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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

For The Love of Leeks - Red Cabbage & Leek Soup (Low Carb/Gluten Free)




I didn't even know what, precisely, a leek really was until very recently. But since I have a tendency to get into a rut with certain vegetables, I've decided to be bold and to challenge myself to using ingredients that I previously knew nothing about. According to Wikipedia, leeks are a vegetable that belongs in the same family as onions and garlic (the Alliaceae family). When raw, they are extremely pungent - they will make your whole refrigerator reek. But when they are cooked, they become fragrant, with a delicate and flavorful taste that is milder and sweeter than onions. They are a good source of potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C.

My first attempt at cooking with leeks was brilliant. I had just learned about braising and had fallen in love with braised cabbage before stumbling upon a recipe for braised leeks, which tastes amazing, but may be  a little high in carbs if you're doing induction or ongoing weight loss. For those of you unfamiliar with stove top braising, it's basically a cross between sauteing and steaming, a process that allows you to  steam vegetables completely and get the caramelized flavor of a saute. Although there are number of vegetables that can be successfully braised (cabbage, celery, broccoli, turnips and brussels sprouts to name a few), my favorite is leeks,  mainly because they add flavor to previously uninspired dishes like this  red cabbage soup.


I was inspired to create this  recipe because I came across a recipe for red cabbage soup. It was easy to make, incredibly healthy, but really, really, really dull. Even though red cabbage has more flavor than the green, it isn't quite enough when used by itself. I'd used leeks before in soup, so I combined the two for a great success.



Red Cabbage and Leek Soup


Ingredients:

1 T extra virgen olive oil
1 oz trimmed leeks
2 C water
6 oz red cabbage
1/2 tsp sea salt


Let's start with the leeks themselves, to begin with. A whole leek looks like this:




The green leaves are inedible so you cut them off.



Then you trim the end, where the roots were:



Then cut the leak in half, lengthwise, and wash thoroughly.



When they're completely clean, shake off the excess water and cut them into small pieces and set aside.





Now here's the red cabbage. I know they look purple and when you cook them, they really get purple, but they're called red. No one put me in charge of naming the vegetables, so there you go. They are high in vitamin K and C and have a moderate amount of fiber.



Slice in half and remove the core. Then slice thinly and chop up into smaller pieces.



Weigh out 6 oz and set aside.




Using a medium sized soup pan, heat the olive oil over a medium high heat.





Add the leeks and saute for about 2 minutes (until they start to brown.



Then add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the cabbage, cover, lower the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.




While it's simmering, set up a colander placed over a medium sized bowl:



When soup is done, carefully pour into the colander. You don't want to lose any of the broth because that's where the nutrients are. The cabbage has the fiber but everything else is in the broth.




Set aside the cabbage and divide the liquid evenly between 2 containers.





Weigh the cabbage again and divide it evenly between the 2 containers.





This recipe makes 2 servings and each has 95 cal, 4.4 net carbs, 6.75 g fat, 3 g fiber and 3 g protein.

Obviously, you can double the recipe and make 4 servings - I'm not sure how it freezes, but it does OK in the fridge for a few days.



Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Accidental Vegetarian (How Protein Smoothies Saved My Life)







I hate tofu. I realize that this doesn't make me special, because a lot of people hate tofu. It's not the taste (as it has none), it's the texture.  I feel the same way about shirataki noodles - it's not just the smell, it's the slimy texture that I'd rather do without. But I used to happily incorporate other soy products into my diet, using unsweetened soy milk, soy flour, soy cereal and edamame. Then I found out about the truth about soy; it's a common allergin and it's negative impact on the human body can create all kinds of problems.
I was introduced to the excellent website of Maria Emmerich: mariahealth.blogspot .com, who has a great post on "soy's most glaring problems". Before reading this post:

http://mariahealth.blogspot.com/2011/03/salad-toppers-and-facts-on-mccormick.html#comments

I thought I was perfectly safe with organic, non - GMO soy, but I had no idea of the problems it can cause. To name of few:

*Soy contains natural toxins known as "anti-nutrients", that interfere with the enzymes needed to digest protein.
*Soy contains phytates, which prevent the absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
*Soy is packed with isoflavones, which are a type of phytoestrogen (a plant compound resembling human estrogen). Because they mimic estrogen, they can block the hormone which may disrupt endocrine function, can cause infertility and may promote breast cancer in women.

So there are good reasons for eliminating soy and fortunately, there are also other ways to incorporate protein into your diet if you don't or can't eat meat or soy.

I call myself an "accidental vegetarian" because I didn't begin doing low carb without eating meat. When I first started doing low carb, I not only ate meat, but regularly consumed food products loaded with artificial sweeteners and additives. But after a relatively short period of time,   I lost my craving for animal flesh. I'm still not sure why, but I was also making the gradual process of adapting whole foods into my diet. Most recently, I've gone gluten free and have eliminated soy from my diet. But another important aspect of my new found vegetarianism, is  the fact that over the last two years, I've been learning about the food industry and how it's unsavory practices put our health in danger and our economy and our ecology in peril. Most of the animals butchered for beef, pork and poultry products are raised in nightmarish conditions, their living quarters squeezed into the smallest possible space (to maximize profits), fed genetically modified corn (not their natural diet) and are given growth hormones (to maximize profits) and antibiotics (to keep them from getting sick from their terrible living conditions). I don't wan't to eat food that comes from those kind of conditions.  And I don't want to give my money to corporations where such vile business practices are considered standard operating procedures.

If you live in the right area, you can find meat that comes from local farms, from free range animals who live and eat in natural, humane conditions and don't get pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics. They are, however, prohibitively expensive for most people, especially in this day and age. So how do I get enough protein in my diet? Protein powder! I don't think I would have made it through the first days of induction without it.

While smoothies are great anytime you need a quick boost of protein, they are especially great for breakfast - they can be prepared quickly and with the right ingredients, can be very filling.  However, it can be something of a challenge to make them taste good.  I recommend using unsweetened  almond milk instead of mixing protein powder with plain water.  Another option is to mix 8 oz of water with a 1/4 C of coconut milk;  it gives you a burst of energy, and is a great way to start your morning. A note about coconut milk - it does not keep well in the refrigerator so I separate out 1/4 C portions in airtight containers and freeze them.

What kind of protein powder should  you get?  You have several  options, but let's start with whey protein isolate.  There are loads of whey protein powders on the market, from companies that make all sorts of outrageous claims as to why they are the best. Never mind that they are filled  artificial additives, chemicals and who knows what else. So you want to look at quality, based on what your requirements are and how much you can afford. My requirements are as follows: it has to be 100 % natural whey protein isolate ( as apposed to whey protein concentrate ), it has to be sweetened with stevia, have no artificial additives or  growth hormones.  My reason for insisting on the isolate rather than the concentrate, is that is has more protein with less fat and less lactose per serving than concentrate. It's more expensive, due to it's higher quality, but I think it's worth it. To this end, I tried out everything I could find and ended up with SDC Nutrition's About Time Whey Protein Isolate, which I get in both vanilla and chocolate.





It's lactose and gluten free and has zero carbs and zero fat. And it does taste good and at $1.05, it's the least expensive of the high quality whey powders. I do have to order it online, but I may be able to get my grocery/health food store to order it fo me specially - some stores do and it's worth checking out to save time and money. There are also a number of whey protein powders sweetened with stevia available online and in many stores, that aren't 100 % natural, that don't have 100 % whey protein isolate, and aren't made from whey that is produced by cows that are hormone free. But there are some that don't seem too bad. They probably taste OK and aren't prohibitively expensive. Only you can decide what's best for you - for both your health and your wallet.



Here are some ideas and variations to get you started:


Chocolate Whey Smoothie







Ingredients:

1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder
1 C unsweetened vanilla almond (you can use hemp milk instead, if you wish)
A couple ice cubes (optional)

Preparation:

*Put ingredients in a blender and mix.

Makes one serving and has 141 cal, 2 net carb, 2.5 g fat, 0 g fiber and 25 g protein (using almond milk).


Variation:

1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder
1/4 C coconut milk
8 oz water
a couple of ice cubes, optional

This has 206 cal, 3.25 net carbs, 10.5 g fat, 0 fiber and 25.75 g protein.



Berry Whey Smoothie










You can use any kind of berries for this. Fresh fruit has less carbs but you can keep frozen berries in the freezer year round.

1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
1 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk
36 g  frozen strawberries (or blueberries, raspberries or blackberries)


This has 161 cal, 4.25 net carbs, 2.5 g fat, .5 g fiber and 25 g protein.


Raw Smoothies

There are some disadvantages to raw food protein powders; they  have less protein per serving and don't taste as good as whey protein powder. But they have some advantages as well. Whey protein has no dietary fiber - 30 g of hemp protein has 9 g of fiber. If you are eliminating soy milk from your diet           ( I previously consumed  1 1/2 C per day, which comes out to 6 g fiber) this will more than compensate. Per serving, they have the 10 essential amino acids, the  omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and are an excellent source of magnesium and iron.

It can be something of a challenge to get them to be palatable: they are unsweetened, so you will need to add stevia or another natural low carb sweetener.  And you can add fruit, cocoa powder and spices to improve the taste. I've played around with different variations and have come up with a few recipes:





There are a few raw food powders that I like. There's Garden of Life Raw Protein:








It's made from a variety of sprouted grains and has 80 cal, 0 net carbs, 1 g fat, 3 g fiber and 18 g protein. It's around $1.21 per serving.


Then there are a couple of hemp protein powders. I can find this one at Berkeley Bowl, my supermarket/health food store:




Tempt  has 130 cal, 1 net carbs,  4 g fat, 9 g fiber and 13 g protein and is organic raw hemp protein powder.

And then there's my favorite:




It's basically the same as Tempt but it's produced by a company called Navitas Naturals. You can find them online at: http://www.navitasnaturals.com/.  They not only strive to make the best quality products with the least amount of processing, they are committed to environmentally and socially responsible business practices. Which is important to me. I order it through Amazon and by buying in bulk I can save money. It comes out to about $1.14 per serving.


Strawberry Hemp Smoothie








3 T hemp protein powder
36 g (about a 1/4 C) frozen strawberries
1 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk
stevia, to taste


It has 180 cal, 5.25 net carbs, 5.5 g fat , 6.5 g fiber and 17 g protein.





Chocolate Hemp Smoothie



1 C unsweetened almond milk
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
3 T hemp protein powder
stevia, to taste


This has 172 cal, 4.4 net carbs, 6.7 g fat, 6 g fiber and 18 g protein.

And then I got the bright idea of mixing the two powders together. The result was not too bad - not as great as the whey by itself, but an improvement on the hemp by itself:


Chocolate Hemp/Whey Smoothie




15 g (2 T) chocolate whey protein powder
15 g (2 T) hemp protein powder
1 C unsweetened Vanilla almond milk


Has 155.5 cal, 1.5 net carbs, 5 g fat, 5.5 g fiber and 21.5 g protein.


Strawberry Hemp/Whey Protein Smoothie

15 g (2 T) vanilla whey protein powder
15 g (2 T) hemp protein powder
1 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk
36 g frozen strawberries


Has 175.5 cal, 4.75 net carbs, 4.5 g fat, 5 g fiber and 21.5 g protein.






A note about preparing smoothies: If you're just trying to mix protein powder with liquid, go ahead and use the "Magic Bullet" (or it's equivalent). But if you're adding ice cubes and frozen fruit, I'd recommend using a  real blender. I've heard too many horror stories about these machines breaking down because they don't have that capacity.  A decent blender may cost more, but it's worth it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Almond Shortbread Cookies - Low Carb/Gluten Free


One of the great things about being on a low carb diet is being able to eat foods high in fat while still maintaing your blood sugar, weight and healthy cholesterol levels.  Since I don't eat meat, I get my fats from two main sources; nuts and oils, which are plant based, and whole fat dairy products.  I use butter, heavy cream and full fat cheese in my everyday meals, but I try not to go overboard. Too much of a good thing, and all that. I'm not convinced that it's healthy to eat unlimited amounts of fat but I suspect that how much you can consume without ill effects varies from person to person. If you're prone to high cholesterol  or if you stop losing weight before you reach your goal, you may need to limit the amount  of fat you consume.

Nevertheless, I feel it's important to include low carb/high fat treats into your everyday diet.  I believe it is possible to find a balance between complete austerity and overindulgence, but cravings can get in the way.  I'm only 4 days into my gluten free diet, but the first thing I noticed was a significant decrease in appetite.  When I first stopped taking Metformin, my appetite increased alarmingly and I stopped losing weight because I could not seem to control myself. I experienced wicked cravings for anything sweet, even desserts sweetened with low carb natural sweeteners, and for things like pecans and roasted almonds. Portion control flew out the window and I found myself binge eating. There was nothing wrong with the quality of the food - the quantity was the problem. Now that my appetite seems to be under control (and I sincerely hope it will stay that way) I can incorporate low carb desserts without worrying about eating the whole batch of whatever treats I make in one sitting. So far, my cholesterol levels have been within the normal range, but I do use flaxseed oil everyday and that may have something to do with those results.

There are loads of low carb dessert and snack recipes and a lot of prepared products, many of them available online. Many of them contain artificial ingredients and because they need to be shipped, end up being very expensive. I prefer being able to make my own treats; I like being able to control what goes into them and it ends up being cheaper even if you use high quality ingredients. If you don't like to bake or if you're new to baking, some of the recipes can be a challenge. But I think made from scratch is better, both in taste and in quality.

It's worth mentioning here that if you are brave enough to start cooking and baking, you will have to accept the fact that you will make mistakes. You will burn things, drop them on the floor, not cook them thoroughly. You may even set your kitchen on fire (although I would not recommend this) and it's probably a good idea to have a fire extinguisher on hand.  You'll make a mess and you will feel, at times,   like giving up. But it will get easier - especially if you accept that failure is part of the process. Don't let it get you down - it happens to everyone.

If you are going to enjoy low carb treats, it's important to eat them slowly and savor every bite instead of cramming them into your mouth like there's no tomorrow.  Portion control is half the battle - we tend to eat too much, which can cause digestive distress, in addition to adding too many calories, carbs and fats. This is why I have broken down the amount of each dessert recipe  - the less you have in the house, the easier it will be to avoid cravings. This recipe for almond shortbread is the best cookie recipe I've found thus far.





Almond Shortbread Cookies (Low Carb/Gluten Free)


These are wonderful - not too sweet, lightly crisp and have a rich lemon, buttery taste. They are highly addictive, so if you tend towards a lack of control when it comes to your appetite, you might want to leave these under lock and key. Seriously.


Ingredients:


1 C finely ground blanched almond meal/flour
1/4 C erythritol, powdered (you can use a "Magic Bullet" if you have one or you can get a cheap coffe grinder and use it for just for this purpose)
1/4 tsp pure stevia extract
1/4 C (half a stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pure lemon extract

If you're not crazy about lemon, just add a 1/2 tsp of vanilla instead. You can also use almond extract if you prefer.





I use Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Zero.  You can make sugar alcohols like erythritol out of corn or soy (which may or may not be genetically modified). Organic Zero is made from organic sugar and the company, Wholesome Organic, is fair trade certified. The company website:http://www.wholesomesweeteners.com/ can tell you more about that.








Preparation:


* Heat oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper. Mix dry ingredient together in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

*Using an electric mixer, beat softened butter for about one minute (I use the Braun handheld mixer with the whisk attachment).  Add the vanilla and lemon extracts and beat until blended. Add dry ingredients a little at a time and mix together to form into dough-like consistency ( you may want to do this with a wooden spoon, whatever works best for you).


*Divide dough into 12 equal portions and roll each into balls. Arrange evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes and remove from oven.





Using a fork (you may want to run it under water - the dough will be sticky),  press down on the cookies lightly.





Return to oven and bake for  another 18 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet.




Makes 12 cookies and each has 96.2 cal, 1.04 effective carbs, 8.2 g fat, 1 g fiber and 2 g protein.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cleaning The Cupboards - Going Gluten Free

 Before I started this blog, I had been toying with the idea of going gluten free.  My reasons for the gluten free trial are based on what I've learned about the benefits of removing gluten from one's diet. According to Wikipedia , gluten is a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye) and oats.  Gluten is often used as a food additive to flavor, stabilize or as a thickening agent (dextrin).  Gluten sensitivity can cause symptoms such as weight gain, digestive troubles and fatigue. It can also affect blood chemistry and the treatment of autoimmune disorders. Loads of people swear by it and if it might make my Fibromyalgia easier to live with, I'm more than willing to give it a go. I've been warned by medical professionals that you need to very strict about the complete elimination of gluten from your diet and that it can take from six months to a year to feel the full effects. There's a good article about fibromyalgia and it's connection to gluten sensitivity written by The Gluten Doctors:



"Anecdotally we have witnessed over and over again the resolution of the classic muscle aches and tender points in regard to gluten elimination".






To facilitate my next big step forward, a gluten free diet, I ruthlessly cleaned any and all gluten offenders out of my kitchen. Since I'm already doing low carb, it's not a huge stretch but it will mean giving up and/or replacing certain items.  Here's a list of what got axed:

*regular soy sauce (which I will replace with gluten free soy sauce)
*oat flour (which I already replaced with gluten free oat flour)
*low carb bake mix (which I can replace with a recipe for homemade low carb gluten free bake mix, which I'll be using in future recipes, I'm sure)
*low carb pancake mix
*miso soup
*low carb tortillas
*low carb pita bread
*two kinds of oats, rolled and steel cut

Most of the  un-replaceable items are also processed foods, which I'm trying to cut out completely. Which brings me to the world of whole foods. Wikipedia defines whole foods as: "those that are unprocessed and unrefined, or  processed and refined as little as possible before being consumed" ( I love Wikipedia, don't you?).  It should be very clear to everyone at this point in history that additives, especially chemical additives, are not good for a human being's general health and well being.  It doesn't stop companies that produce food products they claim to be  "health food", in all it's various guises and most people just don't read food labels carefully enough.  I know there are a lot of Low Carb products on the market and most of them are available online. When I started reading the labels I was shocked at how much crap they contained. I can't pronounce half the ingredients and all those chemicals can't be good for you. Since my main goal is to try and be as healthy as possible, I think I have to leave behind prepared foods and get used to making everything from scratch. I don't mind - it's worth the extra work to know exactly what's in my meals.

The other benefit of whole foods is monetary - most unprocessed food tends to be cheaper than processed foods in the end. I realize that organic food tends to cost more and I think that everyone has to decide for themselves how much you can afford to spend on food. So my motto in regards to this is : don't spend more than you can afford. In an ideal world, all the best would be affordable, but it doesn't work that way. For example, if you can't afford organic produce or dairy products that come from animals that are free range, growth hormone free, and are fed based upon their natural diets, don't beat yourself up too much. Same thing for processed foods - sometimes it can't be avoided. Only you can decide what's best for you and your unique situation. So shop, prepare meals and eat as well as you are able. Don't judge yourself too harshly - I'm certainly not going to judge you. It's hard enough to make even the smallest changes in our lifestyles,  so anything you do, no matter how small, it's a gigantic step in the right direction. Be proud of yourself for even thinking about making these adjustments.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Things I Had To Give Up..And How I Learned To Live Without Them/Part 1

Low Carb Soy Mocha

So, this is an update of an original post. A post that I've elected to include with the update, even though it no longer applies to my life. I think it's important to show that learning something new can lead to making big changes in your lifestyle and that the beliefs that we hold dear can be challenged at any time. When faced with that challenge, we have a choice; we can avoid the issue (but not the consequences that come with not changing) or we can take it to heart and make whatever adjustments we can. It's hard to give up the things we love, the things we count on everyday to make life more pleasurable. Sometimes there are decent substitutions, but if there aren't, then we have to learn to live without. Improving your health usually requires making sacrifices, but the benefit of making those sacrifices means feeling better. I think it's a fair trade. It's up to you to decide how far you're willing to go and how long it takes you to get there.

The most recent thing I've chosen to give up is soy. I've been gluten free for three weeks and in that relatively short period of time, I've noticed significant changes in my appetite (lower) and energy levels (higher). As far as the bathroom scale is concerned, my six month rut of losing and gaining the same ten pounds is over:  I've gone from 185 to 172 LBs.  I don't miss the low carb tortillas and pita bread that used to be a regular part of my diet, I don't crave more calories than my body needs and I just plain feel better. It even seems to have reduced the symptoms of acid reflux. So, it worked and it wasn't that difficult. But soy is a different story.

In my last post, I talked about my reasons for soy elimination. What I didn't talk about was the void I have yet to fill - my "daily decaf soy mocha" void. It's like having to give up my daily over-priced coffee  habit all over again except, this time, I don't have a satisfactory substitution.  It turns out that almond milk does not behave like soy milk when added to espresso  - it doesn't taste very good and it lacks the creamy consistency. I also used unsweetened soy milk in decaf  chai (I usually have two cups a day) and although  I can easily substitute heavy cream in this case, without losing the desired flavor,  giving up the soy milk in my coffee and tea means I lose a total of 6 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein per day.

So, my current, mid-morning coffee break consists of what I call a "faux mocha":

1/4 C decaf espresso
1/4 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 T heavy cream
stevia




I use Pacific Organic Almond Milk.

It has 98 cal, 2.5 net carbs, 8.75 g fat, .5 g fiber and 1.25 g protein.


 It's OK, but it's just not as satisfying.  I miss my soy mocha and I have no idea if eliminating soy from my diet will be as rewarding an experience as eliminating gluten. I'm guessing it won't be and I'm feeling cranky as a result. There's an old saying: "Nothing tastes as good as being thin."
. I've always hated this old saw and not only because it exemplifies an attitude about austerity that I find ridiculous. It may be easy for some people to find comfort and pleasure from abstaining, but I think most people like to eat. Food is more than a nutritional requirement - it's a way to experience the world through our taste buds, which can be as pleasurable as we are able and willing to make it.

I don't expect evryone to give up soy, meat or gluten or anything else, for that matter. I don't expect anyone to agree with my beliefs -these are merely the choices I have made in an attempt to feel better. But I hope that you will be open-minded and willing to make changes - it certainly makes living without the things we love and have come to rely upon a much easier proposition.


3/30/11





I think the toughest addiction I ever had to give up was Caffeine Free Diet Coke. I hate to think about what years of drinking what is essentially a neurotoxin, did to my nervous system. I know I'm not the only one out there. But before I tackled that one, I first had to give up one of my favorite addictions: designer coffee. I'm not part of what I like to call "The Starbuck's Phenomenon;" it's not because I'm an aging hipster wannabe. I just associate Starbucks with corporation, which automatically sends me warning signals. I haven't read anything truly terrible about Starbucks and I know that they are ranked pretty high in terms of green business practices. But I happen to live near an real live coffee house, Cafe Trieste, which is just blocks away from my apartment. It's much better than any chain coffe place and that's where I used to get my Soy Mochas (and their excellent chocolate croissants, which I also had to give up). I had already given up caffeine  when I was first diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and it wasn't that hard. I tend to be anxious and I have epic insomnia, so caffeine is really not my friend.

I had to figure out the low carb homemade version. Fortunately, I grew up in Miami, with a heavy Latino population and I learned the ins and outs of espresso making. Never mind the fancy machines; I know they look cool, but they are a pain in the ass to clean. It's also much easier to make the stove top version.






That's a three serving pot. You can also get them in one and six servings. The three serving pot makes about 1/2 cup of espresso and I use a 1/4 cup to make my mocha.  It's simple - the whole thing unscrews into three pieces, the top, the bottom and the filter. Fill the bottom with water until it's just below the indicated point. Put in the filter and fill with coffee grounds (don't pack it) and screw on the top and boil over a medium high heat. You do need to keep an eye on it, because it can start to burn very quickly (usually when deeply involved with some other meaningless task). Also double check to make sure it's filled with water - the rubber washer will melt and burn and it's added drama you don't need.

In case you didn't already know, what makes it espresso is how it's made and not the type of coffee that's used. So you can use any naturally decaffeinated  coffee - just make sure it's ground finely enough for espresso.






Low Carb Soy Mocha


Ingredients:

1/4 C freshly brewed decaf espresso
1 C unsweetened vanilla soy milk
1/4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
natural sweetener, to taste

Preparation:

*Pour hot coffee into a mug, add the cocoa powder and stir until well blended. Pour in soy milk and microwave on high for approximately 45 seconds. Add sweetener and sprinkle with ground cinnamon, if desired.






Has 103 calories, 1.5 net carbs, 4.9 g fat, 4 g fiber and 9 g protein.

And there's your happy ending.  You can make it a double and still have only 3 net carbs. You can put it in one of those adorable ceramic/porcelain, eco-friendly re-useable cups fashioned to look like cardboard coffee to-go cups with plastic tops. It's cheaper, you won't be tempted to buy a muffin or a scone and you won't have to stand on line for coffee, ever again.
Easy virtue - there's nothing like it.


Just for fun, go to the Starbucks website and check out:

http://www.starbucks.com/menu/catalog/nutrition?.drink=all#view_control=nutrition.

You can look up your favorite Starbucks beverage and get the skinny on it's nutritional information. My favorite, the 8 oz Soy Mocha has 130 cal, 22 net carbs, 3 g fat, <1 g fiber and 4 g protein.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Baked Eggs Florentine (Low Carb)

One of my favorite vegetables is fresh spinach and I'm fortunate to live in a place where fresh organic produce is available year round.  But out of season fruits and veggies can be  expensive and you may live in a place where they are not available at all. The next best option is frozen produce and there's a lot you can do with frozen spinach.  It's messy to handle, so I had to figure out a way to make it easier. I start by taking a 10 oz (284 g) bag of organic spinach and I divide it evenly between three containers while it's still frozen. I use a digital food scale to determine size portions - it's more accurate than a measuring cup and it allows me to adjust the portion exactly. According to the package, a single serving of frozen spinach is 81 grams or 1 cup and a 10 oz bag will give you 3.5 servings. Using the scale allows me to measure out three equal portions, each weighing about 95 grams.






If you store them in the fridge, you can allow them to defrost without cooking. When you're ready to use it, all you need to do is drain the water. You can use a sieve, provided that the wholes are small enough, or you can strain it through unbleached cheesecloth. To cut down on waste, I rinse out the  cheesecloth when I'm finished using it and dry it so I can use it as many times as possible. Once the spinach is drained, you're ready to go.


Baked Eggs Florentine


Ingredients:


95 g chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/8 T butter
1 large egg
1 T heavy cream
1/8 tsp garlic powder
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Preparation:

*Preheat oven to 400 F.

*Grease a ramekin with butter.  To prepare the spinach, put it in a small bowl and add garlic powder and some  salt and pepper and blend. Lightly pack the spinach in the ramekin and make an indentation in the center - I use a measuring tablespoon.






*Crack the egg into a cup, making sure to keep the yolk whole. Gently pour on top of spinach and sprinkle with  salt and pepper, if desired. Cover evenly with heavy cream.






*Bake for 16 - 18 minutes, depending upon how well-done  you like your eggs. Remove from oven (carefully, it will be very hot!).






I know it looks lovely in the ramekin (sorry for the lousy picture quality, but trust me, it looks amazing!), but it will be too hot to consume it you leave it in there. Run a knife around the edges to separate it from the sides and using a fork, lift it out of the ramekin and place on a plate.





And enjoy!


Makes 1 serving and has 173.63 calories, 3.25 net carbs, 10.85 g fat, 1.5 g fiber and 9 g protein.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

So This Is My First Entry...

Whoo hoo!  Somebody alert the press!  Seriously, welcome to my food blog. If I appear as if I don't know what I'm doing, well, that's because I don't. But I'm not going to let that stop me. So, bear with me - I hope to be of some help to others out there. Dieting is hard - don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Naturally thin people are naturally thin; they don't tend to have things like insulin resistance to contend with and often regard those of us to whom it is difficult as lazy and undisciplined. Those of us who are not naturally thin (which is to say, most of us, even though almost any kind of media will tell you otherwise) find ourselves struggling. People who have the additional burden of chronic illness struggle even more - I have fibromyalgia as well as insulin resistance and it has been difficult to make the necessary changes in my lifestyle. I'm a work in progress - I have not reached my target weight and I am still very out of shape due to severe exercise intolerance, but over the course of one year, I was able to lose 80 lb's by diet alone, have completely eliminated both aspartame and sucrolose (and many other things) from my diet and no longer need to take prescription medication for type II diabetes. Since I live alone I have modified the recipes  for one person servings ( or in the case of sweets, the lowest number possible so as not to tempt myself ). They are also modified for people who have limited mobility, chronic fatigue or are just plain exhausted from being terminally busy. This means meals that are not too labor intensive - the fewest amount of ingredients and the least amount of prep work, designed to make life easier while still being nutritious and appetizing.

Now, on to the food!