Low carb chicken cacciatore

This is a great warm comfort dish for cold winter months. Serve with a big green salad and enjoy

5 whole chicken legs (legs and thighs), skin on
2 tbs bacon grease or other oil
One package whole button mushrooms. Halved or quartered (depending on the size)
3-4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tsp Italian seasoning 
1/4 cup vermouth
1 cup tomato purée (find lowest carb you can)
4-5 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped. 
Jalapeño peppers to taste
Salt and pepper
Divide the legs and thighs and cut 3-4 deep slits in each piece of chicken. This lets the fat render and the flavour to penetrate the chicken. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. 
Heat the backlog grease over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the chicken and brown about 4-5 mins per side. Do not over crowd the pan, do in batches if necessary. 
Once the chicken is brown, move to an oven safe backing dish (~8×12). Add mushrooms and garlic to the frying pan (keep all the fat that came out of the chicken). Add a little salt and pepper to the mushrooms. Fry for 3-5 mins to collet all the brown bits from the chicken. Add the Vermouth, scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce vermouth for 2-3 mins then add the tomato purée. 
Transfer tomato and mushrooms mixture to the baking dish and move the chicken around to let the sauce underneath. Add the crumbled bacon and jalapeños and move to a 350F preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour, uncovered. 
Optional: if you find there is too much sauce (I did) pour most of the liquid into a sauce pan and boil to reduce by 1/2-2/3. Took me about 10 mins, stirring often to avoid burning the sauce. Return thickened sauce to the chicken and serve. I like it with a nice green salad. 

Low carb lifestyle 101: Why LCHF works!

A plain language explanation of how and why low carb diets work.

Let me start off by saying I am simplifying a lot of the biochemistry of how our bodies deal with carbs, protein and fat. However I feel it is important for people without biochemistry degrees to understand why low carb diets work. Please feel free to ask me questions in the comments. IMG_6938-1.JPG

Low carb diets work for 2 main reasons.

  1. Insulin

  2. Reduced Hunger

 

1. Insulin. Insulin is the hormone in your body that protects you from high levels of sugar (glucose) in your blood. When you eat carbohydrate (that convert to sugar in your body) your blood sugar rises. The body can not live when blood sugar is too high, so you pump out insulin to send that sugar either into you cells for energy or if there is excess sugar it gets converted to fat and stored.

Insulin also stores fat in your fat cells. So any fat eaten with those carbs will be store as well.

When you dramatically reduce the amount of carbs you eat your blood sugar does not spike and thus your insulin levels don’t either.

In very simplistic terms. Without insulin you can not (easily) store fat. Thus when you eat a low carb high fat diet there is not insulin around to cause you to store that fat.

2. Reduced hunger. Anyone that has tried a low fat high carb diet knows the feeling of hunger. You are always thinking about your next meal. You are eating snacks between meals to “keep your energy up”. Willpower is the name of the game. Just stop eating as much and the weight will come off. While true it is not a fun way to live life.

An amazing thing happens when you adapt to an LCHF diet. Hunger as you know it practically disappears.

A typical standard American diet (SAD) has your body on a sugar roller coaster. You eat your oatmeal and muffin for breakfast and your blood sugar skyrockets insulin rushes in and because many people are no longer perfectly sensitive to insulin your body overshoots the amount causing too much sugar to be taken out of the blood. With low blood sugar you body starts screaming for more energy, making you feel hungry. You grab an apple at 10am and the cycle starts again.

Your body does not store sugar as sugar. Thus when your primary source of energy is sugar, it comes practically exclusively from your diet. When you run out, your are out of energy and you need fool. Now!

LCHF is different. When eating LCHF and fully “keto adapted” your body uses ketones as its primary energy source. Ketones are produced in your body by breaking down fat. Ketones can be used in basically the same way as glucose to fuel your body. The main difference is your body can store fat. Unfortunately on most of us we have store far too much of the stuff.

So let’s return to breakfast. Say you eat a egg with a couple slices of bacon and have a bullet proof coffee with 2-4 tbs of fat. This meal does not cause a spike in blood sugar. There is no insulin response. No spike. No crash. Your body goes about digesting the fat and converting it to ketones. You are in a state of ketosis. When your meal is digested your body simple switch to burning the fat it has stored before. There is no energy crisis and no crazy emergency hunger response.

Your body simply runs off the stored fat.

This reduces the desire for snacking and as a result can naturally limit the amount of food you eat. Reducing your calorie intake without willpower.

From a high level it really is that simple. Without insulin you can’t store fat and burn mor fat. Without hunger you eat less and feel better.

There are a lot of intricacies to a LCHF lifestyle and a lot of reasons they work differently for different people. Over the next few weeks I will explain much of that. However the basics are critical to understand. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I have over simplified things to the point of being wrong. I love answering question and enjoy lively discussion.

Bacon cheeseburger casserole

This was quickly thrown together without measuring. The following is my best guess but feel free to alter

2 lbs ground beef
1 tbs dried onion flakes
1 shallot, sliced
1 tsp chicken stock bouillon

Add beef to a frying and brown. Add onion flakes, shallots and chicken stock bouillon. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside

Sauce:
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
7-10 small gurken (sp?) pickles
2-3 tbs low sugar ketchup
2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over ground beef. Stir to combine. Add to a greased casserole dish.

Top beef mixture with 6 processed cheese slices. (Optional… Not really that cheese was amazing!)

Crust mixture:
1 cup carbquik
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1 tsp chicken stock bouillon
1/4 – 1/2 cup water

Mix all ingredients except water. Slowly add water until you get a soft fluffy batter.

Dollop batter on top of beef and cheese. Spread out (doesn’t have to reach the edges). Sprinkle with some sesame seeds

Back casserole at 350F for 30 mins. Then turn on the broiler on high for 3-4 mins until golden brown. Let cool 10 mins before serving.

20141213-175446.jpg

Cauliflower and ground beef stew

Comfort food at its best. With the cold weather upon us (at least in Canada) this stew really hits the spot.

Cauliflower and ground beef stew

2 tbs ghee or butter
1lb regular ground beef
1 shallot, sliced
1 tsp thyme, dried
1 tsp basil, dried
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp beef bouillon
1 small can (400g) tomato sauce – unsweetened
1 head cauliflower
1/2 bag coleslaw mix
Salt and pepper to taste.

Melt the ghee/butter. Fry the shallots for 2-3 mins till softened. Add beef and fry until browned. Add seasonings. Add tomato sauce and an extra can worth of water. Add cauliflower and coleslaw. Cover and summer for 30 mins or until cauliflower is soft. Remove cover and reduce until sauce is thick.

20141130-193024.jpg

Low carb cinnamon cake

Got inspired to try and make a cinnamon roll low carb. It didn’t end up rolling but made an amazing moist and delicious cake! Whole recipe has about 4-5 g of carbs.  Made the batter in my MagicBullet, took all of 5 mins to put together, 10 mins in the oven.  Yum!

 Low Carb Cinnamon Cake

20140604-204713.jpg

 

Cake Batter:

  • 2 tbs pecan flour (blended in the Magic Bullet)
  • 2 tbs almond flour
  • 2 tbs melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp stevia
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in the magic bullet or blend and blend until smooth.  Transfer to a greased small loaf pan (I used tin foil shaped about the size of a loaf pan) and bake at 350F for 10 mins.  Remove and allow to cool (mostly cool, this was great warm).

 

Cinnamon Topping:

  • 1 tbs melted butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbs sugar free maple syrup (I used Joseph’s)

Combine, pour over cake while cooling.  Cake should still be pretty hot when you pour this over so it soaks in.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 heaping tbs cream cheese, softened
  • 1-2 tsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp stevia
  • splash of vanilla extract

Combine with a whisk.

 

Once cake has cooled slightly and cinnamon topping has soaked in, cut in half.  Put 1/3 of the frosting on the bottom half, then stack the second half on top.  Top with the rest of the frosting and enjoy (add a pecan if you have one laying around).

 

Faux Mac and Cheese

Played with some cauliflower and cheese today and came up with a delicious Mac and cheese replacement.

Low Carb Faux “Mac” and Cheese – Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Low Carb Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

1 med cauliflower, cut into florets and steamed
1 cup shredded Havarti
1 1/2 cup shredded old cheddar
3 eggs
2 tbs cream cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbs Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs fried shallots

Make sure you squeeze the excess water out of the cauliflower. Add to a bowl and cut into sort of small “macaroni-like” pieces. Combine the eggs, cream cheese, cream, mustard, salt and pepper. Add liquid to cauliflower. Add Havarti and 1 cup cheddar (reserve 1/2 cup for topping). Stir to combine. Transfer to greased casserole dish. Smooth the top and sprinkle the fried shallots and cheddar on top.

Bake at 350F for 30-40 mins until golden brown on the top. Let set 10-20 mins before slicing and eating (if you can wait. I never can).

Low carb “honey” garlic pork riblets

These riblets are amazing! Easy to make, but does take some time (1-1.5 hrs). Good with faux cauliflower rice.

20121001-230413.jpg

Low carb honey garlic riblets

1-2 lbs pork riblets
1 can diet cola (splenda or stevia sweetened)
2 tsp minced garlic/ginger blend
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs white vinegar
1 tbs dried onion flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a med sauce pan (do not season with salt until later). Cover and simmer for 45-60mins till pork is tender. Remove cover and reduce the sauce until you have about 1/2 cup of liquid, approx another 15-20 mins. I removed the pork at this point and used a fat separator to remove the excess fat. Adjust seasoning (salt and pepper) and serve riblets with sauce.

I wanted mine to taste a little more “garlicy” so I sprinkled a little garlic powder in the sauce at the end.

Low carb mushroom stroganoff

This dish came about when I wanted to use up some mushrooms. Loved it!

20120909-174234.jpg

Low carb mushroom stroganoff

230g (8oz) cremini mushrooms
3 tbs butter
1 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup beef stock
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tbs cream cheese
1 tbs parsley

Fry mushrooms in butter for 5-7 mins until browned. Add a pinch of salt after 3-4 mins. Add onions and garlic and cook for another 4-6 mins until onions are soft. Deglaze with beef broth. Simmer for 5 mins until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat and add in sour cream and cream cheese.  The thickness or viscosity of the sauce can be adjusted by reducing further or adding water to thin it out.  I needed a little water (1-2 tbs). Garnish with parsley and serve over low carb noodles or thinly sliced zucchini “noodles”.

Low carb blueberry cheesecake

I’ve made no-bake cheesecake in the past but this was my first attempt at a baked cheesecake. I think it came out really well.

20120904-151737.jpg

Low carb blueberry cheesecake

Crust:
2 tbs butter
1/2 cup almond flour

Combine butter and almond flour and press into the bottom of a 8″ springform pan. Bake at 350 for 7-10 mins till slightly brown

Cheesecake filling:
2 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
3/4 cup Splenda or liquid equiv
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

With a hand mixer combine cream cheese with eggs. Add extracts. Pour on top of cooled crust. Bake for 30-35 mins until golden around the sides and slightly firm in the center.

Topping:

1/3 cup frozen blueberries
2-3 tbs water
A few sprinkled of xanthan gum

Bring the berries and water to a simmer. Whisk mixture constantly while sprinkling in the xanthan gum until it thickens. I keep my xanthan gum in a salt shaker which helps prevent clumping, but also means I don’t have an exact measure. Prob less then 1/8 tsp.

When cheesecake has cooled (mostly) pour blue berry topping on top. Refrigerate over night before serving.

Low carb burger buns

Burgers and sandwiches are staples in many peoples diets. However once you go low carb it is hard to find good replacements for buns. This is a quick and easy recipe for low carb burger buns. They work out to about 1g per bun (a little less actually).

20120904-145149.jpg

 

Low carb Burger Buns

 

3 eggs
3 tbs butter
2 tbs sour cream
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup Carbquik
1/4 cup almond flour
2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.  Melt butter in the microwave for 20 sec.  In a bowl or blender, combine all ingredients together and blend until combined into a pancake like batter.  Spray a muffin top pan (also called a hamburger bun pan) with non-stick cooking spray.  Spoon 2 tbs of batter for each muffin and bake for 10-12 mins.  I made 9 buns total, but I think I could have gotten 10 with more careful measuring.  Cool and enjoy!

NOTE: Muffin top tins are available at most kitchen supply stores and are not that expensive.  They are great to have around!

 

20120904-145204.jpg