Friday, April 21, 2017

Low Carb, Grain Free Cheese and Onion Enchiladas

This is a super simple, low-carb meal that can be assembled ahead and then baked just prior to serving. I recently made several trays of enchiladas for a large gathering and everyone raved and asked for the recipe. The tortillas (or Mexican-style crepes) were made a day or two ahead and the red sauce was whipped up in the blender in a matter of minutes, so it took no time at all to prepare a delicious and satisfying meal for a party of over a dozen people. The nice part was that I assembled the enchiladas in their baking pans on the morning of the event, then just popped them in the oven to bake later, which allowed me to socialize with my guests instead of being stuck in the kitchen. Served with a big salad, some non-GMO corn chips for the carb-eaters and a simple dessert, the evening was a huge success and I never broke a sweat! Cinco de Mayo is coming up on May 5th. If you're looking for a stress-free, festive meal to feed your family or a crowd, then this is the recipe for you.

Grain Free, Mexican-Style Tortillas (or Crepes)
Makes 6 tortillas

1/4 cup mild-flavored nut butter (room temperature), such as cashew, macadamia or almond
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons milk (or non-dairy milk)
1 tablespoon melted butter, ghee or coconut oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Melted butter or coconut oil for cooking

Whisk together all of the ingredients until the nut butter is fully incorporated and the batter is smooth (it will be somewhat thin). Using a small sauté pan, heat over medium-low heat and brush a thin layer of the melted butter or coconut oil around the inside of the heated pan to prevent sticking. (I used an inexpensive, 8" non-stick omelet pan which only required a thin coating of oil. Adjust this amount if needed for your pan.) While holding the heated pan off the heat in your dominant hand, quickly pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the center of the pan and immediately begin to swirl the batter around to create a round, very thin tortilla. Keep swirling until the batter firms up in the shape you desire. (To see my YouTube video demonstrating this crepe-making technique, click here: Replace pan onto the heat and cook the tortilla for about 1 minute until slightly brown around the edges. Very carefully flip the tortilla and cook the second side for about 45 seconds. Remove tortilla to a plate to cool. Repeat until all the batter is gone. Set aside tortillas until you're ready to assemble the enchiladas. For storage, place a piece of parchment paper between each tortilla to prevent them from sticking together. These can be made 1-2 days ahead and refrigerated, although bring to room temperature before rolling the enchiladas for the greatest flexibility. 

Nutritional Information per tortilla (no filling): 117 calories, 2.3 g carbohydrate (0.6 g dietary fiber, 0.2 g sugar) 10.8 g total fat (3.2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 66 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, 24 mg calcium, 52 mg potassium, 3.4 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 1.7 grams

Easy Blender Enchilada Red Sauce
Makes 2-1/2 cups (10 servings)

2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce (no sugar added)
1/2 cup water
1/4-1/2 teaspoon stevia powder (or 2-4 teaspoons erythritol sweetener), to taste
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1-3 tablespoons chili powder, to taste
1-2 teaspoons ground coriander, or to taste
1-2 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon sea salt, optional or to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. (When a measurement range is given for a spice, start with the smallest amount and add more if you like yours spicier. I admit, I'm a wimp and like my sauce mild.) Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Nutritional Information per 1/4 cup serving (no salt added): 20 calories, 4 g carbohydrate (1.2 g dietary fiber, 1.7 g sugars), 0.2 g total fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 336 mg sodium, 5.3 mg calcium, 150 mg potassium, 0.6 G protein.  Net carbs per serving: 2.8 grams
Low Carb, Grain Free Cheese and Onion Enchiladas
Makes 6 enchiladas

6 Grain Free, Mexican-Style Tortillas, room temperature (see recipe above)
1-1/4 cups Easy Blender Enchilada Red Sauce (see recipe above)
1/2 pound sharp cheddar, cut into six 3/4" logs
1 cup shredded Cheddar-Monterey Jack Cheese Blend
6 green onions, chopped (separate white part from green part)

Place 1/2 cup of the Enchilada Red Sauce into a baking pan and spread around to cover the bottom of the pan. Take one cheddar cheese log, roll it inside one tortilla and place it into the sauce-covered baking pan. Repeat with remaining cheese logs and tortillas. Top each enchilada with about 3 tablespoons of the red sauce and spread with a spoon to cover. Evenly divide the white part of the chopped onion over the enchiladas, then sprinkle 1 cup of the Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese over all.  Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake in a preheated 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with the chopped green onion and serve.

Nutritional Information per enchilada: 324 calories, 8 g carbohydrate (2 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugars), 25.8 g total fat (12.9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 86 mg cholesterol, 659 mg sodium, 437 mg calcium, 205 potassium, 1119 mg Vit A, 6 mg Vit C, 17 g protein. Net carbs per enchilada: 6 grams

Recipes by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2017
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without author's permission.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Zucchini Noodle Carbonara

The other day, my husband was reminiscing about our trip to Italy many years ago and dreaming about the excellent and authentic pasta carbonara he had there. Every time we talk about that trip, he brings up the carbonara! Tonight, I recreated this special dish for him. He had his over traditional pasta and I had mine over zucchini noodles. We were both delighted with the result! Carbonara is not particularly difficult to make, but can be tricky because, if you cook the egg-parmesan sauce at too high of a temperature, you get carbonara scramble instead of a creamy sauce, so be watchful. The thing I love most about this dish is that when served over zoodles and/or shiritaki noodles, it's an elegant and very low carb meal. I have provided the option to replace one of the zucchini with a package of shiritaki noodles. The shiritaki noodles absorb the sauce nicely and can provide a more noodle-like texture for those who may balk at the thought of an entire plate of vegetables! This low-carb carbonara is a great, quick meal when you want something spectacular that will impress, but don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen. It would make a wonderful Valentine's Day dinner!

Zucchini Noodle Carbonara
Makes 4 servings

4 spirialized zucchini (use spaghetti blade)
1 package Angel Hair shiritaki noodles (optional, but if using, reduce number of zucchini to 3)
4 ounces pancetta, cubed (or substitute bacon)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 handful of fresh, flat-leaf parsley, chopped (or 1 TB dried)

1. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, brown the pancetta or bacon until crispy. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, remove pancetta and garlic to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside. Reduce heat to low. Remove all but about 2 TB of the grease in the skillet and add zucchini noodles. Sauté uncovered, stirring occasionally, to soften the zoodles and allow the zucchini to release some moisure.

2.  Place the drained and rinsed shiritaki noodles (if using) into another dry pan or skillet and stir frequently over high heat until the moisture has evaporated. Remove from heat; set aside and keep warm.

3. When the zoodles are suffiencently soften to your liking, remove skillet from heat and allow to sit while you prepare the sauce ingredients (this is important!). Add the shiritaki noodles and toss to mix. In a small bowl, mix together the 1/2 cup grated cheese and egg; add to the noodle mixture, stirring constantly, until noodles are well coated.  The residual heat from the skillet and noodles will cook the egg. Do not overcook! (If you see the egg beginning to seize up and scramble, immediately remove mixture from heated pan to prevent further cooking.) The sauce should be creamy and smooth. Season the carbonara with black pepper. Mound the carbonara into individual dishes, garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.  Pass extra shredded or grated cheese around the table.

Nutritional information per serving (1/4 recipe): 209 calories, 9 g carbohydrate (2.2 g dietary fiber, 5.2 g sugars), 13.7 g total fat (5.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 186 mg cholesterol, 470 mg sodium, 191.8 mg calcium, 597 mg potassium, 14.2 G protein. Net carbs per serving: 6.8 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2017
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without author's permission.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sautéed Red Cabbage with Bacon and Onions

Part of my strategy for keeping my blood sugar and weight in check is intermittent fasting. Because the body and metabolism resets itself whenever you're on a calorie restricted diet for a period of time (which explains the weight loss plateaus most dieters hit), it's a good idea to keep the body guessing! Intermittent fasting at irregular intervals makes it easier to lose weight and keep it off. Over the holidays, I regained some weight and, as a result, my blood sugar started creeping up to prediabetic levels again. On January 2nd and continuing for 2 weeks, I began an intermittent fasting schedule of skipping breakfast (to allow for 16-18 hour fast between dinner the night before and my next meal) and eating only within a 6 hour window each day. That worked to bring my blood glucose (BG) down a bit and steadied my weight, but it didn't go far enough or act quickly enough for me. Then for the next two weeks, I only ate one meal a day. That brought greater success! I lost 4 pounds and my fasting BG came down 10 points, but still not low enough and, although progress was slow and steady, I wanted faster results. After reading the book The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung MD with Jimmy Moore, I was motivated to try an extended fast. Today I just completed a 3-day total fast that only allowed coffee, tea, broth and water and was completely surprised how easy it was to do! In 3 days, I lost 2 pounds, lost inches around my waist and hips and experienced perfectly normal blood glucose. This morning I woke up to a fasting BG of 78! Even tonight, as I was making dinner, I thought I could have gone on for another day or more! I didn't experience any hunger or discomfort and, as a matter-of-fact, I felt GREAT the whole time! If you're struggling with weight or getting your blood sugar under control, I highly recommend that you get Dr. Fung's book and learn about his successful therapy that includes intermittent fasting for reversing diabetes, sometimes as quickly as a couple of weeks.

I wanted to share my break-fast meal, which was really, really delicious after having not eaten for 3 days! In this sweet and sour red cabbage sauté, I replaced the sugar of a traditional recipe with my favorite erythritol sweetener, LaKanto Monkfruit sweetener, and the result was perfection. My non-diabetic husband loved it too. It paired beautifully with an award-winning white wine and herb sausage I bought at my local Whole Foods. This low carb side dish is quick and easy to make and will become favorite of your family, too!

Sautéed Red Cabbage with Bacon and Onions
Makes 4 servings

3 slices of organic bacon, sliced into narrow strips (reserve grease)
1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
4 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 1/2 head)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
3-4 teaspoons LaKanto Monkfruit sweetener, or to taste (or another erythritol sweetener)

1. In a large enameled pot or pan (not cast iron because the vinegar may react with the pan), sauté the bacon until crispy. Remove to drain on a paper towel and reserve bacon grease in the pan. Sauté the onion in the fat. When it is transluscent, add the cabbage and cook, covered and stirring frequently, until the cabbage has begun to soften.

2. Add the vinegar, rosemary and salt. Allow the cabbage mixture to continue cooking until soft and can be pierced with a fork.

3.  Add the sweetener. Start with 3 teaspoons and add more if needed to reach your desired sweetness. Add a tablespoon or two of water if the mixture becomes too dry. Add the bacon back into the pan. Stir and serve.

Nutritional Information per serving (1/4 recipe): 72 calories, 9 g carbohydrate (2.4 g dietary fiber, 4.3 g sugars, 4 g sugar alcohols), 2.9 g total fat (0.9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 52.8 mg calcium, 461 mg sodium, 287 mg potassium, 1013 mg Vit A, 52 mg Vit C, 1 mg iron, 3.8 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 6.6 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2017
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without author's permission.