Saturday, August 14, 2010

Making Changes to the Whole Enchilada!......

It's been seven days so far..... we've gone back to low-carb eating, trying to lose weight and lower all of our numbers (cholesterol, glucose levels, etc.) and for the most part and over the years we've found that the regimen that most closely adapts itself to "our" lifestyle is low-carb.

I've been doing this system for many, many years.... when I was young I would do it with my Dad and I didn't realize this is what I was doing since being from a cattle family, steak and salad was a daily thing around my house. Once I was out of my parent's house came Dr. Stillman who was a precursor of Dr. Atkins I guess, they're very similar and continued the steak and salad trend so it was familiar and easy to do.

When I found that my Dad's arteriosclerosis problems were an inherited condition and after tests to see who had gotten this bit of inheritance; low and behold I was it. Way back then (and still today) when fear rules not only government but the medical field, you were scared into doing "the right thing" and so I was brainwashed into doing without meat because it was "devil meat" and would kill me and while it worked for a second or two....

So I went vegetarian for 2-3 years, consuming industrial quantities of veggies (I do love vegetables, don't get me wrong...) but came to find it did nothing for my cholesterol numbers, those were stuck right were they always were and after trying some "leading cholesterol lowering medications" (those were "devil meds" since they made me ill... and later recalled) I decided "these people don't know s**t from shinola" and went back to life the way it used to be.

My weight was fine growing up and until I was about 30 years old when I noticed my metabolism starting to die. By the time I was 40 and had Rene, my youngest, I had held a funeral for it and loving food had accepted the fact that I would never be slender again.... the weight I had gained carrying my over 10lb huge and dimpled big boy who nursed for over a year had turned to concrete and had set up permanent residence on my body. Whatever.....

But now that I am almost ancient, the weight is in my way so !Hello, Atkins! once more. I wonder how long I will stand it since patience is definitely not my forte and I love anything that tastes good, never mind what it is..... but so far 5 lbs have left me, I'm not giving up and have declared war over poundage, so here are some of my latest dishes that have found their way onto our table, contributing to my goals while still giving us yummy taste. Rene is my diet partner but being young and tall means he's lost 15 lbs to my 5 and Ricardo actually has to eat to keep weight on! (a truly hateful person.....), so he eats these but adds his favorite side dishes that have nothing to do with low-carb, anyway, here you go:

Feta & Olive Meatballs.- Wonderful flavor, easy to make and will keep you on track!

Makes 16 meatballs or 4 servings

1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 tbl finely chopped onion
1 lb ground lamb or beef
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
2 eggs
1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1 1/2 tbl caraway seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
2 dried red chilies or 1 tbl red pepper flakes

Combine all the ingredients with your hands and shape into 16 meatballs. Place the meatballs about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet and broil, about 3 inches away from the heat until browned on top. Turn over and broil on the other side.

You don’t really need any salt in this recipe as the feta and olives provide enough. You can also fry the meatballs in olive oil, but I think broiling is easier and doesn't make a mess. Try the spice mixture. It tastes great in the meatballs.

Roast the spices in a dry frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. Cool and finely grind in a coffee grinder.

Total Calories: 1616
Fat: 128 grams
Carbs: 22 grams
Fiber: 8 grams
Protein: 94 grams

Roasted Cabbage and Bacon.- A wonderful addition to a meal and very easy to make....

Makes 6 wedges, serving 4-6 people.

2 lb. head of green cabbage
1 tbl extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz good quality slab bacon, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
coarse sea salt
red wine vinegar or lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 350F. Trim the stem of the cabbage and remove one layer of the outer leaves. Cut the cabbage in half, and cut each half into three even wedges. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with the oil and place the cabbage wedges 1 inch apart on the sheet. Scatter the bacon over the cabbage.

Roast the cabbage for 20-30 minutes until richly browned on the bottom. Turn the wedges over and roast for 20-30 minutes longer until the bottom is richly browned again. Remove any dried outer leaves. Sprinkle with the coarse salt and serve with vinegar or lemon wedges.

Total Calories: 515
Fat: 37 grams
Carbs: 40 grams
Fiber: 17 grams
Protein: 14 grams

Zucchini, Sour Cream and Jack Cheese Casserole.- The combination of flavors is great, healthy and another easy yet dish that's good enough for company....

Serves 4

4 tbl butter
1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb zucchini, trimmed and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1/2 cup grated Jack cheese - hot pepper is good!
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbl chopped fresh basil or I tsp dried

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking dish. Melt 1 tbl of the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent. Scrape into a large bowl.

Melt the remaining butter over medium high heat in the same frying pan. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring frequently until the moisture has evaporated and the zucchini is tender. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine. Add the onions and pulse once. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 min until lightly golden.

Total Calories: 1008
Fat: 93 grams
Carbs: 16 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Protein: 27 grams
NOTE: I also use just the zucchini, onion, garlic, salt and pepper with olive oil and saute in a pan until tender. Before serving I add the juice of one lemon, add some dill and serve. Even lower in everything and every bit at tasty!

Blue Cheese Dressing.- I made it for salad but now we use it on everything else! Great over steaks too..... MMMMmmmmmm! Super easy because you use the blender and it comes out rich and thick.....

2 egg yolks or 1 whole egg
3 oz crumbled blue cheese
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp sugar (optional, use Splenda)
3 tbl wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 1/2 cups olive or peanut oil

For a thicker dressing, use 2 egg yolks instead of 1 whole egg.
Place egg into blender. Add blue cheese, salt, sugar and vinegar or lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the oil.

Cover and process for 10 seconds or until smooth. Without stopping blender, remove center cap and pour remaining oil slowly in a thin stream until all the oil has been added. This should thicken the dressing up a lot.

Serve over your favorite salad ingredients. Store refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Calories: 117
Fat: 11g
Protein: 3g
Carbs: 1g
trace Dietary Fiber

Simple Chicken and Coconut Curry.- Very simple one-pot meal that really delivers!....

Serves 4

2 tbl vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
3 1 1/2 inch pieces of cinnamon stick
10 whole cloves
8 whole cardamom pods
3 dried red chilies
1 tbl fresh, grated ginger
8 chicken thighs, skinned
1 can coconut milk
salt to taste

Over high heat in a medium-sized heavy pot, heat the oil. Add the peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and red chilies. Stir until the cardamom darkens slightly. Add the ginger, give a few stirs and add the chicken and coconut milk. Salt very lightly. Add enough water to just cover the chicken pieces. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook uncovered for 40 minutes. The sauce will have thickened slightly. Season to taste. Try it with a squeeze of lime.

Total Calories: 2260
Fat: 137 grams
Carbs: 13 grams
Fiber: 0 grams
Protein: 244 grams
NOTE: In a dish like this I add as many low carb veggies as I can, not only to stretch it out more but to give everyone bigger servings (or more of them) if needed.

Pureed Daikon with Balsamic Browned Butter.- Daikon as so many healthful benefits it makes sense to include it in your meal plan, plus done this way it's great!

Daikon radish is similar in flavour to turnip when cooked. Large grocery stores and oriental markets carry it. I love using it in chicken soup, and it can be roasted like potatoes. One pound of daikon contains 18.14 grams of carbohydrates and 7.18 grams of fiber, which makes it an ideal high-carb vegetable replacement. Serves 8.

2 1/2 lbs daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
6 tbl butter
4 tbl cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbl balsamic vinegar

Place the daikon in a pot and cover with cold water (or you can use chicken stock). Cook at a moderate boil until the daikon is tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain well. Purée the daikon in a food processor or potato ricer until smooth, or mash by hand. Return to the pot and stir in half the butter and the sour cream or crème fraîche and salt and pepper to taste. Stir over low heat until hot. Transfer the purée to a large baking dish. You can make the purée up to 2 days ahead, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and reheat, covered, in a 400F oven for 20-30 minutes.

To finish the purée, melt the remaining butter over medium heat until it turns a rich brown. Add the balsamic vinegar. Stand back as the mixture will splutter. Drizzle over the purée and serve immediately.

Total Carbohydrates Minus Fiber: 34.17
Carbs: 6.51
Carbs per Serving minus Fiber: 4.27
NOTE: Mashed cauliflower is also great to use instead of potatoes.

Tuna and Caper Mousse on Eggplant.- A sophisticated spread for snacking, as a side dish or appetizer!.....

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups

2 Japanese eggplants, approximately 1 lb
Olive oil
2 6 1/2 oz. cans Italian tuna, packed in olive oil
3 Tbsp. drained capers
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped basil
small basil leaves

Slice the eggplant in 12 1-inch slices on a slight diagonal. Brush with olive oil and grill or broil until tender and browned. Let cool.

Drain the tuna. Place in a food processor with the capers and butter. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the basil.

Spread 1 Tbsp. of the mousse on each piece of eggplant. Garnish with a caper and basil leaf.

Tuna Mousse:
Total Carbs: 1.344
Total Carbs per Tbl: .056

Per Serving:
Total Carbs: 2.26
Total Carbs Minus Fiber: .928

Baked Salmon with Parsley, Vermouth and Cream.- Don't think I have to tell you what this tastes like, divine!.............The sauce also goes well with halibut, cod, sole and chicken.

Serves 4

4 6 oz salmon steaks, 1 inch thick
1 cup dry white vermouth
1/4 cup bottled or canned clam nectar (or use leftover seafood shells)
2 tbl minced shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1 tbl minced chives or the green tops of green onions
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the salmon in a baking dish, without overlapping, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the salmon is just opaque in the middle. Cover and keep warm.

While the salmon is baking, make the sauce. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the vermouth, clam nectar, shallots and garlic. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture is reduced to 3/4 cup. Add the whipping cream and boil until the mixture is reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Place half the mixture in a blender or food processor. Add the parsley and purée. Stir into the remaining mixture. If you want a super smooth sauce you can put the sauce through a sieve, but it is not necessary. Return to the pot and boil until the mixture coats a spoon, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add pan juices from the salmon and the chives or green onion to the sauce. Place the salmon on plates, pour the sauce around the steaks and serve immediately.

Carbs per Serving: 4.05

Italian Style Meat Loaf.- I like to have meatloaf around for breakfast, dinner, or as a cold snack. I enjoy it fried and served with eggs for breakfast or heated under the broiler, then spread mayonnaise and Dijon mustard on it, smothered with cheese and a few slices of tomato and broiled until the cheese is bubbly.

Makes 1 12 x 4 1/2 inch loaf, approximately 12 slices

4 oz. pancetta, diced (I use bacon or prosciutto)
3 eggs
3 lbs lean ground beef
1/2 cup finely ground pork rinds
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbl finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbl chili powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbl finely diced sundried tomatoes (I use oven dried tomatoes..)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grind the pancetta in a food processor or chop really, really fine. Add the eggs and pulse to combine. Place in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well with your hands and pack into a loaf pan. Bake at 350F for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting.

Total Carbohydrates: 16.26
Total Carbohydrates Minus Fiber: 11.59
Carbohydrates per Serving: 1.35
Carbohydrates per Serving minus Fiber: .96

How about that, some great meal ideas if you're interested in the low-carb lifestyle. Don't forget that rich butter and cream sauces are allowed which is one of the reasons we've always preferred low-carb. Plus with the latest reports concerning the benefits of this diet that support the original claims made by Dr. Atkins, it makes it one of the best options around for losing weight while enhancing you health. Don't know how long I will be able to stay on the "straight and narrow" but for the time being, here I sit. Sending good thoughts to everyone, talk soon!....

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