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

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:  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.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I know it's been a long while since I've posted on here.  I keep meaning to come back to this and keep running into other things that take priority.  I haven't forgot about my resolutions and goals however, and I've been working on some new things to help achieve them!  Recently we started on a low carb diet.  I'm not following a specific diet like Atkins, but I have been trying out a few of their products.  We are simply just cutting out the vast majority of bad carbs from our diet!  The first week, when I kept myself on target the most, I lost almost 6 pounds!  SUCCESS!  Then Easter came along and so did a bunch of Easter candy and then a gazillion other reasons to "cheat" a little, and well the weight loss came to a quick halt.

This week I've been trying out a lot of new low carb recipes, and we're finding some new and different things that we enjoy on this diet.  I'm hooked on this website:  It's filled with yummy low carb recipes and most of them include pictures as well as the nutritional info for the recipe.  She also includes comments about how the recipe turned out, what to change, and other good tips.  It's been a huge help in transitioning some of our favorite meals to lower carb versions.  In celebration of Cinco de Mayo this evening I made chicken enchiladas with low carb tortillas and used her recipe for Mexican rice using grated cauliflower.  The texture isn't exactly that of rice but the flavor was spot on and was an excellent substitute.  Tomorrow, I'll be using the rest of the grated cauliflower to do a Asian style fried rice.

I'm trying to get the diet and overall healthy living back on track.  The countdown to our wedding is definitely underway and Operation Beachbody is a must, especially since we've already booked the honeymoon cruise!  I'll try to keep posting here any new and delicious recipes I come across.  Try them out on your own as well! Lets keep each other motivated!