Saturday, July 31, 2010

Almond Flax Blueberry Muffins

Time to share part II of my weekend cooking bender!

I had an abundance of fresh blueberries and was eager to put them to good use. I've had this recipe bookmarked for a while, and I figured today was finally time to give it a whirl. (With a few adjustments, of course!)

Disclaimer: if you are looking for a light, fluffy, traditional blueberry muffin recipe, keep right on looking. The muffins produced by this recipe bear little resemblance to standard muffins made with regular flour. Let's be honest. Any muffin made without flour or sugar isn't going to taste like it came from Dunkin' Donuts. 

Instead, these muffins are dense and nutty, with a slightly coarse texture. They are quite tasty, but very different. They are also low-carb, high protein, and extremely nutritious. Here's a pic of how mine came out.

Still with me? Cool. Read on for the recipe, more pics and nutritional info.

Crock Pot Beef Curry

I've gone on a cooking bender this weekend! I'm having a blast.

My local supermarket had an amazing sale on "Mock Tender" aka Chuck Eye steaks. I scored 2.5 lbs worth for a paltry $4.

However, although it's a flavorful cut, it's not one I particularly enjoy as a steak. It's a bit tough for me; I'm more of a filet mignon or ribeye gal.

I was in the mood for something spicy, and I came across this tasty looking recipe for a creamy beef curry done in the slow cooker. I tweaked the recipe a bit and I think it came out very well. My modified recipe is below.

Crock Pot Beef Curry 

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2.5 lbs Chuck Eye beef, fat trimmed, cut into 1" cubes
1 tablespoon butter
2 sweet yellow onions, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, minced
2 green chili peppers, diced and seeds removed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
48 whole cardamom seeds (or 4 pods)
4 whole cloves
3/4 cup beef stock
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup almond flour
6 ounces plain greek yogurt (I used 1 container Chobani 2% plain)

I don't have step-by-step pictures for this dish, I'm sorry to say. I was in such a cooking frenzy this morning that I didn't have time to stop and snap photos along the way. But, here are the directions.

Step 1: Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Step 2: Brown the beef by adding to the skillet in batches. The trick is not to overcrowd. I ended up with 4 separate batches. Once each batch is browned, transfer it to the crock pot using slotted spoon. Make sure the juices stay behind in the skillet.

Step 3: Add butter to the skillet and deglaze the pan. Deglazing is an intimidating term, but it's super easy. It is done by taking a spatula and using the melting butter as a vehicle for scraping up all the tasty browned bits of beef that got stuck to the skillet. You want to make sure all that delicious flavor ends up in your dish.

Step 4: Add onions to skillet and saute, stirring, until softened and lightly browned.

Step 5: Add garlic, ginger root, chili peppers, cumin, coriander, cloves, cardamom (all the "c" spices, as my spouse calls them), turmeric, salt, and peppercorns. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

Step 6: Add beef stock and bay leaf. Stir together and bring to a boil.

Step 7: Pour mixture over beef in crock pot. Stir well to combine, and make sure the beef is mostly covered by liquid.

Step 8: Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high 4-5 hours, until beef is tender. I cooked mine on high for 5 hours, because I wanted to get the beef as tender as possible.

Step 9: Use two forks to break the beef apart. It should be tender enough that it'll fall apart easily at this stage. Breaking it up helps the meat absorb some additional flavor prior to serving, and makes it look less "cube-y".

Step 10: Stir in almond flour, cover, and cook on high for 10 minutes.

Step 11: Just prior to serving, stir in Greek Yogurt.

I served this with sauteed garlic spinach and Naan, as my family are not big on rice. However, this would go well with rice too.

I enjoyed mine without even needing the Naan. (Okay, I did end up having one small bite of my Mom's.)  Yum! I think the leftovers tomorrow will be even more flavorful

Below is the nutritional breakdown for the beef curry, assuming 6 servings:

Calories: 333
Fat: 14 grams
Protein: 44 grams
Carbs: 6 grams
Fiber: 1 gram

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Caramel Panna Cotta (with raspberries and dark chocolate sauce)

This is a scrumptious, DS-friendly dessert which is ridiculously easy to make. The heavy cream also makes it a good choice for anyone with lactose tolerance issues.

I came across the basic recipe at Linda's Low Carb Recipes. I am impressed by the simplicity and versatility of it; the recipe can be easily tweaked to create any flavor imaginable. I am looking forward to making a lemon version next, which ought to go beautifully with some fresh blueberries. 

For this initial attempt, I went with caramel. That would have been luxurious all on its own, but I figured, why not go for completely decadent? So, I garnished it with a dark chocolate sauce and a few fresh raspberries. Mmmm. 

Read on for instructions, step-by-step pics and nutritional information.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My 5 Favorite Products Of The Moment

I have been shamefully remiss in updating this blog. Thanks to those of you who have continued to stay tuned.

A brief update: I've been living with my DS for just over 7 months now. Things are going well. I have lost 127 lbs eating tasty, amazing food. I have experimented a lot with different things, have learned a lot, and continue to learn more each day.

Anyway, I'm back and I plan on updating a lot more regularly. I have a slew of recipes, foodie experiments, ramblings and recommendations that I am looking forward to sharing. 

For now, here are my 5 Favorite Products Of The Moment. 

1. Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Dark Chocolate Squares

My taste for sweets has changed significantly since I had the DS. I still crave them, but not nearly as much. Nowadays I tend to prefer goodies with more subtle and complex flavors. This means that when I crave chocolate, I want dark chocolate. These Ghirardelli squares fit the bill perfectly. 

The pieces are a decent size, each one providing two delicious bites (or three, if I'm feeling particularly restrained) of luxurious, good-quality chocolate. I usually stop at two squares, as that is more than enough to satisfy my craving. 

Just for fun, Google "dark chocolate health benefits". Eaten in moderation, these suckers are practically health food. Each square contains: 4.25 g fat, 5 g net carbs, 0.5 g protein 

2. Sargento String Cheese

I have tried pretty much every brand of string cheese out there. I strongly prefer the flavor and texture of Sargento. Do yourself a favor and get the regular kind, though, not the "Lite" version. 

These save me during busy work days. When I have no time to fuss with a snack, I can just pull these out of my lunch bag and chow down. At 8 grams of protein per stick, they pretty quickly add up to a decent count. I have been known to go through about 4-6 throughout the course of the day, which means 32-48 grams of protein from snacking. 

Incidentally, these also make fabulous low-carb mozzarella sticks, using crushed pork rinds as "breading". They can either be baked or deep-fried. Each piece contains: 6 g fat, >1 g carbs, 8 g protein. 

3. Turkey Hill Diet Peach White Tea 

This is my absolute favorite calorie free liquid. The white tea is very light and crisp. It doesn't have an overly artificial taste and the peach flavor manages not to be overwhelming. It goes down smoothly.

My only criticism, if you can call it that, is that this is so difficult to find. It's hit or miss at my local grocery stores. When I do find it, I stock up. Zero calories, yay! 

4. Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Foil 

Why am I recommending aluminum foil of all things? One word: bacon! 

The key to making perfect, hassle-free bacon is cooking it in the oven. No messy pan, no hovering over a greasy skillet, and it comes out crispy and delicious. The non-stick wrap helps prevent the bacon from sticking to the baking sheet, and it also makes for easy clean-up.

5. Blue Diamond Cinnamon Brown Sugar Almonds 

OMG. Just...yum. 

Yes, these do have carbs and even a little real sugar. But they also happen to be an excellent source of protein and fiber. I consider them to be a healthy snack as well as a decadent, tasty treat.

They can be mixed together with plain almonds to cut down on the sweetness and carb count. For snacking purposes, they also pair well with a sharp cheese. That sweet and salty combination can't be beat. 

One of these days, I may crush them down and attempt to make almond meal or a pie crust out of them. 

Blue Diamond apparently makes a Vanilla Bean flavor as well. Sadly, I can't find them anywhere, but they sound divine. Each 1 ounce serving (24 nuts) contains: 14 g fat, 7 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 6 g protein.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Brok's Fabulous Low Carb Pizza - Buffalo Chicken Style

Well, I returned from vacation and promptly caught the sinus-yuck that has been going around.

As a result, I haven't felt much up to cooking. But I have been craving pizza, so for lunch today, I  decided to make a variation of Brok's awesome pizza recipe. I can't thank Brok enough for sharing this recipe. It is a perfect DS food, and it definitely does fill the pizza craving.

So here's my twist on it. Read on for instructions, step-by-step pics, and nutritional information.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


My spouse and I will be leaving tomorrow morning and spending four days in Boston. It might seem crazy to leave freezing cold Philadelphia for an even colder city, but we are going to an event!

This will be my first true vacation since surgery, and I'm a bit nervous about the food part. Hopefully I will be able to enjoy myself and find yummy, appropriate choices when we dine out.

As for the blog, stay tuned! Next week: cassoulet. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Powdered Drink Mix That Doesn't Suck

I have been drinking diet beverages since I was a young girl. Because of this, I developed a pretty high threshold for artificial tastes. Since surgery, though, I find that my tastebuds are much more sensitive to anything that tastes "off".

Most of my former go-to beverages are not palatable to me at the moment. Powerade Light, Fruit 2o, Sugar Free Kool-Aid: ick. Crystal Light: double ick. I do love Turkey Hill Diet Iced Tea and Tropicana Light Orangeade and Lemonade. Unfortunately, even diluted, those tend to be pretty costly in the quantities that I need.

That's why I'm excited to have found a powdered drink mix that actually tastes good to me. It is 4c Totally Light 2 Go, Morning Orange flavor.

The product comes pre-packaged in single-portion sticks that are designed to be poured into bottled water. I've been going the more frugal route and mixing it in my shaker bottle with 18 ounces of tap water and ice.

It tastes surprisingly like real orange juice, though less viscous in texture. When I enjoy this in the morning, ice cold, with my bacon and eggs, I am suitably deceived into thinking it's juice. There is hint of artificial flavor, but I find it to be slight, probably because it is sweetened with Splenda.

I have yet to try any of the other 4c flavors, but I plan to pick some up during my next trip to the store.