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.