Monday, December 27, 2010

1-carb brownies


The above brownie has 1 net carb and 69 calories. It's moist and fudgy and not dry at all. The secret? No flour, just a blender and some black soy beans.

If you're clutching your pearls over my use of soy, hear me out for a second. I do agree that the phytoestrogen content of soy does merit some cause for alarm. However, I also think that it is fine in moderation. I think that the issues with soy are largely due to massive consumption in forms such as soybean oil (yes, "vegetable oil" is often soybean oil) and processed food products that use soy isolate or similar for texture and/or a meaty taste. We often don't realize how much soy we consume because it is so ubiquitous. For example, In The End of Overeating, the author lists the ingredients in a freaking chicken breast at Chilis, which includes autolyzed yeast extract, sodium phosphate, and soy protein concentrate. My conclusion isn't exactly scientific, but this is what works for me: I think that if we primarily cook our own food using whole ingredients, we end up cutting a lot of excess soy out of our diets, and thus I try to stick with the whole bean or fermented products like tamari. Call me crazy, but I don't believe that the problem is that Americans eat too many canned soybeans or steamed edamame. If you would still rather avoid soy, you can substitute regular black beans. This will bump up the carb count to 3 net carbs per brownie rather than 1 (still not bad!).

I've experimented with this recipe quite a bit. I've found that the small amount of real butter is truly essential for flavor and texture. I've tried both whole eggs and Eggbeaters/egg whites and I couldn't detect a difference, so I use whites only to keep the total calorie count down.

FLOURLESS BROWNIES
Makes 16 2"x2" square brownies

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 can black soy beans or regular black beans (preferably unsalted), drained and rinsed
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter, melted (or use 3 Tbs oil of choice)
  • 6 egg whites or 3/4 cup egg substitute or liquid egg whites
  • 3/4 cup stevia or Splenda
  • 1/4 cup good-quality cocoa powder (I like Hershey's Special Dark or Green & Black)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp instant coffee or espresso grinds (don't skip this; even if you don't like coffee the taste is very mild but it covers up any "beany" taste)
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Optional: toppings such as 1-2 Tbs cacao nibs (pictured), 1/4 cup 85%+ dark chocolate cut into chunks, 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, etc
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 pan or spray with Baker's Joy 
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth. You may have to scrape down the sides and stir the batter several times.
  3. Scrape the batter into the greased pan. Sprinkle with any of the optional toppings. Bake 30 minutes or until the center is relatively dry and the brownies pull away from the sides of the pan. Cut into 16 squares. Chill overnight in the fridge; after a day or so the chocolate flavor intensifies and the brownies taste less "beany".

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Crab legs


This isn't exactly a recipe, and it's far from original, but it's such a perfect low-carb meal and it's something we rarely eat at home. My local Albertson's supermarket sells crab legs for $4.99/lb, not exactly cheap, but certainly affordable at least every once in a while. It's also perfect for those looking to get more protein without too many calories. A 3 oz serving has 16 grams of protein, along with 0 carbs and only 1 gram of fat.

CRAB LEGS

INGREDIENTS
  • As many frozen crab legs as you want/can fit into your pot
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 lemon, cut into chunky eighths
DIRECTIONS

Fill a large pasta pot (I use this one, but a regular soup pot is fine too) with a couple inches of water and bring to a boil. Add the crab legs and cover them liberally with lots and lots of Old Bay. Cover with the pot lid; if it won't fit (due to crab legs sticking out), cover it with a few layers of foil. Steam for 5-7 minutes or until done. Serve on a tray with lemon wedges scattered throughout. Serve with melted butter and/or sugar-free cocktail sauce*.

*Sugar free cocktail sauce: Combine unsweetened ketchup or Splenda-sweetened ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The contest winner, and a pork recipe

First things first: sorry about the delay, but I put everyone's name in a bowl and randomly drew to select the winner of Blog Like a Caveman. Drumroll please...

video
Congrats! I will email the winner and post here when the theme for Blog Like a Caveman II is selected. Now, for a recipe.


The supermarket was having a great sale on pork tenderloin; specifically, buy 1 get 2 free, so I had three pork tenderloins in my freezer waiting to be used. Most of the recipes I found called for syrups, glazes, sugary juices, or other sweet things. This one is different. Adapted from this recipe, it's stuffed with veggies, nuts, cheese, and other savory goodies. I used pistachios, goat cheese, and sun dried tomatoes in addition to the olives, spinach, and peppers. The one thing I would do differently next time is to combine the filling ingredients thoroughly in a bowl before stuffing the pork, as it ended up having kind of a layered look. I served it with turnip oven fries (turnips cut into french fry shapes and roasted) with Greek seasoning.

STUFFED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH SPINACH, PEPPERS, PISTACHIOS, AND GOAT CHEESE

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 whole pork tenderloin
  • 6 oz fresh spinach, stemmed, washed, and dried
  • 1 whole roasted red bell pepper (I bought the jarred kind), seeded and diced
  • 1-2 Tbs julienned sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted pistachio nuts
  • Pitted kalamata olives, sliced or chopped
  • 1-2 oz soft goat cheese (chevre), crumbled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Saute the spinach in a bit of olive oil until wilted. Squeeze dry in paper towels or a sieve, chop, and set aside.
  3. Cut a slit lengthwise halfway through the pork. Sandwich it between two layers of plastic wrap and flatten it with a meat pounder (I use this one and highly recommend it). Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Combine the spinach, tomatoes, pepper, pistachios, olives, and cheese in a bowl. Spread it on the pork in a line across the middle.
  5. Roll the pork around the filling and tie with butcher's twine (the butcher will usually give you some for free if you ask).
  6. Season the pork with salt and pepper and bake for about 45 minutes or until done. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blog Like a Caveman I: Winter Greens

This is the recipe roundup for the first ever Blog Like a Caveman paleo food blogging event! The theme was winter greens, as I thought we could all use some excitement about the few seasonal produce items in the dreary winter months. I will randomly choose a winner tomorrow, who will receive a gift certificate to Netrition.com and gets to choose the theme for next month.

Let's get started!


Lori from I Am Hungry, What's For Dinner? made a steaming pot of pork stew with kale. I'm glad to have this recipe in my arsenal, as pork chops are always on sale lately but all of the recipes I've seen involve lots of sugar or sugary items. But a nice hearty stew is perfect in the cold weather!


Cait from Paleo Perfectly cooked up a Greek hash using chopped kale along with ground beef and lots of Mediterranean flavors. Rather than leaving big chunks, the vegetables in this dish are finely chopped so that her small children will eat them without complaint. Though I am sure that kids and adults alike will enjoy this!


I think that broccoli is one of the most underrated vegetables for roasting. Usually we see roasted zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper, mushrooms, asparagus, and so on, but broccoli seems to be relegated to the steamer. However, the flavor is so unique when the broccoli gets all nice and brown and crispy. Of course it can only be improved with the addition of bacon! Nom Nom Paleo did exactly this with Roasted Broccoli & Bacon. I will definitely be trying this one myself!


Dear Hayley and Bill from The Food Lovers Primal Palette: I am extraordinarily jealous of your stunning food photography skills! They served up a lovely and delicious side of multicolored sauteed kale with toasted pine nuts. Click on over to their blog to get the recipe, see a pictorial of the different steps, and read about some of the nutritional benefits of this super food.


Joe was inspired to experiment with xanthan gum in order to primal-ize a favorite recipe. His chicken with leek sauce looks so creamy and delicious that I have to pronounce it a resounding success!


As a Jew of eastern European descent, I grew up eating lots of stuffed cabbage. As most of the recipes involve rice in the filling and lots of sugar in the sauce, this is one comfort food that has been relegated to "cheat meal" status for me. However, Sarah from Everyday Paleo saves the day, serving up a riceless beef filling in a simplified tomato sauce, with a little bit of diced apple for sweetness. She also demystifies the cabbage roll process with a video tutorial. Check out her post here!


True story: I went to Lyon for my honeymoon and was at a bouchon, trying to decipher the French menu. There was one item which claimed to be a "salad", and I recognized the words for egg and bacon so I figured I'd give it a go. It was absolutely delicious (an egg poached in red wine along with slab bacon and some other garnishes), but there wasn't a speck of green and my husband and I kept giggling about was a great "salad" this is! Amy from Grok On Rock served up a dish with similar elements, and I was delightedly reminded of that meal when I saw the word salad in the title -- however, she includes lots of healthy and delicious sauteed collard greens. I LOVE eggs in savory non-breakfast dishes and this is one that I will definitely be trying.


She also made Middle Eastern collard wraps, which demonstrates a great option for those who want something burrito-like but don't want to eat a refined-flour-and-shortening pancake tortilla. Wide, flat collard green leaves make a perfect wrapper, especially for her mid-east flavored filling.


Why on Earth have I never thought to make creamed spinach using coconut milk?? Patty from Following My Nose made a fantastic-looking Coconut Creamed Spinach, which also includes artichokes and bacon. This is a great option if you can only find frozen spinach!


And finally, my own contribution was Creamy Cashew Chicken Soup with Kale.

Thanks again to everyone who submitted an entry! I hope that this food blogging event will continue to be successful. I will choose a winner tonight and announce the next theme as soon as I get in touch with him or her.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon (slow cooker)


BOURGUIGNONNE, A LA The French name for several dishes cooked with red wine (poached eggs, meat, fish, and sauteed chicken), the most famous of which is boeuf bourguignon. They are usually garnished with small onions, button mushrooms, and pieces of fat bacon. 
--Larousse Gastronomique

Basically, it is a beef stew, only more French and more delicious with stuff like bacon and red wine. It's sort of like a beef version of coq au vin. Traditionally, the sauce is thickened with flour or beurre maniƩ. I did not want to use flour, so I chose something else: powdered porcini mushrooms. Ever see how much liquid those suckers absorb when you rehydrate them? Well, instead of soaking, I put my dehydrated porcinis in my spice grinder and blitzed them to a fine powder. I also kept the cooking liquid to a minimum, particularly given that moisture does not evaporate when cooking in a crock pot. As a result, I had a nicely-textured gravy that held up even when spooned over mashed cauliflower.

SLOW-COOKER BOEUF BOURGUIGNON
Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1" pieces
  • 2 lbs beef stew meat (I used top round, trimmed and cut into large cubes)
  • 1-2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Half an onion, sliced OR 1 cup frozen pearl onions (I used the former, as my husband hates pearl onions)
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 oz (weight) dried porcini mushrooms, ground up in a spice grinder or food processor or mortar and pestle
  • 8 oz (weight) sliced mushrooms (any kind will do, I used crimini)
  • Salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on paper towels to drain. Pour off excess fat, leaving only about a teaspoon in the skillet. Add the beef cubes and sear over high heat until the outside is brown. Remove the beef and deglaze the skillet with 1/4 cup water. Add the deglazed skillet juices, beef, and bacon to your slow cooker along with the carrot, onion, and garlic.
  2. Stir together the wine, broth, Worcestershire, powdered porcinis, and marjoram. Pour the liquid over everything in the slow cooker. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  4. Before serving, saute the mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil until browned. Stir them into the beef mixture and serve over mashed cauliflower.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Triple chocolate chunk cookies


Want.

I've been experimenting with some Christmas cookie and candy recipes. This one was a hit. It is somewhat similar to my flourless peanut butter cookies, but I used cashew butter as the base. I really wanted to use macadamia nut butter, but all of the local health food stores are out of stock; even the manufacturer's website lists it as unavailable! The cookies are somewhat crumbly, likely due to the relatively lower fat of the cashews. If I can get my hands on some macadamia nut butter, I will try it and let you know. You could also try using almond butter if you prefer.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. These were delicious. Super duper chocolatey and rich. There is cocoa powder in the dough, plus three kinds of chocolate morsels: dark chocolate chunks, white chocolate chunks, and cacao nibs.

FLOURLESS TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES
Makes 12-16 cookies

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup creamy cashew, macadamia, or almond butter
  • 2-4 Tbs cocoa powder (start with 2 Tbs, taste it, then decide if you want more)
  • 3/4 cup sweetener of choice (stevia or Splenda or whatever else you prefer)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • About 1.5 oz very dark chocolate (85% or more), chopped into chunks roughly the size of chips. I used half of a 3 oz Endangered Species Extreme Dark Chocolate (88%) bar, which is dairy-free and relatively low-carb
  • Half a recipe of white chocolate, chopped into chunks roughly the size of chips (you could substitute macadamia nuts, dried cherries, or toasted walnuts if you don't want to make this)
  • 2 Tbs cacao nibs 
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Stir together the nut butter, cocoa powder, egg, sweetener, and baking soda. Fold in the chocolate chunks and cacao nibs.
  3. With damp hands, quickly roll the dough into balls the size of a heaping tablespoon. Place 2" apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, flattening slightly with your hands or the bottom of a drinking glass. You may need to use two baking sheets.
  4. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until puffed.

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Creamy Cashew Chicken Soup with Kale



    It looks a little strange, the idea seems odd, but I assure you -- it's fantastic. If you Google West African peanut soup, you'll get tons of recipe results, so clearly I am not alone in my love for this dish. Usually I use peanuts, but since many of my readers avoid these (either for allergy reasons or because they eschew legumes altogether) I tried it with cashews and cashew butter and was very pleased with the results. I think that sunflower seed butter would also work well.

    I added lots of kale. I love its texture in soup, because it stays hearty and chewy, which is especially nice for us low-carbers who don't use noodles, rice, or soup dumplings. It makes the soup feel more substantial and is healthy to boot. I always add chayote squash as well, but you could certainly substitute zucchini, string beans, or even sweet potato.

    CASHEW CHICKEN SOUP WITH KALE
    Serves about 4

    INGREDIENTS
    • 1-2 Tbs fat of choice (I used coconut oil)
    • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
    • 1 Tbs grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp dried)
    • 1 Tbs garlic, minced or pressed (about 3 cloves)
    • 8 oz chicken breast, sliced or cubed
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 4-6 cups chicken broth
    • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
    • 2 chayote squashes, cut into chunks (or another vegetable, see description)
    • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and torn into pieces
    • 1/2 cup creamy cashew butter, peanut butter, or a combination of both (or you could try sunflower seed butter)
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Crushed cashews or peanuts for garnish (1-2 oz)
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Heat the oil over medium-high until quite hot. Add the shallots and cook until browned and crisp.
    2. Turn down the heat to medium and add the ginger, garlic, and cayenne. Cook for about a minute. Add the chicken and cook until starting to color.
    3. Add 4 cups of broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the tomatoes, chayote, and kale, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through. Add more broth if desired.
    4. Mix some of the broth with the cashew or peanut butter, then stir it into the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    5. Serve, garnished with crushed peanuts or cashews.

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza

    This probably isn't the healthiest item up on my blog, but it sure was delicious, and hey, it's still low-carb! It's a cross between a pizza and a bacon cheeseburger. How can you go wrong there?? If you only eat half and serve it with a big salad, it's not too bad, calorically-speaking, and low-carbers can still stay within their macros.

    CHEESEBURGER PIZZA
    Serves 1 if you're me, 2 if you don't mind sharing

    INGREDIENTS
    • 1 cauliflower pizza crust, made with sharp cheddar (low-fat is fine) instead of mozzarella
    • 4 oz ground beef (I used extra-lean grass fed), browned in a skillet and drained
    • 2 strips bacon (preferably nitrate-free), cooked and crumbled
    • Thousand Island dressing (I made my own with 2 Tbs unsweetened ketchup, 2 Tbs light mayo, and 1/2 Tbs no-sugar-added relish, albeit I didn't end up using all of it.)
    • Sliced dill pickles (all I had were Claussen pickle spears so I sliced up three of those)
    • Sliced tomato (I think I used 1 Roma tomato)
    • Shredded cabbage or lettuce (I used pre-shredded cabbage)
    • Thinly sliced red onion (I didn't buy any but I wish I did :'( )
    DIRECTIONS

    Spread the pizza crust with Thousand Island dressing. Top with the bacon and ground beef, then add the other toppings. Pop it back in the oven for 5 minutes if desired (I did). Serve.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Crustless Quiche with Crab, Swiss, and Chives

    People are often shocked when I say that quiche is one of the easiest things I know how to make. It was one of my staples in college when I was cooking in a tiny apartment kitchen on a shoestring budget. Back then, I used frozen pie crust, but nowadays I make it crustless. While eggs are an excellent source of protein and B-vitamins, the crust is just white flour and shortening. No thanks! I also use unsweetened almond milk to keep the carbs and calories low.

    This is a particularly elegant recipe with crab and swiss cheese. Usually I make versions with lots of veggies like spinach or broccoli. With this, I kept it simple and served sauteed garlic spinach on the side.

    CRUSTLESS QUICHE WITH CRAB, SWISS CHEESE, AND CHIVES
    Serves 3-6

    INGREDIENTS
    • 3 eggs
    • Unsweetened unflavored almond milk (about 3/4 cup)
    • 1/3 cup Swiss cheese (full-fat or low-fat), grated
    • 1-2 Tbs chives, thinly sliced
    • 6 oz can lump crabmeat, drained well
    • Salt, white pepper, and nutmeg to taste
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Preheat oven to 375
    2. Lightly spray a 9" pie pan with oil or Baker's Joy.
    3. Evenly distribute the cheese, crab, and chives in the bottom of the pie pan.
    4. Beat the eggs in a 2 cup capacity measuring cup. Add enough almond milk to equal a total of 1.5 cups. Add salt, white pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
    5. Pour the egg mixture into the pie plate and stir everything with a fork to combine.
    6. Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes or until set. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

    Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic (slow cooker recipe)




    If you don't like garlic, stop reading immediately. If you DO love garlic, make this recipe at once.

    Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic is a traditional French bistro dish which was popularized in America by Julia Child. I love whole roast chicken, but it takes too long to cook for dinner to be ready on time. Enter the crock pot. It takes much longer, but that means that I can leave the house and let it slow cook for 8 hours or so.

    I went shopping post-Thanksgiving so little baggies of fresh "poultry herb blend" were on sale. It included sprigs of sage, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram. You could certainly just use thyme instead, though.

    By the way, I did not count out the exact number of garlic cloves. I just used a whole bunch of 'em!

    SLOW COOKER CHICKEN WITH 40 CLOVES OF GARLIC
    Serves 2-4

    INGREDIENTS
    • 1 whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry, giblets and excess fat pockets removed
    • Sprigs of fresh marjoram, sage, rosemary, and thyme; or 1 small bunch of fresh thyme
    • Half of a lemon
    • About 40 cloves of garlic (I used 4 heads)
    • Salt, pepper, paprika, and/or whatever seasonings you like on roast chicken
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Separate the garlic cloves but leave them unpeeled. The easiest way to do this is to roll the head of garlic on the counter top.
    2. Place the garlic cloves in the bottom of your slow cooker, then place the chicken on top, breast side up.
    3. Stuff the chicken cavity with the lemon half.
    4. Season the chicken liberally with salt, pepper, and paprika and/or other seasonings
    5. Roughly strip the leaves off of the herbs, tear them up, and strew them on and around the chicken.
    6. Cook on low for 8 hours.
    7. Separate the chicken into individual pieces (breast, wings, leg quarters) and broil them on a baking sheet for a couple of minutes or until the skin crisps.
    8. Serve immediately with the garlic cloves. You might make mashed cauliflower (exclude the roasted garlic) and/or gravy to serve alongside.

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