Tag Archives: low-carb

Two Sugarless Cookbooks

It’s been ten years since I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and I still don’t need to take medication because I follow a low-carb eating plan every single day—except for my birthday. So, I assumed that I had it down pat and didn’t need any new input. However, when these two new cookbooks came into our library, I just had to take them home.

SugarDetoxMe, by Summer Rayne Oakes

SugarDetoxMeSugarDetoxMe is a big, glossy hardcover filled with color photos of the author and her tasty recipes. After relating her experiences with sugar addiction, as well as the science behind this all-too-common modern affliction, Oakes helps the reader to set up her kitchen and pantry, and then launches into the eating plan. Granted, many of these recipes are still too high-carb for a diabetic, as she uses some grains and starchy vegetables, such as peas and potatoes.  However, if you are looking for a way to break out of the Standard American Diet, this is a great and delicious first step.

Here is the genius of this book: Oakes arranges her recipes according to Meal Maps. According to the author, Americans waste a massive amount of the food we buy. In order to avoid wasting money and resources, she creates a shopping list, and then gives the reader a week’s worth of meals that will use up all of the items on the list. Fantastic! I will warn you that the first Meal Map is all about eggs. If you cannot possibly face another egg in that week, by all means turn to other recipes in the book.

Beautiful and brilliantly formatted. Recipe I’m going to try: Spaghetti Squash Latkes.

 

Quick Keto: Meals in 30 Minutes or Less, by Martina Slajerova

Quick KetoThe ketogenic diet was first brought into popular awareness by Dr. Atkins back in the 1970s. Since then, this regimen of eating high fat/ no carbohydrates has been found to be effective in treating seizure disorders, which is certainly worth enduring what I considered the blandness of the limited food choices. What could a keto cookbook say, besides “eat a stick of butter”?

Quite a lot, it turns out. Slajerova gives a few short pages on the basics of the diet, and then launches into 100 easy recipes that are both mouthwatering and healthful. This paperback book shows pictures for almost all of the dishes, which range from tempting appetizers such as Crunchy Chili-Lime Nuts to beautiful desserts like Blackberry Lemon Mousse. The quintessential keto dessert is called a “fat bomb,” and sure enough, the last recipe in the book is No-Bake Blondie Fat Bombs. They have both cacao butter and coconut butter. There are entrées aplenty, too, such as the Prawn Cocktail Stuffed Avocado, which looks completely luscious. Low-carb diets in general seem to be very big on avocadoes these days, some in the most unlikely places.

These terrific recipes are quite simple, and I can eat every single one with no substitutions, so this book went into my Amazon cart. It’s a keeper.

Disclaimer: I read library copies of both of these books. Opinions expressed are solely my own, and may not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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Has Grain-Free Gone Mainstream?

Grain Free LogoIt used to be very difficult to find great low-carb recipes, and older low-carb cookbooks tended to rely on artificial ingredients, often sold by companies that had a corner on the market. We’ve all gotten smarter over the years, including the chefs. No longer do we switch to low-carb for a short time to lose weight. Many of us are living without grains for the rest of our lives, sometimes because The Grain Formerly Known as Wheat is making so many people so sick. Now the market is filled with cookbooks that have low-carbohydrate recipes that feature whole foods and healthy ingredients. For a diabetic, it is still necessary to analyze a recipe carefully for sugar and starch, but most Paleo and some gluten-free cookbooks can be very useful. Here are three new cookbooks for your perusal.

Stella Complete Low CarbFirst of all, one of my favorite low-carb chefs from years ago is George Stella. I have many of his cookbooks, and some of my favorite recipes are his, such as Anaheim Shrimp Scampi, Bourbon Barbecue Sauce, and New York Style Cheesecake. Mr. Stella and his family, particularly his son Christian, have been evolving over the years away from artificial ingredients and soy toward a more holistic, health-conscious approach. Christian Stella is a co-author of the latest offering, The Complete Low-Carb Cookbook. George starts off by telling the story of how his family of four lost a total of 560 pounds, and since I had read this inspiring story in the past, the best part for me is that they have kept it off for over ten years! George is a professional chef, so he had to completely change the way he cooked, while being able to create dishes that still pleased his discriminating palate. In this new cookbook, he has included some of the classics mentioned above, but he has also tweaked some old recipes to make them even better! For example, I love his Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese recipe and make it all the time, but now he has the Ultimate Mock Mac and Cheese Casserole recipe that adds chicken and bacon to the original recipe, turning it from a side dish to an entree. We loved it. Furthermore, there are loads of brand-new recipes that look scrumptious: Reuben Chicken Roulade, Claire’s Stuffed Pumpkin, and Chocolate Walnut Bon-Bons, just to name a few. He includes a nutritional analysis for each dish. One of the best things about the recipes in George Stella’s cookbooks is that, as a diabetic, I can make all of them without any changes. My old Stella cookbooks are falling apart, I’ve used them so much, and I’m sure this new one will soon be spattered and covered with notes, too.

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Ultimate Mock Mac & Cheese Casserole

 

Meals Made SimpleDanielle Walker, of Against All Grain fame, has been reviewed in this blog when her first cookbook was released. Now she has a new one out called Meals Made Simple. I have tried a few of these recipes with excellent results. As a young mom, Ms. Walker does not have time for exotic ingredients or fussy preparation, so her Paleo dishes are possible for busy people everywhere. Since Ms. Walker has struggled back to vibrant health after nearly dying from an autoimmune disease, she has done a great deal of research and is a wealth of information on how the food that we eat affects our bodies. She shares some of her knowledge in the generous extra pages filled with notes on the various special diets her readers may follow, meal plans, ingredient lists and suggestions, lists of tools needed, grocery lists, and more. This is all incredibly helpful, of course, but this book truly shines in the recipes she offers with a beautiful picture for each one.

Ever since I sank a ridiculous amount of money into a waffle maker, I have been searching for the perfect low-carb waffle recipe. It is not easy. Most are too eggy. I can make eggs in a skillet, so that doesn’t work. Others are too heavy and soggy. Danielle Walker’s Freezer Waffles are the best I have found. I did use the coconut oil, as suggested, and they came out crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Delicious. This recipe calls for 2 cups of her pancake mix, which is on another page. 2014-09-09 17.15.45I have made waffles twice so far, and I still have a zip-lock bag of pancake mix in my freezer. Very handy! I have not actually put any leftover waffles in the freezer, since, if I leave them in the refrigerator for a day or so, they seem to disappear.

Following that success, I made the Lemon-Roasted Asparagus and Brussels Sprouts. This very simple recipe combines two of my favorite vegetables and adds a light, zesty flavor that goes perfectly with fish. The Brussels sprouts were shredded in a food processor, but you could do it by hand with a sharp knife and a great deal of patience.

After that, we went Asian with her Ginger Chicken and Broccoli. We seem to have a lot of ginger in the house these days, what with our tailgating Ginger Bourbon Cocktails, so I am always on the lookout for recipes with ginger. Again, this is a very simple recipe that is cooked entirely on the stovetop in one skillet. Since I am not gluten-sensitive, I used soy sauce—which I had in the fridge—in place of the coconut aminos, and the results were fabulous. In this dish, Ms. Walker uses tempered egg yolks to thicken the sauce, and it worked! I will certainly remember that trick for the future.

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Asian Chicken & Broccoli

Dr. David Perlmutter comes from an entirely different direction from Danielle Walker, although I’m sure they’d agree on the need to ditch grains from one’s diet. While Ms. Walker takes the digestive disorder perspective, Dr. Perlmutter presents pretty terrifying scientific evidence concerning grains’ effect on the brain, particularly Alzheimer’s Disease. If you haven’t read his original work, Grain Brain, I highly recommend that you do so, especially if neurological issues or dementia are hereditary for you.

Grain Brain CookbookThe doctor gives a quick summary of his medical research in the first section of his new book, The Grain-Brain Cookbook, and then explains how to set up a new pantry, trying along the way to help the reader change his mindset about what one should or should not eat. The recipes that follow are easy and often basic. Dr. Perlmutter’s aim seems to be to show the nervous patient that she can continue to live happily and stay healthy while eating familiar foods that are naturally gluten-free or have been easily modified to become gluten-free. There are not as many pictures in this book as in the first two I’ve reviewed, but there are occasional sections with glossy, color pictures. Nutritional analyses are offered for each recipe. This book is an excellent place to start for anyone switching to a low-carb or gluten-free diet, and since the man is, after all, a doctor, he relies completely on fresh, whole foods.

All of these new resources make low-carb, Paleo, and gluten-free cooking so much easier than they were just a few years ago. The low-carb crowd, in particular, seems to have moved in the same direction that we have, going away from using artificial ingredients to create fake versions of the foods we used to eat and transforming our diets with more non-starchy vegetables and less bacon or cream. Someday I hope to reverse my diabetes to the point that I can give up the little bit of artificial sweetener I use now and use honey or maple syrup instead. I have not gotten there yet, but it’s a goal!

But wait, there’s more! One of the next books I plan to read will be Wheat Belly Total Health, where we will tackle the other issues beyond eating. This may require getting off the couch, but we’ll see.

Disclaimer: I own a copy of George Stella’s cookbook, and I read library copies of Meals Made Simple and The Grain Brain Cookbook. Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else. As I am a reader and reviewer, not a doctor, nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice.

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Two Teals Cooking

Make Ahead PaleoOn Independence Day, as David was working his Yard Warrior routine, I was puttering around in the kitchen, groovin’ to Lake Street Dive (“You Go Down Smooth“) and whipping up five different recipes. We had David’s grandmother’s recipe, “Mama Teal’s Famous Barbecued Chicken,” on the menu, and since that naturally goes with cole slaw, which I make with my food processor’s shredder blade, I decided to get some extra work out of it and shred up veggies to make “Breakfast Muffins” from the new cookbook Make-Ahead Paleo, by Tammy Credicott.

2014-07-04 15.33.01This cookbook has several sections featuring different ways of preparing food in advance: cooking for the freezer, preparing crockpot recipes in advance, and, as in this case, prepping all the complicated parts of a recipe a day or more in advance of finishing or serving. On July 4th, I put all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl, covered it and put it away, and then I processed all of the “add-ins”—shredded carrots and zucchini, chopped walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and coconut. I covered the container and put it in the fridge for the next morning. All I had to do after that was mix up the eggs and such, and then put it all together.

Since I am a low-carber, not really a Paleo die-hard, I had to replace the maple syrup with two other ingredients. I used Splenda in the dry ingredients for sweetness, and then used coconut milk to replace the liquid. It worked perfectly. These muffins were sweet and delicious, and much lighter than I expected with all of those added ingredients. If you have children, this is a terrific way to sneak some serious vegetables into their diets without a struggle. However, I cannot guarantee success unless you listen to mellow music while you work.2014-07-05 09.38.04
Deviled Eggs Debbie MooseThe next day, with the satisfaction of a perfectly manicured lawn behind him, David spent some time in the kitchen creating a batch of “Deviled Ham ‘n’ Eggs.” This was his second round with this recipe, as it was the first one we made when I brought the book home. David is a specialty chef. He grills brilliantly, of course, and is particularly adept with fish on the grill. He also makes breakfast every weekday morning, which is an excellent arrangement, since he wakes up perky every morning, whereas I would start to think about breakfast around 10 AM— which would be unfortunate, since I’d be at work at that point. So he gets me off to a good start every morning. And then, for some reason, he has had a fascination with deviled eggs for several years since my friend, Julie, gave me a copy of a cookbook by Debbie Moose with nothing but deviled egg recipes. David is working his way through this little gem, and we are all happily sampling the results. Lately, we’ve been traveling so much that we’ve missed our connection with Elaine, our egg lady at church, and I think we panicked and overbought eggs at the store. Time for a special recipe!

David uses our friend Darlene’s instructions for egg boiling. Darlene is a botanist from Ontario, and this method is a result of scientific experimentation from her graduate work, so we call them Canadian eggs. We do not question why botanists would need to study hard-boiled egg preparation. David puts the eggs in the pot, covers them with salted water, and brings them to a full, rolling boil. He begins timing the eggs when they come to a boil, and he boils them for two minutes. He then removes them from the heat, covers the pot, and lets them sit for ten to fifteen minutes, depending on the number of eggs. He hypothesizes that more eggs, and therefore more water, will take longer to reach a boil, so they can sit for less time. At that point, he pours off the hot water and immediately plunges them into ice-filled water until they are completely cool. Using this method, he gets perfectly cooked eggs without that gray-green ring around the yolks.

2014-07-05 13.40.22“Deviled Ham ‘n’ Eggs” is a great recipe for summer, when we have the fresh thyme and parsley growing in the garden. I will not divulge that David always has to ask which herb is which. He digs the soil; I’m the plant person. I’m not complaining. Besides the ham and herbs, this recipe calls for lemon juice, and the end result is a fresh, savory snack. The “make-ahead” element of this recipe is that you can make these the day before a picnic and they will travel well in your cooler. Again, we are not Paleo hardliners, so we ignore the dairy-free rule when it’s convenient. Here you can see some of the eggs topped with chopped parsley (the authorized version) and some topped with shredded sharp cheddar (unauthorized, but yummier). Take your pick.

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The Paleo movement continues to evolve, concentrating more on whole, unprocessed foods, rather than food that would actually be available in the Paleolithic era. Coconut aminos? Furthermore, natural sweeteners, such as honey and maple syrup, are showing up in more and more recipes, whereas Paleo cookbooks used to consider these very occasional treats. However, Make-Ahead Paleo is filled with wonderful recipes that I intend to sample, including “Macadamia, Garlic, and Basil-Crusted Chicken,” “Cashew Lime Hummus,” and “Creamy Cilantro No Potato Salad.” One brilliant feature is the “Week in a Day” section in the back that helps you to cook one day for a week’s worth of dishes. There are also resource lists, guides on how to store various ingredients, and grocery shopping and freezer inventory forms that you can download with a QR code. How well-planned is that? I can definitely recommend this large paperback cookbook to all busy low-carb or Paleo cooks. Bon appétit!

Disclaimer: I used a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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Zoodles!

ImageI finally received my Spiral Vegetable Slicer, which will henceforth be called a Zoodler because it makes vegetables into lovely noodles. What an essential kitchen gadget for those of us who are low-carbers and love pasta! I had had it in my Amazon cart for months, just hoping for Christmas Amazon gift cards. I must be a good hinter, because I did receive some. Oh, how I wish North Carolina bloggers could get paid for click-outs to Amazon, but alas! Amazon and the North Carolina legislature have not settled their war yet, so I am going to gush on about this product purely for love, and not for profit.

ImageHere is the basic machine. You can see that it has a spiky end that holds the vegetable in place and another end that holds a guillotine-looking blade that snaps in place. The other blades are nicely stored beneath, as you can see. There is a slicer blade that makes ribbons, a coarse shredder, and a fine shredder. Today, I am using the fine shredder. You can see my pears, zucchini, and beets waiting in the background.

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2014-01-23 18.24.41The first thing I zoodled was a couple of pears, which worked nicely, but needed to be sprinkled with lemon juice quickly to prevent browning. I set them aside for the pear and beet salad, and moved on to zucchini, a vegetable that is practically invented for the Zoodler. Here you can see the zoodles coming out as I turned the handle on the other end. So cute! I made a bowl full of them (top picture) from three zucchini, which leaves a weird core, as you can see. I was surprised by the core, but then I realized that the reason the pears didn’t leave cores is because they dissolved into the mush that ran down the inside of the Zoodler. Aha. No problem, though. I still got a lot of zucchini noodles!

ImageI saved the beets until last because I was afraid that I’d stain the Zoodler. I read in the instruction manual that you can make two cuts on either side of a vegetable to get C-shaped noodles. As you can see, that worked really well, but what you can’t see is that I made the cuts too close together in the center, so after a few turns, the beets split into two pieces. Oh, well. I reconfigured and made smaller C’s.

Yes, the beets made a big mess! After I was done, though, I took the gadget apart and gave it a quick rinse, and it did not stain at all. As you can see below, my counter is still a mess, but the Zoodler is shiny white again. Whew!

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My next challenge was to cook the zucchini noodles. As you can see, I cut up the cores into little plugs and threw them in. No, unfortunately, those are not baby scallops. I heated up a bit of olive oil and a pat of butter in a large skillet and got it pretty hot, then tossed in the zoodles and some chopped garlic. I was making the beet salad at the same time, so I didn’t pay close enough attention, and I think I overcooked the zoodles a bit. Practice makes perfect. I think it’s best to stop before they get translucent at all. However, I can tell you that they were delicious! They still held together, and we all loved them. I’m sure that this is just the first of many meals with the Zoodler!

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Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter, M.D.

ImageWhen new books on diabetes or low-carbohydrate diets are published, I will almost always read them, as you know from following this blog. However, you may not know that my father died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2004, so my siblings and I are always on the lookout for new research on dementia, as well. Little did I know that the two were interconnected, but Dr. David Perlmutter has put forth some very controversial and fascinating new research in his book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar—Your Brain’s Silent Killers. Dr. Perlmutter is a neurologist, as is his 96-year-old father, who now has Alzheimer’s, so the author has a vested interest in his subject. In the long run, this is very hopeful information, since it is the first time that anyone has stated that Alzheimer’s and other neurological problems are actually related to the food you eat, and, therefore, preventable!

Until very recently, scientists believed that neurological problems were almost all due to genetics. However, with the explosion of both diabetes and Alzheimer’s in the past few decades, they began noticing that the two diseases were tracking together. Why? Although patients with diabetes and other digestive issues tend to show symptoms years before the final diagnosis, the damage wrought in the brain by grains is silent until it is too late. Dr. Perlmutter began drawing connections between the rapid increase of carbohydrate consumption since the advent of the low-fat, high-carbohydrate government dietary guidelines and the increase of inflammation-related neurological disorders, including dementia, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, epilepsy, depression, Parkinson’s disease, migraines, and even autism. We consume much more gluten in our diets today than we ever have before, both because of our dietary guidelines and because of the change in our wheat, as outlined in Dr. William Davis’ Wheat Belly*, quoted often in Grain Brain. Gluten contains substances that connect directly to the opiate receptors in the brain, resulting in a very real addiction. But it is not only wheat, but all kinds of carbohydrates that cause inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain. Even people who are not showing gastric signs of gluten sensitivity are being affected.

Just as the medical establishment has decided that 40% of the population should be on statin drugs just on general principles, Dr. Perlmutter sets out to convince us that cholesterol is not bad for us. I have not heard that opinion since Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, who wrote Protein Power in 1999, published a graph showing how cancer rates rise much more precipitously under 140 total cholesterol than heart disease rates do over 200 total cholesterol.  Cholesterol is a substance that maintains the integrity of the cell wall throughout the body and is necessary to form the synapses between brain cells. Perlmutter notes that the Framingham Heart Study shows that people with higher cholesterol also have higher cognitive strength. Although he is not a fan of statin drugs, since cholesterol is obviously important to brain health, he does acknowledge that inflammation is the root cause of many of our most dangerous chronic illnesses today (thereby agreeing with Dr. David Agus in The End of Illness*), but he believes that the inflammation is caused, in large part, by what we eat. For most of history, scientists believed that brain cells were fixed, and although they could be damaged, they could never be repaired or replaced. The very encouraging news that the human brain can, in fact, regenerate is a real motivator to follow Perlmutter’s guidelines to maintain and improve your habits early in life so that you can avoid serious consequences later in life.

There is not even room in this review to tell you all that Dr. Perlmutter has to say about movement disorders, depression, fructose vs. glucose, how exercise affects your brain, and so much more, but about two-thirds of this book sets out the research and reasons for changing to a low-carbohydrate diet. The final third is a very practical guide to help you make that change. Dr. Perlmutter lays out a four-week plan to change your diet, exercise, and sleeping habits, and follows with menu ideas and recipes. The recipes, compared to many of the fabulous cookbooks I’ve reviewed, are quite basic, but when you’re new to the idea of giving up bread forever, basic can be very helpful. He also has charts of recommended supplements, good vs. bad oils, lists of gluten-containing substances, and more.

By this time, I hope that our culture is waking up to the fact that carbohydrates are not contributing to optimum health. Unfortunately, it is still difficult to find healthy choices in restaurants, and I still have to shop online or in more expensive stores to find some of the basic items in my pantry. I suppose eating well has always been more expensive, but I hope that almond flour, grass-fed beef, and a wide variety of non-starchy vegetables will soon be more mainstream. There are many restaurants out there whose side dish options extend to baked potatoes, fries, or rice. No wonder we’re all so sick.

I highly recommend Grain Brain to everyone, because we all know someone suffering from ADHD or depression right now and we all need to help ourselves to avoid dementia in the future. Add it to your pile of books on the carbohydrate-diabetes connection, and before you know it, you’ll put away the chips and soda. Just switch to red wine and dark chocolate!

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*These titles are also searchable in this blog. Sometimes they were discussed within wider posts on the topic.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. My opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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Against All Grain, by Danielle Walker

ImageAs you can tell by my reviews, I am thrilled by all of the new grain-free cookbooks out there that are using natural, whole foods instead of the lab-created concoctions of the early Atkins phase of the low-carb revolution. This week, the library received a brand-new Paleo-related cookbook that is both gorgeous and inspiring!

Danielle Walker, blogger extraordinaire (http://www.againstallgrain.com/) has assembled 150 or so of her favorite recipes, some from her blog, but most revealed for the first time. Do visit the lovely blog; it makes me long for a webmaster. Danielle has quite a story. She was diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis in her early twenties, and there are some pictures that illustrate just how ill she really was. Obviously, from her blooming health here on the cover of her book, you can see that she overcame her disease and has learned a great deal about food and nutrition since then.

Now to the recipes—yum! One of my cookbook requirements is a picture for every recipe, and this book has such fabulous pictures that I had to eat my lunch half an hour early when I was perusing it at work! My tummy started rumbling, so I had to start stuffing in romaine leaves and pretending they were Seafood, Chorizo, and Chicken Paella. Danielle includes everything from breakfast to cocktails— Blueberry Waffles to Mango Mule— with an entire chapter devoted to kid-pleasing dishes that will help your little ones to develop a love of wholesome ingredients. I think the Toddler-Approved Vegetable Curry would please me, too!

As a diabetic, I will warn you that Ms. Walker does not have blood sugar problems, so in some of her recipes she uses honey, maple syrup, bananas, dates, orange juice, and other no-nos for those of us whose pancreases will not cooperate. If it won’t change the texture of the recipe (i.e., reducing the amount of liquid), you may be able to substitute stevia or the sweetener of your choice. I have gotten pretty adept at this sort of thing, and even though it may take some experimentation, I can usually adjust the recipe appropriately.

An unforeseen by-product of reading this and Melissa McGee’s book (see review on Satisfying Eats in this blog) is that I have put another item in my Amazon shopping cart, one of my favorite pastimes that I told you about a couple of weeks ago. Ms. Walker shows pictures of what looks amazingly like pasta in these pictures, but what is actually zucchini noodles, created by the Paderno World Cuisine A4982799 Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer, more conveniently known as a Zoodle. Or maybe it’s a Zoodler and the noodles are Zoodles. Anyhow, it can make noodles out of any vegetable and nearly any fruit. If you take a notion, you may buy it for me for Christmas.

ImageI have only had this book for a couple of days, but so far I have tried two recipes. The first one was N’Oatmeal Cookies. With the sort of sweetener substitution for diabetics described above, they were delicious. Spicy and munchy. We sampled them during a South Carolina Gamecocks football game and we won, so they must also be lucky cookies.

ImageSecondly, I made the Currant Scones. Now, I have enjoyed scone recipes in other grain-free cookbooks, most notably the Cranberry Scones in The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking, which I have reviewed here, but they are fun, fancy scones. I am actually a bit of a scone snob. I grew up next to an Irish family—by which I do not mean of Irish descent, like my family, but the parents were actually from Ireland—and they had tea every afternoon. Somehow, I managed to show up on time quite often. I learned to make scones from my friend, Eithne, and I still have her handwritten recipe. Unfortunately, I can’t eat regular scones anymore, so I’ve been on the hunt for an authentic-tasting recipe for some time. These did the trick! You may notice that there are no currants. I was fresh out and too lazy to go to the store, and I’d used all of my dried cranberries on the N’Oatmeal Cookies. In any case, this is the taste I was looking for: mildly sweet and a perfect vehicle for apricot jam. Ms. Walker has a recipe for Lemon Curd, too, so I will give that a shot in the future.

One positive result of the Paleo movement and the recent scientific research on wheat and other grains is that people are beginning to understand that this way of eating is not a short-term diet, but rather a complete way of life. Ms. Walker emphasizes this in her book, and even tailors the recipes to fit the diets of people with various chronic conditions, such as ulcerative colitis and other gastrointestinal diseases. Most of the recipes are dairy-free or have alternative ingredients for dairy-free results, and she has symbols on each recipe to denote whether it is egg-free, nut-free, Specific Carbohydrate-compatible, or vegan. But don’t worry: this is not a medical journal. It is a very beautiful and useful cookbook that just happens to make people well while they feast.

I will definitely be buying this one.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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Recent Success Stories from My Low-Carb Kitchen

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.

ImageNow, 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.

ImageAnyhow, 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!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Diabetes, Food