Wednesday, December 31, 2014

English Toffee Fudge Fat Bombs

Since I started a very low carb, high fat and moderate protein (keto) diet this past year, that has been so successful normalizing my blood sugar, I try to include a fat bomb treat in my food plan nearly every day.  I always have a batch available in the fridge for a quick snack.  They are creamy, delicious and a great way to incorporate more healthy fat into my diet!  The base for fat bombs is usually coconut oil with other added ingredients for flavor.  In this recipe, I've combined coconut oil and unsalted ghee (clarified butter).  The result is an extra creamy texture, similar to fudge, even when eaten directly from the refrigerator.  I use ghee because I'm sensitive to dairy, which has the milk solids removed and can most often be eaten by those with a dairy intolerance, but you can substitute unsalted, grass-fed dairy butter in its place, if you prefer.  You certainly can use all coconut oil, but it's the butter that helps give these candies their toffee flavor.  Feel free to choose any nut butter that agrees with your body in place of the sunflower seed butter.  I think almond, cashew or even peanut butter would be lovely!  If you want to start the new year with a smile on your face, this is the recipe to make that happen :)  Have a happy day!

English Toffee Fudge Fat Bombs
Makes 12 servings

1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 unsalted ghee or unsalted grass-fed butter, melted
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons sunflower seed butter (or your favorite nut butter)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
teeny, tiny pinch of finely ground salt (omit if your nut butter contains salt)*
15-20 drops of English Toffee liquid stevia (or a combination of chocolate and English Toffee drops to taste)

Melt the coconut oil and unsalted ghee or butter in a 1-cup glass measuring cup by microwaving on high in 15 second intervals until melted.  Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth and thoroughly combined.  Divide mixture equally among 12 paper-lined mini muffin or silicone cups, stirring often to distribute the salt as you pour.  Place in the refrigerator on a level surface until chilled and solid, about 30 minutes.  (You can hasten this process in the freezer.)  Store fudge in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to eat.  (These candies need to be kept chilled because they melt quickly at room temperature.  Enjoy them directly from the fridge.)

* IMPORTANT NOTE: Salt is soluble in water, not oil, so the salt granules will not dissolve all the way and will eventually sink to the bottom of each fat bomb as it chills.  It's important to stir the chocolate mixture often as you pour into the mini muffin cups so all the salt doesn't end up in only the last few bombs.  The tiny taste of salt is pleasant on the tongue and combines well with the chocolate, but too much can be overwhelming!  If you're concerned, omit the added salt and enjoy.

Nutritional Information per serving: 140 calories, 2.1 g carbohydrate (1.1 g dietary fiber, 0.1 g sugar), 14.3 g total fat (9.1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 11 mg cholesterol, 17 mg sodium, 1.7 mg calcium, 21 mg potassium, 1.8 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 1 gram

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bacon Party Cheese Log

The holiday season is drawing to a close, but there's still one more occasion for celebration.  A New Year's Eve party calls for a spectacular appetizer and there's nothing that will please a crowd as much as bacon!  This cheese log can be made with soft goat cheese or cream cheese, whichever is more to your liking.  The outside is rolled in a mixture of crushed pistachios, crispy crumbled bacon and spices. (For a vegetarian option, see below.)  It is delicious served with gluten free crackers (I like Mary's Gone Crackers), English cucumber slices, celery, assorted vegetables or, if shaped into small bite-size balls, even eaten by themselves.  Crumble any leftovers and sprinkle it on salads or steamed vegetables; it's a creamy and delicious addition to an otherwise boring salad.  I made this for my Christmas Eve family dinner and it was a huge hit with everyone!  It's quick and easy to prepare and can be made a day or two ahead of the party.  Enjoy a happy and healthy New Year!

Bacon Party Cheese Log
Makes about 10 servings (2 TB each)

8 oz. soft goat cheese or cream cheese (room temperature)*
1/2 teaspoon paprika (sweet or smoked, whichever you prefer), divided
1 teaspoon dried, chopped basil
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled and then measured
5 slices of bacon, chopped and fried until crispy and drained*

1.  Using a handheld mixer, whip the cheese until fluffy.  Add 1/4 teaspoon paprika, basil and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper.  Form into a log and wrap in plastic wrap or form into a ball.  (You can also form small balls using 1 tablespoon cheese mixture for each.)  Chill in the refrigerator until firm.

2.  Fry the chopped bacon until crispy and drain on paper towels.  Place the bacon, pistachios, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper and 1/4 teaspoon paprika into a food processor and pulse until the pistachios are chopped into small pieces.  (If you don't have a food processor, chop the pistachios and bacon with a sharp knife until the right consistency, then add the spices.)  

3.  Place the bacon mixture into a shallow plate.  Roll the cheese log in the mixture until completely covered.  Refrigerate until party time.  Allow the log to soften for about 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Nutritional Information per serving (2 TB), not including crackers or vegetables: 106 calories, 1.9 g carbohydrate (0.4 g dietary fiber, 1.1 g sugar), 8 g total fat (4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 21 mg cholesterol, 135 mg sodium, 39.8 mg calcium, 64 mg potassium, 6.3 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 1.5 grams

* To create a dairy-free log, use dairy-free, vegan cream cheese in place of the goat or cream cheese.  For a vegetarian option, you can double the amount of pistachios and omit the bacon.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Roasted Garlic Burgers Topped with Caramelized Onion

Rummaging through my vegetable bin today, I found an overlooked bulb of elephant garlic.  It had begun to sprout, so I knew I had to cook it or plant it immediately.  I chopped the top off, drizzled it with olive oil, wrapped it loosely in a tent of foil and baked it in a 400-degree F oven for about 45 minutes until the cloves were soft and golden brown.  It is common to serve roasted garlic spread on bread but, because I don't eat bread, I needed to find another use for it and this recipe came to mind.  The caramelized onion pairs beautifully with the garlic-infused beef.  I served it with an optional drizzle of reduced sugar ketchup, which added another layer of flavor.  This recipe will undoubtedly become one of my favorite weekday meals!

Roasted Garlic Burgers Topped with Caramelized Onion
Makes 4 servings

1 large bulb of garlic, roasted (see directions above)
1 pound of grass fed ground beef
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (gluten free)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (or 1/2 TB dried)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
2 teaspoons butter or ghee* (or substitute coconut oil)
1 large onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 drops molasses
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Sprinkle of cayenne to taste
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Reduced sugar or sugar free ketchup, optional

1.  Remove the cloves from the roasted garlic bulb when cooled and chop into small pieces.  Place the garlic into a large bowl, add the ground beef, tomato paste, pepper, Himalayan salt, Worcestershire sauce and parsley.  Mix until ingredients are well distributed throughout the ground beef and form into four hamburger patties.  Set aside.  (You can place the patties in the refrigerator for later.  Allow them to come to room temperature before cooking.)

2.  In a skillet, melt the butter or ghee.  Add the sliced onion, add 1/4 teaspoon salt and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally.  The best method for caramelizing onions is to cook them low and slow to allow the natural sugars to be drawn out.  (When the onions are translucent and begin to color, you can begin cooking the patties in another skillet.)  Add the molasses, vinegar and cayenne to the onions at the end of their cooking time, a few minutes before the beef is done.

3.  In a separate skillet, heat a tablespoon of coconut oil over medium to high heat.  Add the patties and allow to cook, without disturbing, until seared and well colored.  Turn and repeat on second side and until done to your satisfaction.  (I like mine medium, with a hot pink center.)

4.  Remove patties to serving plates and top with 2 tablespoons of caramelized onion per serving.  Provide reduced or sugar free ketchup (2 carbs or less per serving), optional.  Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information per serving (no ketchup and no bun): 296 calories, 7.5 g carbohydrate (1.1 g dietary fiber, 2.9 g sugar), 19.6 g total fat (8.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 74 mg cholesterol, 114 mg sodium, 27.2 mg calcium, 150 mg potassium, 22.1 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 6.4 grams

* For those with food allergies: To create a dairy, lactose and casein free meal, use ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil instead of dairy butter.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Spicy Fish (or Chicken)

Just playing around in my kitchen with a few on-hand ingredients, I created this delightful meal.  I loved it so much, I've had it in various forms four times this week!  I've tried it with haddock, tilapia, salmon and chicken...and I'm certain it would be just as good made with shrimp or pork.  The secret is in the combination of ingredients: The crispy coating of nut flour, the flavorful blackening spice and the hint-of-heat in the spicy sauce.  It's one of those dishes that lingers delightfully on the tongue!  Blackening spice can be purchased or make your own, like I do.  (George Stella has a great blackening spice recipe here:  Adjust the seasoning to your own taste.  If you like heat, then use more blackening spice in the coating mix and a medium or hot salsa.  If you want it flavorful but tame, use a little less spice and mild salsa. It's a versatile recipe, so have fun experimenting with your favorite fish, chicken or meat to make your own unique dish.

Spicy Fish (or Chicken)
Makes 2 servings

2 fish fillets: white fish, salmon or shrimp (or 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
3 tablespoons grass-fed butter or ghee*
1/2 cup salsa (no sugar added, look for 2 carbs or less per 2 TB serving)
1/2 fresh lime, cut into 4 wedges

Coating Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond or other nut flour (I used walnut flour)
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons blackening spice (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional (the blackening spice has some salt in it)
1 teaspoon dried parsley or cilantro
1 beaten egg OR a drizzle of coconut oil (to help the coating adhere to the fish or chicken)*

1.  On a shallow plate, mix together the coating ingredients.  Pat your fish or chicken with a paper towel to dry completely.  (If your chicken breast is thick, pound to flatten slightly for more even cooking.). Either dip your fish or chicken in beaten egg or drizzle with coconut oil and press into the coating mixture until both sides are well covered.  Set aside.

2.  In a skillet, melt the butter or ghee over medium-high heat.  Add fish or chicken and allow to cook, without disturbing or turning, for at least 3-4 minutes for fish (depending on type and thickness) or 5-6 minutes for chicken until coating begins to crisp and brown.  (Shrimp will take less time, only about 1-2 minutes.)  Carefully turn fish or the chicken and continue cooking on the second side for the same amount of time or until done.  Note: Fish is done when no longer translucent and flaky.  Chicken should be at least 160-degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the breast and juices run clear.  Do not consume undercooked fish or meat.  When cooked sufficiently, remove to a serving plate.

3.  Remove skillet from the heat.  To the drippings in the skillet, add the salsa and stir to deglaze the pan and loosen any brown bits.  (Note: Be careful and stand back when adding salsa to the hot pan because it will boil and possibly splatter.  If concerned, wait for a minute or two to allow the skillet to cool slightly.)  Serve sauce over fish or chicken with a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Nutritional Information per serving (made with tilapia): 320 calories, 3.8 g carbohydrate (1.6 g dietary fiber, 1.5 g sugar), 23.9 g total fat (9.3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 68 mg cholesterol, 359 mg sodium, 31.7 mg calcium, 443 mg potassium, 25.2 g protein (this may vary, depending on type of fish or meat used).  Net carbs per serving: 2.2 grams

*For those with food allergies: To create a dairy free version, use ghee instead of butter.  If you are allergic or sensitive to eggs, omit and use a drizzle of melted coconut oil instead.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Creamiest Homemade Dairy Free Yogurt

Since learning that I am highly sensitive to casein, the protein in milk products, I've had to find substitutions for my favorite dairy foods.  There are alternative, dairy free yogurts on the market, but either they are too high in carbohydrate and added sugar or they just taste strange!  Most are low or fat free, making their texture more like a sweet panna cotta or jello than what you'd expect from a tangy, creamy yogurt.  I've created a superior DF yogurt that is creamy, so delicious, very low carb and with that distinctive yogurt zip.  It is 1000 times better than the dairy free yogurt you can buy in the store and it's incredibly easy to make.  

First, you need to know that making yogurt from a non-milk base requires some kind of thickener.  I use high-quality, unflavored gelatin powder (Great Lakes brand) because it gives consistent, successful results.  I've experimented with a variety of dairy free milks and have never had a failure.  Secondly, if you want your yogurt to be a good source of calcium, you will need to use a mixture of milks, in which at least one contains plenty of calcium per cup.  In this recipe, I've used a mixture of 100% high-fat coconut milk for creaminess and Silk brand unsweetened cashew milk because it contains 450 mg of calcium per cup.  (You can use any calcium-fortified nut milk, such as almond, coconut, flax, soy or hazelnut.  Choose your favorite.)  Also, you can experiment with the ratio of full fat coconut milk to nut milk.  The creaminess comes from the coconut milk, so I don't think I'd go lower than 50:50, but if having a lower fat and less creamy yogurt is desirable, then experiment until you find a combination that's right for you.  Finally, I have cultured my yogurt in a yogurt maker, which is a fairly inexpensive piece of kitchen equipment.  I got mine for less than $30 on Amazon and I love it!  If you don't have a yogurt maker, you can "cook" your yogurt on a heating pad or in the oven (search online for how to do it).  Culturing takes 15-20 hours to get the right flavor, so I usually prepare the yogurt base in the evening and let it "cook" all night.  This recipe explains how to make plain, unsweetened yogurt, to which you can add your favorite fruits and flavorings before serving.  If you use your creativity, every jar in a batch can be different!  Below I describe several of my favorite additions to make a variety of yogurt flavors.  Once you make your own dairy free yogurt, you'll never buy it in a store again!

The Creamiest Homemade Dairy Free Yogurt
Makes 7 servings (about 3/4 cup each)

3 cups full-fat coconut milk, canned (I use Aroy-D brand)
2 cups calcium-fortified nut milk (I use Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk, look for 1g carb per serving)
4 level teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder (I use Great Lakes brand)
1 tablespoon raw honey
1-1/2 packets non-dairy yogurt starter (I recommend Belle + Bella Yogo)*

Equipment needed: large very clean saucepan, very clean whisk, candy thermometer, measuring spoons, small jars with lids, yogurt maker (or search online for alternate method for culturing using a heating pad or oven), glass measuring cup with spout (optional).

1.  Measure coconut milk and 1 cup of nut milk into the large saucepan.  Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches a temperature of 180-degrees Fahrenheit.  

2. In a glass measuring cup, measure remaining 1 cup nut milk and sprinkle the gelatin over the top of the milk.  Allow to sit for a few minutes, then whisk the gelatin into the milk.  Add the gelatin mixture into the hot coconut milk mixture and allow the temperature to return to 180-degrees.  (Gelatin mixture can be added prior to the milk mixture reaching 180-degrees.). Whisk until gelatin is completely dissolved.  Remove saucepan from heat.

3.  Add honey and whisk.  The honey is necessary to feed the culture, so do not use a sugar-free sweetener for this step.  Allow the hot milk mixture to cool until it reaches 110-degrees.  (You can hasten the cooling process by placing the saucepan into a sink of cool water, just make sure water doesn't spill into the milk.)

4.  When the milk mixture cools to 110-degrees, pour about 2 cups into the glass measuring cup.  While whisking, add the yogurt starter.  Whisk until completed dissolved.  Return the milk with starter to the saucepan and whisk to combine.  

5.  Using the glass measuring cup, pour milk mixture into individual serving jars and place into the yogurt maker (or follow your machine's instructions).  Do not place lids on the jars.  Culture (or "cook") the yogurt for 15-20 hours.  (The less time allowed for culturing results in a sweeter yogurt. You can increase time for a tangier yogurt, but I wouldn't exceed 24 hours.)  While "cooking," the mixture will be thin and separate into white milk on top and a clear liquid on the bottom, but don't worry, it is normal.

6.  After 15-20 hours, place a lid securely on each jar and shake gently to fully blend the two layers.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight to set.

* You can substitute 1/2 cup coconut yogurt with live cultures for the starter or use the powder from probiotic capsules equaling about 35 billion.  I have tried the probiotic method, but was not pleased with the result.  Either the probiotic I used was no longer alive, or it didn't culture well.  For me, the distinctive yogurt tang just wasn't there.  From my experience, the starter powder works very well.  

Nutritional Information per serving (3/4 cup), plain yogurt: 196 calories, 4 g carbohydrate (0 g dietary fiber, 3.7 g sugar), 18.6 g total fat (12.9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 70 mg sodium, 141.5 mg calcium, 2.6 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 4 grams

Some of my favorite low-carb flavors (be sure to add these additional carbs to the yogurt for the full count):

Raspberry with a Hint of Chocolate: With a fork, mash 2 tablespoons of raspberries in a bowl.  Add a serving of plain yogurt and 2-3 drops of Chocolate Raspberry flavored liquid stevia.  If you want more chocolate flavor, add 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder and 2-3 more drops of stevia or to taste.  Stir to combine.  (Substitute finely chopped cherries for the raspberries, if desired.)

Pumpkin Spice: Place 1 heaping tablespoon of unsweetened cooked pumpkin in a bowl (canned is fine).  Add 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and stir.  Add one serving of plain yogurt and 4 drops of plain or Vanilla Creme liquid stevia, or to taste.  Stir to combine.

Strawberry Vanilla: With a fork, mash 2-3 ripe strawberries in a bowl.  Add one serving of plain yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 3-4 drops of plain or Vanilla Creme liquid stevia or to taste.  Stir to combine.  (Substitute blueberries for strawberries, if desired, or a combination of berries.)

Maple Vanilla Walnut: Place 3-4 walnuts into a plastic bag and hit with the handle of a butter knife to break into small pieces, or chop with a knife.  Mix together the plain yogurt, walnuts, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup (or sugar free maple syrup) and 2 drops of plain or Vanilla Creme liquid stevia or to taste.  Stir to combine.  Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.  (Substitute pecans for the walnuts and 2 drops of black strap molasses for the syrup, if desired.)

Recipes by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Easy Vegetarian Chili

I made a new discovery (I love it when that happens)!  I finally found a bean that fits into my very low carb lifestyle: Black Soy Beans!  For the past year, I've been avoiding beans because most beans are too high in carbs, usually around 23 g carbs per 1/2 cup serving.  Even if you subtract the fiber, they weigh in at about 17 net carbs...still too high.  Recently, while browsing a low carb cookbook from the library, I saw the ingredient "black soy beans" multiple times, so I just had to investigate.  To my surprise, I learned that black soy beans are an extremely low 7 g total carbs per 1/2 cup serving, with 6 g fiber.  That's an amazing 1 net carb per serving!  I tried them, tested my blood sugar to see how my BG reacted and I knew immediately that this is a bean I can work with. My blood sugar didn't rise at all.  So, into my kitchen I went and started cooking. This extremely easy vegetarian chili is a complete meal-in-a-bowl and was a huge hit at a recent church supper.  The black soy beans provide all the essential amino acids (so they are a complete protein source) and they taste exactly like regular black beans without the carbs.  This recipe is dedicated to my little sister -- enjoy!

Easy Vegetarian Chili
Makes about 10 servings

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium zucchini, cubed
3 small carrots, cut into small chunks
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup frozen chopped spinach or kale
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 green or yellow pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
28 oz. Marinara Sauce, no sugar added
28 oz. crushed tomatoes, no sugar added (no sodium, if desired)
2 cans (15 oz each) organic black soy beans, drained and rinsed (I buy Eden's brand)
1 cup plain tomato sauce, no sugar added  (no sodium, if desired)
1 cup water (or more to achieve desired consistency)
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash or two of hot sauce, optional
Shredded cheese for topping, optional (omit for dairy free)

1. Heat coconut oil in a dutch oven or heavy pot, add chopped vegetables and saute until beginning to soften.  Add herbs and spices and saute for another minute.  Add beans, marinara sauce, crushed tomatoes, plain tomato sauce, and water.  Allow to simmer, covered for about 40-45 minutes or until carrots are cooked through.  Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce (optional) before serving.  Top with shredded cheese, if desired (omit for dairy free).

NOTE:  This makes an excellent crock pot recipe!  Just saute the vegetables in a skillet, add them to the crock pot with the remaining ingredients and cook on low for 4-6 hours (or high for 2-3 hours), until carrots are cooked through.

Nutritional Information per serving (optional ingredients not included): 212 calories, 22 g total carbohydrate (9 g dietary fiber, 9.6 g sugar), 9.3 g total fat (3.1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 793 mg sodium, 109.3 mg calcium, 603 mg potassium, 11.3 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 13 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

Supreme Pizza Chicken

I haven't had a slice of pizza for over 1-1/2 years, since learning that I have celiacs (an intolerance to gluten).  Not long after that discovery, I chose to go totally grain-free, which has made all the difference in reversing my diabetes.  I don't miss pizza itself, but the flavor of pizza is another matter.  This recipe tastes so much like the real thing that I feel like I just ate a slice!  I think the secret is the turkey pepperoni.  It adds zip to the sauce.  I think this easy recipe will become a family favorite!  If you are lucky enough to have any leftovers, cut up the chicken into bite-size pieces, stir them back into the sauce and serve over zero calorie, zero carb shirataki noodles.  It will be the best chicken cacciatore you'll ever eat!

Supreme Pizza Chicken
Makes 6 servings

2 lbs chicken pieces, skin removed (I used thighs and breasts)
2 TB coconut oil
1 cup strained tomatoes (I used Pomi brand) or plain tomato sauce mixed with 1 TB tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine 
1 small onion, chopped
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
34 slices of turkey pepperoni, cut into quarters
Salt and pepper to taste 
3 TB Parmesan cheese, shredded (shredded mozzarella can be substituted)*

1. In a heavy Dutch oven, heat coconut oil over medium heat.  Brown the chicken on all sides, remove to a platter and set aside.

2. To the pot add the wine, strained tomatoes (or tomato sauce thickened with tomato paste), onion, mushrooms, garlic, oregano and turkey pepperoni.  Return chicken to pot and turn heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

3.  When chicken is done, remove it to a serving platter.  Turn heat to medium and boil sauce for about 10 minutes or until thickened to desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Return chicken to pot to reheat briefly.  To serve, spoon sauce over chicken and sprinkle each portion with 1/2 TB cheese.

Nutritional information per serving: 324 calories, 6.2 g carbohydrate (1.2 g dietary fiber, 2.4 g sugar), 14.6 g total fat (7.1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 117 mg cholesterol, 585 mg sodium, 45.8 mg calcium, 473 mg potassium, 37 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 5 grams

* For those with food allergies: To create a dairy-free version, omit cheese or substitute a dairy-free cheese product.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lamb Chops with Orange, Rosemary and Butter Sauce

I'm celebrating tonight after a good doctor's visit that brought excellent news!  My lab results show that the changes I've made in my diet to reduce carbs combined with moderate protein and increased fat over the past five months are working.  My A1c dropped to 5.8 and I'm being taken off all diabetic medication!  This is a special recipe for a special occasion.  Lamb can be a bit pricey, but if you choose a shoulder blade instead of a the smaller chop, you'll save money and get a tasty cut of meat.  Ever since experiencing lamb during a trip to Iceland a few months ago, I've fallen in love!  Honestly, the best free range lamb on the planet comes from Iceland.  I was thrilled to see Icelandic lamb available for a limited time at my local Whole Foods Market.  I had to create the best recipe, since it's a rare treat, and this definitely meets with my approval.  If you can't get good lamb, this sauce is equally delicious over pork chops or chicken.

Lamb Chops with Orange, Rosemary and Butter Sauce
Makes 2 servings

2 shoulder blade lamb chops (about 6 oz each)
Salt and pepper
onion powder
1 tablespoon ghee or butter*
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup chicken stock*
2 tablespoons high fat coconut milk or heavy cream*
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teas dried)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or low carb Thick It Up thickener (or 1/2 teas cornstarch or arrowroot)

1. Generously season the chops with salt and pepper, and lightly sprinkle with onion powder; set aside.

2.  In a heavy saucepan, melt the ghee or butter over medium heat.  Add the chops and cook, without turning, for at least 5 minutes.  When browned, turn and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.  Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes or until done to your taste.

3.  Meanwhile, zest the orange and chop the rosemary; set aside.  Cut the orange and squeeze 2 tablespoons of the fresh juice into a small bowl.  Add the stock and coconut milk to the juice; stir until blended.

4.  When the lamb chops are done, remove them to a serving plate.  Add the juice and stock mixture to the pan and whisk.  Add the zest and rosemary.  While whisking (important), sprinkle the xanthan gum into the sauce and stir until thickened.  (In order to prevent the xanthan gum from lumping, I use a small shaker top bottle and lightly sprinkle it while whisking vigorously.  Do not add it all at once because it might turn lumpy.  If using cornstarch or arrowroot, stir into a tablespoon or two of chicken stock until smooth, then add to the sauce in the pan.)

5.  Divide the butter sauce equally over the two chops and serve immediately.

Nutritional information per serving: 500 calories, 3 g carbohydrate (0.3 g dietary fiber, 1.9 g sugar), 37.6 g total fat (17.2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 144 mg cholesterol, 344 mg sodium, 59.2 mg calcium, 490 mg potassium, 35.4 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 2.7 grams

* For those with food allergies: To create a dairy free version, use ghee (clarified butter) and coconut milk.  If gluten is a problem for you, choose a certified gluten free chicken stock.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Lovin' Spoonful

I have been asked several times about how to use coconut butter (or manna).  A lot of people enjoy eating it by itself or as a dip for fruit, but others don't care for the taste or perhaps the texture isn't appealing.  Have you purchased a jar and it just sits in the pantry unused?  Well, in this recipe, you can use pre-made coconut butter or make your own.  It's so easy and the addition of rich, dark chocolate will definitely make eating coconut butter one of your favorite treats from now on!  There is a commercially available product that is similar called Cocoa Bliss by Artisana, but they use agave nectar as a sweetener.  Although agave is touted as a natural, healthful sweetener, it is anything but healthy!  It is about 90% fructose, making it higher in fructose than the dreaded high fructose corn syrup we are all trying to avoid.  If you have a blood sugar disregulation problem, stay away from agave nectar because it will overburden your liver (a problem diabetics already have).  My recipe is just as creamy, rich and full of good, healthy fat, but without the sugar.  I warn you: This chocolatey goodness is SO delicious, you'll want to portion it out.  The net carbs per 1 TB serving is a mere 2 grams, but it is a nutrient and calorie dense food, so spoon out a serving, then close the container, walk away and enjoy it.  I serve it in a very small bowl I purchased from Pier 1 for $1, use a tiny, demitasse spoon and eat it in little bites, savoring every one.  It is a spoonful of chocolate love!

A Lovin' Spoonful
Makes 24 servings (1 TB each)

3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (or use 1 cup softened coconut butter or manna)
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 ounces raw cocoa butter (or substitute 2 more TB coconut butter)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
15-20 drops Vanilla Creme liquid stevia drops (or to taste, I use Sweet Leaf brand)

1.  Place the shredded coconut into a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.  This may take a few minutes.  If necessary, stop the blender and scrape down the sides and continue blending.  After a few minutes the coconut will turn into a creamy liquid. (If using pre-made coconut butter, skip this step.)

2.  Add the coconut oil, cocoa butter and cocoa powder to the liquified coconut and blend.  Add the stevia drops and blend again until completely smooth.  Pour into a glass container with a tight fitting lid.  To hasten the hardening process, you may place the mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Remove from refrigerator and store at room temperature.  (If you keep it in the fridge, it will harden into a brick!)  

3.  Suggested uses: Eat by the spoonful, serve over a few berries (as pictured), use as a spread or dip, stir a spoonful into your coffee (heavenly!), melt by microwaving for a few seconds then spooning into mini muffin liners and refrigerating to make candies...and anything else you can think of!

Nutritional Information per 1 TB serving: 136 calories, 3.7 g carbohydrate (1.9 g dietary fiber, 0.4 g sugar), 13.7 g total fat (11.4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 g cholesterol, 4 mg sodium, 2.3 mg calcium, 27 mg potassium, 1 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 1.8 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Eggless Avocado Scramble

Since learning about my sensitivity to eggs, I've had to be creative about breakfast.  No gluten, no dairy, no eggs -- that pretty much leaves my plate empty at a typical breakfast buffet!  Well, this recipe is hearty and makes me feel satisfied for hours.  Honestly, when I eat this for breakfast, I don't need to eat again for 6+ hours!  It's full of good-for-you, heart and brain healthy fat, fiber and tastes as creamy and delicious as scrambled eggs.  Did you know that avocados have twice as much potassium as bananas?  Also, they have a very low impact on blood sugar.  For this recipe, choose an avocado that is still slightly firm for the best results.  This flavorful dish is one I turn to often because it's so quick and easy to make.

Eggless Avocado Scramble
Makes 1 serving

1/2 slightly firm avocado, cubed
2 turkey breakfast sausage links*
1 TB ghee (or butter)*
1 tsp chopped parsley
2 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved and sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. If the sausage links are frozen, place them in a skillet over medium heat.  After they have thawed a bit, add the ghee to the pan.  Sauté the cubed avocado in the ghee until softened and beginning to brown slightly.  With a spatula, turn often and scrape the bottom of the skillet to prevent sticking.  Cut up the sausage links and combine with the avocado.  Add the parsley, sliced tomato and remove from heat.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

* For those with food allergies: For a lactose and casein free dish, use ghee (clarified butter) instead of butter.  If gluten is a problem for you, be sure to choose GF breakfast sausages.  I use Applegate Savory Turkey Breakfast Sausages, which are gluten and casein free.

Nutritional Information per serving (entire recipe): 327 calories, 10.8 g carbohydrate (7.2 g dietary fiber, 1.6 g sugar), 28.9 g total fat (8.9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 42 mg cholesterol, 348 mg sodium, 16.4 mg calcium, 570 mg potassium, 10.6 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 3.6 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Cucumber in a Creamy Herb Sauce

Finally, after years of trial, some success, backsliding, and continual adjustments to my diet, I am hopeful that I've discovered my personal tolerance level for carbohydrate and protein, both of which act upon insulin and blood sugar.  For the past several months, my blood glucose has been steady, with a fasting BG in the mid-80's, which has prompted a further reduction of diabetic meds!  We all understand the effect of carbs, right?  But protein, you might ask?  You may think protein doesn't affect blood sugar, but an excess of protein does!  Through a process called gluconeogenesis, your body will convert excess dietary protein into glucose.  Have you ever wondered why your BG will rise, even after not eating carb?  Gluconeogenesis could be the culprit!  So, how much protein should a diabetic eat?  Actually, for each person, it is different based on body size, metabolism, diet, etc.  With guidance from my doctor, I determined my level to be around 45 grams a day, but I'm a small person.  For a taller woman or man, it would be different.  The formula for calculating the optimum amount of protein is 1 gram for every kilogram of lean body mass.  If you're an athlete, then about 2 grams. (Click here for an online calculator to determine the approximate amount of protein for your size & activity level.)  So, the ratio of carbs, protein and fat that have brought about normal blood sugar levels for me is about 10-15% carb (under 25 g net carbs), 15% protein and 65-75% healthy fats (about 100 grams), such as olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.  (By the way, even with all that fat, my lipid levels, triglycerides, inflammation markers and blood pressure have dramatically improved, along with my BG!  Based on test results, my risk for heart disease has gone down!)  But, as I said, every person is different and, as nice as it would be to be given the proper ratio for your body to reverse diabetes, it will take some experimentation on your part to discover your personal tolerance levels.  

A good place to start is to reduce carbs to under 100 grams per day (spread throughout the day) and eventually reduce them to under 50.  Eat no more than 20 grams of protein per meal (an excess of that is usually more than a body can use in 4-5 hours) and ramp up your fat intake.  I want to be very clear about one point: a low fat, low carb diet doesn't work!  (And neither does a high carb, high fat diet.) Without enough fat, you'll be hungry and crave carbs, which can sabotage your efforts.  If you cut carbs and moderate your protein intake, then you'll need to increase your fat.  The best gauge is to eat enough fat until you're satisfied and don't experience any hunger, cravings or discomfort between meals.  Also, because your blood sugar and insulin requirements will drop, you'll need to be under a doctor's care because a reduction in medication will likely be necessary.  Another caution is to Type 1 or insulin-dependent T2 diabetics: this type of diet adjustment needs close monitoring by a doctor.  To learn more, I highly recommend The Diabetes Solution by Dr. Richard Bernstein, who is himself a Type 1 diabetic.  His book explains this type of low carb diet in great detail and includes approved food lists and recipes.  Another good book to get you started is The New Atkins for a New You by Drs. Eric Westman, Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek.

Now, on to my incredible new recipe!  Why is it that when you add bacon to a dish, it instantly becomes the best thing you put into your mouth? Well, that statement says it all.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Cucumber in a Creamy Herb Sauce
Makes 4 servings

12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3 oz. medallions
4-6 slices of bacon
1 large cucumber, seeds removed and sliced into 1/8" quarter rounds
1/2 cup chicken stock*
2 tablespoons ghee (or butter)*
1/3 cup high fat coconut milk (or heavy cream)*
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley (or 1 TB dried)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
Salt and pepper
6 cups spring mix lettuce, divided among 4 serving plates

1. Pat chicken with a paper towel and cut into 3 oz pieces.  Generously season chicken medallions with salt and pepper.  Wrap one piece of bacon around each medallion.  Heat a heavy skillet to medium and place chicken into the pan.  Meanwhile, heat oven to 350-degrees.  Cook chicken for 5 minutes, flip each medallion and cook for another 5 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan and place in a baking dish.  Continuing heating chicken in the oven while you make the sauce.

2.  Drain all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the skillet.  Add the chicken stock and stir to deglaze the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Add the ghee (or butter) and the cucumber.  Sauté until the cucumber is beginning to soften and the stock has been reduced by half.  Add the coconut milk (or cream) and stir to combine and until slightly thickened. Season with herbs, salt and pepper to taste.  Remove skillet from heat.  Remove chicken from oven and place a chicken medallion on each mound of lettuce.  Pour any drippings from the baking pan into the sauce and stir.  Divide sauce and cucumbers evenly over the four portions and serve immediately.

* For those with food allergies: To create a dairy, lactose and casein free version, use ghee and coconut milk.  To make it gluten free, be sure to purchase a certified GF chicken stock or broth.

Nutritional Information per serving: 292 calories, 5 g carbohydrates (1 g dietary fiber, 2.4 g sugars), 18 g total fat (10.1 g saturated fat, less than 0.1 g trans fat), 75 mg cholesterol, 739 mg sodium, 70.8 mg calcium, 456 mg potassium, 26.8 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 4 g

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Faux Colcannon

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish usually made with mashed potatoes and cabbage (or kale).  It can also contain other ingredients, such as leeks, onions, or chives.  It is often eaten with Irish bacon or boiled ham.  During a recent trip to Ireland, I watched my non-diabetic husband eat this comforting dish time and time again.  It was pure torture!  The traditional recipe is extremely high in carbohydrate, so far beyond my carb allowance for a meal.  I came home determined to create a low carb version with the same creamy texture and combination of flavors.  This recipe does exactly that!  Tonight, when we're eating our bangers and mash, I'll be able to join in without the guilt or the telltale blood sugar spike that is normally associated with the eating of this favorite Irish side dish.

Faux Colcannon
Makes four 3/4 cup servings

1 large head cauliflower
4 slices of bacon
2 teaspoons ghee* (or butter), divided
1/2 leek, sliced into half moons
1 cup chopped cabbage (or chopped coleslaw mix)
2 tablespoons dairy free cream cheese* (or regular)
1-4 tablespoons chicken stock*
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower and cut off florets.  Place in a steamer basket over an inch or two of water.  Cover pot and steam for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and remove cover; set aside.

2.  Meanwhile, slice bacon into 1/2-inch pieces.  Heat in a large skillet, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crispy.  Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; set aside.

3.  After bacon has cooked, drain skillet of all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat.  Add 1 teaspoon of ghee.  Add leek, a pinch of salt and steamed cauliflower to the skillet and saute over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until leek is translucent and cauliflower has dried out a bit.  Place this mixture and the dairy-free cream cheese into a food processor or blender.  Add one tablespoon of chicken stock at a time to the mixture as it is processed until it reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes.  (You may need to stop the food processor or blender occasionally and stir down the mixture to incorporate all the ingredients.)  Remove this mixture to a serving bowl and set aside.

4.  Add 1 teaspoon of ghee to the skillet and, over medium heat, saute chopped cabbage until softened.  Add the cooked cabbage and crispy bacon to the cauliflower mixture and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm.

Nutritional Information per serving: 141 calories, 11.7 g carbohydrate (4.3 g dietary fiber, 4.6 g sugar), 8 g total fat (3.7 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 13 mg cholesterol, 49.2 mg calcium, 560 mg potassium, 768 mg sodium, 7 g protein.  Net carbs: 7.4 grams

*Notes for those with food sensitivities: To create a lactose and casein free dish, use ghee instead of butter and a dairy-free cream cheese.  I used Daiya brand Plain Cream Cheese Style Spread which is gluten free, dairy free, nut free and soy free.  It is free of the top eight food allergens.  Also, if gluten is an issue for you, choose a chicken stock that is certified gluten free.  I used Kitchen Basics brand.

 Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bolognese Sauce over Shirataki No-Carb Noodles

Zero net carbs, 15 calories per serving, gluten free noodles that can actually aid in blood sugar control?  I'll admit, I was skeptical.  Shirataki noodles sound too good to be true, but I'm an adventurous cook and always on the lookout for low carb ways to eat my favorite foods, so I gave them a try.  The verdict?  Very good!  You can find them in Asian markets or in your grocery produce section with tofu or vegetarian products.  They come in a water-filled pouch and are made from a high fiber root vegetable called konjac.  (The noodles also come in a variety that has been combined with tofu, but those have more carbs and a few more calories per serving.  I suggest purchasing the noodles that are soy-free.). When you open the package, strain the noodles in a fine mesh strainer and run hot water over them.  You can either boil them for a few minutes or dry pan fry them to improve their texture to be more like wheat noodles.  Simply spray a dry skillet with non-stick cooking spray and sauté for a few minutes on medium high heat until most of the moisture has evaporated and the noodles are dry.  Use them in recipes or top with your favorite sauce, like the meat sauce recipe below, which is one of my family's favorites.  The noodles are bland, have no flavor of their own and will take a backseat to the flavor of the other ingredients in the dish.  The best part is that they are quite filling!  By using these magic noodles, the carbs in this traditional pasta dish were slashed dramatically, from over 50 grams per serving to a mere 10 net carbs, including the sauce!  I'm amazed and delighted by this new find!

Low Carb Bolognese Sauce
Makes 6 servings

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
3 teaspoons minced garlic
26 ounces chopped tomatoes, with liquid (I use Pomi Italian tomatoes)
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 TB fresh, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried parsley or 1/4 cup fresh, chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil and add the chopped onion.  Add a dash of salt and sauté until onion is soft and translucent.  Add the ground beef and break apart into small pieces, stirring until the meat is cooked and no longer pink.  Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.

2.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, and bay leaf.  Stir to combine. Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes.  Remove the cover and continue simmering for another 20 minutes or until thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove bay leaf and serve over boiled or dry pan fried shirataki noodles or your favorite pasta.

Nutritional Information per serving (for sauce only): 261 calories, 9.1 g carbohydrate (2.7 g dietary fiber, 5.2 g sugar), 18.4 g total fat (5.7 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 50 mg cholesterol, 172 mg sodium, 23 mg calcium, 88 mg potassium, 15.4 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 6.4

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Nutty Cinnamon Spice Hot Breakfast Cereal

Breakfast can be a challenging meal for me.  On most days I have a green smoothie, but sometimes I want to chew something!  Traditional boxed cereal, cream of wheat or oatmeal don't fit into my gluten free, very low carb, ketogenic diet.  Not only did these foods spike my blood glucose (when I used to eat them), they also didn't stick with me all morning so that I became hungry within a couple of hours.  I created this delicious, nutty recipe to satisfy my craving for hot cereal.  The apple pie spice adds a pleasing, sweet flavor that is reminiscent of a cinnamon roll.  This is a fast and easy meal to prepare, especially on days I have to get out of the door quickly.  The best part is that I stay satisfied for many hours, often not getting hungry again until mid-afternoon.  This cereal may not be very pretty to look at but, with only 3 net carbs, it's a winner in my recipe box!

Nutty Cinnamon Spice Hot Breakfast Cereal
Makes 1 serving

3 tablespoons macadamia nuts (or pecans)
3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 tablespoon raw, shelled hemp seed
1 teaspoon chia seed
1 tablespoon fiber powder (I use unflavored Paleo Fiber)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 packet of stevia (or to taste)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or other nut milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a small food processor, nut and spice grinder, or coffee grinder, pulse the first five ingredients until the nuts are ground into meal.  Pour this mixture into a serving bowl and add the apple pie spice, fiber powder and stevia and stir to combine; set aside.

2. In a glass measuring cup (or microwaveable container), heat the milk until hot.  Add this and the vanilla extract to the nut mixture and stir.  Adjust seasoning, if necessary.  Serve immediately.  

Nutritional information per serving: 415 calories, 21.7 g carbohydrate (18.5 g dietary fiber, 2.6 g sugar), 35.7 g total fat (15 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 81 mg sodium, 107.3 mg calcium, 188 mg potassium, 6.6 g protein.  (3.2 g net carbs per serving)

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, Copyright 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Zucchini "Pasta" Primavera

This "pasta" dish is not pasta at all!  It is a delicious, creamy primavera with pancetta over zucchini noodles.  Using a spiral slicer, mandolin or box grater (shred lengthwise), it is easy to create vegetable noodles (see my earlier post to learn how).  Using vegetable noodles (by themselves or mixed with a little gluten free pasta) is one of my greatest carb-lowering tricks.  My pasta-lovin' non-diabetic husband was completely satisfied with this amazing meal and didn't miss the carbs, at all.  I think you'll agree and, like me, return to this healthy recipe again and again.

Zucchini "Pasta" Primavera
(Makes 4 servings)

1/2 TB olive oil
2 large zucchini, made into noodles (about 6 cups)
3 oz. pancetta, diced (omit for meat free version)
1-1/2 cups asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
1-1/2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 TB dried)
1-1/2 cups almond milk
2 TB gluten free flour
1/3 cup sour cream (for a dairy free version, use Tofutti)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (for dairy free, use finely crushed macadamias)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 TB shredded Parmesan cheese (optional topping)

1.  This dish comes together quickly, so have all the vegetables cut up and ready. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over low heat. Add zucchini noodles, season with salt and pepper, cover and allow to steam until beginning to soften, stirring occasionally.  When noodles are just beginning to soften, remove from heat, drain and set aside.

2.  While the zucchini noodles are cooking, prepare the sauce in another skillet.  In a large skillet, cook pancetta over medium heat until fat is rendered and beginning to crisp.  (If not using pancetta, heat 2 TB olive oil.) Add asparagus and broccoli, sauté briefly and cover for a few minutes until vegetables are bright green and tender-crisp.  Using a slotted spoon, remove vegetables and pancetta to a medium bowl; set aside.

3.  Add onions and sauté until translucent.  Add garlic and oregano; sauté until fragrant.  Add gluten free flour and stir constantly until beginning to brown.  Remove from heat and add almond milk while stirring constantly, stir until smooth.  Return to heat and continue cooking and stirring until sauce boils and thickens.  Return vegetables and pancetta to pan.  Add the tomatoes, sour cream, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and parsley.  Stir until well combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Add the drained zucchini noodles to the skillet and stir until well coated with the sauce.  Serve immediately topped with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Nutritional Information per serving: 228 calories, 17 g carbohydrate (4.7 g dietary fiber, 7.2 g sugar), 13.4 g total fat (5.9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 28 mg cholesterol, 781 mg sodium, 346 mg calcium, 780 mg potassium, 13.2 g protein.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Saucy Stroganoff

This is a hubby favorite that goes way back!  When we were first married (over 30 years ago), I was an adventurous new cook and sometimes enjoyed trying challenging recipes.  Once for a special occasion, I made classic Beef Stroganoff and, it was such a hit, that it soon became a favorite.  In this more casual, weekday version, instead of using sliced steak, I use ground beef.  Because of the lower price tag, I can make it more often and I don't hear my husband complaining about that!  For an added health benefit, I suggest using grass-fed ground beef which has a healthier combination of fats than commercially processed beef, plus it gives this dish a richer flavor.  Ground turkey can be substituted, if you prefer.  This is a quick and easy recipe that I'm sure will become a favorite of your family, too.

Saucy Stroganoff
(Makes 4 servings)

2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 TB coconut or grape seed oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 lb. grass-fed ground beef or ground sirloin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups beef stock
2 TB gluten free flour mix or cornstarch
1 TB gluten free Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried rubbed sage
1/2 cup sour cream (or Tofutti, for a dairy free version)
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a dry skillet heated to medium, sweat the sliced mushrooms until the moisture has evaporated.  Spoon mushrooms into a bowl; set aside.

2.  Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the onions and sauté until translucent, approximately 5 minutes.  Remove onions to the bowl with the mushrooms; set aside.

3.  Heat skillet to medium-high and add ground beef.  Sauté until no longer pink and the meat has begun to brown.  Meanwhile, while the meat is cooking, in a small bowl stir together the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and GF flour or cornstarch until lumps no longer remain; set aside.  

4.  Add the minced garlic, thyme, sage, onion and mushrooms to the meat and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Stir the beef stock mixture well before adding it to the pan and then stir constantly until it reaches a boil.  When the mixture boils, turn heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes until sauce is thickened.

5.  Remove skillet from heat and stir in the sour cream until well combined.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Serve immediately.  Optional: Serve over brown rice, gluten free noodles or vegetable noodles.  (Pictured here with oven roasted carrot ribbons, based on this recipe by Sally Cameron:

Nutritional Information per serving (not including rice or noodles): 333 calories, 11 carbohydrates (1.6 g dietary fiber, 4.3 g sugar), 15 g total fat (7.7 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 114 mg cholesterol, 468 mg sodium, 68.4 mg calcium, 778 mg potassium, 37.2 g protein.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chocolate Coconut Candy Balls

When I was a child, one of the favorite treats I might find in my Easter basket was a Russell Stover Chocolate Coconut Nest!  I loved the combination of creamy chocolate and the chewy texture of the coconut.  The company has changed their recipe over the years and, to me, it no longer satisfies my memories from childhood -- not to mention that as a diabetic I really shouldn't be eating candy bars anymore!  This recipe has all the flavor of the original candy, but its so much better!  It's reduced in sugar and uses coconut oil as a base, which has many healthful benefits.  If you're looking for a fun and easy holiday treat, give these a try!

Chocolate Coconut Candy Balls
Makes about 8-10 candies

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon 100% stevia powder (or stevia drops to taste)
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, stir the dry ingredients until well combined.  Add the coconut oil, honey and extract and mix thoroughly, until all dry ingredients have been moistened.  Using a tablespoon (or very small cookie scoop), spoon a tablespoon of coconut mixture into your hand and gently roll and press until it forms into a ball.  Place on a cookie sheet and press down slightly to flatten the bottom of the candy.  Repeat with the remaining coconut mixture.  Bake in a preheated 190-degree oven for 50-60 minutes.  (The point is to slowly dehydrate the candies, not actually bake them.)  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on the cookie sheet before removing to an airtight container.

Nutritional Information per candy: 79 calories, 5.3 g carbohydrate (1.2 g dietary fiber, 3.2 g sugar), 6.9 g total fat (5.1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 26 mg sodium, 6.2 mg calcium, 14 mg potassium, 1 g protein.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2014