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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Glazed Blueberry Cheese Pie (GF)



GLAZED BLUEBERRY CHEESE PIE
A slice of this pie looks beautiful on a plate and tastes exquisite. I love pies.  I sometimes wonder why then I have so few on my website.  It's time to change that!  I think part of it is fruit pies themselves tend to be rather carby, plus strawberries give me migraines.  Raspberries are expensive and not easy to come by, apples, peaches and pears are too carby, so fruity pies are not something I make very often.  This one is like a cheesecake pie.  It's very good and I have made it with strawberries instead of blueberries.

Single Piecrust, page___  (see below)
Filling:
1 cup ricotta cheese (250 mL)
5 oz regular cream cheese (150 g)
Liquid sweetener to equal 1/2 cup sugar (125 mL)
2 tsp lemon juice (10 mL)
Blueberry Topping:
13/4 cups frozen blueberries, (425 mL)
  (unsweetened)
1/2 cup water (125 mL)
Liquid sweetener to equal 1/4 cup sugar (50 mL)
3/4 tsp Thickening Agent, OR 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (3 mL)

Single Piecrust:  Follow directions on page___.  Bake as directed.

Filling:  In food processor with sharp blade, blender or in bowl with electric mixer, process ricotta cheese until smooth.  Add cream cheese, liquid sweetener and lemon juice; process until smooth.  Spread evenly over baked crust. 
Chill until firm.

Blueberry Topping:  In saucepan, combine blueberries, water, liquid sweetener and Thickening Agent, page___.  Bring to boil and cook until blueberry sauce thickens.  Allow to cool slightly.  Pour topping over chilled cheese layer, leaving outer edge bare.  Refrigerate pie.  Later garnish with Crème Fraiche, page___ around outer edge of pie, if desired, or use the carrot cake frosting and pipe rosettes decoratively on the perimeter using a pastry bag and rose tip.

Variations:  Glazed Raspberry Cheese Pie: Substitute frozen unsweetened raspberries. (6.0 g Carbs)

Glazed Strawberry Cheese Pie:  Substitute frozen unsweetened strawberries. (6.4 g Carbs).

Yield: 10 servings
1 serving
210.0 calories
7.8 g protein
16.1 g fat
6.9 g net carbs



SINGLE PIECRUST
This is a lower carb and more substantial crust that tastes great.  People have used this to make savory empanadas or little fruit pies.  I have yet to do that, but will one of these days!

11/4 cups Gluten-free Bake Mix (300 mL)
3 oz cream cheese, softened (90 g)
2 tbsp powdered erythritol (30 mL)
1 tbsp butter, softened (15 mL)
1/4 tsp baking soda (1 mL)
1/8 tsp salt (0.5 mL)

In food processor or in bowl with electric mixer, process Gluten-Free Bake Mix, cream cheese, powdered erythritol, butter, baking soda and salt until mixed.  Form a ball with dough using your hands and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill dough about 1 hour or freeze for quicker chilling.

Roll dough out (if crumbly, chill longer) between two sheets of plastic wrap to fit shallow 9-inch (23 cm) glass pie dish.  Remove top sheet of plastic wrap.  Pick up sheet with dough and invert over pie dish. Remove plastic wrap.  Use small rolling pin or small cylindrical object in pie dish, if necessary, to further roll dough.  Patch dough where required.  A straight edge up the sides is practical.  Push down slightly from edge onto dough with thumbs and this will make a slightly thicker border for the crust.  Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven 10 minutes.



Friday, May 27, 2011

Quinoa Flour in My Splendid Gluten-Free Bake Mix



Hmm, thought I would try it out as an alternative to the oat flour in the Splendid Gluten-Free Bake Mix as some folks had mentioned it could be an alternative.    The muffin texture and height was fine, but frankly the Quinoa flour leaves a "taste" that I don't particularly like the first day or after the muffins are freshly baked (I made my Mmmm Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins).  I tasted the batter and immediately knew there was a problem.  I added a little extra cinnamon and sweetener to try and mask the aftertaste.  It was definitely a little better.  So, quinoa flour has a strong taste and is quite expensive, however, I have to say today the muffins are lovely.  The aftertaste is minimal (maybe one gets used to it?), the texture is drier than with oat flour and hence the muffins rose higher and kept a better height even upon cooling.  So, in conclusion I think quinoa flour is an option, not one I will personally choose, however, it is a viable option for those who have a fear of oat flour.  Quinoa is lower on the glycemic index and has a higher protein quotient.  Many low-carbers, especially those in maintenance have embraced quinoa products.  I mixed quinoa with cauli-rice and loved it.  I actually cooked the quinoa (not flour - like little granules rather) just as I do rice with my oven method.  Four cups water in big pot, bring to boil, add seasonings (such as chicken bouillon and turmeric) and 2 cups quinoa.  Bring to boil again.  Place lid on pot and put it in 350 deg. F. oven and bake quinoa about 25 to 30 minutes.  Done!  Sooo simple.  I always make rice like that for my boys.  Sure it gets harder in the refrigerator.  Then I stir-fry it with a bit of oil, soy sauce and add a little water and it is tender again.  Okay, I have a habit of getting off track...sorry about that, but hope this info is useful to someone out there.  :)  Here is all kinds of info about quinoa.

In the past people with Celiac disease were told to steer clear of all oat products.  Oat flour has no gluten.  However, regular garden-variety oat flour is processed in processing plants where wheat products are processed and cross-contamination can possibly occur.  I think this is why people were warned to stay away from oat flour. Then the experts relented and specified a certain amount that could be consumed per day by someone with Celiac disease (mainly because of the chance of contamination with wheat products in a regular grain processing plant).  Nowadays, however, they have specific, separate fields dedicated for growing oats and also grown specifically for completely gluten-free processing plants.  Therefore, certified gluten-free oat flour is going to be gluten-free - period!  If you do have some reaction to my baked goodies, unfortunately it is mostly going to be due to the xanthan gum and also getting used to oat flour and the little bit of fiber in the coconut flour.  Horses eat oats.  Hmm, what do they do when they eat oats....I'll leave it up to your imagination.  The good news is when you eat my gluten-free buns (will post soon - lovely recipe - just perfecting it for you!), you're not going to eat the whole batch in one sitting.  Believe me, they are so good, that I could almost do that, but I don't want to have a distended tummy by the end of the day.  The other good news is that one's system gets used to the xanthan gum and oat flour.  By the way xanthan gum helps with weight loss and keeps one regular, as does the coconut flour (keep one regular).  Still, the bake mix is relatively low in fiber.  I needed to create a bake mix that was not too high in fiber as I don't want to set off IBS for weeks and also I don't want to do that to other people with similar digestive issues.  So, my advice is if you are new to the Splendid gluten-free bake mix, then take it slowly.  Don't eat too much of the baked goodies in one day.  Have a little each day and acclimatize to the different products therein.  It gets better.  Still, I have found that when I quit baking for a while and then go back to baking, I'm back to square one and have to start slowly all over again.

The Nutritional Analysis for Splendid Gluten-Free Bake Mix with Quinoa Flour instead of Oat Flour:

1/4 cup = 138.2 calories; 4.8 g protein; 9.1 g fat; 7.3 g carbs   (quinoa flour)
1/4 cup = 125.7 calories; 4.5 g protein; 8.9 g fat; 5.7 g carbs   (oat flour)

So, quinoa flour produces a bake mix that is moderate in carbs, but not as low as with oat flour.  However, compare that with any other gluten-free bake mix out there and there is a huge difference.  Gluten-free bake mixes are typically as high in carbs as white wheat flour or higher!  To create a low-carb bake mix is a challenge, however, to create a low-carb and gluten-free bake mix was a big challenge - and then add in all the other little things I wanted to take into consideration like not too much xanthan gum or coconut flour or fiber period and no flax... not easy!!  However, so far I'm happy enough with the Splendid Gluten-Free Bake Mix.  It produces very nice baking - just the fact that the baking sinks a little is annoying, but other than that - very nice!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

White Chocolate Coconut Fudge (GF)



WHITE CHOCOLATE COCONUT FUDGE
The combination of white chocolate and coconut is so addictive.  Only the calorie count kept me from going too crazy.  I cut these into small pieces because it is rich and chewy-satisfying and at the same time fudge-like.  This white chocolate confection is seriously addictive so be warned and have plenty of peeps to help you finish the confection if need be.  It is great for the Fat Fast.  I did 3 days of Fat Fasting on this delicious, delectable yumminess, hard boiled eggs and mayo and teaspoons of peanut butter and plenty of tea and, actually, real milk as that was all I had on the mountain.  I still lost 2 lbs pre-TOM!  Yay!  Edited to say, those who lose really well on Induction should not attempt the Fat Fast; you will lose weight plus water weight and electrolytes too quickly and that can be dangerous.  I have difficulty moving the scale, partly because of peri-menopause, too much estrogen and hypothyroidism and partly because I don't have much weight to lose; about 7 lbs and I've been working on my 8th cookbook.  Obviously my best weight at 54 is not what I weighed at 25.  I choose a weight 10 lbs heavier as I was quite skinny in those days and very skinny at this age is not necessarily healthy or what God intended. Yep, I really don't believe God expects us to keep wearing the same size jeans of our youth. We need some plumpness in our faces, I think, and some cushion for our bones.  Anyway that is my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  LOL  I think one of these days I'll put up some updated photos of myself at this age (the one on my blog is a few years old).  I don't look too bad, but frankly, I never was the sort that had a perfectly flat, beautiful tummy.  I have big boobs, broad shoulders, nice waist in contrast comparison (not really small, however), broader hips than when I was young, thank goodness, to balance the top half a bit better, always had great legs (just maybe a little too short - I'm 5 foot 3 inches - however, I don't mind my height at all.  I almost always wear sandals with a heel of about 2 inches, very rarely higher as I would probably fall on my nose!  I am just the right height for my better half.).  I wear dresses almost every day as they are cool in this hot and humid climate and non-restricting.  I'm a real "dress" girl.  What can I say, I am a little eccentric but aren't we all in some small way?

So run to NETRITION for your cocoa butter!  Mine I purchased years and years ago from a place in Armstrong, British Columbia.  I still have almost 5 lbs of it.  It can sit at room temperature and is a little easier to break off pieces with a knife.  I weigh the 2 oz on my electronic kitchen scale.  There is a bad review for the Now product by someone, but frankly I've never before purchased a bad product from Now brand products.

Text Box: Yield:   36 servings
1 serving
49.5 calories
0.4 g protein
4.6 g fat
1.2 g carbs
1 cup SPLENDA® Granular (250 mL) (could reduce to 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup powdered erythritol (125 mL)
1/4 cup whole, OR skim milk powder (60 mL)
3 tbsp whipping cream (45 mL)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (30 mL)Cocoa butterImage via Wikipedia of Cocoa Butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (2 mL)
1 cup unsweetened coconut, (250 mL)
  finely flaked

In blender, combine SPLENDA® Granular, erythritol, whole, OR skim milk powder, whipping cream, butter, vanilla extract and cocoa butter; blend well.  Stir in coconut.  Press into 8 x 4-inch (1.5 L) loaf pan.  Freeze 5 minutes; cut into 9 vertical by 4 horizontal sections.  Freeze half an hour and refrigerate.

Variation:  Chocolate Coconut Squares:  Use 1 oz (30 g) cocoa butter and 1 oz (30 g) baking chocolate, add 1 tbsp water (15 mL), use 1/2 cup (125 mL) whole milk powder and 11/2 cups (375 mL) unsweetened coconut.  Press into a 9-inch (23 cm) square glass baking dish.  Freeze half an hour and refrigerate.  These will keep well, even at room temperature, for a couple of days for a car trip, for instance.  Lovely treat with good fiber!

Helpful Hints:  If you prefer, you can try using vanilla whey protein powder instead of milk powder, however, I think the best results will be with the milk powder.  If you only have granulated erythritol, you can powder it in a coffee grinder or blender.  Allow to settle a minute or two before opening to allow the erythritol "dust" to settle.

I originally made the Chocolate Coconut Squares, but with the white chocolate, one could easily use 3/4 cup Splenda Granular - maybe even 1/2 cup and that should reduce carbs even more.  These are very sweet with the amounts indicated, however, I don't mind that.  

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Fried Calamari

 FRIED CALAMARI
This dish can serve as an appetizer for more people; however, I usually serve this as a main meal with light, low-carb beer and 2 different types of dip – Aioli and a spicy marinara-type sauce.  The tartar sauce in Splendid Low-Carbing would be great too.  I love calamari.  It is a bit calorific, but I typically only eat this one meal if I'm going to have it and then only nibble later.   I usually enjoy this meal at El Barco (the restaurant has a mermaid facing the sea) and the ambiance is so lovely as one sits outside under a thatch roof that is formed and manufactured in an enormous tree.  I am really upset that they are moving the restaurant.  It won't be the same.  It is the only restaurant here that I know of that makes excellent calamari almost every time.  One has to be careful; if you overcook calamari, it can be like rubber and that is not so good.  I'm not fond of the Calamari "animals" (you know, the whole little animal? That is different to the big octopus.).  I have made the mistake in the past of ordering (twice now) the wrong dish (need to order in Spanish and something sometimes gets lost in the translation. lol) and ended up giving it to poor Ian as I can't bring myself to eat a whole little animal.  He is so long-suffering that way.  I love him!  By the way, click on the BAKE MIX part to get to the Vital Oat Ultimate Bake Mix Recipe.

Text Box: Yield: 4/5 servings
1 serving
478.3/382.6 calories
52.1/41.6 g protein
25.0/20.0 g fat
10.2/8.1 g carbs2 lbs frozen calamari rings (32 oz)
4 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (125 mL)
11/2 tsp Italian seasoning (7 mL)
11/2 tsp black pepper (7 mL)
1/2 tsp No Salt (2 mL)
Regular salt, to taste
Olive oil for frying

Place calamari rings in a colander over a large bowl in kitchen sink. Let running cold water thaw the calamari. In cereal bowl, beat eggs with a fork.

Flour mixture:  In medium bowl, combine Vital Oat Ultimate Bake Mix, page___, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, black pepper, No Salt and regular salt to taste.

In large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Dip several calamari rings in eggs; let excess egg drip back into cereal bowl and then spoon “flour” over the calamari.  Gently lower into hot oil (don’t overcrowd the pan – fill the pan about half full).  With the first calamari ring going into the pan, set the oven timer for 2 minutes.  In the last 35 seconds, flip calamari.  When timer goes off, set for another minute.  Remove cooked calamari to a dinner plate and place in a 175°F (79°C) oven that has been switched off to keep them warm without them cooking any further.  Repeat with remaining calamari.

Helpful Hints:  The oil used and absorbed has not been counted in this recipe.  The batter absorbs quite a lot of oil, so this recipe is calorific and very filling, but a wonderful occasional meal – so easy to make too.  The exact timing for the cooking of calamari rings is important as over cooking will make them tough and rubbery-tasting.  Serve with Aioli dip, page___, tartar sauce in Splendid Low-Carbing, page 89 or an extra-spicy marinara-type sauce.  If the “flour” gets very moist at the end, you may have to press it onto the calamari rings or make some fresh flour mixture.  To reduce this problem, use half the flour mixture at a time in the bowl.

Friday, May 20, 2011

ICE CREAM CUSTARD


ICE CREAM CUSTARD
This is a fabulous ice cream with a wonderful texture and flavor and during the summer months in America and Canada, this is one of the most popular recipes on my blog! Mine actually remained scoopable from the freezer.  This is the same ice cream I used with the Spicy "Apple" (chayotes!) recipe.  Delicious!  Try it and you won't be sorry.  To use up the egg whites make my Cream Cheese Scrambled Eggs - Just add a couple more eggs to the whites and follow the recipe but make it a bigger recipe obviously.  Use the cream found in cartons that sit on the shelf - I believe this makes the ice cream scoopable - therefore, no need for adding glycerin or alcohol.

1 cup whipping cream (250 mL)
1 cup half and half (250 mL)
8 egg yolks (save the whites)
Liquid sweetener (sucralose or stevia) to equal 3/4 cup sugar (175 mL)
1/3  cup powdered erythritol (75 mL)
11/2 cups whipping cream (375 mL)
4 tsp vanilla extract (20 mL)
1/8 tsp salt (0.5 mL)

In large saucepan, over medium heat, heat whipping cream and half and half until it is very hot but not boiling.  Stir often.  Remove from heat. 

In food processor, process egg yolks, liquid sweetener and erythritol really well.  Gradually add warm cream mixture, while processing, until combined.  Return egg mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until very hot, stirring constantly.  Do not boil; watch carefully. Transfer custard to large bowl.  Stir in whipping cream, vanilla and salt.  Cover and chill in refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hours.  Place in ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s directions.  Watch as the ice cream custard expands while freezing and could overflow.  Place ice cream in freezer to further harden. 

Yield:   12 servings
1/2 cup (125 mL) per serving
217.9 calories
3.5 g protein
21.4 g fat
2.8 g  carbs

Variations:  Chocolate Ice Cream or Chocolate Mint:  Use 2/3 cup (150 mL) powdered erythritol, liquid sweetener to taste and reduce vanilla to 1 tsp (5 mL). In blender, add 1/4 cup (60 mL) cocoa to some of the warm custard; blend until smooth.  For making chocolate mint ice cream, omit vanilla extract and use 11/2 tsp (7 mL) peppermint extract.  Yield:  13 servings (2.9 g  carbs)

Strawberry Ice Cream:  Use 1 cup (250 mL) frozen unsweetened strawberries, slightly thawed.  In blender, blend strawberries with custard, adding a little red food coloring, if desired, and use 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract.
Yield:  14 servings (3.5 g  carbs)

Cappuccino Ice Cream:  Use 1 tbsp (15 mL) instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp (30 mL) hot whipping cream and reduce vanilla extract to 1 tsp (5 mL).
Yield:  12 servings (3.0 g carbs)


For other great Low-Carb, Gluten-Free recipes by the team & me:
Support your team, buy Low-Carbing Among Friends cookbooks at: 
http://amongfriends.us/Jen.php (Paypal/Amazon) - SALE priced!

Splenda® is not a No Calorie Sweetener! The truth Revealed


Update:  To be be fair, many other companies make use of the loopholes in the rules and fudge the numbers.

I'm not sure why the American marketing companies of Splenda® and Splenda® knock-offs feel the need to call their product a no calorie sweetener.  It is misleading and untrue. I realize they can do that because 1 tsp contains so few calories and somehow there is a loophole in the rules for declaring it, but 2 calories is still 2 calories and it adds up the more Splenda® Granular one uses and the same holds true for the carbs.  In Canada, McNeil Consumer Products Company was truthful about the calories and carbs for Splenda® Granular and it was openly displayed on the packages.

For comparison:  1 tsp of sugar = 16 calories and 4 g carbs and 1 cup of sugar = 800 calories and 200 g carbs

1 tsp Splenda® Granular = 2.0 calories and 0.5 g carbs

1 tbsp Splenda® Granular = 6.0 calories and 1.5 g carbs

1 cup Splenda® Granular = 96.0 calories and 24.0 g carbs

Splenda® packets:  4 calories and 1 g carb per packet

To reduce carbs and calories to zero, use liquid sucralose.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Maltodextrin in Splenda - but it's higher on the glycemic index than sugar, they cry!


Canadians enjoyed the new sweetener, Splenda Granular, 10 years before approval by the FDA in America.  Apparently the Nutrasweet company was doing everything in its power to block that approval.  Anyhow, keep in mind Splenda Granular weighs about 1/8 th as much as sugar, and this product therefore imparts very little in the way of volume and texture to baking.  Therefore, you may substitute your sweetener of choice in my sweet treats.  Right now there is an explosion of new sweeteners on the market.  I still haven't found or seen one I prefer, but I hope someday I will.  For now I like combining Splenda Granular (I use Nevella brand with potent probiotics these days) with erythritol in my baking.  Stevia has problems with making hypoglycemia worse in some people and the possible infertility problem for males worries me.  The Stevia-erythritol blends give me stomach distress as do most of the sugar alcohols and is, therefore, so not worth it to me.  Chicory root/inulin in excess damages the eyes (causing blurriness or loss of sight) - apparently that is not proven and is more like folklore, but worrying all the same that they would bring it up.  It can also cause stomach distress.  It is also not recommended for pregnant women as it can cause spontaneous abortion.  Aspartame - forget it - for many reasons besides not being heat stable.

Funny, there never was a hue and cry about Splenda until it was unleashed on the American market.  Then the sugar lobby set up a site to discredit Splenda and Dr. Mercola did a great job in scaring everyone silly.  In fact, the source of Splenda affecting gut flora is, I believe, Dr. Mercola himself.   Now we have Nevella which solves that problem, if ever it was a problem.  I always ate tons of yogurt through the years so cannot say for sure if his claims are true or not.

So, any perfect sweetener out there to use instead of sugar?  Hmm, no, personally I think not!  It is a case of choosing one's own poison, sadly.  You can choose sugar which is a known poison as well.  Safe to say, few people in the world will consume as much sucralose as what my family has already consumed.  I don't recommend anyone do what we did.  In hindsight, I don't think it is wise to consume massive quantities of any sweetener.  For now 18 years later, we're okay, but some would say my Hashimoto's Thyroiditis was triggered by Splenda.  Well, I don't believe that.  I believe my Hashi's is from a mycoplasma infection: (women most often get Hashi's and I wonder if it stems from the fact that we are usually also the cooks in the household and if we're not very careful with working with raw meat, we can get an infection.).  My Hashi's is under control, and since going on doxycycline, I've reduced my thyroid hormone treatment to 1/3 of the dose I was on.  That means the doxycycline is interrupting the reproductive cycle of the mycoplasmas deep inside the thyroid tissue.  The body can't heal the infection as it is too deep inside the tissue and so it puts out all these inflammatory antibodies (anyone with an autoimmune disease will usually show positive for CRP and sometimes it can be quite high, but doxycyline has been proven to reduce CRP by about 40% and I can attest to that) to try and attack the tissue that contains the mycoplasma infection.  Mycoplasmas are a very small bacterium that can actually get inside of the cells of the body. Because of this, the immune system cells are unable to directly attack the bacteria. In order to rid the body of the bacteria, the immune system cells will often resort to attacking the body’s own tissue, which has been infected with the organism.

"In the example of thyroid infections, in order to get at the infection, the body will produce antibodies against its own thyroid gland. This would explain why the thyroid gland becomes inflamed in autoimmune thyroid illnesses, as well as why the body would produce antibodies against a particular gland. I believe this hypothesis holds true for many autoimmune disorders."
 
I am getting way off track here!  Good for you if you got this far in reading. 

Okay, here is the thing about MALTODEXTRIN:

Maltodextrin, a carbohydrate derived from corn, is a filler used to help the product measure cup-for-cup like sugar.  The carb content in 1 cup (250 mL) Splenda Granular is 24 grams.  Liquid sucralose, on the other hand has 0 grams carbohydrate.  Sucralose is inert and remains stable at the high baking temperatures unlike some sweeteners.

Some people have raised the concern that maltodextrin features higher on the glycemic index scale than sugar!  However, it all depends on the quantity you ingest per serving (glycemic load).  If one were to eat a pound of maltodextrin, one would be in trouble, however, the way Splenda is formulated from sucralose and maltodextrin, this results in very little weight being imparted by maltodextrin.  In fact, 1 cup (250 mL) Splenda Granular weighs 26 grams (almost nothing!) and 1 cup (250 mL) of sugar weighs 226 grams.  Therefore, one serving of dessert sweetened with 1 cup (250 mL) Splenda Granular has very little maltodextrin in it, and it will have very little impact on glycemic reactions, however, the opposite is true for a sugar-sweetened dessert, which is quite high in carbohydrates and calories too.  So, relax on the maltodextrin score unless you have an allergy to corn.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

That Scary Sweet Stuff - High Fructose Corn Syrup



From the Huffington Post comes an article by Dr. Mark Hyman.  The conclusion?  "We are consuming HFCS and sugar in pharmacologic quantities never before experienced in human history -- 140 pounds a year vs. 20 teaspoons a year 10,000 years ago."  This leads to obesity - sadly.    Here is a great article by Dr. Mike Eades re "Why We Get Fat" by Gary Taubes.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thickening Agent (GF)

This is useful to use instead of pure cornstarch or flour in thickening sauces.

81/2 tsp xanthan gum (42 mL)
41/2 tsp guar gum (22 mL)
21/4 tsp Arrowroot starch*, OR (11 mL)
  corn starch*



 
In small plastic container with lid, combine xanthan gum, guar gum and arrowroot starch or corn starch; seal.  Store at room temperature.

Helpful Hints:  Substitute Thickening Agent for cornstarch, using 1/4 as much and substitute Thickening Agent for flour, using 1/8 as much to achieve approximately the same results.

This Thickening Agent must be used in small quantities to avoid a “gummy” texture.  For instance, do not use in quantities greater than 1/2 tsp (2 mL) for thickening sauces for stir-fried vegetables.

You may use only guar gum or only xanthan gum, if one or the other is not available.  Xanthan gum is preferable to guar gum.

*Arrowroot starch and cornstarch each have about 7 grams of carbohydrate per tablespoon (15 mL).  I’ve recently discovered arrowroot powder and it seems to work really well in my Thickening Agent.  Used alone, it requires 1/3 the amount of flour required to thicken sauces, etc.  Sprinkle 1 tsp (5 mL) Thickening Agent over 11/2 cups (375 mL) boiling or hot liquid and whisk vigorously with wire whisk until liquid thickens.  The Thickening Agent seems to dissolve really well, when there is some fat in the liquid, such as butter or olive oil or the fat in a stew gravy, for instance.  If Thickening Agent has not completely dissolved, it may be necessary to pour the liquid through a sieve or blend in a blender.

Vegetable gums have the unfortunate characteristic of reducing sweetness in recipes somewhat, therefore, sometimes less Thickening Agent or more sweetener will be required.

Update - how to prevent clumps:  I should have mentioned that I typically take some of the liquid and blend it with the Thickening Agent in a blender, then add back into the stew, sauce or whatever.  Others have found that by mixing it directly with a little oil or melted butter, and then adding to the stew or sauce, it works better, preventing clumps.

Yield: 1/3 cup
1 tsp per serving
1.5 calories
0 g protein
0 g fat
0.4 g net carbs


Friday, May 13, 2011

Spicy "Apples" with Sweet Almonds (GF)



SPICY “APPLES” WITH SWEET ALMONDS
This fabulous apple-like dessert is from Barbara Goldstein.  By adding the almonds, it makes the dessert reminiscent of apple crisp.  Very yummy!
6 chayote squash
1/4 cup butter (60 mL)
1 cup hot water (250 mL)
1/2 cup water (125 mL)
Liquid sweetener (sucralose or stevia) to equal 3/4 cup sugar (175 mL)
1/4 cup powdered erythritol (60 mL)
3 tbsp lemon juice (45 mL)
1 tsp Thickening Agent, page___ (15 mL) 
2 tsp cinnamon (10 mL)
1/2 tsp salt (2 mL)
2 tsp vanilla extract (10 ml)
Sweet Almonds:
2 tsp butter (10 mL)
1 cup sliced almonds, OR chopped pecans (250 mL)
1/4 cup powdered erythritol(60 mL)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (1 mL)

Wash chayotes.  Cut in half.  Rub cut end on cutting board.  Wipe cut end and cutting board with paper towel.  This makes the chayotes less slippery to work with. Peel chayotes and remove seeds.  Using a mandolin, slice thinly.  In large pot, in boiling water to cover, place chayotes. Place lid on pot, leaving a small open space for steam to escape. Set timer for 20 minutes.  Drain water, but keep 1 cup (250 mL).

In large saucepan, melt butter and add chayotes.  Stir in the reserved hot water.  In blender, combine 1/2 cup (125 mL) water, liquid sweetener and erythritol, lemon juice and Thickening Agent, page___; blend until smooth and add to saucepan.  Add cinnamon and salt.  Bring to boil and simmer 5 minutes.  Stir in vanilla extract.  Allow to cool slightly, sprinkle with sweet almonds and top with creamy Ice Cream Custard, page___, if desired, for a delectable dessert!

Sweet Almonds:  In large frying pan, melt butter.  Add almonds, OR chopped pecans and stir-fry until turning golden brown.  Remove from heat and stir in erythritol and cinnamon.

Helpful Hints:  These “apples” taste even more apple-like when flavors are allowed to mingle in the refrigerator for a day.  For low-carbers in maintenance, add a couple of cooked apples (cook them separately in water as they cook faster than chayotes).  Save the hot water and use with the chayotes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Splenda Misinformation - Written by a famous low-carb doctor

Although this article about Splenda misinformation  by Dr. Eades is older, it's a good thing to remind ourselves that in moderation, Splenda is probably going to be okay for most folks.  If one has obvious side effects, then don't use it.  My family has been the biggest guinea pigs on planet earth for Splenda (18 years and counting and some years on massive doses). I again tried a taste of the Stevia in my cupboard and I must say I really don't like it too much.  The choice of sweetener is definitely a personal one.  I will tell you though I am so skittish about aspartame and I've had a fair amount in my life.  I think it is much worse for us than Splenda, and sugar again is also much worse for us than Splenda.  Anyway, just my opinion, but nice to see that the good low-carb doctor agrees.

Splenda is not perfect, however, and some people do have legitimate problems and reactions to it.  Those people should steer clear.  I have to steer clear of dark chocolate and acidic things.  It happens.  The thing about Splenda that is not great is that it can affect gut flora (the source:  Dr. Mercola who is very anti-Splenda or any sweetener).  Now, there is a way around that besides eating yogurt.  Nevella, a sucralose/Splenda-like product with probiotics (probiotics more powerful than in yogurt) has been my preference for over a year now.  I love it!  I like using it in combination with erythritol these days.  I guess the patent on sucralose and Splenda Granular has run out and other companies are making it.  I tried one by Better Homes and Gardens and did not like it at all.  It did not seem to have enough sweetening power to sweeten my cheesecake adequately.  Nevella has none of those problems.  Did I mention that Nevella is way cheaper than Splenda Granular?  That is what sold me on the product initially.  Splenda Granular has become prohibitively expensive.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The World's First Mediterranean Low-Carb Diet - Book Review




Are you tired of the Atkins Diet but want a low-carb diet that is really easy to follow and really good for your health?  I received a book in the mail a while ago called “Conquer Diabetes & Prediabetes by Steve Parker, M.D.  I link to his excellent blog and have been aware of Steve for a long time now, but had no idea he had written the world’s first low-carb Mediterranean diet! 

I was really surprised by the Introduction.  Dr. Parker begins by apologizing and saying, “I’m sorry for what the Medical establishment has done to people with diabetes.  We’ve done an atrocious job for type 2 diabetics and prediabetics.”  This immediately makes one realize one is dealing with a very honorable man who really cares about his patients.  He had long been an advocate of the proven healthy Mediterranean-style eating for the general population.  He says low-carb diets are higher in total fat and saturated fats but since this has been proven not to contribute to heart disease and strokes, now low-carb diets are enjoying resurgence.  He calls carbohydrates the poison or toxin because in type 2 diabetes and prediabetes the body cannot handle carbohydrates in the normal fashion.  He created a carbohydrate-restricted Mediterranean diet to help people with metabolic syndrome, prediabetes or full-blown diabetes.  This diet can reverse metabolic syndrome.  He goes into what levels of blood sugar defines one as diabetic and he goes into lots of detail for blood sugar and A1C levels, but all in a way that lay people can understand quite easily.  Dr. Parker writes in an interesting way and very clearly.  The book is very easy to follow as a result.

He goes into detail about the various drugs to treat diabetes and as well sternly warns people with diabetes that serious consequences from hypoglycemia can arise from following a very low-carb diet and being on certain diabetic drugs, which he names.  He explains how to prevent this and monitor glucose levels.

The regular Mediterranean diet is a bit too high in carbohydrates for people who should be low-carbing, but there are some very healthy aspects to the diet that are compatible with a low-carb diet such as “olive oil, nuts and seeds, wine, fish, cheese and Mediterranean spices.” 

Steve admits that low-carbing is not for everyone, but if it results in major weight loss, then obvious long-term health benefits arise from that.

He describes what one can eat on the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet (KMD) and which supplements to take.  He recommends 8 to 12 weeks on KMD and then to evaluate whether to move onto the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet.  Steve’s primary goal with his program is “to reap the health benefits of a Mediterranean- style diet without losing control of blood sugars in diabetics and pre-diabetics.  On the Low-Carb Mediterranean diet, he recommends adding in fruits, more veggies, including starchy ones, legumes, yogurt and other dairy products and whole grains.  To avoid carb overdose he recommends gradually adding back the carbs.  He conveniently groups the foods and indicates serving sizes, including carb counts.  A week of meals and special recipes is outlined, including recipes for his daughter, Arizona’s baked cheesecake, almond pound cake, low-carb chili, etc.

Then there is a chapter for Daily Life with Low-carb Eating, his sense of  humor coming through every now and then making me smile.  He gives some cool links for more low-carb recipes and my blog was included!  I was tickled pink to find that page.  He tells you where you can track your weight, blood sugars and consumption of the major food items for free.  There is a chapter on exercise and strength training.  The last chapter is about maintenance.

All in all this is a very healthy diet and a super-easy one to follow, far less complicated than most of the low-carb diets out there.  It is the first low-carb Mediterranean diet in the whole world!  Congratulations, Dr. Parker!  Thank you for my copy of your book.  I love it and highly recommend it to anyone wishing to lead a happier, healthier life and definitely recommend it to anyone who has diabetes as it is specifically geared to help and encourage these people to never experience diabetes complications.

Banana Cream Pie (GF)

 
BANANA CREAM PIE
This pie is so reminiscent of real banana cream pie – comfort food for sure!  I used to love Banana Cream Pie but it is usually so carby.  This one is so good and you won't miss the old kind at all.  I've always got a big crate of bananas on the floor in the laundry room - went up from $4 to $7 recently (what doesn't go up?).  Naah, really it's not for me (okay I do have one here and there sometimes) - it's for the tropical birds that visit each day.  They are voracious banana eaters.  I put baskets up underneath the eaves (to outwit the squirrels), but one clever little squirrel has figured out how to get onto the roof and then he squiggles his little body around the roof edge and jumps into the basket.  Amazes me!  Everything eats bananas here, including Jesus lizards (they walk on water hence their name), Titi monkeys, bunnies, dogs, olingos, and some other funny little critters, and Robins (yes, Robins! Ours are ugly-ish - completely clay-colored like mud and they are such bullies with the other birds).  I make oat muffins (regular) for my sons quite often as the bananas ripen too fast sometimes.  I also freeze lots (slice 'em first).  By the way frozen slices of banana are very yummy and at 1 gram per slice, not too bad.  It takes longer to enjoy a frozen piece.  :)  I killed my first snake yesterday - a Fer de Lance.  It is very poisonous around here.  It was swallowing a frog.  I hit it with a big stick and the frog came flying out!  Unfortunately, in my haste the frog suffered the same fate.  :(  I felt bad for the poor frog.  Then later something else ate it.  Sigh.  Poor little frog!

Thank you for your interest in my recipes.  Find this delicious pie in Low-Carbing Among Friends.

Variation:  Lemon Banana Cream Pie:  Omit whipping cream and use lemon juice instead. (6.4 g carbs)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Have To Tell You About a Fabulous New Blog! Fluffy Chix Cook!



If you have not discovered this new blog, then hurry on over to check out Fluffy Chix Cook.  She is one seriously talented cook and her photos and blog are exquisitely well done.  She leans a bit more towards gourmet cooking by the looks of things, which means I can learn a lot from her! Susie's fantastic sense of humor and energy which jumps off the screen practically is bound to put you in a great mood! 

From the moment I "met" Susie (aka Pooti or Pooticus) on Lowcarbfriends, I knew she was one intelligent woman!  She has gone low-carb like the rest of us, but throw in a few more challenges for Susie; she is gluten-free and has an allergy to nuts (or maybe only almonds, I forget now) and something else, I thought.  Susie has lost over 70 pounds low-carbing and plans to lose quite a bit more, but she takes it in her stride, as this is a way of life for her now.  Her story is very touching:  read it here.  You can tell Susie is the kind of person we all like to have as a friend; genuine, doesn't take herself seriously, loves to laugh (did I mention she is so witty and funny!) and works hard at pleasing and helping others as well.

Susie, thank you so much for your support of my blog and work and just simply also for being such a good friend.  (((HUGS)))  Love your blog - keep up the amazing work!  You will be helping so many people eat well and live healthier lives.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

ZUCCHINI CARROT CAKE LOAF



CARROT CAKE LOAF
This loaf does not even need the frosting but is really decadent with it and looks pretty! Recipe may be doubled and one loaf can be frozen for up to 2 months.  I doubled up the recipe and sent one of the loaves with my youngest son to the city and I'm still finishing off the other.  If you like carrot cake, this is a lovely recipe.  It has some zucchini in it - should we call it Carrot-Zucchini Loaf instead?

13/4 cups Gluten-Free Bake Mix, (425 mL)  CLICK highlighted text for recipe
2 tsp baking powder (10 mL)
1 tsp cinnamon (5 mL)
3/4 tsp nutmeg (3 mL)
1/2 tsp baking soda (2 mL)
1/4 tsp cloves (1 mL)
1/4 tsp ginger (1 mL)
1/tsp salt (0.5 mL)
4 eggs
Liquid sweetener (sucralose or stevia) to equal 2/cup (150 mL)
1/2 cup olive oil (125 mL)
1/3 cup granulated erythritol (75 mL)
1/2 cup grated zucchini (125 mL)
1/2 cup grated carrot (125 mL)
1/3 cup raisins, snipped in half, OR chopped walnuts (75 mL)
Cream Cheese Frosting (Optional):
4 oz light cream cheese, softened (125 g)
Liquid sweetener (sucralose or stevia) to equal 1/3 cup sugar (75 mL)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (30 mL)
1 tbsp whipping cream (15 mL)
1 tsp vanilla extract (5 mL)

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease or line a 8 x 4 x 3-inch (1.5 L) loaf pan with wax paper or foil if pan is old and not nonstick. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine Gluten-Free Bake Mix,  baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, cloves, ginger and salt.  In food processor with sharp blade, process eggs.  Add liquid sweetener, olive oil and erythritol; process.   Add dry ingredients and process at least one minute, scraping sides once. Stir in zucchini, carrot and raisins, OR chopped walnuts.

Scoop batter into loaf pan.  Bake 50 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cover loaf lightly with foil in last 10 minutes. Place pan on wire rack and let loaf cool 10 minutes.  Remove loaf and carefully remove wax paper or foil, if using.  If using frosting, frost loaf when completely cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting:  In food processor with sharp blade or in blender, process cream cheese,  liquid sweetener, butter, whipping cream and vanilla extract until smooth.

Yield:  18 slices

Raisins/walnuts
131.0/136.0 calories
3.3/3.8 g protein
10.7/11.9 g fat
5.1/3.2 g carbs


For other great Low-Carb, Gluten-Free recipes by the team & me:

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