While I have not been writing much lately, I have been cooking up a storm. I’ve had a few breakthroughs and found some new products that I wanted to share with you.
First of all, the five pounds I’ve gained since my birthday earlier this month remind me that even when you eat low-carb, you will not lose weight if you don’t limit your intake. However, you will protect yourself from diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, and now the research says Alzheimer’s Disease! So you are doing yourself a world of good. Furthermore, when you want to lose weight, you can cut your portions and do so while still eating a healthful diet.
David’s mom makes the best fried okra in the world, bar none. Michael is crazy about the stuff, so whenever we visited, Granny was sure to make some for her baby grandson. Of course, she used cornmeal, which is a total no-no for me, so we’ve gone okraless except for soups in the winter. This summer, Elaine, a friend of mine at church (our Egg Lady!) grew okra and she has given us a couple of bags full. I was challenged. I decided to try to use almond flour in the place of cornmeal, and it was a huge hit with my guys! In case you have lived your life okra-deprived, here are the easy steps:
1) Wash the okra (watch for spiny bits in your hands), remove the stem ends, and cut the okra into about ½ to 1 inch pieces. Discard any hard pods.
2) Beat a couple of eggs with a fork and either dip the okra in or pour the eggs over the okra in a bowl and turn it until coated.
3) On a plate or in a wide bowl, combine almond flour, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss the okra in this mixture until evenly coated. This will not look as uniform as the frozen breaded okra pellets that you can buy at the store, but it tastes much better.
4) In a large skillet, pour enough oil to coat the bottom and heat to medium-high. Add a single layer of okra to the pan and stir occasionally until deep golden brown on all sides. You may have to cook in several batches.
5) Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel-lined plate. Taste for salt.
That’s it! Okra is very good for lowering your cholesterol naturally.
I have also used the almond flour, salt, and pepper coating for pan-fried catfish. Be sure to marinate your catfish in buttermilk for half an hour before cooking—no longer, or it will fall apart. Catfish can be tough in the middle, but buttermilk will tenderize it perfectly. If you like Cajun, add Tobasco to the buttermilk and red pepper to the flour mix.
About a month ago, we went to a produce stand with tons of homegrown eggplants. I love eggplant parmesan, but it is just too wet without flour. So I decided to try—you guessed it!—almond flour, and it made the richest eggplant parmesan you’ve ever had. Dip it in egg and then seasoned almond flour, and “fry” it on your electric griddle for a less messy but really wonderful fried eggplant. Just put a tiny bit of olive or other oil on your griddle.
Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for long, you know that I’ve been making my own almond flour by sending it through the food processor first and then a blade coffee grinder. So much work! Well, I found a new way of doing things, and I found it through a blog that I like called www.satisfyingeats.wordpress.com. This young woman named Melissa McGehee lost a lot of weight on a low-carb diet, and since she was already an excellent cook, she decided to develop low carbohydrate recipes that are family-friendly and still very healthy. She concentrates on using real, whole foods and no artificial ingredients. My sister told me about her, so I began following her on Facebook, and she posts a lot of delicious recipes online! She also has a cookbook called Satisfying Eats, which is available through Amazon. I finally invested in the cookbook, and my husband and son are so glad that I did! So far, I have made the Coconut Chipotle Chicken Thighs (recipe available on her blog), the Garlic Cheddar Biscuits, and the brownies. All fabulous! Go and visit Melissa and read her story, then dig into her great food. One of her latest recipes is a low-carb, all-natural reworking of Nutella. I can tell you, too, that she is really nice and answered a question that I sent her via Facebook right away.
Anyhow, Melissa recommends Honeyville Almond Flour. I looked on Amazon when I was buying her cookbook, and it sells for $35 for a 5-pound bag. That’s $7 a pound, the same thing I was paying for blanched almonds that I had to grind myself! Plus, there is no way that I could ever get the flour this fine. It is an excellent product, and Honeyville Farms also has a nice website with many different foods, including the expected bucket-o-wheat and unexpectedly appetizing freeze-dried foods for short or long-term storage, if you’re into that sort of thing. Yes, they are in Utah. I will definitely get all my almond flour from them from now on. Shipping is always $4.49 anywhere in the U.S.
So that’s what I’ve been up to! Tomorrow is the first Gamecocks football game of the season, so we will be having Stuffed Jalapeños (search for “Hot Harvest” on this blog) and Garden and Gun’s Perfect Tailgate Cocktail, among other things. Bon appétit!