Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie

I am fortunate to have a spouse who has been willing to “eat clean” the way I need to.  This has been a godsend, as I don’t have to come up with two dinners each night!  Last week, we were in a rut of what to do with our grass fed hamburger, and he came up with this, combining an old favorite with new “go to” replacements for our carbs.  Specifically, cauliflower mash for potatoes, and green beans for peas.  It was a hit!  We made a double recipe and then didn’t have to cook for a few nights.  WIN-WIN!

Steve’s Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie  (printable copy here)

1 Lbs grass fed ground beef or ground lamb
1 Tbl Oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 chopped green onion
1 medium chopped yellow onion
1 Tbl arrowroot (you can use cornstarch, but it adds carbs)
1 tsp Salt
¼ tsp Thyme
1 tsp Pepper (black, or aleppo, both work well)
1 cup Water
1 T organic tomato paste
2 T organic fresh parsley
1 cup steamed green beans

for topping:

1 head cauliflower
1 T ghee or grass fed butter
2 teaspoons salt OR teaspoon of chicken stock mix (the concentrated kind, I use “Better than Bouillon” Organic Chicken Base)
grated fresh black pepper (optional)

Optional:

8 Tbl shredded cheddar cheese
4 Tbl shredded parmesan
Sprinkle the top with paprika

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Trim the cauliflower stems off the flowerettes, and cook till very soft. Mash with the butter and add bouillon, and set aside for topping.
  3. In a hot skillet, brown the meat in the oil with the garlic, onions and green onion. When browned and the onion is tender, add salt, pepper and arrowroot.
  4. Cook 3-4 minutes, then add tomato paste and water and cook until thick and creamy.
  5. Add green beans and parsley. Taste and season at this point.  If you like it spicier, add more pepper.
  6. Place in an uncovered casserole dish, and top evenly with the mashed cauliflower and add both grated cheeses. Bake 20 min until golden brown. Serves 4.

Nutrition Info (using all ingredients, including cheese)

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Chicken Kebabs

2017-01-23-18-56-01Chicken Keema Kebabs

Healthy doesn’t have to be bland.  These Pakistani inspired Chicken Kebabs are an example of healthy and delicious.  “Keema” is somewhat of a catch-all in South Asian cooking for most ground meat mixtures. Spices and meats can vary wildly from one keema to the next, and then they can be prepared in many different ways, including stewing, pan frying, or skewering and grilling.  We grill this recipe, but you could also use the broiler or a stove top cast iron grill.  Create your own version by experimenting with spices!
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes (with 20 more optional for frig/freezer time)
  • Cook Time: 12 Minutes
  • Total Time: approximately 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 kebabs (feeds 2-4 based on side dishes)

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 pound ground chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated onion
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh garlic, minced (2 large or 2-4 small cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons finely diced Thai green chilies or jalapeno if you can’t find Thai
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala

Equipment

  • 4 flat edged skewers, (or 4 wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 min)
  • food processor with metal blade

Procedurechicken-kebab

  1. Place cumin and coriander seeds in a cast iron skillet over medium heat and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind into a fine powder.  Do not use your coffee grinder for this! (or your coffee will take on a distinctly odd flavor!)  I have a small grinder I use for spices only.  If you don’t have a grinder, use a mortar and pestle and grind them.  The amount is small and it will be easy.
  2. If you can’t find ground chicken, put very cold, partly frozen chicken cubes into your processor, and pulse very quickly until ground, being careful not to overdo it or you’ll have chicken paste.  Because they can get dry, I use chicken thighs.
  3. In a large bowl mix together ground cumin and coriander seeds, chicken, onion, cilantro, garlic, chilies, turmeric, salt, and garam masala until chicken is evenly seasoned.
  4. Form ¼ of meat mixture into a skewer-length cylinder on a baking pan or tray. Press skewer into chicken and form meat around stick. Repeat with remaining meat. Place skewered chicken in freezer for 20 minutes while preparing grill.
  5. Light the grill.  If using a gas grill, preheat on high, then turn to High/Medium/High for the cooking.  Brush oil on the grate before adding the skewers. Remove skewers from freezer and carefully transfer to hot grill. Cook until skewers brown all over and are cooked through, about 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter, let rest for 5 minutes, then serve immediately.
  6. Don’t worry if you loose the skewer or it falls off.  They still taste great!

You can serve them with a cucumber sauce (I use unsweetened dairy free coconut yogurt, dill and chopped cucumber).  They are also great on salads.

Here’s the tricks to grind chicken yourself.  Easy, and you can purchase the best natural chicken and not rely on mass produced ground chicken.

 

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Low Carb Stuffing

Cauliflower is becoming a miracle vegetable in our house.  We’ve made pizza dough, mashed potatoes, cheese bread and now stuffing out of it!  This recipe is from Delish, a website devoted to recipes.  I have the link at the end, but their site doesn’t include the nutrition info I’ve posted below.  We LOVE this recipe!

stuffingimg_2306

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. butter (preferably pasture butter — butter from grass fed cows)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped or thinly sliced
  • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 c. chopped mushrooms
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ c. Freshly Chopped Parsley
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp. ground sage
  • ½ c. vegetable or chicken broth (we use chicken)

stuffing-nutritionDirections

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, carrot, and celery and sauté until soft, 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add cauliflower and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, 5 to 10 minutes more.
  3. Add parsley, rosemary, and sage and stir until combined, then pour over vegetable broth and cover with a lid. Cover until totally tender and liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes.
  4. Serve.

This is amazingly tasty, and we had it with turkey and cranberries. It is a really good side dish for poultry, pork or even fish.  Give it a try!

Nutrition Info (provided by T2T, not on the original website) shows that at 15 net carbs, this is a huge win compared to regular stuffing! (Regular stuffing is approximately 25 net carbs because of the lack of fiber).

 

 

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T2T Low Carb Crabcakes

IMG_0580I adapted this recipe from one online that used flour.  I’ve substituted the flour with a combo of brown rice flour and almond flour.  You can also use a wheat free flour mix that is premade.  I thought they turned out better than ones made with flour!

The most important thing is that you have good crabmeat. If you like spicy, you’ll have to add some cayenne or sriracha.  These are tasty with a lot of flavor, but not spicy.

My adult kids voted this for our Thanksgiving night dinner.  They were fabulous!  At 8 gm net carbs and 19 of protein, these are a nutrition packed, guilt free entree.

See bottom of page for a PRINTABLE recipe.

Ingredients:

1 large egg
2½ T olive oil based mayo or your favorite mayo
1½ teaspoons Dijon Mustard
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stalk celery finely diced
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
1 lb. lump crabmeat, drained well if you use canned
¼ cup blanched almond flour*
¼ cup brown rice flour*

*OR an option to the almond/brown rice is using ½ cup gluten free flour mix like Wheat Free Market has

2 T coconut oil for cooking, may have to add more if you have two batches.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and using your fingers, blend well.  Shape into patties. Makes 6-8 small to medium crab cakes.

Heat a non-stick skillet (I use Cuisinart Green Gourmet) on medium, add coconut oil, and carefully place cakes in once oil is hot.  Cook 5 min/side or until lightly browned.  You want them to cook slowly because you want the egg to cook and the crabmeat to warm thoroughly.

Make a remoulade sauce or tartar sauce to go with.  We had these with green beans and zucchini slices sauteed with shallots and parsley and a “remoulade” of sriracha mixed with mayo and relish.  Add sriracha to your batter or on top of the cooked crab cake if you want a kick.

We usually try and have a dinner with an entree, a salad and a “hot” vegetable.  That is usually enough food and fills us up without bread or starches like rice or potatoes.  (If you are having rice, you can DRAMATICALLY lower the glycemic load of it by cooling it first, which converts the starch to resistant — undigestable — starch. Just keep it below 130º, which is the point that the starch converts to “bad starch”, meaning digestible.)

IMG_0581crabcakes-nutritionIMG_0580

 

 

 

printable recipe click here for PDF

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Low Carb Grain Free Bread

IMG_1630I went to a conference last weekend, and asked my husband, who is hands down the better baker in our family, to find a grain free bread recipe.  He found one and modified it a bit and made this for me when I returned home on Sunday (what a guy!) and it was very good.  It is hard to find “bread-like” consistency without using grain or yeast, and this bread is denser, more like pound cake consistency, but it worked for my craving to occasionally have almond butter on bread!  I have used it as a quick snack this week, and it has survived for 7 days now in our frig in a ziploc.  Sharing with you, and I’d appreciate feedback!

Pros:  amazingly low carb (3 net carbs!), high protein (7g) and easy to make, especially for non-bakers!

Cons:  not “tall” like sandwich bread, and denser, and less flavor that flour based bread

Low Carb Grain Free Sandwich Bread

2 cups + 2 T blanched almond flour (we use Honeyville)
½ cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
¼ cup ghee (pasture butter that’s been clarified, can usually be tolerated even if you don’t eat dairy)*
¾ cup water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

*you can use any oil, coconut will impart a coconut flavor, and my opinion is olive oil would be too strong. Other healthy options would be avocado.

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Generously grease a 8½ inch loaf pan with coconut oil or ghee.  Don’t use sprays, use real oil.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl:  flours, baking soda, salt.  Set aside.
Put the eggs in your blender and pulse on high for 10-15 sec. until frothy. Then add ghee, water and vinegar and process a few seconds until combined.
Dump the dry ingredients into the blender all at once.  Now here’s the tricky part:  process for only 10-15 seconds, until the dry ingredients mix with the wet ingredients.  Do not wait, or the dry flours absorb the wet ingredients and become too thick for your blender to process it.  If this starts to happen, or your blender isn’t high powered, dump it all into a bowl and hand mix to finish it.  Remember, you want it mixed quickly.

Pour the mixture into your greased loaf pan and smooth the top so it is even.

Bake for 50-70 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and turn out carefully onto a wire rack to cool completely.

IMG_1634Store uneaten bread in an airtight container in refrigerator, as this bread has no preservatives and is chemical free.

We’ve put chicken salad on it, almond butter, and it does crumble a bit, but it does make a sandwich.  I’m going to keep searching for an even lighter bread recipe, but for now, this makes a good alternative if you are craving bread.

I would say that open faced works better, because this isn’t pliable like regular bread, the pressure of two pieces might make it crumble.  I haven’t tried toasting this, but I did put it in a pan and brown it slightly and that worked fine.

Nutrition Information:  based on each loaf serving 12 pieces, which are pretty generous slices:

bread.nutrition

10 Days, 10 Ways to Lower Carbs, Day 10

day10Ok, Day 10 of 10!  For my “finale” (thank God, this has been hard to post 10 days in a row!),  I’ll talk about supplements to add to your regimen and some general guidelines and links to articles that I think have important information about insulin resistance, weight loss, and staying healthy.

 

Here are a few supplements that can help stabilize your insulin levels and lower your blood sugar:

pillsIt’s important you take a good multi-vitamin, even if you are eating totally healthy.  (read why here and more here).  I take Multigenics Phyto Multi which contains vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  It is widely available.

Vitamin D is not really a vitamin, but plays a very important role in metabolism.  Many of us are Vitamin D deficient.  As you doctor to check your level.  Taking 1,000-5,000 units/day of Vitamin D3 is considered pretty safe in most people. read more here

There are a few other things that can help your insulin levels stabilize if you’ve struggled with your weight, or if you want to lose weight*:

  • chromium
  • biotin
  • magnesium (helps relax you, lowers blood pressure and a low Mg+ is shown to increase insulin resistance) read more here
  • alpha lipoic acid:  among many other things, ALA increases insulin sensitivity, recycles CoQ10 and is a great anti-oxidant
  • other herbs including green tea and cinnamon can also help stabilize blood sugar and insulin response
  • omega 3 fats (EPA/DHA) like fish oil help reduce inflammation
  • Fiber powder like PGX, which I devoted an entire post to, read here

A Few final thoughts, since this is Day 10:

  1. Consider intermittent fasting along with a low carb food plan.  Read my article on fasting here.
  2. Educate yourself.  There are several good books out there.  One is Mark Hyman’s 2016 “Eat Fat, Get Thin” and another is David Ludwig’s 2015 “Always Hungry?  Conquer Cravings, Retrain your Fat Cells and Lose Weight”   Here is a great interview with Ludwig, a Harvard researcher.
  3. It takes 28 days to change a habit.  If you mess up, start again.  And again.  Until it sticks.
  4. WHAT YOU EAT is way more important than WHAT YOU WEIGH.  Think of food as fuel for your body.  You wouldn’t put crappy fuel in your car, so why would you fill your body up with garbage?  Think of it as a way of extending the number of years you will be HEALTHY.  So much of our chronic disease is directly related to our intake of processed food and carbs!  (read a study here if you need to be convinced)
  5. You must exercise to lose weight.  Increasing muscle mass burns more calories even when you’re asleep!

*All these recommendations are for an average healthy person.  If you have medical problems, please talk to your doctor before starting any new plan.  And find a doctor who will work with you, assess your fasting insulin levels, levels of inflammation, and is willing to help you on your path to wellness. It’s easier than you think.  Food IS medicine.

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