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

Companion blog to the e-book
Available at

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Beauty of Burgers...and Bacon

I love burgers. Those frozen patties are always in the freezer just waiting to be turned into a taste tempting meal. They are so versatile if you expand your mind beyond the mayo, mustard, ketchup routine.

Today, we are having Ranch Burgers for lunch. What could be easier? For John's lunch, I packed the assembly ingredients and three frozen patties. He likes to use the little Foreman grill at work so they are hot and fresh. They would be almost as good cooked at home and brown bagged, though.

Here is how I put together a Ranch Burger, E.Z. Fix style:
George the burgers or grill them in a skillet. Add a healthy sprinkle of Bacon Salt and Hickory seasoning for best flavor. When grilled to your preference, remove the patties to a plate lined with lettuce leaves. Top the burgers with Ranch dressing. Sprinkle bacon bits on top of that along with some diced onion. Yee-um.

The Bacon Salt is a new find. It is very tasty. I am still experimenting with it. So far it is very good on eggs, in casseroles and on green beans. When you get some, let me know how you use it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sharing a Little Valentine Romance

We had a little Valentine get together low carb style. It was more fun than going out to a steakhouse only to have to send away those incredible smelling rolls and those decadent desserts. We had just as elegant a menu...and a private dining room too! Our friends Gary and Denise joined us. We had a wonderful time.

My son Christian served as a waiter. The evening menu John and I prepared consisted of petite, bacon wrapped steaks, Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette, and Rutabaga Au Gratin. Denise brought along Baked Cauliflower and green beans with bacon. For a dessert that rivaled any restaurant, I made Chocolate Kahlua Mousse. Everyone loved it.

The candlelight was beautiful--only the light was too low for my pictures to turn out well. I'll add a pic even though it is a bit blurry. Most of the recipes were in the February 24/7 Low Carb Diner newsletter. Next month, I will be publishing some snack recipes, so get your orders in. It is available on the website.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chinese Chicken Triple Play

Yesterday I made a big batch of Chinese Chicken for our Triple Play Meals this week. Maybe you'd like to see what we will be eating...

Meal #1 is Chinese Chicken with stir-fried veggies on Cauli-rice. Now that brings up a question I have heard a few times from new low carbers. Just what is Cauli-rice and how do you make it? Well, there are several ways to make it, and it depends on your kitchen equipment. This is a pretty standard recipe among low carbers, and you'll find several ways of doing it. None are too hard.

I love kitchen gadgets, but don't own a food processor. (other than my trusty knife and antique salsa maker from the fair) That's okay. If you have a big food processor, watch this video, and you will learn how to make a simple version of cauli-rice.

If not, just use your brain to figure out a way to get that cauliflower into tiny pieces. I use my old salsa maker, but some use the standard old cheese grater. If you find that grating raw cauliflower is drawing blood, try microwaving it for a few minutes to soften it up. Just be sure it doesn't have time to turn soggy, or you'll have a real mess. In that case, change the menu to mashed cauliflower!

If you want to use frozen cauliflower, you will end up with a softer rice, but still good. That is really hard to hand grate, though, so plan on cutting it with a chopper or knife.

Now if you finally got that cauliflower chopped to your liking, how do you cook it? More options. You can steam it in the microwave--dry, with a touch of water, or with a teaspoon of oil. Or, you can stir-fry in a skillet. For Asian dishes, I stir-fry with a bit of sesame oil.

Here is one more trick. If you have family members who aren't low carbers, keep a bag of cooked brown rice in the freezer. That way, you aren't spending an extra 40 minutes to feed everyone. I wouldn't recommend freezing the cauli-rice though; it tends to get a little spongy and changes flavors a bit.

The photo on top was tonight's dinner...the one below, just plain cauli-rice that I sauteed with sesame oil and one chicken boullion cube. Be looking for our other meals this week too--Exotic Chicken Wraps and Asian Chicken Salad with a dressing to die for.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cheap and Starving

Everyone knows that I am cheap. No really. I love a bargain and I am stingy with the cash in hand. For example, we had a dinner at church Monday night. Unfortunately for us, they served sub sandwiches and chips. We didn't pick up any chips when they offered, but politely took two small sandwich halves. We probably ended up with three or four ounces of meat and cheese plus a few small bites of lettuce and a really bland tomato slice. Yum. But we kept up the conversation like it was no big deal. No one pointed fingers and accused us of being weird. We may be, but that is another story in itself. Granted, we did eat a bit more after we got home. I just grabbed some chili from the freezer. I put it in the microwave for a few minutes, and we got to have a steamy bowl of red. Point is, I never felt deprived, weak or angry with my little bits of dinner.

Now I do need to get to the point of this story--the starving part. The next day, we had a meeting in the State Capitol. We were required to pay for a catered lunch. Ten bucks is something I do not part with easily, so I planned to cheat for this meal, knowing the menu would be carby. Boy was I right. Another sandwich, chips and a huge, moist brownie. I ate it. It was good, but not the "oh my, it has been so long since I had a brownie" kind of adoration. I remember the vegetarian days when the thought of a cheeseburger would have sent me into an altered state. I only ate half of it, but for some stupid cheapskate reason, I put the remainder in my purse. Before we got midway on the turnpike home, I was SO HUNGRY. I was so sleepy too, I thought I might fall asleep at the wheel. So, I decided to rescue myself from a sugar crash and eat the rest of the brownie. It did the trick...for a time. After we got home, however, the attack of the hungry monster was back in force. All night long I was craving carbs. Even my usual low carb dinner could not budge the cravings. I was hungry all evening. The cravings were terrible.

I read an article on Bella that talks about this very thing. It is a study on teenage boys and increased appetites after high carb food. Very interesting, especially if you are in need of some mom guilt.

I think next time, I'll pay for the lunch, give it to a homeless person and bring my own low carb goodies in a brown bag. Pretty big decision for a penny pincher like me.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lunch in 5 Minutes or Less!

When looking at this cheesy grilled chicken, no one would ever guess it can be on the table in less than 5 minutes. No kidding. Here's how:

Even Faster
Pepper Jack's Chicken

1. Remove a serving of Chicken Cubes from the freezer. (These are cut into strips, but cubes work just as well)
2. Heat them in the microwave oven for 2-3 minutes.
3. While that is cooking, stir together 1/2 cup shredded Pepper Jack Cheese and 1/8 cup cream.
4. Microwave the cheese mixture for one minute or until cheese melts. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

You might like this in a low carb tortilla, but it goes well with a salad on the side too. So much better than fast food. By the way, this is the same sauce that is matched with freshly grilled chicken in the E.Z.Fix section of the cookbook.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Blame It On the Superbowl!

We like to plan our menu around the weekly sales. I guess a lot of party goers thought Beer and Brats would be great Superbowl food, because my hubby found his way back from a quick run to the store with Bratwurst in hand. Who can pass up a good deal?

So I plugged them into the menu yesterday and created a brand new entree that I loved. The package said they go great with mustard. I tend to agree. Sliced sausages and flavored mustards make excellent tailgate food. But we were staying home, so I opted for something a little saucier. This sauce is sweet like victory, and has a tang that hits you like the perfect pass.

Super Bowl Brats

This is one of the recipes included in my new cookbook project, Low Carbing Among Friends.
This recipe is available in the book, along with over 60 additional 24/7 Low Carb Diner recipes. By ordering the book, you get more than 300 favorite gluten free recipes from four other well known low carb cooking experts…Jennifer Eloff of Splendid Low Carbing cookbook fame, Kent Altena, the Atkins Diet Geek and You Tube star, nutritionist and author Maria Emmerich of Maria’s Nutritious and Delicious Journal, and popular blogger and food stylist, Carolyn Ketchum of All Day I Dream About Food. Unlike any other cookbook you may own, this one is a compilation of mini cookbooks featuring the talents of these well known low carbers. Think of it as a “best of” project.
Low Carbing Among Friends also features recipes from numerous other talented low carbing friends and recommendations from the medical community who recognize the health benefits of low carb, gluten free living. To preorder your copy, visit The official release date is 11/11/11, so pre-order now for a discount.

Now I wish I could say I cared about the Superbowl, but my guys' team is the Broncos. Maybe we can serve it next year if they make it to the big game!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Low Carb Family Style

It is sometimes difficult to eat low carb when the rest of the family does not follow the same plan. I refuse to make separate meals. Here at our house, I make low carb main dishes and side dishes. Then I supplement the meal with whole grains for my carb eaters. I keep some cooked rice in the freezer to keep meals simple and usually have some whole grain tortillas handy.

My son Pearson has benefited greatly from our low carb diet. During his early teens, Pearson began showing signs of Insulin Resistance, although I didn't know what it was at the time. He suffered weight gain, skin tags and acanthosis nigricans, a darkening of the skin at the neck and underarms. I was constantly trying to get the boy to wash his neck, thinking it was merely dirt!

When my husband John was formally diagnosed as a diabetic, research led me to the complete understanding of my son's problem. We decided to try a diet formulated for Insulin Resistance. He began to eat moderately low carb, and always balanced the carbs he did eat with appropriate protein. He did not count carbs, but he did give up sodas and sweets. His results have been outstanding! I am so proud of him. He continues to limit his carbs and balance his meals even while at college. Admittedly, this is much harder to do in a dorm and the cafeteria than it is with a concerned low carb mom. He has done a wonderful job and has avoided that dreaded freshman weight gain. Now that he is much slimmer, he has taken to playing racketball and using the school's workout facilities. It has become a lifestyle for him, and that is the key to success.

Pearson in 2005, and then again in 2008

He has lost even more weight since this picture.
What a success story!

Monday, February 2, 2009

But I Can't Afford to Low Carb!

With all the economic turmoil, it seems everyone is talking about
budgeting these days. Thrift is the new chic. Hmm, guess I was trendy before I knew it.

Meat is expensive. No way around that. Low carbers eat meat. Not many ways around that!Before I got serious with low carbing, I thought it would be too pricey for my budget too.

But there are ways to trim the budget and still follow the lifestyle. We are, as evidence, a single income family with two kids in college and one at home, who still manage to eat three meals a day. Here are some of my hints--in no order of importance.

How to Feed a Low Carb Family (on a really tight budget)

1. Menu Planning. Nothings breaks the bank more than emergency trips for take out food.
2. Shop Sales. I always go over the grocery ads before I make the menu for the week, That way I can build the menu--especially the Triple Play meal, around the meats that are on sale that week.
3. Shop more than one store. It may be a hassle to shop at more than one grocery, but the savings will convince you. Sometimes, the extras or produce are priced so much higher at stores with great meat sales that you end up with no savings. I buy meat from the sales circulars, produce and many pantry items at Aldi, and several dry goods at Big Lots. I don't necessarily go to all stores each week, but that occasional trip to Big Lots keeps me stocked up on Splenda, coconut milk, even Dreamfield's Pasta sometimes.
4. Buy in Bulk. We use Sam's Club for some items. Cream cheese in the big block, cream, frozen broccoli, American Cheese slices, thin green beans, three pound bags of cole slaw mix, DaVinci Syrups...I never, ever buy anything in bulk that is not a discount off of the regular store price, and I don't buy more than I can use in a reasonable time.
5. Keep a Freezer Inventory. Before I did this, I would forget about what I had in the freezer. It would get burned, we would taste it, throw it out and go for burgers. Now I date everything, keep my list updated so I always know what is in there.
6. Use those leftovers. When the big guys are away at school, we usually have leftover servings from casseroles. I freeze those in individual servings. They are great for late night emergency munchies, or days when the cook is off duty and everyman fends for himself.
7. Stretch the meat. This was so much easier to do when we ate SAD. I would add rice or pasta. Now, we are healthier. I add salad. This is so easy to do when the salad is pre-made in a container in the fridge. It is ready in an instant and fills both the plate and stomach.
8. Inexpensive Cuts of Meat If you buy less expensive cuts of beef, use the crock pot as a cooking method to make them tender and very juicy. If you don't mind pulling meat off bones, chicken legs and thighs make delicious moist dark meat, and are much cheaper.
9. Add some ground Turkey. When I am making Minute Beef or other recipes with ground beef, I often add 1/4 to 1/2 ground turkey. It is much cheaper than beef. It makes the meat mixture tender too. I don't care for turkey alone, but it makes a great mix.
10. No convenience foods. Most of these are incompatible with Low Carbing anyway. But consider the savings when you aren't purchasing pre fab foods. George Stella even tells you to shop only around the edges of the grocery aisles. Sticking to whole foods will keep you healthier too.
11. Do It Yourself Sweetener. I use liquid sucralose quite often. I have found that it can be ordered on E-Bay at a significant savings over the cost of other online retailers or regular Splenda. I recently purchased a dry powder and mixed it myself for about half the cost.
12. Find Buying Buddies. Gather other low carb friends together to share online orders. Almond flours or other specialty items are great to order together. At the minumum, you can share shipping costs. At best, you may order in quantity and share bulk savings.
13. Grow a garden.Now my friends are laughing. I am known to kill every plant that comes my way. I am going to try again this year with some container plants. Just think how much you might save on tomatoes alone.
14.Can or Freeze. Buy produce when it is cheap and invest some time prepping and storing. My pressure cooker doubles as a canner, but mostly I prep and freeze. I have several bags of pumpkin puree in my freezer from pumpkins that were a quarter each after Halloween.
15. Buy Seasonal. This of course, goes for produce, but other things seem to be seasonal as well. Holidays often trigger sales. Stock up on turkeys at Thanksgiving, brisket near Memorial Day, hams at Easter, etc.
16. Clip Coupons I don't devote too much time in this area, but I do ask family for coupons for meat or cheese items. The trick is to only use them on foods you would normally purchase and you are sure you will use. I am also careful to make sure there is not a reliable house brand that would still be cheaper.
17. Brown Bag. It is always going to be cheaper to bring food from home than to eat out. We eat out once a week at a pizza restaurant. The salad bar is a great option for us, the drinks are free, and we always use a coupon. But generally when dining out, one can't we sure where sugar creeps in, and often we have to throw away so much of our meal that is carby, that the financial considerations outweigh the fun of eating out.
18. Stick to the Shopping List. When you have done your work and planned the menu, your grocery list is reliable. Don't add extra items just because they sound good to you then. Chances are they will sit around unused because your plan doesn't have a place for them and they aren't really necessary. If you do eat them, you might be eating too much!
19. Big cans of Tuna. I don't know if you have noticed it, but tuna cans have gotten smaller recently. What used to be a meal for four now only feeds three. The prices have shot up too. And those pouches are even more pricey. I buy the 66.5 ounce cans of BumbleBee Premium Tuna at Sam's Club. It is a bit cheaper than buying the cans, much cheaper than the pouches, and saves one from opening all those cans!
20. Vow to spend less than $2.99 a pound. Unless it is a special occasion, I seldom spend more than $2.50 per pound for meat. True, we don't get much seafood for that price, nor many steaks. I can buy roasts, burgers, chicken breasts, turkey and sausages and stay in those guidelines. If your budget can stand it, plan one splurge meal a week or one a month.