suggestions, recipes, and ideas for staying low-carb

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's Comforting

Comfort food is something that everyone wants, at one time or another. The trouble with most comfort food, however, is that it is generally high in carbs, meaning that if you live the low-carb lifestyle, like so many people do, it's off limits to you. The good news is that there are ways to make the comfort foods that you love, and still stay low-carb. All you have to do is modify the recipes a little.

For example, one of my favorite comfort foods is a good basket of onion rings. I love to dip them in a thick ranch dressing. They go great with a burger. The problem with onion rings is that the breading has carbs, and that makes it a no-no. There is a way, however, to make them lower in carbs than usual. The following recipe comes from George Stella. If you don't know who he is, as a low-carber, you absolutely need to find some information about him. Short version, he is an avid low-carber with a show on Food Network. He has lost a tremendous amount of weight, and has great recipes.

Ingredients
3 to 6 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream or water
3 large yellow onions

Breading:
2 1/3 cups soy flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Directions
Place a heavy pot over medium-high heat with at least an inch of vegetable oil. Heat oil to 350 degrees; it is important to monitor and maintain the temperature, or the soy flour breading and your oil will burn. (Portable deep fryers at home are great for this.)
In a medium bowl, mix the eggs and cream to make an egg wash. In a separate larger bowl, mix the breading ingredients together.
Peel and slice the onions in thick slices and carefully separate the rings. Then dip individual onion rings in the breading, then the egg wash, and then back in the breading again, making sure to coat well. Pat off any excess breading and carefully place into hot oil, in batches as necessary, and fry until golden brown and crisp, just 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Soy flour is made from toasted soybeans and has already been "cooked."
Therefore it has a tendency to brown faster than plain flour when frying.

You can also use this same breading recipe to make other fried foods such as okra and cheese sticks. Oh, and it's also great on deep fried chicken.

Hopefully, you will enjoy these onion rings. I make my ranch dressing at home, so I can keep track of the nutrition facts. It's also better than any other ranch dressing that I have tried before.

The next few posts will be about more comfort foods. If you enjoy comfort foods, come back and visit soon...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Feeling Hungry?

Recent studies have proven something that should make all low-carbers very happy. Food that is high in protein helps you to feel full for longer. This means that when you consume a meal that is low in carbs and high in protein, you will not get hungry as fast as if you had a meal high in carbs. This translates into higher energy, as well. We all know that when we are hungry, it seems as though our energy is down. You focus on your stomach growling, instead of whatever it is you should be doing.

Interesting that it has taken us this long to figure this out, though. What is it that people say about Chinese food? You eat it until you are full, but thirty minutes later you are hungry again. Now think about the average meal at a Chinese restaurant. Your side dish is either fried rice, or lo mein, which is noodles. (carbs, carbs, and more carbs) Your entree usually has some kind of meat, but it is often battered and fried. You can add wontons to your meal, which is basically pastry dough with cream cheese. Finally, you end your meal with a fortune cookie. At the end of the meal, you are stuffed beyond belief. You think to yourself, "I'm never going to be able to eat again." What happens within an hour? You are starving, go to the refrigerator, eat your leftovers, and start the cycle all over again. Don't think that I am bashing Chinese food. I enjoy it every now and then. I am simply stating that Chinese food is proof that a high protein count makes you feel full longer than a high carb count.

When you get hungry early in the afternoon, and you know dinner is far away, try this. Eat a few chunks of cheddar cheese, or make a few deviled eggs. Or, if you feel like it, have a little bit of both. After all, it's low-carb, high protein, and you'll feel full until supper time.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Friday's Taco Salad

Friday's meal is for Mexican Night...Ole'! For Friday, a nice taco salad will do wonderfully. You can pretty much freestyle this one. Whatever ingredients you like in your taco salad can be used, as long as they don't break the low-carb theme we have going. For my taco salad, I use the following ingredients.

This should serve 4
2 pounds ground beef, which cooks down to about 1.5 pounds
1 large onion, chopped
1 packet Old El Paso taco seasoning (mild)

Ingredients for one salad:
1/2 cup tomato, chopped
1 cup of lettuce
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp sour cream

Brown the beef, along with the onions, and add the seasoning mix as directed. Spoon some of the beef into a bowl, and add the rest of your ingredients. If there are other ingredients you wish to add, that's fine. You can also make some guacamole, or tortilla chips to accompany this salad. Feel free to do what you want with this meal. It's Friday night!!

Thursday's Stir Fry with Shrimp

Thursday's meal is a stir-fry with shrimp. Shrimp are extremely high in protein, which is great for weight loss. You will need the following ingredients. With stir-fry, you can add or delete ingredients as you like.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1 pound uncooked, cleaned medium-sized fresh shrimp
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup shredded fresh spinach leaves
1/4 pound fresh English Peas
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Begin by heating a large skillet or wok on high heat for 2 minutes with oil. When it is hot, add the onion and celery and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the shrimp, sliced mushrooms, and minced garlic, and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute or until the shrimp turn pink. Lastly, add the shredded spinach and English peas and stir-fry for 30 more seconds. After combining the cornstarch, water, and reduced-sodium soy sauce, add it to the shrimp mixture. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally over medium-high heat, until the mixture thickens. Serve immediately. This is a great meal to bring the family together. It's got the vegetables already in there, so there is no need for a side dish. Enjoy, and remember, tomorrow is Friday!

Wednesday's Turkey Burgers

Wednesday's meal is a turkey burger. Wednesdays seem to be busy for most people, and this is an easy meal. I like to make low-carb tortilla chips to go with this one, and instead of a salad, I usually pile my veggies on the burger with no bun. You will need the following ingredients.

1 pound ground turkey
2 cubes beef bouillon
slices of cheddar cheese to top them

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil grate. In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey and the bouillon and mix well. Form into four patties. Grill over high heat for 3 minutes per side, or until internal temperature equals 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Place the slices of cheddar cheese on top, and let it melt. Enjoy these burgers, and also the middle of your week.

Tuesday's Blue Cheese and Swiss Chicken

Tuesday's meal is chicken with blue cheese and swiss. It's super easy to make, and tastes like it took hours to prepare. A great side dish for this one is steamed broccoli, and also a salad of mixed greens. The following is the list of ingredients you will need.

4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
4 Slices of Swiss Cheese
4 Tablespoons of BlueCheese
Seasoning to taste

Season and bake the chicken breasts until they are done. Remove them from the oven and top them with 1 tablespoon blue cheese. Next, cover them with a slice of swiss cheese and return them to the oven until the swiss cheese is melted. These are great, and you can make more than 4, depending on the size of your family.

Monday's Pork Tenderloin

Monday's meal is a pork tenderloin. It's a fairly easy recipe that goes great with green beans and a mixed greens salad. The ingredients you will need are as follows.

2 pork tenderloins, about 2 pounds
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, or about 1 tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, halved
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking pan with foil, spray with cooking spray and place in oven. Trim fat from pork tenderloins and butterfly the meat, cutting them nearly in half lengthwise. Open the pork tenderloins and lay out, pounding to flatten with the palm of the hand or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Chop rosemary if using fresh. Rub pork tenderloins all over with cut sides of garlic halves then olive oil, then sprinkle rosemary on both sides. Remove baking pan from the oven and place pork on hot tray. Return to oven and roast for about 20 minutes (about 155° to 160° internal temp). Remove and let stand 5 minutes, then slice. Serve and enjoy. Happy Monday!

Monday-Friday Meal Plan

The next five posts will be meal suggestions for a Monday through Friday low-carb week. People on a low-carb lifestyle generally have more success when there are others in their households who live the low-carb lifestyle as well. The following meal ideas can be used to feed on e person, or an entire family. I will give the suggestion for a side dish that can go with the entree, or you can mix and match. Hopefully you and your family will enjoy these meals as much as I do.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fuel from Food!

I am a 5th grade teacher, and as most everyone knows, the FCATs are coming up all too soon. I am going to use that as an excuse for my blog posts being so few, and far between. I promise to get back into gear now. Anyway, they begin on Tuesday, and for 5th graders last over a week. At school today, a reminder went home with the students to give to their parents about making sure to eat healthy for the week. When I read over it, after I had passed it out to my class, I was immediately impressed, and also knew I was definitely doing the right thing with low-carb.

The heading to the handout said "Make sure your students have the best FCAT Fuel." It went on to remind parents that there are certain foods that are considered Brain Foods. These Brain Foods are what parents should be feeding their children for dinner on the nights before the FCAT. The list had all of my favorites. It included nuts, fish, beef, chicken, eggs, green vegetables, and of course dark chocolate. These are the foods that are said to improve brain function. Is there anything that you notice about them? I'll give you a minute. Yep, that's right. They are all vital parts of the low-carb lifestyle.

The best part about this handout is that is specifically states that parents should avoid feeding their children pasta, corn, rice and potatoes, and any complex carbohydrates that burn through your energy just trying to digest them. I was very happy to see something like this. So many people fight the "low-carb craze." It seems unnatural to them, because they have grown up on carbs. What they don't realize, though, is that it is the healthy choice for most people. Hopefully everyone will catch on, and our country won't be famous for its high percentage of obese people.