Archive of ‘Egg-Free’ category

Sugar-Free Low Carb Candy Bars… really.

This is my last recipe involving peanut butter for awhile, I swear! I’m finally tiring of the taste, which is a move in the right direction for me. The silky richness of nut butters can make it easy to consume them in excess! While nut butters are certainly healthier than processed junk food, they are very calorie dense, and laden with polyunsaturated oils.

If you too have peanut butter issues, or if you don’t like the taste (gasp!) use almond butter or sun butter in this recipe. Almond butter has higher proportion of monounsaturated fats, so some would consider it a more nourishing alternative to peanut butter. Admittedly, the real reason I’m not addicted to almond butter is the $12 a jar price tag!

This recipe was way too much fun to play around with, so I went a little crazy with the variations. The best part about it is the simple and readily available ingredients! You can use the microwave and get just one bowl dirty. If your mind hasn’t been blown yet, it will be when you find out this can be made dairy-free. Creamy unsweetened coconut milk is the magic maker for this trick. It will be a hint coconut-ty unless you use expeller-pressed coconut oil, but the texture will be just as dreamy.

These treats are smooth and peanut-buttery, with a salty crunch from the peanuts. They don’t really taste like Pay Day at all because they’re a hundred times better, and don’t stick to your teeth! These treats are named after those corn syrup-filled bars because of the similarity in appearances. Don’t be fooled.

Mock “PayDay” Peanut Treats
Inspired by this recipe by “Blenders”

Makes 6 bars


Ingredients:
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (no-stir type preferred)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter OR coconut oil
2 teaspoons honey (optional)
1 tablespoon heavy cream OR coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons sweetener of choice (I use 2 Tablespoons of my stevia blend or Truvia)
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

Preparation:
Add peanut butter, honey, and butter to a microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for one minute. Remove and immediately whisk in vanilla extract and heavy cream or coconut milk. Stir in sweetener, xanthan gum (if using), and pinch of salt. Taste and adjust if necessary. Fold in peanuts and drop in globs on to a pan lined with wax paper. Chill in freezer until firm, then transfer to refrigerator.

~6g net carbs per treat

For Peanut Butter Dessert Topping, whisk extra cream or coconut milk into “Pay Day” treat mixture ingredients until the sauce is smooth and light in color. Use almond butter for the most neutral taste. This sauce is also delicious made dairy-free. If you use coconut milk in place of heavy cream, there will be a subtle coconut flavoring. The sauce will be just as creamy, though. This would be heavenly over low carb ice cream. You could also dip apples or strawberries into it!

Ditch the polysyllabic ingredients of pre-packaged bars with these easy homemade protein bars. No refrigeration required! This recipe is easy on your digestive system, with no harsh sugar alcohols (maltitol is truly evil!) or an ungodly amount of fiber. It’s also pocketbook friendly since the ingredients are pretty cheap. Start with a quality whey (not soy!) protein powder free of artificial sweeteners and preservatives. I like Jay Robb or Jarrow Formulas unflavored whey protein. These protein bars may look like cookies, and they may smell like cookies, but they are NOT peanut butter cookies! I have a recipe for those and will get around posting at some point. I repeat, these are not cookies. They are dry and chewy because of the high whey protein content, just like real protein bars. If you’re using stevia, remember to make the dough a bit sweeter than you want the baked product to be.

Just for fun, let’s have a look at the ingredients for an Atkins Advantage Chocolate Peanut Butter protein bar:
Ingredients: protein blend [soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed collagen, whey protein isolate (milk), sodium caseinate], glycerine, polydextrose, dry roasted peanut, peanut flour, palm kernel and palm oil, cellulose, coconut oil, cocoa powder (processed with alkali), natural and artificial flavor, olive oil, butter oil, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, salt, guar gum, citric acid, sucralose, mono and diglycerides, dipotassium phosphate, acesulfame potassium. nutrition blend: tricalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, magnesium oxide, vitamin a palmitate, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, cyanocobalamin, alpha tocopheryl acetate, niacinamide, biotin, calcium pantothenate, zinc oxide, folic acid, chromium chelate, phytonadione, sodium selenite. contains: soy, milk and peanuts.

I’ll admit to ingesting this frankenfood every once in awhile when I’m desperate for a sweet fix or on the road. It’s relieving to have a better option now!

Mock Protein/Atkins Bars

Makes four bars

Ingredients:
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (any nut butter would work)
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter OR coconut oil
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream OR coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup whey protein powder (check for additives and carb content)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add nut butter, honey, and butter to a microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for one minute. Remove and immediately whisk in vanilla extract and heavy cream or coconut milk. Stir in sweetener and pinch of salt. Taste and adjust if necessary. Stir in protein powder until mixture clumps together. Don’t worry if it separates and some of the liquid weeps out of the dough. Press mixture as flat as you can into a greased loaf pan. I like to place a piece of wax paper over the dough and press it flat with a smaller loaf pan. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Let sit for 10 minutes in the pan. The dough will absorb all of the liquid that has bubbled up. Slice with a sharp knife and store in baggies. Does not need to be refrigerated.

~5g net carbs and 29g protein per bar

Naked protein bars. Consume with gulps of water between bites.

Take your protein bars to the next level. Melt some 85% cacao content chocolate and sweeten it with stevia, to taste. Paint it across the bottoms of the protein bars with the small end of a spoon. Place chocolate side down on a chilled pan lined with wax paper. Make a recipe of the caramel sauce and spread it over the tops of the protein bars. Press sliced almonds into the caramel sauce. Paint chocolate over the tops and sides. Chill to firm up the chocolate. Place in a baggy for transport in your gym bag.

From drab to fab! I present to you mock Atkins bars, covered in dark chocolate and filled with caramel bars with a nice crunch from slivered almonds:

No preservatives or soy in that delicious bite.

(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.

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.

Paean to Peanut Butter– Peanut Butter Granola

Peanut butter is a substance that makes me dangerous. Chillin’ in the fridge, accessible by spoon and finger, it’s in mortal peril every minute. To avoid this internal struggle, I only purchase jars of this spreadable bliss for immediate consumption in recipes.

This post is dedicated to George Carver.

Fortunately, this nirvana-in-a-jar is healthy and relatively low in carbohydrates, containing 4g net carbs per 2 tablespoons. That’s a good-sized portion for its satiety factor. It’s a good source of biotin, vitamin e, and antioxidant polyphenols (heart-healthy compounds that fight free radicals). It also contains a small amount of resveratrol, the anti-aging component of red wine. Who knew? Be happy and combat wrinkles with PB (taken internally, not topically)!

Start your day in a good mood with a big dose of PB! This version of my grain-free (no oats here!) granola is heavenly with a rich peanut butter-y taste and smell. It’s a very flexible recipe, so if you don’t have some of the nuts and seeds listed, fear not! Just throw whatever you have in there and it’ll come out crunchy and roasted with a sweet coating. Pair it with sliced apples and yogurt for the perfect flavoring combination. I’m thinking peanut butter granola in almond milk with a few teensy slices of banana (1/4 of a large one) for a decadent pre-workout breakfast. It’d also be pretty kickass making sweet love to my chocolate granola in the same bowl. Reese’s cups cereal, anyone?


Peanut Butter Granola (Grain-Free)

Makes two heaping cups

Ingredients:
1/4 cup all natural peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or oil
-3 tablespoons erythritol or xylitol, powdered
-1/4 teaspoon black molasses (optional)
-1/8 + 1/16 teaspoon pure stevia extract 

1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons nut meal (almond, pecan, whatever you like)
1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt butter or oil with peanut butter in a small bowl in microwave until liquified. Powder erythritol in a coffee grinder or blender. Whisk erythritol, blackstrap molasses, additional sweeteners, and sea salt into peanut butter mixture. Mix dry ingredients together and stir in wet ingredients, using your hands to coat the nut and seed blend. Spread mixture over a parchment paper-lined baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring the mixture around occasionally. Remove from oven and spread over a paper towel set on a baking rack. It will continue to dry out as the moisture evaporates. Bake granola for an extra 10 minutes if the mixture still seems moist after cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze.


~7g net carbs per half cup

Homemade Cocoa Cereal

Walking down the cereal aisle as a kid, I always looked longingly at the sugar-coated puffs and multicolored flakes made out of who-knows-what. The cartoon characters called to me from commercials, shilling cookies and rice crispy treats for breakfast. What kid doesn’t want a bowlful of dessert in place of those boring bran flakes her parents choke down? My mother rarely indulged my fantasies, but that didn’t mean I went without. Every chance I got to try one of those mythical products at a friends house, I did, filling up the bowl again and again until the milk was used up. The coolest part was the milk turning chocolately brown, or pink and fruity. Oh, to be so young and carefree…

If your kids are coo-coo for sugar cereals, or if you’re feeling nostalgic, OR if you just really like chocolate, try this super simple grain-free granola cereal made with real cocoa and a blend of nutrient-rich nuts and seeds. It provides you with a healthy dose of antioxidants, medium-chain saturated fats from the coconut oil, and polyphenols from the cocoa. You’ll be satisfied after one serving**, full for hours, and your teeth won’t feel like jumping out of your head when you’re finished!

I always have a bunch of different bags of munchies from the bulk bins at my local health food store stashed in the freezer. This recipe is so versatile that you can change up the nuts and seeds depending on what you have on hand. Just remember that nuts and seeds vary in carb counts, so adjust the proportions of different ingredients to your dietary needs.

Serve with unsweetened vanilla almond milk to maximize indulgence factor.
**DISCLAIMER: This stuff is dangerously good. Portion control with baggies and half recipes if necessary!

Chocolatey Granola Cereal

Ingredients:

For Granola:

Makes 2 heaping cups

1/4 cup unsalted butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder (don’t get Dutch-processed for maximum nutritional punch)
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
sweeteners, to taste
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening:
-3 tablespoons erythritol or xylitol
-1/2 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (optional)
-1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract)

1/8 teaspoon sea salt
4 squares of lindt 85% chocolate, melted (optional)
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons nut meal (almond, pecan, whatever you like)
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

For Cereal Flakes:

Makes about one cup

1/2 cup nut meal (pecan, almond, etc.)
2 tablespoons flax meal
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
sweetener, to taste (I used 1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals stevia)
1 egg white

Preparation:

For Granola:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt coconut oil or butter and chocolate squares (if using) in a small bowl in microwave until liquified. Stir in cocoa powder until smooth, with no lumps. Powder erythritol in a coffee grinder or blender. Whisk vanilla extract, erythritol, blackstrap molasses, additional sweeteners, and sea salt into coconut oil mixture. Mix dry ingredients together and stir in wet ingredients, using your hands to coat the nut and seed blend. Spread mixture over a parchment paper-lined baking pan. Bake for 55 minutes, stirring the mixture around occasionally. Remove from oven and spread over a paper towel set on a baking rack. It will continue to crisp up as the moisture evaporates.

For Flakes:

Mix together ingredients and roll in between pieces of parchment paper until very thin. Microwave on a piece of parchment paper, 50% power, for two minutes, stopping every 20 seconds to blot off oil. Let it dry out on a paper towel placed on a baking rack, then break up into flakes. To get them more crisp, stick ’em in the oven with the granola for a few minutes.

~8g net carbs per 1/2 cup serving

Tips:
~For richer granola, use the chocolate squares! It’s pretty great without them, too.
~The sesame seeds at a very distinct, addictive flavor to this. It won’t be the same without ’em, so get some!
~For more “clumpy” granola, use a couple of egg whites with the wet ingredients. I don’t mind my granola in small pieces, so I don’t waste the eggs on it.
~For cinnamon-nut granola, use cinnamon in place of the cocoa powder, and omit the cacao nibs. You could also replace the coconut flakes with more nuts, and use almond extract in place of vanilla.

Healthy Ice Cream Bars, Take Two!

After much tweaking and experimentation, here’s a vanilla version of my Easy Ice Cream Bars. The texture isn’t as smooth as it is with the peanut butter, so you should let ’em sit out for a moment before taking a bite. The yogurt brings a pleasant tang to the party.

Let’s take a moment to talk about the miraculous calorie-free naturally occurring sweetener: Erythritol! Erythritol is totally safe and has no aftertaste or unpleasant side effects like the other sugar alcohols. It has 70% of the sweetening power of sugar, with many of the properties that sugar imparts in baking (structure, mouthfeel, etc.) The one caveat: the “cooling” effect you can taste when erythritol re-crystallizes. It’s the weirdest sensation. You have to figure out a way to make the majority of erythritol present in the recipe stay dissolved so you can avoid that effect. I’m still tinkering around with it in recipes, but it’s slow-going because erythritol is precious stuff and I’m on a student budget. Z-sweet is the brand available locally. You pay a premium for buying it in stores, but it is worth the cost if you’re looking for a product not produced with genetically modified corn. I’ve been ordering 5 lb bags of erythritol online lately because I go through it so quickly. The best price I’ve found for it is at iherb.com, and online supplement retailer. No, erythritol is not something that cavemen would’ve consumed while foraging for food, but it does not wreak havoc on your body like sugar does. My justification for using it is that it was impossible to consume concentrated amounts of any form of sugar while living off the land, making erythritol the more “natural” way of eating than using, say, honey or maple syrup. We were not able to eat any refined sweeteners or copious amounts of fruit on a regular basis before the advent of agriculture, so it makes sense that our bodies are not designed to handle the 300+ carb per day diet that is standard now. Did you know that bears are the only animal in the wild showing signs of tooth decay?

The one I chomped into (shown on the left, obviously) is filled with a layer of mooshed up Sugar-Free Brownies. Yum! 

Easy Ice Cream Bars (Vanilla version)

Makes 6 small rounds

Ingredients:

Filling:
2 oz heavy cream, preferably organic
2 oz cream cheese
3 Tablespoons of ricotta cheese or strained greek-style yogurt
2 Tablespoons of erythritol (or 1.5 Tablespoons xylitol)
A pinch of pure stevia extract

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Coating:
1 Tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
2 squares Lindt extra dark 85% chocolate bar (or Ghirardelli 86% chocolate bar)
A pinch of pure stevia extract
Chopped nuts (optional)

Peanut Butter Coating:

4 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil or non-hydrogenated shortening
A pinch of pure stevia extract

Preparation:

Beat heavy cream with a mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Do not over beat or it will get clumpy, and turn to butter! Set whipped cream aside. Measure out granular erythritol or xylitol and powder in a coffee grinder or blender. Beat cream cheese, yogurt, erythritol, sweetener, and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth and clump free. Test for sweetness. It should be a bit sweeter than you want the finished product. Using a spatula, fold cream cheese into the whipped cream until well combined. Shape ice cream rounds on a pan lined with parchment or waxed paper. Freeze for 1 hour or until firm.

Melt coating ingredients in the microwave in 10 second intervals, until liquified. Stir until smooth and add sweetener, to taste. Remove rounds from freezer and dip into coatings, or top with a layer of mushed up brownie/cookie dough/etc before dipping. You may need to set the round on the paper and spoon the coating over bare spots. Sprinkle bars with nuts immediately after dipping in the coating, if desired. Chill for another few minutes until the coating hardens.

So stuffed from all of this experimenting in the kitchen! Goodness, healthy eating is so trying. I’ve gotta go dump these off on my friends asap. For some reason, I don’t think they’ll mind.

Homemade Low(er) Carb Wendy’s Chili

Wendy’s has always had a special place in my heart. It was my preferred stop after soccer practice, with the same request every time: “Chicken nuggets with sweet and sour and chili aaand-an-a small frosty!!” I’ve conquered the nuggets and frosty (to be addressed in the near future), but the chili has always been on my proverbial back burner. It’s just not something I missed while low carbing initially, because you can have all the ground beef and tomatoes you want, not to mention sour cream and cheese and all those indulgent scene-stealers. The humble chili never called my name… until yesterday morning at oh-ninehundred hours. I sifted through recipes that were inherently low carb, i.e. Texas and Skyline chili, but those didn’t look like they would satisfy my nostalgic craving. I needed something simple. And something tried-and-true so I wouldn’t waste my expensive grass-fed beef. Gotta be pragmatic here. So I turned to AllRecipes.com, a virtual treasure trove of culinary inspiration (with user ratings!). With my tweaks to knock down the carbs and punch up the flavor, you have no reason to let me catch you shoveling it down from the yellow cup.

Waaaaay better than fast food, it’s homemade chili! You can leave out the beans for a lower carb count, but they’re worth it for a more “authentic” taste. I would make this every night if it didn’t take so dang long to cook! This dish is seriously nutrient rich. It’s chock full of lycophene from the tomatoes, which is absorbed better with the addition of the healthful fat from the grass-fed beef.

Check out this excerpt from a study on lycophene absorption:
“Tomato products consumed in oil, such as pizza (7.5 g fat per serving), spaghetti/tomato sauce (14.6 g), and lasagna (23.8 g), are particularly bioavailable lycopene sources, due to greater intestinal absorption in association with fat.”

Grass-fed beef also brings high levels of conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids to the game. The capsaicin in chili is purported to have myriad healing properties. Did I mention it’s super easy? Insanely easy. All you need is a knife, a big pot, and opposable thumbs.

Easy Better-Than-Wendy’s Chili

Makes 8 small servings

Ingredients:
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1 tablespoon oil (olive or coconut)
2-14.5 oz cans organic tomatoes (I like Muir Glen fire-roasted)
1-8 oz can organic tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup chopped organic celery
3/4 cup chopped organic green bell pepper
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (optional, for flavor)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup pinto beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
hot sauce, to taste

Preparation:
Chop vegetables and set aside. In a large kettle with a lid, brown ground beef in a little coconut oil over medium heat, stirring around and breaking up the chunks. DO NOT DRAIN THE FAT. I repeat, do NOT drain off the beef fat. S’good for you, and for your flavor-hungry chili! Add vegetables and sweat for a few minutes until softened. Stir in canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, and spices. Simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Do not touch until the end of that period. You want the veggies to be tender and the flavors to meld.

Top with sour cream, Frank’s RedHot, cheese, whatever chili topping you like since it’s probably low carb. Except fritos. No corn chips should ever touch this bowl of manna!

~11g net carbs (with the beans)

Homemade Low Carb Ice Cream Bars– Worth screaming for

There is only one treat that my new health-concious palate still craves. You know how biting your nails isn’t nearly as satisfying after you’ve given up the habit for Lent? Foods are the same way with me. My former undercover lover, the pop-tart, tastes sickly sweet and cardboard-y to me now. So for you who are still struggling with sugar addiction: There is a light at the end of the tunnel! Your tastebuds change and things like bell peppers become candy-sweet. Well, this phenomenon did not happen with one demonic sugar-laden substance–ice cream! It tastes just as good as I remember, and seriously does things to my brain so I just can’t get enough. This poses a problem since my favorite vice consists of a wholesome blend of the following:

Milkfat and Nonfat Milk, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Whey, Mono and Diglycerides, Artificial Flavor, Guar Gum, Polysorbate 80, Carrageenan, and Vitamin A Palmitate.

There’s some calcium in there with the nonfat milk, but that’s about it in terms of nourishment. None of those other ingredients look too promising. Wonder what 19 years worth of this stuff does to you…

Fortunately, I have found a way to satisfy my ice-cream tooth (teeth?). The best part is that it takes minutes to whip up, with no strange ingredients or tools. Minimal effort for the pay-off, baby! With my low-carb ice cream bars, you have no excuse for caving to cravings and blowing $4.00 on toxic sludge for your body. You get the calcium from the cream and cream cheese (go organic if you can, at least on the cream!), the antioxidants from the chocolate, and the medium chain triglycerides from the coconut oil. Consume the Dilly bar‘s healthy cousin with gusto!

Easy Ice Cream Bars

Makes 4 bars

Ingredients:

Filling:
2 oz heavy cream (Organic Valley is deliciously thick!)
2 oz cream cheese
3 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter
2-4 tablespoons of sweetener
For ALL NATURAL sugar-free sweetening, use both of the following:
-1-2 tablespoons erythritol or xylitol
-1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Chocolate Coating (for two bars):
1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
2 squares Lindt extra dark 85% chocolate bar
Pinch of good-tasting pure stevia extract
chopped nuts (optional)

Peanut Butter Coating:
4 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons coconut oil
sweetener, to taste

Preparation:
Beat heavy cream with a mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Do not over-beat or it will get clumpy and turn to butter! Set whipped cream aside. Beat cream cheese, sweetener, and peanut butter until the mixture is smooth and clump free. Test for sweetness. It should be a bit sweeter than you want the finished product. Using a spatula, fold cream cheese into the whipped cream until there are only a few white streaks. Shape ice cream rounds on a pan lined with parchment or waxed paper. Freeze for 1/2 hour.

Melt coating ingredients in the microwave in 10 second intervals, until liquified. Stir until smooth and add sweetener, to taste. Remove rounds from freezer and dip into coatings. You may need to set the round on the paper and spoon the coating over bare spots. Sprinkle bars with nuts immediately after dipping in the coating, if desired. Chill for another few minutes until the coating hardens.

~3g net carbs per treat!

Mall Food Court Bourbon Chicken, Made Healthy

I always felt sorry for those ladies in the mall food court, standing around heckling innocent mall goers to try their chicken on a toothpick. Every time I walk through the entrance by Panda Express I take a sample nodding and smiling, guilted into heading over to the counter to ask about the $4.99 special. Although it tastes exactly the same everywhere I tried it, this Chinese restaurant staple of questionable cultural authenticity is totally addictive, and it’s not just the MSG. It’s sweet with hint of caramel flavor from the bourbon.

I googled many combinations of “mall bourbon chicken” to find an ingredients list for the commercial dish, to no avail. A few recipes purporting to taste like the food court fare popped up, so I took the plunge and pieced together a test recipe. After tasting the results, I proceeded to eat way too much chicken and toyed with the idea of keeping this magical formula for chicken nirvana to myself. Good thing for you, I never was good at keeping secrets. This recipe really does taste like the stuff you get in the mall. Just keep it on the dl, please. Those ladies with the samples have to make a living, too!

This meal is pretty budget friendly considering a lot of the ingredients are components of a well stocked pantry. Target has the best deal for organic chicken in my area (Coleman brand), which you definitely want to spring for. Macadamia nut oil is a wonderful investment because of its health benefits and delicious nutty flavoring that’s not overpowering in most applications. It has a high smoke point for high heat cooking, and beats olive oil in the amount of monounsaturated fats. Coconut oil would also work nicely. Peanut oil would taste fine, but is not the healthiest option since it’s highly polyunsaturated. Extra light virgin olive oil would be a last resort, as it wouldn’t complement the other flavor components. If you don’t have a lot of the key items, you can stock up with this recipe and make fake Chinese take out to your heart’s content.

The recipe makes three large servings, but you’d best divide it up in advance because it’s hard to stop with this stuff. You don’t have to feel guilty if you overindulge a bit, though. No sugar, no gluten, no transfats or polyunsaturated oils, nothing artificial. The best part is you would never know that if I hadn’t told you.

Made-over Mall Food Court Bourbon Chicken

Makes 3 large servings

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds of organic chicken thigh meat, cubed
2 tablespoons of oil (see note above)
1/4 cup soy or wheat-free tamari sauce
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
2-4 tablespoons sweetener
1/4 cup Truvia OR erythritol OR xylitol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia powder
 (if not using Truvia)
1/2 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1T diced yellow onion, or 1 green onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon ginger
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
sea salt, to taste

Preparation:
Combine all of the marinade ingredients and whisk together. Taste and add more sea salt or sweetener if necessary. Toss chicken thigh chunks in marinade, then place chicken and marinade into a zip top bag and leave in the refrigerator for at least four hours, or overnight, turning occasionally to expose all of the chicken evenly.

Set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and pour chicken and marinade into a baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, turning pieces over and moving them around in the marinade during the baking process. Serve hot from the oven and refrigerate leftovers immediately.

~2g net carbs per serving!

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