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. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Low Carb Ham Loaf

Low Carb Ham Loaf
My grandmother, Gaga was famous for her delicious Ham Loaf and it continues to be one of my fondest memories of visiting her apartment and family gatherings. The problem with her recipe is that it contained 1-1/2 cups of bread crumbs, 1 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of brown sugar! Ouch! My low carb remake has all the same flavors but just 1/4th the carbs of the original recipe! I had to experiment a bit to discover the perfect substitute for the breadcrumbs, which lightens up the loaf and gives it the proper texture. Some low carb meatloaf recipes call for almond flour to replace the crumbs, but the result is too heavy and dense. I discovered that plain riced cauliflower is the key! It absorbs flavor from the other ingredients so you won’t even know it’s there, but the end result is perfection. My family is so delighted to have this cherished heirloom favorite on our table again!

Low Carb Ham Loaf
Makes 16 servings

2 pounds fully cooked ham, ground (I used Kentucky Legend)
1 pound ground pork
1 cup cauliflower rice, thawed
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
3 tablespoons granulated erythritol (I used Golden LaKanto Monkfruit sweetener)
3/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses 
2 eggs, beaten

Grinding Ham
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the cooked ham through a grinder. An alternative is to pulse in a food processor in multiple small batches until the ham is minced into tiny pieces, but not so fine that it turns to paste.

2. Mix together all of the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Shape into a loaf (or 2 smaller loaves). Place the loaf into a covered roaster or place the loaf on a cookie sheet and tent with foil. (If you formed two loaves, you can freeze one for later, just thaw before cooking.)

Shaping the loaf
3. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until nicely browned.

4. Remove from oven and rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (Leftovers are excellent for breakfast or dinner when sliced and grilled in a skillet.)

Nutritional Information per slice: 157 calories, 2.7 g carbohydrate (0.2 dietary fiber, 1.3 g sugars, 2.2 g sugar alcohols), 9.6 g total fat (3.4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 74 mg cholesterol, 683 mg sodium, 10.7 mg calcium, 94 mg potassium, 36 mg Vit A, 15.8 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 2.5 grams.

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

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Raspberry Yogurt Fluff

Raspberry Yogurt Fluff
This is a very quick and easy dessert or it makes a delicious breakfast, too. It’s best made with fresh raspberries (not frozen) so it sets up nicely. The pale pink color and hint of sweet raspberries are delightful, making this a perfect spring dessert!

Raspberry Yogurt Fluff
Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon stevia powder, divided and to taste (I used Sweet Leaf brand)
3 ounces cream cheese, cubed and softened
3/4 cup plain, unsweetened whole milk yogurt
10 fresh raspberries, mashed with a fork
4 fresh raspberries for garnish

1. Whip the heavy cream with a handheld or standing mixture on high until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon stevia powder. Continue whipping until fully whipped. Remove 3/4 of the whipped cream to a separate bowl and set aside.

2. Into the remaining 1/4 whipped cream in the mixing bowl, add the softened cream cheese and yogurt. Whip on high until completely smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon stevia powder and the 10 mashed raspberries. Whip until well combined.

3. Gently fold in the reserved whipped cream until well combined and no streaks remain. Spoon into 4 individual serving dishes and garnish each with one fresh raspberry. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Nutritional Information per serving: 214 calories, 4.7 g carbohydrate (0.4 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugars), 19.3 g total fat (11.3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 73 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 36 mg calcium, 131 mg potassium, 654 mg Vit A, 4 mg Vit C, 4.6 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 4.2 grams

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

Monday, February 26, 2018

Slow Cooker Beef (or Lamb) with Onions and Gravy

Slow Cooker Beef (or Lamb) with Onions and Gravy
There are some days I just need some comfort food. This easy slow cooker recipe definitely fits that description. It fills my kitchen with a savory aroma that just enhances my anticipation of enjoying this hearty and healthy meal at the end of a long day. The meat is so tender, it just falls apart! I recently learned the trick of sprinkling meat with a little baking soda to ensure perfect browning. It is optional, but it really works. I serve this meat and gravy dish over cooked riced cauliflower or, for even more nutrition, I choose a riced cauliflower-broccoli blend (as pictured). When covered with silky gravy, I never miss the starchy rice and, even more important, my post-meal blood sugar doesn’t spike. I’ve listed two options, using beef or lamb, and you will use either red wine and beef broth (for beef) or white wine and chicken broth (for lamb). There is a distinct difference in flavor, but both are equally delicious, so choose your favorite combination and enjoy!

Slow Cooker Beef (or Lamb) with Onions and Gravy
Makes 6 servings

2 pounds beef or lamb chunks (stew meat)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 onion, sliced into 1/2 rounds or chunks
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1 cup red or white wine
2-3 cups beef or chicken broth
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Thick-It-Up (or xanthan gum)
6 cups cooked cauliflower rice (or cauliflower-broccoli rice blend)
Fresh parsley, chopped (optional garnish)

1. Toss together the meat, salt and baking soda. Allow to sit for a few minutes while you slice the onions and put them into the crock pot to cover the bottom. Heat up a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the coconut oil. Add beef or lamb to the heated skillet and brown all sides. Add the browned meat to the slow cooker. Sprinkle with thyme and black pepper.

2. Add 1 cup of wine to the hot skillet and deglaze the pan (red wine for beef or white wine for lamb). Add 2 cups of broth (beef broth for beef or chicken broth for lamb) and stir. Pour the liquid over the meat and onions in the crock pot. Add just enough additional broth to the crock pot until it almost covers the meat. Cook on low heat for 8 hours or on high heat for 4 hours.

3. About 10-15 minutes before serving, transfer the liquid from the crock pot to a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. While whisking, sprinkle the Thick-It-Up or xanthan gum over the liquid and whisk constantly until thickened into a nice sauce (use a tiny bit more or less Thick-It-Up or xanthan gum as needed to reach a gravy consistency). Add the sauce to the cooked meat and remaining ingredients in the crock pot and stir to coat the meat. Serve over the cooked cauliflower rice. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired.

Nutritional Information per serving (including 1 cup of cooked cauliflower rice): 323 calories, 8.4 g carbohydrates (2.5 g dietary fiber, 3.5 g sugars), 11 g total fat (5.1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 82 mg cholesterol, 825 mg sodium, 54.8 mg calcium, 365 mg potassium, 4 mg iron, 7 mg Vit A, 43 mg Vit C, 40 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 5.9 grams

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Frosted Vanilla Custard Donuts (Low Carb, Gluten Free)

Frosted Vanilla Custard Donuts
Vanilla custard is traditionally made with plenty of egg yolks, which are what make these donuts so rich and delicious. The batter rises up light and airy, so they have a tender crumb. If desired, this recipe would make wonderful cupcakes, but I like using my donut pan and filling each cavity high enough with batter that the hole of the donut disappears as it bakes, creating the perfect little platform for holding the dab of frosting. I just happen to have some decorating icing tips in my kitchen collection, so I had fun making them fancy and appropriate for Valentine’s Day, but that’s not necessary. Anyway you decorate them, these donuts will be both beautiful and delicious!

Frosted Vanilla Custard Donuts
Makes 8 donuts (more or less depending on your donut pan)

1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup erythritol sweetener, granulated
2 tablespoons unflavored whey protein powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder (or seeds scraped from a vanilla bean)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup almond or coconut milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon butter, softened
4 ounces plain mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered erythritol (Confectioners), or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray each cavity of your donut tin with non-stick cooking spray or grease with butter; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk or sift together the almond flour, erythritol, whey protein powder, baking powder, vanilla powder and salt. Whisk to combine and until no lumps remain.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, cream, almond milk, melted butter and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk well to combine. 

4. Fill each donut cavity to almost full. Be sure to fill each cavity until almost to the top because you want the donuts to puff up and fill in the hole as they bake, so there’s a place in the center of the donut to hold the frosting later. (see photo below) Bake for 14-16 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the tops are just firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let the donuts cool 10 minutes in the pan, then flip them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Baked donut with center depression
5. To make the frosting: Whip together the room temperature cream cheese, butter and mascarpone cheese until fluffy using a handheld or standing electric mixer. Add the powdered erythritol and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired spreading consistency is reached. Taste and adjust sweetness to your taste. If desired, put the frosting into a piping bag with a decorator tip and pipe (or spoon) a tablespoon or so of the frosting into the center of each donut. (Note: This recipe for frosting will yield more than you need for eight donuts, which allows for dividing the frosting into batches and coloring each differently, if desired. Save any leftover frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator to use for another recipe.)

Frosted Vanilla Custard Donuts
Nutritional Information per donut with 1 tablespoon of frosting (based on eight per recipe): 230 calories, 8.6 g carbohydrate (1.5 g dietary fiber, 0.8 g sugars, 13.5 g sugar alcohols), 21.7 g total fat (9.2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 114 mg cholesterol, 139 mg sodium, 102 mg calcium, 130 mg potassium, 1 mg iron, 431 mg Vit A, 6.1 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 7.1 grams.

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