Sunday, July 26, 2015

"Faux" Banana Split

One of our favorite once-in-a-blue-moon treats was to go to the local Sonic for a decadent banana split. Looking in my little fact book, we're talking 82 carbs! My favorite shakes are even higher! Yikes! My "Faux Banana Split" which yields a total of 32 carbs, is very delicious and satisfying. I'm sure some of you hard-core low carb counting folks out there are cringing. 32 carbs in a dessert? I look at it as I've reduced 50 of the carbs and I'm adding real fruit to my diet every chance I can. In addition, I've eaten a healthy piece of grilled chicken and either a salad or steamed vegetables as opposed to a rich casserole filled with pasta or rice and bread on the side.

Oven Roasted Veggie Angel Hair Pasta

We are coming up on three months of healthier eating and still going strong. If you follow my posts, you know we are not starving ourselves, denying ourselves or otherwise changing our lifestyle in a manner that cannot be sustained for the long haul. Over this period of time we have controlled our portions to the point we are not overeating and getting full with less. Both of us have changed pant sizes and we're wearing shirts we've had stashed because they got a little snug.

I used to fix this dish many, many years ago. The original recipe called for a lot of molasses and I wondered if I could tweak it a little to make it a meal with a lot less carbs but keep all that delicious taste. This dish is a great way to make use of the bounty you are gathering from your garden during these summer months. I used what I could pick but I have used carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and bell peppers in the past. If you use carrots, but sure to cut them into smaller pieces so the rest of your veggies don't turn into mush before they get done. 

1 cup Red Wine or Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 tbsp. dried Italian Seasoning*
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1-2 zucchini
3-4 small yellow squash
Cherry tomatoes
1 large red onion
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Dreamfields Angel Hair Pasta (Cooked per directions on the box, drained)

*We like a lot of flavor. The spices I use from The Spice House are a little stronger than what you buy at a grocery store; so use your own judgement.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice all veggies into hearty pieces. In a large bowl, mix the vinegar, olive oil, and seasonings. Stir in the cut up veggies and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray. With a slotted spoon, spread the veggies evenly in the dish.
 Reserve the marinate and save to dress the cooked veggies and pasta. 
While the veggies cook, fix your pasta.
Stir veggies every 15 minutes. Add shredded Parmesan cheese over the top of the veggies the last time you check them. Cook for a total of 45 minutes or until vegetables are cooked to the texture you prefer.

Place a portion of pasta in the middle of a bowl and spoon a little additional marinade. Gently coat pasta and then top with veggies and additional Parmesan cheese (optional).

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Low-Carb Chocolate Milk Shake

When Andy and I were looking for ways to eat well but wise, I found a few great pages to follow on Facebook. One of my favorites feeds to read regularly has turned out to be Low Carbing Among Friends. That's where I found out about DJ Foodie and pre-ordered his new book "Taking Out The Carbage." (Hurry, if you pre-order, you can get an immediate pdf download of the book to tide you over until August delivery.) I was delighted to see he had a low-carb chocolate milk shake and couldn't wait to try it out. All I can say is we busted out Andy's vintage olive green Waring blender the other night, mixed up a batch and will be doing it again really soon. (We made a whole batch of the chocolate sauce and drinks for two). It was delicious and we couldn't believe we could enjoy something this good and not feel guilty about it. Be sure to check out the above links for a great healthy eating resources. The link to DJ Foodie's official recipe includes all the nutrition facts. Below is what we did to enjoy this treat for two (with extra sauce for another night).
In a small saucepan, on medium, whisk the following ingredients together until well blended and thickened. The official recipe states not all whipping cream may be necessary, so add the cream a little at a time. I ended up using the whole amount.
  1. 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  2. 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream (add just enough to blend ingredients nicely)
  3. 3 tablespoons sugar replacement (I used Truvia)
  4. Dash salt 
In two glasses, drizzle some of that delicious chocolate sauce down the sides and set them to the side.

In a blender mix:
  1. 2 cups ice cubes
  2. 1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  3. 1/8 cup sugar replacement
  4. 1/4 cup of chocolate sauce
  5. Dash of salt
Divide between the two glasses and top with a little whip cream and a sprinkle of unsweetened cocoa. All you need now is a straw!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches

What can you fix while you're waiting for your home grown tomatoes to turn red? A bacon, lettuce and fried green tomato sandwich! This is easy to fix and almost as good as a vine-ripe tomato BLT. Just follow the recipe to fry your tomatoes here. (Should be the next post) To crank up the flavor, fry your tomatoes in the just cooked bacon grease. Pour off all grease into a glass bowl. Pour back enough grease to cover the bottom of the skillet. Add a little grease in as needed. Yes, these are probably a little sinful but we did use 5 carb per slice bread.

Fry bacon, drain on paper towel. (I use two thick slices cut in half per sandwich)
Fry green tomatoes (Recipe 1 here; recipe 2 here)
Toast bread
Cover bread with a light layer of Hellman's mayonnaise
Layer four slices of bacon, 1 large or two medium fried green tomatoes and crisp lettuce.

Fried Green Tomatoes II

The other night Andy and I went out to check out the garden. The tomato plants are hovering at five feet tall and loaded with tomatoes! 
We are growing Roma, cherry and Better Boy this year. We managed to get a few ripe red cherry tomatoes for a salad but there weren't any for slicing. We talked about fixing some BLFGT Sandwiches (Bacon, lettuce, fried green tomatoes) and found a couple green tomatoes off one of the Better Boy vines that were the perfect size. After pulling my original fried green tomato recipe, and noticing it contained both flour and sugar, I wondered if I could cut those two ingredients and get the same results. We didn't miss the extra sugar and were very satisfied with the taste. These are a wonderful side dish and ended up being perfect for our sandwiches.

Combine cornmeal, salt and pepper into a zip lock bag and shake to coat the tomatoes. Let the bag sit on the counter and give it several more shakes while the oil is heating in a medium-high skillet. (When a pinch of corn meal dropped into the oil sizzles, the oil is ready)

Fry tomato slices, a few at a time, in a large skillet with oil about 1/8" deep.
Wait until the grease has bubbled up as seen above. Let them fry until browned, turning once. Don't get impatient and turn them too soon. Add a little oil as needed until all tomatoes are fried.

Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Easy Chicken Parmesan

Here is my twist on Chicken Parmesan. Let me clearly state again...I am not a dietician or a health expert by any means. I am simply showing you some of the meals we are incorporating into our healthier lifestyle. We are not on a zero carb diet. When planning meals, we really pay attention to what we are consuming and how much of it. When my Mother was learning to make better food choices to live with diabetes, my sister and I attended a couple of classes with a nutritionist who educated us on READING LABELS, eating balanced meals and controlling sugar intake. Did I mention READING LABELS? Unfortunately, I am a back slider because I got out of the habit of doing that. Now that my husband is ready to make a change to eating healthier, it was easy for me to jump back in and do the right thing. Several years ago, my Aunt's nutritionist told her about Dreamfield's pasta.
This is not an advertisement for them, I'm just sharing what we switched to years ago and it enables us to enjoy pasta salad, spaghetti and meatballs and more instead of cutting it out completely. When you grew up eating pasta and rice dishes like I did, it was a blessing to find this. For a long time, we couldn't buy it in our little home town and had to load up on it when we did find it. It tastes just as good as any other pasta you can buy. Having said that, it doesn't mean you can eat five servings worth of pasta....which I can easily do. A serving size is 2 oz. (1/2" circle) of dry pasta. There are 6.5 servings per box. Each serving has 41 g. carbs, 5 g. dietary fiber (3 g. soluble fiber and 2 g. insoluble fiber) and 7 g. protein. I have not found a way to eat pasta carb free, so we enjoy this from time to time and don't overdo it.

Gone is the thick breading on the chicken, but we didn't miss it one bit. Normally, I make my own vat of spaghetti sauce, but since we are cutting back on sugar intake, I've been searching for a low carb tomato sauce. So far, Wild Oats Organic Pasta Sauce seems to fill the bill. I add additional Italian herbs to bump up the taste, but it's been a hit with both of us. Each 1/2 cup has 6 g. carbs and 2 g. of fiber. Reading the labels may be time-consuming, but it's so worth it.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup (more or less) Italian bread crumbs*
4 slices Provolone cheese
Parmesan cheese
Wild Oats pasta sauce
Cooked & drained Dreamfields spaghetti
Coconut Oil

*I will make my own bread crumbs in the future with a low-carb bread

In a plate, mix bread crumbs and additional seasoning (salt, pepper & Italian herbs)
Place a chicken breast between plastic wrap and beat with a mallet until thin. 
Heat enough coconut oil in a skillet on medium high while you lightly coat the chicken breasts.
Carefully place a chicken breast in the hot skillet. Do not turn until  you can see the lower part of the chicken start to turn white and the bottom is a nice golden brown.
Carefully turn the chicken and cook until cooked through. Repeat until all chicken is cooked.
Place a slice of Provolone cheese on top of the hot chicken and let it melt. Bake in the oven briefly to further melt if necessary. Make a bed of spaghetti and cover with up to 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle grated or shredded Parmesan cheese on top of spaghetti. Place chicken breast on top and add a little more sauce (optional). We did manage to eat this WITHOUT a loaf of garlic bread. :-)