Sunday, April 30, 2017

Low Carb Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes you need a little something sweet, but don't want an entire jar full of cookies calling your name every time you walk through the kitchen. This recipe makes two good-size cookies and was inspired by a jumbo chocolate chip cookie from the Cafe Delites website (click here to view that recipe), but I wanted a sugar free version that tastes great and fits into my low carb, ketogenic lifestyle. You won't believe how amazing this cookie is! You'll never believe it's gluten free, very low in sugar (the chips add a tiny bit) and low carb. I've provided both a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe and a plain chocolate chip version, and both variations are delicious. (Any nut butter can be substituted for the peanut butter.) Warm out of the oven, they have the taste and texture of fresh bakery cookies! This has become my favorite low carb cookie recipe and, no doubt, it will become your favorite, too.

Low Carb Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2 cookies (2 servings)

2 teaspoons butter, melted (use ghee or coconut oil for dairy free)
1 tablespoon creamy or chunky peanut butter, no sugar added (melted)
1 tablespoon beaten egg
2 teaspoons erythritol sweetener (I use LaKanto Monkfruit sweetener)
1/4 teaspoon stevia powder
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons mini dark chocolate chips (70% or higher)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit (176 degree Celsius). In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter), 1 tablespoon beaten egg, sweetener, stevia, baking powder, a pinch of salt and vanilla. Whisk with a fork until well combined.

2. Add in the almond flour and chocolate chips, mixing until a soft dough forms. Divide dough into two equal portions, place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten each into a circle about 1/2" thick (I used the bottom of a glass). 

3. Bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the cookie is set. (If you like a soft and chewy cookie, bake for 15 minutes.) Remove from oven and allow to sit on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Cool for about 10 minutes and serve.

Nutritional Information per cookie: 190 calories, 8.7 g carbohydrate (2.2 g dietary fiber, 2.4 g sugars, 4 g sugar alcohols), 16.4 g total fat (4.2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 32 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium, 61.1 mg calcium, 112 mg potassium, 140 mg Vit A, 1 mg iron, 5.8 g protein.  Net carbs per cookie: 6.5 grams

Plain Chocolate Chip Cookie Variation: Increase butter to 1 tablespoon, omit peanut butter, reduce beaten egg to 2 teaspoons, increase vanilla to 1/2 teaspoon and increase almond flour to 1/3 cup. Follow directions as above.  Nutritional Information per cookie: 170 calories, 7.9 g carbohydrate, 2 g dietary fiber, 15.5 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 4.2 g protein.  Net carbs: 5.9 grams

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2017
All Rights Reserved. Please do not duplicate without author's permission.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Low Carb Zucchini Lasagna (or Hearts of Palm)


It's been eight years since I posted a lasagna recipe and, now that I'm living gluten and grain free, it's time for an updated version. My husband brought home two gorgeous, organic zucchini the other day and my plan was to spiralize them and make spaghetti. But because today was a cold and rainy spring day in Maine, I decided to make a warm and comforting baked lasagna instead. Instead of pasta noodles, I cut my zucchini lengthwise into narrow slices and used them between the layers of cheese and sauce. (You can substitute hearts of palm noodles in place of the zucchini.) It's important to place the zucchini slices between paper towels and leave at room temperature for at least an hour (or longer) to allow the moisture to be drawn out of this watery vegetable before assembling the casserole. The ricotta cheese mixture and meat sauce can be made a day or two ahead so, when it's time to assemble and bake, the prep time is minimal. Whether made with zucchini or hearts of palm noodles, this recipe is definitely a keeper! The lasagna was so delicious and, because it is a complete and balanced meal by itself, you don't even need to worry about a side dish. Keep life simple!

Low Carb Zucchini Lasagna (or Hearts of Palm)
Makes 6 servings

2 large zucchini, about 9 inches long or 9 oz package of hearts of palm lasagna noodles (drained, rinsed and dried), such as Palmini or Natural Heaven brand)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Ricotta Cheese Filling:
15 oz. of whole milk or part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup of chopped fresh spinach (or 1/2 cup frozen, squeezed and drained of moisture)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon of Italian herb seasoning
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 egg, slightly beaten

Meat Sauce:
3/4 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (or substitute ground beef)
2 cups marinara or your favorite pasta sauce, no sugar added

1. Prepare the zucchini ahead of time by slicing lengthwise into thin slices (about 3/16-inch wide). If you have one, a mandoline works well to make even, thin slices, otherwise cut with a large knife. Lay the slices in a single layer on several layers of paper towel, sprinkle very sparingly with salt and cover with several more layers of paper towel. If desired, you can place a baking sheet over them and weight it with canned goods or other objects. Allow the zucchini slices to remain at room temperature between the paper towels for at least one hour (or longer) to draw out the excess moisture. Wipe off any excess salt before assembling the lasagna. (If using hearts of palm noodles, you can skip this step.)
Step by Step Pictorial

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the Ricotta Cheese Filling ingredients and stir until well combined. Set aside. (If making ahead, refrigerate until you're ready to assemble the lasagna.)

3. In a large skillet, brown the sausage and add the pasta sauce. Stir to combine and set aside. (This can be made ahead and refrigerated, if desired.)

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. To assemble the lasagna, spray a baking pan with non-stick spray or grease with coconut oil or butter. Spoon in about 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce (no sausage) and spread to cover the bottom of the pan. Lay down a layer of the zucchini slices or hearts of palm noodles, overlapping just slightly, until the bottom of the pan is covered. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta filling over the zucchini or noodles and spread into an even layer, covering the slices. Top with 1/3 of the meat sauce and spread to edges. Sprinkle sauce with 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.

5. Repeat with a layer of zucchini slices or noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta filling, 1/3 of the meat sauce and 1/4 cup mozzarella.

6. Repeat a final time with a layer of zucchini slices or noodles, the remaining ricotta filling, the remaining meat sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.

7. Cover with the pan lid or tightly with foil (spray the foil with non-stick spray to prevent the cheese from sticking). Bake for 50-60 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Natural Heaven Hearts of Palm Lasagna Noodles
Nutritional Information per serving made with zucchini (1/6th of recipe): 482 calories, 14 g carbohydrate (3 g dietary fiber, 6.8 g sugars), 36.6 g total fat (15.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 120 mg cholesterol, 968 mg sodium, 376 mg calcium, 560 mg potassium, 277 mg Vit A, 1 mg iron, 26.8 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 11 grams

Nutritional Information made with hearts of palm noodles (1/6th of recipe): 478 calories, 10.1 g carbohydrate (1.7 g dietary fiber, 3.4 g sugars), 36.2 g total fat (15.4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 120 mg cholesterol, 981 mg sodium, 369 mg calcium, 386 mg potassium, 1 mg iron, 708 mg Vit A, 26.4 g protein. Net carbs per serving: 8.4 grams.

Photos and recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2017, updated 2020
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without author's permission.

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.