Archive of ‘Dietary Restrictions’ category

Taking a Study Break with Chocolate Chip Cookies

UPDATE: I had a friend try these with Splenda, her preferred sweetener, and they turned out well. She said they could have been sweeter, but the sweetness level was just right for her taste.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I’m stressed, I bake. There’s something comforting about the mindless measuring, the systematic method of the steps, and of course, the instant gratification. Not that I’m too uptight this time of the semester. It’s just really nice to step away from my reading material a few moments for a sweet reward. Cookies fit the bill nicely!

After working and re-working this all natural sugar-free gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe, I am now satisfied with the results. Cookies without real sugars (including natural sugars–agave, honey, etc.) OR artificial sweeteners are a tough nut to crack! I really try to avoid both because of the metabolic response caused by sucrose and fructose (e.g. agave nectar!), as well as the artificial nature of manmade molecules such as Splenda. This may be an overly cautious approach, but being the science junkie that I am, stevia and erythritol seem like the safest options for now. If you like Splenda and other artificial sweeteners, and they help you to stay on your low carb plan, use ’em. You’re likely healthier than you would otherwise be eating “real” sugar. You have find what works for you.

These fabulous cookies are flavorful, soft, and just sweet enough. The recipe was inspired by this wonderful basic cookie by Batspit at the Active Low Carber forum. If you can tolerate dairy, definitely use butter in this recipe for the most flavor. The slight cooling from the erythritol is not distracting, but “refreshing,” as my roommate and faithful tester phrased it in her lovely British accent. That was the problem with every cookie recipe I had tried before–the erythritol would make the pastry feel like a mint the minute it hit your tongue. Not very chocolate chip cookie-like. The key ingredient here is xanthan gum, so if you haven’t invested in a bag, do it now. I mean it! Grab your keys, drive to the health food store, and make a positive change in your life by buying this miraculous gluten replacer. It keeps the erythritol from causing its mischief, leaving you with a tray full of pleasantly sweet chocolate chip cookies instead of icy pucks.

Other reasons to buy xanthan gum: It thickens smoothies, ice cream, homemade salad dressings, keeps your gluten-free quickbreads from crumbling, and stabilizes whipped cream for longer term storage. A little bit of it goes a long way, so use a light hand or you’ll end up with barbeque sauce flavored pudding… not that I would know!

If you want to save time, pick up some 73% cacao chocolate disks from Whole Foods. I used El Rey’s Apamate Chocolate, but Dagoba makes a nice product as well. No, the chocolate isn’t super low carb, but you’re only using a touch of luxurious chocolate in these adorable drop cookies. Just remember that it’s not a healthy indulgence if you eat the whole batch at once! I recommend just baking these cookies as you’d like to eat them, both to aid in portion control and to experience them at their peak–warm from the oven. Like most gluten-free baked goods, you don’t want to wait around to indulge. A quick zap in the nuker can also restore these cookies to their former glory. Keep the dough in a ball in the fridge and pop a couple of cookies in the toaster oven when you need a sweet escape from the madness.

Flourless, sugar-free, dairy-free… flavor-FULL!
Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies, 2

BLOG PHOTOS choc chip cookies3

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 18 large cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted organic butter OR coconut oil
2 cage-free organic eggs
3/4 cup erythritol OR 1/2 cup preferred sugar-free sweetener
3 cups blanched almond flour (can replace 1 cup with unsweetened coconut)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon organic blackstrap molasses
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract (omit if you use Splenda)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (not necessary if you use Splenda)
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 heaping cup homemade chocolate chunks OR a chopped Lindt 70% cacao bar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Powder erythritol with sea salt in coffee grinder or magic bullet (use the flat blade). Melt butter or oil in mixing bowl with the microwave, using 15 second intervals. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Whisk in erythritol, sea salt, stevia extract, and blackstrap molasses. Pulse coconut flakes into a powder in magic bullet, if desired. Mix the rest of the dry ingredients together and stir into wet ingredients, adding nuts and chocolate chunks after the dough comes together. Shape dough into balls and squish on an ungreased cookie sheet with the clean bottom of glass–these cookies will not spread. If you are making the drop cookies, omit the blackstrap molasses and press chocolate drops into the tops of your cookie dough rounds, smoothing the edges with your fingertips if they crack.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until barely brown on the bottom. You don’t want to overcook these and dry them out! Let cool completely on the cookie sheet without touching, then remove from the pan and store in an airtight tupperware container. Nuke in the microwave before consuming for maximum enjoyment and gooeyness! Serve with unsweetened almond milk, flavored with a touch of stevia.

~3 grams net carbs per big cookie (with homemade chocolate chunks included)

Dairy-Free Option: Use coconut oil or palm oil based shortening (shortening NOT recommended, as it doesn’t add any flavor) in place of butter. Use full fat coconut milk in place of the cream added to the chocolate chunks.

Dainty little drop cookies wearing cute chocolate buttons. Aren’t they adorable?
healthy-chocolate-chip-cookies

Sugar-Free Milk Chocolate Chunks (updated recipe HERE):

Ingredients:
1-3.5 oz 85% cacao chocolate bar (Lindt or Ghirardelli)
3 tablespoons erythritol, powdered
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Preparation:
chop chocolate bar and add powdered erythritol. Microwave for 30 seconds on HIGH and stir. Mixture will be clumpy. Heat for 15 more seconds and stir until chocolate is smooth. Microwave in 10 second intervals to melt completely if necessary. Stir in stevia and pour into a pan lined with parchment paper. Quick set in the freezer for 10 minutes. Chop into chunks and store in a zip top baggy.

BLOG PHOTOS choc chip cookie bite

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

Low Carb Chocolate Pots De Creme

Calling all chocolate lovers! You will think you’ve died and gone to heaven with this one. After testing out a few batches of Super Simple Biscuits, I had a lot of leftover egg yolks. Eight of them went into a traditional custard-based ice cream. To use up the rest, I googled “egg yolk dessert recipes” and found these yummy sounding ideas at GourmetSleuth. The Pots De Creme looked intriguing. Simple ingredients, check. Easy to de-carb, check. What really caught my eye was the variation using chocolate! After giving a test batch to my faithful friends slash recipe testers, it has become my most requested dessert. I promise that it only sounds intimidating with that fancy french name–preparation is a snap. This is one of the easiest and most delicious sugar-free, gluten-free desserts, ever. Step one for being the Hostess with the Mostest: Buy some adorable ramekins and serve up personal portions of this rich chocolate custard. Step two: Watch your guests’ eyes roll back in their heads and silently congratulate yourself!

Cut the intensity of the dark chocolate with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. You can make this dessert dairy-free by replacing the heavy cream with full fat coconut milk. To flavor the custard, use whatever flavoring you think pairs well with chocolate. I used pure almond extract for the pots de creme pictured here. Peppermint and orange would also be delicious. Top with a sprig of mint or a curl of orange zest for an elegant touch. I grated some leftover chocolate and sprinkled it over the custard. C’est magnifique!

Chocolate Pots De Creme
Adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe

Makes 3 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup organic heavy cream OR coconut milk
**2 ounces 85% percent cacao dark chocolate (I like Lindt and Green & Black’s), chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (use whatever flavor you like) OR espresso powder
3 large organic egg yolks
5 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
pinch of sea salt

**Cut the chocolate bar into thirds and use of two of them. Just eyeball it.

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 3 ramekins in a large roasting pan. Combine cream, chocolate, and espresso powder in a saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk every few minutes until chocolate melts. Stir to blend cream and chocolate completely. Do NOT overheat! You don’t want it to bubble up.

Powder erythritol in a coffee grinder or magic bullet. Whisk erythritol and stevia into egg yolks until mixture is smooth. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Stir the mixture until totally smooth and divide between the 3 ramekins. Optional step: Use a toothpick to pop the little bubbles that form on the surface of the custards. Heat a measuring cup full of water for a couple of minutes in the microwave, and pour water in the roasting pan until it reaches about an inch up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 minutes. The centers of the custards should still be very jiggly. Remove ramekins from water bath (wear potholders!). Let the custards cool to room temperature. Store them in the fridge covered with a paper towel and foil for at least 2 hours. I’d recommend making these before you go to bed so you don’t get antsy and sneak a taste before they’re ready!

~5g net carbs per huge serving

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!

Easy Low Carb Gluten-Free Biscuits

What’s the fun part of going to Red Lobster? How do you get the gravy mopped off of your plate in a satisfying yet dignified manner? What’s better than toast as a carrier for fruity jam? The answer to all of these important questions comes in the form of the fluffy, moist, and positively addictive biscuit. I always associate them with memories of volleyball tournament weekends and team breakfasts at Cracker Barrel. Soft white biscuits with a pat of butter and a drizzle of honey were a meal all by themselves for my former carboholic self. Baking powder biscuits are made with a pretty standard technique and recipe, consisting of all purpose flour, baking powder, and some sort of fat cut into the flour. It’s not that simple, though. You have to handle the dough tenderly, working it just to the point where it comes together without aiding gluten formation, which acts to toughen it. You have to consider the protein content of the flour you’re using along with the way you cut out the biscuits (press, not twist!) so as to ensure flakiness. Shockingly, it’s much easier to make gluten-free nutrient dense biscuits. For once, we health nuts have an easier time of making a baked good! Let’s celebrate with some good eats, shall we?

You may be wondering at this point how such a feat is possible. Biscuits with no flour and no fancy shmancy natural ingredients to imitate gluten? How can this be? It’s all in the egg whites, my friend. They are the solution to all of your problems. They fluff, they puff, they create airy little clouds with just a little coaxing and some hot steamy lovin’ from the oven. Egg whites are all protein, zero carbs, 20 calories a pop. Fortunately, egg whites happen to play nicely with almonds, another hero of the low carb bakingverse. Finely ground blanched almonds have very little nutty taste and yield a light, moist texture to these easy peasy biscuits.

Finally, we introduce the fat to the party in the form of butter or shortening. Not just ANY shortening mind you! Trans-fat free shortening made from organic palm oil will fluff up your pastries without shortening (hah!) your lifespan. It has a higher melting point than butter, allowing the protein structure of the egg whites to puff up more around the fat before it melts away. Butter for flavor, shortening for texture is the rule. That rule doesn’t totally apply here since almonds already have a nice flavoring and fat component, unlike the processed “enriched” garbage that is white flour. When I was testing batches, I noticed that butter allowed for more browning on the tops. The flavor was comparable when the biscuits made from both fats were tasted side by side. If you want a better rise, it’s worth the special trip to your local health food store to find Spectrum Organic Palm Oil Shortening. That’s the only kind I’ve ever seen around here. It’s priced comparably to organic butter, so you have no excuse for not trying it out!

These little guys were baked in foil-lined ramekins. They came out the perfect size and shape!

The technique for these biscuits is simple. All you need is a fork and couple of bowls. Follow these simple steps to biscuit perfection!

1. Cut cold fat (butter or shortening) into dry ingredients with the tines of your fork, rotating the bowl around with your other hand until the mixture has pea-sized chunks throughout. You could also use a pastry blender, in which case you probably don’t need to read these instructions.

2. Optional: Chill mixture in the fridge for 5-10 minutes or as long as you can stand it. The longer the better. The more the fat can get cold and hard, the puffier your biscuits will be. Remember that!

3. Separate the egg yolks from the whites (using the shell halves to tip the yolk back and forth a few times). Reserve yolks (save all that creamy goodness for ice cream or homemade mayo!) and whisk egg whites with a fork in a bowl for 20 seconds, until no longer stringy and gloopy. You just want ’em a little foamy.

4. Remove mixture from fridge and whisk in the egg whites for a couple of seconds, breaking up any massive chunks in the dough with your whisk or fork. It’ll be an extremely runny dough with chunks of the almond mixture.

5. Drop biscuits in 4 mounds on to a cookie sheet. For puffier biscuits, pour batter into greased foil-lined ramekins/nonstick muffin cups/a muffin top pan and get that sucker in the hot oven before the fat can even THINK about softening!

The plain version is just lovely all by itself, hot out of the oven or toasted with homemade strawberry preserves. A teeny drizzle of honey whipped into butter would be a heavenly spread. I had to eat a few fresh biscuits to make sure they were as good as my tastebuds were telling me. You, too, might feel compelled to eat more than one, so beware!

**UPDATE (10/10/2013): A new version of these biscuits has been posted that’s even easier to make, and more delicious! Find the new recipe here.**

Fluffy Biscuits
Adapted from this recipe by Laura Dolson

Makes four biscuits

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted organic butter or nonhydrogenated shortening
1 cup plus two tablespoons of finely ground almond flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
4 egg whites (see comments for results using 2 egg whites)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

See numbered steps listed above! IF YOU ARE USING FOIL-LINED RAMEKINS, bake for 15 minutes. IF YOU ARE USING A MUFFIN TOP PAN, bake for 12 minutes. The edges of these biscuits stick really badly, so be sure to grease liberally whatever vessel you’re using to bake these. Some sort of non-stick pan works best here! Silicone muffin cups are great, too. Greased foil-lined ramekins are alright, but you have to gently tease the muffins out of the foil.

~243 calories, 4 grams net carbs per biscuit

Try some of these variations just for fun. These little guys are versatile, so play around with them and share your flavor combos with me, please!

A plain biscuit with homemade sugar-free strawberry jam, a cheddar garlic biscuit, and a sweet cinnamon biscuit hangin’ out.
Easy Drop Biscuits (Low Carb, Gluten-Free)

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

One basic biscuit recipe
4-8 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Add most of the cheese and all of the garlic powder to dry ingredients. Cut in shortening and chill dough. Whisk in egg whites and fill ramekins. Top with a bit of the reserved cheese. Bake as directed.

Parmesan Herb Biscuits

One basic biscuit recipe
4-8 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried italian herb blend

Add most of the cheese and all of the herbs to dry ingredients. Cut in shortening and chill dough. Whisk in egg whites and fill ramekins. Top with a bit of the reserved cheese. Bake as directed.

Sweet Cinnamon Biscuits

For Dough:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons sweetener (I used erythritol)
1/8-1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract

For Cinnamon Swirl:
1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses or honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/16 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1 teaspoon erythritol (powdered in your coffee grinder)
2 teaspoons water
pinch of xanthan gum (optional, for thickening)
pinch of sea salt

Add vanilla and sweeteners to dry ingredients. Cut in shortening and chill dough. Melt butter and molasses together in a microwave safe dish for 15-20 seconds, until butter is melted. Stir in stevia, erythritol, water, xanthan gum, and sea salt. Heat mixture in microwave for another 15 seconds or so until erythritol is dissolved. Pop the filling into the fridge and let it cool until it thickens a bit. Whisk egg whites into flour mixture and fill ramekins. Dollop cinnamon filling on top of the dough in a swirl and bake as directed.

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!

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

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.

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!

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