Getting ready for the week!

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I mentioned in the previous post that I spent the morning meal planning. Now it’s time to start cooking! While about half of what I have planned are old favorites that I’ve already posted, I’m really excited about some of the new recipes I’ll be trying—and sharing!

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#LowCarb Recipe: Breakfast Sausage Meatballs

For years and years and years, both when I’m sticking to my low-carb lifestyle and when I’m not, I typically eat the same thing for breakfast every morning: sausage.

For the most part, I do smoked link sausage, the kind that’s already cooked and only needs to be heated up in the microwave for about 90 seconds in the morning. Most link sausages, though, have not only reduced the size of the product (from a full 16 ounces down to 14 now), they also have added sugars that increase the carb count to 2–3 per 4 ounce serving. Not to mention other additives that aren’t necessarily healthy.

I’ve made several different types of frittata or egg “muffin” recipes (most of which have never made it to this blog) to try to give myself something different, which is easy to take with me to have breakfast at work (yes, I eat after I get to work—it means a few more minutes in bed every morning). But though they taste fantastic as soon as they come out of the oven, I’ve never been happy with the taste/texture when they’re reheated later.

So, when I was doing my meal planning for the upcoming week (I’ll be spending the rest of today—Sunday—preparing and cooking for the rest of the week), I figured that since I like the meatball recipes I’ve made so far (and I do have the super-yummy Italian Meatballs on my list of recipes to make today), I figured I’d try to do something similar but using already-flavored ground sausage instead. And I have to admit, I’m very happy with the results!

Breakfast Sausage Meatballs

#LowCarb Recipe: Breakfast Sausage MeatballsIngredients:

  • 2 eggs (I always use extra-large or jumbo)
  • 16 ounce roll spicy ground breakfast sausage
  • 16 ounce roll mild ground breakfast sausage
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
    Edited July 2018: I’ve started freezing my shredded cheese before using it (the preshredded kind works best for this). It doesn’t melt as fast and, therefore, doesn’t cook out as much.
  • 1+ cups bacon bits (or you can chop/cook your own bacon–just don’t cook until fully crisp, otherwise they’ll overcook or burn in the oven)

Tools & Utensils:

  • 9 x 13-inch casserole/baking dish (with at least 2-inch high sides)
    Edited July 2018: I’ve been cooking these recently on a foil-lined baking sheet with sides that come up about an inch—you can find these sold as jelly roll pans/sheets. It’s large enough to allow plenty of room around each meatball that they brown more evenly and there’s a lot less goop that builds up around the bottoms of them than if they’re touching each other in a casserole dish.
  • Aluminum foil
  • Large bowl
  • Potato masher and/or wooden spoon
  • Food scale

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking dish with foil for easier cleanup.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs lightly. Add sausages and mix with potato masher until eggs are incorporated into the meat. With masher (and/or wooden spoon), mix in cheese and bacon bits. Do not overwork the mixture—otherwise the meatballs may come out tough. Divide meat mixture into 12 4-ounce portions (for me, it usually works out to about 4.06–4.10 oz each to get an even dozen meatballs). Roll into balls quickly (the less time it spends in your hand, the more fat stays in the meat and the juicier they stay when cooking).

I didn’t make mine completely round—they’re a little more oblong, almost like little mini-meatloafs, to make sure they fit into the pan.

Bake 25 minutes or until cooked through (you can cut through the bottom of one to make sure it’s no longer pink in the middle).

#LowCarb Recipe: Breakfast Sausage Meatballs

The entire recipe contains 9 grams of carbohydrates. I divided my mixture into 12 meatballs, so I’m counting 1g net carb per meatball.

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#LowCarb Tom Kha Gai, a.k.a., Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

Over the past couple of years, I’ve fallen in love with Thai food—there’s an excellent restaurant in my neighborhood where I’ve quite enjoyed experimenting and trying different dishes/flavors. The first dish I fell for, though, was Tom Kha Gai—spicy coconut soup with chicken. One of the reasons I love it is the combination of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors. And that’s what usually makes it (a) high carb and (b) hard to make at home with multiple steps and a long cooking time. But not anymore!

Tom Kha Gai
20150309_185714Ingredients:

  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
  • 1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
  • 1.5 teaspoons ginger paste
  • 1.5 teaspoons lemongrass paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1–2 teaspoons Splenda or other sugar substitute (to taste)
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced into thin rounds

Utensils:

  • Large (2–3 quart) pot
  • Measuring spoons (1/2 teaspoon, teaspoon, tablespoon)
  • Sharp knife, cutting board
  • Measuring cup (1 cup)

Directions:
In a large pot over medium (slightly under medium) heat, combine coconut milk, broth, ginger, lemongrass, chili paste, lime juice, and fish sauce. Stir well. While the liquid heats/steeps (it’s fine to simmer, but do not boil), cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to liquid. Slice mushrooms and add to soup. (For me, the tops of four large white mushrooms was a very generous cup sliced.) Return to a simmer; reduce heat, cover, and let cook 12 minutes. Seed jalapeno and slice into thin rounds. Add to soup and let simmer an additional 2–3 minutes.

Makes 4 servings with 6.5 net grams of carbs.

20150309_194134

This was so, so, so yummy—about on par with the version at my favorite restaurant. There are several ways you can alter this recipe to your taste by reducing the amount of Splenda or lime juice, adding more ginger or chili paste, making it with shrimp instead of chicken, or even adding other vegetables, such as sweet peppers, green beans, watercress, or bean sprouts. Just don’t forget to adjust the carb count.

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, Recipes | 3 Comments

#LowCarb Recipe: Asian-Marinated Salmon (2.5 carbs per serving)

It doesn’t matter if you pronounce it SALmon or SAmon, there’s no denying that salmon is one ’ell of a fish, even for a non-fish-eater like me. And it’s one that stands up to a lot of strong flavors without getting lost in the mix. And one of my favorite ways is with a salty-sweet-sour flavor this recipe gives it.

Asian-Marinated Salmon
Ingredients (2 servings):Asian-Marinated Salmon

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon Splenda brown sugar blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 six- to eight-ounce salmon fillets
  • lemon wedge (optional)

Tools and Utensils:

  • Measuring spoons (1/4 tsp, 1/2 tsp, 1/2 tbsp)
  • small bowl
  • fork
  • large zip-top plastic bag
  • skillet

Directions:
In a small bowl, combine oils, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic powder, and onion powder and whisk with a fork until well blended. Place salmon fillets in plastic bag, then pour marinade in. Seal bag, removing as much air as possible, and gently smoosh around to completely coat fillets. Put in fridge and let marinate 30 minutes to 2 hours.

The thickness of your salmon fillets will determine the amount of time to both marinate and to cook. The thinner they are, the shorter the amount of time.

Preheat skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add salmon fillets and cook to desired doneness (don’t overcook!). Serve with lemon wedges, if desired, but don’t forget to count carbs for the addition of lemon juice.

#LowCarb Recipe: Asian-Marinated Salmon (2.5 carbs per serving)

Side dish suggestions: Sautéed Bok Choy or Roasted Cabbage Wheels.

Nutritional Information:
(per serving, based on 6 oz fillet)
Calories: 305
Net Carbs: 2.5 g

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#LowCarbRecipe: Faux Lo Mein (Chicken or Pork)

I love many different types of Asian food flavors. And even though I know it’s probably just the Americanized flavor version, lo mein is one of my favorites. And, unfortunately, it’s also mostly carbs. (Which is probably why I love it so much.) So I was really happy when I ran across a few recipes for low-carb, or faux, lo mein. Really, it’s a cabbage stir-fry, but calling it lo mein makes me feel like I’m really having a special treat.

Faux Lo Mein - Chicken or PorkFaux Chicken or Pork Lo Mein
Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 to 1.5 lbs cubed chicken or pork
  • 1.5 to 2 cups sliced peppers—fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 bag shredded cabbage or 1/2 small head, sliced into thin strips on a mandoline
  • 2 cups cooked broccoli florets
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1.5 to 2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce

Tools and Utensils:

  • Wok or deep skillet with lid
  • Mandoline and very sharp knife
  • Measuring spoons (1 Tbsp, 1 tsp)

Directions:
Add sesame oil and minced garlic to skillet and warm over medium heat until garlic just starts to sizzle. Add peppers, onion, and meat and cook, stirring frequently, until meat is cooked through. Add cabbage, cover and cook 3–5 minutes until cabbage is wilted, shaking occasionally to keep meat, peppers, and garlic from sticking to bottom of pan. Add broccoli, soy sauce, and chili-garlic sauce and cook, stirring, an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Faux Lo Mein - Chicken or Pork

As you can probably tell by the images, I’ve made this twice, once with chicken, fresh peppers and knife-chopped cabbage and again with pork (from a “variety” pack of pork chops), a frozen peppers and onion blend, and mandolined cabbage.

The first time I made it, I used the mini sweet peppers that can be found at most grocery stores which I like to keep on hand for salads. The second time, I decided to try the frozen, pre-sliced peppers and onion mix. I only used a cup and a half, or about half the bag and ended up not liking that idea as much—I wasn’t as happy with the amount of green pepper in the mix, there wasn’t enough onion, and they cooked down a lot more than I wanted before the pork was cooked all the way through.

To shred the cabbage, I cut off the stem end, then split the head down the center. For both the hand-cutting and the mandoline slicing, I started at the stem end and then worked my way up the half. The mandoline technique gave me very thin, noodle-like ribbons; however, they cooked down much more quickly than I’d anticipated, so it ended up a little overcooked.

This is one of those recipes that’s great for adjusting to your personal tastes. And it makes a great meal in and of itself.

Nutritional Info (per serving, makes 4 servings):
12 grams net carbs
355 calories

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#LowCarb Lunch–Chicken Tandoori with Spinach Frozen Entree

The other day, I had to make a run to Publix to pick up a few things for our office kitchen—paper plates, half-and-half, Splenda, etc.—and while I was there, I decided to pick up something for lunch.

Publix has these wonderful Sushi Avocado Salad Rolls that I adore, but at 19 net grams of carbs (for both, no sauce), and because they aren’t quite filling enough to constitute a whole meal, I wanted something hot to go with them so I would feel satisfied.

So after picking up everything else I needed, I found myself in the frozen food section. Publix has a lot of unique brands and ethnic foods that the main place I shop, Kroger, doesn’t. So I really was just browsing to see what unique things were there. I usually don’t bother with frozen meals because they’re almost always filled with carbs—in either rice or noodle form—and I wasn’t really feeling up to another frozen Atkins meal.

Then I saw this:

Tandoor Chef Chicken Tandoori with Spinach

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It didn’t say anything about rice or noodles on the front, so I picked it up to read the nutrition panel:

Tandoor Chef Chicken Tandoori with Spinach

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Yep, you’re reading that correct—a frozen entree that isn’t marketed as “low carb” with only 6 net grams of carbs for the entire thing.

Now, I will say that once heated, the spinach didn’t look quite as . . . appetizing as the image on the front of the container. (As one of my coworkers said, it somewhat resembled something one might find in a diaper.) But it tasted really good. Lightly spicy (to my tastebuds, anyway) and very flavorful.

It wasn’t until I was already in the process of eating it that I read the ingredients panel:

Tandoor Chef Chicken Tandoori with Spinach

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Yes, it does contain chickpea flour, potato starch, dextrose/dextrin, and sugar. One of the things that amazed me, though, is that I actually know what everything in this ingredients list is and I can pronounce all of them.

The only problem I had with it was that last ingredient on the list: Mango Powder. You see, I’m allergic to all tropical fruits, including mango. They make my throat swell shut. I’ve never heard of mango “powder” though, and I’ve never thought to look for something like that in the list of ingredients of prepared foods. There wasn’t much of it in there, because the only symptom I had was pain in the roof of my mouth (like when you just can’t stand it and bite into pizza right after it comes out of the oven and it scorches you) and tingling in my tongue for a few hours. But now that I know, I can just take an antihistamine with it next time I get it. It’s just that good!

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#LowCarbRecipe: Dry-Rubbed Slow-Cooker Ribs

I grew up in New Mexico, about an hour from the Texas border. So I grew up eating western-style barbecue—dry rubs with lots of spices. So when I saw beef ribs on sale at Publix yesterday, I grabbed a small slab and then sat down to figure out how best to do them without adding lots of sugary BBQ sauce to them.

My searching naturally led me to one of Bobby Flay’s recipes. I’ve scaled it down to two serving sizes (really more like 3, or possibly 4, depending on how much you use) and have made a substitution that cuts back a bit on the carbs.

Dry Rubbed Slow-Cooker Ribs
Dry-Rub MixtureIngredients:

  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder/granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder/granulated onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon (packed) Spenda Brown Sugar Blend
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1.5 to 2 lb. slab of bone-in beef ribs or 1 to 1.5 lbs bone-in pork ribs (beef rib bones are larger than pork)

Tools and Utensils:

  • Measuring spoons (1/2 Tbsp, 1/2 tsp)
  • Small bowl
  • Fork or spoon
  • Zip-top bag large enough to hold the rib-rack
  • Slow-Cooker (and liner, if you prefer easy cleanup); or foil-lined pan for oven cooking

Directions:
Combine all spices in a bowl and mix well with a fork or spoon to break up any lumps. Generously coat rib rack with spice mixture (I used half the dry rub mix and got my 2 lb. rack generously covered). Tap off excess spice rub and place rib rack in zip-top bag and refrigerate overnight, or at least 3-4 hours.

The secret, or so I’ve learned from years of watching Food Network, to great barbecue is low and slow—low temperature for a long time.

Ribs ready to go in the slow-cookerTo cook in a slow-cooker:
Place rib rack bone-side up in a lined slow cooker on low heat for 6 to 8 hours. Or, if you don’t have that much time (or aren’t that patient), on high for 4 hours.

To cook in the oven:
Preheat oven to 300°F. Place rib rack bone-side up in a 9×13-inch baking dish (lined with foil for easy cleanup!). Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 2.5 to 3 hours until tender, depending on the size of the rack. Remove pan from oven, drain liquid, flip rack over, and bake uncovered an additional 30 minutes.

To grill or smoke:
Check with someone else, because I don’t have a grill or a smoker, so I have no idea how to cook anything that way! 😉

To Serve:
Let sit about 5-10 minutes after removing ribs from slow-cooker or oven. Cut into individual ribs and serve. If you have a good low-carb barbecue sauce, or if you have a recipe for a good low-carb barbecue sauce, please share! But these should be tasty enough to eat sauceless.

These were tender enough that the bones started coming out as I was taking them out of the slow-cooker.

These were tender enough that the bones started coming out as I was taking them out of the slow-cooker.

Nutritional Info:
It isn’t until I calculate the nutritional info on a recipe like this rub mix that I remember just how many hidden carbohydrates there might be in foods that we don’t even think about.

For this entire recipe (which yields about 4.5 tablespoons of rub mix):
Calories: 94
Carbs: 18.3 grams
Fiber: 4.0 grams
Net Carbs: 14.3 grams

I used about 1/2 of the mix for a 2.33 lb. slab of ribs, which turned out to be two generous servings, and I did not add any sauce. So I ended up counting 3.5 net carbs per serving.

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Talk to Me: What are YOU cooking this weekend?

I know there are a lot of you out there who subscribe to this blog and (hopefully) reading when I post—thank you very much!!!!—but I don’t hear from very many of you. And I hope to change that.

So every weekend, I’m going to open this up and ask YOU what YOU’RE cooking. Feel free to link to a recipe/photos on your blog or to post it right in the comments. But I’d love for this to be a place for you to share your low-carb recipes and food-finds.

I’m getting ready to make The Most Delicious Meatballs in the World.

The Most Delicious Meatballs in the World

What are YOU cooking?

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, Recipes | 3 Comments

#LowCarbRecipe: Lemon & Oregano Marinated Pork Chop

Since I now have a clean, mostly organized kitchen, I’m ready to start digging in to all of the fantastic stuff that’s been sitting in my freezer for way too long. But because, before tonight, I hadn’t had a chance to do any pre-planning of meals, I didn’t have anything ready to go (or already going) when I got home from work. Fortunately, I ate a late lunch after meeting with my personal trainer (to set up my training sessions for the rest of the month!), so I wasn’t really hungry when I got home. Which gave me time to defrost and marinate the pork. So, here’s what I did.

Lemon & Oregano Marinated Pork Chop

Ingredients (for 1 serving):#LowCarbRecipe: Lemon & Oregano Marinated Pork Chop

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 8–10 ounce pork chop or shoulder steak
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tools & Utensils:

  • Measuring spoons
  • Quart-size zip-top plastic bag
  • Countertop grill or heavy-bottom skillet

Directions:
In the plastic bag, combine oil, lemon juice, oregano, and garlic. Seal bag and “squish” marinade ingredients together to mix. Add pork chop. Remove as much air as possible and seal bag. Massage bag so that all surfaces of meat are covered evenly. Marinate for at least one hour, turning over halfway through marinating time.

Preheat grill or skillet (medium-high heat). Cook 5 to 7 minutes, depending on thickness and how done you want your meat (I’m a fan of “medium” with pork). When meat is cooked to the desired doneness, remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

The entire recipe for the marinade contains 3 net carbs. But because most of the marinade doesn’t stay on the meat, you’re probably safe to count only 1 carb for the finished product.

Suggested side: asparagus sauteed with olive oil, butter, garlic, and finished with a splash of lemon juice.
#LowCarbRecipe: Lemon & Oregano Marinated Pork Chop

This marinade would work really well for lamb, as well. It was really yummy on the pork. I think it would be interesting to replace the olive oil in the marinade with yogurt, and give it even more of a Greek flavor.

Posted in Low-Carb, Recipes | Tagged | 2 Comments

#LowCarb Recipe: Pot Roast and Pork Roast–Getting Cozy in the Crock Pot

I’m always looking for ways to make cooking easier and less labor-intensive. A few weeks ago, I had to buy a new slow cooker (the ceramic bowl of the previous one cracked through), and I ended up getting one that’s much larger. I keep on hand boxes of oven bags and slow-cooker liners (for easier cleanup, of course), so I wondered if I could kill two birds with one stone—or, in other words, cook two roasts in one slow cooker.

So, last night, before I went to bed, I pulled out of the freezer one relatively small beef chuck roast and the remaining half of a Boston butt pork roast.

Slow-Cooker Beef Pot Roast

  • One oven bag
  • Small (about 1.5 lbs) beef chuck roast
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • .
    Place chuck roast in oven bag. Add all other ingredients. Place oven bag in slow cooker. Lay the top of the bag over the edge of the cooker so that the lid will “seal” it.

    Slow-Cooker Pork Roast

  • One oven bag
  • Small (about 2 lbs.) Boston butt
  • Seasonings of choice, liberally sprinkled all over the roast (I used Tony Cachere’s—no big surprise there)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • One small onion, chopped into large pieces
  • .
    Season all sides of pork roast and place in oven bag. Add water and onion. Lay the top of the bag over the edge of the cooker so that the lid will “seal” it.

    I prepared both pieces of meat while still frozen and placed both bags in the slow cooker overnight. Before leaving for work this morning, I turned on the slow cooker to the Low setting (both pieces of meat were still about 50% frozen). And then I went to work. And to the gym. And to the grocery store. Ten hours later, when I got home, I could smell the absolutely amazing aroma of roasted meat out on my front porch before I’d even unlocked the door!

    Here’s what the slow-cooker looked like with both in-bag roasts cozied up in it:

    #LowCarb Recipe: Pot Roast and Pork Roast--Getting Cozy in the Crock Pot
    .

    Then when removed from their respective cooking bags:

    #LowCarb Recipe: Pot Roast and Pork Roast--Getting Cozy in the Crock Pot
    .

    And then, of course, I had to have some of both (with some roasted cabbage leaves) for supper:

    #LowCarb Recipe: Pot Roast and Pork Roast--Getting Cozy in the Crock Pot
    (Looks like I accidentally got a greasy finger on the camera lens!)

    Both were cooked to falling-apart perfection. Both tasted wonderful. And now I have cooked meat to be able to make some other quick-fix meals this week, since I have something going on every day after work. And it will be nice to take something for a hot lunch at work a couple of days, too, instead of just my standby “lunch-meat roll-up” that I eat most days.

    There are 3 grams carbs for the garlic and Worcestershire sauce in the beef pot roast—so assuming 3 servings, count 1g carb per serving. Add whatever vegetables you like to it (just throw them in the bag for however long it takes them to cook through when you get home). Just be sure to account for those carbs.

    For the pork roast, a small onion has about 8 grams net carbs. However, most of that remains behind in the cooking liquid. A 2-pound roast like this yields a good 4 servings. Also, track how much and what seasonings you use for the pork roast. Seasonings add carbs as well. I’m counting 1 gram per serving for this, too.

    Posted in Food Journal, Recipes | 3 Comments