Monday, September 26, 2016

Apple Pie Kefir Smoothie



It's apple season in Maine! This is the time of year I get a serious craving for apples, maybe because they're everywhere--in the Farmer's Markets and grocery stores. When my daughter was young, apple picking was a yearly activity that was followed up with a lot of cooking with apples in every conceivable way. This delicious smoothie has that apple-cinnamon flavor that is reminiscent of the all-American favorite, apple pie.  To keep the carbs down, I only use 1/4 of a tart apple but, combined with the warm spices, it's enough to give it the apple flavor I desire.  This smoothie is a great way to get a crisp, cool autumn morning off to a good and healthy start!

Apple Pie Kefir Smoothie
Makes 1 serving

1/2 cup plain, unsweetened kefir (or yogurt)
1/4 organic Granny Smith apple with skin, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon coconut or flaxseed oil
1/2 cup coconut or almond milk (I used full-fat coconut milk)
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 tablespoon chia seed
1/4 teaspoon stevia powder, or to taste (I use Sweet Leaf brand)
A pinch of salt
2 kale leaves or a handful of spinach (if you want it green)
1 teaspoon collagen hydrolysate (or your favorite protein powder)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-5 ice cubes
Enough water to reach desired consistency

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy immediately.

Nutritional Information per serving: 421 calories, 13.4 g carbohydrate (3.5 g dietary fiber, 9.6 g sugars), 35.3 g total fat (24.8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 12 mg cholesterol, 77 mg sodium, 161.4 mg calcium, 286 mg potassium, 8.3 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 9.9 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2016
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without author's permission.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Snickerdoodle Smoothie



If I could choose only one food item that has had the biggest impact on my improved health, it would be my morning smoothie. For the past eight years, most of my days start with a smoothie. Some are green with a little low-glycemic fruit and others are made from a base of nut butter, but the thing they all have in common is that they're nutritious, delicious and keep me feeling satisfied for many hours, sometimes all the way to dinner! The trick about making smoothies for a diabetic is that they need to be very low carb, plus contain enough healthy fat and protein to keep the blood glucose steady. It's the blood sugar spike of a high carb breakfast and then rapid crash a couple of hours later that causes hunger and cravings by mid-morning, requiring an "elevenzees" snack just to make it to lunch! When you start your morning on a blood sugar roller coaster ride, it will effect your eating pattern for the rest of the day and may lead to the over-consumption of carbs. This delicious and creamy smoothie has the sweet vanilla and cinnamon flavor of the popular Snickerdoodle cookie. Cinnamon is well-known and documented as a blood sugar stabilizing spice and this is a great way to get more of it into my diet.

Snickerdoodle Smoothie
Makes 1 serving

1/2 cup plain, unsweetened kefir (or yogurt)
1/2 cup coconut milk (or almond milk)
1 tablespoon macadamia nut butter (or 2 tablespoons macadamia nuts)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A pinch of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon stevia powder, or to taste (I used Sweet Leaf brand)
1/2 tablespoon collagen hydrolysate powder (or your favorite protein powder)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil, ghee or flax oil
4 drops of Vanilla Creme stevia
1/2 cup water (or enough to create desired consistency)
4-5 ice cubes
1 scoop of prebiotic powder, optional (I used Prebio Plus)

Put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Taste and adjust sweetening, if desired. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy!

Nutritional Information: 304 calories, 8 g carbohydrate (7.4 g dietary fiber, 4.4 g sugars), 24.7 g total fat (9 g saturated fat, o g trans fat), 12 mg cholesterol, 132 mg sodium, 379.9 mg calcium, 150 mg potassium, 9.4 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 0.6 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2016
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without author's permission.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Brownie Chocolate Chip Kefir Ice Cream



Wowza!! That's the only word to describe this rich and creamy frozen treat. Prior to my diagnosis of Celiacs disease, one of my favorite flavors of ice cream was Cookies and Cream. I was sad thinking I might never have it again. But instead of feeling sorry for myself or living without, I took it as a personal challenge and went to work in my kitchen. The result of my creative effort has me smiling again! The base for this ice cream is a rich vanilla egg custard, which is delicious by itself. But when I added chunks of my Chocolate Fudge Brownies and chopped dark chocolate bits to the custard, the vanilla deliciousness reached to near perfection! Of course, as I always do, I added probiotic-rich kefir to the mix to make it even more healthy. You will never believe this ice cream is low carb, sugar free and grain free. It tastes like the real thing to me!

Brownie Chocolate Chip Kefir Ice Cream
Makes eight (1/2 cup) servings

Vanilla Custard Ice Cream Base:

1 cup full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup heavy cream (or use all coconut milk**)
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup LaKanto Monkfruit sweetener (or other erythritol sweetener), divided
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
The seeds scraped from one vanilla bean (or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder)
A pinch of salt
1 cup plain, unsweetened kefir or plain yogurt** (to make your own kefir, click here)
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon stevia powder, to taste (I used Sweet Leaf brand)
8-10 drops Vanilla Creme stevia (I used Sweet Leaf brand)

Stir Ins:
1 serving of Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cups (recipe here), cut into small squares and frozen
4 squares of dark chocolate 70% or higher bar (I used 85% Green and Black bar), chopped

1. In a medium heavy saucepan, stir together the coconut milk, heavy cream, 2 tablespoons LaKanto Monkfruit sweetener, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds (or powder) and salt. Heat on medium-low heat until steam begins to rise from the mixture and small bubbles form on the edges of the pan, stirring occasionally to dissolve sweetener.

2. Meanwhile, in a 2-cup glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of remaining LaKanto Monkfruit sweetener vigorously until light and pale yellow in color, about 2 minutes.

3.  When the milk mixture is heated, use a ladle to slowly add about 1/4 cup of the hot liquid to the egg yolks while whisking continuously, until incorporated. Slowly add another 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks while whisking. Then pour the tempered egg yolks into the saucepan with the rest of the milk mixture, stirring continuously until the mixture has thickened slightly and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and pour the custard through a strainer to remove any lumps. Cool completely, eventually moving to the refrigerator to chill.

4. While the custard is chilling, bake the Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cups until firmly set, about 20 minutes baking time (click here for the recipe). Once cooled to room temperature, cut one serving (1/3 of recipe) into small squares and freeze. Chop dark chocolate and set aside.

5. Once the custard is cold, pour it into a blender with the kefir, stevia powder and stevia drops. Blend briefly until combined. Taste and adjust sweetening, if desired. Cool mixture in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before proceeding.

6. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for your ice cream maker to churn the ice cream base. When it has thickened sufficiently, add the stir in ingredients (add the frozen brownie squares toward the end of the churning process to prevent them from pulverizing). Serve immediately as a soft-serve ice cream or pour into a container and freeze for about 40 minutes before scooping. (See Notes* regarding leftovers.)

*Notes: Sugar free ice cream is best served at the soft-serve stage or soon after freezing briefly. Once it has frozen completely, it will be too hard to scoop. Spoon any leftovers into ice pop molds and freeze to be enjoyed later.

**This ice cream can be made dairy free by using all coconut milk and substituting either coconut milk kefir or a dairy-free yogurt.

Nutritional Information per 1/2 cup serving: 175 calories, 6.4 g carbohydrate (0.6 g dietary fiber, 1.7 g sugars, 6.5 g sugar alcohols), 15.9 g total fat (8.8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 140 mg cholesterol, 64 mg sodium, 74.6 mg calcium, 78 mg potassium, 3.9 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 5.8 grams

Recipes by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2016
All rights reserved. Do not duplicate without author's permission.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Carrots and Apples



I love my Crock Pot and use it often. Even if I'm at home for the day, I love the aroma wafting though the house and knowing that all I have to do is lift the lid from the slow cooker and dinner is ready. This recipe in particular smells wonderful while it's cooking and it's so easy to throw together. The combination of pork and apples is a classic and by cooking them in a crock pot, the pork chops turn out moist and tender. To reduce some carbs, I recommend using a green Granny Smith apple, instead of a higher sugar variety. With a side of probiotic-rich homemade sauerkraut, this is a comforting and healing meal.

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Carrots and Apples
Makes 2-4 servings, depending on the size of your pork chops

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 large, thick, center cut, boneless pork chops (organic or antibiotic free)
1 large onion, sliced
2 cups carrots, thickly sliced (I use multi-colored carrots)
1 Granny Smith apple, cut into slices and sprinkled with lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 teas dried)
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped (or 2 teas dried)
Salt and pepper

1. In a heavy skillet, heat the oil on medium-high. Season the chops with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.

2. In the crock pot, add the sliced onion and carrots and season with a little salt and pepper. Place the pork chops on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with the chopped herbs.

Top vegetables with browned pork chops.

3.  Spread the sliced apples on top of the pork and put the lid on the Crock Pot. Set the slow cooker to high (or 350-degrees Fahrenheit) and cook for 3 hours. Test meat and, if it's tender and the internal temperature is at least 165-degrees, turn off slow cooker.  If additional cooking is needed, continue cooking covered for another 30 minutes.  Serve pork with vegetables and spoon any sauce over the chops for added flavor.

Scatter apple slices over all before cooking.

Nutritional Information per serving (with 1/2 cup vegetables): 341 calories, 24 g carbohydrate (4 g dietary fiber, 16.2 g sugars), 16.2 g total fat (6.1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 70 mg cholesterol, 174 mg sodium, 31.7 mg calcium, 228 mg potassium, 24.2 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 20 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2016
All rights reserved. Do not replicate without written permission.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Blueberry Mug Muffin with Easy Cultured Butter



I was lying in bed this morning, thinking about what I might want for breakfast, when an idea flashed into my mind: Blueberry Muffin. This is a twist on my favorite Mug Cake recipes but, instead, it's a Mug Muffin! And to make it even extra healthy, I mixed together kefir cheese and butter to create a simple and quick cultured butter as a spread. YUM...so delicious! I highly recommend using the smaller wild Maine blueberries for this recipe so they won't sink to the bottom (like mine did in this picture) but, even if the bigger variety of berry is all you have, it will still taste amazing, especially topped with creamy butter. (It would also be great made with raspberries.) This delightful breakfast was a great way to start a beautiful summer day in Maine!

Blueberry Mug Muffin
Makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons almond flour/meal
2 teaspoons coconut flour
2 teaspoons LaKanto Monkfruit sweetener (or other erythritol sweetener)
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon stevia powder (I used Sweet Leaf brand)
A pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon lemon extract or 1 teaspoon lemon zest (or 2 drops dietary-grade lemon essential oil)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 drops Lemon Drop stevia (I used Sweet Leaf brand)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon butter, melted (use ghee for dairy-free)
1 tablespoon small wild blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1. Melt the 1 tablespoon of butter in a mug by microwaving on high for about 15 seconds; set aside.

2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, sweeteners, salt and baking powder. Stir with a fork until well combined and no lumps are visible.

3.  Add the melted butter, extracts, lemon stevia drops, and egg. Whisk with a fork until a smooth batter forms. Take a paper towel and coat the bottom and sides of the mug with any butter remaining in the mug. Add 1/2 of the blueberries to the batter and gently fold to incorporate and pour into the prepared mug. Top batter with remaining berries.

4. Microwave on high for about 45 seconds.* Remove and test by touching the muffin near the center. It is done when the batter on top of the muffin looks set and springs back when touched lightly. If additional cooking time is needed, microwave at 10 second intervals and retest. Do not overcook. Allow the muffin to cool in the mug for 1 minute.

5. Invert the muffin onto a serving plate and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately with butter or store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 day. This recipe makes 2 servings.

*To bake in the oven, divide batter into two greased muffin tins or ramekins and bake at 325-degree Fahrenheit for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when tested or muffins spring back when touched near the center. 

These muffins can be microwaved or baked in the oven. Both methods are equally delicious!
Nutritional Information per 1/2 recipe: 143 calories, 6 g carbohydrate (1.7 g dietary fiber, 0.9 g sugars, 4 g sugar alcohols), 11.7 g total fat (4.9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 113 mg cholesterol, 173 mg sodium, 114.5 mg calcium, 88 mg potassium, 5 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 4.3 grams

Easy and Quick Cultured Butter: Mix together 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1 tablespoon kefir cheese (to make kefir cheese, click here) and 1/4 teaspoon honey.  This probiotic-rich buttery spread is excellent on muffins, pancakes and waffles.

Recipes by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2016
All rights reserved. Do not duplicate without author's permission.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Coco-Mocha Mug Cake



I just returned from vacation and I'm not quite ready to stop being on vacation! This afternoon, to extend the fun experience, I made this marvelous Keto Mug Cake and ate the whole thing for my lunch. It's grain-free, sugar free and easily can be made dairy free (by substituting ghee for the butter), but it's far from flavor free! The combination of coconut, coffee and chocolate is so delicious. Since Mug Cakes are "baked" in the microwave and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes, I can be spontaneous and carefree about having one. This tender cake is similar to a sweet indulgence I was tempted to have while on vacation, but without all the gluten, sugar, carbs or guilt! Mmmm...this was a great way reward myself for having made healthy choices on my trip and to welcome myself back home.

Coco-Mocha Mug Cake
Makes 2 servings

1-1/2 tablespoons butter, melted (or ghee for dairy free)
2 tablespoons almond flour/meal
2 teaspoons coconut flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee (or substitute 1 tablespoon strong brewed coffee and omit the coconut milk)
2 teaspoons LaKanto Monkfruit sweetener (or other erythritol sweetener)
1/4 teaspoon stevia powder (I used Sweet Leaf brand)
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
5 drops dark chocolate stevia or regular (I used NOW Better Stevia brand)
1 tablespoon coconut milk

Optional toppings (pictured): shaved or chopped dark chocolate (70% or higher), toasted unsweetened shredded coconut or flakes. (Optional toppings are not included in nutritional information.)

1. Prepare your mug by melting the butter or ghee in it (microwave for 15 seconds or so); set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the batter.

2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the almond meal, coconut flour, cocoa powder, instant coffee (if using), sweeteners, salt, shredded coconut, and baking powder until well mixed.  Add the melted butter, egg, stevia drops and coconut milk.  With a fork or whisk, stir until well combined.

3. With a paper towel, coat the inside of your mug with any melted butter still remaining in the mug. Pour in batter and microwave for about 45 seconds until cake is done and springs back when touched near the center. (The time needed for cooking may vary, depending on the mug you use and the wattage of your microwave. It's best to begin with 45 seconds and, if more cooking is needed, microwave in 10 second intervals until done.)

4. Allow to cool in the mug for at least 1 minute, then invert cake onto a serving dish and cool for an additional few minutes until warm, but not too hot.  Sprinkle with optional toppings, if desired. Serve immediately. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature and eat within 1 day. This recipe makes 2 servings.

Nutritional Information per serving (1/2 recipe without optional toppings): 191 calories, 7.4 g carbohydrate (2.6 g dietary fiber, 0.8 g sugars, 4 g sugar alcohol), 17.5 g total fat (8.9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 116 mg cholesterol, 172 mg sodium, 120 mg calcium, 137 mg potassium, 5.8 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 4.8 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2016.
All rights reserved. Do not reprint without author's permission.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Cherry Chocolate Chip Kefir Ice Cream with Macadamia



Summer just isn't summer without ice cream! For a long time, I only would allow myself a single dip of ice cream once a year as a treat. (How sad and un-American is that?) I felt deprived and certainly left out of the whole social experience of eating ice cream with family and friends. I wanted more freedom to enjoy the short, warm season in Maine like everyone else...and that means having plenty of ice cream. The only difference now is that I make it myself. For my birthday last year, I received an ice cream maker and have been having a grand time creating healthy, sugar free ice cream in every season. My imagination has been the only limit to the variety of flavors I've enjoyed! The one ingredient I add to all my recipes is plain milk kefir because it's a delicious way to consume more probiotics. My ice cream is similar to frozen yogurt, but it contains many more beneficial microorganisms to boost digestive health, which is very important for a person with diabetes. This recipe highlights fresh cherries that are in season and at the lowest price right now. Combined with chocolate chips, cacao nibs and chopped macadamia nuts, it is bursting with real summertime flavor! If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can make this mixture into ice pops instead, but I highly recommend you consider getting one for all the ice cream you'll want to make in the future after you taste this!  To browse my other low carb, delicious and healthy ice cream recipes, click here.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Kefir Ice Cream with Macadamia
Makes eight (1/2 cup) servings

Ice cream base:

1 cup plain milk kefir (to learn how to make your own, click here) or use plain yogurt
2 cups full-fat coconut milk (I used A-Roy D brand)
1 tablespoon Lakanto Monkfruit sweetener (or other erythirtol sweetener)
3/4 teaspoon stevia powder, or to taste (I use Sweet Leaf brand)
1 heaping tablespoon raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
5-8 drops of Cherry flavored liquid stevia (or regular)
1 tablespoon macadamia nut butter (or cashew butter)
12 fresh red sweet cherries, pitted (divided)

Stir-Ins:

2 tablespoons 70% or higher dark chocolate, chopped (I used 5 squares of Green and Black's 85% Organic Chocolate bar)
1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1. In a blender, blend together the kefir, coconut milk, sweeteners, cacao powder, macadamia nut butter and 8 of the pitted cherries. Blend until well combined and smooth. Taste and adjust sweetening, if desired. Lastly, add the remaining 4 cherries and pulse blender only until cherries are roughly chopped (you want some chopped cherry pieces visible in the mixture). Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, prepare stir-in ingredients and put them in a small bowl; set aside. (I like using cacao nibs with the chopped dark chocolate because it adds a nice crunchy texture to the finished ice cream but, if you don't have them, you can leave them out and add another 1 tablespoon of chopped chocolate instead.)

3. According to the manufacturer's instructions for your ice cream maker, churn the ice cream base until beginning to solidify.  Add the stir-ins and continue churning until a soft serve consistency is reached. At this point, you can serve immediately or, if you wish to scoop the ice cream, pour into a container and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes, but do not allow it to freeze completely (see note below). 

NOTE: This ice cream is best served right away because, if it is completely frozen, it will be too hard to scoop. Fill ice pop molds with any leftover ice cream and freeze to be eaten as popsicles later.

Nutritional Information per 1/2 cup: 202 calories, 6.8 g carbohydrate (1.3 g dietary fiber, 3.7 g sugars, 1.5 g sugar alcohol), 19 g total fat (10.9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat) 0 mg cholesterol, 13 mg sodium, 21.7 mg calcium, 51 mg potassium, 1.8 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 5.5 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2016