Thursday, July 28, 2011

Almond Crisp Crackers and Brie

Never thought I'd make my own crackers.  They didn't really seem worth the effort.  However, I've made quite a few batches over the past couple weeks.  Worth the effort.  And turns out, it doesn't require much effort.  Now I can eat my favorite dips again.  Okay, actually, I was still eating the dips.  I just ate them with a spoon, which is not as satisfying as a crunchy cracker.

I originally found a recipe for Almond Thins on the in a forum, and have seen variations of this recipe all over the web.  I'm not sure where this recipe if it is yours let me know and I will cite your recipe!

Almond Crisp Crackers
1 cup almond flour
1 egg white
3 Tb fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Kosher Salt

Mix all ingredients (except kosher salt) together until you have a uniform "dough."  Place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and then use a rolling pin to create a thin sheet.  (I wouldn't make them thicker than 1/4".)  Sprinkle the top with kosher salt.  Score the dough into cracker-sized rectangles with a pizza cutter.  Then bake for 12 minutes or so at 350 degrees.

My hubby and I were going to serve this snack when our guests arrived this past weekend.  But, turns out they were a few hours later than they had hoped, so we devoured these crackers with brie and pear slices in a savage manner that was far less elegant than what this particular snack calls for! (I topped the brie with 2 teaspoons of a Crofter's Just Fruit Spread.  It has less sugar than a traditional jam, and just a little goes a long way in this snack.  The crackers are pretty low carb, but I still watch my portions, especially with the pear and the fruit spread.)

Other yummy cracker recipes I have found:
Herbed Almond Crackers from At the Baker's Bench
Sesame Socca Crackers from Healthful Pursuit 

And if you have brie left...first of all, you have stronger will power than I do, and secondly, you could try a delicious looking mushroom brie omlette by Carolyn at All Day I Dream About Food!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Iced Vanilla Coffee Drink

I probably don't need to tell you this, but it has been quite hot out.  The keep-your-children-inside kind of hot.  I was feeling quite sluggish, and I needed something to hold me over until dinner, so I blended up an icy coffee beverage, drank it along with some trail mix, and I was pretty satisfied.  This recipe is for two, so half it if you're just making it for yourself.  Or, get a really big cup.

Iced Vanilla Coffee Perk-Up
1 cup organic whole milk (or your favorite non-dairy substitute)
1 1/2 cups chilled strong coffee  (I put leftovers in my fridge the day before.)
10 drops of SweetLeaf Vanilla Creme Stevia
2 scoops of vanilla whey protein
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon
2 handfuls of ice (about 10 ice cubes)

You could easily make a chocolate version using chocolate protein powder and chocolate-flavored stevia.  Also, it should be noted that I like my milk to coffee ratio to be close to half of each, while many others probably prefer to decrease the milk and increase the amount of coffee.

I don't usually have a lot of caffeine...there's a lot of contradictory evidence out there about how insulin resistance is affected by caffeine.  I used decaf for this and still felt like I had much more energy after my snack.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things Stuffed Portobellos

At first glance the other night, it appeared that we had nothing with which to make dinner.  But, on second glance, I realized we had some giant portobello caps.  Bingo.  I took leftover veggies from other meals, bacon, sharp white cheddar cheese, and pesto, and we had dinner 30 minutes later!  One portobello cap has about 4 grams of carbohydrates.  I also recently learned that portobello mushrooms are a great source of potassium!  Who knew?  Considering I'm not eating many bananas these days due to the relatively high sugar content, I thought that was good news.

I'll post what I put in my stuffed mushrooms, but this is another recipe where you can add and subtract according to what you've got on hand.

Favorite Things Stuffed Portobellos
2 diced roma tomatos
1/2 diced yellow pepper
1 diced zucchinni
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1-2 cups spinach
2 minced cloves garlic
3 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese
4 Tb pesto
6 slices bacon (I used turkey bacon)

1. Cook the bacon, drain it, and cut into small pieces.  (Keep in mind bacon will cook a bit more on the grill.)
2. Saute the tomato, pepper, onion, zucchini, and garlic in a bit of oil until peppers and zucchini are just softening.
3. Add bacon, shredded cheese, and pesto.  Finally, stir in spinach until just wilted.
4. Wash mushroom caps, brush with a bit of olive oil, and fill with the stuffing ingredients.
5. Grill mushrooms over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  Garnish with fresh basil or other herbs if you so desire.

I had two portobello caps, and had extra stuffing goodness left, so we had some lettuce wraps as well.


Some other favorite variations of this meal that we sometimes cook are portobello pizzas, or mushrooms stuffed with red pepper, tomato, basil, spinach, and feta.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ginger Peach Protein Pancakes

Today's breakfast is brought to you by the letter "P."

Peach.  Protein.  Pancakes.  Oh, and also some Pecans.

I don't normally make pancakes on a weekday.  But I am on summer break.  And my two year old requested some.  And my husband is laid up on the couch with a gigantic sprained ankle.  So pancakes were in order.

I've been salivating over peaches at the farmer's market.  Peaches are a lower glycemic-index food, and that makes me happy.  I try to balance eating healthy carbohydrates with protein and good fats, so I've been toying with a peach protein pancake recipe in my head.  The protein in this recipe comes from the cottage cheese, the egg, and the almond flour.  We topped them with a peach sauce, cinnamon yogurt, and chopped pecans.  Oh, and some blueberries.  Yum.

Ginger Peach Protein Pancakes
1 cup whole-fat organic cottage cheese
4 eggs
1 shredded peach (about 3/4 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tb grated ginger
1 1/2 cup almond flour
2 Tb coconut flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 cup Stevia in the Raw  (or substitute liquid or powdered stevia)

Peach Sauce
1 peach
1 cup water
2 tsp vanilla extract
10 drops vanilla creme stevia
pinch sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp xanthan gum

Cinnamon Yogurt
1/4 cup whole-fat organic yogurt or greek yogurt
6 drops vanilla creme stevia

To make Pancakes:
1. Put the cottage cheese, egg yolks, peach, vanilla, and ginger into a blender.  Blend on low.
2. In a bowl, mix almond flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and stevia in the raw.  
3. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix.
4. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold into pancake batter.
5. Cook on an electric griddle or frying pan.  These pancakes are moist, and bit trickier to flip than a typical pancake, so make sure that the pancake is bubbly on top before flipping to cook the second side.

To make peach sauce:
1. Blend up the peach and the water until pureed.
2. In a small sauce pan, heat all the ingredients until boiling.  Then, simmer on low for a few minutes until the sauce thickens to the consistency of apple sauce.

To make cinnamon yogurt:
1. Mix the yogurt with cinnamon and stevia.  
(This is how I eat yogurt for snack sometimes with  nuts and berries.)

sans blueberries

I made 14 pancakes with this batter.  When I did the math, I got that each pancake has 5.5g of carbohydrates and 6.7g of protein.  Of course, the toppings will be in addition.  Now, the question is, can you think of other toppings that begin with the letter "P" that could be added to these pancakes?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Herb and Artichoke Bean Salad with Tahini Dressing

The great thing about a bean salad is that you can toss just about anything in there and it tastes great.  My husband and I try to eat several meatless meals a week, so lentils are a staple in our kitchen.  I made this salad for a last minute potluck BBQ at a friends.  I have to be careful these days about my portion size because beans do have carbohydrates, but there are plenty of good things to say about eating lentils if you are insulin resistant.  Legumes are low on the glycemic index, and they contain protein and other essential nutrients.  The high fiber content helps to keep your blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly.     

The Tahini Dressing I made was inspired by a recipe I saw on EatingWell, but I didn't want the sugar in honey and as much as I like garlic, I didn't want to use it for this.  To make the dressing whisk all these ingredients together:

Tahini Dressing:
2 Tb. Tahini
3 Tb. Olive Oil
2 Tb. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tb. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 packet of stevia (or other sweetener of choice)

To make the salad, chop up about a cup of fresh herbs.  You can mix it up; I used about 1/2 cup parsley, 3/8 cup basil, and 1/8 cup of mint.  Add the herbs to 1 can drained and rinsed Cannellini beans, 1 can drained and rinsed Adzuki beans, and 1 can of drained quartered artichokes.  Pour the dressing over the salad, chill, and voila!  I used whatever I had on hand; substitute away based on what you have in your house or what's in season.

Bean, Herb, and Artichoke Salad
1 16 oz. can Cannellini beans
1 16 oz. can Adzuki beans
1 16 oz. can quartered artichoke hearts
1 cup of fresh herbs

Monday, July 18, 2011

Almond Flour Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

When I was first making changes to my "diet" after being diagnosed with Insulin Resistance, one of my saddest goodbyes was to pancakes.  While working to manage my IR, I am eating very few grains, so even the whole-wheat oatmeal pancakes I had been making were out.  Our family tradition had been to make a pancake breakfast after Church every Sunday.   Nixing the pancakes left me feeling like I was missing out on more than just a food that I liked.  I was missing out on ritual...and on watching my husband teach my toddler how to flip a flap jack!

Missing pancakes is what led me to the eventual discovery of almond flour, or almond meal.  It is essentially finely ground almonds.  Almonds (in healthy quantities) have tons of health benefits for people with Insulin Resistance.  (And people without IR!)  Almonds can actually help decrease rises in blood sugar (glucose) in addition to providing protein, monosaturated fats, Vitamins E and B2.  I feel no guilt about giving my toddler pancakes made with almond flour as part of her breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack on Sundays!

So, almonds, almond butter, and almond flour are now staple ingredients in my kitchen!  I have actually enjoyed many almond flour recipes much more than the "originals."  I have found a few great almond flour pancake recipes online, my favorites being at Heather Eats Almond Butter and Elana's Pantry. I also created one of my own, and after several batches of tinkering, I think I have a lemon ricotta pancake recipe that is pretty darn good.  Of course, if you have suggestions, comment away!

1 c. of ricotta cheese (I use whole fat organic)
Zest and Juice of 1 large lemon
3 Eggs
1 Tb. Coconut Oil
1 c. Almond flour
2 Tb. Coconut flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. Stevia in the Raw
1 tsp. Lemon Twist Stevia
1/4 c. seltzer water

1. First, gently mix the ricotta cheese, egg yolks (set egg whites aside for later), lemon juice and zest, liquid lemon twist stevia, and coconut oil.  I put these ingredients in my stand mixer and turn it on low just until blended.
2. Next, in a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: almond flour, coconut flour, stevia in the raw, salt, baking powder.  Gently stir into the wet mixture.
3. Whip up the egg whites until you have peaks forming.  Add the egg whites to the rest of the batter.
4. Finally, add the seltzer water.  I add this last so that the carbon dioxide bubbles are lost in the blending process.
5. I cook these pancakes around 300 degrees on my electric griddle.

I make 9 pancakes out of this batter, and I estimate that each one has about 5g carbs.  I serve them with a berry "syrup" that I make with fresh berries, water, stevia, and maybe a bit of xanthan gum.  I think they'd also be good with some greek yogurt.  If you make these, I would love to know what you put on them!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lemon, Garlic, & Basil Vinaigrette

I love basil.  To me, basil is the king of all herbs.  I planted a few basil plants in our garden this summer and they have been well worth the $2.00 I spent to get them at the Farmer's Market!  I have been putting fresh basil in my salads, on my sandwiches, and everything else that it would even moderately go with.  This morning as I made breakfast I was even wondering whether I could make pancakes with basil.  What do you think?

Well, much more conventional than basil pancakes is a basil vinaigrette.  (And yes, I spelled vinaigrette incorrectly on that little label in the picture.  Alas, this is why I teach science rather than English.)  You can find tons of basil dressing recipes online.  I used the traditional 3:1 oil to vinegar ratio for my version.  I've been careful to look at nutrition labels on vinegars when choosing one to make a dressing; some of them pack quite a few carbs and sugars into a tablespoon.

3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. champagne vinegar
1 Tb. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c. heaping and packed cup of fresh basil
1 packet stevia
pinch of sea salt

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high.  Store in an airtight container.  Ta-da!

I will be having this for lunch soon over another salad of fresh spinach and arugula with salami tidbits, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, red pepper, and hemp seeds.

I am so excited to be picking greens to eat for lunch in my back yard! 

 I think the key to a good salad for me is at least 5 ingredients.
And at least two of them have to be good sources of protein and/or fats,
otherwise I'm hungry again in an hour!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Condiment Conniption

A conniption fit.  A full blown melt down.  A tantrum.  That's what I almost had in the aisle of the supermarket the other day.  Since trying to eat better, I find it takes me a looooong time to grocery shop.  I mean, shopping with a two-year-old alone makes it an adventure.  But when you add to that adventure trying to read the small print on nutrition labels for hidden sugars and additives?  And comparing price tags of course.  Yikes.

So there I was in the condiment aisle, hoping to make it home in time to cook dinner before my whole family had conniption fits, and all I wanted, was a salad dressing that didn't have loads of sugar.  Or worse, corn syrup.  Condiments are one of the areas where added sugars are still sneaking their way into my diet.  I eat a lot of salad, which means a lot of salad dressing.  And yet among those many, many shelves of bottles I couldn't find one that looked to be both low in sugar and edible.  Then, I had a realization.  A realization that many people would have had a lot earlier, but still, at least it came to me.

I could MAKE salad dressing.

People have done it in the past.  Before the invention of plastic bottles, and before the invention of corn syrup.  People used to make salad dressing.  They would churn their fresh milk into ranch.  Or something.  I think Martha Stewart still does it.  Why not me?

And so, I invested in cute little glass bottles from Michael's for $1.47 each.  And even better, saved a few glass mason jars for $0.00.  And now, I have a delicious supply of salad dressing I feel good about eating.  My sweet husband even thinks I'm should sell it.  That sounds like a lot of work, and I only have a few more weeks of summer left, so I'm just going to post my recipes for ya'll.

Here's the first one:  Strawberry Poppyseed Dressing

-1/2 c. chopped strawberries
-1/4 c. white wine vinegar
-3/4 c. walnut oil (you can substitute another oil of course, but I like the walnut oil best for this recipe)
-1 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
-1 Tb. poppy seeds
-pinch salt
-1/2 tsp. xanthan gum  (this will thicken the dressing, so careful not to overdo it or you'll get sludg!)
-Stevia to taste (I used 1 1/2 packets)

-Place strawberries in a blender and put just enough water in blender to cover them.  Blend on high until liquid.  Pour into a bowl.  Add all the other ingredients to the bowl and whisk them together.  Store in an air-tight container.

I served this dressing over a spinach and arugula salad with pear, strawberries, feta, and pecans.  The peppery arugula was delicious paired with the sweet summery fruit on top.  Yum!