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Low Carb Mexican Hot Pot

Low Carb Mexican Hot Pot

I like Mexican food, but since most of it has lots of high-carb ingredients, I haven’t been eating much of it. I was missing my fajitas and decided to fool around with my recipe and came up with this low carb version. Omit the beans and increase the meat makes it even lower in carbs but I wanted the taste, texture (and fiber) so I added it. This was so good that I didn’t miss the carbs at all!

I make my own blackened spice mix, but any spice mix called taco seasoning or Cajun will do just fine. I’ve added my recipe, below. If you want to make your own mix, I highly recommend Rose Mountain Herbs for the ingredients, because all their products are organic, very fresh and inexpensive.

Low Carb Mexican Hot Pot

Low Carb Mexican Pot

1-pound ground turkey

1 can organic black beans, juice reserved

2-3 tablespoons blackened spice mix

1 14.5 ounce fire roasted organic diced tomatoes

3 medium onions, sliced thinly

3 large bell peppers, sliced

Salt and pepper

Handful or two of baby spinach

1 lemon

Sides

Sour cream or crème fraiche

1 avocado, diced with lemon, salt and pepper

Shredded cheddar

Hot sauces

Brown turkey; add blackened spice mix and stir into turkey, allowing spices to become fragrant, a couple minutes; set aside. Sauté onion on medium high until they begin to brown, then add peppers. Cook until peppers begin to wilt, about 15 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, black beans with liquid and stir. Heat through. Turn off heat and stir in spinach and lemon. Serve immediately with sides.

Blackened Spice Mix

This makes a big batch. I freeze it and use it in many recipes.

1 cup Garlic Powder

1 cup onion powder

2/3 cup paprika

1/3 cup cayenne

2/3 cup oregano

1/3 black pepper

1/3 cup cumin

2/3 cup lemon peel

1/3 cup tumeric

Salt

Mix ingredients and store in a tight container.

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Tofu Stir-fry

Tofu Stir Fry

Stir-fries are great because any vegetables and protein can be used, and the dish comes together quickly. I like to use tofu because it is one of the few low carb proteins out there and it works well with this dish—however, use meat or fish if you prefer—either raw, or leftovers.

If you think you don’t like tofu, try this recipe—I swear it will make you a convert! If you do like tofu, you will love it baked! Now, not all tofu is the same and my favorite is The Bridge, made by a small company in Connecticut, because it’s nice and firm and tastes so fresh. Baking the tofu changes its texture from soft and spongy to firm and chewy.

In this dish, I used baby bok choy, yellow squash, swiss char; but you can use almost any veggie—even make it a “veggie refrigerator clean-out”!

If you choose to make this dish with a carb, like rice, 1 pound for 4 should be sufficient.

Tofu Stir Fry

Serves four

Vegetables for Tofu Stir Fry

Ingredients

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced

1 head swiss char, stems and leaves separated and chopped

1 pound baby bok choy, stems and leaves separated and chopped

2 yellow squash, spiralized

1 ½- 2 pounds extra firm tofu

2-3 tablespoons Tamari

2 tablespoons sesame oil

pepper

Oil for stir frying

Cooking Tofu Stirfry

Rinse tofu and blot dry with a paper or kitchen towel. Put tofu on parchment paper on an oven tray and coat tofu with 1 teaspoon sesame oil and soy sauce. If you have the time, let tofu marinate 30 minutes, then bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until golden. Put tofu aside, keeping warm

Heat oil on medium low, when hot, add ginger and garlic. Stir until fragrant, about a minute. Raise temperature to high and add baby bok choy and swiss char stems; stir until softened, 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except sesame oil and stir until hot. Turn off heat and add sesame oil and test for taste. Stir tofu in and serve immediately.

Braised Red Cabbage and Pork Chops

Braised Cabbage and Pork Chops

I bought large, free range bone-in pork chops from Whole Foods and one chop was enough for both my husband and I, so I cut the meat off the bone and served it that way. Meat cooked on the bone stays nice and moist and it is very easy to prepare this dish. You can make this dish even simpler without the marinade and it’s still delicious.

Braised red cabbage dish is familiar to many, but the addition of cinnamon gives it a cool twist. This is a comfort dish—something not easy to find in the low carb universe.

Bone in Pork Chops

Serves 2

1 ½-2 pounds pork chops

Extra virgin olive oil

MARINADE

1 tablespoon tamarind paste (you can substitute lemon and dried apricot)

2 tablespoon cider vinegar

Salt and pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

Combine marinade ingredients, add pork chops, place in a covered container and let sit 2 hours to overnight in refrigerator. Put rack on lowest position in oven and preheat oven to 500 and put a cast iron or oven proof pan in the oven to heat up. Remove marinade, reserve and dry chops. Coat chops with oil. Place meat on hot pan and 5 minutes, flip and cook another 5 minutes. Remove chops from pan and let sit a couple minutes. Put reserved marinade in pan, stirring with any juices, medium heat on the stove. Allow liquid to evaporate by half and spoon over meat.

Braised Cabbage

Braised Red Cabbage

Serves 4

1 medium sized red cabbage, quartered with core removed and cut into narrow strips

2 onions, sliced thin

2 apples, cut into small pieces

¼ cup cider vinegar, more or less to taste

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat a large pot like a dutch oven on medium and add oil; when hot, add onion and allow to soften, 5 minutes. Add cabbage and apples and stir occasionally, until they soften. Add remaining ingredients, lower to low and cover. Cook another 45 minutes until nice and soft.

Low Carb Rueben Salad

Low Carb Rueben Salad

If you like a Rueben sandwich with corned beef leftovers, but don’t want the carbs, make a salad instead! Take greens, corned beef, swiss cheese, Russian Dressing (I used homemade,) and sauerkraut and you are good to go!  It may not be quite as good as the sandwich is, but it is pretty darn tasty!

Russian has ketchup in it, but I never buy it because I rarely use it and don’t like the added sugar, so I make my own.  Just mix tomato paste (find a tube for convenience) with some cider or white vinegar and you have ketchup in about a minute, but with no added preservatives, sugar or salt.

Low Carb Rueben Salad

Mix of your favorite salad greens, like romaine, arugula and baby spinach

Sauerkraut, shake off excess liquid

Leftover corned beef, cut into bite sized pieces and trimmed of fat

Swiss cheese, cut into bite sized pieces

Russian Dressing

Substitute some extra virgin olive oil for mayonnaise if you like a thinner dressing.

1/3 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons ketchup or 3 tablespoons tomato paste and 1 teaspoon cider or white vinegar

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (use less if you don’t want the kick)

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine ingredients.

Assemble salad and toss in Russian dressing.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

There is a good reason that French Soup is a classic—it is outstanding! I opted to make this for the weekend with a “cheat” carb—a baguette from award winning baker, Eric Kaiser. (If I am going to indulge in a carb, it must be stand out!)

You can buy ready made stock, but for truly amazing soup, you need to make your own. Here is my recipe for beef bone broth. I make beef broth once or twice a year; I always kick it off with French onion soup for two nights and freeze the rest in two cup portions. Two cups are perfect for most stews and whatever else I might use it for.

I portion the soup into an oven proof bowl and melt the cheese on top. I do not put any bread inside, preferring it to be all soup. The bread is heated and on the side, with butter to alternate with dipping it into stock.

The bowls I use were my grandmothers and must be at least 80 years old! They were made in France, which I think is cool. They are perfect for French Onion Soup.

French Onion Soup

4 servings

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

4 large onions, thinly sliced

5 cups beef broth

3 sprigs fresh thyme or a pinch dried

Salt and pepper

12 ounces gruyere, sliced with a cheese slicer or by hand

Onions, ready to be cooked

Put butter into a deep casserole or heavy pot over medium heat. When melted, add the onions. Stir the onions occasionally, until very soft and just beginning to brown; take your time, this will take 30-45 minutes. You may need to lower the heat; you want them to basically soften and collapse, forming a mound of onion.

Onions cooked for 45 minutes and a big, soft mass

Heat oven to 425.

Add the stock and raise the heat until it is just about boiling, then lower so a few bubbles pop up. Add thyme, salt and pepper and cook, 15 minutes.

Put the soup into oven proof containers and lay the cheese across the top. Place bowls on a sturdy pan or cookie sheet and place in oven until cheese melts, 5 to 10 minutes.

Soup ready for serving bowls and cheese

Serve with a good baguette and butter. Or don’t; with no bread, it is a low carb meal.

Buffalo Chicken, Haricot Vert Almandine & Butternut Squash

Buffalo chicken thighs with butternut squash and harict verts

¼ cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

2 T butter, melted

1 T minced garlic

3 pounds chicken, rinsed and patted dry or 2 thighs per person

Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put parchment paper on cast iron or oven proof roasting pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper on chicken. Cook 30 minutes. Turn thighs and remove extra oil. Cook another 30 minutes. Raise oven to 450. Remove extra oil. Combine melted butter, garlic and hot sauce and drizzle over thighs. Cook about 10 minutes, turning once or twice, until skin is crisp

Spiralized butternut Squash

Serves 2

Spiralized butternut squash

1 neck–the straight portion— butternut squash, peeled with ends cut off and spiralized

1 tablespoon butter or extra virgin olive oil

Lemon juice

Salt and pepper

In cast iron or heavy pan, heat oil or butter over medium/high heat. Add squash and stir until softened, 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off heat and add lemon juice to taste.

Haricot Vert Almandine

12 ounces haricot verts, pointy ends removed

¼ cup slivered raw almonds

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper

Lemon juice, optional.

Steam beans in a little water for about 5 minutes; test for doneness. Drain and return to a medium/low heat. Add butter and almonds and stir until almonds brown. Add salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.

Tofu “Ramen” Soup

Low Carb Tofu “Ramen” Soup

Before I started eating a low carb diet, I ate plenty of vegetarian meals, alternating meat with other protein like dairy, beans and tofu. But beans are not low carb and dairy is high in calories and fat; so, in my vegetarian low carb meals, I use usually use tofu. My favorite brand of tofu is The Bridge, made locally in Connecticut. It is firm. My favorite way to cook it is to cube it up and add tamari and sesame oil and bake it until it gets light brown. The outside is firm and the inside soft and it has a satisfying “bite” to it. Tonight, I made it and added it last minute to my “ramen” soup. Delicious!

I use a generous 8-ounce portion of tofu for the meal because nothing else has enough calories to make it filling. For dinner. If using real ramen noodles, you could cut down on the amount of tofu used.

This recipe is a good basic one. Feel free to experiment with other proteins or vegetables.  Sautéed shitakes, broccoli, spinach, kale and cabbage are all good in there. Chicken, shrimp, pork, beef works in instead of tofu. If you don’t like spicy kimchi, just omit.

shirataki noodles

Low carb shirataki noodles

Tofu “Ramen” Soup 

Serves 4

2 pounds tofu, cut into small pieces and dried

2 packages tofu shirataki “noodles”

1-pound baby bok choy, stems and leaves separated and chopped (broccoli, spinach, bok choy, kale, cabbage)

4-8 ounces kimchi, chopped

1 tablespoon Korean chili (optional)

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

½ bunch scallion, chopped

1-inch piece of ginger, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 tablespoons low sodium tamari or 1/3 cup yellow or white miso

3 tablespoons sesame oil

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat oven to 350 and place tofu on a pan, with a piece of parchment paper. Take 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and 1 tablespoon tamari and coat tofu. Bake tofu about 45 minutes or until light brown.

On medium, sauté garlic, scallion and ginger until fragrant, about a minute. Raise temperature to medium high and add bok choy stems and stir until wilted, a few minutes. Add bok choy leaves, kimchi and juice, Korean chili, shirataki noodles and stir. Add stock and bring to a boil. If using miso, ladle out some stock and add to miso and stir until dissolved. Lower heat so it is not boiling and add miso. If not using miso, add tamari. Turn off heat and add sesame oil. Ladle into bowls and add baked tofu. Serve with sesame oil on the side.

Tofu baked with tamri and sesami oil

 

 

 

 

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Low Carb Chicken Soup and Bone Stock

Low Carb Chicken Soup

Homemade chicken stock rocks. It is very easy to make and is mostly hands-off, but it does need to cook for hours. I always have frozen chicken bone stock, as I use it for my own cooking and for my Pugs in their food. You can freeze portions in plastic or glass containers or Ziplocs or make small portions in ice cube trays and pop those into a Ziploc.

Some cooks make stock by cooking the chicken forever, then throwing away the tasteless chicken. There is no reason to do this! Instead, cook chicken until it’s done–about an hour if cut into pieces–then return the bones to the pot so they can continue to add flavor to the stock. It’s the bone and connective tissue that give the stock the best flavor and nutrients. To leech even more nutrients from the bones, add a couple of tablespoons of cider vinegar.

Yesterday, I was in the mood for chicken soup and my boys needed their stock and chicken, so I made a huge batch of chicken. Cobi and Ferdi eat dark meat and those bones have all the connective tissue that makes bone stock so healthy, so I cooked a few breasts for my husband and I and added a bunch of legs to make the stock rich.

Please note that if you are making stock for your dogs, omit the onion. Also, when the stock is done, strip off the remaining meat and connective tissue on the bones and add it to your pet’s meal—a gourmet treat!

For more information on the health benefits of bone broth, read: http://normalehmeierhartie.com/umami-beef-bone-stock/.

If you want “regular” chicken soup, simply add rice or noodles or any grain or potatoes, or serve the carb on the side for those who want it. If you want the mouth-feel of rice, but not the carbs, add riced cauliflower.

I tend to mix up what vegetables I use. This time, I used carrots, parsnips, peas, celery, zucchini and leeks.

Of course, if you are feeling like chicken soup but don’t have the time or desire to make your own, a quart of organic stock will do.

Low Carb Chicken Soup and Bone Stock

Making Chicken Bone Stock

Chicken Bone Stock

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces (do not use organs; neck is fine), or any amount of chicken, but use at least some dark meat for the bones

1 onion, quartered, skin on (note: if making for your dogs, omit!)

2 stacks celery, roughly chopped

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1 parsnip, roughly chopped

1 turnip, roughly chopped

Handful parsley (can put in a piece of cheese cloth)

Put chicken into a large pot, add vegetables and cover 2 inches above ingredients with water. When water comes to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and skim off any scum that forms on the top. Simmer gently for an hour. Remove meat and vegetables (a large skimmer spoon is perfect for this).  When meat is cool, discard skin and remove meat from bones. Put bones and the vegetables back into the pot and simmer for at least another two hours. Occasionally check water level. You can simmer for hours, if desired. Remove bones and vegetables. Strip what meat/connective tissue remains on the bones and give to your pet. Discard remains. Whatever stock you don’t need can be frozen and stored in plastic or glass containers. Fat will rise to the top when chilled and can be removed.

Making Chicken Soup

Low Carb Chicken Soup  

6-8 cups stock

1-pound chicken cut or torn into bite-sized pieces

Root vegetables: carrot, parsnips, turnips, celery root, jicama, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

Broccoli, Kale, cut into small bite sized pieces, kale stems removed and discarded or chop and put into pot with root vegetables

Cauliflower, cut into small bite sized pieces or riced

Spinach, peas

Zucchini, spiralized or cut small

Leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced.

Lemon zest and juice (optional)

Heat stock to a boil and add root veggies and cook 20 minutes. Add broccoli and cauliflower, if using, and cook 10 minutes.  Add other vegetables and chicken for last 5 minutes, including riced cauliflower. Salt and pepper to taste.  Add lemon zest and juice to taste in serving bowl.

Low Carb Chicken Soup

Spinach, Baked Tofu and Sesame Stir-Fry

Baked tofu with tamari, sesami oil and seeds

If you think you don’t like tofu, try this recipe—I swear it will make you a convert! If you do like tofu, you will love it baked! Now, not all tofu is the same and my favorite is The Bridge, made by a small company in Connecticut, because it’s nice and firm and tastes so fresh. Baking the tofu changes its texture from soft and spongy to firm and chewy. In this recipe, I add both sesame oil and tamari, but you can omit sesame oil and it will still be good.

There are not a lot of low carb non-meat or cheese choices, but tofu is one of them, with 4 ounces containing only 1 gram. I love beans, for example, but they really aren’t low carb, so I eat them sparingly.

I use one pound of organic frozen spinach from Trader Joe’s—good and cheap. You can use baby spinach, but it’s expensive and really not worth it—plus, with frozen, you can have it on hand and ready to make this easy dish anytime. You can substitute broccoli, cabbage, bok choy or other greens, too. Kimchi adds more flavor, but the dish is good with it or without.

I also like to cook Asian meals with good quality peanut oil and use Loriva which is delicious and very fragrant.

Good quality peanut oil

Peanut oil is nice because it has a high smoke point.

Spinach, Tofu and Sesame Stir-Fry

1 tablespoon peanut or extra virgin olive oil

1 pound extra firm tofu, cut in small bite sized pieces

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1” piece teaspoon grated or minced fresh ginger

¼ teaspoon red chili flakes or 1 tablespoon Korean red pepper

Soy or tamari sauce to taste

1-pound frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

3 teaspoons sesame oil, divided

½ bunch scallion, chopped

Black pepper

½ cup kimchi, chopped and use liquid (optional)

PREPARATION

Rinse tofu and blot dry with a paper or kitchen towel. Put tofu on parchment paper on an oven tray and coat tofu with 1 teaspoon sesame oil and soy sauce. If you have the time, let tofu marinate 30 minutes, then bake at 350 for 45 minutes to one hour or until golden. Put tofu aside. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet, cast iron pan or wok, and add garlic, scallion, peppers and ginger. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute, and add soy sauce to taste. Add the spinach and kimchi and stir-fry until the spinach is hot, about one minute. Add tofu. Stir in the sesame seeds, and add more soy sauce to taste. Remove from the heat and add 2 teaspoons of sesame oil.

Tofu cubed in sesami oil and tamari

Serve with spiralized, sautéed zucchini or sautéed riced cauliflower.

Low Carb Kimchi “Cauliflower Fried Rice”

Low Carb “Cauliflower Fried Rice”

A delicious low carb “fried rice” dish made with cauliflower instead of rice!

In China and Korea, fried rice dishes are usually served as a side dish or made with leftovers; mine is meant as a main entrée. I wanted to see if “cauliflower rice” could stand up as a main ingredient instead of rice and I think it did very well as a substitute  I used baby bok choy, but you can use regular bok choy, broccoli, cabbage or spinach.

Typically, small amounts of meat are used in fried rice dishes, but because vegetables are so low calorie, I added more meat to make a satisfying and filling meal. If you would rather go meatless, either add more egg or use tofu. Tofu can be baked or marinate it in a bit of the seasoned soy sauce. This is also the ideal dish for leftover meat. I happened to have picked up a smoked duck breast and it was just hanging out in my freezer, so I decided to use it up for this dish.

The seasoned soy sauce is delicious and may become a go-to favorite to add to lots of Asian dishes!

Kimchi “Cauliflower Fried Rice”

Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or good quality peanut oil, like Lorivar

1 onion, chopped

8-12 ounces pork loin, smoked duck breast or duck leg confit, chicken, or extra firm tofu; chopped into small pieces

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 pounds riced cauliflower, allow to defrost and squeeze out extra water if using frozen

1-pound baby bok choy, ends removed and stems and leaves separated and chopped coarsely

2 cups kimchi and liquid, coarsely chopped

½ bunch scallion, chopped

salt

Toasted sesame seeds

3 eggs, beaten

Heat oil on medium and cook onion until soft. Raise heat to medium high and cook meat until done. Add bok choy stems and cook until softened. Add butter and sesame oil and when melted, add cauliflower. Stir until hot. Add kimchi, scallions, bok choy leaves, and salt and stir until hot. In a separate pan, heat oil to coat pan and add egg when hot. Flip egg when almost set. Remove from pan and cut into strips. Add to dish. Sprinkle sesame seeds. Serve with seasoned soy sauce.

Seasoned Soy Sauce

¼ cup tamari or soy sauce

1 scallion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1 teaspoon Korean chili powder (this is a mild chili powder. If using something else, consider reducing amount)

1 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients

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