Monday, July 16, 2012

Tea Goodies

Last Saturday, my husband and I had friends over for tea (you can read about it on my other blog here) in honor of Bastille Day.  Though the menu wasn't strictly French, it was influenced by the seasonal sourcing of ingredients and my aim to keep the menu low-carb.  Enter Elana Amsterdam's The Almond Flour Cookbook to the rescue.

We had:

  • Salmon cakes with mint, lemon and a wasabi-laced remoulade
  • Almond bread bruschetta with a cherry tomato rustic confit (rustic means I chop, not mince)
  • Almond flour chocolate cookies, made in the French sable style
  • Parfaits with raspberries, chopped almonds, and unsweetened creme chantilly
Tomato and olive confit on almond bread, salmon cake with tangy remoulade

Tea and a pitcher of ice water with a stalk of mint to perfume the l'eau de vie

Dessert: slabs of almond flour cookies and the raspberry parfait

It was so pretty I had to take a close-up

While the rest of the guests had iced tea, I preferred to sip a pot of Harney & Son's Paris blend in my toile pot and cup.  

Though the conversation did not orient itself to the storming of prisons, the repression of the masses, or a potential credit downgrade, it was nice to be with friends and EAT.  Being free to eat whatever is placed before me on the table is the primary reason I prefer to entertain at home rather than at restaurants.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Homestyle Fresh Chili Review

Shortly after writing a blog post about my weight loss and low carb way of eating on my other blog, The Rich Life (on a budget), I was contacted by Homestyle Fresh to do a review of their two chilies, Chicken Chili with Beans and Beef Chili with Beans.

I jumped at the chance to try their products. There are so few pre-packaged, convenient on the market that are low carb. 

I heated both packages up in the microwave - one at a time - and did a tasting with my teenage stepdaughter.

We both agreed that we like the chilies. They have an authentic flavor, the beans are nice and firm not mushy, the meats are lean and tender and the chilies' consistency is just right - not too watery and not too thick.

Both chilies are mild in flavor and I usually prefer a spicier chili. But that is easily remedied with a few shakes of Tabasco sauce.

Both chilies weigh in at 5 net carbs or less and the serving is big enough for a meal. In fact, I had the Beef Chili for lunch Monday and was full by the time I cleaned my bowl.

A great dinner idea would be to serve the chili over low carb pasta, top it with diced red onions, shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream for a tasty low carb Cincinnati Chili.

If you are interested in trying Homestyle Fresh Chilies, click here. Netrition is currently selling each package for just $2.69 each.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Low-Carb Candy Options

Yes, I know this looks like sludge - but that's because it's huge chunks of almonds and French sea salt surrounded by a layer of molten and super dark chocolate. 

I needed a big dose of something special last Friday, and I tried to fulfill this craving in a somewhat responsible but decadent manner.  In my head, I was chanelling a huge bar of Cadbury's Milk Chocolate and Nut candy.  Gosh, in pre-low carb days I could eat one of those things in 3 minutes flat.

In making my own chocolate candy bark, I was able to control the sugar content (very low) and pump up the volume with high-protein and good-for-you almonds.  I also chopped up the remainder and used it to make low-carb and dairy-free ice cream. 

Please visit cupcakecaramel to see the details.

Because sometimes, you just need dessert!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Reading List: The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living

I’m not going to do a book review; you can find those on Amazon.  I’m just going to recommend this as an addition to your low-carb library if you would like to read about our way of living from a perspective that is:

·         Biological

·         Physiological

·         Chemical

·         Clinical

After reading and understanding this book by Drs. Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney, you’ll be able to throw around terms like “lipogenesis” and “ketogenic hierarchy”, as well as how and why glucose goes to your liver.  Intimidating? No.  And I hated biology in school.

If nothing else, this is a great book to give to your doubting medical practitioner or your friend who thinks you are following a quack diet that is doomed to bring disaster to your next physical check up.

And if that fails to convince you, there is a rocking-awesome ice cream recipe in the back.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Rosemary Olive Bread – Elana’s Pantry

I made bread this last week with huge success!  That is, if you measure success by making something for the first time and it is edible, which this absolutely was.

I don’t dream about buttered toast anymore, but every once in a while I get hungry for it.  I had been wanting to make some of the quick breads in Elana Amsterdam’s cookbook, The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook (click here for Elana's blog), but the missing ingredient was sourcing arrowroot powder.  I eventually found some at Amazon and it arrived last Tuesday.  The secret ingredients to Paleo bread are arrowroot powder and almond butter.

Arrowroot and almond flour

All from Costco - you can certainly use stevia instead of agave

Kalamatas and rosemary from my herb garden

I made the dough, and it was sweet.  I was skeptical how good sweet bread with rosemary and chopped kalamatas would taste, but the baked product was nothing like the raw dough.
Bread dough - funky, huh?

A pan that is too big will yield stumpy bread

Stumpy but tasty!

We’ve been eating it throughout the week, and it has been delicious!  I have to say that the bread tastes better toasted rather than not, and you may want to spread it with something a little salty: grass-fed butter (Kerry’s Gold – at Costco), goat cheese, olive tapenade or a homemade tomato compote.

I baked the dough in the wrong pan and it came out flat, looking like biscotti when sliced.  I will better follow the directions and cook it in a smaller pan next time so I get a better bread loaf.

In my amateur calculation, I think the net carb count is around 60 grams for the entire recipe.  If you are in Atkins Induction, this is not a good choice, but at all other phases a skinny slice (we get about 12 slices out of this recipe) with some fat (see above) is a nice snack.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shirataki Noodles

I’ve been reading up on shirtaki noodles, mostly because I REALLY continue to miss Pasta Putanesca with bucatini.  I used to make this delicious dish every 10 days in my carb loving days, and I savored every briny, pomodoran bite.

And with most things low-carb, you quickly figure out that you don’t miss the pasta, you miss the sauce.  I thought about spaghetti squash, but it just isn’t the same for this particular recipe.

I first learned about shirataki noodles, which are made from yams and have a miniscule carb count, at Sugarfree Sheila’s website.  After doing some research on the nutritive effects – good and bad – I decided to make a purchase.  I hunted and hunted at my local grocery store and could not locate them. 

Curse you, Texas grocery stores, for only stocking grain-based noodles!   What if I don’t want rice noodles!  What if I want the veggie noodles that skinny people eat!  Why do I have to order on Amazon!  Why is it…oh, there’s an employee; let’s ask him.

Uh, I was in the wrong section.

Shirataki noodles are located in the refrigerated section next to the tofu and seitan (satan).  It’s a good thing I’m an introvert and didn’t have a visible temper tantrum.  J

Instead of using the noodles with my coveted Putanesca, I used them in a recipe I have from Wheat Belly.  We hadn’t had Asian cuisine in a while, and a chicken and veggie stir fry seemed like the most logical experiment for these yam-based noodles.  Note: some shirataki are made from tofu, so if you have soy issues, beware.

The package I purchased advertised 4.5 servings, but we got 3 out of it.

When you open the package, it smells like a place where kelp and fish go to die.  Quickly rinse.

Instead of boiling them, I just put them in my stir-fry for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking.  The noodles sort-of absorbed the sauce, but not as much as I would have liked.  I can’t tell if that is due to my cooking method or their inherent limitations.

Nutritionally speaking, these noodles had 1 gram of carbs per serving.  They have no fat, are calorie free (which is illogical because 1 carb must have a calorie equivalent), and have no stated vitamin nutrients.  Hmmm.

They resembled glass noodles, but were not as chewy because there’s no gluten.  They mostly slipped down our throat, and they did not compete with the taste of the stir-fry which contained chicken, mushrooms, green beans, bamboo, sesame, ginger, and tamari.

My conclusion:

I’m not sure I’ll be eating these things on a regular basis except for once every couple of months when I have an urge for stir-fry.  As for the Putanesca, I’m planning to serve it over fish.

Have you tried any new low-carb foods lately?


Monday, May 14, 2012

MDA's Lemon Parsley Brisket

I’ve had my slow cooker for a couple of months now, and I’m mostly upset that I didn’t purchase it sooner.  It is the best!  I had some leftover pulled chicken and pulled pork the other day that I wasn’t able to pass off as burrito bowls any longer (husband said, “No more this week!”).  So I made tortilla-less soup, slipped in the leftover meat, and just like that a new recipe using leftovers was created.

I love using leftovers in creative ways.

But we’re not here to talk about my frugality in tricking the spouse into eating food he previously refused; we’re here to talk about brisket.

The recipe for this meal is at Mark’s Daily Apple and it reminds me of an Italian recipe I saw one time wherein flank steak was marinated in a paste of garlic and lemon, grilled, and served with an Italian salsa verde.  This brisket is informed by this flavor combination. 

My hand-dandy tool to smoosh the garlic and salt.

The recipe is written for the brisket to be roasted in the oven, but I opted for my slow cooker because:

·         Slow-cooking meat is nutritionally superior to fast-cooking meat

·         It’s hot already in Austin, so the oven stays off! (at least for long periods)

·         I’m decreasing the cost-per-use ratio of the slow cooker.

Here’s a picture of the seared meat before the cooker is on; this is a 2 ½ pound slab of meat:

And here’s a picture before I stick my fork in:

Do give it a try!