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
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)
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
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
Many thanks to Joanna for providing this link to the best prices for erythritol and xylitol. Great tip!
On certain very special Saturday mornings when I was growing up, a sweet aroma would tickle my nose, gently nudging me out of bed and into the kitchen. It was the smell of freshly baked brownies, cooling on the stove top in their 8 by 8 tin pan. It was my number one favorite treat when I was growing up–dense, fudgy (never cakey!) squares that fell apart in your napkin when you scooped ‘em out of the hot pan. My mom always made the standard recipe out of the red checkered Homes and Gardens cookbook, never using a packaged mix or fancy toppings. The beauty was in the simplicity of these unadorned and positively addictive chocolate treats. They never lasted long around our house, although I do remember peeling back saran wrap and gnawing on cold brownie bits from the freezer. Yu-umm.
My first attempts to adapt that treasured recipe failed. There was something not quite right about my sugar-free concoctions. I tried tweaking the Homes and Gardens recipe by replacing the flour with various flour blends, and the sugar with erythritol. I would end up with shapeless goo or dry, flat blocks that were light and airy–decidedly unbrownie like. The standard low carb brownie recipes made out of various combinations of almond meal, flax meal, and cream cheese always lacked a characteristic “heaviness” of the stick-to-your-ribs treats of my childhood.
Enter the hero of our story, coconut flour. If you haven’t heard of it, listen closely, because what I’m about to say will change your life. It’s just coconut meat with the fat pressed out, pulverized into a fine powder. Though it may look like all purpose flour (cue ominous music), this magical substance is so fragrant and alive compared to its refined evil twin. Get it here, or pay twice as much at your local health food store.
I always have to stick my nose in the bag and inhale before baking with coconut flour. Now coconut flour can be tricky to work with, so you must follow a tried and true recipe, or be stuck with a pan full of door stops. The moisture-sucking quality of coconut flour must be tamed with copious amounts of eggs. Once you get the hang of it, you will be turning out moist muffins and fudgy brownies that put my Mom’s old recipe to shame. Blasphemy, I know.
Coconut flour is low in carbohydrates and high in dietary fiber, which correlates with a lowered glycemic index for whatever you’re baking. Coconut flakes have also been shown to lower bad cholesterol levels. Low-carb, sugar-free, and gluten-free, these brownies can be part of a wholesome breakfast… or maybe a midnight snack.
These are ah-mazing. The center of the brownie pan is almost molten chocolate. I like to eat this part first, with a spoon. The edge pieces are firm, but moist. These brownies are a hit of pure chocolate to the brain–not the least bit coconut-ty, if you’re worried about that. They’re perfectly sweet with a subtle hint of caramel flavor from the molasses. They’re so incredibly rich that one serving should be enough, with all of the healthful natural saturated fat these brownies contain. Make a small pan if you are feeling emotional, ladies.
UPDATE, 5.2.09: This recipe for coconut flour brownies is MUCH more reliable, and even more delicious!
This is my last recipe involving peanut butter for awhile, I swear! I’m finally getting sick of the taste, which is a move in the right direction for me. My addiction to junk food had transferred to peanut butter for a few months. No part of me pines for sugary cakes or cookies any longer. It’s the silky richness of nut butters that get me. They give new meaning to the phrase “comfort food.” Peanut butter is certainly healthier than carby, sugary food, but the excessive intake of polyunsaturated oils or aflatoxins wasn’t doing my body any favors.
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 it’s an even healthier option than peanut butter. Admittedly, the real reason I’m not addicted to almond butter is the $12 a jar price tag. Alas, if only peanut butter were that costly a commodity.
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
1/4 cup peanut butter (no-stir type preferred)
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening, unsalted butter, or coconut oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon heavy cream OR coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
sugar-free sweetener, to taste (I use NuNaturals stevia)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
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
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 (I used NuNaturals)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup whey protein powder (check for additives and carb content)
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
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.