Saturday, July 28, 2012

Babaganoush

Apologies for no picture!

Babaganoush - 8 servings

2 large eggplants (about a pound)
1 medium red tomato
1 thick slice red onion (about 1")
1 Tbs ground nutmeg
2 tsp crushed garlic
Juice from 1/2 medium lemon
2 Tbs Tahini
3 Tbs pine nuts (pignoli)
4 Tbs EVOO

Preheat oven to 400 and place eggplants on baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Peel the skin and discard, cut up eggplant and place in large bowl.

In a small bowl, set aside 2 Tbs of olive oil, add the remaining olive oil to the eggplant.

Add all remaining ingredients (except the pine nuts) and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

To serve (makes 8 servings), top on lettuce or a thick slice of tomato, top with olive oil and pine nuts.

Per Serving (8) including topped with EVOO and pine nuts: 16g fat, 12g carbohydrate, 3g protein
NOTE: Carbohydrate is net; total less fiber

Simple Cheesecake

I forgot to take a picture of this one last night, but it's delicious and easy to make!

Rather than make a big cake, I make individual cakes using the normal size cupcake liners - an simple way to control portion and not overdo it! These cheesecake cupcakes are versatile - you can top with a variety of fruits, whipped cream, nuts, or a combination. If you're counting carbohydrate grams, remember to include whatever you top these with when you enjoy them!

Cheesecake - 6 servings

1 8-oz package cream cheese
1 large egg
1 Tbs raw honey
1 Tbs vanilla
2 Tbs butter, soft
1/2 cup finely ground hazelnuts

In a small bowl combine the hazelnuts and butter, set aside.

In another bowl, blend remaining ingredients together until smooth (an immersion blender works well for this purpose).

Place six regular size cupcake liners on a baking sheet and spoon the hazelnut mixture in the bottom. Press down with fingers so it's even and acts as a crust. Next, spoon in the cream cheese mixture, filling each cupcake liner with the same amount of cheesecake base.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes; check on them frequently after 20 minutes. When done they'll be firm in the middle and lightly golden around the edges.

Each cheesecake cupcake: 22g fat, 4.7g carbohydrate, 5g protein; 233 calories
NOTE: Carbohydrate is net; total less fiber

Friday, July 27, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

In the last few days, I've been tinkering with some recipes to come up with some yummy items that will help the kids understand that eating well doesn't mean a) it doesn't taste good, b) there are no treats, and c) it doesn't look good. This isn't so much for our toddler, he really has no clue yet - but my soon to be 8-year old, well he likes way too many foods that are junk food.

What I've realized this week is so many recipes out there, well they suck! Sure they're lower in carbohydrate, or they look okay - but taste? Oh my! I had no idea that so many recipes could be so....disgusting!

Needless to say, I haven't used many recipes out there in the past...and I'm glad I didn't. But at this point, I do know what we like, so I've been tinkering.

The coconut flour chocolate chip cookies? Dry and bland.

The zucchini brownies? Okay, but needs some tweaking to create a moist and rich brownie. I'll work on those another time.

Almond flour based cake
(without the strawberries)? Meh.

But the almond based cake I could work with! It was dense and a touch too sweet. But it had a good flavor overall and if I could lighten it up and reduce the honey, it could be perfect. After looking at a few other recipes, I tweaked and came up with this:



Strawberry Shortcake - 12

Cake:
2 cups organic almond flour
5 large pastured eggs, separated
1 stick organic butter, softened
1/3 cup raw honey
1 tbs vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1/4 tsp salt

Topping:
1 cup organic heavy cream
1 tbs xylitol (or stevia, sweeten to taste level)
1 pound sliced strawberries

Separate eggs.

In a medium bowl, cream butter, honey and egg yolks, then stir in baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and salt. Set aside.

In a stainless steel (chilled) bowl, whip egg whites with cream of tarter to form stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites into almond flour mixture.

Spoon mixture into 12 cupcake baking cups and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Check after 20 minutes - and continue to check until they're done. They're done when a toothpick comes out of center clean.

For topping, slice strawberries and set aside. In a bowl whip the cream and sweetener until it's fluffy, but not too stiff.

Each cupcake is 11g of carb, 10g of protein and 28g of fat; 335 calories
Topped with strawberries and cream they're 14g carbohydrate, 11g of protein and 35g fat; 415 calories

NOTE: carbohydrate counts are net, total less fiber

Mission: Real Food

For years we've focused on eating real food, organic, local whenever possible - that is, as nature made.

But we're not perfect and there remains too many processed foods in our diet. Overall, we're probably close to 85-90% real food, with 10-15% processed. I'd like to do better and avoid the "convenience creep" that sneaks up on us when we're not looking!

Convenience creep is where you opt for something that isn't necessary bad, it's just not the best option; things like marinated chicken breasts - they're organic, but the ingredient list is long, or for my toddler, the mashed up fruit-vegetable pouches - they're organic and super convenient, but not really great when you think about it. There is also the snacks for the kids - organic, but still refined sugars and not exactly healthful - but they're easy, quick and convenient.

It's these types of things I'm working toward eliminating - which means I need to start to find alternatives, or do more cooking. As I noted in my previous post, I've been reading 100 Days of Real Food - based on it, I've come up with our list of how we'll clean up our diet, based on "rules" I think will work for us.

What we CAN eat:
  • Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry
  • Vegetables and Fruits, preferably from local farmers
  • Dairy products like milk, unsweetened yogurt, sour cream, and cheese
  • Wild caught seafood
  • Locally grown meat, poultry and game (beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, etc.)
  • Local, pastured eggs
  • Beverages like water, natural juices, coffee, tea, wine
  • Nuts, seeds, nut butters
  • Fats and oils like butter, lard, tallow, EVOO, coconut oil, and cold-pressed nut oils
  • "Safe Starches" like rice, sweet potatoes, etc.
  • Natural sweeteners like raw honey, 100% maple syrup, stevia and xylitol
  • Packaged foods with 5 or less ingredients that are real food ingredients
  • Spices and herbs, preferably organic
What we CANNOT eat:
  • Refined grains
  • Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharine
  • Refined sweeteners like cane sugar, corn syrup, HFCS, agave or others
  • Nothing out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 ingredients on the label

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Why Now?

A year ago I toyed with the idea of resurrecting the blog and writing again. But I just wasn't inspired. I'd watched from the side-lines for a couple of years as many low-carb blogs seemed to devolve into circus; something I didn't want to be part of, nor did I feel was useful to those looking to lead a healthier life. So I simply stayed out of the fray.

That doesn't mean I don't think there are some great low-carb blogs out there - I do - but they're too often overshadowed by the circus atmosphere and antics that detract from why I blogged; that is, to help people understand the role of diet in their overall health. In the coming weeks I'll be updating my sidebar to include blogs not there before and remove those that I no longer feel are a good source for information for diet and health.

I'm also taking a different approach now - I'm going to focus on eating well, nourishing your health and well-being, and do that by writing about how to do it in the real world, with kids and everyday life commitments. For many the focus on carbohydrate distracts from something I believe is more important - nutrient-density. I'll still occasionally write about the research - hey that is something I really do enjoy doing, but it's also time consuming and with two kids, not something I can focus a lot of time on!

You can certainly eat a low-carb diet that is rich with nutrients - I've proved that time and again with sample menus. But doing that takes planning, an understanding of what foods have what nutrients, and commitment. Over the years, as my own dietary habits have evolved, I've realized that continuous, all the time, strict low-carb isn't always necessary - quality, on the other hand, is. One can also certainly eat very poorly on a low-carb diet - the internet is rich with stunning examples - and I hope to help you avoid the pitfalls that some fall into by eating things that aren't really great, just because it's low-carb.j

And so, with that in mind, I'll resume blogging and look at how to go about eating a nutrient-dense, real food diet - one that isn't necessarily focused on carbohydrate, but on eating well for the long-term. I'm just not sure what I'd call it these days - it is lower in carbohydrate, yet isn't "low-carb", it's rich with whole foods, yet isn't paleo? It's sort of primal, sort of low-carb and sort of paleo? Honestly, the label doesn't really matter - I eat and I eat real food!

With two children, my husband and I are their best examples, thus it is my goal to show how to do it to you and to them. My inspiration to finally get back to the blog was 100 Days of Real Food- it is how we mostly eat already, but also gives great insight into how to do even better for the long-term. So part of what I'll be blogging is how and where I'm still modifying our diet and ways you can too!