Saturday, September 22, 2018

Low Carb Pumpkin Cheesecake Pudding

Low Carb Pumpkin Cheesecake Pudding
Autumn is here!! As soon as the weather cools down in Maine, I start craving pumpkin spice goodies. I’ve made these Pumpkin Cheesecake Pudding Cups several times already. The warm spices in this dessert are so welcome at this time of year. The method of baking your puddings at 350 degrees, then reducing the temperature negates the need of using a water bath. The final result is creamy cheesecake deliciousness!

Low Carb Pumpkin Cheesecake Pudding
Makes 6 servings

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup puréed pumpkin
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon almond flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated erythritol (I used Golden LaKanto Monkfruit sweetener)
1/4 teaspoon stevia powder (I used Sweet Leaf brand)
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place 6 custard cups or ramekins on a baking sheet; set aside.

2. Allow all of the ingredients to come to room temperature and place them into a large mixing bowl. Use a handheld or standing mixer to thoroughly beat the ingredients until a smooth batter forms. It may take a few minutes for the cream cheese to become smooth and well incorporated. Evenly divide the batter between the 6 custard cups or ramekins.

3. Bake the pudding at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, then turn the oven down to 250 degrees and continue baking for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and crack the door open slightly. Allow the pudding to cool for about 15-20 minutes before removing them from the oven and placing the cups on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled to room temperature, chill the pudding cups in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Nutritional Information per serving: 195 calories, 7.2 g carbohydrate (0.8 g dietary fiber, 1.3 g sugars, 4 g sugar alcohols), 16.4 g total fat (9.9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 113 mg cholesterol, 171 mg sodium, 59.6 mg calcium, 53 mg potassium, 2142 mg Vit A, 1 mg iron, 5.5 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 6.4 grams.

Photo and recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2018
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without the author’s permission.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Extra Creamy Homemade Almond Coconut Milk (or Cashew)

Extra Creamy Homemade Almond Coconut Milk
Sometimes having the right tools in your kitchen make all the difference between whether you buy premade, processed food or make it yourself at home. A fine example is today’s recipe of homemade almond coconut milk (or cashew). I find that store bought nut milks are fine to use in cooking, but are otherwise undrinkable. Using a high-speed blender or a nut milk maker machine (such as the SoyaPower G4 pictured above) allows me to create my own organic, additive and preservative-free nut milks in a few minutes! Last Christmas I received this nut milk maker machine, which I love and have been using consistently every week. The resulting almond coconut milk (or cashew) is naturally creamy, extremely low carb and more delicious than any store bought I’ve ever tried. Although my recipe contains heavy cream, it is virtually lactose and casein free. (Of course, you could leave out the cream if you wish, but it adds a richness to the milk that I highly recommend without adding any carbs.) The only thing that takes prior planning and time is soaking the nuts beforehand, but that’s easily done overnight while I sleep. Take it from me, homemade almond milk is worth the effort!  

Extra Creamy Homemade Almond Coconut Milk (or Cashew)
Makes about 5 cups

1/2 cup raw almonds, soaked in water for 12 hours
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
4-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup organic heavy whipping cream (can omit, if desired)
1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan or sea salt
5 drops stevia or LaKanto Monkfruit extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Presoak your almonds for 12 hours prior to making your nut milk (if using cashews, soak for 4-8 hours). Drain and rinse the soaked almonds. Place them into your high-speed blender or nut milk maker machine. Add the unsweetened shredded coconut and water. If using a blender, blend on high for 4 minutes. If using a nut milk maker machine, add enough water to reach the specified line in your pitcher. Turn the machine on and select raw/juice and press start (see your instruction manual for the correct procedure for making nut milk). The machine will turn off automatically when the milk is done.

2. Using a very fine mesh strainer or a nut milk bag, strain the solids out of the blended milk and discard. Add the whipping cream, salt, sweetener and vanilla to the strained milk and stir. Pour into a glass container and place in the refrigerator to cool completely before drinking or it can be used right away for cooking. The milk can be stored in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

Nutritional Information per 1 cup almond coconut milk: 117 calories, 1.3 g carbohydrate (0.7 g dietary fiber, 0.3 g sugars), 12.8 g total fat (7.1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 32 mg cholesterol, 37 mg sodium, 8.5 mg calcium, 25 mg potassium, 316 mg Vit A, 0.9 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 0.6 grams.

Nutritional Information per 1 cup cashew coconut milk: 169 calories, 4.4 g carbohydrate (1.8 g dietary fiber, 1.1 g sugars), 16 g total fat (10.8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 32 mg cholesterol, 137 mg sodium, 6.2 mg calcium, 46 mg potassium, 1 mg iron, 316 mg Vit A, 1.6 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 2.6 grams

Recipe and photo by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2018
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without the author’s permission. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sugar Free Gelatin Cups

Sugar Free Gelatin Cups
When I was a kid, Jello was a staple at our house, often served with fruit cocktail mixed in. I loved the variety of flavors but, believe me, my siblings and I didn’t need the sugar or dyes because we were active enough! The company came out out with sugar free Jello long ago, but the powdered mix contains aspartame artificial sweetener known to be problematic for many people and maltodextrin, which will raise blood sugar and insulin considerably. (Sadly, many diabetics don’t know that maltodextrin, which is a type of sugar derived from corn, will raise blood sugar as high or higher than regular sugar!) I have recently discovered Bai, a beverage that is sweetened with only stevia and erythritol. It comes in a wide variety of delicious flavors. I like to put a splash into my drinking water to flavor it, but it also makes the best sugar free gelatin that doesn’t raise blood sugar and has a minimal effect on insulin (studies show that stevia does cause a small rise in insulin when consumed). I always have a variety of this sugar free gelatin in my fridge when I want a little something between meals or as a dessert. A serving of my gelatin has only 1g carb and 1.5g protein, so consider it a FREE FOOD to be enjoyed anytime! I serve mine topped with whipped cream to make it an extra special treat.

Ingredients for Sugar Free Gelatin Cups
Sugar Free Gelatin Cups
Makes 4 servings (1/2 cup each)

1-1/4 cup Bai sugar free beverage, in any flavor of choice
3/4 cup cold water
4 drops of LaKanto Monkfruit extract or stevia drops
1 tablespoon dry gelatin powder

1. Place the Bai beverage into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, measure the cold water into a 2-cup glass measuring cup (or small mixing bowl). Sprinkle the dry gelatin powder over the top of the cold water and allow it to “bloom” (be absorbed) while the Bai is coming to a boil.

3. Pour the boiling Bai beverage into the cold water/gelatin mixture and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved (this may take a minute or two). Add the monkfruit or stevia drops to taste.

4. Divide the mixture evenly between 4 small jars, ramekins or custard cups. Place into the refrigerator for at least several hours until set. If desired, top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Nutritional Information per serving (1/2 cup): 7 calories, 1 g carbohydrate (0 g dietary fiber, 0.2 g sugars, 1.2 g sugar alcohols), 0 g total fat, 5 mg sodium, 1.5 g protein.

Photos and recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2018
All Rights Reserved. Please do not duplicate without the author’s permission.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Low Carb Banana Milk (and other Flavored Milks)

Low Carb Banana Milk
When I was a little girl, it was always a treat when my Mom made me Vanilla Milk, which was basically milk with vanilla extract added. Where I live in Maine, flavored milks are all the rage. The dairy shelf is lined with them: Banana, Coffee, Strawberry and, of course, Chocolate. There are so many flavors available, it makes my head spin! This low carb version actually starts with unsweetened almond, coconut or cashew milk, which is then flavored with extracts. To make it richer, I add a splash of heavy cream and give it a spin in my blender until it’s frothy. It’s a fat bomb you can sip through a straw and tastes like melted ice cream! It’s delicious for breakfast (especially the Coffee Milk), as a snack or dessert. The carb count is so low, you can enjoy this treat anytime.

Low Carb Banana Milk
Makes 1 serving

1/2 cup unsweetened almond, coconut or cashew milk
1 cup cold water
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon banana extract, or to taste
5 drops of LaKanto Monkfruit or stevia sweetener, to taste
1/2 cup ice cubes

Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Enjoy cold.

Nutritional Information per serving: 128 calories, 0.8 g carbohydrate (0.5 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugars), 13.8 g total fat (7.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 40 mg cholesterol, 73 mg sodium, 3 mg potassium, 225 mg Vit A, 0.5 g protein. 

Other Milk Flavor Variations:

Coffee Milk: In place of the cold water, substitute 1 cup of brewed strong coffee and omit the banana extract.

Chocolate Peppermint Milk: Substitute chocolate and peppermint extracts (I like to add a few leaves from my Chocolate Mint plant!). This would be great made with coffee as a base, too.

Orange Cream Milk: Substitute orange oil or extract for the banana extract.

Salted Caramel Milk: Substitute caramel extract (or flavoring) for the banana and add a pinch of salt to taste.

Maple Milk: Substitute maple extract to taste.

Bullet Proof Milk: To any flavor, add 1 tablespoon MCT or coconut oil. This adds about 100 calories and 12 g of fat to the nutritional information; the carbs and protein stays the same. A Bullet Proof Milk makes a quick and easy meal replacement.

Probiotic Milk: To any flavor, add 2 tablespoons unsweetened, plain yogurt or kefir. This adds about 18 calories, 0.5 g carbohydrate, 1 g of fat and 1 g of protein.

??? Make up your own! Use whatever extracts you have on hand. Kids especially enjoy coming up with their favorite milk flavors.

Recipe and photo by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2018
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without the author’s permission.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Low Carb Caramel Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Low Carb Caramel Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cookies...who doesn’t love them? On a sugar free, low carb diet, sometimes we may feel deprived because we can’t just go into a bakery or store and buy what’s in the display case or on the shelf. When it comes to cookies, they’re so easy to make and take such minimal effort, you can enjoy them whenever you have the desire! These flavorful cookies can be baked and eaten right away or made into a tube of “slice-and-bake” dough, which can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer so you can bake the cookies one or two at a time. These are just as delicious and much more nutritious than any store-bought cookie, so enjoy!

Low Carb Caramel Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 22 cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated erythritol*
1 large egg
1-3/4 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch (optional, see notes)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 drops caramel flavoring, or to taste (I used Capella brand)
1/3 cup toasted, chopped pecans
1/3 cup sugar free chocolate chips (I used Lily’s brand)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, mix together the almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot starch, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Whisk with a fork until no lumps remain; set aside.

2. Place the softened butter into a mixing bowl and beat with the erythritol until well combined and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla extract and caramel flavoring and beat for about 15 seconds.

3. Add the almond flour mixture in three additions, beating briefly between each addition. Beat well on medium speed until the ingredients are well combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chopped pecans and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

4. With a cookie scoop or with rounded tablespoonfuls, make about 22 balls and place them on a parchment paper or silicone lined cookie sheet. With your fingers or the back of a spatula, flatten each ball to a thickness of about 1/4-inch. (To make “slice-and-bake” cookies, form the dough into a tube shape wrapped with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.To hasten the firming process, place dough into the freezer for about 15 minutes. Slice into disks of even 1/4-inch thickness and place on a prepared cookie sheet.)

5. Bake cookies for about 13-15 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will crisp up as they cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. 

Notes: *You can use classic white granulated erythritol or, even better, use Lakanto Golden Monkfruit sweetener for more of a brown sugar, caramel flavor. The arrowroot starch is optional, but helps to keep the cookies crispy after baking. It adds a very small amount of carb (0.35 g) per cookie.

Nutritional Information per cookie: 118 calories, 6.1 g carbohydrate (2.3 g dietary fiber, 0.5 g sugars, 6.2 g sugar alcohols), 10.9 g total fat (3.1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 24 mg cholesterol, 93 mg sodium, 29 mg calcium, 74 mg potassium, 14 mg Vit A, 2.7 g protein. Net carbs per cookie: 3.8 grams

Recipe and photos by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2018
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without the author’s permission.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Low Carb Taco Salad in a Grilled Cheese Bowl

Taco Salad in a Grilled Cheese Bowl
There are many variations of similar recipes online, but this salad is so much fun to make and eat, I had to share my own experience. I’ve seen other intriguing posts describing how to make taco shells with cheese, so I had to try it for myself. I prefer a taco salad in a bowl because it’s less messy to eat. This is an easy, foolproof, stovetop method that takes less than 10 minutes start to finish! Fill it with whatever taco salad fixings you like and, I think you’ll discover as I did, that the delicious, crispy grilled cheese bowl adds a lot of flavor to this festive salad!

Grilled Cheese Bowl
Makes 1 edible bowl

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or a blend (I used a Mexican blend)

1. Evenly spread 1/2 cup of shredded cheese into an 8-inch non-stick skillet.
2. Heat over medium heat until the cheese is bubbly and turns a dark golden brown. (Do not stir or disturb the cheese during the cooking process.) Watch carefully so the cheese doesn’t burn, but you’re looking for a dark golden color that indicates it’s well done and will be crispy when cooled.
3. Meanwhile, place an inverted 8 ounce bowl onto a plate.
4. Remove skillet from the heat and allow the bubbling cheese to cool slightly, but not harden. Drape the still warm and flexible cheese disk over the inverted bowl and gently press down the sides to create a bowl shape.
5. Allow to cool for a few minutes until the cheese hardens. Remove the cheese bowl from your mold, fill and enjoy!

        

Low Carb Taco Salad in a Grilled Cheese Bowl
Makes 1 serving

1 Grilled Cheese Bowl (see above)
1 cup of chopped romaine or iceberg lettuce
3 ounces of cooked ground beef seasoned with 3/4 teaspoon of taco seasoning
1/4 avocado, cut into cubes
4 grape tomatoes, chopped
1-2 teaspoons of chopped red onion
1-2 teaspoons of chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1 teaspoon shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoonfuls of sour cream

Place all of the salad ingredients into the Grilled Cheese Bowl and enjoy!

Nutritional Information per salad in cheese bowl: 534 calories, 12.9 g carbohydrate (4.7 g dietary fiber, 3.8 g sugars), 41.2 g total fat (20.8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 128 mg cholesterol, 588 mg sodium, 473.4 mg calcium, 661 mg potassium, 2 mg iron, 3345 mg Vit A, 20 mg Vit C, 30.3 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 8.2 grams

Recipe and photos by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2018
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without the author’s permission. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Chocolate Turtle Pecans

Chocolate Turtle Pecans
These toasted buttered pecans have just a hint of caramel and are lightly glazed with sugar free chocolate to give them the taste of old-fashioned Chocolate Turtle Candies. The nice part is that they’re quick and easy! No messy or tricky caramel to make, just toast the pecans in a skillet, bake in the oven to crisp up and stir in chocolate chips...that’s it! You’ll want to have this low carb treat on hand for snacking or as a simple dessert anytime.

Chocolate Turtle Pecans
Makes 12 servings (1/4 cup each)

3 cups pecan halves (or you can use 1/2 walnuts and 1/2 pecans)
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon granulated erythritol (I used Golden LaKanto Monkfruit sweetener)
3-4 drops caramel flavoring, or to taste (I used Capella, see photo below)
1/4 cup sugar free chocolate chips (I used Lily’s)

Capella Caramel Flavoring
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In an oven-proof or cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the nuts. Stir to coat. Sprinkle with the salt, erythritol sweetener and caramel flavoring. Stir to coat the nuts evenly. Taste and adjust sweetness and flavorings, if desired. Toast the nuts, stirring frequently, until fragrant.

2. Place the skillet with the nuts into the preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking time. Cook until lightly toasted, but not burned.

3. Remove from the oven and spoon the hot nuts into a large bowl. Immediately add the chocolate chips and stir. When the nuts are nicely coated with the melted chocolate, spread the nuts in a single layer onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet to cool completely. To hasten the process, you can refrigerate for about 10-15 minutes. 

4. Once cooled and the chocolate has set, store the nuts in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. The nuts are most flavorful when served at room temperature. 

Nutritional Information per 1/4 cup serving: 213 calories, 5.5 g carbohydrate (3 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g sugar alcohols), 22 g total fat (4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 7.5 mg cholesterol, 122 mg sodium, 111 mg potassium, 35.2 mg magnesium, 3.1 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 2.5 grams

Recipe and photos by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2018
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without the author’s permission.