Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Recipe Roundup

Thought I'd share some recipes that caught my eye this week. Want to share a recipe of your own? Drop it in the comments!

Kalyn's Kitchen: Grilled Zucchini Pizza Slices

Grace2882: Blackberry Cobbler

Maria Emmerich: Hearts of Palm "Macaroni" and Cheese (I made this on Friday, and WOW.)

24/7 Low Carb Diner: Coconut Bread

Ginny's Low Carb Kitchen: Almond Joy Coconut Cream Pie

Linda's Low Carb Menus and Recipes: Carolyn's 3-Minute Flourless Chocolate Cake (An oldie but a goodie that I sent to poor, ovenless Katie over the weekend.)

Monday, August 30, 2010

"Just Water Weight"

Lots of people like to complain about low carb diets. Naysayers are always either trying to convince us that butter, cream, and eggs are bad for us and that we NEED grains to survive, or they're attacking the straw-Atkins-dieter who eats a slab of bacon for every meal and zero vegetables. One of the criticisms that drives me the most crazy, though, is the one where people fully acknowledge low-carbers' impressive results, but they immediately dismiss it as "fake" weight-loss, because "it's just water weight".

I mean, really? Is is so necessary to put successful dieters in their place that we have to resort to devaluing all of their efforts with the notion that because they aren't losing weight "the hard way" (starvation), they aren't really losing it at all?

It only takes reading the science behind any low carb or low glycemic eating plan to understand that once you stop spiking your blood sugar with sugary and starchy foods, you no longer have huge excesses of insulin causing the storage of new fat, and your body goes to work to burn off your current excesses of body fat for energy. You basically become a fat-burning (NOT water-burning) machine.

Now, it's true that while your body is switching over from carb-burning to fat-burning, the initial, almost immediate, weight-drop on an eating plan like Atkins comes from the release of excess water weight. Primal eating expert Mark Sisson has even said that some people can carry 10-20 pounds or more of retained water, depending on their size, due to the highly inflammatory nature of the standard, grain-filled American diet. So those first pounds may not be pure body fat, but does it really matter?

After losing a few pounds of "water weight", my clothes fit better, my face looks less bloated, and I noticeably have more energy and find myself able to move easier. If the first however-many pounds of lost weight on a low carb diet comes from the release of water our bodies had no business carrying around in the first place, I guess I just don't see what the big deal is.

As I see it, successfully de-bloating yourself on your way to fat-burning is "real" weight-loss. It's an initial payoff that tells you you're doing something healthy and right, and it should be a great motivator to keep at it. Don't let anyone try to tell you it doesn't count.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Boredom, Laziness, and Kitchen Amnesia

Like Katie, I'm not opposed to occasionally "cheating" when I want to experience something delicious at a social event or if I feel like I might die if I don't have whatever indulgence I get a strong craving for, but I really do feel bad about going off plan when I know I'm doing it out of boredom or laziness.

Switching from a lifestyle where I eat 75 to 80% of my meals out to one where I try not to eat out more than once or twice a week has been a special challenge. I only enjoy cooking when I get really in the mood to do it (which is not all that often), and when my laziness combines with hunger, I develop this condition in which I suddenly forget about all of the delicious and healthy food in my fridge and cupboards just waiting to be eaten, and all I can think about is going to a restaurant where I will be sure to be tempted by bread baskets and loaded mashed potatoes and dessert menus. This is bad for both my waistline AND my bank account. It breaks my heart when I have to throw out the vegetables I find practically liquefied in my fridge, all because I never felt like chopping them up and exposing them to a heat source. Sometimes I really miss the days of Bagel Bits and Kraft Dinner.

I'm trying a new experiment, though -- one that will hopefully keep me from feeling that dreaded "But there's nothing to EAT here!" feeling that I get before mealtimes, and one that should keep me from letting good food go to waste. Right after I went grocery shopping yesterday, while our house's food inventory was super fresh in my mind, I wrote out a list of EVERY POSSIBLE healthy, low carb meal I could think of that I could conceivably prepare with the foods in my kitchen, and I posted this list to the fridge. I made a second list for snacks and posted it, too. The plan is to continue updating the lists as I use up groceries and shop for new ones so it's impossible to forget what I have. Now, when I feel myself getting hungry and I can't think of anything to make, I can go to my lists, and hopefully I'll be interested enough in something on them to work up the excitement I need to want to eat at home and stop craving restaurant food.

Think it'll work? What techniques do you use to make sure you get the most of your groceries?

Friday Meatspiration

A man and a woman had a little baby; yes, they did.

They had three-ee-ee in the family . . .

That's a magic number.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Taking Control

For me, the scariest part of dieting–or changing your lifestyle, as it were–is knowing that it’s all up to me. It’s pretty easy for me to say, “Well, I’m a restaurant reviewer. I have to eat this crème brulee.” Or, when I’m not trying to lose weight, to say, “It’s not a big deal if I eat three ginormous slices of pizza for lunch, because I so rarely have pizza.”

But when you’re actively trying to become healthier (and hopefully thinner!), you realize that every single thing you eat is going to affect your weightloss. My office, for instance, made Pop-Tart ice cream sandwiches to celebrate the month’s birthdays on Friday, and all of the leftover ingredients are hanging out in our cupboards and freezer. My co-workers are doing things like topping ice cream with pudding and using Pop-Tarts for bread on their turkey sandwiches, and every time I see this happening, I think, “WANT!!

But then I remember that one Pop-Tart is going to make my bloodsugar skyrocket, make my cravings for other sugary crap explode, and stop my weightloss for at least a couple of days. It’s almost never worth it.

The problem is that I then start to obsess a little over not eating anything that might hinder my diet. When my boyfriend suggests we order kebabs and hummus for dinner, I’ll think, “I know chickpeas are low-glycemic, but they still have way more carbs than the chicken breast and salad I was planning to make for myself. Do I want to risk it?”

That’s just ridiculous, because the meal is totally healthy. And I don’t want to be someone who has to live on eggs and protein shakes to lose weight, because that’s not sustainable.

I have to find the balance between taking control and losing control.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Visualizing the Unseen Enemy

When Katie and I were in the 7th grade, we were selected to participate in this special summer program called Women in Science, where we got to hang out with other smart girls from our school and do nerdy, science-y things together like dissect frogs and sheep's hearts and learn all about different diseases and stuff.

I'll never forget how our first lab project on the first day of this program involved looking at the nutrition labels on Snicker's Bars and bags of Cheetos and measuring out and melting wax in amounts equal to the number of grams of dietary fat in each of these items. When we were done, we had these little test tubes full of fat-resembling wax, and we were supposed to be shocked into understanding just how bad these foods were for us. We felt cool that we had used Science to make visible a perceived threat that usually remained hidden.

Looking back on this little experiment, I'm incredibly struck -- first of all -- by how cruel it seems to try to shock adolescent girls by teaching them to fear fat at a time when they are just beginning to realize how much society will value them (or harshly judge them) based on the size and shape of their bodies. Secondly, it's so interesting to me how easily we accepted that dietary fat was the enemy, and none of us had ANY idea that it could be the sugar in those foods that actually caused more damage to our health and our waistlines.

This site that shows the amount of sugar in various foods and beverages totally reminds me of that fat-lab from all those years ago, only this time it gets the real culprit right.

I'd never sit down to 54g of sugar in cube form, even though I've had my fair share of King Sized Snickers Bars.

We never would have thought to measure anything in a Coke, since it's "Naturally Fat Free!", but check out all that sugar.


So what do you think? Does seeing the sugar content in a food deter you from eating it?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cheat and Feel Empowered

Tracey and I spend a lot of time discussing how other low-carbers love to act like they never make mistakes. Before I knew anything about the diet, I once asked the most popular Belly Fat Cure blogger how she's handled her need/desire to "cheat" on the plan.

Her response? "I've never cheated."

My response? "LIAR!"

Now, kidding aside, I really do believe there's a possibility that this woman has stuck to her diet all along. On a plan like the Belly Fat Cure, you're allowed enough savory carbs that chips, pasta, and even bread are all acceptable.

But Tracey and I crave sugary baked goods! Cupcakes! Cookies! Ice cream! And lots of them! Most of me truly does believe that my body is better off without sugar, but part of me doesn't want to live life without it.

My way of dealing with it is to let myself have what I want when I need to but to remind myself how much better life is without it the next day. On Friday night, for instance, I could have brought along a low-carb protein shake or meal replacement bar to my recently-married friend's get-together, but I knew there was no way I was going to be able to pass up pizza, Doritos (my favourite!), chicken wings, homemade banana pudding with Nilla wafers, and the top layer of their wedding cake.

So I just ate it. All of it and as much as I wanted of it. I didn't make myself feel guilty about it, and I had a much better time at the party because I wasn't putting pressure on myself to "perform" the way the diet wants me to.

But the next day, I went right back to eating low-carb. And yesterday, three days later, I was down 4.2 pounds.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Diet Sabotage

Recently, Amber from Me and Jorge wrote about how losing so much weight that she had to buy a new wardrobe "wasn't as fun as you would think", because it meant replacing everything from bras to bathing suits. When I lost 30 pounds on a low-carb diet a couple of years ago, not being able to fit into my old clothes was a major de-motivator for me.

In fact, I think it was part of the reason I sabotaged myself and started eating carbs again, allowing me to eventually gain back all of the weight I'd lost (and more!). It's not like I own any designer clothes or anything remotely worth caring about losing, but not fitting into my old clothes seemed way more scary than fitting into new clothes seemed exciting. There was this one stupid $20 shirt from H&M in particular that hung off of me in such a sad way after losing 20 pounds that I had to fold it up and stick it in the back of a drawer.

I don't even know why I held onto it, but I'm glad I did, because I pulled it right back out as soon as I stupidly decided that a low-calorie diet was right for me and went back up two sizes. If only I'd known that being able to wear it again doesn't feel nearly as good as not wearing it felt bad.

This time around, I'm trying to recognize my self-sabotage and the (sometimes unwitting) sabotage of the people around me and sticking with what I know works for me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Meatspiration

Turbaconducken (Turducken wrapped entirely in bacon):

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bacon Cheddar Ranch "Skins"

(Hat tip to Lucy, whose Jalapeno Poppers reminded me of cheesy potato skins and inspired me to whip these up for dinner.)

What would you get if you took a sliced-up green pepper, spread it with ranch-flavored cream cheese, and topped it with bacon and cheddar cheese? Reminiscent of both jalapeno poppers and crispy potato skins, these super easy Bacon Cheddar Ranch "Skins" can help to fill the void left by your local dive's high-carb appetizers.

Green peppers were what I had on hand, but you could easily use red or yellow bell peppers, or even halved jalapenos as the base.

Ranch Cream Cheese Spread:

This makes way more than enough for one or two peppers, but it's just so much easier to use full packages of things. Plus, it will keep for a long time in the fridge, and it doubles as an excellent veggie dip or sandwich spread.

-8 oz. cream cheese, softened (or any combination of cream cheese, sour cream, & mayo equaling 8 oz.)
-1 packet, ranch seasoning mix (I used Hidden Valley)

Mix ranch seasoning into cream cheese until smooth and thoroughly combined. (A spoon gets this job done pretty easily, but I won't judge if you break out the hand mixer.)

Bacon Cheddar Ranch "Skins":

-1 or more peppers, cut lengthwise into quarters or eighths
-Ranch Cream Cheese Spread (see above)
-Bacon, cooked crispy (I used a half-strip per "skin")
-Shredded cheddar cheese

Lay pepper sections with the inside part facing up on a baking sheet or on a microwave-safe plate, depending on your cooking preference. Spread the inside of each piece with Ranch Cream Cheese Spread, top with bacon, and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Broil, watching closely, or microwave in 20 second increments until cheese melts. Enjoy!

Variation: Cut your peppers into thin strips and smother with cheese and crumbled bacon, ranch dressing, or chili to make your own loaded "fries". Microwave or broil to heat through until cheese is melted.

And Yet, I'd Still Eat One

Photographer Dwight Eschliman has marvelously deconstructed a Twinkie, photographing each of its 37 or So Ingredients separately.

Check out a sampling of the various liquids, oils, and powders that come together to create the iconic snack cake:


High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Polysorbate 60
Cellulose Gum

Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate

Red 40

FD&C Yellow #5

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Every Meal is a Decision

It's no secret that food is expensive in NYC. Probably more expensive than anywhere else in the country. My boyfriend and I don't go out to dinner without spending $100 or more, and sites like Midtown Lunch that focus on cheap options end up profiling a whole lot of street vendors who offer neither ambiance nor service. Even when we order in, we easily spend $40 with tip.

So I tried to go grocery shopping Monday night. I stuck to the outside aisles for fresh ingredients like they tell you to, venturing into the other areas only for condiments and a box of cereal for my carb-lovin' boyfriend. I bought:

green peppers
red onions
whipping cream
unsweetened almond milk
turkey breast
chicken breasts
dark chocolate
cream cheese
hot dogs
baking cocoa
herb salad
bacon bits
spicy ranch salad dressing

And do you know how much my bill was?

EIGHTY-EIGHT DOLLARS. And that doesn't include any of what I'll spend on lunch at work this week.

Clearly that's cheaper than the $40 my boyfriend was spending on us every night, but it's still oppressively high, and now it makes sense to me that people talk about being too poor to afford eating well. When I was at my poorest, which was naturally in college, I was living on all-carb Pasta Roni. (Not ramen, mind you, because I had class.) And I was buying it in Ohio, where everything is so inexpensive it hurts me to think about it now.

And of course my immediate thought was that I could buy a whole lot more clothes and ebooks and movie tickets if I stuck to cans of Chef Boyardee. I don't want to have to choose between eating what's good for my body and saving money, because I'll almost always make the wrong choice.

This is also a problem for me when it comes to eating out. With everything being so expensive here, I want the most delicious thing possible for my dollar. When I see a salad costing $12 right next to a breaded buffalo chicken sandwich with fries for $10, it's an easy choice. And even if that sandwich is $14 instead, it's well worth that extra $2 for me to get the dish I'll really enjoy, even though I know the salad's much better for me in the long run.

Every meal is a decision to change my life, and it's never an easy one.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Freebies from Atkins Nutritionals

Becentsable has shared that if you join the Atkins community by filling out a short form, they will send you 3 free Atkins bars and a quick start guide.


Click HERE to sign up and get your freebies!

Diet Advice, Social Eating, and Feminism

(Cross-posted at Unapologetically Female)

You know the standard diet tips that are always showing up everywhere? The ones we've all heard a million times, but the magazines keep printing them, and the thin and bubbly morning news anchors keep filling segments with them? Sometimes, I feel like the media is droning out an endless Lost-style radio signal telling us to take the stairs, use smaller plates, and stop eating hours before bedtime.

While I find the repetition of many of these tips mildly annoying, there's one that I keep seeing that really gets under my skin: the one that advises we avoid eating alone.

The logic behind this tip is that people who consume most of their food in the presence of others apparently let their self-consciousness about appearing gluttonous get in the way of stuffing their faces. And while this advice may work wonders for some people, it's totally lost on me for a couple of reasons:

1) I've realized over the years that I'm what you might call a social eater. For me, food -- especially junk food full of sugar and starch -- is more fun when it's being shared. While I can stay on track with a healthy eating plan with few problems by myself, I often find a way to use getting together with friends as an excuse to stop caring about what I'm putting into my body. Sadly, this has meant that the times in my life when I feel the most fulfilled socially are also the times when I tend to gain the most weight, and rededicating myself to health and weight-loss often means having to isolate myself for a while in order to develop new habits.

Part of the problem is that I feel like I'm less fun (maybe even less me) when I'm ordering a salad instead of fries and drinking water instead of soda. I've never smoked, and I rarely drink, but I imagine the psychological process involved is similar for people who smoke or drink socially. I have this strong feeling that such indulgence is somehow necessary to my good time. Remember that study that came out a few years ago claiming that people with fat friends are more likely to also be fat? It made sense to me, because I think people just like surrounding themselves with like-minded people who enjoy similar things. Katie and I talk a lot about how there are so many people out there who just don't seem to care about food the way we do, and we both agree that it's much harder to relate to these people socially. Similarly, I doubt someone who thinks a party isn't a party without alcohol would get a lot of enjoyment from hanging out with me, but if you're always in the mood to get together and consume a large pizza and a tube of raw cookie dough, I'm your girl.

2) Those who know me well know that I'm a raging feminist who resents how women in our culture live in a regime in which we are constantly judged by our behavior and appearance and encouraged not to take up too much space. And the "friendly" dieting advice telling us not to eat alone actively counsels us to yield to insecurities derived from societal rules about how much and what types of foods women should be eating. In a culture in which we are are constantly taught that men are entitled to rich foods in large amounts and women are not, diet advice that encourages this sort of self-surveillance in women (anyone else read Foucault in college?) serves to further entrench gendered oppression and inequality.

My problem is that my feminist consciousness makes me want desperately to rebel against diet culture, even though I often actively participate in it, and that creates an ambivalence in me about eating that makes me go back and forth between trying to eat really healthfully and wanting to lash out at the diet industry by eating whatever the hell I damn well please, thankyouverymuch. It's not that appetite and/or fatness are inherently feminist, but in our sexist culture, unapologetic appetite and/or fatness in women is inherently political. And throughout my life, I have taken a special pride in being able -- in the presence of others -- to "eat like a man". I don't know that it's ever even really occurred to me to worry that people might think I'm eating too much, but I hate it when other people know I'm watching what I eat, because it makes me feel antifeminist and stereotypically girly.

I'm interested in hearing what others think about this. Do your individual health goals sometimes end up conflicting with your self-image or your personal politics, and if so, how do you deal with it? Which conventional diet/fitness/health tips annoy the crap out of you?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Meatspiration

Meat Tea Cup:


Hommage a Meret Oppenheim, Betty Hirst

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A New Twist on Green Eggs (With or Without the Ham)

Want to shake up the traditional deviled egg and double up on healthy fats at the same time? Well, the same Mark's Daily Apple post that led me to the weirdest hard-boiled egg-peeling technique ever also contained a link to this recipe for Fat Guacamole Devils.


For my version (pictured above), I didn't have any hot sauce available, so I added more traditional ingredients to my avocado, using Kelly the Kitchen Kop's guacamole recipe for inspiration. And it was so easy! Just peel 4-6 hard-boiled eggs, slice them in half lengthwise, and throw the yolks into a bowl with the scooped-out flesh of one ripe avocado:


Then, add desired guacamole-ish ingredients. I chose sea salt, garlic, chopped red onion, chopped fresh cilantro from my herb garden, and a few squirts of lime juice:


Mash it all up with a fork:


And scoop the mixture back into the eggs. Fin!

Using only 4 eggs with one whole avocado, this yielded enough extra guacamole to serve on the side with some veggies. Put it out at a party, and your guests will never know the secret ingredient to your deliciously rich guacamole is egg yolks! (Just don't tell your vegan friends.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Devastating Effects of Carbohydrate Addiction: McDonald's Rampage Edition

Don't ask me how these things get leaked, but the surveillance video of the lady who attacked a McDonald's earlier this year because they wouldn't serve her Chicken McNuggets during breakfast is making its way through the Internets. (And thanks to Dan for sharing it.) If you've ever wondered why those signs at drive-thrus say, "For your safety and ours, we do not accept walk-ups," watching this might clear that up a little.

Start this just after a minute in to get to the good part, and believe me, it's worth it to watch to the end to see the next driver pull up and get his food like nothing happened.

Can you blame her? As much as people like to put down the low-quality, hormone-filled food from the Golden Arches, there really is something special about those McNuggets. In the 80s, they made the coolest Happy Meal toys. In the 90s, after Chuck Klosterman ate them and nothing else for 7 straight days, he admitted that he would eat them again. And in '08, they were made animatronic in the name of art:

Katie's video and poetic caption: "Chickens made of nuggets, pecking at their sauce."

And I hold firm that it's not the chicken, but the crispy, carby breading that makes them so delicious, even if they have no place in a healthy low carb diet. (Unless you use the rules of Jorge Cruise's The Belly Fat Cure to justify having up to 7 McNuggets for one of your daily carb servings, which I'm not above doing.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Holy Grail of Egg-Peeling Techniques?

It often bothers me how everyone thinks they know the secret for cleanly peeling hard-boiled eggs, because I've tried every trick in the book, and can still never get the shell off without taking chunks out of the eggs and making them look less than appetizing.

A deviled egg disaster before the Memorial Day picnic Dan and I had at our house this year actually drove me to tweet about it:


Well, a recent link over at Mark's Daily Apple sent me to this egg-peeling instructional video, which made me gasp audibly and may have changed my life forever:

Amazing! I swear I watched this about five times just to hear the noise the egg makes when it gets blown out of its shell.


I have now tried this technique, and while I didn't get the super-easy-looking, mind-blowing results seen in the video, I did have MUCH more egg-peeling success than usual. Out of six eggs attempted, only two sort of fully blew out of their shells, one of which came out with a couple of small chunks of egg still attached to the inside of the shell. As for the rest of them, the blowing created excellent long, vertical cracks all over the eggs that made them infinitely easier to peel than the cracks you usually get by cracking them on the table or in the pan.

And even though the pressure this created in my head felt reminiscent of learning to play the oboe, and even though the sound it made completely freaked out my cats, I'm not ready to give up on this weirdo technique just yet.

Anyone else have any luck? Tips on getting this to work right? Leave 'em in the comments!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Diet-Mixing 101: Dining with the Differently Dieting

I've been thinking a lot lately about diet-mixing in its many forms. Katie and I often discuss the nuts and bolts and pros and cons of different low carb approaches to eating, from Atkins to the The Glycemic Load Diet to The Belly Fat Cure, and we often end up mixing the guidelines of lots of different plans to find what works for both our individual tastes and specific food situations.

There's also the kind of diet-mixing that happens when two (or more) people who follow different eating plans eat together. Sometimes, this involves the everyday negotiations that go on between partners or within families over what's for dinner, and other times, it's the difficulty of figuring out a single meal with someone with whom you rarely dine.

Just last week, for example, I was invited over to a friend's house for dinner, knowing fully well that this friend is a fat-gram-watcher/calorie-counter and NOT a low-carber like me. Having no idea what I would be served for dinner, I prepared myself to bite the bullet and graciously accept whatever was available. (I realize that a lot of serious low carbers would scold me for my willingness to compromise, but I still, in many ways, value social comfort over complete control over my food.) Even though my friend had thoughtfully Googled low carb recipes before my visit and ended up planning something mostly acceptable for my way of eating, I still found it SO interesting how much our food choices clashed. As we prepared stir-fried chicken breast and vegetables together in her kitchen, I had to stifle a cringe when she added I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and bottled lite vinaigrette to the skillet. Dessert consisted of mountains of watermelon and mango slices, and even though I've allowed myself fruit ever since I branched out from strict Atkins Induction a few years ago, those are some of the more sugary options and not the ones I usually reach for.

When we chatted over dinner about what sorts of things we eat, she went on about how she's horrified to learn how many calories are actually in many of her favorite foods and how she has grudgingly switched from mayonnaise to mustard on her sandwiches. I explained back that I can eat all the mayo I want as long as I skip the bread. She mentioned that she eats a lot of Lean Cuisine meals, and even though I envied her for a split second for the total convenience of those little frozen dinners, I quickly remembered how tiny and utterly tasteless they are and how hungry I was always left whenever I tried making a meal out of them in the past. At least with low carb, I'm eating real foods full of healthy fats and no added sugars or starches to make my blood sugar go crazy. Even though it's sometimes really hard to avoid carbs, I think it's finally starting to sink in for me that it's so much more satisfying than avoiding fat could ever be.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Meatspiration

American Meat Institute, 1947:


(Via Plan59 Prints)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Low-Carb Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes

I was in Ohio last weekend and spent much of it with Tracey, who–like me–finds lots of excuses to "cheat" on her low-carb diet. Meaning that whenever I'm in town, we go crazy and eat whatever we want, which is everything from Dairy Queen to Pizza Hut to McDonald's with a couple of local joints thrown in as long as they're all as unhealthy as possible. We've said 100 times in the past year that we'd love to try "being good" one time when I come home for a visit, but this time we actually meant it.

As luck would have it, the lovely Maria Emmerich posted a recipe for a low-carb version of the famed Hostess Little Debbie Chocolate Cupcake in her blog the very day I came home, and you know we went to town on those things. Here's our take on her recipe:

1/2 cup of blanched almond flour
3 eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon of iodized sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1/2 cup of Splenda
4 tablespoons of melted butter

Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Combine the yolks, sweetener, and butter and whisk until well-blended. Combine all of the dry ingredients and blend well. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the whipped whites, then slowly fold in the dry mixture and blend well. Fill the cupcake pan 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15-18 minutes at 350 degrees F or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Creamy Filling:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Splenda

Whip the cream until light and fluffy and add in the sweetener. Place filling in sandwich baggie with one corner snipped off. Scoop a dime-sized hole out of the top of each cupcake, push the snipped corner of the baggie into the hole, and squeeze until the filling rises to the top of the cupcake. (Maria injected hers into side of the cupcakes, so feel free to try both ways and see which gets more filling in.)

50g low-carb chocolate (we used a Lindt 85% Cocoa Bar, but Maria's, made with a ChocoPerfection bar, turned out much shinier, like the Hostess version)
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Melt the chocolate bar in 10-second intervals in the microwave and add in whipping cream. Once the cupcake is cooled, dip the top of each one in melted chocolate.

Swirly White Topping:
Cream cheese

Add a small amount of cream cheese to another baggie, cut another tiny piece of the corner off, and swirl it onto each cupcake.

Nutritional Info:
297 calories, 6g carbs, 3.5g fiber, 2.5g net carbs
Makes 6 cakes

a cross-sectional view shows how much creamy filling was waiting inside for us

a cup of heavy cream makes a LOT of creamy filling, and you can guess where all of the leftovers went

Tracey and I loved these. A lot of low-carb swaps for common sugary foods are sad approximations that leave you wishing for the real thing, but we didn't feel a sense of loss while eating these at all. The only problem we had was convincing ourselves not to eat all six in one sitting, and we were rewarded for that the next day with a deliciously hardened chocolate top on the two we saved. If you can double the recipe, I recommend it.

(Cross-posted to donuts4dinner)