Posts Tagged ‘butter’

Homemade, Healthier Pop Tarts! A sugar-free and scrumptious low carb version of the breakfast treat.

If you haven’t heard yet, the E-Cookbook is up for sale! It’s $5.99 and stuffed full of printable recipes and sugar-free baking tips n’ tricks. To everyone who’s already gotten a copy: Thank you SO much for supporting my experiments in the kitchen! The Kindle and Ipad versions are in the works. You asked, and I shall deliver! Like my Facebook page and follow my Pinterest board for updates.

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Healthier Pop Tarts! Say what?!

It’s the breakfast I used to fantasize about as a little kid, walking hand-in-hand with my mom in the grocery store. She would always lovingly shoo me away from the sugary cereals and snacks, so these pre-packaged frosted hand pies were a rare treat for me.

Until college. Then, anything was game! Ever heard of the freshman 15 30? Yeah, that totally happened to me. Pop Tarts helped make it happen. That’s why I decided to give a Healthy Indulgences make over to Kellogg’s best selling junk food-for-breakfast product. My low carb version of the iconic pastry is gluten-free, no sugar added, and equally yummy!

Sugar-Free Homemade Pop Tarts
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Healthy Chocolate Whoopie Pies are here! Sugar-free, gluten-free, and finger-lickin’ good.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Healthy Indulgences readers! School’s out and baking season is here. After a semester of new beginnings during which I moved back home to Florida and started my post-baccalaureate coursework, it’s time to get back in the kitchen and go on a baking spree. I’m trading in my calculator for my camera and ditching the library for the kitchen these next few weeks, bringing you holiday sweets and a couple of GIVEAWAYS!

Update: The lemon curd post and Gary Taubes summaries are on hold until the new year. We have many seasonal goodies to make over! Stay tuned…
To kickstart the baking bonanza, here are some sugar-free, gluten-free Healthy Whoopie Pies to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Gluten-Free Low Carb Whoopie Pies!

They’re all the rage, and perfect for an easy, kid-friendly holiday dessert. My version of these cakey cookie sandwiches with a sweet buttercream filling tastes every bit as good as the traditional dessert chock full of flour, sugar, and shortening! Made with ground almonds, a little oat flour, pure unsweetened cocoa powder, and natural sweeteners, you can feel good about indulging in these treats after your holiday feast. Actually, they’re wonderful any time of the year. In fact, you should make these right now. You need fuel to get through all that gift-wrapping and baking, right?!

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A Giveaway! And Sugar-Free Rice Krispie Treats and Marshmallows

Does anyone else love shopping for groceries? There’s something about perusing the shelves, discovering new foods and special sale items, that makes supermarket shopping trips secretly exciting for me. The international and organic food sections are my favorite areas of the store to wander around in aimlessly, scanning the shelves for anything that jumps out at me. Today I was looking at the gluten-free grains in Kroger, and spotted brown rice “krispies.” Immediately the thought of sweet, gooey Rice Krispy treats popped into my head. A reader had asked about the possibility of a low carb, sugar-free version, so I thought I’d give it a shot today.

So let’s start by deconstructing rice krispie treats. Crispy rice cereal is not something I’d consume on a daily basis because of its processed nature, starchiness, and low protein content, but it lends that familiar crunch that’s so essential for these kid-friendly treats. Next, we need to do something about that corn syrup filled marshmallow. It’s 100% sugar! Fortunately, xylitol works well in homemade marshmallows. It’s a one for one swap, with a touch of honey to keep the marshmallows moist and soft, and stevia to boost the sweetness. Finally, we need to cut back on the brown rice if we want to make these treats low carb. I replaced half of the cereal with blanched sliced almonds that I dry toasted in a skillet. They’re a crunchy, high protein addition to rice krispie (krispy?) treats that I hope you’ll enjoy as a healthy twist to old classic!

Now for the fun part! I’d like to share my other food find from the organic foods section at Kroger. It’s organic erythritol, on sale for a Manager’s Special promotion! I’m passing the savings on to you guys by giving it away to one lucky reader. Leave a comment, telling me why you eat sugar-free, to be entered into a drawing for a box of this natural, calorie free sweetener.

Erythritol (a natural sweetener)
Erythritol (a natural sweetener)

You have a whole week to enter! I’ll ship the box to the winner as long as you’re located in the U.S.
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And now, back to marshmallows! Don’t be intimidated by the number of the steps for this recipe. The process is pretty straightforward. You don’t even have to use a thermometer. Just set up your bowls in advance, and have your ingredients already measured out if you’re trying to do this with a hand mixer, like I did. You’ll be adding everything with one hand, and mixing with the other. Isn’t a little bit of labor worth it for (almost) sugar-free marshmallows, though?

They look a little rustic, but taste every bit as good as regular marshmallows…

Sugar-Free Marshmallows

Sugar-Free Marshmallows
Adapted from this recipe at AllRecipes.com

Makes about 7 cups mini marshmallows

Ingredients:
1 cup xylitol
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (clear imitation is recommended)
Big pinch sea salt
1/8 teaspoon good tasting pure stevia extract (NuNaturals)
Organic cornstarch or toasted coconut, for dusting (optional)

Preparation:
You can find step by step photos of this process here. I use a different method, but the pictures of the beaten marshmallow are accurate.

Grease an 8 by 8 inch pan with butter or nonhydrogenated shortening. Set out a saucepan and a large stainless steel bowl, or a large pot. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together xylitol, honey and 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water. Heat xylitol mixture, without stirring, until it bubbles vigorously. Place remaining water in a large bowl or saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over the surface of this water. Heat bowl containing gelatin and water over a saucepan of simmering water to melt and liquefy the gelatin. Remove gelatin from heat. Turn down xylitol mixture to medium heat and boil solution until it turns a deep amber color, as seen in this photo. Remove immediately from heat and pour into bowl of dissolved gelatin. It will foam up considerably, thus the need for the large bowl in which to heat the gelatin. Whisk together once the foam dies down, and transfer the amber colored liquid to a glass measuring cup. In a clean bowl (preferably metal), start whipping egg white with a pinch of cream of tartar, or one drop of vinegar. Whip until the egg white is at the stage of soft peaks. Slowly stream in xylitol solution over the course of a minute or so, beating all the time. Try not to hit the sides of the bowl as you stream in the hot xylitol mixture. Turn up mixer speed to high and beat egg white xylitol mixture for 5-10 minutes, until fluffy and thick. Beat in vanilla, stevia, and salt. When marshmallow is beginning to set, it will pull on the beaters a lot and leave tracks. Pour immediately into greased dish and spread around with a spatula. Let set out on the counter for about 8 eight hours. If you are eating the marshmallows out of hand, invert the pan onto a clean surface, like a cutting board. Marshmallows should flop out onto surface after a bit of shaking. Pry them out gently with a buttered silicone spatula if necessary. If you are eating these out of hand, place sifted cornstarch into a large bowl. Chop marshmallow block into 1 inch cubes, or 1/2 inch for mini marshmallows, with a large buttered knife. Toss handfuls of marshmallows into cornstarch and shake around the bowl. Store in a ziptop bag on the counter.

~17g net carbs for the whole recipe, depending on how you count xylitol (add 7g net carbs for each tablespoon of cornstarch you toss the marshmallows in)

Sugar-Free Rice Krispie Treats

Low Carb Rice Krispy Treats

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:
4 cups sugar-free mini marshmallows
3 tablespoons regular organic butter or nonhydrogenated shortening
2.5 cups sliced blanched almonds
2 cups GF organic crisped brown rice cereal
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt (if you use shortening; just a pinch if you use butter)

Preparation:
Toast almonds in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and crunchy. Do NOT let them brown, or they will taste burned. Set aside to cool.

Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add salt and mini marshmallows, and stir until melted and thoroughly blended into a smooth mixture. Cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cereal and almonds. Stir until well coated. Using buttered spatula, press mixture evenly and firmly into a buttered 8 by 8 inch pan. Cut into squares when cool.

~7g net carbs per 1/12th of a recipe

Sugar-Free Rice Krispie Treats

Don’t forget to enter the contest with a comment! It closes Friday of next week, July 12th.

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!

I’m lovin’ it– The Healthy Egg McMuffin made with Coconut Flour (Gluten-Free, Low Carb, Diabetic-Friendly)!

I really like breakfast food, and in my previous unhealthy life, didn’t always make time for a delicious and healthful breakfast. Me and Mickey D’s, we go way back. During my crazy mornings senior year of high school, a quick stop at McDonald’s took 5 minutes on a good day. You could chow down in your crappy space in the parking lot until the first bell rang, or just sneak the McMuffin in between your books if you had the cool teacher. They are unbelievably sturdy little buggers, and you ever notice how they don’t even mold… but I digress. Ah, fond memories… until the GERD set in before 2nd period.

Fast forward to now, where I still get a hankering for a fast food-style breakfast sandwich every once in awhile. With my gluten-free low carb english muffin recipe, you can enjoy the McMuffin and the period after consumption! The only hard part of this operation is the bun. Make up a batch and keep ’em in the fridge for food emergencies. I like organic or imported cheddar (no rBGH!), free-range organic eggs, and uncured pork sausage. I cheated this time and bought the round little patties from a box (they photograph better, nyah nyah!), but you could snag a tube of organic pork and make ’em yourself! Finances permitting, I ususally go that route and cook up a giant batch at once. They keep in the freezer and reheat just the pre-cooked kind for breakfast in a pinch.

Now don’t give me that look. Quit making excuses for running out the door with a donut clutched in your teeth. Instead of hitting the snooze button, get out of bed 10 minutes earlier to assemble this made over breakfast classic that will satisfy the convenience food junkie inside you.

Made-over Breakfast Sandwich

English Muffins
adapted from a recipe by Bruce Fife, N.D.

Makes five muffins

Ingredients:

1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, melted
1/3 cup coconut flour (Bob’s Red Mill preferred)
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2-3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Beat together eggs, butter, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add coconut flour and baking powder, whisking into the batter until there are no lumps. Stir in the cheese. Spoon batter into 5 buttered ramekins. Bake for 15 minutes or until firm. Let cool completely before cutting into. For best results, make these the night before you plan on eating them. Store in the fridge.

~4g net carbs per muffin

Sandwich Assembly Instructions:

Slice muffin in half and toast until heated through. Top one half with slice of cheddar cheese. Reheat sausage per package directions and place on top of cheese. Cook egg in a buttered ramekin or other circular muffin-sized microwaveable dish, covered in plastic wrap, on 50% power for 1 minutes 15 seconds, or until yolk is firm (remember to poke a hole in the yolk before cooking!). Slide egg out carefully. Sprinkle on sea salt and pepper to taste. Place the egg on top of the sausage and top with other muffin half. Consume immediately, or wrap in a napkin and get going!

~5g net carbs

Don’t have the time or the will to press buttons and get multiple items out of the fridge? Make a sweet variation of the muffins for spreads that don’t play well with garlic!

Sweet Variation of Breakfast Muffins:

1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, melted
1/3 cup coconut flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2-3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, finely grated

Throw some peanut butter on your sweet buns, or better yet, bust out PB’s healthier twin sister– almond butter! AB is packed full of monounsaturated fats and flavor, with a distinct natural sweetness. For these reasons, no jar of almond butter lasts long enough to actually put it on something in my house.