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.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Parmesan Faux-sotto

I recently discovered "rice" made from cauliflower. I used it in my Chicken Tikka Masala recipe with great success. I started thinking about what other dishes I could make with "rice". I could try making Chinese fried rice, or jambalaya...how about sushi? I wonder if there is a way to make cauliflower rice sticky enough to make rolls with dried seaweed and raw fish?

Or I could make it easy on myself and try a basic risotto with parmesan.

I found my creative cooking streak and here is what I came up with. My very own low carb version of basic parmesan risotto.

I do hope you like it!

Okay, so it doesn't look that special or even that appetizing, but trust me...it's good! 

Parmesan Faux-sotto
For a side dish, makes about 6 servings. For a main course, about 3 to 4. 

For the parmesan sauce: 

4 tablespoons of organic, unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves minced or pressed 
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (I use the large grate) 
1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup white wine
Salt to taste 
White pepper to taste (black is fine, too) 

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the garlic. 
Sauté the garlic for about 2 minutes, until fragrant. 
Add 1/4 cup organic heavy whipping cream and, using a whisk, blend over medium heat.
When the mixture starts to steam a little, add a handful of the fresh grated parmesan. 
Whisk the cheese into the cream mixture. When it's melted, add a little more cheese and a little more cream. Continue doing this until you've added all the cream and cheese. Pour in the wine and continue to stir with your whisk. You should have a creamy cheese sauce by now. You can turn the heat on low and let it sit, stirring occasionally, while you make the faux-sotto. 

For the faux-sotto: 

One cauliflower head, rinsed, and grated on a cheese grater - I use the largest grate. 
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (I like white pepper) 

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.When the oil starts to glisten, add the cauliflower, salt and pepper. Sauté the cauliflower for about 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat. Stirring occasionally. When the cauliflower is cooked to your desired doneness, transfer to a serving bowl. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and mix well. 

And there you have your very own, almost carb-free, very satisfying and full-of-flavor faux-sotto. Just imagine the possibilities: 

~ Add your favorite mushrooms 
~ Sauté sliced prosciutto and add to the cauliflower along with some chopped, cooked asparagus
~ Add chopped chicken breast for an Alfredo chicken faux-sotto
~ Pesto! Pesto! 
~ Baby artichokes and onions 

What other variations of faux-sotto can you think of? 


Monday, February 13, 2012

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday.  The only present he wants is carrot cupcakes, which I have made for him every year we have been married.

Since giving up grain flour, I knew he was mourning the loss of carrot cupcakes.  But thanks to better people than myself, I found a carrot cupcake recipe that I tested last week.  It worked!  The goddess that is Elana’s Pantry is a wonder with baking chemistry; she’s also a Paleo eater.  Here's the recipe.

One recipe makes 10.

A close-up (sort of); they look like real cupcakes! 

Easiest frosting ever: cream cheese, cream and agave.  I added vanilla - but lemon zest would be good, too.

The secret ingredient: not for Atkins induction, but can be enjoyed sparingly.  If you're good with Stevia, it would be a good sweet option.

Table is set for tomorrow, or as I like to call it: Cupcake Heaven

Friday, February 10, 2012

Low Carb Chicken Tikka Masala

One meal I have missed since restarting my low carb lifestyle is Chicken Tikka Masala. It was off limits because of the added sugar, white rice and the accompanying naan bread that my family and I adore.

While cleaning out old recipes the other day, I came across my favorite Chicken Tikka Masala recipe from America's Test Kitchen. I read it through and realized I could tweak it to make it low carb by doing the following (here is the original recipe):

~ Substitute 2 teaspoons Truvia for 2 teaspoons of sugar that is used in the sauce.

~ Serve cauliflower rice* with the chicken instead of white rice. My stepson's girlfriend did not know it was cauliflower until we told her. It's that similar!

~Making a naan substitute by lightly toasting low carb pita** in the oven then coating it with a minced garlic, sea salt and olive oil mix before toasting again to desired crispness.

~ Use full-fat Greek yogurt to add richness and to cut out the fillers and sugars often used to make a product low fat.

This dish is so delicious, I made it twice this week. I hope you try it. If you do, please let me know your thoughts!

* Cauliflower rice is so easy. Rinse a head of cauliflower well and cut into big chunks. Using your cheese grater, grate the raw cauliflower on the largest grate into a microwave safe casserole dish or serving bowl. When you're finished, simply cover the dish with plastic wrap and microwave until cooked. It usually takes my microwave about 5 or 6 minutes to cook a full head.

** Of course, this meal is great without naan and if you're avoiding all bread products, even low carb, skip it. But if you can get your hands on some low carb pita and you want a special treat, it's worth making naan. I'm lucky because our local market carries a low carb pita bread. If your market doesn't and you'd like to get some, you can order it online here.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rice: yes or no?

I want you to read this article at Mark's Daily Apple regarding the "Asian Paradox".

One of the pushbacks I receive from people, including my husband, is "if carbs are so bad and make you fat, then explain little Asian people."  Fantastic question.

Here's the answer: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-asian-paradox-how-can-asians-eat-so-much-rice-and-not-gain-weight/#axzz1ldtmiob1


Monday, February 6, 2012

Cauliflower and Broccoli Puree

I’m recovering from a touch of stomach flu I got over the weekend.  While in the middle of flu, you don’t want to eat.  When you’re wrapping up the ailment, you are hungry but for only certain things.  I want grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, cookies and the like.  Clearly I’m not having those, but one thing I was trying to justify eating was a bowl full of mashed potatoes.  Ah, cream and butter and salt…so yummy!

Luckily, I ran across this recipe for mashed cauliflower from I Breath...I'm Hungry.  Now, you may have already tried mashed cauliflower as the obvious low-carb substitute for potatoes and wished you hadn’t.  I admit to a certain skunkiness in cooked cauliflower.

This recipe is different!!! 

But I had a dilemma; I didn’t have a whole head of cauliflower.  I had leftover cauliflower and broccoli florets I inherited from a vegetable tray at a meeting I attended last week.

So, I used the cauliflower AND the broccoli.  The result:

Yumminess in a bowl.  And very filling.

This would make such a great topping for a low-carb version of Shepherd's Pie.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pinterest for Meal Planning

I have been trying for years upon years to not only organize my paper recipes into a simple and accessible system, but also meal plan in a way that is fun and creative (making me want to meal plan) and easy.

Pinterest takes care of both for me.

Photo Credit

When I first joined Pinterest, I began amassing low carb recipes on a board I creatively titled "low carb". I find online recipes on my own to pin and also follow Amy on Pinterest (from the blog, lowcarbhighstyle). She pins lots of low carb recipes that I quickly snag for my own board. Following Amy and other low carb boards cuts down on my time spent combing the blogs for recipe ideas.

Now that I have a 61 pins on my low carb board, it's easy to browse through it and select recipes to make for the upcoming week. I simply re-pin them onto a board called "Meal Planning for Week of...." (I really missed my calling as a branding and marketing expert) and I include the dates for that week.

No more handwritten weekly meal plan that I either soil, lose or disregard. Now I can access my board anytime I have my phone, which for me is all the time.

Most weeks I don't need seven meals for seven evenings because we usually do leftovers once or twice a week. But I like to have variety in case a meal doesn't sound appealing one night or I don't have time or energy to cook the dish designated for that evening's dinner.

I wanted to show you what my Meal Planning board looks like so I tried to cut and paste it onto this post with disastrous results. If you want to see it and are on Pinterest, look me up, I'm listed as Adrienne Shubin.

Do you meal plan each week? 

Have a clever way to organize your recipes? 

I'd like to hear how you do it.