Monday, August 18, 2014

Low Carb Recipes

About six weeks ago, the hubby and I began to discover that a lot of our mutual health concerns could be linked to something that could be helped by eating fewer carbs.
Let me be clear, we have never EVER dieted before, but the benefits were too alluring and we set off on our diet--
A diet that allowed almost no carbs to begin with and then tapered on to just good carbs.
So we cut out bread and pasta and rice and all sugar.
And for the first weeks we cut out quinoa and oats and even fruits and some veggies--It is incredible where all those carbs can lurk!
So what did we eat? Well, I felt like I ate all the time. LOTS of salads and meat. The hubby, evidently, normally eats a lot of carbs because on this diet, he's lost 15 pounds already! That's really too many which is why we've begun the second phase of our diet already. We're already back to eating healthy low carb meals but including a few starches and grains--quinoa instead of pasta, brown or black rice instead of white, a dollop of honey instead of sugar. As you can see, we're not super strict with ourselves, but I think we have experienced enough benefits to keep going.
Back to that question: what did we eat? Well here are some amazing low carb things that kept our plates and our tummies full.
Pork with strawberry-spinach salad.
See, I'm already cheating! Here is fruit! But at least it is berries, which are relatively low carb.
The best part of this salad was the homemade strawberry vinaigrette.
Strawberry Vinaigrette
1/2 pound fresh strawberries
1 T honey
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T melted coconut oil
1/2 t lemon juice
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper

Serve vinaigrette over spinach, sliced strawberries and sliced almonds.
Serve salad with a slow-cooker pork roast basted in Italian seasoning and olive oil.

Stone soup
 Add chicken and veggies to chicken stock and bouillon. Season to taste. Cook until vegetables are tender.
Serve with salad.

Chicken, sausage and vegetables
Stir fry link chopped chicken breast in olive oil until all pink is gone. Remove chicken from skillet. Stir fry link sausage, add chicken and frozen vegetables to pot. Sprinkle with favorite herbs.
Best recipe so far!! This was amazing! It has quinoa, so it has a lot more carbs than most of these other meals, but they are good carbs.

Quinoa Caprese
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
8 oz. mozzarella
Thinly sliced tomato from your garden

Cook 3/4 cup quinoa with 1 1/2 cups water according to package directions. 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
Saute ground beef until cooked through. Add minced garlic, spinach and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Stir until spinach is cooked. Add cooked quinoa and basil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until heated through. 
Transfer quinoa mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top, and place tomato slices in an even layer over the cheese. Sprinkle a little more basil over the tomatoes. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the tomatoes, and sprinkle remaining ¼ c. parmesan over the top. Bake in 9 x13 pan in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and tomatoes are thoroughly cooked.

Fried Cheese
Slice cheese thickly and lay gently onto heated skillet. When bottom is firm, flip and cook the other side. This makes a great low carb alternative for croutons or a great "cracker" to use for dips!

Yes, there were groans when I put it on the table, but it tasted great and some kiddos even had seconds!
Green Soup
Two heads of cauliflower
4-6 cups real chicken stock
(I boiled a chicken the day before with onions and garlic and then strained the stock)
chicken bouillon to taste
1/2 bag fresh spinach
4 T butter
1 C milk (dairy or non dairy)
Cut, wash and steam cauliflower. Saute spinach. Cool each ingredient. Blend cauliflower and spinach with a small amount of stock in your blender. 
Melt butter in large pot. Blend in a a teaspoon of coconut OR 4 T AP flour
When flour is slightly brown, add 1 C milk and 1 C chicken stock and stir until thickened.
Pour the rest of the chicken stock, bouillon, and blender mix into the pot with the roux and stir until heated through and thickened. 

And have we had no dessert, no snacks? Not at all. I have found that a little goes a long way now, but I love these satisfying add-ons to my day:

Power Balls
(All amounts are approximate)
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/3 cup hemp hearts
1 cup finely ground almonds
1 cup ground oats
a handful of not ground oats (maybe 1/2 cup?)
1/3 cup ground flax seed
1/4 to 1/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (+ or -) peanut or almond butter
A big squeeze of honey
(1 or 2 tablespoons depending on how sweet you want them)
Mix ingredients together.
It should be sticky enough to scrunch together and roll into balls. If it isn't, add a few drops if water. Roll into balls, place on lined tray and freeze. Then put hard power balls in a bag and keep in the freezer.
Coco-Chocolate Bites
(A bit like a granola bar crossed with healthy fudge)
1 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
2 T  honey
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil 
2 cups rolled oats (not instant oats)
1/2 cup chopped almonds (any nut would do)
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt the almond butter, honey, cocoa and coconut oil in a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir frequently as the mixture melts. When it has melted, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Stir until ingredients are well combined.
Pour into an 8x8 pan (9x13 is fine well). Refrigerate until the chocolate hardens, at least 3-4 hours. Slice into 1"-2" square pieces. Store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

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