companion blog to the e-book the 24/7 Low Carb Diner

Companion blog to the e-book
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chicken with Sweet Malt Sauce

Everyone who knows me knows that I love sweet and tart together. Like the roasted strawberries I just featured...or a good barbecue sauce. Or this. It is a little like an American barbecue sauce but with a definite European flair. I used malt vinegar as the base and no tomato. If you are gluten free, opt for apple cider or wine vinegar, and dilute it just a bit. The vinegar, famous in the UK as the accompaniment for fish and chips, is sweetened with some Swerve, and made much more interesting with the addition of some herbs and spices.

Watch when you cook the sauce, as it comes to a boiling/thickening point quickly. I made mine first, then pan fried my chicken. When I went back for the sauce, it had hardened. I almost had malt vinegar candy. Fortunately, it softened back up with just a minute on the stove top. The sauce will get very syrupy and strands will actually fall away from the spoon. Yum. No thickening agents needed at all. Must be the Swerve. I am not sure if a concentrated stevia or sucralose would perform the same.

The sauce is really highly flavored, so don't overdo. I made a recipe for two. Just me and the mister tonight. This is kinda more grown up food, so you may not plan on feeding this sauce to the kiddos. Give them some honey mustard or cheese. I was inspired by a sauce on Bon Appetit, so consider yourself a gourmet when you make this. No, not really. It is quite simple to prepare. Just the flavor profile is unusual. It reminded me of some of the medieval recipes we researched when studying that period. Vinegar was a key flavoring. Yes, I am certainly a history nerd.

Chicken with Sweet Malt Sauce

2 chicken breasts
1 tbsp coconut oil

1/4 cup malt vinegar
3 tbsp powdered Swerve
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper

Pound the chicken breasts flat. Heat oil in a heavy skillet and pan fry until cooked through and golden. Keep warm. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, Swerve, and all herbs and spices. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until the mixture  comes to a boil and thickens. It will reduce by half or more. Spoon over chicken and serve.

Serves 2.  172 calories    <1 carb

If the photos look different, it is because I spooned the sauce over one, and spread it over the other. Do it either way you prefer.

School is going really well. It is tiring, but so rewarding. I am very excited too. I just heard that my oldest son and his beautiful bride are coming in for the Labor Day weekend. I miss them so much living a state away. I had better finish up the Diner News so I can be sure to get to spend all my time with them. Be watching for it on Sept. 1st.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Roasted Balsamic Strawberries with Coconut Pound Cake

I am trying to make the best of strawberry season while it lasts. These berries are really more versatile than you think. Have you ever roasted them? It is a great thing to do with those that might be just a little bit past their prime. That happens to me sometimes since I only have time to shop once a week. Granted, I hate turning on the oven, but this sophisticated taste is a good trade off. I have a great shop here in my hometown that sells amazing flavored balsamic vinegars. Get me in there, and I am like a kid in a candy store. They let you sample too. This time I came home with Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar. Oh the places that will take an ordinary spinach salad! Frankly, I can just lick it out of the spoon. I love the maple flavor too. I just need a whole collection of little vinegar bottles to keep me happy. Thanks to my Diner and life friend Susan for introducing me. I am loving my lime flavored olive oil as well.

In case you don't have any gourmet oils and vinegars, I tried out this recipe with the standard Balsamic vinegar as well. Just as good--almost. I have eaten Balsamic Strawberries before. That old recipe was also sweetened up with brown sugar. Not now. I just used powdered Swerve. In fact, I made the roasted berries three ways. Flavored vinegar, plain Balsamic, and simple sweetened strawberries. Once roasted, they all get a syrupy consistency. I really do like the contrasting tartness of the vinegar. You may not. Try them both ways to see which you prefer.

The coconut flour pound cake is moist and very vanilla flavored. It does taste a little eggy fresh from the oven, so plan to give it some time to rest before serving this dish. The texture is wonderful, moist and not crumbly. It absorbs the juices from the strawberries and makes a delightful summer dessert. I baked mine in mini loaf pans. Half a loaf is a pretty big serving. You could also cut each loaf into thirds to lower carbs. Or just bake in cupcake size.

Roasted Balsamic Strawberries with Coconut Pound Cake

Roasted Berries:
1 lb fresh strawberries
3 tbsp powdered erythritol blend or equivalent sweetener
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

6 eggs
3/4 cup almond milk
1/3 cup vanilla sugarfree syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil (warmed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Trim strawberries and cut into fourths (or sixths for larger berries). In a medium bowl, toss with powdered sweetener. Stir in Balsamic Vinegar if using. Place berries on a parchment covered cookie sheet with sides. Roast in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, lightly whisk eggs. Add the almond milk, syrup and coconut oil and vanilla, whisking with each addition. In a separate bowl, combine the coconut flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until no lumps remain. Allow the batter to rest a few minutes to thicken. Pour into 3 mini loaf pans or any dishes you choose. Batter can fill 3/4s of the baking dish. Cupcakes will work also. Bake approximately 30-40 minutes for loaves, 25 minutes for cupcake size. Test that a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cakes cool completely. Top with strawberry mixture and serve room temperature or chilled.

6 servings:  224 calories  9 net carbs

9 servings:   145 calories  5 net carbs

With the first week of classes behind me, I wanted to again thank you all who purchased my e-books and the Low Carbing Among Friends series from my links this past year. Our program might not have met the summer expenses without you. The teens back for fall semester are great and our model really meets needs for those who learn "outside the box."  I pledge all my profits directly into the school, enabling scholarships and helping with all the costs that come with education. It is rewarding but also exhausting! Here's to foods that give us unbounding energy!

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Beef Italian Sausage

Classes start back tomorrow. Yikes! Still so much to do. It seems like I never get everything on my list crossed off even if I work ahead. Hard to imagine where I'd be if I didn't at least try to plan.

This is a yummy treat and the thing is--these patties are versatile beyond your wildest dreams. Well, maybe not your wildest--unless you are a foodie who dreams about food. My family loves Italian sausage on pizza. This is really similar but it also works great as a breakfast sausage. I will get to all the other uses later. But think about what a timesaver you have when you have pre-cooked sausage patties waiting in the freezer. They reheat really quickly. They pack in lunchboxes super easy. Don't even have to thaw. They work for any meal of the day. Cool. These are made with beef, but pork is fine too. I happen to have run into a great sale of grass fed beef for less than 4 bucks a pound. I made 16 small breakfast patties from one pound. Not that hard, and they are fast to make.

So fast, these are in the upcoming Diner News. This edition will center around timesavers in the low carb kitchen. These are definitely that! You will want some in your freezer.

Italian Sausage Patties

1 lb lean ground beef (or your preference)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sage
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp marjoram

Combine meat with all ingredients. Form into 16 small patties. Pan fry until browned. Eat one serving and flash freeze the remaining patties. Pack into a freezer bag.

1 patty is 60 calories no carbs

If you don't like the fennel seeds which make these Italian, by all means leave them out--they will be more like a traditional breakfast sausage. So sure, these are super quick to heat up and serve with eggs for breakfast. I love the browned bits I get to scramble into the eggs after frying up the whole batch of sausage. Yum. Other mornings, they will be even quicker, though the eggs will be purely yellow. (But still delish)

Then think about all the other cool things you can do with an Italian Sausage Patty. From the upcoming Diner News, here are some of my ideas. What might you do?

Serve them so many ways!

As a breakfast slider. The small size patty pairs perfectly with a small muffin as the bread.

As an omelet filler. Warm them, dice them, and add them in the filling.

As a flavorful lunch box treat—finger food that is  wonderful even without a sauce.

As a pizza topping. Dice a bit and add to pizza for that great Italian flavor.

As mini “Meatza” pizzas. Melt a sprinkle of mozzarella and a  dab of tomato sauce on top. A few fresh, finely chopped veggies as you like.

As a protein for a super quick Italian soup. Combine some broth, tomatoes, zucchini and whatever veggies you like..

As a salad—add warm or cold to salad greens dressed with Italian dressing, tomatoes and cheese.

As a substitute for meatballs. Serve with zoodles and sauce for a nice Italian dinner.

The Diner News comes out every month for just $6 a year. There are ideas and recipes you never see here on the blog, so order your own!

I've got my prep work done--well almost. At least I won't have to worry about my lunches at school this week. The first week of classes is always a little stressful, but fun too. Here we go...

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pizza Burger Patties

School will start again soon around here. Just a week and I am going to have to be super organized again. Either that, or give up eating all together. Sometimes I think that would be easier, but then I love to eat and my hunger always wins. Since my son (and partner) decided to leave the school last spring, I am pretty much left to run the place with just my few volunteers. We are going to make it, but I suspect that the first few weeks will be a bit stressful. Therefore, I am making monthly menus this weekend rather than a weekly one. Fewer things to think about means less stress. Planning really does make a healthy lifestyle possible--for me it is essential.

For the Diner News for September, I have planned a theme of Time Savers. Today's recipe is one of those. I make a big batch of these tasty burger patties. We ate a couple and the rest went into the freezer. Now when the busy weeks of school start up, I will be able to grab a burger patty for my lunch at school and John's at the radio station. These can go with a salad, cut up veggies or even a cup of soup. Good meal guaranteed with so little effort.

These are not boring burger patties. They are good with absolutely no additional condiments. The herbs and garlic, tomatoes and cheese make them so appealing. I used dehydrated tomato pieces, and you could sub sun dried if you prefer. Then there is that pepperoni flavor. Oh yeah. You could add in some bell peppers or mushrooms too if ya like. Today, I served some garden fresh zucchini and tomatoes as a simple saute on the side. With summer fresh produce, simple is better because the veggies are so naturally flavorful. Beautiful dark red home grown tomatoes.

 I am working on some ideas for make ahead  T.V. dinners too. These patties would be a great candidate for those too I think. Be looking to see all I come up with in the September Diner News.

Pizza Burger Patties

2 lb lean ground beef
4 oz pepperoni, finely diced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp minced onion
2 tbsp Italian Herb blend
2 tbsp dried tomatoes
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Combine beef, pepperoni, cheese, onions, herbs, tomatoes and garlic powder. Use your hands to mix the flavorings into the meat very well. Divide meat into 8 equal portions. Form into patties. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or grill. Top hot patties with 2 tbsp shredded Mozzarella cheese. Serve or cool and wrap to freeze.

Serves 8:   397 calories  2 g carbs

I wanted to take a minute to thank all of you who have ordered books and the Diner News from me this summer. Because of you, I was able to keep our school building and get the rent paid on time. Your support has been my saving grace. To those of you who donated directly, may God bless you a hundred fold.

I will continue to use my book sales for the school. No one is taking a salary yet, and I am hoping to at least offer some small stipends this year to my tutors. We have some new teens coming this year, and I am so excited about the difference we are going to be able to make for them. If you think your small contribution wouldn't make a difference, think again! I see it everyday.

Get more great recipes at the Low Carbing Among Friends Facebook Page:     

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

No Bake Blueberry Muffin Bites

I am all about no bake during our hot August days. These mini muffin style treats taste a lot like blueberry muffins, but no baking is necessary. They are a great little summertime treat. Especially good for those who appreciate healthy fats. Easy Peasy too. The almond and blueberry flavors go together really well.

No Bake Blueberry Muffin Bites

1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup coconut oil, in liquid state
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp Stevia blend or sweetener of choice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine almond butter and coconut oil until smooth. Stir in blueberries, coconut, sweetener and vanilla. Spoon into mini muffin papers and freeze. Makes 15.

Each has 119 calories      2 g net carbs (1 g fiber)      12 g fat

So it doesn't get any easier than that, right? I used a neutral flavored coconut oil, Jarrow Organic. That let the vanilla, almond and blueberry favors not be overpowered by the coconut. You could use any oil though. If you love the coconut flavor, go ahead and use an oil that retains the coconut flavor. I also used a stevia blend for my sweetener. The recipe is an equivalent to sugar ratio. Use any sweetener you like, and feel free to adjust to taste. Yes, you can just dip your finger in or lick the spoon.

These are so good. But do keep them cold. If it is hot where you are, they will get all gooey melty pretty fast. Since they are just a few bites, no problems just gobbing them up straight from the freezer or fridge.  I usually keep my coconut oil treats in the freezer for an extra cool treat. But these, I think, are best in the fridge. That way the berries are not frozen solid and more of that fresh blueberry flavor pops in your mouth.

I love that they don't stick to the cupcake papers. I love how fast these are to make. I love the healthy ingredients. What is not to love? Got my snacks for the week!

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