Archive of ‘Main Meals’ category

Quick Indulgences: Low Carb Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt with Apples

Low Carb Apples with Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt

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

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

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

And peanut butter makes everything better. Now get mixing!

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

“Apples” with Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt

Makes two servings

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

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

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

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

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

Holding on to Summer: Blueberry Muffins

The leaves are just starting to turn in North Carolina, with a bit of a chill in the air as the sun goes down. Being the Florida girl that I am, I dread the proposition of trading in my flip-flops for actual shoes, my cool button down shirts for unwieldy coats! Mid terms have passed, and school is in full swing. The local Whole Foods market has had berries on sale for the past few weeks, which I have been partaking in as often as possible. Berries are the food that epitomizes summer for me–not too sweet, with a lovely tartness and enough juice to quench your thirst. They are even better straight from the freezer, like miniature natural popsicles. I digress!

Snap up those last few boxes of fresh berries from your local market and toss them into a batch of these light, perfectly moist muffins. Simple ingredients and simple preparation yield a cross between a cupcake and a muffin that is gluten-free, sugar-free, and even dairy-free for all of your lactose- and casein-intolerant folks. The lemon flavor is very faint, just detectable enough to add some intrigue and complement the olive oil. The topping forms a crunchy crust over the tops. Just a word of warning: These are not your average “healthy” muffins, loaded with whole wheat flour (sugar), applesauce (sugar), bran (a processed waste product made of insoluble fiber), bananas (sugar), and other low fat ingredients yielding un-muffiny flavors. Nourish the body and the soul with these flavorful, nutrient-packed muffins, full of protein from the almonds, antioxidants from the berries, and a dash of omega-3s from the flax meal topping.

Take note of the key ingredient–olive oil, as the liquid fat in these muffins. Now don’t wrinkle your nose just yet! The fruitiness of extra virgin olive oil pairs so well with the citrus zest and lemon extract. I am the first person who would balk at the idea of olive oil coming anywhere near a perfectly good sweet treat. I loathe the stuff, and prefer to keep my distance from it 99% of the time. And yet, you really can’t use anything else in this recipe to get the same complexity of flavors. Tasting is believing!

You might notice that the muffins in the photographs have flat tops! Their perfect peaks fell because I piled the batter right up to the brim of my trusty silicone muffins cups, hoping for a massive meal-in-a-muffin. Bad idea! These mammoth muffins didn’t fluff up properly, and remained undercooked on the bottoms. Stick with the 12 dainty muffins the recipe is supposed to yield, and you will have fluffy, attractive breakfast pastries to go with your morning cup of a coffee.


Blueberry Crunch Top Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups blanched almond flour
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cage-free organic eggs
1/2 cup erythritol or preferred sugar-free sweetener
1/2 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract
1 teaspoon lemon or vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup lite coconut milk (or half n’ half if you can use dairy)
1 cup blueberries or raspberries
oat flour, for dusting (optional)

For Crunch Topping (optional):
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening or unsalted butter
2 tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 cup blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons golden flax meal
2 tablespoons erythritol
1/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon stevia extract

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mash together the ingredients for the topping with a fork, then stick it in the freezer while you make the muffins. Whisk together wet ingredients plus the erythritol in one bowl. Stir together the dry ingredients in a different bowl. Add the wet to the dry ingredients, whisking until incorporated. Coat berries with a light dusting of oat flour (to keep them from sinking), and gently fold 3/4 of them into the batter. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full, and sprinkle remaining berries over the tops. Pinch off bits of the cold topping, dropping them over the tops of the muffins. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Let cool until lukewarm, then turn muffins out of the silicone muffin cups (if using) so the tops are facing down. After completely cooled, store in baggies or tupperware with paper towels.

~3.5 grams net carbs per muffin (using bluberries)

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!

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!

——————–

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.
——————–
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!


Write a review

Print

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

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!

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 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)

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!

Grain-Free, Low Carb Fried “Rice” – Not an Oxymoron!

“Asians are skinny and we eat tons of rice!” A Chinese friend of mine voiced that opinion when I mentioned coming up with a diabetic-friendly, low carb substitute for his beloved white rice. 😉

My answer: Asians get diabetes, too! My Vietnamese friend’s father has had to scale back his consumption of refined carbs to keep his blood sugars under control.

Although I don’t have diabetes, I enjoy lower glycemic alternatives to starchy meals because of the carb hangover that sets in from too much Chinese takeout. The combination of starch and sweet n’ salty flavor creates a seratonin high that hits you hard, making it too easy to eat until you’re uncomfortably full. Then, the inevitable crash comes, leaving you listless and unfocused. My exam weeks in college were probably a lot more stressful than they should have been with all the Dragon Gate sesame chicken I would pack away under pressure. You can’t perform at your best when you’re riding the blood sugar roller coaster! 

Enjoy the salty, flavorful goodness of a beloved Americanized asian staple and your stable blood glucose levels with this Grain-Free, Shrimp Fried “Rice”. The rice component is replaced by–get this–grated cauliflower, prepared with the same familiar flavorings. It’ll smell funky in the pan for a moment, but then your kitchen will fill with the mouthwatering aroma of a Panda Express kitchen. Bonuses: It takes less time to cook and packs a nutritional punch (courtesy of the phytochemical-rich brassica family of veggies)!

This recipe is totally flexible. Use whatever veggies you like. Make it yours! I happened to have peas on hand, and was out of green onions. Carrots are pretty traditional in this, too. Be warned: this is just as tasty as the original, and possibly more flavorful because of how cauliflower absorbs flavor so well. Seriously, you might want to make this with a hungry friend to solve any portion control issues.

Fake out take out always taste better with chopsticks!
low-carb-cauliflower-fried-rice-grated-caulirice-atkins-substitute-diet-healthy-south-beach-low-glycemic

Shrimp Fried Cauli-Rice
Serves 3
Get your chopsticks out! This grain-free shrimp fried “rice” is a taste substitute for take out! You can find wheat-free tamari on grocery store shelves next to the soy sauce. For a soy-free version, use coconut aminos.


Write a review

Print

Ingredients
  1. 2 heaping cups of grated fresh cauliflower
  2. 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  3. 1/2 cup sugar snap pea pods
  4. 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  5. 4 tablespoons wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
  6. 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  7. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  8. Dash of garlic powder
  9. 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  10. 1/4 cup of green peas
  11. 2 eggs, beaten
  12. Protein of choice (I used 1-4 oz can of baby shrimp)
  13. Green onion, chopped, for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Grate cauliflower using a fine cheese grater. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in heavy saucepan. Mix together sesame oil, tamari, and seasonings in a bowl. Sautee onions for 3 minutes over medium heat, or until translucent. Remove from pan and set aside. Sautee sugar snap peas until tender. Add more oil if necessary and all of the cauliflower, stir frying for a couple of minutes. Pour in 1/2 of the soy sauce mixture and stir fry to coat the cauliflower evenly. When the cauliflower is tender, add cooked vegetables, shrimp, and peas along with the rest of the soy sauce mixture. Push “rice” to the side of the pan and scramble eggs on the other side, moving spatula quickly to incorporate eggs with the “rice” mixture. Serve in cute bowls with chopsticks and pig out with no regrets!
Notes
  1. ~7g net carbs per serving
Healthy Indulgences http://healthyindulgences.net/

Excuse me now…

Riced Cauliflower in a Stir Fry (Grain-Free, Low Glycemic)

~7g net carbs

Rutabagas = Low Carb Mashed Potatoes, Waiting to Happen

Yes, when life gives you rutabagas, make guilt-free low-carb mashed potatoes! How does this magical transformation take place, you might ask? A little buttah and cream cheese can fix anything, y’all. This is a popular recipe with quite a few variations out there, but I like the richness that cream cheese imparts. Rutabaga is easier than cauliflower to work with, and the color and mouthfeel of it is more potato-ey. To address the obvious question: What do I have against potatoes? Their awfully high glycemic load, for one thing. Additionally, the phytonutrients found in cruciferous vegetables like the rutabaga have been shown to fight cancer. Besides, it’s a fun word to say when your roommate asks what you’re doing with that big waxy lump on the counter. Roo-tah-bag-ah!

Creamy Mashed Faux-tatoes

Makes 1 big serving or two small portions

1/4 of a rutabaga, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
boullion cube (I like Rapunzel organic— no scary MSG or modified cornstarch)
2 cups of water
1 roasted garlic clove or a dash of garlic powder
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 oz cream cheese
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Microwave rutabaga chunks, covered, with water and a boullion cube for 12 minutes on high. Test for doneness with a fork. Strain and squeeze out all the water you can with a dish towel (very important)!

Roast the garlic quick n’ dirty in the microwave by peeling off the skin, pricking the clove, and microwaving for 30-40 seconds, or until soft. Heat butter and cream cheese in microwave until butter is melted. Stir together. Add garlic and butter mixture to rutabaga and dump it all into a blender. Puree. This may require violent shaking if you are using a magic bullet like I have. Get the mixture as smooth as possible to eliminate all traces of rutabaga-ey orange chunkiness. Reheat for 30 seconds to keep it piping hot if you need to. It helps the blending process. Stir in parmesan cheese. Taste and add sea salt if necessary. Serve topped with more butter, chives, bacon bits… fortunately, potato toppers are usually low carb!

~6g net carbs

“If you’re afraid of butter, just use cream.”
-Julia Child

1 2 3