Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Meatspiration

For Halloween, this year, it's SCARY MEAT HEADS all around.Craft bloggers and food bloggers alike are showing their excitement about the opportunity to sculpt cold cuts around a plastic skull and fashion eyeballs out of eggs, onions, & olives.

I'm not quite sure how you're supposed to eat one of these things. Let your party guests pick off the slices to put on their sandwiches until they clean him off and hit the red-jell-o-y, cream-cheesy skull?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Low-Carb Snack: Cocoa Roast Almonds

After admitting our noncommittal tendencies, whining about how hard it is to avoid trigger foods, and spending three days in a row eating tons of sugar and deep fried foods at The Circleville Pumpkin Show, Katie and I are back on the low-carb wagon this week hardcore. (It deserves mentioning that our guest-poster Ryan was able to visit the Pumpkin Show and eat only a turkey leg, while we gorged on stromboli, corn dogs, chocolate-dipped cheesecake, and deep-fried buckeyes.)

I thought I'd share a snack that's helping me get through the sudden loss of sugary treats: Cocoa Roast Almonds.

Just almonds, dusted with delicious cocoa powder, and sweetened ever-so-lightly with sucralose (Splenda). Only 3 net carbs per serving. They even come in 100 Calorie Packs, which are the perfect size to throw in your bag, stow in your glove compartment, or pack in your lunch, And they're so filling that I usually don't even eat a whole serving unless I'm starving.

I never thought nuts would be able to replace dessert and actually be satisfying, but these really do the trick.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Recipe Roundup

Grace2882: Bacon Burgers, Curried Beef Stuffed Squash, and Salisbury Steak with Onion Gravy

Kraft Foods: Cheesy Spaghetti Squash

Before the Cookie Eats You: Pumpkin and Thyme Chicken with Mushrooms

What I Crave: Brined Pork Chops

The World According to Eggface: Shelly's Veggie Leftover Bites (So smart! I almost never eat my leftover veggies.)

Simply Sugar & Gluten Free: Oven Roasted Beets (I've never purchased or cooked a beet before, but this post makes me want to try!)

Mark's Daily Apple: Silky Celery Root Soup

Elana's Pantry: Carrot French Fries

Nutty Kitchen: Sausage and Beef in Coconut Milk

Kalyn's Kitchen: Five Favorite Bean Soups or Stews for Autumn

Jennifer Eloff: Chicken Curry with Peaches

Marissa's Kitchen Talk: Low Carb Sausage Stuffed Jalapenos

Comfy Belly: Chicken Parmigiana

Maria Emmerich: Buffalo Chicken and Blue Cheese Mashed "Potatoes" and Chocolate Lava Cakes

The Food Lovers' Primal Palate: Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Bites

Ginny's Low Carb Kitchen: Gingerbread Pancakes With Lemon Cream Topping

Lucy's Low Carb Kitchen of Trial and Error: Cheesecake (No Bake)

Dana Carpender: Almond-Coconut Hot "Cereal", a BUNCH of pumpkin recipe ideas and Decarbing Strategy #2

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Meatspiration

Super Meat Boy:

Available now for Xbox download and coming to WiiWare, Windows, and Mac in November.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's Your Trigger?

For me, the ultimate trigger food is Pepsi.

I know that not everyone feels this way about it, or about soda in general, but I crave it with every meal, and every time I eat, I have to make a conscious (and often difficult) decision not to crack one open and guzzle it down. Nothing tastes better and more refreshing with food, and only regular, high fructose corn syrup-filled Pepsi will do. There are few substances on the planet that taste worse to me than diet soda.

The problem with ANY trigger food is that it's extremely difficult to consume in moderation. Having a little leads to having a lot more, and what's worse, trigger foods tend to lead to other unplanned indulgences, making it tempting to abandon healthy eating altogether. This totally happens for me with Pepsi. When I drink it, I can rarely stop at one can or one glass at a restaurant. And once I'm drinking it, a combination of physical cravings and a feeling of throwing caution to the wind sets in, and I just go ahead and eat whatever starchy food I can get my hands on. The stuff just tastes so darn good with anything and everything that's bad for you, and in a way that water or iced tea never could, so drinking Pepsi ends up being the ultimate excuse to squeeze in some of the worst eating possible before I "go back" to eating low-carb at the next meal. It's a pretty vicious cycle.

Every time I get serious about healthy eating, I do pretty well at cutting Pepsi out. When I first discovered low-carb eating a few years ago, I went cold turkey and lasted an entire three months without so much as a sip. When my husband and I decided to give up Pepsi together a couple of months before our wedding, I only cheated at my bachelorette party. And over the past few months of the hit-and-miss not-quite-fully-committed low-carbing I've been doing, I'm down from averaging 3-4 cans a day to 1-2 a week.

But regular Pepsi, with 41 grams of sugar per can really has zero place in a healthy diet. I know that. And I know and understand why nearly every diet expert out there recommends identifying your trigger foods so you can KEEP THE HELL AWAY FROM THEM, but the thought of a life entirely without Pepsi makes me feel downright panicky. Probably because it's a real addiction, huh? I'd like to think that there will be a time in my life where I'll be able to allow myself to have a little Pepsi on a special occasion and stop there, but I'm not sure that will ever happen.

What are your triggers and how do you deal with them? Is it better to stay away from them entirely or to make them a rare treat? Is it healthy (or even possible) to resolve to never eat a beloved food ever again?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why Can't I Commit to Dieting?

I've stopped weighing myself. I don't think I'm losing any weight, and I don't want to know about it, because I'm plenty happy casually low-carbing and feeling the improvements in my energy level, my joints, and my skin. The problem is that I ultimately do have a goal of losing weight, and it's upsetting to me that I can't commit to it.

I can't commit.

Two weeks ago, it was my birthday. Last week, it was my boyfriend's birthday. This week, it's a trip to Ohio to see Tracey and my family. Next week, it's Halloween. Then it's Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's Eve. There's just plain never a good time to get serious, because I already have cheats planned.

In theory, low-carbing is so easy. Especially with a plan like the Belly Fat Cure, where I can eat as many as 120 carbs per day, 40 carbs at a time, and 15 grams of sugar. That's a LOT. Back when I was doing the Induction phase of Atkins a couple of years ago, I was so serious. The carbiest thing I allowed myself was a sprinkling of carrot on my salad. When my office had weekly birthday celebrations, I'd cut the cake for everyone else and then walk back to my desk if I felt myself being tempted. At restaurants, I'd alter my meals significantly to cut carbs, not thinking a thing of asking for grilled instead of fried chicken or broccoli instead of pasta. Now, I use eating out as an excuse to dip into the bread basket.

The fact that it seems like everyone else has no problem sticking to their low-carb plans makes it much worse. I know that the Belly Fat Cure is working for lots of other people, and I know it'd work for me if I was just willing to put in the work for more than 5 days at a time. The creator of the diet, Jorge Cruise, even offers easy meal ideas from well-known fast food joints that I have access to. Yet when my boyfriend and I were craving Taco Bell on Sunday morning, instead of getting the three hard-shelled tacos Jorge suggested, I went for the XXL Chalupa (which has 50+ carbs) just because I told myself I was off the diet for the weekend and wanted to try the thing.

I'm concerned that even if I get more serious, I'm still going to need to cheat when my boyfriend and I go out to dinner and I review our meal for my food blog. But I know it's self-defeating to say, "I'm not going to even bother trying to commit as much as I can if I can't commit 100%," because even a little bit of low-carb eating goes a long way toward health.

I just want to be able to announce to the world that I'm changing my life and suddenly have all of my temptations go away. I don't want to live in a world where I can't have a chalupa, but I don't want to live in a world where I'm overweight, either.

How do I decide which is more important?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Recipe Roundup

Another Monday, another amazing list of low-carb and/or low glycemic recipes from around the web. Know of a recipe that deserves to be featured? Leave it in the comments!

Heart of a Country Home: Low Carb Spicy Deep Fried Broccoli and Blender Coconut Pie

A Doctor's Kitchen: Red Cabbage and Celery Root Slaw (This one has CAPERS in, it! I'm sold.)

The Nourishing Gourmet: Roasted Delicata Squash Slices ( or “Fries”)

What I Crave: Green Powerhouse Smoothie and Accidental Pumpkin Biscuits

Comfy Belly: Pad Thai (made with zucchini noodles)

Kalyn's Kitchen: Crockpot Pumpkin Chili with Ground Beef, Black Beans, and Kidney Beans

Before the Cookie Eats You: 3-2-1 Cincinnati Chili

Mrs. Ed's Research and Recipes: Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings

The World According to Eggface: Shelly's Mexican Layered Salad

Jennifer Eloff: Chocolate Strawberry Torte

The Rogue Cookie: Pumpkin Bread

Maria Emmerich: Pizz-A-Roni, Pumpkin Pancakes, and Cinnabun Cookies

Marisa's Kitchen Talk: 3 Basic Low Carb Mousse Recipes

Finally, Dana Carpender gives us the first of what I hope will be a series of lessons in recipe de-carbing. There's no shortage of great low-carb recipes out there, but it's especially empowering to be able to confront a traditional recipe and know you can make it work for you.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Meatspiration

Meat Puppets:

Feeling inspired?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Low-Carb Dinner: Crispy Onion Chicken Tenders with Roasted Acorn Squash

Sometimes, unbreaded meats and green veggies feel too much like diet food, and you need a dinner that sticks to your bones a little without going overboard in carbs.

Enter Crispy Onion Chicken Tenders with Roasted Acorn Squash.

A little spinach, and the meal is complete.

At only 3 carbs per 2 tablespoons, french-fried onions are a much better choice than bread crumbs, and their bold flavor makes regular old breading seem boring.  (They're also fantastic in meatloaf.)

For the chicken tenders, I used the Crunchy Onion Chicken recipe from the back of the can, with just a couple of tweaks.

Crispy Onion Chicken Tenders
-2 cups FRENCH'S® French Fried Onions
-2 TBSP soy flour (or other low-carb flour, or low-carb bake mix)
-seasonings to taste (I used this.)
-1 egg, beaten
-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
butter or nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 and grease a large baking sheet with butter or nonstick cooking spray.

Cut chicken breasts into long pieces and set aside. Put onions, soy flour, and seasonings in a gallon-sized plastic bag and crush fine.

Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Dip each piece in egg, coating both sides, then place in the bag with the onion mixture. (I did this in small batches of 4-5 tenders at a time.) Seal bag and shake to coat chicken with the "breading". It may help to squeeze breading onto the chicken through the bag. Remove chicken pieces and arrange on the greased baking sheet. Repeat until all chicken is coated, and press extra breading from the bag onto any bare spots on the chicken pieces.

Bake 20 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center. I recommend turning the chicken once halfway through cooking, as the onions on top brown significantly.

Now, for the squash. I used this Food Network recipe for Acorn Squash Pizza and just made the delicious-sounding squash to eat on its own. The combination of the sweet maple syrup and spicy red pepper flakes made this delicious. All I did was switch to sugar-free syrup, and this recipe was good to go.

Roasted Acorn Squash
1 (1-pound) acorn squash
2 TBSP Sugar-Free Maple Syrup
1 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (I cooked this on 400, watching closely, right along with my chicken tenders, and it turned out just fine.)

Slice the squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash into 1/2 to 3/4-inch wide half moons and place in a medium bowl. Toss the squash with the syrup, olive oil, red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the squash until tender and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. The skin will peel off easily after baking.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Recipe Roundup

More low-carb finds from around the Internets. Share your own in the comments!

Grace2882: Blueberry Power Muffins and Buffalo Wings

Before the Cookie Eats You: Minestrone Soup

Kalyn's Kitchen: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans

Maria Emmerich: Easy Almond Joys

This Primal Life: Perfect Primal Pizza Crust (Also see this very different "Perfect Primal Pizza" recipe on Mark's Daily Apple.)

The GFCF Lady: Egg Salad

The Nourishing Gourmet: Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

The World According to Eggface: Shelly's Banana Bread Protein Smoothie Also check out Shelly's World Egg Day post on 10/8, in which she shares FIFTEEN egg recipes.

Finally, see The Rogue Cookie for all of your low-carb, eyeball-resembling Halloween reccipes, including Upside Down Deviled Egg Eyes, Eyeball Tacos, and Radish Eyeballs. Check out her blog for even more Halloween recipes.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Meatspiration

The Mona Lisa, rendered in Italian sausage:

Not quite as timeless as the original, but bigger and tastier.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why I Love Low-Carbing: the Butter Edition

On Monday night, I decided I needed to use the French-cut green beans that were slowly thawing in my tiny half-refrigerator that barely also functions as a freezer. I was lazy and threw them into the microwave with some real bacon bits, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. I sprinkled a little basil on top, because what the hey, I had it sitting around.

I pulled them out of the microwave a minute later, stuck my fork deep into the bowl, pulled a few juicy-looking bean strips out, crunched down, and thought, "Eww, vegetables!"

I looked around my kitchen, trying to think what I was possibly missing, and in a moment of clarity, I added a pat of unsalted butter to the bowl and mixed until it melted amongst the beans.

It was delicious! And healthy, too! And all I could think was, "I could never do that on any other diet."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Joy of Smoothies: Part II (Pumpkin Edition)

The Chocolate Mixed Berry Smoothie may be my favorite, but there's also a special place in my heart for pumpkin.

Katie and I grew up near Circleville, Ohio, the home of The Pumpkin Show, an annual festival where hundreds of food vendors line the streets offering everything pumpkin -- from pie and donuts to burgers and chili. There's really no way to describe how amazing this event is. There's a pumpkin tower, prize-winning GIANT pumpkins, and the world's largest pumpkin pie. (Oh, and rides, parades, pageants, crafts, and non-pumpkin carnival food, if you're into that.)

Circleville's pumpkin-love is even evident in the city's water tower.

Since my mom never liked it, I grew up in a sad, pumpkin-less home and relied on The Pumpkin Show to get my annual fix. But now, I'm finally realizing that I can enjoy pumpkin more than just once a year.

For me, this smoothie beats any pumpkin milkshake I've ever had at a fast food or ice cream chain. And without the mass amounts of sugar.

Tracey's Pumpkin Protein Smoothie
2 eggs (optional)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)  (9g carb - 5g fiber = 4 net carbs, 4g sugar)
4 oz. water (give or take, use more if not using eggs)
2 oz. heavy whipping cream (2g carb)
1 scoop vanilla Max Protein (3g carb, 1g sugar)
2 TBSP granular Splenda (6g carb, 0g sugar)
a pinch of salt
pumpkin pie spice OR cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves to taste
ice cubes
(6 oz. unsweetened almond milk can be used in place of water and cream)

(Total of 15 net carbs, 5 of which are sugar)

In a blender (I use this single-serve one), mix all ingredients except ice cubes until well blended. Taste and adjust spices as needed. Add ice cubes a few at a time until smoothie reaches desired consistency.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Recipe Roundup

Our weekly list of low-carb recipes from around the web just keeps growing and growing! Check these out, and show us what we've missed by leaving a recipe or link in the comments.

Deb Cusick: Coffee Jello

No Sugar Just Spice: Mexican Chicken Olé

Grace2882: Meatloaf (topped with bacon!), Pumpkin Pie, and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Pecans

Low Carb Pinay: No Bake ChocoNut Cheesecake

What I Crave: Better Than a Corn Chip

Mark's Daily Apple: The Perfect Primal Omelet

A Doctor's Kitchen: Turkey Kebabs with Spicy Cardamom-Mango Sauce

Elana's Pantry: Spunky Coconut’s Chicken Meatballs

Marisa's Kitchen Talk: Low Carb Sausage Stuffed Jalapenos

Maria Emmerich:Clam Chowder in a "Bread" Bowl, Pumpkin Mini Muffins, and Pumpkin Donuts with Pumpkin Glaze

From Apples to Zucchini: Acorn Squash and Feta Casserole

Jonny Bowden: Avocado Soup with Cheesy Tortillas

Jennifer Eloff: Ganache Cheesecake

Ginny's Low Carb Kitchen: Bavarian "Apple" (Zucchini) Torte

Mary Dan Eades: Low Carb Pumpkin Crème Brulee

The GFCF Lady: Baked Beans (This recipe uses a half cup of brown sugar, but this picture tutorial for making baked beans from scratch is too good not to share. I'd throw in some non-sugar sweetener and maybe a touch of backstrap molasses to replace it.)

Low Carb Confidential: Low Carb Ricotta Dessert with Vanilla and Mint

Also check out Kayln's HUGE list of South Beach Diet Phase One recipes. She does this roundup every month, and it's a great source for low-carbers.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Meatspiration

For the executive looking to stand out in a crowd and provide a low-carb snack to potential clients, there's nothing quite like beef jerky business cards laser-etched with your name, title, and contact info.

These are, in fact, a real thing. Get 'em at