Friday, March 25, 2011

My favorite pre-workout snack: sweet potato pie shake

For anyone visiting my blog via my article on MDA, you may have noticed that I mentioned that, while I eat low-carb, I get some starchy carbs before a workout. This is my favorite pre-workout snack. Strict low-carbers can substitute pumpkin for the sweet potato, making this a pumpkin pie shake; a great way of getting your orange veggies.

This uses coconut milk (for medium-chain fatty acids), sweet potato (a nice starchy medium-GI carb with lots of health benefits), cinnamon (improves insulin sensitivity), and whey protein (a fast-acting protein source). It works out perfectly to fuel my workouts!

I use canned organic sweet potato puree because it's fast and easy. You can definitely cook and mash sweet potato ahead of time, though. If you do that, I recommend running the sweet potato through a food processor so that you can easily shake up the resulting puree up in a blender bottle. Otherwise you will need to use a blender.

SWEET POTATO PIE SHAKE
Serves 1

INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato puree
  • 12 fl oz lite coconut milk (full-fat is too thick) or almond milk
  • 1/2 scoop (I use a 25cc scoop) of vanilla whey protein (I use True Protein whey isolate in natural premium vanilla, which is sweetened with stevia only. More info here.)
  • Lots of pumpkin pie spice and/or cinnamon (I use Penzeys)
  • Pinch of salt
DIRECTIONS
  1. Shake up everything in a blender bottle.
  2. Drink
  3. Train hard!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Reuben pizza


Happy St. Patrick's Day! My favorite way to eat corned beef is in the form of a reuben sandwich; however, I've pretty much given up on bread. In the spirit of my pizza experiments, I wondered if I could make a veggie crust using sauerkraut. Given the benefits of cabbage and fermented foods, it's a good crust to have in my repertoire.

If you are watching calories, you can use low-fat cheese, use egg whites in the crust, be judicious with the amount of Swiss cheese and corned beef, and make a reduced-fat dressing.

REUBEN PIZZA
Serves 1-4

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, rinsed and squeezed thoroughly dry
  • 4 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (I used Cabot 75% fat free; Kerrygold cheddar is grass-fed and would be great for keeping with a St. Patrick's Day theme!)
  • 2 eggs, beaten or 1/2 cup liquid egg whites or egg substitute
  • 1-2 tsp caraway seeds (I used 1 teaspoon but next time I will bump it up to 2)
  • 2 Tbs flax meal
  • 2 Tbs coconut flour
  • Thousand Island or Russian 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.)
  • Swiss cheese
  • Sliced corned beef brisket
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. Combine the shredded cheddar, egg or egg white, caraway seed, sauerkraut, flax meal, and coconut flour in a medium bowl.
  3. Mound the mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using damp hands, spread it out into a disc about 1/4" thick.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes or until well-browned, flipping it over halfway through.
  5. Spread on the dressing, cheese, and corned beef. Broil for 2-3 minutes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homemade Baileys Irish Cream


I'm not really a drinker, but I have a weakness for coffee with Baileys. I also love it as an ingredient in baking, such as Bailey's buttercream frosting, in dark chocolate truffles, and so forth. Of course, it is loaded with sugar. It never occurred to me that I could make this myself, but I found a recipe for homemade Baileys here, which I adapted to be far lower in carbs. While my version is still loaded with fat and of course it also contains alcohol, it's still decent as a sensible vice, particularly if you're just adding a couple tablespoons to a recipe.

BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 recipe low-carb sweetened condensed milk (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup cream
  • 150 ml whiskey or cognac (whiskey is closer to the original, but cognac would make a great substitute if you are very strict about grains. Or leave it out and make virgin Baileys!)
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 2 Tbs sugar-free chocolate syrup (you can approximate this by combining 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tsp water, and sweetener of choice to equal 1 tsp of sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional but recommended)
DIRECTIONS
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Store in the refrigerator in a closed bottle.

--

SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK
Can be used in any recipe in place of 1 can of sweetened condensed milk

INGREDIENTS
  • About 4 oz coconut milk powder (I used two 1.76 oz packets)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8-12 tsp sweetener (I used five packets of Sweetleaf stevia)
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
DIRECTIONS
  1. Put the water in the bottom of a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Immediately stir in the butter until melted.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, whisking well or beating with a fork until totally smooth.
  3. Microwave for an additional 15 seconds or so, then beat the mixture again. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pad Thai

How on earth does a low-carber manage to make Pad Thai? Well, I recently discovered kelp noodles. While I appreciate the nutritional profile of shirataki noodles, I'm not crazy about the slimy texture and thus I only like them in soup, such as Pho. On the other hand, I genuinely enjoy the kelp noodles for stir-fries, as they closely resemble rice vermicelli. They are stiff when they come out of the package, but they absorb liquid when you stir-fry them with a little bit of sauce and cook up to a nice al dente texture.

Kelp noodles are virtually zero-carb and zero-calorie, using sodium alginate (a seaweed extract) to form their shape. Sodium alginate is a staple of molecular gastronomy, used widely in spherification. Some well-known dishes which employ this technique include Ferran Adria's liquid olives and his molecular caviar. In the case of kelp noodles, this technique is used to mass-produce an extremely low-calorie and low-carb "pasta". They are a perfect candidate for Pad Thai.

Part of me hates giving a recipe with so many hard-to-find ingredients. Items like dried shrimp and Tianjin preserved vegetable are staples of most Asian markets, but if you do not live near an Asian market, you may be out of luck. Unfortunately I really have no idea what an adequate substitute would be. I think that if you leave them out, it will taste like something is missing. I would just make a different stir-fry if you do not have access to exotic ingredients; this one was quite good.

There seems to be some debate over the "correct" way to use dried shrimp: to soak or not to soak? Chop, grind, or leave whole? I decided not to soak, and to pulse them in my spice grinder until I had a coarse, fluffy powder. 

PAD THAI
Serves 1-2

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized slices
  • 1 package kelp noodles; rinsed, dried, and separated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs rice or cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp fish sauce (I use Three Crabs brand)
  • 2 Tbs dried baby shrimp (choose a brand with no added sugar), ground or finely chopped
  • 3 Tbs salted cabbage, such as Tianjin preserved vegetable
  • 2 Tbs crushed roasted peanuts, plus extra for garnish (can substitute cashews if you are strict about avoiding legumes)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Palm sugar, honey, Splenda, or other sweetener, to taste. I used 2 tsp. 2 Tbs would probably be closer to a traditional Thai flavor; 2 tsp was just enough to balance out the salty flavors. You could probably get away with using less if you are used to not-sweet food.
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and dried well
  • 1 small bunch Chinese chives, cut into 2" lengths
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Coconut oil or other fat of choice
  • Lime wedges and sriracha sauce for serving
DIRECTIONS
  1. Ensure that all of your ingredients are prepped, measured, and ready to go; this is key to the success of the dish.
  2. Stir-fry the chicken in hot oil over medium-high until just cooked. Set aside.
  3. Heat more oil in the same wok or skillet that you used for the chicken. Add the noodles, tossing to detangle.
  4. Add the garlic, vinegar, fish sauce, dried shrimp, and cabbage. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes, tossing the whole time.
  5. Add the crushed peanuts, chili powder, and sweetener. Continue tossing and stir-frying for another 2 minutes. 
  6. Quickly mix in the chives, chicken, and bean sprouts. Cook until the bean sprouts are slightly soft. 
  7. Push the noodles to the sides of the wok or skillet, leaving a hole in the middle. Add a bit of extra oil. Add the beaten egg and scramble until just done. 
  8. Push the noodles back on top of the egg and invert onto a serving bowl so that the egg is on top.
  9. Sprinkle with extra crushed peanuts and serve with lime wedges and sriracha sauce.

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Simple roasted broccoli and eggplant


    I feel kind of silly posting this, as it barely qualifies as a recipe. But sometimes it's nice to get ideas for simple preparations that we might otherwise overlook...right?

    I think that broccoli is one of the most underrated vegetables for roasting. I usually see it boiled or steamed, but it is excellent when roasted at a high heat. The little buds on the florets get brown and very crispy, and the caramelization brings out broccoli's natural sweetness. It's also a very forgiving preparation if your broccoli isn't the best quality or if it's been sitting in the fridge a bit too long.

    Conventional eggplant is watery and bitter due to the size and high seed content. To combat this, you can salt the cut eggplant, let it drain, then press out the moisture with paper towels. This is very effective but kind of a pain. So, I use Chinese or Japanese eggplants. These are small and slender, much less watery, and with far fewer seeds. As a bonus, because of their shape, you can get the skin (the most nutritious part) on every bite.

    I'm on a Penzeys kick right now, and I am crazy about their Northwoods seasoning for anything roasted. You can absolutely substitute any seasoning you prefer, or even just use salt and pepper. To approximate Northwoods, I'd probably do 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp paprika, 1/8 tsp black pepper, and 1/8 tsp dried thyme. It won't be exact, but I'm sure it would be a fine substitute.

    SIMPLE ROASTED BROCCOLI AND EGGPLANT

    INGREDIENTS
    (Note: you can really use whatever amounts you want, this makes enough to fill a single baking sheet)
    • 6 oz (weight) broccoli florets (the pre-cut raw broccoli is fine for this if you're lazy)
    • 1 medium or 2 small Chinese or Japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise and cut into chunky half-moons
    • 1 tsp (or to taste) seasoning of choice, such as Penzeys Northwoods
    • Extra virgin olive oil (I put mine in a refillable pump bottle)
    • 1 Tbs pesto (optional)
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Preheat oven to 450
    2. Spray a foil-lined baking sheet with oil. Add the veggies, spray with more oil, add seasoning, and toss to distribute.
    3. Bake for 10-15 minutes (check after 10 minutes)
    4. If desired, toss with pesto. Serve.

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Crunchy Camembert-Dijon Pork Chops


    This is how the conversation with my husband went regarding these pork chops:

    Husband: This is one of the best things you have ever made.
    Me: Oh wow, glad you like it that much. But do you think it needs-
    Husband: It doesn't need anything.
    Me: Maybe next time I should add-
    Husband: Don't change anything.
    Me: But perhaps it would be good with-
    Husband: Don't change anything.

    You get the idea. So, I will provide this recipe with little commentary or suggestions. I'll just say...make it. Don't change anything.

    CRUNCHY CAMEMBERT-DIJON PORK CHOPS
    Serves 2-4

    INGREDIENTS
    • 4 boneless pork loin or rib chops, trimmed of excess fat
    • About 4 tsp dijon mustard (I strongly prefer Maille brand)
    • 4 oz Camembert cheese, cut into slices about 1/4" thick. The quality of the Camembert will significantly impact the outcome of the dish!
    • 2 oz ground almonds (about 1/2 cup). I bought sliced skin-on almonds and ground them myself in a spice grinder so that I could keep them a bit on the coarse side. You could alternately buy almond flour but it will be milled more finely and thus not as crunchy.
    • 2 tsp dried parsley
    • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
    • 1/4 tsp dried marjoram (or substitute another dried herb such as thyme or sage)
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1-2 Tbs melted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Preheat the oven to 400
    2. Slather the top of each pork chop with a coating of dijon mustard (about a teaspoon each, but I didn't bother measuring). Arrange Camembert slices on top. You may need to kind of mash and spread the Camembert with your fingers to get a uniform layer.
    3. In a small bowl, combine the ground almonds, dried herbs, garlic, coriander, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter or oil. Add the other tablespoon of fat if the mixture is too dry.
    4. Pat a layer of the almond mixture on top of the Camembert layer. 
    5. Bake for 20 minutes or until done.

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Sugar-free coconut macaroons, two ways


    Macaroons are a very popular Passover dessert, as they do not require any flour or other forms of chametz. Passover is still a month away, but I had a craving for coconut so I figured I might as well make them now!

    There are two basic categories of macaroons. There are dense, chewy macaroons (like the canned Manischewitz variety), and there are also airy, fluffy macaroons, almost like a coconut meringue. Chewy macaroons are more familiar, but I definitely preferred the fluffy ones. They were soft, moist, and reminiscent of angel food cake. Plus, the copious amount of whipped egg whites volumized the batter and thus there are less calories per cookie. The chewy ones were excellent as well, and probably closer to what guests would expect.

    Chewy on left, fluffy on right.

    Macaroons come in many varieties, including toffee crunch, rocky road, and cappuccino chip. Personally, I like mine with a hint of almond, so I added pure almond extract along with some finely-ground blanched almonds. You can also dip these in dark chocolate if you'd like, making something vaguely reminiscent of an Almond Joy.

    Top left: chewy macaroon with the bottom dipped in chocolate.
    Top right: chewy macaroon, left plain.
    Center: chewy macaroon, half dipped in chocolate and rolled in sliced almonds.
    Bottom left: Fluffy macaroon drizzled with chocolate.
    Bottom right: fluffy macaroon, left plain.

    Choose whatever you'd like!

    The fluffy macaroons are comprised of stiffly-beaten egg whites, unsweetened shredded coconut, and sugar-free almond syrup. I made my own syrup, but you could always use Torani.

    Formulating a recipe for chewy macaroons was slightly more challenging. Pre-sweetened coconut provides a lot of intrinsic chewiness. Real sugar gets sticky and syrupy and keeps the coconut very moist; sugar substitutes simply don't work the same in that regard. I've come across recipes which use sweetened condensed milk or coconut cream (the sweet, thick, sticky kind, like Coco Lopez). This seemed like it might be the key, so I made my own coconut cream. I added additional sweetener (stevia for me) to the batter as well. You could alternately use it to make Genaw's angel coconut. I'm not sure that it would make a difference, though, as she said it was wet rather than sticky. If you do this, use half of the coconut to make angel coconut and leave the rest as-is. For some reason, even though I used the same amount of almond extract in the chewy recipe as I did in the fluffy recipe, it tasted less almond-y and next time I will use more. 

    FLUFFY MACAROONS
    Makes about two dozen
    INGREDIENTS
    • 8 oz package shredded unsweetened coconut
    • 6 fresh egg whites (NOT pasteurized)
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar (probably optional)
    • 2 oz (weight; about 1/2 cup) finely-ground almonds or almond flour
    • 1 recipe sugar-free almond syrup (recipe follows) or 1/2 cup storebought sugar-free almond syrup such as Torani
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Preheat the oven to 350 (next time I think I will bake them at 375 to get more brown, you could try it if you like)
    2. Beat the egg whites with the salt and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.
    3. Stir together the coconut, ground almonds, and almond syrup. Fold the mixture into the egg whites.
    4. Drop the batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, one rounded tablespoon at a time. You may need to use two sheets. Use your fingers to create a point at the top. Alternately, you can use a pastry bag fitted with a star tip to create the macaroons.
    5. Bake until light golden brown, about 15-20 minutes, turning cookie sheets from front to back and switching from top to bottom racks halfway through baking.
    6. Let cool and serve.
    ALMOND SYRUP FOR FLUFFY MACAROONS
    INGREDIENTS

    • 1/4 tsp flavorless oil
    • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
    • 1 Tbs coconut oil
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/4 cup erythritol, powdered in a spice grinder
    • 1 dropperful (about 28 drops) vanilla-flavored stevia such as Sweetleaf Vanilla Creme OR 2 packets stevia + 1/4 tsp vanilla extract OR 4 tsp additional erythritol + 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp pure almond extract
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Pour the oil in the bottom of a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle the xanthan gum over it, and stir with a fork to combine. Add the coconut oil and microwave on high for 40 seconds or until the fat is melted. Stir again to combine.
    2. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Let it sit for a few minutes to thicken. Syrup will thicken as it cools.
    --

    CHEWY MACAROONS
    Makes about two dozen

    INGREDIENTS
    • 1 recipe sugar-free coconut cream (recipe follows)
    • Sweetener of choice to equal 6 Tbs sugar (for example, 1/4 tsp pure stevia extract or 9 packets of SweetLeaf stevia)
    • 3 fresh egg whites
    • 1 tsp almond extract (I might bump this up to 1.5-2 tsp)
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1.5 tsp honey or agave nectar (probably optional, but I think it helped the texture. I used agave because I had some on hand.)
    • 8 oz package unsweetened shredded coconut
    • 2 oz (weight; about 1/2 cup) finely ground almonds or almond flour
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Preheat the oven to 375.
    2.  Whisk together the coconut cream, egg whites, sweetener, extracts, syrup, and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, stir together the coconut and almonds until combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well with a rubber spatula. 
    3. Chill the batter for 15 minutes.
    4. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use your fingers to push each one so that it is pointed at the top.
    5. Bake until light golden brown, about 15 minutes, turning cookie sheets from front to back and switching from top to bottom racks halfway through baking.
    6. Let cool and serve.
    SUGAR-FREE COCONUT CREAM FOR CHEWY MACAROONS 
    Makes about 1/2 cup. Use it in any recipe that calls for coconut cream!

    INGREDIENTS
    • About 2 oz powdered coconut milk (I used a 1.76 oz packet)
    • 2 Tbs water
    • 4-6 tsp erythritol (you can use a different sweetener, but erythritol seems to work best for syrupy-textured recipes. Start by adding the 4 tsp, then taste and add more if desired. I used 4 tsp erythritol + a Sweetleaf stevia packet.)
    • 1.5 Tbs coconut oil
    • Pinch salt
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Put the water in the bottom of a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Immediately stir in the coconut oil until melted.
    2. Add the remaining ingredients, whisking well or beating with a fork until totally smooth.
    3. Microwave for an additional 15 seconds or so, then beat the mixture again.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Chayote "apple" crisp; Olive oil, pistachio, and goji berry granola topping


    I've been experimenting with grain-free granola lately, and thus I went searching for recipes that use granola as an ingredient. I came across this recipe for a quick "cobbler"; you cook apples in the slow cooker, and then use granola as a topping. Given my love of slow-cooker recipes, I had to figure out a way to make this diet-friendly.

    I've seen other low-carbers use chayote squash as a substitute for apples. I peeled, diced, and cooked the chayote with stevia, lemon juice, and apple pie spice -- I guarantee, no one will EVER know they're eating vegetables! According to the entry on NutritionData, it is very low-carb (only 4 net carbs per cup!) and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, zinc, copper and manganese. I also had some homemade low-carb grain-free ginger cookies around, so I crumbled up two of those and mixed them in with the topping. This is totally optional but it was certainly tasty! I still haven't quite perfected the cookie recipe (though I will post it when I do); in the meantime, you can try Christina's gingersnaps.

    I definitely recommend serving it in individual ramekins, as I added no thickeners and thus it doesn't hold together quite like traditional apple pie. I ate one and froze the rest. You could probably reheat by baking at 350 for about 10 minutes.

    As for the granola, I was loosely inspired by a New York Times recipe that gets rave reviews around the web. Berries are my fruit of choice and are pretty much the only fruit that I eat, since they are high-fiber, low-sugar, reasonably low-carb, and total nutritional powerhouses. However, all of the dried berries I can find are usually sweetened. The one exception is goji berries, so I bought those. I baked them in with the granola but I feel that was a mistake. I would recommend adding them in at the end.

    CHAYOTE "APPLE" CRISP
    Serves 4

    INGREDIENTS
    • 1 lb chayote squash (about two chayotes)
    • 4 packets Sweetleaf stevia or equivalent sweetener (should equal 8-9 tsp sugar)
    • Juice of two lemons
    • 1/2 tsp molasses
    • 1 tsp apple pie spice or cinnamon
    • 2 Tbs + 4 tsp butter, divided (or coconut oil)
    • 1/2-1 cup granola (recipe follows, but you can use any granola recipe you like)
    • 2 grain-free cookies, crumbled (optional)
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Peel and dice the chayote squash. Combine it in the slow cooker with the stevia, lemon juice, molasses, and apple pie spice or cinnamon. Cut the 2 Tbs butter into slices and scatter them over the top. Cook on low for 3 hours.
    2. Divide the cooked chayote mixture evenly among four ramekins. If using cookies, combine the cookie crumbs with the granola. Top each with 2-4 Tbs granola mixture, set a teaspoon of butter or coconut oil atop each one, and bake at 350 for about 5 minutes or until done.
    3. Serve with Greek yogurt or whipped cream.
    --

    OLIVE OIL, PISTACHIO, AND GOJI BERRY GRANOLA
    Makes 4-5 cups

    INGREDIENTS
    • 3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1 cup dry TVP 
    • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (make sure it is FLAKES, not shredded coconut)
    • 1 cup sliced almonds
    • 1 cup chopped pistachio kernels
    • 1 cup pepitas (raw, immature pumpkin seeds)
    • 6 Tbs flax meal
    • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp cardamom
    • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
    • 3 Tbs sugar-free maple syrup (I made my own)
    • 1 tsp molasses
    • Powdered sweetener of choice (I used erythritol plus two stevia packets, you could alternately use Truvia or Splenda), to taste or up to 1/3 cup. 1/3 cup will have the level of sweetness of most commercial granolas, but I like mine much less sweet.
    • Large pinch of salt (unless the pistachios are salted)
    • 1/2-1 cup unsweetened goji berries, soaked in hot water if excessively dry (1 cup is tastier but 1/2 cup cuts back on the carbs)
    • Optional: 1 fresh raw egg white, if you prefer a clumpy granola
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Warm two tablespoons of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the dry TVP and cook, stirring, for a minute or two or until the oil is mostly absorbed.
    2. Add the coconut, almonds, pistachios, pepitas, sunflower seeds, and spices. Stir until well-combined.
    3. Add powdered sweetener to taste. It should be slightly less sweet than you like, as you will be adding the syrup.
    4. When well-blended, add the syrup and molasses and stir. The syrup will likely evaporate. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt or sweetener if desired.
    5. Take off the heat and immediately stir in the flax meal plus the additional tablespoon of olive oil.
    6. For a clumpy granola, follow these directions. Otherwise, just bake at 300 degrees. In either case, check on it every ten minutes. Mine was done after about 35 minutes. Stir in the goji berries at the end.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Gyro meat


    I'm not sure what's in the commercial gyro meat at Greek restaurants, but I don't trust it. I'm suspicious of what possible binders and weird fillers it may contain. So, I decided to attempt my own.

    I used half ground lamb, half ground turkey to reduce the pricetag as well as the overall calories. I really liked the flavor and texture, but truthfully I missed some of that characteristic greasiness, so feel free to use all lamb if you prefer. I formed the whole thing into a loaf shape, cooked it in my crock pot, let it cool, sliced it thinly, and finally brushed the slices with olive oil and broiled them. The slices fell apart more than I would like, particularly if I tried to cut them very thin. I've thought of a couple possible solutions here. First, you could form the meat into patties and eat them as bunless "Gyro burgers" atop Greek salad, as in this recipe. I think these would also be more moist, since burgers don't need to cook as long as a large loaf. Or, you could use the meat as a meatza base and top it with Greek salad type toppings. Finally, you could try adding a binder of some sort. I actually think that crushed pork rinds would be ideal here for adding back some of that fast food greasiness. Another option would be fresh bread crumbs made from pulverizing a low-carb pita along with the onion, though that would not work for those who eschew gluten. That's all I've come up with; if you have any other ideas, let me know in the comments!

    GYRO MEAT
    Makes about 2 lbs

    INGREDIENTS
    • 1 lb ground lamb
    • 1 lb ground turkey (or more lamb)
    • 1 small onion
    • 4 garlic cloves
    • 3 Tbs red wine vinegar
    • 2 Tbs fresh oregano leaves
    • 1 Tbs ground coriander
    • 1/2 Tbs ground cumin
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1-2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Puree the onion, garlic, vinegar, oregano, and spices in a food processor until smooth.
    2. Thoroughly combine the onion puree, ground lamb, and ground turkey, using your hands.
    3. Form it into a flat-ish loaf shape. Cook in a crock pot on low for 5-6 hours. Alternately, you could probably bake it at 325 for 60-90 minutes or until done.
    4. Let it cool thoroughly overnight in the refrigerator.
    5. To serve, cut into slices, brush the slices with olive oil, and broil until crisp. Serve over Greek salad with tzatziki sauce.

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