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 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 350ยบ 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.