Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cool Crochet

A few weeks before today's date nine years ago, my grandmother attempted to teach my sister and I how to crochet.  My great-grandmother was in the hospital at the time, and I believe it was a method of keeping us girls occupied and quiet while we spent many hours visiting with her there.  My great-grandmother passed away on December 15, 2002, and after that I never tried to crochet again.  Until now.

My new obsession, also known as Pinterest, made it perfectly clear to me there are so many things I want to be doing that I'm not.  People are so darn crafty and creative, and I want in on that!  I kept coming across some beautiful pictures of things people have made such as cowls, headbands, baby booties, etc.  I set a goal to teach myself how to crochet all over again and get started making something, anything!

Looking back all I really remembered about our lessons in that hospital room was that the yarn was white or maybe cream and that we wanted to make scarves.  I couldn't even remember if it was actually crochet or knitting (I had to look up the difference to figure it out)!  I also fairly certain we never made anything that could have passed for a washcloth, let alone a scarf.  I also had to look up what I would need to get started.  I had no idea there were so many different types of yarn and so many sizes of crochet hooks.  On a tip from a great friend, I checked out YouTube and found some how to videos.  This one, http://youtu.be/eqca00LdmAc, seemed to be one of the most helpful.  I took her recommendation for what type of yarn and hook to start out with and immediately made a trip to the store to get them.


I only picked up two skeins of yarn, two crochet hooks, and a package of yarn needles.  For less than $10, I was starting a new hobby.  One that is entirely portable, lightweight, and you can put down and pick back up whenever you need to, which is quite often when you have little ones running around the house.


After watching nearly every result for the search "how to crochet" on YouTube, I got started.  About fifty tries later, I had my first row of single crochet.  Even once I got going, I can't tell you how many times I pulled out multiple rows, all the way down to the first chain, and started over.  Practice makes perfect right?


Well it is by no means perfect, but I am so happy I picked up this new hobby.  It's been a couple of weeks and here's what I have so far.  There are a few spots where it's not consistent, I missed a stitch on a row, or I added one by mistake.  I quit pulling out rows when that happened because I like the idea of this being my first piece and imperfect.  I hope to hang on to it and compare it to something I crochet years from now!  My daughter wanted to check out what I was doing and tried to run away with the yarn pulling a bunch of it off the roll.  As you can see I've got a bit to untangle before I can keep going now, but that's okay.  I get excited by the thought of being able to pass this skill on to her one day (when I actually have skill at it!), but for now I am just enjoying the fact that I'm making something.

It will still be a long time before I get to anything fancy like baby booties or flower bows, but I got started and that's the first step. I think my great grandmother would be happy to know that I've finally picked this back up, and I hope she knows that I'm thinking about her today.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fall Craft Projects

It's probably taboo to post more than one blog a day, but in sticking to my new approach of making this a place to share all the great things we do around here...I just had to get in a couple of the fall crafts we've made recently (and not so recently). Especially since it's mid-December, and I'll be posting a bunch of winter and Christmas crafts soon!

Create Your Own Tree:
Every fall I like to do something with leaves. This was one of my favorites from last year and I'm so glad I have a few pictures still to be able to share it.  Its hard to tell which part is more fun, gathering all the supplies from the backyard or actually putting it together.  We took a trip down to the park on the day we made this project so he had a great opportunity to find lots of goodies while walking there and back.  And I let him put everything in the pumpkin bucket he uses for Trick-or-Treating which somehow just added to the fun!


I had him create a tree on construction paper out of all the leaves and twigs he found.  We took a blue piece of construction paper (so it would look like sky), and glued on a strip of green construction paper for the grass.  Then we glued on a few twigs to look like the trunk of a tree and some branches.  We added some pretty fall leaves and even a few flowers to complete the look.  It was adorable!!  And it hung on our fridge for months until all the pieces got brittle and started falling apart.




My little cutie.  He looks so small here; I can't believe how much he's grown in just one year.  I almost had him do the same thing this year, but decided we should try something new.  This year's leaf project was a wreath.  It was very simple, but still adorable, and is still hanging in our kitchen.

Leaf Wreath:
All of the leaves he found here came out of our backyard.  He picked out some really great ones and really colorful too!  The wreath is actually a paper plate that you fold in half and cut out the inner circle to make the ring shape.  Then I used a hole punch to make to small holes in the top of the plate.  Take some yarn and string through the hole and tie in a knot or bow to hang the wreath by.  Do that part first so that you don't have to go back and find the holes after your kids gets all crazy with gluing the leaves on and covers them up (can you guess which we did first?).

Once the leaves are all glued on, let it lay flat for a little while to make sure all the glue has time to dry and then hang on your wall, a door, or in the window.  You can use this opportunity to talk to your kids about why leaves change color, about different types of trees, or what type of trees the leaves came from.  There are lots of possibilities here.



Here is the finished wreath hanging on our wall.  We had a handful of leaves leftover and the circle leftover from cutting out the center of the paper plate, so my son was definitely not ready to stop with the glue:


He made a second one by just gluing on everything that was left!

Thanksgiving Turkeys:
No fall craft season is complete without a turkey.  Last year we did a hand and foot turkey.  The body is made by tracing your child's feet and the feathers are made my tracing their hands.  The rest of the pieces were just cut out from the scraps of construction paper left over, and we drew on the eyes (although googly eyes would be super cute on this too).


This year's turkey project was a little more complex but so darn cute!  I made one right along with him which is probably one of the greatest parts of doing these craft projects!  I wish I could take credit for the idea, but someone beat me to this one.  Here's a link to the website ToddlerToddler where the project came from:  http://www.toddlertoddler.com/thanksgiving-turkey-craft.htm.  A supply list and step by step instructions are included.


I took their suggestion at the bottom of the page to use these turkeys as a Thanksgiving centerpiece.  They sat back to back on our table for a few days and were absolutely adorable.  Both the kids loved playing with them before dinner too.

Shopping List & Coupon Holder in One!

Today's blog is brought to you buy things that make my life easier.  I stumbled upon this little trick because every time I need to write down my grocery list I can never find a scrap piece of paper my kids haven't colored all over, and I never remember to put those magnetic shopping lists back on the fridge!

One day when I was planning my next shopping trip, I looked everywhere for something decent to write my list on.  The only blank thing in the entire house I could find was an envelope.  As it turns out, it's actually a great size for a shopping list, just long enough to cover everything I need and much sturdier than a regular sheet of paper too.  And the bonus that makes it the only thing I use to write my shopping lists now:  a perfect place to keep my coupons!  I used to always dig through my purse or my diaper bag (somehow this is where all my coupons end up) trying to find them while waiting in line at the checkout.  But now they are nicely tucked in the envelope I've been using to check off my list throughout the store.  And much quicker to reference to make sure I'm getting the right quantities or brand name for the coupon if necessary!



And when you're on a budget, like most of us are, the blank envelope also provides plenty of space for keeping a tally of your total as you're checking off your list.  Although those little magnetic shopping list pads are cute to hang on the fridge, I'll leave them for writing down a quick note or making a paper airplane for me son.  That is whenever I find them.  I'm pretty sure they disappear to the same place my Chapstick does after I use it once.  I wish I knew where that place was!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pretend Baby Wipes Case

I realize I haven't blogged in a while.  The majority of my blogs are about food, and I haven't been cooking much new lately and haven't been eating all that healthy either.  But I decided I'm not going to let that stop me from enjoying blogging.  This blog should be more than just what I cook.  I want to start sharing more of the activities we do with the kids, crafts,  snacks, or just any good ideas I come across (there's one every once in a while I think!).

Today is going to be about one of those good ideas.  Pinterest (my new obsession, seriously!) led me to this one.  Here's the link to the blog that was pinned:  http://no1hasmorefun.blogspot.com/2011/10/wipes-bin-for-play.html.  The idea is brilliant really.  If you have a kid, they've undoubtedly at least once pulled every single wipe out of the baby wipes container.  Mine do it from the container I keep at the changing station and from the portable one in the diaper bag.  It drives me nuts, and when I saw this on Pinterest I knew I had to do it!

This mom used a Huggies wipes case and took scraps of fabric and sewed them together for her son to pull out of the wipes case.  I'm terrible at sewing, so I took some old clothes that weren't in the best shape and just cut them up into shapes that somewhat resemble a rectangle.  I didn't sew them together, because this way they can pull them out one by one and toss them everywhere just like they do the real wipes!  I also couldn't find a regular wipes case not in use (although I swear there should be at least 10 around here somewhere), so I used a Kandoo flushable wipes case.  It's more colorful and I think works well for a pretend wipes case.



My 4 year old appears to love the idea, and he's the one who usually gets into my regular wipes.  However, he's quick to teach his baby sister everything so hopefully she enjoys the pretend wipes case as well.  I'm hoping this quick (and completely free!!) project saves me a lot of money by having no more wasted baby wipes!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mariachi Chicken Flatbread Pizza

Something we became addicted to before going low carb was Donato's thin crust Mariachi chicken pizza.  They are the only pizza place that delivers to our neck of the woods, but I think I might drive an hour just to pick up one of them!  The pizza is topped with chicken breast, roma tomatoes, and sliced jalapenos.  Three simple ingredients that combined with the delicious sauce that Donato's uses create a very divine flavor!  Also, they deliver it with sour cream which gives the perfect cool down to each bite of this spicy pizza.

Although we have treated ourselves to this pizza once since going low carb, it is by no means acceptable on our "diet".  I knew it would be difficult to recreate the exact flavors, but making a lower carb version was a must.  Today I think I came pretty darn close!  Inspired by a piece of leftover chicken breast in the fridge, I grabbed the spaghetti sauce, a fresh tomato, the jar of jalapenos, and shredded cheese.  And of course the bed for all of those delicious ingredients,  the Flatout wrap!  The size and thickness of these wraps makes them perfect for individual pizzas, and at only 6 net carbs, they're totally worth it!


The entire recipe has approximately 15 net carbs, but that will vary depending on the sauce you use.  I sliced the finished pizza into 6 pieces and served it with a tablespoon of sour cream.  You could easily save on the carbs by sharing this so two people would get 3 pieces each and serve a small salad with it (more veggie carbs!).  I, on the other hand, devoured the entire thing by myself.  It looked beautiful and tasted even better!  I will definitely be making another one of these again soon!



Mariachi Chicken Flatbread Pizza

  • 1 Flatout wrap
  • 1 tsp olive or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup marinara or pizza sauce
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
  • 1/2 roma tomato, diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp jalapeno, diced
  • 1/4 cup shredded Mexican style cheese
  • dash red pepper flake and/or Italian seasoning (optional)
To prepare the wrap for it to become a sturdy pizza crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Brush both sides of the wrap with a little olive or canola oil and place directly on the oven rack for about 5 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  That crips up the wrap just enough for it to hold up well with sauce and all the toppings, even when sliced into pieces.  After the 5 minutes, pull the wrap out of the oven and place on a foiled line baking sheet.  

Assemble the flatbread pizza by spreading the pizza sauce or marinara, whichever you choose, across the flatbread leaving a small edge of crust all the way around.  Next add your toppings in an even layer over the sauce, and finish off with the cheese.  I like to sprinkle a little red pepper flake and Italian seasoning over the cheese as well.  Return the pizza to the oven on the baking sheet for about 6 minutes until all the toppings are warm and the cheese has melted.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Low Carb Journey Update #4

Can you believe it's August already?  I can't either!  I joined a mommy challenge weight loss group on MyFitnessPal a while back and set certain weight loss goals to work with the goals of the group.  One of my goals was to reach 120 pounds by August 1st. Well this past Friday, I did it!  This morning the scale creeped up a bit and said 120.2, but that's close enough for me.  I reached that goal!!  And it feels great.  In fact, today I've felt better than I have in years!  Physically, emotionally, mentally....it's been an awesome day (and it's only just after 2 o'clock!).  The fact that I have some free time to sit down and blog this little update just shows how awesome of a day this really is!

First of all, the reason for this little afternoon break is that I started a routine this morning.  I should have done this years ago...3 1/2 years ago to be exact.  (That's how old Gray is in case you were wondering!)  Anyway, so we'll be sending Gray off to preschool one day a week for him to get some interaction with other kids, learn to listen to instructors, and work on those social skills for just being out in public.  Not to mention, to give Mommy a little break during the day! =)  I decided that we'd start our own little preschool at home so he gets used to the idea (and schedule) of what's going to happen when he actually goes to preschool.  He has been a super student today!  Structure is exactly what this boy needed.  Right now happens to be "quiet time", and although he insisted he wasn't going to take a nap, after 15 minutes of quietly playing on his monkey mat (the one I'll be sending him to playschool with), he passed out!  SCORE!

I got a little workout in, folded a load of laundry, and filled out a daily report of what we did so far for our home "preschool".  Now I get to do my blog.  Best day ever!!

So back to the progress and my goals!  I can't even begin to tell you all how stoked I am about these results. I went shopping on Saturday hoping to find some new shorts or capris because almost all of my clothes are getting too big now.  Most of the stuff I brought into the dressing room to try on didn't fit, but not for the usual reason.  Instead of being too small, everything was too big.  I didn't realize what size I truly am now!  So what I did find was a skirt in a size 2 that fits incredible!  It's a jean skirt and although there's some mixed reviews around here about the fashionability (yes I think I just made up a word) of a jean skirt, I love it!  Mostly because it's a skirt in a size 2, but also because I think it's just adorable.  Four months ago when I started this low carb journey, I was wearing a size 10.  One year ago, after I had Alia, if I wasn't still wearing some maternity clothes, I was wearing a size 12.  I couldn't be more thrilled with the difference from then to now!

Today I'm officially moving on to phase 3 of Atkins.  It's called pre-maintenance , and the mission is to slowly increase your daily net carb limit until you reach the point where you are no longer losing weight (but also not gaining).  I still want to lose 5 more pounds, and I have set a goal of just under 6 weeks to do it.  The wedding and honeymoon are fast approaching, and I plan on rocking my new bikinis on the cruise ship!

Thanks go out to everyone who has supported me and continues to support me on this journey.  Motivation to change is the key.
You are the embodiment of the information you choose to accept and act upon. To change your circumstances you need to change your thinking and subsequent actions.” ~Adlin Sinclair

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Trying Jicama

In my quest to find a suitable substitute for potatoes I've tried using several different veggies as replacements in my favorite potato dishes.  Most turned out acceptable, delicious even, but none of them truly tasted like their real potato counterparts and therefore were always lacking a little.  And then I stumbled across the jicama!

What an amazing vegetable it turned out to be.  I had to Google it to find out what it even looked like so that I would know what to look for at the grocery store.  My best description of a jicama is that it is the love child of a potato and a turnip!  I had never paid attention to this vegetable before.  I imagine I always walked right past it to grab a sack of potatoes or carrots before.  However, this will from now on be a veggie I pick up whenever I find them at the store.


I've seen many recipes calling for jicama, most of them were salads using it raw which never sparked my interest.  However when I found a recipe on Food Network's website for jicama matchstick fries, I finally had a reason to give this veggie a try.

The first thing I did was peel and slice the jicama.  I recommend a very sharp knife and being super careful!  I was a little worried I might lose a finger or hand because this baby was pretty darn tough to peel!  The peel is much tougher than that of a potato and seemed thicker too than the peel of a turnip.  Slice off the root end to give yourself a flat base to rest on your cutting board.  That makes it very easy to slice the rest of the jicama.


When I finished slicing it up into thin wafers, I stacked a few of the wafers at a time and sliced them into thin matchstick like pieces.  I was prepared for this to take quite awhile as I have made sweet potato matchsticks many times in the past and those suckers are hard to cut through!  However once you get through that tough peel off the jicama, this is actually a pretty soft juicy vegetable.  Raw it tastes sweet, almost like an apple or a pear which is no wonder I saw it listed in so many yummy salad recipes.


I used a paper towel to pat dry all the matchsticks once they were cut.  Then it was time to preheat the oil and  prepare the seasoning.  If you have a deep fryer, I'm sure that would work great for these, but since I don't I just used a big thick skillet.  I used the same seasoning that I used to put on my sweet potato matchsticks which simply consists of ground black pepper, seasoned salt, and nutmeg.  You could also add a little cayenne if you like a kick to your fries.


I fried them in batches.  I think mine took at least 4 batches for 1 full jicama.  Be careful when placing these in the hot oil because there seems to be a good amount of moisture in this veggie.  I like to put a handful on a big slotted spatula (or a spider if you have one) and lower it down gently into the oil.  This is also the best way for removing them too.

Pictured here on the left is the first batch done and draining on paper towels (minus all the ones I taste tested).  On the right is a picture of all of the matchsticks once they were done.  I toss the seasoning on each batch as they come out of the oil, and I kept them warm in a 200 degree oven while I finished frying the rest.


I really enjoyed these jicama fries.  They don't seem to get as crispy as typical potato fries, but they were quite yummy.  The kids both ate them, and Gray has refused on more than one occasion the turnip fries I've made.  They remind more more of "onion straws" that I've seen several restaurants serve as a garnish on steaks or burgers than fries but were still very much what I was looking for to pair with a nice bacon cheeseburger for dinner.



I will definitely be trying out some more recipes with this awesome veggie.  And for anyone interested, a half cup of raw jicama is only 2.5 net carbs!  I already have ideas for how to turn this into cinnamon apples or even apple pie and to try a few more variations on fries or hash browns.  I believe jicama is truly a more versatile food than a potato and am so glad I finally gave it a try!  I hope you all will give it a try to if you've never had it before, and if you have please share your favorite jicama recipes!


Low Carb Journey Update #3

Two weeks ago I was on cloud 9 with the progress I have made so far.  Today, not only is my head not in the clouds, I feel like I'm digging a hole to China!  The last 2 weeks have been challenging sticking to my goals and maintaining focus.  Several events opened up the opportunity to cheat, and I took more than one of those opportunities without even batting an eyelash!

It all started the night before my birthday.  That morning I had my best weigh in yet!  I was super excited about what I had achieved so I'm not sure what I was thinking when I allowed myself to indulge in chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant!  Perhaps I was thinking of it as a reward for getting to where I was.  More likely I just wasn't thinking at all, because a reward is not something that sabotages your hard work!  On my birthday, I completely let loose for lunch and broke the cardinal rule of low carbing:  I ate french fries!!  I also had a burger and a beer to go with them.  I enjoyed every bit of it, even the chocolate cake I ordered for dessert!  After all it was my birthday right?

That's what I kept telling myself.  Why not celebrate?  It's just one day.  Well it wasn't just one day.  It was the night before, the entire day of, and another meal or two over the next couple days.  Give in to the carbs once, and then cravings come back.  Full force!  And the price just wasn't worth it.  So much for my best weigh in yet.  I undid the last 3 weeks worth of work!  And I'm still fighting cravings again! At last Monday's weigh in, I still hadn't taken off all the weight I'd gained with the cheats, but at least the scale was moving in the right direction again.

Thursday I came down with a cold and yesterday was absolutely horrible.  I forced myself to eat a good breakfast, but for lunch I had absolutely not desire to cook (that required standing up and my head did not want my body to be in that position!) and therefore we opted for a fast food lunch.  It was a terrible cheat.  Not only was the food bad for me, but because of my cold I couldn't even taste the food.  I didn't even get to enjoy that part of it!  I didn't want to fix dinner last night either, but I think the chicken broth I opted for was better than most other things I could have chosen.  And I'm certain it's helped me to feel better today.

Now, I still have the cold, but I also feel I have more focus.  I had a great breakfast and lunch today.  I'm looking forward to a great dinner of chicken and fresh veggies tonight.  In two days I will have another weigh in, and I'm hoping that I've mitigated some of the damage!  Also, we pushed back Alia's first birthday party because of everyone being sick so now I have even more time to plan the best party fare for all.  I'm looking forward to a great week next week, more progress, and more determination than ever to stick to the plan!

PS:  Only 47 days till the wedding!! =)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Low Carb Journey Update #2

It's been a little over 2 weeks since my last weight loss update, and I'm happy to announce that I'm down a little over 2 pounds since then!  There is no doubt about it.  This is definitely working!  Today I am exactly 8 pounds away from my goal weight, and actually only 3 pounds away from the weight I was initially aiming for!  I'm getting excited about how clothes fit now, and I'm also fitting into things that have been buried in the closet for years!  I bought 2 new bikinis, something I haven't worn since just after I graduated high school!  I'm still working on feeling comfortable and confident while wearing them, but I do think I'll get there!

In less than a year I have gone from wearing a size 12 to a size 4.  In all the time I was struggling to diet and lose weight after I had Alia last July, I only dropped one size from then until April.  The rest has all been since I went low carb!  It's a really great feeling to finally be able to pull something off the rack in a store, try it on and actually like how you look!  With the wedding and cruise now just 9 weeks away, I getting more excited by the minute and staying motivated too!

I have many challenges coming up in the next several weeks however, but I'm determined to stay the course.  My (and my twin sister's) birthday is next week.  I need to get on the ball and make my own low carb cheesecake!  Next weekend I'll be attending a rally with a "free lunch" provided, and I have no idea what it will be!  Although now that I'm thinking about it, since it's a function for Juvenile Diabetes I don't think they'd serve us anything too bad!  Then the following week will be the true challenge of my willpower:  the county fair!  Last year, I thought I was doing pretty good by eating the roasted corn on the cob.  Now that I know how high in carbs a single ear of corn is I definitely won't be doing that this year!  I also won't be able to partake in my favorite fair treat, the Farm Bureau chocolate milkshakes!  I know I'll be able to find a burger or a porkchop there somewhere, but it's going to be difficult passing up those old favorites!

After all that is Alia's first birthday!  For Gray's first I made a homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting!  I want to make Alia a homemade cake as well, but I also want to be able to enjoy a piece myself!  I think I will make a regular cake and then some sugar free cupcakes or something similar so I can still partake in the birthday festivities but stay on track!  I'm already making a list of party foods besides the sweets that will work such as meat and veggie trays and Linda's broccoli crunch salad.

With so much to do this month, July is going to be gone before I know it.  Along with it, I'm hoping a few more pounds and inches too!  Hopefully I will have some new recipes to post soon.  Keep checking back!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Flax Seed Waffles

I am all about making nice big breakfasts for the family on weekends.  Before we went low carb, those breakfasts usually included bacon, eggs, and toast or biscuits and gravy.  Now we typically have bacon (or sausage) and eggs, without the toast of course, for breakfasts during the week.  I needed something different for a special weekend breakfast and someone on the Atkins page mentioned flax seed waffles.  I absolutely love waffles, and they sounded like the perfect treat.

The only problem turned out to be finding a recipe!  Most of the recipes I came across only had a small amount of flax seed in them and consisted of primarily white or wheat flour, not exactly low carb!  It took about a half hour of Google searches before I finally came across one that used a combination of flax seed and soy flour.  Finally something I could work with!  The recipe, found here, is called "flax seed soy Belgian waffles".  I only have a regular old fashioned waffle maker, but I think they turned out just fine.  And when I say "old", I'm not using that term lightly.  This thing was given to me by my mother who bought it in 1971!  Despite being so old, it was still new when she gave it to me.  She hadn't used it once in 40 years!  I've used it a handful of times, but I think now that I've discovered low carb waffles this thing will be getting more of a workout.


The recipe for the waffles was quite easy.  Just be sure to make the batter before you preheat your waffle maker.  This gives the batter enough time to thicken up, although this particular batter is pretty thick to begin with.  I'm not going to post the original recipe here because it's not my recipe, but I did make one big change. The original called for one cup of buttermilk or suggested making a sour milk out of vinegar and low fat milk.  Trying to stay carb conscience I substituted the milk for heavy whipping cream and used a teaspoon of lime juice to create a sour milk, letting the mixture curdle before using it in the recipe.  This creates a reaction with the baking soda called for in the recipe helping to create that light fluffy interior of the waffles.  I only used lime juice because that's all I had on hand this morning.  Lemon juice or vinegar would work, but don't think I'd use vinegar because I wouldn't want that flavor to come out in the waffles.

The original author of the recipe mentioned that the waffles had to cook longer after the timer went off (of light went out) on the waffle maker in order to get crisp enough.  I didn't have that problem, mine were done when the light went out.  These waffles came out crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just like they're meant to be.  They actually had a surprisingly light mouth-feel and were a bit crumbly.  Most of the waffles I have made in the past didn't crisp up enough in this waffle maker, and I ended up putting them in the toaster to get them crisp.  I didn't have to do that with these though!  


With two pieces per person I had five servings of waffles.  Each serving comes out to 5.6 net carbs.  I count the heavy whipping cream as 1 net carb a tablespoon even though the package says it has 0.  I'm a little skeptical of some hidden carbs the particular kind I buy has because the calories and the fat content just don't add up right.  If you find one that's truly 0 carbs, then these would be only 2 net carbs a serving!  For those of you following Atkins, this really should be an OWL and beyond recipe only because of the flax seed and soy flour, however some would argue that it's safe for extended induction (without the blueberries of course).  The waffles pictured here are topped with a quarter cup of blueberries and a sugar free maple syrup making the grand total for this breakfast 10 net carbs.  That's about 9 more than I'd normally have for breakfast, but they were so worth it.  And since I'm just a few pounds shy of moving to the pre-maintenance phase of Atkins I can afford these carbs (especially when they're this delicious).

I'm anxious to play around with this recipe and try some different flavors like cinnamon, chocolate, and even strawberry.  I will probably also try this with whole milk instead of heavy cream next time as well.  The batter was very, very thick with the heavy cream and counting 1 carb per tablespoon actually came out to more carbs than there are in a cup of whole milk.




Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Low Carb Lasagna

I have always liked lasagna, but I never realized how much until I started making a low carb version of this classic dish!  It is so simple, and there's no dealing with those wacky lasagna noodles, either cooked or uncooked.  I've made this a handful of times now and felt it's finally time to share my new favorite recipe!

The inspiration from this recipe once again came from my favorite low carb website, Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes.  Her lasagna recipe uses an 8x8 baking dish and makes 6 servings.  Today I wanted to make a bigger version.  I love the leftovers just as much as eating it for dinner!  I used a 2.75 qt casserole dish, however one slightly larger would work as well as this comes out as a pretty thick lasagna.  Mine also made 8 servings although I think it could easily do 9 or 10 servings especially if you use a larger baking dish.

I think the ingredient that makes this lasagna taste so darn good is the Italian sausage.  I used a mild version but it still just gives the flavor a special kick that other regular lasagnas are lacking.  The most unique ingredient is what puts this lasagna in low carb status.  Instead of using pasta between the layers of the lasagna, I use thinly sliced oven-roasted deli turkey breast.  When I first saw Linda's recipe using the turkey breast I was intrigued.  I was also really unsure about how that was going to work out, but it's fantastic.  The turkey really works well with all the other flavors in the lasagna, and it also does it's job of providing a separation between the layers.

Low Carb Lasagna

  • 1 lb ground beef (I use ground chuck)
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 cup tomato sauce*
  • 1 15 oz container of Ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of wilted spinach leaves (about 3 cups fresh)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 9 thin slices of deli turkey breast
  • 8 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
*I use Hunts Garlic and Herb tomato sauce.  It comes in a large can and is only 5 net carbs a serving (1/2 cup).  It's the most affordable low carb tomato sauce I have been able to find at the store, and it's also quite tasty!  You could make your own sauce or use any sauce your prefer, but note that you will have to adjust the carb count accordingly!

Directions:  Brown ground beef and Italian sausage together in a large skillet until done.  Drain grease and return to pan.  Stir in tomato sauce.  In a separate pan with lid wilt spinach leaves in 1/4 cup of water.  Drain any excess water and allow to cool slightly.  Mix Ricotta cheese and eggs in a bowl until blended.  Stir in pepper, garlic powder, and spinach.

Layer the lasagna in at least a 2.75 qt casserole dish in this order, from the bottom:
  • 3 slices turkey breast
  • 1/2 meat mixture
  • 1/2 Ricotta mixture
  • 1/2 shredded Mozzarella
  • 3 slices turkey breast
  • remaining meat mixture
  • remaining Ricotta mixture
  • 3 slices turkey breast
  • remaining shredded Mozzarella
  • grated Parmesan on top
Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 40-45 minutes.  Let stand for at least 5-10 minutes before slicing to serve.  

 Left:  Lasagna before going into the oven      Right: Lasagna resting after baked

The lasagna can be baked immediately or covered and stored in the fridge or freezer.  I prepared it early in the day and put it in the fridge until ready to bake for dinner.  I have also prepared this before and left in the freezer for several days until I wanted an easy dinner!  However, if you do freeze it, move it to the fridge the day you are going to bake it to allow ample time to thaw.  Also leave it on the counter for about 30 minutes before baking it to allow the casserole dish time to adjust to a warmer temperature.  Also, as hard as it might be, don't skimp on the resting time once the lasagna is done baking.  Not only does it allow the lasagna to cool slightly so it's easier to eat, but it helps the lasagna to hold its shape better once it's cut into servings.

For 8 servings, this lasagna is 8 net carbs a serving.  If you made it into 9 servings it would 7 net carbs, and if you wanted to even make it 10 smaller servings, it would only be 6 net carbs a serving!  This dish would be perfect for having friends over for dinner and paired with a great salad it's a fantastically filling and delicious low carb meal.  I would bet even non-low carbers would like this spin on lasagna!






Monday, June 20, 2011

Another week down

I just finished some leftover Florentine chicken Alfredo and roasted tomato leftover from dinner last night, and I'm sitting here killing some time before I dive into today's workouts.  Mondays are one of my favorite days of the week now unlike most people.  I look forward to weighing in for a ladies-only weight loss group on Facebook as well as a mommy weight loss challenge on MyFitnessPal.  There are such amazing and dedicated women in both of these groups that it's easy to stay motivated all week long in order to share my positive results with them.  Today was no exception.  I lost 2 pounds this week!

I am now just a hair over 5 pounds away from what was my initial goal weight (I know want to lost 5 more pounds than that, so 10 more pounds total).  I'm losing inches too.  I love looking at the spreadsheet I track all my numbers in and seeing the totals drop each week!  I have more energy, clothes fit better, and I have been making some really good food too!  Its hard to believe it's "diet" food!  Also this week, I decided to try on the dress I bought for my wedding back in April.  I'm so glad I did, because I was literally swimming in it.  I couldn't believe how big it was.  I've ordered a smaller size now and can't wait till it gets here!  With just over 2 months before the wedding though, I'm honestly afraid if I keep this up I may be exchanging it for a smaller size again!  Well, I guess not afraid...that's a good thing right?!

I started Jillian Michael's 30 day shred this weekend.  After just one workout I was dripping with as much sweat as if I had just done an hour long P90x workout.  After two workouts, I was having a hard time walking up and down the stairs!  My legs are so sore!  In a little while I'll be doing it again for day 3.  I think it's definitely working, and I'm glad I took the suggestions of so many other to try it.  Two things I don't like about the DVD however are that there is so much you have to listen to at the beginning of the DVD before the workout even begins.  I find it annoying you can't just jump to the menu to begin the workout.  I also don't like that there's not a timer on it at all.  I know it's only 20 minutes of actual workout, but I want to see that clock and it helps keep me going knowing how many minutes are left.  I guess I'm just so used to that with the P90x DVDs.

Another encouraging part of the week for me was being approached by several people about a low carb diet.  To me that means people are definitely noticing the results, whether its the numbers I'm posting online or actually seeing me in person.  I'm excited about showing other people the opportunity to feel better about themselves and get healthier as well.  I hope for success for all of them!


I'm not posting a recipe here today, but I did want to leave you a picture of the wonderful dinner we had last night and what I just finished off for lunch today.  The recipes for the Florentine chicken Alfredo and roasted (she calls them grilled) tomatoes are on Linda's Low Carb webiste.  Alright, I think my food may be digested enough for Jillian Michaels to kick my butt again!  Happy Monday everyone!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Low Carb Journey Update

I've been doing low-carb for about two months now.  I do a weekly weigh-in and check my measurements every Monday morning and track them in a spreadsheet.  It is incredible to watch the changes in such a short period of time.  I feel better and feel like I look better than I have in nearly 8 years (minus the stretch marks of course, but I'm learning to deal with those).  I have more energy.  I crave activity and sunlight, instead of sugar and starch!

Everyday I'm finding new ways to make my old favorites into new healthier favorites!  And the results are tasting so much better than I ever thought!  Last night I made a recipe called enchilada chicken paillard.  I've been making green chili and chicken enchiladas lately with low carb tortillas but find that we don't even want the tortillas now, low carb or not.  I found this recipe on Linda's Low Carb website, my new favorite place to check out before I go to the grocery store and when I'm not sure what to make for dinner.

I didn't cook the chicken the same way her recipes suggests.  I instead put some chicken breasts in the crock pot with a little salsa and let them cook for several hours.  I then let them rest for about 5 minutes before shredding them.  I love shredded chicken and to me that's what enchiladas are all about!  I also didn't have any red peppers, but I think I'm the only one around here that would eat them anyway.  Instead of the peppers, I served the paillard over a bed of shredded lettuce and topped with some fresh chives to make sure  I still got all my veggies in!  By the way, paillard is a French culinary term for quick cooking or pounded piece of meat.  I had never heard of it before so I hit up Google for the definition.  My method for this recipe definitely negates the "paillard" so I'm just going to call them faux enchiladas, or something like that.  I'm open to good suggestions!


Regardless of what you call it the result was delicious!  I think I will always make enchiladas this way from now on!  And in case your counting, it's 6-7 net carbs depending on how big your serving is.  I think we had about 5 servings in the whole recipe.  I can't wait for lunchtime today to eat the leftovers!

Back to my journey (lets divert our minds from that yummy picture for just a second).  I am so grateful for finally jumping on this bandwagon.  I honestly feel like it's the best thing I could do for my health and my family!  My kids, who are both still so young, are going to grow up knowing how to make healthy food choices!  I am doing my best to put a stop to the diabetes that passes down from generation to generation in my family.  It won't make it to me!

I want to thank everyone that encourages me through these changes.  I want to remind everyone however that this is not a diet; this is not something I will be doing for a couple months to lose a few more pounds and then give up.  This is a new lifestyle.  As I learn more about how my body handles certain foods, I will be able to eat more and more carbs each day.  I may even have a cheat every now and then.  But this is my life from here on out.  And it's only going to get better!


  

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Flax Meal Cookies

I know I've said this before but I have to say it again.  I have a serious problem with making a recipe as-is!  I always feel like there is something I have to add, take away, or change in a recipe.  Sometimes these little experiments can go horribly wrong, and sometimes (this being one of them) they go beautifully!  There is nothing more exciting than getting creative in the kitchen, except maybe indulging in the yummy results!


So here is the recipe I stumbled across on Linda's Low carb website:  Cocoa Flax Cookies.  I had actually been looking at all her cheesecake recipes because I picked up some cream cheese at the store today and really wanted to try one.  Many of them call for the sugar-free Da Vinci syrups just like this cookie recipe, however I have not gotten around to buying any of these yet.  I wish I could go buy every flavor complete with pumps and setup a syrup bar on my counter.  I'd spend all day making new and fabulous concoctions!  Alas, I haven't done this (yet!) so I had to get creative.  I remembered I did have some Hershey's sugar-free chocolate syrup in the fridge.  I've only ever used it to make chocolate milk for my son or on top of some Breyer's Carb Smart ice cream.  I didn't even know if you could bake with it!  But I gave it the ol' college try!

As I was stirring the chocolate syrup into the mix, I started thinking about one of my favorite cookies I haven't had since I started a low carb diet, no-bake cookies!  In fact I haven't had anything with oatmeal in it.  Anyway, I thought maybe I could make these taste like no-bake cookies so I ran to the pantry for my peanut butter (all natural, low sugar).  I added only a tablespoon to the batter, however I may try adding a little more next time.  After they were in the oven, I also thought about adding vanilla extract.  That's another ingredient in no-bake cookies and I think it would enhance the flavor even more.  It was too late to add it to this batch, but I'll definitely be making these again so I will do that next time.

This recipe is so fast and easy.  Almost too easy!  I think it will definitely be one of my go to snacks.  Flax meal is so filling and each cookie is only 1 net carb!  I can have two or even three and still be good!  I think grabbing one of these between meals would be enough to last until it was time to eat again or these would even be a quick fix for that late night need-to-snack-before-bed craving!

Each cookie is 50 calories, 3g of fat, 4g of carbs, 3g of fiber, and 3g of protein.  They come out really dark, mostly because of the chocolate syrup, but they are incredibly light.  They actually taste more like a bite of brownie than a cookie.  My son has been calling them "donut cookies" and keeps asking for more!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Flax Meal Cookies


Ingredients:
  • 1 cup golden flax meal
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons sugar-free chocolate syrup
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add flax meal, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda to a medium bowl.  Whisk thoroughly.  Add eggs, syrup, and peanut butter.  Stir well with a spoon.  Drop batter by teaspoon fulls onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 7 minutes.  Makes 16 cookies.
*Recipe adapted from Linda's Low Carb

Update:  Adding an extra tablespoon of peanut butter and 1 tsp of vanilla really increases the flavor of these cookies!  I didn't recalculate the nutritional information, but a couple extra carbs between 16 (or even more if you make them a tad smaller) cookies, doesn't change it much!

Low Carb Buffalo Chicken Tenders

Oh the joys of finding new ways to make things!  One of the house favorites around here is buffalo chicken strips.  Breading the chicken for me meant double dredging the chicken in seasoned flour and dipping in a mixture of egg and milk.  Then I would fry the chicken, brush it with buffalo sauce, and then bake it in the oven.  So juicy and delicious!  However flour, at least the all purpose kind, and milk is sort of off limits on a low carb diet so I needed to get creative.

My new favorite website gave me some inspiration.  Linda's Low Carb has a recipe for tuna patties that I've made before.  I thought they were pretty good, but I'm not a fan of fish so I decided to make them with canned chicken instead.  Definitely the preferred method for me!  Then I thought why not turn these into buffalo chicken patties?  I added some hot sauce and other spices to the mix before frying and also served with a little splash of hot sauce on top and ranch dressing for dipping.  They were okay, but definitely not satisfying the need for my homemade buffalo chicken.  I really missed that breaded chicken texture and these patties really have too much of an egg texture.

I went back to Linda's website and started looking at all the chicken recipes again.  Finally I came across one I thought could work.  She has a recipe for breaded chicken cutlets that stood out.  The picture of the chicken looked wonderful with a nice crispy crust perfect for brushing on a little buffalo sauce!  I thought about just trying the recipe as-is for dinner tonight, but I'm out of Parmesan cheese and I really just wanted to have buffalo chicken anyway.  I want to give her all the credit here because I would have never considered what she used for breading until I saw this recipe!  Please check out her site and other recipes for more great low carb dishes!  Again I took inspiration from her recipe but made several modifications.

Low Carb Buffalo Chicken Tenders
  • 2-3 Boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally and sliced in tenders (or save yourself the time and use already cut chicken tenders)
  • 2 1/2 ounces pork rinds (I used a plain, but I think hot and spicy would be good for this too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more or less depending on how spicy you like your food)
  • 1 egg
  • oil for frying (I use canola oil and enough to cover the pan about 1/4 inch)
Buffalo sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Makes 4-5 servings

To make the breading, combine the pork rinds and spices in a food processor and pulse until all of the rinds are broken up into small coarse pieces.  Transfer to a plate or shallow dish.  In a separate shallow dish whisk the egg till frothy.  Linda's recipe only uses the egg white for this.  I personally hate wasting a perfectly good egg yolk, plus I needed the extra liquid it gives so I used a whole egg.  Heat oil in a large skillet.  When oil is ready, dip chicken tenders one a time into the egg and then coat with the breading.  Fry in skillet 4-5 at a time (depending on the size of your skillet) for a few minutes on each side.  Do not overcrowd the skillet as this reduces the temperature of the oil and the chicken will take longer to cook.  When tenders are done transfer to a plate lined with several layers of paper towel.  Repeat until all of the tenders have been cooked.  I had about 14 tenders from cutting up 3 chicken breasts.

Before starting to fry your last batch of tenders, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Add the hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.  Simmer buffalo sauce on low while finishing cooking the chicken tenders.  Normally I would have added corn starch to this sauce to thicken it up, but since that's high in carbs I simply omitted it.  It doesn't change the flavor, just the consistency of the sauce.

When all the tenders are done, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet (can also line with foil for easier cleanup).  Brush each tender with the buffalo sauce.  Transfer sheet to oven for 5-10 minutes.  I use this time to prepare or finish preparing whatever sides I am serving with the buffalo chicken, in tonight's case we had a side salad and Brussels sprouts.  I also used to serve my buffalo chicken tenders with a nice big dipping cup of ranch dressing, however I chose to eat them plain tonight and had 1 tablespoon of ranch dressing on my side salad instead.  I got the same affect for a lot less carbs!

Buffalo chicken tenders just out of the oven

I was pleasantly surprised at how good these turned out.  They are definitely not as thick as the high carb version I used to make, but I actually think this breading held up a little better than the flour breading when the buffalo sauce is added.  I was also really surprised that they didn't taste like pork rinds, especially because I used half a bag of them!  In fact, unless someone saw you add the pork rinds to the food processor, I don't think they'd ever be able to guess that's what these were made with.  

It's difficult to estimate the calories per serving in this recipe, but the great thing about low carb is that we don't need to worry about those anyway!  It really depends on how many tenders you make out of it and of course how many of them you eat.  Regardless, count about 1 gram of carbs per serving (approximately 3 tenders).  And as always, enjoy!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bum Week

I knew this was to be expected, but I still didn't want it to happen.  I have been super excited at the success of the last few weeks and also reaching a major milestone on the scale.  However, it appears as if my scale is now stuck.  Discouraged, I fell off the low-carb bandwagon last night too.  Although it was a super special occasion.  We went to a wedding last night.  It the first evening I have been dressed up and kid-free at the same time.  All the more reason to celebrate!

Normally, I would wait until Monday to kick start a diet, however I don't see the significance of waiting till the weekend is over now.  What makes Monday so special for beginning again?  I'm at stay-at-home-mom so my schedule doesn't really change much just because it's the weekend.  The kids still wake up at the same time even though it's Saturday, although Daddy might sleep a couple extra hours.  Besides, this low-carb diet isn't really a diet, but a lifestyle.  I fall off the bandwagon; I jump right back on.

Breakfast and lunch were great.  I'm at 5 net carbs so far today, so I have plenty of room for a great dinner and even a snack.  I've even got a new recipe to try for dinner from Linda's Low Carb Recipes.  I haven't worked out yet today, but I keep thinking about it.  Surely that burns a few calories right?  I'm determined to get one in, or at the very least get outside and run around in the sprinkler with my son.  As much as he loves to pretend to workout with me, I think he'd enjoy playing in the water more!

I'm still not looking forward to the number on the scale this week.  Although I know I'll still see a number that only a few months ago and for the last several years, I didn't think I'd see again!  I'm an only 10 pounds away from my initial goal weight, however I want to knock 5 more pounds off that now.  I'm aiming for the number on my driver's license!  I know for sure that when my license was renewed 5 years ago, it wasn't accurate!  But who really wants to admit to the BMV how much weight they've gained?  My new goal will be for that the only thing to stay the same on my license when I go to get a new one later this year.  After all I'll finally be updating my address and my last name!!

Anyway, so even though this week has been a tough plateau, I'm going to keep on this journey.  I have found some wonderful avenues of support recently that are so encouraging!  Keep checking back for new recipes, as I hope to have some new and delicious things to share!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chicken and Vegetable Alfredo

I know what you're thinking...Alfredo!  That means you had pasta right?  You can't do pasta on a low carb diet!  Well, no...yes....sort of.  I had considered purchasing some of the Atkin's brand pastas or Dreamfields which claim to be low carb, but when I discovered shirataki noodles I don't see any reason to try anything else!  These are the same noddles I used in my pad thai recipe, but they come in a few different forms.  For tonight's dinner I used the angel hair, although I can see it being very good with the spaghetti or fettuccine versions as well.  The noodles really just take on the flavor of whatever you use them in and they have the same texture as their regular pasta counterparts.


Low Carb Chicken and Vegetable Alfredo

  • 1 1/2-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 package shirataki noodles
  • 1/2 cup chopped broccoli 
  • 1 small zucchini chopped (or half of one large)
  • 1/4 cup each red and orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup Alfredo sauce*
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:

Prepare noodles as directed on back of package.  Preheat large skillet over medium-high heat with a splash of olive oil or nonstick spray.  Cut up chicken into bite size pieces and add to skillet.  Season with salt and pepper (I personally leave the salt out), and Italian seasoning.  When the chicken is just about done, add the broccoli to the skillet.  It takes longer to cook than the other veggies so it needs a head start.  Add the remaining veggies when the broccoli is starting to turn bright green.  Continue cooking everything together, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender crisp or to your liking.   Add the Alfredo sauce and the noodles to the skillet, stir to completely coat everything and simmer for 3-5 minutes more.  Enjoy!

*Make sure you check the nutritional value of your Alfredo sauce and only use something works for you.  Alfredo sauces tend to be much lower in carbs than Marinara sauces, but make sure you know what you're using.  I used Classico's Roasted Garlic Alfredo which contains 3 carbs a serving, one of which is from fiber.


I made three generous portions out of this, however it can easily be 4 servings.  Pair with a side salad and also low carb garlic bread like I did here, and voila!  Instant Italian dinner in under 30 minutes.  Rachael Ray would be proud!

For the garlic bread, I use slices of Nickles 35 Multi-grain bread.  It has 8 grams of carbs per slice, and 2 of those are from fiber.  I lightly butter the bread and sprinkle with garlic and Italian seasonings, then top with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.  Lay the bread on a foil lined baking sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for approximately 8 minutes.  Keep an eye on them just in case your oven works differently than mine!

One third of this recipe contains 184 calories, 10 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of fiber.  One fourth of the recipe contains 138 calories,  7 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of fiber.  The garlic bread and any sides you use are not included in these counts.  

Before adding the noodles and Alfredo sauce, I was looking at all the veggies and chicken in the skillet I was stirring around thinking this is quite possibly one of the best looking meals I have fixed in a long time.  The bright colors of all those veggies looked so delicious.  After adding the noodles and sauce I don't think it's quite as pretty but it's definitely oh so yummy!  I wish I had taken a picture of it in the skillet on the stove so you could see what I'm talking about!  Although you'll just have to make it and find out for yourself.  Also this recipe is great when you have a bunch of leftover veggies hanging out in the fridge.  Any kind of bell pepper, summer squash, cauliflower, green beans, or asparagus would go great in this Alfredo as well!  



Monday, May 23, 2011

Low Carb Pad Thai!

This dinner rocked!  And I received one of the greatest compliments for it as well.  Link said we should eat it every night!  When you see the calorie and carb counts in the recipe you might want to as well!  Before I got pregnant, I barely touched spicy foods.  Then for some reason while I was pregnant I got brave enough to try some new things, and then I started craving them.  Thai food became a new passion!   Obsession really.


A while back I worked on perfecting a homemade pad thai.  There is my old post explaining the recipe, however it's an incredibly unhealthy one!  Recently since we switched to a low carb diet, I haven't been able to enjoy this yummy favorite.  Rice noodles aren't exactly low carb!  Not even in the same ballpark.  I've been able to make my Thai stir fry low carb, but until I discovered shirataki noodles, I never thought I'd be able to have pad thai again!  You have no idea how happy I am that I was wrong!!

So in case you've never heard of this "miracle" noodle as some refer to it (and I believe it's even marketed under this name), here's a link to a website with some information on the noodles:  http://www.house-foods.com/Tofu/tofu_shirataki.aspx.  As the website will tell you, they are 20 calories, yes ONLY 20, a serving, 3 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, gluten, dairy, and sugar-free!  And for anyone doing a low carb diet and counting *net* carbs like I am, only 1 net carb per serving!!  Frankly, it doesn't get much better than that!

Well the shirataki noodles took care of one ingredient in working towards a low carb recipe, however there were a few others I needed to "fix" as well.  The corn starch slurry that mixes in with the chicken in the original recipe was a concern.  Corn starch is 7 grams of carbs a tablespoon, and while dividing that into the number of servings in the recipe obviously lowers that number, I figured I'd just go without.  When I sliced up the chicken breast, I just poured the soy sauce over the chicken and let it sit for a few minutes before stir-frying.  No cornstarch was needed and I totally didn't miss it!  Another hurdle down.

The next consideration was the brown sugar or cane sugar that goes into the pad thai sauce.  I didn't think too long about this one.  I wanted to include a little sweetness but not too much so I used one packet of Splenda in place of the brown sugar.  Easy!  The last ingredient I had to "fix" I didn't even realize was a problem until I got to it.  Tamarind paste is another ingredient to pad Thai sauce.  It's 11 grams of carbs per tablespoon!  After seeing that, I threw it out.  This low carb thing is working so well, I'm never going to use what was left in the package.  So back to the sauce.  Thai cuisine is made up of four flavors:  sweet, spicy, salty, and sour.  In a pad Thai sauce, the brown sugar (now Splenda) is the sweet, chili sauce is the spicy, fish sauce is the salty, and tamarind paste is the sour.  I started thinking about what else I could use that's sour as a substitute and checked the fridge.  Lime juice!  I used one tablespoon.  Worked perfect!  One other note, look for a chili sauce that has no carbs.  I use Tuong Ot Toi Vietnam Chili Garlic Sauce.  There are lots of sweet chili sauces at the store, however it takes a little looking to find one that's not.  Remember that "sweet" on the label generally means there's sugar in it and more carbs!  Just make sure to check the labels!



Low Carb Pad Thai
  • 1 1/2 - 2 boneless skinless chicken breast 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 package (8 oz) shirataki noodles, fettuccine style
  • 1 can bean sprouts
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oil
Pad Thai Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 packet Splenda
  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

Directions:  Slice up the chicken breasts into thin pieces.  Pour soy sauce over chicken and set aside for a few minutes.  Prepare sauce by combining all ingredients in a glass or bowl and mix to combine.  Set sauce aside.  Prepare shirataki noodles by draining package, and placing noodles in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 1-2 minutes.  Pat dry with paper towel if necessary.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute until almost done.  Move chicken to one side of the pan and add egg to the skillet.  Scramble eggs and cook until done.  Stir into chicken.  Add noodles to pan and pour sauce over them.  Stir fry for approximately 2 minutes.  Add in bean sprouts and green onion and continue stir frying until noodles and sprouts reach desired doneness, about a few minutes.

Best topped with chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro (not included in nutrition information below!)

This recipe made 3 servings.  I think I will double it next time so we have leftovers!  Here's the nutrition information based on MyFitnessPal's Recipe tracker:


Low calorie, low fat, low carb, and incredibly delicious!  This is going to be a new staple around here!  I can't wait to try some more recipes using the different kinds of shirataki noodles.  After enjoying my new pad Thai, I can truly see why they're called the "miracle" noodle!  Sorry there's no picture of the actual pad Thai here, it didn't last long enough to take one.  But really it looked, smelled, and tasted just like real restaurant take-out pad Thai, if not better because I know how much better it was for me!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Flaxmeal Pancakes!

So pancakes are definitely one of my weaknesses when considering a low-carb lifestyle long term!  How can a person seriously give up pancakes?  Well I refuse to, but since I'm also so thrilled with the results I've been getting, I'm not about to set the progress back by splurging for the real thing.

I've been trying a few of the MIM recipes from the Atkins website and discussion boards.  A MIM, otherwise known as Muffin-in a-Minute, is primarily made of flaxseed meal.  The stuff is mostly fiber so when you are counting *net* carbs like on an Atkins diet, it's next to nothing!  Flaxseed absorbs water and with all that fiber keeps you filling full longer, which is a huge plus to anyone in the mindset of "dieting".  You don't have the middle of the morning or middle of the afternoon cravings when you eat something like this or even when you add it into other foods.  I mixed a little bit into some cottage cheese and didn't even notice a change in the flavor.  I've also read about people adding it into yogurt and soups (although don't add it into something hot until just before you're ready to eat).

Anyway back to the pancakes...The recipe is easy and makes only 6 small pancakes so you're not tempted by a lot of leftovers, although you should be full enough not to want seconds anyway!  I served them warm with a little pad of butter and Maple Grove Farms sugar-free syrup.  The sorbitol in the syrup is a sugar alcohol and gets subtracted from the total carbohydrates just like fiber when you are counting net carbs, so it's  a nice big 0 per serving.  Plus the serving size is 1/4 cup which is more than enough for 3 small pancakes.


Here is a link to Atkins MIM page with all the flaxseed recipes.  The pancake recipe is towards the bottom of the page and also includes a recipe for a single pancake if you only wanted to make one to go with something else for breakfast.  I won't post the exact recipe here, just in case they put out a copyright on it!  I will mention though that I left out the vanilla extract when I made mine.  I'll try to remember it next time because I will definitely be making these again, but I didn't leave it out on purpose.  I was just hungry for pancakes and got a little too eager to get these on the griddle.  I don't think they took longer than normal pancakes like the recipes says they should, but they did start to get a little dark so I may turn the griddle down lower than I typically would for pancakes next time and then let them cook a little longer that way.

I can also see these being very good with some cut up strawberries or blueberries and some homemade whipped cream (made with Splenda of course).  They aren't the light fluffy buttery pancakes you'd get at IHOP; hey are much denser and more filling!  These definitely satisfied the craving for pancakes though!  And I'm looking forward to experimenting with them again.