Sunday, March 14, 2010

Getting Sauced

I love my grill. It is an easy way to make flavorful foods, and the flavor itensifies due to the searing from the high heat (plus the slight "charring" effect).

So, the recent "snowmageddon" that buried us under four feet of snow wasn't particularly welcome.

As such, I'm sitting here with some decent steaks, and no access to the grill. Time to resort to searing them in a skillet and finishing them in an oven. All well and good, but now I've got this skillet with all of this nice bits of flavor. I can't let that go to waste, can I?

Now, how to make a sauce without jacking up the carb count? I can't use flour or cornstarch, for obvious reasons. I don't want to use ThickenThin, because that will be more like a gravy. Hmmmm... what's left?

Heavy cream. That will do the trick nicely.

First things first, though. The skillet needs to be deglazed. A splash of wine will get all of flavors released.

Then add cream. Really, I don't measure stuff like this. A lot depends on how much you're making. Probably 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Add some salt and pepper to taste, and stir frequently over medium to medium high heat until the cream thickens.

As decadent as it sounds, add in about 1-2 tablespoons of butter and stir it in as it melts. This will keep the sauce smooth.

Now, all of this gets you a basic sauce. You can experiment from there, adding flavors. For example, I've added hot sauce with the cream for a more peppery flavor. Another time, I sauteed some garlic in the pan drippings before adding everything else. The sky's the limit!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blueberry Muffins

Similar to the pancakes, this changes a few of the "wet" ingredient proportions, and, of course, adds in the blueberries.

1 c. carbalose flour
1/4 c. flax seed meal
1/4 c. coconut flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
4 eggs
1 t. sugar-free vanilla
2 T. fiber fit (or other liquid sweetener equal to 1 c. sugar)
1 c. Hood's Calorie Countdown milk (or, 1/4 c. heavy cream plus 3/4 c. water)
1/2 c. blueberries

Mix all except blueberries, making sure to avoid any lumps, as unlike regular flour, these will not "cook out". Fold in blueberries and bake in a muffin tin at 350 for about 25 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins at approximately 3 net carbs per muffin.


I've been playing around with a variety of flour substitutes, trying to find something that will work pretty much as well as regular flour, without having any unpleasant or otherwise undesirable tastes to it. I think I've come up with a pretty good mix, as illustrated by this pancake recipe:

1 c. carbalose flour
1/4 c. flax seed meal
1/4 c. coconut flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
4 eggs
1 t. sugar-free vanilla
1 t. fiber fit (or other liquid sweetener equal to 2 T. sugar)
2 c. Hood's Calorie Countdown milk (or, 1/2 c. heavy cream plus 1 1/2 c. water)

Mix all together -- thoroughly, as the coconut flour likes to "lump up" - and let sit for a couple of minutes before placing on the griddle. It may thicken up, so add small amounts of water, as needed, to thin it out to pancake batter consistency.

The entire recipe has approximately 33 net carbs.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nice milestone...

I was going through the closet over the weekend, looking for any spring-weight and summer-weight clothes to possibly take on vacation to Florida next month. And I ran across an old pair of jeans -- size 54, which was my lowest point on the first time 'round, before our first son was born. Since I've been wearing slacks in a size 58, and they've been quite loose, I thought I 'd check to see how close I was to wearing the jeans.

And they fit.

As did another pair right beneath them on the shelf. Now, to be fair, these are "relaxed fit" jeans that have already been broken in, but hey, it means I must be getting reasonably close to my low point, and I still seem to be dropping size steadily. In 13 months (to the day), I've dropped from a 66 to a 54.

That said, a very nice sports coat/slacks combo in the same size is still too tight to wear (I could get away with it in a pinch, but I'd look like someone who was squeezing into his clothes after putting on 15 or so pounds), and the dress shirts have a way to go -- they were always a bit snug, being "tall" sizes, which taper in the middle, and they're quite snug at size 18 1/2, whereas my "big" size 19 shirts fit quite nicely at the moment.

So, given that my low was about 330, and I was pushing 500 last January, I'm going to estimate a total weight loss of about 140 pounds in 13 months. It'll be nice when I drop down to the point I can actually track my weight with a normal bathroom scale, but for now, I'll let the fit tell the story.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day Dinner

Okay, it may be a little late for Valentine's Day planners looking for something to do, but this can still give a good idea of how to make a special, even somewhat fancy, special occasion meal without breaking the carb budget.

Last night's special dinner included:

  • Appetizer: low-carb cheese pizza; cutting the tortillas into heart shapes before topping and cooking
  • Main course: Grilled ribeye steak, seasoned with salt and pepper; with horseradish dipping sauce
  • Side: Mushrooms sauteed in butter, salt, pepper, and a splash of white wine
  • Side: Asparagus sauteed in butter, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; with a Dijon hollandaise sauce
  • Dessert: Homemade, sugar-free chocolate truffles
All things considered, the hollandaise sauce didn't work too well (though it was very naturally low-carb), but everything else came out very nicely. Watch this space for the dipping sauce and truffle recipes.

Monday, January 26, 2009


This is a very simple way to make personal-sized pizzas, or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. Don't expect a thick crust or deep dish here, but it does satisfy the occasional pizza craving!

For each pizza, you will need:

1 Low-carb tortilla (I use Mama Lupe's, and the carb count reflects this)
2 T. Pizza sauce (Ragu PizzaQuick works great)
1/4 c. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 T. Parmesan cheese, grated
Pinch each of dried Basil and Oregano

Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet -- or better yet, a pizza tray (if you have one) -- with parchment paper. Put the tortilla on the paper, spread the the sauce evenly over the tortilla, close to (but all the way to) the edge. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly over sauce and then top with the Parmesan and herbs. Bake for 7-8 minutes, until the cheese is browned.

1 serving, 6 net carbs.

Notes: Naturally, you can add whatever toppings you like -- just bear in mind the size and thinness of thebase pizza that you're working with, and of course to include the extra carb cost of anything you add. Also, I like this best cut into 4 slices; each slice is therefore 1.5 net carbs and can be used as a low-carb "finger food" appetizer.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tip: Snack portion control

Buying single-size servings of snacks (such as 1 oz. packets of peanuts, a favorite of mine) makes book-keeping much easier, but they are more expensive than buying bulk foods, and of course, you can't use that method for your own creations.

So, what I do is very simple. I get the "snack size" zip-top bags, portion the snack item into the bags, zip them closed (removing as much air as possible), and then use a permanent marker to write the carb count for the portion size on the bag. (If you're making up a whole bunch in advance, putting the date on there might not be a bad idea.)

It solves two problems for me -- 1) the portion control issue of knowing how much I'm having at one time, and 2) somewhat related, what I call the "open container syndrome", which is the tendency of finishing off a container of something once the package is opened. Tackling the mental issues with the physical ones at the same time is what makes this tip really useful.