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Low Carb, Low Fat Diet

I got tired of people looking at my trim dogs and then looking at overweight me, and concluded I had to go on their diet. “It looks like you take better care of your dogs than yourself,” was a comment from an elderly woman in my apartment building; she had a point. 

My seven year old Pugs, Cobi and Ferdi, eat low fat proteins, bone stock and vegetables, which is the recommended diet from the integrative vet they go to called Smith Ridge in South Salem, New York. They actually got too thin and now get a little potato added to their diets. So my Pugs are fit and healthy and have great coats—what could I lose by eating what they eat?

This past January, I also went to a new doctor for my annual exam. My bloodwork showed that I was pre-diabetic; the year before showed the same thing. My blood pressure is also too high and I am on meds and hate that. That time, one of his assistants told be to “cut down” on high carbs, but I didn’t listen.

However, this year was different. A good friend of mine (who was not overweight) had been showing signs of diabetes and she made changes in her diet and was feeling better. Ferdi, my Pug, has diabetes and it sucks. It finally dawned on me that if I didn’t make changes—cut the high carb foods and lose weight—I would eventually get diabetes.

With my friend coaching me, I made the changes in my diet in late January, and have been eating a low fat, low carb diet ever since. I have always exercised, but have increased the intensity on that, too. I am losing weight, but slowly.

BTW…I was weighed at my annual at my gynecologist in April and got depressed over how little weight I had lost and told him so. He said that people who lose weight quickly will gain it back and slow is better. That, for most people, just maintaining weight as you get older is difficult. He said to expect my goal to take a good year to accomplish. He made me feel better.

Writing this in July, there is definite weight loss. Now, I know for many people, the scale plays a major part, but I don’t want to know. Been there and constant weighing myself makes me crazy and obsessive. My clothes have gotten too big; I am losing weight.

This blog will be all about delicious, healthy, low carb, low fat recipes. Follow me on my Facebook page or sign up for my newsletter  (scroll to bottom of page) and enjoy! Conversely, if you want to be inspired by good (and mostly easy and fast to make) dishes, but are into carbs, just add some pasta, bread, rice or whatnot and enjoy.  Depending on my mood, I’ll write about my experiences with food. Cooking tips…decorating…whatever I feel like writing about.  I hope to get feedback, questions and your thoughts.  If you like to eat, I am pretty sure you’ll like my recipes.

Cioppino: a Bowl of Seafood Deliciousness!

Cioppino is a seafood soup that Italians traditionally made when they had leftovers they wanted to use. I love this dish because it is so flavorful, healthy and it takes minutes to make.

Cioppino seafood soup

I omit the shrimp, as my husband is allergic. I always make enough for two nights and cook half the scallops each night so the second night they aren’t overcooked.

You can also use other firm fish for Cioppino, like cod, catfish or flounder.

Because I am eating low carb, I add the zucchini “pasta” so the sauce isn’t wasted. If you are eating high carbs, I recommend a crusty bread for dunking!

Cioppino

Serves 4

1 lb scallops and shrimp (either or both)

2 cans clams, reserve juice

½ head of garlic, minced

1 cup dry white wine

1 large (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes or diced

1 teaspoon oregano

2 bay leaves

Salt  & pepper

Handful parsley, chopped

Baby spinach and zucchini “pasta”, optional

Sauté garlic on medium low for a few minutes, not allowing it to brown.  Add clam juice and reduce to about half.  Add wine, tomatoes and spices and cook 5 minutes.  Add shrimp and scallops and cook 3 minutes or until done. Add clams, spinach, and zucchini, allowing spinach to just wilt. Remove from heat and add parsley.

 

Lentil Salad With Roasted Beets, Haricot Verts and Bacon

I often make dinner salads in warm weather and this one is very tasty.  Since I eat a low carb diet, I don’t add anything else, but a crusty bread (heated, of course) would be a good addition. If you don’t want to use haricot verts (French string beans) simply increase the amount of greens for the salad.

Unlike other beans, dried lentils cook in 30 minutes or less with no soaking necessary and come in a variety of colors.  Opt for the dried lentils for better flavor, price and variety.

Bacon gives nice flavor, but is optional. I buy my bacon from Hemlock Hill Farm in Cortlandt Manor, NY; the animals are pasture raised and humanly treated–you can see them them you visit. The bacon is the best I’ve ever had.

Lentil Salad With Roasted Beets, Haricot Verts and Bacon

Serves 4 as a main course

 

FOR THE LENTIL SALAD:

4 small beets, wrapped in foil and baked in the oven or toaster oven at 400 degrees until done, about an hour. Peel and cut into chunks and add a bit of dressing when they are still warm.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

4-8 slices (4 ounces) bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces and cooked (optional)

1 cup raw brown or green lentils

2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1 bay leaf

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste

½ teaspoon black pepper

Chopped greens, including radicchio

1 lb haricot verts, roasted in a single layer at 400 degrees with olive oil, salt and pepper, about a half hour, until a bit wrinkled and dark.

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

SHERRY VINAIGRETTE:

¼ cup aged white or sherry vinegar

1 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Salt & pepper to taste

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard and salt. Then whisk in olive oil. Or put all ingredients into a small food processor.

In a medium pot, combine lentils, 4 cups water, garlic,  rosemary, salt and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until lentils are tender.

Drain lentils and discard bay leaf; keep or discard garlic as you like. Toss lentils and beans with half of the sherry vinaigrette while still warm.

Toss greens with enough of remaining vinaigrette to lightly coat it and arrange it on a platter. Combine lentils, bacon and roasted vegetables, adding more of the vinaigrette to taste; spoon mixture on top of greens.

Turkey loaf , Asparagus and Zucchini “Pasta”

Turkey loaf with goat cheese, farm fresh asparagus from the North Fork on LI and zucchini “pasta”.

My husband and I recently spent a week on the North Fork on Long Island and we stopped at a local farm for asparagus. It was the best I’ve ever had, and we picked up three bunches on our way bck to the City.

I like to experiment with meatloafs and make them with ingredients based on other meals. This turkey meatloaf is borrowed from a chicken dish I make with goat cheese and artichokes.

Turkey Loaf

Serves 4; Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 lb Ground turkey

1/2 cup Scallions

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup Panko

1 egg

1-2 tablespoons worcheshire

Salt & pepper

Handful parsley, chopped

½ teaspoon gelatin

3 ounces goat cheese

Combine wet ingredients and gelatin and let sit a few minutes. Combine remaining ingredients. Spray oil in an ovenproof casserole or pan and place mixture in pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Test for doneness by cutting open and seeing that juices run clear.

Asparagus

Good asparagus needs nothing more thana bit of butter, salt and pepper.

Asparagus

S &P

Butter

Cut off tough ends or snap off. Place in a saute pan with enough water to just cover and palce lid on top on high; when boiling, lower heat. Boil about 3 minutes and test for doneness. Drain water and on medium/low heat, add a pat of butter, salt and pepper. Stir until any remaing water evaporates.

Zucchini “Pasta”

2-3 zucchini

Touch of extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper

With a spiralizer, make pasta. Toss seeded part of zucchini. In a suacepan, on medium/high, heat a bit of oil and add zucchini. You may add a talespoon or so of water to make zucchini limp.

 

 

Preview of Newest Fiber Art Ball!

fiber felted art ball
Untitled image untouched of fiber felted ball

I am currently working on creating finished images from my latest felted fiber art ball. This ball took about 8 months to complete, and is about 10″ round. While working on it, I got my house ready to sell. If you have ever prepared to sell and move, you know what a stressful and seemingly never ending period that can be. Having my fiber ball to work on while I was getting my stuff in order was my calm space and respite.  The house sold a couple months ago and I am now living full time in Manhattan.

The first image is one section of the fiber art ball and is untouched. I use a Better Light Digital camera which scans at a super high resolution, thus allowing tons of detail when magnified. To get an idea of the resolution, images for the web are 72 dpi; for photographs in printed books, 300 dpi. This image was scanned at 1200 dpi! Scanning at such a high resolution keeps the smallest details sharp when magnified.  Scroll down to see as photographs are cropped and further magnified. Note the cool details of the wool fibers that emerge!

Felted fiber art ball cropped

Felt Wool Ball closer up

The next image is of one section taken from the first image and it has been cropped. Can you see from which section it was taken?

The next photo is another crop and further magnification.

Felted fiber art ball cropped more

Finally, this cropped photograph is about 1/2″ big on the actual fiber art ball. You can now see the fibers of the wool very clearly. (Magnify much more than this and all you will see is color and then finally, pixels.

felted fiber art ball
Cropped and magnified felted fiber ball

I have just started working on manipulating the photographs from this ball. If you would like to be notified of any updates and when the photographs will be ready, please sign up for my newsletter: http://normalehmeierhartie.com/ (At the bottom of the page.)

My current work can also be accessed from the Home page.

Green Choices for Your Home

If the idea of Trump as president isn’t disgusting and horrifying enough, his cabinet picks make it even more awful. 

Trump wants to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and has selected Myron Ebell to to just that. He wants to return us to the time in the Seventies when Manhattan was a polluted mess.

Now, more than ever, you need to protect you and your family and learn how to keep indoor pollution at a minimum. In the average home, indoor pollution is higher than outdoor. However, Trump may change all that, so prepare to protect yourself as much as possible. The following are some general guidelines to help make your home as green and eco-friendly as possible.

With few exceptions—one being particle-board furniture—if your existing eco-unfriendly floors, walls and furniture are in good condition, do not be concerned about replacing them; simply keep them clean. For example, if the paint on your walls contained VOC’s, any damage from outgassing would have occurred during the first six months to one year. Likewise, if your carpet is synthetic or the material has been doused in pesticides, it too has already caused its damage in outgassing. Most of the damaging chemicals that outgas into your home will do so during the first year. Until you are ready to replace an item, simply keep it is as clean as possible.

If, however, you are purchasing a new home or are in the market to buy new furniture or make other changes, the following general guidelines should help you to make the most healthy and environmentally-conscious choices:

* Purchase refurbished furniture and building materials when possible.

* Buy items secondhand.

* Purchase products made from sustainable woods and grasses, such as bamboo.

* Look for natural, not synthetic products.

* Buy the best quality that you can afford so that items will not have to be replaced often—or ever.

* Purchase only what you need.

* Buy locally harvested or manufactured products and save on transportation costs.

* Recycle whenever possible.

* Revamp. For example, buy good quality throw-pillow inserts and replace the covers, when they become worn or you tire of them, instead of the entire pillow. Likewise, if your sofa upholstery is worn-out, but the sofa itself is in good condition, simply reupholster. Wall-to-wall carpet can be removed, cut to a smaller size and a natural backing like rubber applied to the carpet, for a new life as an area rug.

* Look for eco-labeling on products that you buy. While the criteria varies, essentially an eco-label will include the following criteria:

o Avoidance of resource depletion

o Low energy demand

o Avoidance of chemicals in the manufacturing process

o Avoidance of chemical emissions, residues and outgassing

o Biodegradability

o Ethical issues

Part of this article is an excerpt from Harmonious Environment.

Grilled Chicken Burritos with Fresh Salsa

Grilled chicken burritos
Grilled chicken burritos

These chicken burritos are best when you can still get heirloom or other tomatoes from your backyard or farmer’s market, because they just taste so fresh. I like to grill chicken for burritos, but will pan cook them in colder months. When I want salsa and guacamole, I just make salsa and add an avocado, because it takes less time. You can use refried beans or whole beans, whichever you prefer. I used red cabbage but you can substitute any cabbage or lettuce. I used rice, but you can also use corn or omit. Also note that I slice raw onion on thinnest cut on a mandolin and squeeze to remove excess water which takes the bitter edge out, but adds great flavor.

Fixings for burritos
Fixings for burritos

Grilled Chicken Burritos

Serves 4

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

Package of burrito or tortillas, whole wheat

Red cabbage, shredded

Rice, brown or white, 1/2 cup raw or corn

Refried red or black beans with a couple ounces cheddar cheese melted in

Salsa

1 pound tomatoes, chopped

1 small red onion, sliced on thinnest mandolin blade, squeeze out extra water and chop

Cilantro, chopped

1/2- 1 juice of lime, to taste

Salt and pepper

1 ripe avocado, cut into small chunks

Mix all ingredients

Grill chicken until done. Heat burrito on a gas stove or in oven. Assemble all ingredients and let people make their own burrito.

 

 

Dry Rub Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Gnocchi and Roasted Vegetables  

Dry Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with gnocchi and roasted vegetables
Dry Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with gnocchi and roasted vegetables

I tend to cook pretty simply during the week and make a lot of vegetarian and quick meals. But on the weekend, I kick it up a notch and indulge a bit. I am not a fan of barbecue sauce, but my nephew turned me onto this dry rub recipe and I love it! Have used it on baby back ribs, chicken, steak and now pork tenderloin. The recipe was created by Silkworm and Bottomless Pit bassist Tim Midyett, but his version is way too salty for me, so I greatly reduced it. The ingredient that gives the rub a really special favor, or umami, is sumac, which is a Middle Eastern spice. I ordered some on Amazon and made a batch using all of the sumac. Midyett  grinds his ingredients, but I didn’t bother. Here is original recipe.

Midyett Dry Rub

1 part good sea salt

1 part black pepper

1/2 part sumac

1/2 part ground coffee (preferably dark roast)

1/2 part garlic powder

1/2 part cocoa powder

Mix together by hand or grind in a coffee grinder. Store in an airtight container.

Dry Rub Pork Tenderloin

Serves 4

1 pork tenderloin

Midyett dry rub

Extra virgin olive oil

Rub a little oil on the tenderloin then put a light coating of dry rub over oil. The more rub, the spicier. Heat grill to medium and grill about 15 minutes, until center is slightly pink.

Crispy Gnocchi

I love Italian food, including gnocchi. However, I prepare gnocchi in what I would describe reflects my Jewish German ancestry because I like the flour-based dumpling crispy but with no sauce—more like spaetzle.

1 pound gnocchi

1-2 tablespoons butter

Salt to taste

  1. Cook according to package; usually 2-3 minutes or until they float. You can make this ahead of time, because you want them to be cold. If you don’t make them ahead of time, drain and pit gnocchi in an ice bath for a few minutes, then drain.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan to medium high and when hot, add butter. Add gnocchi and let sit a few minutes, then stir every few minutes until they get nice and light brown, about 15 minutes. Salt to taste.

 

Roasted Vegetables

I love to roast vegetables in the colder months, because the best roasting vegetables are in season and a wide variety are available, especially at farmer’s markets. The ones pictured here are golden and red beets, carrots and broccoli. I toss together whatever root vegetables, broccoli and cauliflower I have on hand. Other vegetables—like kale, asparagus and beans—can also be roasted, but their cooking times will differ. Simply cut up what you want to eat, place on a rack and add some salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Stir midway through. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 35 minutes. The broccoli and cauliflower should be cut a bit larger than the root vegetables for even cooking times.

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Awesome Artichoke Spinach Dip

Artichoke spinach dip
Artichoke spinach dip

The origins of this dip are unknown, but it has become a classic party dip and it is delicious. I like to serve it with crudité, like carrots, peppers and celery, and with either crostini or a plain cracker. I have included the crostini recipe. I do not add salt, because Parmesan is salty enough for me. My version is chunky, but you if you prefer a smooth texture, simply put in your food processor.

 Artichoke Spinach Dip

1 can artichokes in water (I like Trader Joe’s), squeeze excess water and roughly chop

1 8-10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, let defrost in a colander and squeeze excess water (no need to cook) if you are pressed for time, run warm water over it. I like to bake the dip in a pretty earthenware pot and place the hot bowl on a plate and add the veggies and crostini or crackers.

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 ounces jack cheese, grated

Pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine everything and bake for 15 minutes or until hot.

Crostini

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ¼” slices of baguette on two large rimmed baking sheets; brush both sides with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through (if undersides are not browning, turn crostini over once during baking). Let cool on baking sheets.

 

Heirloom Tomato Chili Con Carne

Heirloom tomatoes, onions and garlic
Heirloom tomatoes, onions and garlic

I only buy tomatoes in season, because I dislike the flavor when grown in hothouses or otherwise. So I tend to eat a lot of tomatoes this time of year and whenever possible, choose heirloom from my local farmer’s market.

I had never made Chili Con Carne from fresh tomatoes, so I thought, why not try it and I made a batch yesterday. I know many cooks remove the skin and seeds, but I didn’t bother and I doubt anyone would know the difference. Anyway, the dish turned out great! I made mine from pasture raised beef, but you can use other meats or omit and make it vegetarian. I made some brown rice and served it with tortilla chips because the crispy chips add a nice texture. I also added some raw baby tomatoes,  crème fraiche and grated cheddar cheese to finish it.

Uncooked heirloom tomatoes added to meat and onions
Uncooked heirloom tomatoes added to meat and onions

Heirloom Tomato Chili Con Carne

Serves 6

1 pound ground pasture raised beef, buffalo, turkey, or chicken

2 medium onions, chopped

1/2 head garlic, minced

2 pounds heirloom tomatoes roughly chopped or 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes plus a handful of baby tomatoes quartered for garnish

1 ½ cups dried beans or 2 cans pinto and/or white beans and liquid if no salt

1-4 tablespoons hot chili pepper (adjust according to how spicy you like it)

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon cumin

1 can corn or 2 ears corn, shucked (optional)

2 or more cups water

Grated cheddar cheese, crème fraiche or sour cream, optional

Brown rice and/or tortilla chips

  1. If you are using dried beans, soak overnight and cook until they are still pretty firm, set aside.
  2. Sauté meat on medium high until brown and crumbly and set aside, drain excess oil.
  3. Sauté onion and garlic in extra virgin olive oil until soft on medium heat, approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Add spices and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. (Taste and add more spices if needed.)
  5. Add tomatoes and dried, partly beans if using and a couple of cups of water. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Simmer for an hour, adding water or canned unsalted bean juice as needed.
  6. If using canned beans, add and heat through. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with rice and/or tortilla chips.  Top with cheddar cheese, sour cream or crème fraiche.

Heirloom tomato chili con carne
Heirloom tomato chili con carne

 

 

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