey can do wonderful things for low carb gluten-free cookies. It acts as a binder, and complements stevia’s sweetness–a little bit of honey goes a long way. Yes, it is real sugar, but it is not heat processed, and low enough in carbs distributed throughout the whole recipe. As long as I count the carbs (6 grams per teaspoon), I am fine with honey and experience no cravings or portion control issues. Your tolerance may vary, of course!

One question I have received multiple times is why I don’t use agave nectar. I am certainly no expert, but it doesn’t seem like any food that has been boiled down for hours to concentrate its sugar can be considered healthful. There is no such thing as “raw” agave nectar, since you can’t use the sap straight from the plant. A second strike against it is that it contains a disproportionately high concentration of fructose, which causes a whole host of problems for the human body as documented in Good Calories, Bad Calories. Taubes sums up the research on fructose in an eye-opening chapter that will scare you silly of this “low glycemic” sweetener. Let’s have a look at the break down of components in natural sweeteners:

Raw honey:
38.5% fructose
31% glucose
12.9% maltose

Agave nectar:
90% fructose
10% glucose

I’ll be sticking to raw honey when I need a little of the properties that real sugar affords. Count the carbs for your daily total and be on your merry way. A bit of real sugar is not inherently evil for healthy individuals, when used responsibly.

Enough chatter… let’s talk cookies! These are not your momma’s pumpkin cookies. They are dense and moist, but NOT cakey! These are just sweet enough with a bit of rich chocolate in every bite, which nicely complements the spicy undertones. And the best part? They’re miraculously gluten-free (of course), dairy-free and egg-free. That means almost vegan, but I’ve heard that vegans care about bee welfare, too. Bless them!

What did I do for the chocolate chips? I’ll admit to being lazy and just breaking up a 70% Lindt bar, but if you are watching your carbs more closely you can use my homemade erythritol-sweetened chips. You could just use a chopped up 85% cocao Lindt bar if you can handle that intense chocolate flavor.
Low-Carb-Pumpkin-Chip-Cookies

Healthy-Pumpkin-Chip-Cookies

Pumpkin Chip Cookies (Dairy-Free, Egg-Free)

Yields sixteen cookies

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening (I use Spectrum organic)
2 tablespoons raw honey
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, pulsed into a meal
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
3 squares Lindt 70% chocolate, broken into chunks
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Pulse coconut until it forms a coarse flour (using flat blade in Magic Bullet). Level off 1/4 cup. Pulse chopped almonds into a meal if you don’t have pre-ground almond flour. Break chocolate into chunks with your fingers. Melt shortening. Whisk in honey, pumpkin puree, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients, excluding chocolate, until dough forms a smooth paste. Mix in chocolate chunks. Dollop with a tablespoon onto greased aluminum foil or parchment paper, spreading and patting into flat cookie shapes (these don’t spread). Bake for 15 minutes, then move cookie sheet to top oven rack and bake for 5 more minutes. Let cool completely on cookie sheet. Store in plastic baggies lined with paper towels.

~3.5g net carbs per cookie

Sugar-Free-Pumpkin-Chip-Cookies

Preview:

Chocolate Pie w/Peanut Butter Cookie Crust (Dairy-Free)
Sugar-Free-Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Pie

What are you cooking up for the holidays? Leave a comment and share!

Quick Indulgences: Low Carb Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt with Apples

Low Carb Apples with Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt

I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled homework to bring you one of those easy snacks you can throw together on a whim. There will be a few of these coming up since play time is limited lately, with classes and homework superseding kitchen experimentation! My skillet and my spatula are my weapons of choice for go-to quick meals–flavored yogurt for breakfast, and stir fries for lunch and dinner. Even using grass-fed beef and organic produce from Whole Foods, it’s much more budget friendly to prepare your meals from scratch instead of subsisting on campus fare. Not to mention the limited availability of gluten-free low carb meals here. Everything is served with a piece of bread!

Back to the topic at hand. You can combine almost anything with plain yogurt and a little vanilla extract to make your own custom flavors, which can get rather addictive once you stock your pantry with extracts and spices. Get creative and add nuts, nut butters, blackstrap molasses, cocoa, toasted coconut flakes, flax meal, coconut oil, lemon juice and zest… whatever you want, ’cause it’ll probably taste good in the rich, full fat yogurt we, as low-carbers, can indulge in without guilt! I’ve been (finally) getting into fall with pumpkin pie yogurt. All you need is a scoop of canned pumpkin, a few drops of vanilla extract, and a big pinch of pumpkin pie spice to enjoy this wonderful holiday dessert for breakfast. I’ll throw it in tupperware and eat my yogurt during morning lecture, garnering more than a few strange looks as I dig into my orange goo!

If you like peanut butter honey sandwiches, or apples and peanut butter, you’re gonna flip for this. We’re revisiting those chayote apples that I used in my apple crisp, this time cooking them up quickly in a skillet with no added spices. Still incredibly apple-y (even if you use lime juice because you’re out of lemon juice like I was for this photo shoot!). The chayote’s texture mimics the apple’s crispness, paired with the perfect level of tartness and sweetness from the citrus juice and stevia. Use as much or as little honey as your needs allow, keeping in mind that honey is 6 grams of carbs per teaspoon. Buy as dark a honey as you can find for the most flavor. I buy local raw honey from the bulk section at Whole Foods, filling the plastic tub with as much or as little of the sticky stuff as I need. One teaspoon is all it takes to satisfy my taste for honey, which goes back to Sunday morning breakfasts consisting of fried eggs (over hard!), Brown n’ Serve sausages, and English muffins slathered in honey that I squeezed greedily from the plastic bear. Yes, you can have honey on a lifestyle that is sugar-free 99% of the time. If honey is a flavor you miss, incorporate a tiny amount into your daily diet and find out if this little bit of real sugar kicks up cravings for sweets.

And peanut butter makes everything better. Now get mixing!

Chayote, before after being turned into sugar-free apple-y goodness!
Low Carb Chayote Apples

“Apples” with Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt

Makes two servings

Ingredients:
For Chayote “Apples”:
1 chayote, chopped
1/8 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract (I use NuNaturals)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice

For Yogurt:
1 small container Greek yogurt (I like FAGE), or 1/2 cup plain full fat yogurt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon raw honey (darkest in color you can find)
2 tablespoons all natural peanut butter
Good-tasting pure stevia extract, to taste (I use NuNaturals)

Preparation:
Stir together yogurt, peanut butter, and honey**. Add a pinch of stevia extract and taste for sweetness. Add more stevia if necessary. Place a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Wash and peel chayote, rinsing off the sap under the faucet. Split down the middle with a knife (cutting through the “crack”), and pry out soft seed. Cut chayote into chunks. Mix together water, lemon juice, and stevia. Once pan is hot, add chopped chayotes and lemon juice mixture, stirring a bit to coat the chayote pieces. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes, shaking the skillet around once during cooking to redistribute the chayote pieces. You want to cook it until it is fork tender and the water has just evaporated. Uncover and remove from heat. Let cool and serve with yogurt, or toss in melted butter and cinnamon for fried apples. Can also be pureed for applesauce!

**You can also leave the honey out until serving time and just drizzle it on top for a pretty effect, stirring it in before you eat.

~6-9 grams of net carbs per serving (depending on how much honey you use)

Crunchy Low Carb Snack Bars

This will be my last post for awhile. I’ll be heading back to university this Monday and having an actual life!

When a good little low-carber wants something to snack on, she usually reaches for string cheese, sliced veggies, or a spoonful (or five, in my case) of peanut butter. Packaged diet bars and cookies just won’t do. They fail to satisfy the hunger like whole foods. Scary artificial sweeteners and the polyols that accompany them have very unpleasant side effects. Abstain from the “M” word–MALTITOL–if you have a social life and want to keep it. On top of that, a chewy, dry bar encased in a chocolate vegetable oil coating is a big disappointment to the natural food adapted palette. What’s a hungry health foodie to do?

A brilliant gal named Elana came up with a fancy shmancy version of coconut bark, chock full of nuts and seeds, slathered with a blanket of rich chocolate to make your snack time extra special. Spoil yourself rotten with these babies when you can’t look at another cold cut or celery stick. The coconut oil makes them a bit crunchy, tickling your corn chip- and pretzel-deprived taste buds. I cut down on the sugar, de-carbed the chocolate coating, and punched up the flavor with a little twist on the preparation. The testers absolutely flipped for the toasted pecan version. I’d recommend starting there and then following wherever your culinary imagination takes you! There are no hard and fast rules with this wonderfully versatile recipe.

One trick to maximize the lovely flavors of these natural ingredients: Toasting, my friend! Don’t be afraid of somehow “destroying the nutrients” in the nuts. Roasting the nuts can actually improve digestibility. I like to think that our tongue is so well designed that it knows what’s best for us, in the same way that it regulates sodium intake. These bars are even more fabulous with the aromatic, slightly smoky flavor that toasting imparts to the nuts and coconut, so don’t skip this step!

Crunchy and sweet, topped with a layer of smooth dark chocolate! You won’t believe they’re free of sugar and gluten. Promise.

Recipe Notes:
~To toast the ingredients, spread nuts and coconut flakes around a small pan. Pop ’em in the toaster oven and toast for one cycle on medium heat, watching closely to prevent excess browning of the coconut flakes. You might have to stir them around the pan mid-cycle.
~I buy unhulled sesame seeds for the highest calcium content. Get them at the bulk bin or refrigerated section of your local health food store.
~Non-hydrogenated palm oil based shortening is sold under two names, to my knowledge–Spectrum Organic shortening and Jungle brand shortening.
~I get my nuts, seeds, honey and almond butter from the bulk bin section at the health food store. You can buy as much or as little as you want that way. Just be sure to sample the almond butter for freshness.
~Peanut butter is the cheapest option, but almond butter lends a more neutral flavor. Make your own macadamia nut butter with a magic bullet or powerful food processor. Heat the nuts in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and blend. Macadamia nuts contain enough natural oil to turn into a smooth paste after enough pulsing and scraping.
~If you buy roasted pistachios, rinse the salt off under a colander, pat them dry, and toast them for one cycle under medium heat to crisp the pistachios back up.
~For the 85% chocolate, I alternate between Lindt, Ghirardelli, and Green & Black’s organic. Use whatever brand you prefer–the carb counts are similar.
~DON’T heat the flax seeds or hemp seeds. You want to keep those precious omega-3s intact!

The following is my absolute favorite version. It smells like a Samoa cookie, no joke!

Crunchy No-Bake Snack Bars

Ingredients:
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup golden flax meal (could also use sesame seed meal)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup almond butter (could also use peanut or mac nut butter)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of raw honey
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon of pure stevia extract

Easy Chocolate Ganache Topping

Ingredients:
4 squares of 85% cacao chocolate
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening (could also use more coconut oil or organic unsalted butter)
1 tablespoon erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1 teaspoon organic heavy cream (or full fat coconut milk)

Preparation:
For Snack Bars:
Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or magic bullet. Toast coconut and nuts in a dry pan over medium-low heat or the toaster oven, until slightly browned. Pulse nut and seed mixture in a food processor just until nuts are chopped. Melt coconut oil and nut butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Add vanilla extract, honey, erythritol, stevia, and sea salt, stirring until incorporating. Fold into nut mixture. Press into an 8 by 4 pan with a spatula. Quick set in the freezer for 20 minutes. Cut into 6 bars. Store in the refrigerator, covered with a paper towel and plastic wrap.

For Ganache Topping:
Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or magic bullet. Melt shortening and chocolate in microwave in for 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in cream, erythritol, and stevia, until mixture is completely blended. Spread over cooled bars immediately.

~4.35 grams net carbs per 1/6 of a recipe

Check out that funky green color! It’s from all the pistachios and pepitas. The flavor is pretty phenomenal, too. Very pistachio-y.

Pepita Pistachio Variation (a.k.a. REPTAR BARS, RAWRR!)

1/2 cup pistachios, roasted
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons pepitas, toasted
2 tablespoons hemp seeds (could use more pepitas)
1/4 cup sesame seeds (could also use golden flax seeds)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup macadamia nut butter (could also use almond butter)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon raw honey
1/8-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Follow the steps listed above.

~6 grams net carbs per 1/6 of a recipe

Turn Up The Heat: Low Carb Chicken Curry

After experimenting with various flavors of Protein Packed Ice Cream, I had a lot of low fat cottage cheese leftover. I’ve been obsessed with pureeing cottage cheese lately. It can sub for anything creamy, sneaking in extra protein to keep you satisfied. It also makes this typical “diet food” more sexy to eat. It’s not that I don’t absolutely love heavy cream and FAGE total and all of the lovely wholesome saturated fat those contain. If you haven’t read Good Calories, Bad Calories yet, pick up it up and prepare to be blown away by what the scientific evidence really shows regarding the relationship between heart health, disease risk, and saturated fats. Hint: It’s not what the processed food-pushing establishment tells you! There are many ways to incorporate healthful natural fats into your diets: Eat grass-fed 85/15 beef and chicken thighs, use cream in your coffee, sauté with butter or coconut oil, and my favorite way–pop a square of extra dark chocolate! There can, however, be too much of a good thing, especially when you’re watching your waistline. Your body won’t tap into your stored fat if there is too much dietary fat coming in. And no, a high-protein diet won’t wear out your kidneys!

Regardless of whether you use full-fat yogurt or pureed cottage cheese, this curry is packed full of flavor and will leave you wanting more. No need to slave over a hot stove since it takes less than a half hour (he-ey, Rachel Ray!) to whip up. If your cabinet isn’t already stocked will all of these lovely spices, don’t hesitate to make the investment. You will want to make this dish over and over. The only ingredients I had to run out for were the ginger root and the garam marsala. Garam marsala, an aromatic blend of spices, is ideal for adding an Indian flair to omelets, stir fries, and other quick n’ dirty meals. The downside of making curry is that the whole house still smells like all of those wonderful spices, reminding me that my dad ate the leftovers. Guess that means I’ll have to make more…

Indian Chicken Curry
Adapted from an AllRecipes recipe

Makes 4 small servings

Ingredients:
1-3 tablespoons of oil, butter, or ghee
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon of garam marsala
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1/16 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1/8-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 boneless chicken thighs or 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup plain yogurt or pureed cottage cheese (I used Friendship 1%)
3/4 cup coconut milk (lite, if you prefer)
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional–omit if you don’t like spicy foods)

Preparation:

Prep vegetables. Heat fat in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until browned and fragrant. Add garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, paprika, bay leaf, ginger, sweetener, and sea salt, stirring around the pan for 2 minutes. Use a food processor or magic bullet to puree cottage cheese or yogurt with coconut milk and tomato paste. Add chicken and coconut milk mixture to pan. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, squeeze in the lime juice, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, and stir in the cayenne pepper if you’re using it. Finish with more lime juice to taste, and serve over riced cauliflower.

~6 grams net carbs per serving, using lite coconut milk and pureed cottage cheese

Riced Cauliflower

Makes four small servings

4 cups of fresh grated cauliflower
1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter
1/2 crumbled organic boullion cube (watch out for MSG!)

Grate cauliflower with a cheese grater. Add butter to a pan over medium heat. Stir fry cauliflower for 2 minutes, crumbling the boullion cube over it during the cooking process. Cook until just tender, and remove from pan.

~3g net carbs per serving

Garnished with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime, mm-mmmm!

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!

Homemade Low Carb Gluten-free Wraps: You can do it too!

If you haven’t seen the news or read the paper lately, check out how we low-carbers have finally been vindicated! They’ll come around eventually and acknowledge the importance of natural saturated fats, but this is a step in the right direction. Hopefully the Atkins craze will start up again and more people can experience the joys of healthy living!

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Gluten-Free, Low Carb Wraps

Have you ever tried to fulfill a craving for Mexican food with one of those store bought low carb tortillas? They certainly look like their high carb starchy cousins. They may even smell like them. Then reality hits as you take a bite and chew the bland lump of oat fiber and soy protein held together by cornstarch. It goes down as a gummy lump in your throat. “That wasn’t so bad, but I could’ve spent those carbs on something better… like peanut butter. Or mashed faux-tatoes. Or…” At least that’s how my thought process works. Frankenfood tortillas feel like low carb “junk” food with little nutritional value and a lot of unnecessary additions to my diet. When do we ever need to be ingesting wheat flour or soy oil on this lifestyle? What about sodium metabisulfate, microcrystalline cellulose and dicalcium phosphate? That mouth full (no pun intended) of ingredients doesn’t sound yummy to me, either.

If you want a fresh-tasting, nourishing tortilla or wrap substitute that you can make at home, look no further. This gluten-free low carb creation was inspired by this recipe at Gluten-Free Gobsmacked (not low carb, but still wonderful!). Gluten-free (GF) recipes can give you helpful hints for how to hold together your low carb flourless doughs. Sadly, GF flour blends are made up of all kinds of starches and grains, making them even higher in carbs than all purpose flour! Poor celiac low-carbers. Fortunately some of the same binding tricks can be applied to our beloved nut meals and seed flours.

Unadulterated wraps, fresh from the oven, full of promise!

Gluten-Free, Low Carb Wraps

You should be able to find all of the ingredients for these wraps at your local health food store. When I first figured out what specialty ingredients were necessary for re-creating most of my favorite high carb treats, I bit the bullet and made quite a few initial investments. Some of these essential cooking/baking ingredients are used in such small amounts that I don’t have to buy them often. They include the following:

Xanthan/Guar Gum – Vegetable fibers grown on micro-organisms or trees. Useful in very small amounts for thickening, gelling, acting like gluten, and lending a “creamy” mouth feel to cold items. I’ve only worked with xanthan gum, but they function similarly. Guar gum is cheaper, but can cause digestive “issues” and is harder to find.

Coconut Flour – Coconut meat pulverized into a fragrant creamy white powder. Acts similarly to protein powder by drying out baked goods. Requires many eggs in the batter to balance out its dryness. Lends a nice dense texture and heaviness to baked goods, perfect for brownies and carrot cake. Adds bulk and texture to no-bake recipes.

Pure Vanilla Extract – Alcoholic soaking liquid of a vanilla bean. Imparts lots of nice vanilla flavoring and aroma with close to no carbs. Check label for added corn syrup or agave.

Erythritol – A sugar alcohol naturally occurring in melons, corn, and other plants. Lightly sweetens, and adds textural properties of sugar. The only sugar alcohol with close to zero carbs and cals and NO unpleasant side effects! Has a “minty” taste if it’s not dissolved in water.

Pure Stevia Extract – High intensity sweetener extracted from a plant that can be bitter if you buy the wrong brand or use too much. Does not add textural properties or mouthfeel of sugar to recipes. Best tasting when combined with a sugar alcohol like erythritol. NuNaturals is the one and only brand I use.

Whey Protein Powder – Ultra-filtered bi-product of cheese making that is a natural source of all of the essential amino acids. Pulls moisture out of baked goods. Provides structure for pastries. Can be used in smoothies or shakes as a “creamy” base. Comes either plain or with added artificial sweeteners.

Blackstrap Molasses
– The dark liquid bi-product of processing the sugar cane plant. A little bit of this unrefined sweetener goes a long way! It has only 4 grams of carbs per teaspoon, and most recipes don’t even need that much to benefit from its strong flavor. Has a brown sugar-like taste with a distinct smokiness to it. Blackstrap molasses is rich in iron–not totally stripped of nutrients like other forms of sugar.

Oat Flour – Not super low in carbs, but can be used in small amounts to lend the textural properties of all purpose flour. It’s gluten-free (check for certification) and indispensable to make baked goods resembling anything close to their high carb counterparts. Nut meals stuck together with butter do not a cookie make. Low carb pastries usually need a little bit of a grain product in order to resemble foods previously made with 100% refined grains!

So that’s what you’ll find if you go snooping through my pantry on any given day. Every week, I go on a shopping trip to restock the perishable ingredients I use in larger amounts. Those include the following:

Nuts, Seeds, and Nut/Seed Meals – Of principle importance in so many low-carb dessert recipes. Nut “flours” can be purchased pre-bagged like almond or flax meal, whereas others you must grind yourself. It’s much more cost efficient to do the “processing” at home with a good food processor or magic bullet blender. I make my own flax and sesame flours with my magic bullet. These add bulk and texture to low carb baked goods, and can be used as “breading.”

Nut and Seed Butters – Again, you can make these yourself, but it’s much easier to buy them in jars. I like peanut butter (but you already knew that!), almond butter, and sunflower seed butter. They lend creaminess, flavor, and heaviness to anything from salad dressing to sweet fillings to baked goods. My favorite application of these: jar to forefinger to mouth.

Heavy Cream – Self explanatory. It’s low in carbs and makes anything delicious.

Coconut Milk – Non-dairy cream or milk substitute with a hint of coconut flavoring. Thickness and amount of additives varies by brand. Look for high quality pure coconut milk products like those made by Thai Kitchen. You can make your own if you have a lot of time on your hands.

Cream Cheese – Add bulk and moisture to baked goods. Great in smoothies, on scrambled eggs, flavored and spread on veggies and sandwiches. A panacea of the low-carb cooking realm.

Butter – The second darling of low carb cooking. Make like Paula Deen and use butter to your heart’s content (your heart will thank you!). Adds bulk, mouth feel, and flavor. Also adds a ton of calories, so watch it if you’re maintaining or close to goal weight.

Coconut Oil/Non-hydrogenated Shortening – Dairy free butter alternatives that each have special properties. They both become very firm under cold temperatures. Perfect for low carb hard shell topping, which is reason enough to buy them! Shortening is ideal for cookies that don’t spread, and for thinning out extra dark chocolate. Coconut oil produces more moist baked goods and tasty refrigerated candies with a crisp “snap.”

That’s an incomplete list, but it’ll get you started cooking up dreamy replacements for your old favorite junk foods. Just a note: I don’t bake faux-junk food all the time. I don’t even make it often. I’ll make something when a craving hits, usually around a certain time of the month. After eating one (or two!) servings, I’ll store the treats away in the back of the freezer. Forcing yourself to have one serving of a treat every morning with breakfast will take the allure out of these “special” foods and make you crave the foods that should make up the bulk of your diet – high quality animal protein sources, natural fats, and fresh vegetables. You really can tire of sweet-tasting goodies. It’s possible. It happened to me.
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If you’ve been skipping down through the boring parts of the post, you can stop here.

Here is the much anticipated (by me) recipe for all natural low carb sandwich/tortilla wraps. This is a response to a request from a friend, and has been in the works for a month. After much trial and error, I’ve hit upon a solid formula. These wraps are pleasantly light in texture, but do not fall apart (yay!) and can be rolled for wrap sandwiches, baked into chips, fried for quesadillas, toasted for a thin cracker crust pizza. They can basically do everything except solve global warming. Please try them and make yourself a fat quesadilla stuffed to capacity with steak and jack cheese. You deserve it after all this cookin’!

Recipe Notes: You don’t need any special equipment for this recipe, but I found a trick to help with rolling out and unsticking the wraps. A silicone baking mat that I got at a discount store for $5 really makes the process easier. Parchment paper will absolutely NOT work, as it crinkles up from the moisture of the dough, producing a bumpy wrap “bottom” prone to tearing. To make your wraps pretty, use golden flax meal, almond flour, and oat flour. Regular flax and pecan flour produced the dark whole-grainy looking wraps. Both variations taste the same, so it all comes down to how much you’re bothered by ugly food.

A golden flax wrap, a pecan flax wrap, and an herb wrap, bonding.
Gluten-Free, Low Carb Wraps

 

Healthier Gluten-Free Wraps/Tortillas

This nourishing tortilla or wrap substitute is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. One of these wraps makes a mean quesadilla!


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Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons flax seed meal
  2. 1 tablespoon sesame seed meal (Could sub more flax meal here)
  3. 2 tablespoons pecan or almond meal
  4. 1 tablespoon gluten-free flour*
  5. 1/2 teaspoon protein powder
  6. 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  7. 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  9. 1/4 teaspoon olive oil
  10. 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  11. 1 tablespoon coconut milk OR heavy cream
  12. 1/4 teaspoon honey OR blackstrap molasses
  13. 4 tablespoons warm water
  14. Herbs and spices, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients.
  3. Whisk together wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Beat wet ingredients into dry ingredients vigorously with a mixer or whisk.
  5. Divide batter into two sticky masses.
  6. Drop in balls on to a greased cookie sheet or silicone baking mat.
  7. Press a piece of plastic wrap over dough balls.
  8. Flatten rounds with hand, and use a rolling pin over the plastic wrap until dough is 1/8 inch thickness. Peel off plastic wrap and smooth over any bubbles with fingertips.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.
  10. Let wraps rest on silicone mat until lukewarm to the touch, then carefully run a sharp spatula around the bottom to unstick.
  11. Let cool completely and store between sheets of paper towel in a plastic baggie on the countertop.
  12. If you over bake the wraps, there will be dry crispy spots on them. If you under bake them, they will be doughy on the inside. The key is the make sure the dough is spread evenly, with the thickness uniform throughout.
Notes
  1. *Oat or buckwheat flour work well in this recipe. For paleo wraps, you might be able to substitute tapioca or arrowroot starch.
Adapted from Gluten-Free Gobsmacked Blog
Healthy Indulgences http://healthyindulgences.net/

~4g net carbs per wrap

The best meal I’ve had in a long time: STEAK QUESADILLAS, BABY.
Gluten-Free, High Protein Wraps used as Quesadillas

Cheeeesy!
Gluten-Free, Low Carb Wraps

My lunch today: Chicken bacon ranch wrap sandwich with red peppers, carrots, and garlic cream cheese spread
Gluten-Free, Low Carb Wraps

Gluten-Free, Low Carb Wraps

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