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