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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chicken Saag

The Diner News is out for February. This month the theme is Spicing it Up! I have some recipes that are spicy hot. Those will warm you up in this cold. Some that are spicy sweet. How about Spiced Sunbutter Fudge or Jalapeno Cheesecake. Those would make a special Valentine treat. I am most excited about the recipes that feature spice blends. Being on the Whole 30 this month, I have relied more on seasoning blends and whole, clean foods. It really is amazing what you can do with some of the incredible spice blends out there. And the online shops are amazing. Not expensive at all and so many unique blends. I am hoping my honey wants to get me some gourmet flavored salts for Valentines Day. Not bath salts, but wine flavored and truffle flavored. Who knew?

Here is a recipe of an Indian dish I made tonight. I love the flavors. Even my boy cleaned his plate. I have always been the only one in the family who would eat Indian food. He was a little adventurous tonight.  It smelled great and I think it is the only time I have willingly gotten him to eat spinach. Bet you will love it.

Chicken Saag

1 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tbsp coconut oil
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp garam masala seasoning blend
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp salt
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
¼ cup almond milk or coconut milk

Trim chicken of fat and cut the meat into cubes. In a large skillet, sauté chicken cubes in a little coconut oil until slightly browned. Set aside. Sauté onions and garlic for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and spices to the tomatoes. Return chicken to the skillet  and cook for 10 minutes on medium low heat. Add spinach and almond or coconut milk. Cook until the spinach is wilted. May be served over Cauli-rice or spiral cut zucchini.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mediterranean Tilapia with Olive and Almond Tapenade

I like olives, but I am the only one in my family who does.  So now and then, it is fine to make a treat for just the cook. With three bottles of green olives left open in the fridge from holiday relish trays, I decided to experiment a little. I looked at lots of recipes for tapenade, but I didn't have capers (never do) or anchovies. I found two that used almonds.  Hey, I do have those! I know this does not make a real tapenade, but it just sounds more delicious than topping or spread. You can check my inspiration recipes here and here. I added different spices and added some new ingredients.

I am featuring spices and flavorings in this month's Diner News, and this creation will be part of the newsletter. I can tell you that if you like green olives, this dish is wonderful on fish. Tilapia is so mild, that the flavors really come through. I used a Mediterranean Seasoning Blend from Archer Farms at Target. This is interestingly spicy. If you want to duplicate my recipe without buying the jar, it is a blend of these flavors: chili flakes, garlic granules, lemon peel, dill weed, dill seed, oregano, cinnamon, mace, spearmint and chervil. Whew. Easier to buy this one! I threw a handful of grape tomatoes into the skillet with the fish. I adore grilled tomatoes. They taste so sweet.

Mediterranean Tilapia

4 Tilapia fillets
2 tsp Mediterranean Seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

Thaw fish if frozen. Sprinkle seasoning and salt on on side of the fillet. Using your fingers, press the spices into the fish. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place the fillets in seasoning side down. Cook for 4 minutes, then lift with a spatula and turn to cook the other side of the fish. Let this side cook for 4 minutes or until it flakes with a fork at the thickest part. Remove and spoon olive topping over the fillet.

Olive and Almond Tapenade

1/3 cup roasted almonds (whole) OR 1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup olives
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Mediterranean Seasoning
1/4 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes

Place almonds in a food processor and grind to a coarse meal. Add in olives, lemon juice, seasoning, garlic and oil. Process until no large chunks remain, but before it forms a paste. Stir in tomato pieces and set aside for flavors to blend. Use this to top fish or as a spread or dip with vegetables.

I used my bullet blender. Don't try this. Go ahead and take it from me. They don't work well for this application. Go for the bigger model. That being said, I would have had this posted much earlier today, but our power was out for hours. I hate that I lost some of the newsletter I had been working on. One of these days I will buy a new battery for my laptop. The good news, is I was able to catch up on some reading.  No cooking, no computer. Sometimes that is a good thing. At least it was back on in time for my Downton Abbey fix.

I am on my last week of the Whole 30 challenge.  I am doing really well without cheese. This spread really helps there since it is so flavorful. I really do miss sweetened drinks though. I am tired of lime water all the time. My stevia bottle is calling me from the kitchen counter. I do feel good though. I even managed to stay on plan at the Italian restaurant where we plan to hold my son's rehearsal dinner. Hurray for small victories!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mexican Hotcakes

So I seem to be on a pancake kick as of late. None of the sweet type, however. Since I am doing the Whole 30 this month, those are no where to be found. Sunday was the salmon cake, today, I ventured out and made breakfast a little more memorable. My new recipes have been very clean on this plan. Simpler fare, for sure. This was one I thought would scream for cheese. Although these little cakes would be great with cheese, I am happy to announce that they are really tasty without cheese. Maybe my tastes are finally adjusting afterall. I just have to remember to put salt in, something I don't do too often since the hubster is sensitive to that sort of thing. Of course, he won't eat salsa either, so this one is just for me. He got plain scrambled eggs today. Poor guy. Doesn't know what he is missing.

Disclaimer here. These are in no way authentic Mexican cuisine--at least not that I know of. But with salsa and jalapenos, I decided they might well be, and granted them that name. You can call them whatever you want. Cook like a hotcake, taste like a fritatta, perhaps a distant cousin of the latke...what else can I call them?

I have been working my way through a spaghetti squash this week. Being the only one eating it, it has lasted quite a number of meals. This finished it up. If you are trying this recipe from scratch, be sure to have some plans for the rest of your spaghetti squash so it won't go to waste. Of course, plans could be as simple as some butter and salt, but also think about pesto or marinara sauce. I digress--back to breakfast.

These are simple to prepare, and only gave me a minimum of trouble flipping. They may not be the prettiest of brunch type dishes, but they are flavorful so who cares? I just love spooning the salsa on top instead of missing the sugar free syrup. For an extra kick, I added a new spice blend I am trying out. It is a jalapeno seasoning by "Chili Dawgs" and is simply ground jalapeno peppers, onion, salt and garlic. Unlike my usual favorite, jalapeno salt, this one very light on the salt. Whole different flavor. It is more heat, I think and definitely less processed. They have some other interesting flavors too. Next month's Diner News is featuring spices and spice blends, so look for more uses there.

I made a small batch, but feel free to triple or quadruple the recipe if you have more squash or are feeding a crew.

Mexican Hotcakes

2 large eggs
1/2 cup cooked spaghetti squash strands
1/4 cup thick and chunky salsa
1 tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt
jalapeno seasoning to taste

Lightly beat the eggs. Stir in cooked spaghetti squash, salsa, coconut flout and salt. Heat coconut oil on high heat in a heavy pan until  just smoking. Turn down the heat to medium. Drop mixture onto the hot skillet with a 1/4 cup scoop. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle on the jalapeno seasoning to taste. When the base is cooked enough to be browned and set, flip the hotcake. Cook briefly on this side until set. Remove to a warm plate while making the rest of the hot cakes. You may need to add additional oil to the skillet. To serve, top with additional salsa.

These are a definite change of pace from scrambled eggs. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Salmon Coins Cajun Style with Lemon Garlic Aioli

I have had this can of salmon lurking on the shelf for over a year. Just couldn't seem to get around to eating it. I know it is good for us. Then I recall that time when my boys were babies and I had a rather traumatic experience with a can of salmon. That one had the vertebrae and lots of skin. It was not appealing to me. I picked out the skin and most of the bones. It was not fun. Now I know that you should stir those in really well until they nearly disappear--that they are actually really good for you. Then, it just grossed me out. Since then, my salmon purchases have been guaranteed bone free. Less scary, but pricy in those little pouches. More to this story--

So I was given this can of wild caught Alaskan salmon.  The good stuff. I needed to use it. Having missed my grocery shopping yesterday, I had few choices today. My son and his bride to be were in town this weekend and we were out all day ordering the flowers, checking rehearsal dinner venues and, ahem, tasting cakes. (Just one little taste of her favorite.  Sorry, Whole 30. This was my planned cheat. They only get married once, and the mother of the groom is usually not invited to these events. I was happy to be a part!) Then a morning of preparing breakfast for everyone. Chorizo Scramble. Yum. Monkey bread for my sweet toothed daughter to be. (She and I disagree on what is healthy, but I am trying to win her over in love. Sometimes that means making sweets and not partaking of them myself.)

So I gathered my courage while the kids were out registering at Target. But guess, what? No bones in this can! Woohoo. The little coin sized salmon cakes were a breeze to make. I had a little trouble with my home made mayo today, because my immersion blender broke. I rescued it with my Ninja and an extra egg. Life is good.

Salmon Coins Cajun Style

14.75 ounce can of wild caught pink Salmon, drained
1 cup very finely minced kale
1/4 cup finely minced red bell pepper
2 eggs
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 1/2 tsp Cajun Seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
Coconut oil for frying

Drain the salmon. In a medium bowl, mash the bones and skin in well if your can has them. Finely mince the kale and pepper and add them to the bowl. Combine with eggs, coconut flour, Cajun seasoning, and salt. Heat 2 tbsp of coconut oil in a heavy skillet. Use a scoop to measure out the salmon mixture and press it in with your fingers. Drop the mixture from the scoop onto the hot skillet.When the bottom is lightly browned and set, flip the cakes over and press the tops to shape them into disks. Brown and remove to a paper towel. You may need to add more coconut oil between batches.

Lemon Garlic Aioli

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp crushed garlic paste

Combine mayonnaise, lemon juice and garlic paste. Let the flavors blend for 30 minutes  or more before serving. Dip the salmon coins in the aioli.

6 servings    219 calories   17 g protein   14 g fat  4.7 g net carbs

Of course, there is no rule that you have to make these finger food salmon cakes like I did. They work just as well as regular patties. I used Paula Deen's Cajun seasoning. If you are using another blend, check for salt. You may need to add a bit more. The mayo I used today is a home made version in which I used lemon juice to make the mayo. So if you are using a commercial brand, you may want to up the lemon juice in the aioli to 1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons. One more thing. You could leave out the kale. It adds some nutrition, so I squeeze it into all sorts of recipes. Your choice. These are going into my storage for some lunches this week too. I am lucky enough to have a toaster oven to reheat them. They will not be quite as good as freshly made, but better than the standard lunchbox fare, and they will be great in a bento box.

Overall, it has been a great weekend, even if I did lose the services of my immersion blender.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thai Meatballs

These are amazing little morsels of deliciousness. Nothing like an Italian meatball. Easy too and compliant with the Whole 30 I am doing this month.

Cilantro is the star in these. A lot of cilantro. If you don't like it--and some do swear it tastes like soap--maybe parsley would do. Keep these meatballs in mind when you have at least half a bunch of cilantro lingering in the crisper. It's fine if it is getting a little limp; we are baking after all. These are so good, however, you may just want to add cilantro to the grocery list just to make these meatballs. Yep. That good.

I made these Sunday during my prep day cooking. I have been munching on them all week. They were great reheated for my lunch bag. I even snuck a few cold. Not bad. They may not be the prettiest meatball, but that is because I used the super quick square meatball technique. I just pat the meat out into a square on my cookie sheet, then score it with a knife. Quicker than rolling meatballs by hand. Once they are baked, you cut them apart along the score lines. I would tell you that it is easier to make perfectly uniiform meatballs this way, but I still seem to get different sizes. Sadly, I must be spatially challenged. I can't cut brownies evenly either. oooh that's a nice thought. Brownies. Maybe come February.

Thai Meatballs

1 1/2- 2 lbs ground beef
1/2 to 3/4 bunch of cilantro, trimmed and chopped
3 tbsp almond flour
1 egg
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

3 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp water
1 tsp crushed garlic
3/4 tsp fish sauce

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, chopped cilantro, almond flour, egg, chia seeds, minced garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix well. Roll into balls or line a cookie sheet and pat out the meat mixture into a square or rectangle. Score according to the size of meatball you prefer. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (or until no pink remains for larger meatballs). Cut along the score lines to separate the meatballs.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes. While meatballs are cooling, assemble the sauce. Into a gallon size ziploc bag, add the lime juice, water, crushed garlic and fish sauce. Knead the bag with your fingers to combine the sauce. When meatballs are just cool enough to handle, add them to the bag. Close the seal and shake to coat all the meatballs with the sauce. Serves 6.

Per Serving: 437 calories  1.7 g net carbs   29 g protein  34 g fat

My advice is not to skip the fish sauce...just make sure your brand is sugarfree.  If you must, then substitute tamari or soy sauce. Even the hubby who is not so crazy about cilantro likes these. The cilantro flavor mellows with baking, but still lends an exotic touch to the standard meatball fare. Got a few of these darlings in my tummy, and now I am ready to go shopping for a mother of the groom dress. My oldest's wedding is not too far away now. Early March is looking to be a very busy time. I know that craziness is usually reserved for the mother of the bride, but the kids are holding the wedding in our hometown rather than hers, so some of those details are left to me. Plus we may be housing a few guests that week. So much to get done. I am so excited though. It will be a beautiful wedding.

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

Order our books at:

Love the recipes I share on this blog? My ebook helps you plan and prep to stay healthy 24/7.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Roasted Ratatouille with Sausage

This is so delish, I don't even miss the cheese. That is saying something for me! Since I am giving up all dairy for the month, that is a testimony for sure. I have such a hard time going dairy free. I am doing it though, and this dish makes it easier.

Italian sausages are best here--but those are hard to find without corn sweeteners and fillers added. Brats will work--just add a little Italian seasoning.. I use Premio Zia Sausages from Sam's Club.  No fillers or sugar. The other option is to use a pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage like Archer Farms All Natural. Those are pre-cooked, so if you choose those, skip that step. In order to bypass the sweetener, I needed to use brats, and added some fennel for that sausagey flavor. I know, that is not actually a word, but I like it better than perfect grammar.And I wanted that fennel signature. Where there is a will...

I have never been a huge eggplant fan. Kinda spongey to me and Ihate going through the salting and drying technique. This is a good filler though, and it is amazing to see how fast the egggplant soaks up the olive oil. I used a garlic flavored oil, so I know the flavor is in there! To keep my eggplant from becoming little sponges that feel oddly squishy between the teeth, I opted to roast the eggplant separately at first to dry it out a bit.  I am not certain this was necessary, but I can say that I like the recipe made this way.  If scrunchiness doesn't bother you, then feel free to skip the roasting step too. See, I am making this easier for you in so many ways!

I really do have a no brainer reaction to add cheese, but it is not necessary. A little splash of balsamic vinegar might be nice. Or some red pepper flakes for some heat. Versatile recipe, no? If you want to fill it out, you could add zucchini also. I did not, so there. Another step saved  .

Roasted Ratatouille with Sausage

1 large eggplant
3 low carb Bratwurst sausages, or sausage of your choice.
1 green bell pepper
1 small onion
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp  Italian Herb seasoning
1/4 tsp crushed fennel seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Dice eggplant, leaving skin intact. Sprinkle salt over the eggplant and toss it with 1 tbsp olive oil. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. While that is cooking, roast the sausages in another pan.

Chop the peppers and onions into large bite size pieces. Remove the eggplant from the oven and stir in the pepper and onion. Add the remaining tbsp of olive oil and return to the oven for 15 minutes. While that is cooking, cut the cooked sausages into bite sized slices.  Set aside.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and stir in the can of diced tomatoes, garlic, Italian herbs, crushed fennel seeds and sausages. Stir to combine. Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve. 4 Servings have about 7 carbs if using a 0 carb sausage, 8 if using a 1 carb sausage.

This is going to be one meal today and a couple of lunches for me at school. I like to have something hot rather than a salad when the temperature barely makes freezing.  It would be good as an omelet filling too. Since I am in the midst of my prep day, better run. Got a pork tenderloin in the slow cooker and getting ready to make a sauerkraut soup with my other sausages.  We will see if that is any good. I still have salad from last week, vacuum sealed in canning jars. Those should last at least 4 more days.  So worth it! How are your New Year resolutions going?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sauteed Kale and Bacon Omelet

It is back to basics for me.  So basic, I am having a hard time coming up with recipes or food to show off here on the Diner blog. If you follow me on Facebook, you may have read the post where I explain that I ate a lot of Christmas sweets. Mostly legal, made with Swerve or sucralose, but a few here and there that someone else made not so carefully. We had my own cookies, red  velvet cheesecake and brownies, and amazing sugarfree jalapeno cheesecake.  Yes, that is actually sweet and was a last minute request from my Pearson. He tried it at his fancy office party and asked me to duplicate it.  Sure enough, the how to was on Youtube. Being Christmas Eve, and hosting a sit down dinner, I didn't have time to photograph it.  Now I am off sweets, so it may be a while on that one.

Why am I off sweets--even the low carb sweeteners? Basically, I was getting too accustomed to them. Having dessert and cookies around made me snack more, eat more and expect more. I swear eating sweets may make me hungrier. I had never noticed huge cravings, but I think it got the ball rolling on overeating for me. I know it is not as simple as calories in, calories out, but too much food does make me gain. I have read theories that any sweetener, even the artificial ones, trigger the area of our brains that respond to sweetness, That I hear can cause continued cravings. I figured it would be worth a try to go off sweetners of any kind and see for myself.

Given that I also know that I use too much cheese in my diet, I decided to cut that as well. I have been trying to cut back, but I love it so. But if so many paleo eaters could do it, I am willing to try. To get me the inspiration I need, I opted to join a whole lot of other crazy people and take the Whole 30 challenge. You can read about the plan at the Whole 9 website. Basically, no grains, alcohol, sweeteners, legumes, soy, and a list of additives to stay away from... for thirty days. Some of these are harder than others more me, but being a low carber, I am far ahead of the curve.

What has been hard? No sweetener in my coffee. I think I have pretty much given up coffee for the month.I missed cheese in my breakfast casserole, although some rutabaga chunks were a fun addition. And as usual, making non low carb food for others is a bit of a challenge. Not to grab a taste here and there when you are the cook. Hate that part!

The upside is enjoying the true flavors of the foods in a simpler state. The cucumber in my salad had a great flavor yesterday. As did the grape tomatoes. Yes, they still had a dressing, just not the blue cheese I prefer. You really get to know your veggies eating this way. That is a good thing.

Like this morning. Yes, finally the recipe you say. Uninspired for blog worthy cooking, I headed into make bacon omelets for me and my guy. Then I thought how I really should be adding a vegetable in there. I almost grabbed the spinach, but instead went for the kale, I usually use it in soups or salads, but on a whim decided to saute it. Lovely in the bacon grease. And when you have gone far out of the way to find sugarfree bacon, you really want to use the grease too. Kale has such a neutral flavor, the bacon really came through.  Perfect with just a dash of sea salt. Plus, it stays volumous and gets slightly crisped, not the shrunken pile  of greens you get with spinach.

So there you have it. I won't bother to put it in recipe format because I am sure you know how to make an omelet. This one has 4 eggs, 4 slices of bacon, and 3 chopped kale leaves, stems discarded. Just fry the bacon, then saute the kale. I had to add a little coconut oil to the pan for the omelet. Assembled, this fed hubby and me. And you know what? This time, I didn't even miss the cheese. Progress.