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!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Travelling Low Carb

I’ve been travelling off and on for the last several weeks.  One of the biggest saboteurs to my low-carb eating is not being at home, and to be honest it’s because my resolve go on vacation and I lure myself into eating things I shouldn’t.  You know these excuses, “I’ll never be here again!” or, “Honestly, will this artisan pizza really hurt me?”, or even worse, “The pain will be worth it!”

On my latest quick trip to Seattle, my husband and I visited old haunts we used to frequent when we lived here.  Thankfully, we skipped Top Pot doughnuts, which was just a couple of block away from where we lived, knowing that the intoxicating smell of yeast and sugar would be too much to pass up.  Also, I know what sugar does to me!  So instead, we decided to murder our intestines with Neapolitan pizza.

We were so excited to drive out to the pizza place because of the incredible yummy toppings and sauce, but also because we were being bad.  Oh so bad.  As in, “Shhh, I won’t be blogging about this!” bad.

Well, we went, we ordered, we ate, and then something terrible (but good) happened.  We realized it wasn’t worth it.  An hour after eating, I was feeling a little light-headed and the bloating was just starting.  The taste wasn’t as savory as we remembered, the service was just above mediocre, and it was all darkened by the intestinal pain we knew was forthcoming.  And did it ever come.

My husband exclaimed very frustratingly, “Is there nothing we can eat anymore!”  Well, this no-wheat lifestyle is limited if you spend your life travelling or not eating at home.  And our foray into dinner to find something to soothe our tummies and nourish (not kill) us yielded this:

The above is an wedge salad delightfully sprinkled with blue cheese, blue cheese dressing made in house (so no gluten startches), tomatoes wedges, and bacon!  Wheat-free, low-carb and completely delicious.  Yes, darling, there are things to eat.

And then we went to the grocery store and picked up lots of low carb treats, including these very ripe, organic strawberries that the Seattle Whole Foods is stocking.  Strawberries and full-fat Greek yogurt is modestly low-carb, and it makes a delicious dessert and breakfast.  The picture you’re looking at is my husband’s and my breakfast this morning.  Those muffins are egg and sausage muffins I brought from home in case of a food emergency.

 Marcona almonds from the bulk foods section - better than French Fries!

It’s Monday morning, and I’m still feeling the digestive effects of getting rid of Saturday afternoon’s pizza orgy.  I’m ready to go home and have some bacon.

How do you stay low-carb and wheat-free while travelling?  Isn’t it awful how wheat is in just about everything when you dine out!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Low Carb, Sugarless Barbecue Sauce

I like barbecue sauce. I like it on ribs and grilled chicken and pulled pork. Barbecue sauce just says summer to me.

Most barbecue sauces, at least the ones that I like, have lots and lots of sugar, about 14 grams (about 3.5 teaspoons) per serving. Way, way too much for my sugarless lifestyle.

Not wanting to give up barbecue sauce, I decided to make my own. And boy, am I glad I did! I scoured my cookbooks and found a classic barbecue sauce recipe in my ancient Joy of Cooking cookbook.

I changed a few things to make it very low sugar and low carb.

adapted from Joy of Cooking

1 1/2 cups Heinz Reduced Sugar ketchup
1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup Splenda brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground mustard
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 slices lemon

Put all the ingredients into a sauce pan and simmer for about 5 minutes. You may remove the lemon slices if you want, but I like them left in.

The sauce will keep for up to two weeks - covered and refrigerated.

We had it with pork ribs on the grill the other night and oh my gosh....are they fantastic!

The best meal we have had in this house in weeks, maybe months. We have had the sauce two more times since on grilled chicken. It's fantastic with my stepdaughter's homemade sugar free and low carb cole slaw. I am asking her to write down the recipe next time she makes it so I can share it with you.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fat Head

I’ve been in awe of my slow cooker; it is truly a low carb follower’s best friend.  Last week, I put in two packages of chicken thighs (I really do not like chicken thighs) that had been rubbed with a spicy mixture of chili powder, cayenne, cumin, etc., a sliced onion and a rough-chopped carrot on top, set the glorious thing to high for five hours, and had shredded chicken by dinner.  I kept half of the liquid that accumulated and poured it over the shredded meat, and my husband and I have been eating the chicken all week – re-heated with more spices, with salad, and tonight in soup.

I now like chicken thighs – at least shredded chicken thighs.

Bonus: organic, boneless chicken thighs are $2.99 per pound.  Frugal and yummy.

But my post today is really more of a recommendation for you to see the following movie if you haven’t already: Fat Head.  It’s an amusing, yet acerbic, response to Super Size Me, and our low carb friends Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades are featured in the interviews.  The graphics are hokey and funny, and the commentary is pretty sarcastic.  If you know nothing else about me, you know that I love sarcasm.  After all, I want to be Lady Violet Crawley when I grow up (and I’m well on my way…).

My husband watched with me, and while he knows the importance of eating plenty of good fat – yes, animal fat – in his diet, he was a little more convicted about removing sugar from his eating.  While he doesn’t ingest anywhere near the level that the average American does, he is still attracted to the bakery cookie, the coffee shop cinnamon roll, etc. and he has two of these treats on average each week.  That is in addition to my weekly rotation of low-carb treats that get baked.

While on a walk this morning, he said, rather resignedly and completely ungoaded by me, “I have to stop eating the cookies, don’t I?”

“Why are you saying that?”

 “Because, sugar is the devil.”

(treading carefully) “Well, sugar has many harmful effects on the internal functioning of the body, the least of which is gaining weight and having huge thighs like me.”

“I know, and while I don’t have any weight to lose [and he doesn’t] I should be more cognizant of high blood pressure.  I am not participating in the pharmaceutical industry.  I don’t want to carry a suitcase full of pills with me wherever I go.”

“So, do you want to try no sugar for a week and see how you feel?”

“And while we’re at it, can we have more bacon?”

And then, you know, trumpets sang from the heavens, bunnies danced at our feet, and non-carcinogenic fireworks popped out from the trees.

The morale of this little story, if you live with a skeptical member of your family, is to get Fat Head from Netflix and play it so others can sit down and watch.  And then let them start the conversation.


***I am so having one of those “I could’ve had a V-8! moments” --  I should have played this movie when my MIL was here!  Maybe at breakfast when she was eating corn flakes and sugar…

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pulled Pork

Last week, I brought home a new baby.  No, not a cat (oh, I wish…): a culinary toy.

After reading all the recipes out there for slow cooker-this and slow cooker-that, I decided to purchase one.  I also had a gift receipt return from an ill-fated present, and I cashed it in on this:

A 6 ½ quart Cuisinart slow cooker!

Now why a slow cooker instead of a Dutch oven?  Well, I will purchase a Dutch oven in the Fall when the temperatures dip and it won’t cause a nuclear meltdown in my house if the oven is on for three hours.  The slow cooker is meant to be a more efficient use of electricity AND the heat is better contained on the counter when it’s 100 degrees outside.

So, why not just grill?

Grilling is great for some items, like marinated grass-fed flap steak.  Yumm…  But, it involves standing on the back porch in the unforgiving sun, slaving over a 300 degree grill when the outside air is 100 degrees.  And, uh, the grill is my husband’s domain.  If it’s one thing I’ve learned in eight years of marriage, it’s don’t mess with your husband’s cooking utensils.

Besides, I was intrigued by the concept of slow cooking a 5-pound slab of meat and having lunch made for the next five days for both people.

What to make for its debut?  It had to be Everyday Paleo’s Beyond Easy Pulled Pork (click here for recipe).

I only have two complaints, and I did follow the recipe:

1.   I had two cups of liquid at the bottom of the ceramic container when the pork finished, and I wasn’t expecting soooo much.  The roast was wonderfully juicy and it DID fall off the bone.  So, why so much water?  Was that the water that was pumped into my meat before it ever made it to the butcher’s case?!  Ick.  Still, was I supposed to keep the liquid?  Help me out here.  I’m new to this.

2.   It wasn’t spicy enough.  But in the interest of full disclosure, we like really spicy food (we should probably vacation in Thailand) and what’s spicy to my Minnesotan in-law’s is bland to us.

After pulling apart the entire roast and storing it in containers, I reheated a serving by sautéing 6-8 ounces with some bacon fat (oh, yeah, baby), paprika, cayenne, sea salt, cumin and chili powder.  This worked wonders!  I’ve been making Chipotle-style burrito bowls for my husband (he eats rice), and I’ve been eating the pork with homemade guacamole.

Update: Amy at lowcarbhighstyle said she pulls the pork while it is still in the slow cooker, and she spoons the liquid over the meat so the meat reabsorbs the liquid.  That explains why her pictures of pork (and the original author of the recipe at Everyday Paleo) look so succulent and juicy and mine don't - not that mine's dry.  Mystery solved; thanks, Amy!

one of my containers full of pulled pork

spicey girl spices

oh so yummy in the tummy: very spicy pork, homemade guacamole, and celery root remoulade

On my other blog, cupcakecaramel, you can visit a recipe I made for today’s lunch: Ina Garten’s Celery Root Remoulade.  This was a surprisingly low-carb salad for a root vegetable.  If you follow her recipe, the entire net carb count is just under 30 – for the whole recipe.  It’s a Continental upgrade from cole slaw.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Low Carb Shepherd's Pie

Top o' the mornin' to ya! 

Since I am about 1/12th Irish, I thought in honor of St. Patrick's Day this coming Saturday, I would share a recent traditional Irish dish I made for my family.

It's a Shepherd's Pie, low carb style without the peas and taters. Enjoy a nice glass of wine with this dish, like a creamy chardonnay or light Pinot Noir instead of the traditional St. Patty's Day beverage, beer and save yourself the belly bloat.

Low Carb Shepherd's Pie

First, make a batch of these fantastic cheesy fauxtatoes. Or if you want, you could make Rebekah's Cauliflower and Broccoli Puree. I haven't tried it but I don't see why it wouldn't be tasty. And it would make for a very green and very festive for St. Patrick's Day. 

Once you've made your fauxtatoes or puree, your ready to make the star of the dish, the filling.

Here is what you'll need:

1 pound organic ground beef
1/2 tablespoon butter
2 cups onion, diced
2 cups celery, diced
2 cups carrots*, diced
10 - 12 button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
3 tablespoons tomato paste
A couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, such as Dubliner (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef in melted butter in a dutch oven or large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once it's almost done browning, add the onion, celery and carrots. Sauté until softened. Turn to medium-low and add tomato paste. Stir well. Add oregano, salt and pepper, mushrooms, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until mushrooms are done, stirring occasionally. 

Into a casserole dish (I used a 9 x 13) sprayed with cooking oil, pour the meat mixture. Gently flatten out the mixture with the back of your serving spoon. Scoop the fauxtatoes onto the top of the meat mixture and again, using the back of your spoon, smooth out the surface. 

If you want, sprinkle shredded cheddar or Dubliner cheese on top. Or you can simply add a few dots of butter. 

Put it in a 400 degree oven for about 15 - 20 minutes, until the sides start to bubble and the cheese or butter is melted. 

Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.  

*We are not big fans of cooked carrots in this dish. I left them out and increased the celery. 



Monday, March 5, 2012

Sugarless, Flourless Sea Salt Chocolate Cake

Before we get to chocolate cake, I wanted to share that I made lowcarbhighstyle’s Chicken Francese last Friday night (in honor of French Friday).  It was so good and so easy!  If you’re not a fan of lots of lemon flavor, I suggest subbing out half of the lemon juice with chicken broth.  I did that, but added the lemon zest, and I still got enough lemon flavor to satisfy my taste buds (I love lemon) while keeping my husband (a little lemon goes a long way for him) happy.  And zucchini “noodles” are now our go-to veg when we have a sauce that needs soaking up – that is, until spaghetti squash is back in season.

Okay, chocolate cake time.  Adrienne sent this recipe to me, and I’m trying to determine how to describe this “cake” to you.  Because there is so, so much chocolate, I found this to be much denser than a traditional flourless chocolate cake.  In fact, it tastes like eating a bar of chocolate (so make sure you use GOOD chocolate).  It’s rather intense, and my husband says having a dollop of vanilla whipped cream (homemade, of course) takes the edge off.

For me, I liked the cake better when I kept it in the refrigerator (or freezer) for a few days so the texture became even fudgier.  Food takes on a slightly different taste when it is cold versus being warm or even room temperature.  It tasted better having it with coffee and heavy cream than it did by itself.

A sugarless raspberry sauce may be a good future accompaniment, as would a low carb crème anglaise.  I’m also toying with the idea of ice cream made from coconut milk and cinnamon and sandwiching it between two wedges of cake for a little ice-cream-sandwich action.

Update:  The originator of the recipe is Andrea Drugay; there are some pretty fabulous looking recipes at her site, so please be sure to visit!

Sugarless, Flourless Sea Salt Chocolate Cake

  • 1 Tbsp raw cocoa powder
  • 12 ounces 100% unsweetened baking chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 8 Tbsp stevia
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 5 eggs, separated

Preheat the oven to 375F.
  1. Grease an 8″ round cake pan and dust with cocoa powder.
  2. Using a double boiler, melt together the chocolate and butter until smooth. Stir in the salt and 6 Tbsp of the stevia, then remove from heat.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl.
  4. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp of stevia until it is fully incorporated into the egg whites.
  5. Gently stir the egg yolks into the chocolate-butter mixture. Fold in the egg white-stevia mixture until completely incorporated.
  6. Add the mix to your prepared pan.
  7. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack cool completely. Enjoy!

Nutrition Info (created using Recipe Calculator)

8 servings

Amount per serving
Calories: 456.6
Total Fat: 47.3 g
Cholesterol: 154.5 mg
Sodium: 350.1 mg
Potassium: 529.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 18.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 9.6 g
Sugars: 0.5 g
Protein: 11.5 g

If you try this recipe, please share your experiences and other suggestions to improve it.  I think it's a great base to launch many permutations!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I am frequently asked if and when I cheat on my low carb diet. The answer is: I rarely cheat. And when I do, it's intentional. Planning on having pizza and pasta while on vacation in Italy and enjoying a perfectly made croissant on my birthday are intentional cheats that, for me, are worth it. The rest of the days of the year, I adhere to a low carb lifestyle.

It's not that I have loads of will power and it's not that I am a rigid and structured person. I have little in my personality that even resembles will power and rigidity.

What keeps me from reaching for the occasional cookie, potato chip or slice of French bread? It's a combination of the following:

1) I am Committed with a capital "C".  We all have at least one friend who follows a vegan or a vegetarian diet. Do you find that they ever stray away from their commitment to not eat meat? My guess would be rarely; maybe even never. I have become the same way about my low carb way of eating. I am not eating this way temporarily as a way to help me shed a few pounds. I believe wholeheartedly that a life without sugar and flour is the healthiest life for me.

2) I am in ketosis. I have skirted this topic all these many months because it is controversial and often misunderstood. Ketosis is a complicated condition to explain and so instead of me ineptly trying to do so, I would like to refer you to a few links at the bottom of this post that expertly and thoroughly explain what ketosis is and how it happens.

Photo Credit and info about  ketosis strips

I am still losing weight and have yet to reach weight maintenance so for now, I plan to be in ketosis. I check myself regularly with ketosis sticks I buy at the drugstore. Checking my levels helps me determine if I am staying on course or not. And it will help me see, literally, if I am consuming something that contains hidden sugar, like a restaurant's salad dressing, for example.

If I cheat, I will go out of ketosis. It sometimes takes a few days to get back in.

3) Is the cheat worth it? When a temptation presents itself, I ask myself that very question. Is it worth the bloat, the immediate water weight gain, the sluggishness and fatigue, the eventual cravings for more? The answer is almost always, "Hell no, it's not worth it"! Works every time.

And those are the reasons why I don't cheat. This mindset did not happen over night. It's taken months, if not years, to reach this point. Reading up on the topic was instrumental. Currently, I am reading The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living and Wheat Belly. I recommend both books to you as excellent sources for living your life sugarless, flourless and fabulous.

Ketosis articles:

From The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D.

The War on Insulin 



Monday, February 27, 2012

My home is a haz-mat site

I was all set to post about a sugarless, flourless chocolate cake recipe Adrienne sent me for Valentine’s Day (Adrienne unwittingly gave me the perfect gift: an excuse to purchase a block of pure, bitter chocolate and have playtime in my kitchen).  And then she emailed me recent news articles discussing the evils of wheat.  I’m sending her positive peer pressure via Ethernet to induce her to post those links here and discuss her reaction to them.

My in-law’s are visiting me from out-of-town, and so I’ll get to today’s topic: wheat and sugar addiction.  My MIL has Celiac disease.  She thinks it’s just an iron issue, that the protein in wheat gluten prevents her digestive process’ iron absorption function.  So her physician gives her an iron shot (in the butt) periodically so she can continue eating toast and corn flakes and hamburger buns.

Screeeeeeeech!!! (my poor attempt at tires braking against pavement)  

Why isn’t my MIL sitting in my living room lecturing us all on how wheat is ravishing her body?  Why did we have to go to the grocery store and purchase the following ingredients to properly host them for the next week after my husband declared our house to be sugarless and flourless (and, therefore, fabulous):

·         A one-pound sack of white table sugar

·         The big box of Corn Flakes

·         A loaf of sliced white French bread – the kind that costs $1.49

·         One bunch bananas

·         One half-gallon non-organic skim milk

And why did MIL tell FIL that he couldn’t have eggs because his LDL is too high (he’s having Corn Flakes with sugar instead)?  And why, for the love of beautiful citrus fruit, is MIL putting sugar on her grapefruit.
While I understand it’s difficult to wrap one’s head around eating eggs containing animal fat when you’re on heart medication, I’m still muttering under my breath about eating cheap wheat when you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac.  I am not going to badger her anymore with data – I believe in living by example (and I've already badgered her).  I think she won't give up her drug of choice because modern strains of wheat, and certainly processed sugar, are so addictive that even people who have a medical condition cannot stay away from them.

And here’s the worst truth of all: I’M JONESING FOR A PIECE OF BUTTERED TOAST.

I stood in my kitchen last night looking sideways at the loaf of bread lying beside the toaster I hauled out from under the cabinets, and I can taste the toast: hot, buttery, crunchy.  Maybe some cinnamon, too.  Nah, just the Irish butter made from grass-fed cows who moo, “Top o’ the mornin’!  The toast, the toast…my kingdom for a piece of toast.

Don’t worry, I didn’t eat the bread.  But it reminded me how addictive these Franken-foods can be, even with just a visual reminder.  This morning I had to throw a kitchen towel over the loaf of bread so it wouldn’t look at me with its come-hither gaze.  MIL wants to know what I'll do with the leftover sugar.  I told her it would be dumped in the garbage (with everything else in the list above excepting the bananas).

Ooh, no, I could make a sugar scrub.

Are you a wheat-free evangelist? How are you handling the nay-sayers who live in the same house as you (even if just for a short time)?  Are you above temptation, or are there still tempting “foods” that you just can’t be around?


Monday, February 20, 2012

Lower Carb Turkey Chili

We had a cold, wet weekend in Austin.  When it’s cold, wet, and Masterpiece Classic is airing Downton Abbey, I like to make something that is comforting and filling.  And I make chili.

I think chili is one of those dishes where everyone has their own version.  My dad had his secret recipe (we ate copious amounts of ground elk and antelope), my brother has his (ground mustard?), and I have my version.  This was developed one night a few years ago when I was cooking from The Zone cookbook.  I served it to the husband and he declared the published recipe so bland that “my parents from Minnesota can eat it.”  Oh dear, time to up the ante.

This version may be too spicy or too thick for you (I think chili should be like Bolognese – others like a soupy or stewy consistency), but the technique holds true.  Just ease up on some of the spices or put a lid on the simmering stew to reduce evaporation.  Crushed tomatoes are the costliest component of this dish from a net carbohydrates perspective (one 32-ounce can contains 52 net carbs), so this is not a suitable dinner choice if you are on Atkins Induction.


Lower Carb Turkey Chili (4 hearty servings)

Spice Mixture:
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons chili powder (I like chipotle chili powder)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (the freshest you can find)
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt (sea salt is different in intensity than iodized salt or Kosher salt)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bayleaf

Other Ingredients:
1/8 cup fat of choice (I use chicken fat and bacon drippings I store in a jar in the refrigerator)
1 cup roughly chopped onion (about one medium onion)
1 cup roughly chopped mushrooms
1 pound ground turkey thighs
1 fat clove garlic, minced
1 32-ounce can crushed tomatoes, organic (it does make a difference)


In a large dutch oven or stock pot, melt the fat over medium-high heat until fully liquid.  Add the onion and mushrooms and sauté for 5-10 minutes or until soft.  Do not let the onions burn.  Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the spice mixture and cook for 1 minute.

Add the ground turkey to the cooked vegetables and incorporate.  Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the turkey is no longer pink.  Do not overcook.

Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Add the can of tomatoes and stir until incorporated.  Reduce the heat if necessary and simmer for 20-30 minutes uncovered.  If you want a thinner consistency, simmer covered for the same amount of time.  Be sure to check for seasoning after the chili has cooked for at least 20 minutes.

As you know, soups and stews get better they more they sit around to marinate the flavors together.  I prefer to make this meal several hours or even a day before I will serve it. 

Lots of spices mean layered flavor

Follow the "mise en place" rules of preparing spices

The others...

Never use super lean meats; fat is your friend and makes tastier chili!

I just added the turkey - the spice mixture makes everything look dark.

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

Comfort on a cold evening.