Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Almond Butter Crackers

In a previous post, I reported on my test of the almond butter bread. It is a modified version of Mr. Peanut bread from the 24/7 Low Carb Diner. Both the peanut and almond butter versions are great bread substitutes that slice well and hold up or sandwich use. The greatness of these recipes don't stop at keeping the mayo off your fingers when eating a BTL. They can also be used to make delicious crackers!

First, bake your loaf of bread following either the almond butter or Mr. Peanut recipe. Then slice your bread thin and as evenly as possible. You should be able to get around 24 slices out of a whole loaf. Next, cut each slice in to 4 pieces. Then fry each slice of bread on both sides in either coconut oil or butter. The bread slices should be lightly browned on the edges. Place the fried bread pieces on a cookie sheet and lightly dust with onion or garlic powder and sea salt, then bake. I had my oven set at 300º and I baked them for about 10 minutes, turning the crackers at the 5 minute mark. 

The final result is a very crispy melba-toast style treat with a great texture perfect for dipping. If you miss crackers and their wonderful crunch, go ahead and give this a try. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wifezilla vs. 360º Vodka

When it comes to a low carber having an occasional adult beverage, you have to be very careful or you could accidentally end up drinking more carbs in 10 minutes than you normally eat in 2 days. The rules for alcohol labeling in general are a confusing mishmash and depend on whether you are selling, beer, wine or distilled alcohol. The government has even, at times, prevented companies from voluntarily labeling the carb content on their products.

While the federal authorities don't feel a need to help consumers make an informed choice when it comes to carbohydrate counts in distilled spirits, some companies have provided the carb content information when contacted by curious consumers. One of these companies was the makers of 360º Vodka. When low carber Ron Staats contacted them about the carb content of some of their flavored vodkas, he was told the carb content was zero. But that was several months ago and new flavors had been introduced so I decided to contact the company myself to see if the zero carb level still held true for new flavors such as Glazed Donut or my old favorite Double Chocolate Vodka.

This is the reply I just received via email today...

"Good Afternoon Ms. Duffy,

I am in receipt of your e-mail regarding our 360 Vodka.  Thank you for your inquiry.

Regulations for distilled spirits do not require this information.  The information you have requested is not available.

Thank you again for your inquiry and thank you for your patronage.


Denise Powell
McCormick Distilling"

Here was my response...

"While I know that carb counts are not required by law, I am very disappointed to know that you can't provide that information. Without that information I will no longer be able to drink any of your vodka products, nor recommend it to the readers of my low carb blog. I will also not be printing or sharing the list of recipes I have compiled featuring your vodka flavors.

I guess I will have to contact other spirit companies and see if i can get any of them to provide carbohydrate information. Because of my dietary requirements, unless your policy changes I will unfortunately have to pass on your products.

Linda Duffy"

Now I am not really expecting a reply, but I do think the only way the industry will change is if people take the time to let them know that without nutritional information, we will not be using their products. It's a shame I will have to stop buying 360º vodka as I was really enjoying their flavored vodkas. I just don't feel a need to worry about hidden sugars and starches. Sure, plain vodka is usually safe, but I will not support a company that doesn't feel the need to give relevant information to consumers just because the government doesn't make them.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Almond Butter Bread

Due to my pesky need to earn a living, I don't get to sit around and come up with recipes nearly as often as I would like to. Fortunately, other low carbers are out there in their kitchens playing mad scientist and coming up with some pretty cool recipes.

One I just tried was a low carb paleo-ish bread made out of almond butter. Cooking Caveman had a good recipe for almond butter bread posted on his blog. But then Tom Naughton of Fat Head fame tweaked that recipe and came up with a version that makes a great sandwich bread. I cooked up Tom's recipe tonight.

Batter ready to go in the oven

This recipe is dairy-free as well as low carb. While almond butter can be expensive, compared to commercial low-carb breads the homemade version is a bargain.

Fresh out of the oven

The flavor of the finished product is mild and not too nutty, but the texture is the bet part. It slices without crumbling even when you make the slices very thin. My test salami and avocado sandwich with extra mayo was great. I am adding this recipe to my list of favorites and I think you might too!

The bread flattened as it cooled and the loaf pan was a bit too wide.
Despite it's flatness it still sliced well and held it's shape. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Recipe: Melon Salsa

We've all gone to the store, bought what we thought was a delicious cantaloupe, and instead ended up with something bland and boring. While there are ways to avoid getting a tasteless melon in the future, there is no need to waste the less than perfect melon you have now. The texture of a cantaloupe, even if it lacks flavor, is still very interesting. Firm yet creamy, a cantaloupe's texture is just as important to its appeal.

This means you can take advantage of the texture of a cantaloupe to make a very tasty salsa where its lack of sweetness will not be a problem. Along with saving a bland melon from the store, this can also be a good way to use up cantaloupe from your garden if you are forced to harvest early because of frost. Just yesterday I found cantaloupe for sale at Walmart for only 20¢ each. I could tell they wouldn't have much flavor because of the green color under the netting and lack of aroma, but since I had salsa in mind, I bought one anyway.

If you do have a bit of nice, sweet cantaloupe on hand you need to use up, you can also use a combination of melon and cucumber to make a refreshing tasty salsa without to much sweetness. The amount and type of peppers can also be adjusted to make this a mild or hot salsa. As always, feel free to experiment and have fun!

Wifezilla's Melon Salsa

1 large under-ripe cantaloupe - flesh chopped fine
(about 2 cups)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro - minced
1 medium sweet onion - chopped fine
1/4 - 1/2 cup jalapeño or other variety of pepper - minced
(adjust amount and hotness level to taste)
1 clove fresh garlic - minced
1 lime - juiced
1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

Mix all ingredients well and chill to allow flavors to blend. Serve with slices of fresh jicama or as a side to grilled flank steak or chicken.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ask Wifezilla: Plantain Pancakes?

Q: Hey Wifezilla, do you ever use plantains to make Paleo Pancakes? I found this recipe and it sounded good. Does using green plantains make the carb level lower?

A: While plantains easily fit within the paleo category, they are too carby for me. At 31.9g of carbs per 100g, they have even more carbohydrates than bananas (23g per 100 grams). This does sound like an interesting recipe for someone without serious metabolic damage who can handle a higher carb level. I could easily see making these as an occasional treat for kids. 

For people who have to keep the carb level lower, I recommend the fluffy coconut flour pancake recipe from Nourishing Days instead.

As for using green plantains instead of ripe plantains, while the green plantains would have less sugar, they will still have lots of starch. The ripening process converts the starches to sugar, but both sugar and starch are a form of carbohydrates. So the ripeness level of the plantain would not really make much difference. 

Ask Wifezilla includes direct questions to me or questioned I have answered in groups or forums. To ask a specific question, send your inquiry to wifezilla at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shopping Alert! Flat rate shipping from Xylitol USA

If you use xylitol, erythritol or coconut sugar, now is a great time to stock up. Xylitol USA (Formerly Emerald Forest Products) is offering flat rate $6.99 shipping for a limited time. I have ordered from this company for years and really like their erythritol. No, I am not a paid spokesperson, just a happy customer passing along a good deal.

Compared to what I pay for erythritol locally, ordering from Xylitol USA is cheaper if I order at least 5 lbs. Not only is it less expensive than what is available locally in store, their erythritol is sourced from non-gmo corn. I works great in baked goods and has a similar structure to sugar, making recipe conversion to low carb pretty easy. Erythritol is less sweet than sugar though, so you may need to add a little stevia or splenda to get your recipe to the right sweetness level.

I have gotten samples in previous orders of the xylitol and it was good. Some of their candies...well...not so good. You might want to stick to the xylitol and make your own treats. Just remember if you are thinking of trying xylitol instead of erythritol, xylitol can cause gastric distress for some people and it is toxic to pets.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

RECIPE: Low Carb Sausage Stuffing

Stuffing is often something that people on a low carb diet have to forgo...unless you redefine what stuffing can be. This recipe replaces fattening breads with healthy squash, allowing most people watching their carb intake to indulge without guilt.

Meat from 2 acorn squash (baked in butter and cubed)
1 lb turkey sausage or other ground sausage (browned)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (or any combination of the two)
1 cup chopped baby Portabella mushrooms
1/2 cup almond or hazelnut meal
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp ground fennel seed
Optional: cheyenne pepper to desired spiciness level

Bake squash at 350º until tender but not mushy. Allow to cool, peel and cut squash meat into cubes. Brown sasuage and allow to cool. Combine all ingredients and bake in a casserole pan at 350º for approximately 20 minutes. You CAN use this to stuff a turkey, but the texture is better when cooked outside of the bird. You can also take this recipe and form in to cakes ( think crab cakes) and bake them. Squash cakes (below) make an excellent side dish for turkey or any other main course.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spaghetti sauce and the nightshade issue

While my diet has swung more towards paleo since I gave up dairy, there are still a few things I regularly consume that definitely fall outside of the paleo realm. One of those items is tomatoes. Some paleo dieters avoid them because they are a member of the nightshade family. Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, ground cherries, and tomatillos are all family members. The working theory is that since these are recent (on an evolutionary scale) additions to the human diet, compounds contained in nightshades can cause digestive and auto-immune problems.

As I see it, nightshades are a lot like dairy. Some people have no problems with dairy, and in fact, benefit from good quality dairy products, especially raw dairy from grass-fed cows. Others, like me, should avoid dairy. Tomatoes, because of their vitamin content, can be more beneficial than harmful for most people, especially if those tomatoes are homegrown in rich, nutrient-filled soil and grown without pesticides. Others must avoid nightshades.

If you have auto-immune issues that still haven't cleared up despite following a clean, low carb/paleo diet, try eliminating members of the night shade family for a few weeks, then reintroduce them one at a time and see if you have a reaction. This is the same method I used to determine that I had problems caused by dairy.

If nightshades do not cause you gastric distress, trigger allergies, or increase arthritis symptoms, tomatoes could be a delicious part of your eating plan. They are still in mine, and this time of year I am harvesting plenty of tomatoes from the garden. I will soon have enough to make and can spaghetti sauce. This sauce is far superior to anything you can buy in the store, and by using fresh herbs, you get a much more complex and interesting flavor.

Spaghetti sauce in its' infant stage

The Lazy Person's Guide to Roaster Spaghetti Sauce by Wifezilla

You will need a electric roaster. The roaster is your main measuring device. Without an electric roaster, you get to guess, but basically you will be reducing the volume of raw tomatoes by at least half. The one is use is an 18 quart older model. This recipe also uses a stick blender with a chopper blade and fresh herbs instead of dried. Adaptations to available ingredients and equipment may be required. I water-bath can my sauce, but it can also be pressure canned. If you decide to add meat before canning, pressure canning is required. You can also freeze this sauce.
  1. Fill a roaster to the top with fresh or frozen SKINNED tomatoes or a combination of the two. (Frozen tomatoes are easy to peel and do not require an additional hot water bath.)
  2. Squish the tomatoes with your hands or a potato masher to make it easier for the tomatoes to cook down.
  3. Cook the tomatoes on 275 degrees overnight UNCOVERED. You can cover the top with a piece of metal screen or some cheese cloth to keep the bugs out of your sauce, but the moisture must be able to escape.
  4. The tomatoes should cook down until the roaster is only half way full. If it needs more time, just let it go until you have a half-full roaster or turn up the temps and stir as it cooks down the rest of the way. 
  5. Use a stick blender to chop everything up and make your sauce nice and smooth.
  6. Add 1 - 2 cans of organic tomato paste to make the sauce thicker. If your tomatoes are really meaty, you might not need to add any, but have the cans ready just in case.
  7. Add 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar and stir, then salt to taste. Because a lot of modern tomatoes are lower in acid than they used to be, I consider this a step that should not be skipped. High acidity is required for safe water bath canning.
  8. Let it continue to cook a bit as you caramelize 4 large sweet onions. Once onions are cooked, add to sauce.
  9. Get your canning jars ready. No, I did not forget about other herbs and spices, but that will be the last thing you do before canning. So trust me, just get your jars ready.
  10. NOW you can add fresh chopped basil, oregano, rosemary, minced garlic, etc... Sorry, we didn't measure. Just grabbed handfuls of whatever was ready from the garden. Several hand fulls of basil and oregano if I remember correctly and just a little rosemary and a few sprigs of thyme. 
  11. Immediately put in the jars and water bath can after mixing in the herbs. Prolonged cooking of the fresh herbs can make them bitter so you don't want them simmering for a long time. They are fine through the heat of canning though.
The recipe is more like a series of guidelines than a true recipe, but since I am more a freeform cook and the ingredients available to me vary, it is hard to be more specific. If you are the type that wants specifics, give this recipe a try.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Give a thought to gardening

Even in a tiny yard like mine you can grow your own produce. My entire lot, which has a 1000 sq ft house, a garage, a shed, a large duck pen and a pond system on it, is only .167th of an acre. By using several gardening methods including square foot gardening, deep mulching, container gardening and vertical trellising, I am able to grow melons, pumpkins, grapes, apples, pears, zucchini, beans, tomatoes, peppers, several herb varieties, kale, lettuce, kohlrabi, and even some exotics, flowers and flowering shrubs to attract the local bees and other pollinators.

I harvested this basket of food out of my back yard just yesterday morning. The tomatoes and peppers are just starting to take off, all the grapes are ready and I need to harvest more today and over the weekend. The squash, which got a late start, are just now ripening. Cucumbers and beans will be ready next month.

With the drought, rising food prices and the ever increasing genetic modification of foods from the store, you might want to consider your own garden. Food inflation has been creeping up year after year and projections for next year's harvest is grim. Even if you can not grow enough to entirely support your family's food needs, anything you can grow yourself is less you have to buy in the store. Not only that, there is a growing body of evidence that the nutriton level in commercially-raised food is dropping. This means you have to eat more food volume to get the same amount of nutrients that used to be in food years ago. Nutrient density is of particular importance for people with weight and digestive problems like me. Growing your own food and properly managing soil means the food you grow will be more nutritious than food you can buy.

While summer is almost over in the US, you can prep growing beds NOW for easy spring planting. In fact, fall is the time you plant garlic. Thinking of a garden as a spring to fall thing is very much a thing of the past. In some areas you can even grow greens through the winter. My kale survived several hard frosts and a few snow storms with no problems at all.

Give gardening a thought or two next time you see the sorry state and high price of what is available in the stores. Better food could be available right outside your back door.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A good use for soy

In general, soy is NOT a good food source. It messes with your thyroid, causes weight gain, and even inhibits protein absorption. Sure, properly fermented soy can be tasty and used occasionally without issue (for most people), but the soy in the typical American diet is not fermented and prepared safely. It is just added to everything because it is cheap and the populace has been duped in to thinking soy is healthy.

Fortunately there is an actual good use for all that soy that people should not be eating...

"Last week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it's purchasing 50 pounds of fake poop. A practical joke? No, not in the least.

Nor is this synthetic poop a plastic replica of the real thing; it's an organic version made from soybeans. The Gates Foundation will use it to test high-tech commodes at their Reinvent the Toilet Fair next week." (more)

So next time you see SOY on the label of some food item in the store, just remember this article. Soy is crap. Don't eat it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Recipe: Non-dairy Creamy Turkey Mushroom Soup

I spent last weekend with friends I hadn't seen in a while. Their children, whom I have known since they were infants brought THEIR children. Yup...my friends' babies are having babies. Apparently while I was soaking in the cuteness I also soaked in some cooties. They don't call kids germ balls for nothing!

Anyway,  I woke up today with a tickle in my throat and congestion in my left ear. By the end of the day it had progressed to painful sinuses, pressure behind the eyes and a full-blown sore throat and coughing up crud. Fortunately I had some turkey bone broth simmering away because a hot, sinus-clearing soup was exactly what I needed. I dragged my pathetic carcass in to the kitchen and this is what I threw together. It's a tangy, spicy, non-dairy version of cream of chicken mushroom soup that is low in carbs, high in flavor, and should help you breathe a little easier when cooties get you down.

Yeah, it's a crappy cell phone picture, but I am sick. Cut me some slack!

Wifezilla's Creamy Turkey Mushroom Soup

4 oz shitake mushroom - chopped
4 oz baby bella mushrooms - chopped (or 8oz total of your favorite mushroom type)
1 large sweet onion - chopped
1 clove garlic - minced
1/4 cup coconut oil
2-3 cups chicken or turkey broth
1 cup cooked turkey or chicken meat
1 can coconut milk (or 1/2 can coconut milk and 1/2 cup mayo*)
1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
2 tsp - 1 Tbsp ground black pepper (start with 2 tsp and go up from there)
1 Tbsp hot sauce
2 tsp cayenne pepper powder (or red pepper flakes)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp Xantham gum
Sea salt to taste
Optional: chopped chives or green onions for garnish

In a small cup, dissolve xantham gum and 2 Tbsp of melted coconut oil. Set aside. Caramelize onions over medium heat in 1/4 cup coconut oil. Add mushrooms to caramelized onions and cook until mushrooms are soft. Add garlic, being careful not to overcook garlic or it will get bitter. After stirring in garlic, add xantham gum mix and stir, then immediately add 2 cups of broth. Allow mixture to simmer a bit, stirring as it thickens. Add remaining ingredients and check thickness when all items are incorporated. If mixture is too thick, add a little more broth. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle with chives or green onions and serve.

  • Coconut milk flavor varies from brand to brand. If the type you are using has a strong coconut flavor or is a bit on the sweet side, use the half coconut milk, half mayo version.
  • If you don't have a problem with dairy, you can directly sub butter for the coconut oil and cream for the coconut milk. 
  • If you don't have xantham gum, tempered egg yolks can also be used to thicken the soup. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Recipe: Caveman Coconut Cooler

Wifezilla's Caveman Coconut Cooler

1 cup frozen melon pieces
Juice of 1 lime
6 ice cubes
1 can of coconut milk
Stevia or sweetener of choice

Cut a cantaloup or other fresh, local melon in to ice cube-sized pieces. Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. Put 1 cup's worth in a blender. Bag up the rest and keep in the freezer for future use. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until ice cubes are crushed. Makes 2 servings.

While this is a more paleo friendly recipe, low carbers not on induction might enjoy this every once in a while.

Approximate carbs per serving:
Melon - 6g
Lime - 2g
Coconut milk - 5g
Stevia - 1g
Total: 14g

Remember, this is for 2 servings...around 10oz a piece. It is very easy to get carried away and drink it all. You might want to make this with a friend to be sure you share!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reasons to Low Carb That Nothing To Do With Weight

People usually turn to a low carb diet for the weight loss benefits. After following the diet for a while, they begin to notice other things happening to them that have absolutely nothing to do with weight loss, but are just as exciting. Every once in a while, a thread about these unexpected benefits pops up on low carb discussion forums. The lists are pretty impressive. One recent list on the Active Low Carb forum has been going for several days and is getting quite long. Here is compiled list from several forum members showing what low carb can do for a person even if they don't need to drop any excess pounds.

  • No more joint pain
  • No more migraines
  • Better looking skin
  • Better sex life
  • Waking up refreshed
  • Better moods
  • Reduction or complete elimination of diabetes medication
  • Nails are much stronger & healthier
  • Reduction of psoriasis symptoms
  • Reduction in acne breakouts
  • Skin is glowing or luminous, more elastic
  • Elimination of acid reflux
  • Teeth are much cleaner, plaque takes much longer to form
  • Allergies have cleared up
  • Don't constantly think about food
  • Age spots fading
  • Not as anxious
  • Sleep better
  • Blood pressure lower
  • Feet not swelling
  • Less bloated
  • More energy
  • Less food obsession
  • No more heartburn
  • No more stomach cramps
  • Healthy cholesterol, glucose and triglyceride levels
  • Improvement in gum health
  • Lower resting heart rate
  • Rosacea flare-ups reduced
  • Healthier, shinier hair
  • Better tolerance of temperature extremes
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Decreased use of over-the-counter pain killers
  • No more binge eating
  • Reduction in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

As you can see there is much more to low carb than just getting skinnier. If you find yourself suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, overweight or not, low carb may be just the thing for you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Recipe: Lower Carb Broccoli Salad

I first had broccoli and grape salad at a pot luck about 2 years ago. Broccoli and grapes sounded like a weird combination to me, but I was feeling adventurous that day and took a spoonful. It was delicious. It was also on the higher end of the carb spectrum due to carby ingredients like raisins and the addition of sugar when following the traditional recipe. But with a little tweaking the carb count can be lowered, bringing it to line with many low carb eating plans. Here is my version of the broccoli salad recipe with a higher protein content and lower carb count than the original.

Wifezilla'a Lower Carb Broccoli Salad

2 heads of fresh broccoli, flowerets cut small and stems "slawed"
1 cup salted sunflower seeds
1 1/2 - 2 cups mayonnaise (make your own if possible)
1 cup diced jicama
1/2 large red onion - chopped
3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Da Vinci Simple Syrup (or a couple of Splenda or Truvia packets)
1/2 cup red mini grapes (or regular seedless grapes cut in half)
1/2 cup unsweetened dried cherries
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients. If it appears on the dry side, add some more mayo. Chill for a few hours before serving to allow flavors to blend. Great for pot lucks, picnics, or a tasty summer lunch. If you want to kick it up a notch, add crumbled fresh cooked bacon right before serving.  The first version I tried did not include bacon, but many published versions do and it is hard to go wrong by adding bacon!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Asian Cabbage Stir Fry aka Crack Slaw

When you low carb, a simple tasty recipe that can be made in minutes is always appreciated. One such recipe has earned the name "Crack Slaw". Because of the name, I thought it was some variation on coleslaw and never bothered to look in to it. I already have plenty of ways to make a good cole slaw and wasn't really interested in attempting something new. Then someone explained that it wasn't a cold cabbage salad, it was an Asian-style stir fry that uses shredded cabbage as a base...and that it was a bit addictive...hence the name Crack Slaw. Well that was something entirely different and I decided to give it a try.

My rendition of crack slaw using bay scallops and a bagged chopped cabbage blend with a side of wasabi.

This version used Nappa cabbage, steak pieces, extra mushrooms and some cayenne pepper.

It was delicious and it is something I now make on a regular basis. Most recipes call for a bit of toasted sesame oil to be added right before serving. I consider that ingredient essential. It totally makes the dish. I also use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. If you are avoiding wheat or soy, coconut aminos are a tasty replacement for soy sauce and are available at many health food stores.

I have made this several times using different proteins, different bagged shredded cabbage blends or even shredding my own. It is a very versatile dish and can be easily changed to use whatever ingredients you have on hand. Don't let the name scare you. Crack Slaw is a nutritious and delicious low carb recipe you might want to incorporate in to your weekly meal plan. Here are a few different versions to get you started...

Wifezilla Quick Tip #1

This may sound weird, but adding chia seeds to any ground meat that tends to be on the dry side will help lock in moisture. Chia works especially well with ground turkey and ground buffalo. A couple of tablespoons per pound will do.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Five-O Chicken

This is the easiest, tastiest grilled whole chicken you could every make. You either cut up the breast or back bone of the chicken with kitchen shears, yell "SPREAD EM!" as you pull out the handcuffs...no wait.. you flatten out the chicken and rub it with spices. (Note to self: Do not watch old Hawaii Five-O reruns while cooking). Next, put the bone side down on the grill and cook it low and slow. You don't even have to turn it. You CAN flip the chicken over and crisp up the skin a little more at the end, but I find the skin is crispy enough without that extra step. Cook time with depend on your individual grill, just make sure that the temperature is not too high or your chicken will  be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. 

Spread 'em Meat Bag!

If you have a gas grill like I do and it tends to run hot, place the burners on the lowest setting, then use the valve from the propane tank to turn the flame down a bit more. If it is windy, you wont be able to reduce the flame much and still keep it lit. In that case just use a beer can to partially prop open the grill lid.

The "proper" way to prep the chicken is to cut out backbone and then spread it flat. My son cut down the breast bone and that worked just as well. Full instructions on the proper method here, but it works either way. Choose whichever technique you prefer and happy grilling!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Recipe: Cauliflower Helper - the non-dairy version

There are some really yummy versions of Cauliflower Helper out there. AnnaMarie and Sam from the Lighter Side Facebook group recently made some. AnnaMarie even posted a picture that got me feeling quite hungry. The only problem is that most recipes you find for Cauliflower Helper contain cheese. Me and dairy are still not on friendly terms, so their recipes were totally out of the question. Rather than pout about life's cruelty in denying me cheesy goodness, I got creative and came up with a dairy-free version.

Wifezilla's No Dairy Cauliflower Helper

  • 2 lbs frozen cauliflower
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 6 oz portobello mushrooms - chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onion - chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or butter if butter doesn't cause you problems)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (make your own if possible)
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • salt & pepper
  • additional coconut oil for cooking mushrooms if needed
  • chives (optional)
Brown ground beef. While beef is cooking, in a separate pan cook the 2 bags of cauliflower in coconut oil. When ground beef is done, remove from pan saving grease. Set ground beef aside. Cook onions in the beef drippings until caramelized. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms are soft. Add a little coconut oil if needed. When cauliflower is cooked, add beef, onions and mushrooms and stir well. Then add mayo, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast. Stir and taste. Add additional seasonings if needed. I like a lot of pepper. Served topped with chopped chives.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Make your own kimchi

Fermented cabbage is an incredibly healthy dish. I recently used my homemade kimchi to cure an ulcer. Sadly, most of us have only tried commercial sauerkraut so think fermented cabbage is mushy, tasteless, and stinky. If you have been permanently scared away from the kraut but still want the benefits of the probiotics and vitamins of cabbagy goodness, why not give kimchi a try?

Wifezilla's Fermented Kimchi

6 heads of cabbage, cut in to bite sized chunks
2 pounds of carrots - sliced
1/2 pound of Ginger root - shredded
4 elephant garlic cloves - diced
Large bunch of chives - chopped
12-24 dried red chili pepper pods (the more you use the hotter it will be)
1/2 - 1 cup fine sea salt
1/4 cup whey
Filtered water
Sriracha Sauce (preferably fermented )
Daikon radish (optional)

Pound cabbage with salt*. Stir in other veggies. Add filtered water as needed to cover the cabbage mix. Cover with a ceramic weight or ziplock bags full of water to keep veggies below the brine level. Let sit for a couple of days. When it tastes how you like it, it's time to place your kimchi in jars. To each quart jar add 1 tbsp or more of the sriracha sauce. More sauce for more heat or less if you are a total wuss. Also add a dab or two of honey if you like a touch of sweetness with your sour. Leave some head space in each jar since it will continue to ferment, although slowly, in the refrigerator. Will be best after a week or two in the cold. Should keep for months so don't worry about making a big batch.

*A note on the salt... Based on recipes I found, they called for 1 cup of salt for every 2 heads of cabbage. I thought 1 cup would be a good starting point for 6 heads of cabbage. I was wrong. It was still too salty. Not EEEWW salty, but I had to rinse the veggies before putting it in jars and letting them ferment a bit more. A minor inconvenience, but you can avoid that by starting with 1/2 cup and tasting as you go.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Low Carb On The Go

It's been quite a busy social season for me. Normally I am a bit of a homebody. Lately on my calendar there there have been several weddings, anniversary parties, graduations and a few book clubs thrown in for good measure.

Being good at parties and events where the carbs are flowing as much as the wine is not an easy task. Traveling to and from these events and meeting up with fellow travelers involves coffee shops, restaurants and gas station stops. Temptation is everywhere.

While the smart thing would be to pack a cooler and a bag full of low-carb goodies, my schedule was so pressed for time the goodie bag was not very well planned out and I had to "live off the land" so to speak. Despite the rush and temptations, I had NO weight gain over the past weekend and also did not turn in to a giant whale during my other events during this busy spring. Here are a few ways I navigated the carb infested waters....

  • Sandwich rolls: At a few of the party buffets I was still able to make myself some sandwich rolls out of lunch meat, veggies and full-fat mayo. Don't stress too much about the fillers in the lunch meat, but shy away from anything that says "honey roasted" if you can. That is code language for "loaded with high fructose corn syrup". Lay out the meat flat, put a good size layer of mayo on the meat, add some chopped lettuce or spinach, tomatoes, etc... and roll up the meat slice in to a roll. At our vacation rental, as my friends chowed down on oatmeal, muffins and pastries, I made sandwich rolls for breakfast with a side of fresh strawberries.
  • Go nuts! Two of the carb-smart goodies I was able to grab before hitting the road included a large bag of smoked almonds and a container of cashews. As bowls of M&M's, pretzels and chips were placed out once we hit our destination, I placed out the delicious nuts and had no trouble steering clear of the bad foods. 
  • Chocolate is your friend: It's hard to feel deprived when you have good dark chocolate on hand. Green & Blacks, Dagoba and Lindt all have good dark chocolate bars that contain 85% cocoa and little sugar. Some stores have excellent house brands that are cheaper and just as tasty. For my last weekend I grabbed 3 bars of dark chocolate with espresso beans from Sunflower Market. When my friends were hitting the sweets, a square or two of my dark chocolate was all I needed.
  • Build a better latte: As many low-carbers have already discovered, Starbucks will make you a latte with heavy cream instead of milk and they also have some tasty sugar-free syrups. Unfortunately I also try to avoid dairy and Starbucks only offers soy as a non-dairy alternative. Instead of looking to a well-known chain for your coffee house gatherings, look around for an independent coffee house. All throughout Colorado we were able to find great coffee places that not only made the standard coffees, but had more options for freaks like me with allergies and dietary restrictions. One of the tastiest coffee's I had was an iced latte with almond milk and sugar-free caramel syrup in old town Salida. Just remember to check if the almond milk is sugar-free before you go ahead and order. 
  • Mexican food is flexible food: One of the easiest places I have found to stay in the low carb end of the pool is at restaurants that serve mexican food. At Lulu's in Fort Collins, they will turn any regular burrito in to a burrito bowl. Just skip the rice and ask for extra lettuce. At the Boat House in Salida, their chimichunga is loaded with pork and cheese and contains no rice. Even if you go ahead and eat the fried tortilla, the rest of the dish is fresh salsas, lettuce and avocado. Not a good option for people with dairy issues, but there is also the option of a taco salad minus cheese. Just don't eat the fried tortilla bowl. 
  • Go Mongolian! Mongolian BBQ restaurants are a new thing in many parts of Colorado, but these are quickly becoming one of my favorites. At Hu Hot in Ft. Collins, a friend an I were able to load up on all-you-can-eat veggies and meat while skipping the carby rice. The only potential pit fall is the sauce bar. With about a dozen different options, it is pretty easy to grab a sugary sauce that will send your blood sugar through the roof. Stick to mostly soy sauce and chili or garlic oil and you are pretty safe. A tiny splash of the other sauces will give you a bit of sweet flavor without the diabetic coma. 
  • Make your own liquor store stop: You never know what people are going to serve at weddings and parties, so it doesn't hurt to make sure your low carb favorite is on hand. Michalob Ultra is a good beer option for low carbers and white wine tends to be less carby than red. Get a few of your favorites, but buy extra to share. You never know if a fellow low carber is lurking in the shadows that may need some low carb support. If you are toasting at a wedding, take a sip to honor the happy couple, but don't feel obligated to slam the whole glass. At one of the weddings I recently attending, sparkling cider was served instead of champagne. It was so sweet even a regular sip would have bad news for me. I barely wet my lips, thought happy thoughts for the newly weds and inconspicuously dumped the rest behind a shrub.
The low carb lifestyle can be difficult during party season, but with a little though and planning, it doesn't have to be a dietary disaster. Even if you do slip up and eat the wedding cake, drink plenty of water and make a fresh start tomorrow. 

Can low carb cure diabetes?

The question came up this morning in one of my favorite low carb groups. Can you actually cure type 2 diabetes with a low carb diet? The answer is no. You can eliminate side effects and TREAT your diabetes with a high fat, adequate protein, low carbohydrate diet. This is not the same as a cure.

It can FEEL like a cure when your blood pressure goes to normal, your weight drops, your GERD goes away, your joints no longer ache, your zits clear, and your doctor says it's time to go off the Metformin. But believe me. You still aren't "cured".

Whether due to genetics or cell damage or a combination of both, once you cross in to diabetic territory, you can't go back to eating breakfast cereal, candy bars, swigging juice, having 6 or more slices of bread a day, or living on a diet or rice and potatoes no matter what the American Diabetes Association tells you. Your body simply can not handle the damage caused by excess carbohydrate intake. Cutting those carbs does not cure the underlying issue, but it will sure help.

Look at it this way, if you have a dog and develop allergies, then get rid of the dog, your dog allergy isn't "cured". You just eliminated a trigger. Go back to spending time with a dog again and your allergies will flare up, clearly reminding you there is still an allergy.

Here are the thoughts of a few of the other forum posters on this topic...

Vickie S: "I'm not diabetic but I'm under the impression I will always have a problem with sugar and processed foods. I don't imagine this will ever change. Even after I lose weight I will forever need to stay on track. It's finally clicked (after many years of going on and off) why this WOE is a forever thing and not just something I do to lose weight. Just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents worth. :-) "

Tami C: "I will ALWAYS be a diabetic. However, I don't have to be a diabetic with high blood sugar. My fasting bs is in the 80's. I don't get spikes as high as I used to if I eat something a bit more carby but they still happen. (say high 100's as compared to 300's) If I went back to eating high carb foods again I would be right back where I started."

Kevin B: "Grew up in Canarsie so the old saying goes "you can take the boy out of Brooklyn, but you can't take the Brooklyn out of the boy" applies to diabetes? i.e. "you can take the diabetic symptoms out of the boy, but you can't take the boy out of being a diabetic?"

Monday, June 4, 2012

All Hail the Kale!

Kale is one of those things your parents always tried to get you to eat because it was good for you. You tried to feed to the dog when they weren't looking. Turns out your parents were right. You should eat kale. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals, especially magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K.

So why, despite all its benefits, do kids try to avoid it? Usually because it isn't cooked properly or picked at the right time. Kale that is too large can be tough. In extreme heat, kale can turn bitter. If you don't remove the thicker parts of the stem, biting in to that tough, stringy stem is unappetizing. If you steam or boil kale, you miss out on the nutritional aspect since many of the vitamins in it are fat soluble. If you aren't eating kale cooked in butter, bacon grease, olive oil or lard, you are just giving your intestines a workout and not fulfilling your nutritional needs. Not to mention you are totally cheating your taste buds.

One of the best ways to get over your childhood aversions and reap the benefits of this inexpensive green is to make yourself a batch of kale chips. You wont believe how a leafy, healthy vegetable can turn in to a delicious crunchy snack in a matter of minutes. Who knows? Once you master the kale chip, you might even become brave enough to eat it fried with your breakfast bacon!

Wifezilla's Kale Chips
1 bunch of fresh red or green kale
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
Nutritional yeast (or powdered parmesan cheese)
Celtic sea salt
Dulce flakes (optional)

Wash kale and trim, cutting off the thickest part of the stem. If stems are very thick, cut kale leaf totally away from the stems in to 2 pieces. Smaller pieces with thin stems can be left whole. Pat dry with a paper towel.

Toss trimmed kale in a bowl with the olive oil and vinegar. Make sure all pieces are thoroughly coated. Add more oil and vinegar if necessary.

Lay kale leaves flat on a piece of silicone baking mat inside a roasting pan or use another non-stick baking surface with sides. (If using dulce flakes, sprinkle them on the kale now.) Try not to overlap pieces. Bake in a 350º oven for approximately 15 minutes. Leaves should be very crispy, but not too browned.

Place on paper towels to drain excess oil and lightly sprinkle with nutritional yeast, then sea salt to taste.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

About that kidney thing....

For years, people have believed that an Atkins-style diet may cause kidney damage because of the high protein levels. Despite a statement made in 2003 by the head of the British Kidney Patient Association that "If you have healthy kidneys, you can't eat enough protein to damage your kidney", the belief persisted. Like the myth that going outside with wet hair gives you a cold (also bull-shit by the way), everyone just KNEW that if you ate low carb, your kidneys would "asplode".

Fortunately a new study reiterates the fact that eating low carb is safe for your kidneys.
"High protein, Atkins-type diets don't cause noticeable harm to the kidneys in healthy patients without kidney disease, a new study indicates.

"There has been concern for decades about possible damaging effects of high-protein diets on the kidney," said Dr. Allon Friedman, an associate professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis. It was thought that excess protein "can rev up the filtering mechanism in the kidney, causing damage over time," he explained." (more)

Turns out the kidney function tests of those following a low carb diet were perfectly fine. Just how long it will take the general public to stop repeating the exploding kidney myth is anyone's guess. Personally I look forward to the time when Kidney Asploding Bunny has to get a new job.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

RECIPE: Pico de Gallo

If you tried the guacamole recipe I posted yesterday, you might want to whip up this easy, fresh salsa recipe to go with it. After all, the only thing better than a fresh batch of guacamole is a batch of pico de gallo to plop on top of it. Besides, it will give you something to do with the other half of that red roasted pepper you made the night before.

Wifezilla's Pico de Gallo
6 medium vine ripened tomatoes - seeded and chopped
2 roasted jalapenos - chopped
1/2 large roasted sweet pepper - chopped
1/2 medium Vadalia (or other mild, sweet variety) onion - chopped
1/4 cup garlic chives - minced (or clove of garlic)
2 tbps (or more) fresh cilantro - minced
Juice of 2 limes
Celtic sea salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate  for 20 minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend.

Fresh jicama slices topped with guacamole and pico de gallo

If you are a bit of a wuss about hot foods, you can use less jalapeno pepper, but consider just not including the seeds and pulpy veins. The seeds and the pulp they are attached to is where most of the heat from a hot pepper comes from. If you leaves those parts out you reduce the heat but still retain the jalapeno flavor. If that is still too hot for you, only use 1/2 a jalapeno and use a whole roasted sweet red pepper.

You may notice this recipe and the guacamole recipe both recommend garlic chives instead of a garlic clove. There are two reasons for this. 1) I have a garden with several rather prolific garlic chive plants and 2) as I have gotten older, garlic has turned on me. While I love the flavor, garlic gives me heartburn. Garlic chives are a great way to get a garlic flavor without the garlic side effects.

About the onion... I recommend Vadalia variety because it is mild and it is very easy for the onion flavor to overpower the flavor of the tomatoes. If you can't find Vadalias, try Maui Sweet or Texas 1015s. If you use a red onion or other stronger variety, reduce the amount of onion to about 1/4.

One more thing. Cilantro. You either love it or hate it. There is a reason why and it has to do with genetics.

"Lots of people love the herb. Just as many, it seems, hate it. There appears to be no middle
ground, and the reason for that just might come down to genetics. Scientists have yet to isolate the cilantro-hating gene, but a Philadelphia researcher who put twins up to sniffing the herb is hot on the trail.
"The twin study we've done implicates genetics to be involved," said Charles J. Wysocki, a behavioral neuroscientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center who, for what it's worth, is not a cilantro-hater.
"I love cilantro, but I also like the smell of skunk," he said.
If human DNA really does account for why some people think the herb has a fresh, citrusy flavor and others think it tastes like soap, that could also explain the existence of IHateCilantro.com and its ability to attract 2,809 members..." (more)
If you happen to be one of those poor genetic mutants who, through no fault of your own, can't appreciate the fresh flavor of cilantro, use regular parsley instead. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

RECIPE: Spicy Guacamole with Roasted Peppers

Avocados are a great source of vitamins, minerals and natural fats. This time of year they are abundant at grocery stores and are usually on sale. Since I am not using dairy products any longer, the smooth, creamy texture of blended avocados takes the place of sour cream in many dishes. Last night I whipped up a batch of guacamole and used a large dollop on top of a bowl of low carb meaty chili. The recipe turned out rather well so I thought I should write it down and share.

Wifezilla's Spicy Guacamole with Roasted Peppers

4 ripe Haas avocados
1/2 Vadallia (or other sweet variety) onion - chopped
1 roasted jalapeno pepper - chopped
1/2 large roasted sweet red pepper - chopped (see roasting instructions in jalapeno link)
1/2 seeded tomato - chopped
1/4 cup garlic chives - chopped (or a few small cloves of garlic - chopped)
juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
sea salt to taste

Food processor directions: Slice and scoop out avocado. Place in food processor bowl with the S blade. Add lime juice, spices, chives and cilantro then pulse until avocado mix is smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until you reach your desired level of smoothness. Pulse less for chunky guacamole and more for smooth. Refrigerate for about 1/2 hour to firm up the mix and allow flavors to blend.

Hand mixer directions: Use your mixer with a high sided bowl to cream the avocado together with your spices. Chop all your vegetables to the desired size and blend in to the avocado.

Use as a dip with sliced jicama and other vegetables, or as a topper for your favorite chili or Mexican food dish.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Picking the perfect melon - Cantaloupe

When you low carb, fruit is a once in a while treat. Not an every day thing. You don't want to waste one of your fruit indulgences on a something tasteless with the texture of an old kitchen sponge. With fruit being trucked in to grocery stores from all corners of the world it is hard to know what is really "in season". Tricks by growers and supermarkets try to fool you in to thinking something that has been bouncing around the globe in a box is fresh off the vine. To ensure you aren't fooled and can really enjoy a little bit of delicious fruit as part of your low carb or paleo plan, here are some helpful tips for picking the perfect cantaloupe.

  • COLOR: Cantaloupe rind has raised bumpy sections called netting. Under that is the base of the rind. You need to look past the netting to that under-layer. Both the netting and the under-layer should be tan or yellowish. There should be NO GREEN on the melon. Most melons, including cantaloupe, will not ripen anymore once removed from the vine. They will get softer with time but they will not develop any more flavor. 
  • SMELL: If you look at a melon there are 2 small round parts on opposite ends of the melon. One side is where the melon was attached to the vine and will look slightly indented. The other end is where the flower was when the plant was in bloom. This part is called the blossom end. You want to hold the blossom end of the melon right up to your nose and take a big sniff. If you can't smell anything, your cantaloupe isn't ripe. What you should get is a good strong melon scent. Melons tend to taste like they smell. No smell = no flavor. 
  • WEIGHT: You don't necessarily want the biggest, heaviest cantaloupe, but you do want one that is heavy for its size. Given the option of two melons of equal size, pick the one that weighs more. It usually means it is juicier. 
  • SOURCE: Where did your melon come from? Do you know the farmer? Was it shipped half-way around the planet? What are the odds of you getting a perfectly ripened cantaloupe if it had to spend days or weeks in transit? In Colorado was are fortunate to have access to Rocky Ford cantaloupe. They are grown primarily on Colorado's western slope. Their transit time to major markets is mere hours. Get to know local farmer's market vendors and growers with on-farm stands. If you are at a grocery store, look for the GROWN IN COLORADO label. Still check for color and smell to make sure you are getting a good one. If you are not in Colorado, check with www.localharvest.com to see if someone near you is growing cantaloupes for sale. 
After last year's listeria outbreak blamed on cantaloupe, be sure to take the extra precaution to wash the outside of the melon before slicing. Since fruit isn't on the daily menu, you don't want your cantaloupe indulgence to be disappointing or lethal.

Friday, May 4, 2012

RECIPE: Wifezilla's Jacked-up Cauliflower

I was planning to make twiced-baked cauliflower the other night. Low carb kitchen guru Linda Sue has several recipes with cauliflower as a potato replacement that have gotten rave reviews. I had been looking forward to giving one of them a try.
I bought cheese, cauliflower and bacon a few days ahead of time. Naturally, when I was ready to actually make the dish, all the bacon was gone. 4 packages in 3 days. My husband and sons tried to blame it on the cats. Since they lack opposable thumbs and I am suspicious of my husband's story that his new aftershave is bacon scented, I am willing to believe the cats might be innocent.
My choices once I realized the bacon was gone were to change out of my jammies and go to Walmart (shudder) or get creative. Since my jammies were comfy and I was on my 2nd glass of white wine, creativity won out. Here is what I came up with...
Wifezilla's Jacked-up Low Carb Cauliflower Bake
1 large head of fresh cauliflower
8oz cream cheese
1 cup Monterey jack cheese - shredded
1 2oz stick pepperoni - chopped
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
Chop and steam cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl with a little water in the bottom (about 20 minutes on high power). While cauliflower is steaming, gently heat pepperoni in a small frying pan. Cook until lightly browned on the edges of the pieces. After cauliflower is steamed, drain off water and either mash or shred with a hand mixer. (If you like, you can put in a food processor to make it really smooth. I just hit it with the blender and didn't care that there were some small chunks.) Add cooked pepperoni pieces, 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, and spices and mix well. Place in a loaf pan or casserole dish. Top with shredded pepper jack cheese. Bake until cheese on the top is melted and slightly browned. 
This recipe should work equally well with frozen cauliflower and that may even make your mashing job easier. If your family hasn't snatched all the bacon, go ahead and use that instead of the pepperoni. This is a great side dish for beef or poultry. Since my guys liked it so much, maybe the promise of future batches of Jacked Up Cauliflower might get them to leave the bacon alone.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Who needs noodles when you can have 'cabboodles'?

As any mom on a budget can tell you, rice, potatoes and noodles can really help stretch the grocery dollars. Unfortunately, when you adopt a low carb way of eating, these inexpensive ingredients are no longer on the menu. Easily digestible starches like pasta and pilaf will undermine your weight loss efforts by spiking your blood sugar, raising your insulin levels, and putting your body in to fat storage mode. 
Fortunately there is a low cost, low carb option that will perform the same function as the fattening starches - stretch the food budget, extend flavor and soak up tasty sauces. Cabbage noodles, or as I like to call them, "cabboodles", provide that handy backdrop to your dishes just like noodles, but without the unnecessary dose of carbs. Not only are these a good way for low carbers to get their daily dose of veggies, they are a good option for people with wheat or egg allergies. 
Shredded cabbage makes an excellent noodle substitute.
You can simply cut fresh cabbage in to noodle-shaped ribbons or even buy the prepacked, pre-cut bags of cabbage from the grocery store if you need to save some time. The raw cabbage can then be steamed or fried in butter and seasoned with salt and pepper before topping them with your favorite meats and sauces. The cabbage cooks down quite a bit, so plan on using an entire medium head of cabbage or 2 packages of pre-shredded to feed 4 adults. 
Some of my favorites cabboodle toppers include chicken alfredo, shrimp and mushrooms with red pepper sauce, or beef medallions and cauliflower with sour cream and white wine sauce. The shrimp dish shown above took less than 10 minutes to throw together with thawed frozen shrimp, some fresh sliced mushrooms in butter, a can of red pepper alfredo sauce, and fried pre-shredded angel hair cabbage.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

RECIPE: Low carb, dairy-free ice cream

One of my forum buddies (Tesser W.) has been forwarding dairy-free recipes to me since I gave up on the moo juice. She knows how much I love cheese, ice cream, yogurt, etc... Too bad it doesn't love me! When she sent me a recipe for non-dairy ice cream I was intrigued. I had tried coconut milk ice cream before at my friend Abi's (of fat bomb fame) and it was pretty good. Too bad neither of us remembered to bookmark the recipe and we couldn't seem to find where we had got it from. Tesser's email got me excited about trying coconut milk ice cream once again.

After trying a few recipes I came up with a version that works best for my taste buds and my Donvier Ice Cream Maker. For the original recipe inspirations, check here and here. My recipe is heavy on the egg yolk since I have a flock of egg layers in the back yard. I am also going to be very specific about what kind of coconut milk to use. There is a reason for this. I tried several brands and some will leave your ice cream with a "canned" aftertaste. You could make your own coconut milk, but my success rate at making it from scratch is not good enough for me to recommend that yet. If you are already making your own tasty coconut milk, feel free to use that instead. Now to the recipe...

Wifezilla's Low Carb Dairy-Free Ice Cream
(Ice cream maker required)

  • At least 2 days before making your ice cream, place the freezer insert for your ice cream maker in the freezer. I use a Donvier. Many Cuisinart ice cream makers also use a freezer insert. If you are using an electric ice cream maker or rock salt and ice style machine, follow the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • 1 can of Thai Kitchen full fat Premium Coconut milk or equivalent (should say first pressing. Also look for organic if you can get it. DO NOT GET STINGY WITH THE COCONUT MILK! Cheap coconut milk like Golden Star will leave an unpleasant aftertaste.)
  • 4 egg yolks 
  • 3 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup erythritol (or other sweetener of choice)
  • Add ins like dark chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut flakes, etc...
In a microwave safe bowl, heat the coconut milk until all the fat and liquid are soft and easy to blend. Whisk in the erythritol and stir until dissolved. In a separate bowl, whip together egg yolks. Add a tbsp or so of the warm coconut milk mixture and stir. Continue to slowly add the the warm coconut milk to the eggs while stirring. This will temper the eggs without cooking them. If you just dump the eggs in to the warm coconut milk, you will get coconut flavored scrambled eggs and that is not what we are going for!

Once coconut milk and eggs are fully blended, place mixture in the refrigerator to chill. When the coconut milk/egg mix is cold, pour in to your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer directions. As for the tasty add-ins, include those at about the half-way point. I like to let the ice cream start to set before I add the chocolate chips or coconut flakes so I can get a better idea of how much to add without over doing it.

Serve immediately. Texture will be slightly soft. You can place in the freezer to firm up some more, but this isn't a recipe that will keep well overnight. Unless you add some kind of alcohol, it will just freeze as hard as a rock. As I experiment with adding rum, vodka, etc... to keep it from freezing solid, I will report back. This could be a very entertaining summer!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Effects of a corn-based diet

Ohio Farm Girl, a blogger and homesteader friend of mine, posted an excellent piece on the effects of a corn-based diet.

"My gut bucket was overflowing with fat. Tons of fat. An enormous amount of fat. Fat everywhere. Fat covering all the organs. Fat lining the carcass. Fat, fat, fat and more fat....And the livers where huge." (more)

Sure, her example is based on chickens she recently butchered, but feeding on corn has a similar effect on humans. Obesity, visceral fat, liver damage...

Corn is used to fatten livestock for slaughter. It is uniquely able to pack on pounds and add that marbling you see on a good steak. On my crazier days I can't help but wonder if there is a hungry space alien holding a copy of "To Serve Man" directing Big Agra. Hungry alien or not, just take her advice and "For heavens sakes don't eat that"!

Monday, April 23, 2012

There is no such thing as American Kobe Beef

Kobe beef is a delicious. It is very expensive. It is trendy. And if you bought anything with the Kobe name attached to it in America, it's fake.

"You cannot buy Japanese Kobe beef in this country. Not in stores, not by mail, and certainly not in restaurants. No matter how much you have spent, how fancy a steakhouse you went to, or which of the many celebrity chefs who regularly feature “Kobe beef” on their menus you believed, you were duped. I’m really sorry to have to be the one telling you this, but no matter how much you would like to believe you have tasted it, if it wasn’t in Asia you almost certainly have never had Japan’s famous Kobe beef." (more)

Check out the 3 part series on Forbes about how markets are tricking you out of your hard earned money by cashing in on the Kobe name.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wifezilla's Low Carb Faux-Gum-Baux

I had a craving for some kind of gumbo the other night. The thing is, Colorado isn't exactly known for its gumbo. Maybe you can find some good Cajun food in Denver or Boulder, but Fountain Valley isn't your go-to location if you are hankering for a taste of "Nawlins".

Then there is the problem of carb content. Regular gumbo starts with a thick flour roux, and some of the more popular recipes online even include sugar. You are also supposed to serve it over rice, another low carber's no-no.

"Proper" ingredients are an issue here in the cultural backwater that is Security, CO. Unless you are willing to drive to Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods) in Colorado Springs and blow an hour out of your day (along with most of your grocery money), you aren't going to be able to get andouille sausage or file powder. Old Bay Seasoning is about as exotic as it gets around here.

I figured surely there has to be a way to satisfy my gumbo craving with easy to obtain ingredients and without all the carbage. The following is what I came up with and my gumbo craving has now been totally tamed. In many ways this isn't a true gumbo. You will not find ocra in anything I cook because....eww. Just eww. The color is lighter than a true gumbo and it also isn't as thick. But it does have that yummy sausage, seafood and pepper flavor. To me, that is the most important part anyway.

Wifezilla's Low Carb Faux-Gum-Baux

  • 1 lb pork sausage (if you can get smoked, even better)
  • 3/4 pound medium shrimp
  • 1 lb frozen cauliflower
  • 2 sweet onions - chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted red (or green) pepper - chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery - chopped
  • 1 can baby clams (including liquid)
  • 7 oz can of green chili
  • 6 egg yolks (for thickening)
  • 1 cup chopped greens (spinach, kale, baby bok choy, etc...)
  • 1/8 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • Salt, Pepper, and Old Bay Seasoning to taste
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup quinoa (optional)
  1. In large soup pot, brown sausage. Drain browned sausage and place aside, leaving any grease in the pot.
  2. Add chopped onions to the sausage grease and cook until caramelized. Stir in celery and peppers to the cooked onions.
  3. Add 2 quarts of water to the pot and add back in sausage.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients except for the shrimp and seasonings.
  5. Temper egg yolks using hot stock then add to the soup pot.
  6. If using the quinoa, add now.
  7. When the cauliflower and quinoa are fully cooked and all flavors are blended, add shrimp. Be careful not to overcook. Add salt, pepper and Old Bay Seasoning (or some ground cloves and mace) to taste.
  8. Serve as soon as shrimp is thoroughly pink.
If you decide you want it more traditional, add some ocra (ew!) and serve over some cooked quinoa instead of adding it to the stock. Quinoa is lower in carbs and higher in protein than rice, but it is still pretty carby. Use sparingly.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ask Wifezilla: Cabbage Noodles Too Crunchy

Question: When you use cabbage in the place of noodles.. like in lasagna or a casserole, do you cook them first? I made a casserole type dish last night and just threw everything on top of rough chopped green cabbage and baked it at 350 for about half an hour (the chicken sausage I was using was fully cooked) and it was really tasty, but the cabbage stayed pretty crunchy. Should I try boiling it first next time?

Answer: You might want to soften the shredded cabbage a bit by frying it in butter for a short time. Cook until it has softened...don't let it get totally soft though. Otherwise the cabbage will get mushy when you bake it.

Ask Wifezilla includes direct questions to me or questioned I have answered in groups or forums. To ask a specific question, send your inquiry to wifezilla at gmail dot com.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Dude! It's Almost Beef!

John Gibson of the Lighter Side Facebook discussion group gives his take on the new pink slime slogan, "Dude, It's Beef!" which beef producers are trying to use to improve its image.

"I think the slogan should be:

Dude it's "Mechanically separated, preheated, fat extracted, sprayed by ammonia gas so you don't die beef like stuff"

I think it has a better ring to it."

Great job John. I applaud honesty in advertising!

Governors stand up for pink slme

Several Governors from beef producing states are pushing back on the pink slime issue. They are hitting the main stream news touting the safety and long term use of pink slime as a reason for people to continue to eat beef containing the ammonia treated product.

On a Fox News broadcast this morning, Governor Sam Brownback said we have been eating pink slime for 20 years without issue, so we shouldn't stop eating it now. Oh really? A quick news search will tell you that simply isn't true. Beef recalls abound, primarily from contaminated ground beef.

A recent case involved over 40,000 lbs of Tyson ground beef contaminated with E. Coli in December 2011. A google news search under the term "beef recall" show case after case of ground beef recalled for E. Coli, Listeria and Salmonella contamination. The USDA maintains a data base going back to 1996 where you can search for all food recalls. Ground beef and beef sausages (made, obviously, from ground up beef) feature prominently.

The fact is the process of making ground beef on a factory level inherently contains a risk of bacterial contamination and 70% of America's ground beef contains pink slime. Making pink slime (aka lean finely textured beef) is even more risky than the ground beef itself. That is why it must be treated with ammonia before being added to ground beef and sold to unsuspecting consumers. So despite the claims of governors concerned about job loses in the pink slime producing industry, highly processed ground beef and the use of pink slime is not without issue.

While I can understand governors trying to protect their states industries, my personal opinion is that foods containing pink slime should be clearly labeled. The use of pink slime does make ground beef cheaper and people should be able to decide of they want to take the additional risk of using pink slime to save some money.

If the governors really wanted to make an impact on this issue, instead of publicity shoots of them eating slime burgers, an independent study showing a nutritional comparison of slime beef vs regular beef, or a bacteria test of some beef with and without slime would be much more productive. Stop trying to manipulate consumers and just give them the facts. Then let each person make an informed choice. If you are actively working to make it harder for people to know what is really in their food, you can't be surprised when people avoid your products like a pink plague.