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!