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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ginny's French Toast

I have been so lax about photographing and reviewing the wonderful recipes in the newer Low Carbing Among Friends books. Starting and running an alternative school is a load of work! But hey, we all have lives, right? This morning I made this French Toast recipe from Ginny in the Low Carbing Among Friends Volume 2. It is on page 187. If you don't have the book, go get it now!  Go here.

We really liked it, although I had to change up one ingredient. Ginny's recipe calls for almond flour and Parmesan cheese. I had some cheese, but when I grabbed it, I found out the one I had left had crushed red pepper and Italian seasonings added. Not such a great match with French Toast. I decided to try a substitution of Golden Flax meal. Thankfully, that choice worked very well. The recipe is for one and goes together really quickly. The batter is baked in the microwave oven in under 2 minutes. Wow.  That is easy. I found a little Corningware casserole dish that is the perfect size for one piece of bread. Ginny says this can also be made into Texas Toast--you know the thick cut bread. It does bake up nice and thick. That is great since it doesn't fall apart after being dipped in the egg mixture.

I like to use a screaming hot cast iron skillet, so my French Toast cooked up faster than the recipe calls for. I even held it with the spatula to brown the sides a little bit. Just a bit of sugarfree syrup and breakfast was done. Really filling too. One piece will do ya!

This Easter weekend, my newlyweds are bringing their panini machine for sandwiches. I think this just might be the bread of choice for us low carbers. The thickness is going to work very well in the press.  I will keep you updated on that when the time comes.Until then, go make yourself some yummy French Toast. Thanks Ginny. Go check out her blog too. Ginny is a diabetic's inspiration! She may not know it, but I have been a fan since the days we first began low carbing for my Hubby's diabetes. You could say that I was probably her stalker on the Bernstein forum. She and I just gel because we both like to make real foods that feed our families and pass the "man" test! When you meet people who have maintained this way of eating for years, then you know it is the real thing.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Eggies and the Nutrition Police

None of my guys eats hard boiled eggs. I will on occasion. When I saw the Eggies gadget at the Dollar Tree, I decided to try it.  I mean, it was a dollar. I saw tons of reviews online of people that hated it. I saw more who questioned why bother. I saw a couple who liked it.

True, I have more kitchen experience than the average person, but I had no problem with leaking eggs, no messy counter, no boilovers. Pretty straight forward process. It does not save cooking time, and even adds prep time. I does prevent the pain of peeling eggs. I will never be good at that.  I know, I know. Use old eggs. Put soda in the water. Bake them instead.  I still have problems getting the shell off smoothly. No lectures please.

While we are on that lecturing subject. Yes, I know this is cooking in plastic and that is not good. I won't be doing this often-- promise. I figure there are so many bad things out there that I can't avoid, that I am not going to be the super vigilant, hyper healthy mom/wife/person that makes everyone around feel unworthy and judged. I remember the day a fellow parent made me feel terrible because I didn't use the right peanut butter and because my back yard did not have mature trees.  Excuse me. I never want to be her and I feel feel the sting of her judgment. I never go around telling people how awful sugar is. Not even when I see diabetics suffering. I offer our story simply as it is.  It is possible.

I work at keeping us healthy, but certainly don't want to make enemies because we choose to use or avoid certain foods or products. I read an article recently about how the "Paleo Police" make so many people give up even trying to make healthy choices. I got some rather snarky comments because I used Tilapia this week.  Ouch. Sometimes it just seems like there is nothing that is safe to consume.Either it is bad to start with, genetically modified, sprayed with pesticides, fed corn, coated in wheat, cooked with smoke, cooked too long, hard to digest when raw, source of salmonella, cooked in the wrong skillet, a possible allergen, or something.  Aaargh!

 I sometimes make bad choices and I admit it. Life is to be lived and every once in a while I have a diet Dr. Pepper. Not too often.  I do the best I can to be a good steward of our health and our finances. The two don't always get along well. Honestly, shopping at Whole Foods is simply not possible for us, and we have always lived simply, so there is no place to cut back.  I'll just place my hope in the fact that the good Lord has my days numbered and the occasional egg boiled in plastic or fizzy soda will not upset his plan for me. We are seldom sick and I have much more energy than people half my age. The reason for the Diner Plan was to keep us stocked in healthy foods when our attention was focused on life. Hard to believe, but despite having a food blog and being a cookbook author, my life focus is not food. I love it, but there is so much more to life. Let's go enjoy it instead of hyper focusing on every bite that goes into our mouths (and that stands true as to the state of the mouths around us too!) So Eggie or traditional boil, tis the season to enjoy some eggs. Go for it. And oh yeah, I remember when those were bad for us too.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tilapia Tots

Fish haters everywhere! You gotta gotta gotta try this recipe. Tilapia was never this fun to eat! Who knew? These amazing little balls are filled with good stuff that makes getting your fish in a real treat. Yep, look at that photo---that is flaked tilapia, eggs, almond flour, cheese and spices. So instead of coating your fish and then frying-- hoping the breading will stay on-- just stir it all up, breading and all.

I made these beauties in my cake pop machine. (See? I promised you all there were more uses than sweets for this little gadget.) Because it crisps from all around, there is no need to fry.  Woohoo easy. If you still don't have one, than make these into little nuggets and pan fry in a little oil.

I made a super quick tartar sauce to go with these, but they are flavorful enough to eat alone. My sauce is 4 parts mayonnaise to 2 parts pickle relish to 1 part mustard. The relish I use varies. Right now I have a batch that tastes a little like bread and butter relish. What I did for that is to drain a jar of dill relish of most of the juices. Then I poured in the sweet pickle juice from an empty jar of Mt. Olive sugarfree pickles. That way, if you prefer your sauce with sweet pickles, you get a lot of that sweet taste. Good since sugarfree sweet pickles are hard to find around here.

Pretty sure this recipe for tots will be versatile. I used tilapia, but any white fish would work, I think. Feel free to vary the spice combo too.  I think Cajun seasoning would rock. Some Old Bay would probably be good too. I used cheddar cheese, but any easy melting cheese will work too. The yellow cheddar adds to the golden color too, making them appealing to the eye.

Tilapia Tots

2 tilapia fillets OR other mild white fish
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

Bake the fish fillets until they flake with a fork at the thickest point.  Place fillets in a medium bowl and flake. Let cool 5 minutes before stirring in the eggs. Add the cheese to this mixture. In a small bowl, combine almond meal, baking powder, lemon pepper, garlic powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir. Use a scoop to place the fish mixture into the cavities of a cake pop maker. Bake for 5 minutes. If pan frying, melt some coconut oil in a skillet until hot. Use a scoop to place about 2 tablespoons of mixture onto the hot pan.  Smooth the edges with a spoon. Fry until golden on both sides and set in the center. Makes 18 tots. To serve 4, these have 201 calories and 6 carbs. 21 g protein and 11 g fat.

See the bready texture? These are almost like hush puppies too. Only better.  Cheesey, not fishy. Great for finicky kids---and, uhm...husbands.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Oh So Easy Mini Coconut Flour Pizzas

Sometimes you just don't want complicated. Sometimes, though you simply must have pizza. You just can't deal with cauliflower, tons of cheese or prepping a bake mix.   2 Minute Coconut Flour Bread to the rescue. So maybe it doesn't rival the gluten filled, carby treats of the past. But it also doesn't mess with your way of eating! This recipe will not take home any culinary prizes, but it will feed a craving and it certainly won't keep you in the kitchen for hours on end. I added some garlic and butter flavoring to add to the pizza style flavors. Even with that, the toppings will make or break this one. I used my homemade Kale Pesto, provolone cheese and pepperoni. Very, very, very good.

In fact, this is so easy, you could manage fresh pizza anywhere you happen to have a microwave or a toaster oven. Woohoo--hotel rooms, dorm rooms, office kitchens. You get it. Remember the 2 Minute Coconut Flour Bread? This is similar, but baked in very thin small rounds rather than a mug or bowl. The result is a mini pizza crust that stands up to hand holding. Very good idea for lunch. I tried it both ways, and I prefer the toaster oven version, but the microwave version is a bit thicker. Try both ways and see which you prefer. (Unless you are a pizza snob, and then, think long and hard before attempting--this is coconut flour afterall and will never have that gluten mouthfeel) Be sure to have some parchment paper. I found that the Dollar Tree now carries this! It is pre-cut into cookie sheet size.  Very convenient. I cut one sheet in half then half again for the mini pizzas.They worked great.

microwave version

Oh So Easy Mini Coconut Flour Pizza Crust

2 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp butter flavoring
2 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in olive oil and butter flavoring. Sprinkle the coconut flour, baking powder and garlic powder over the top of the eggs. Whisk wet and dry ingredients together well. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then stir again.

Microwave Version:

     Place a square of parchment paper on a microwavable plate. Place about two heaping tablespoons of batter onto the paper. Use the back of the spoon to spread the batter into a very thin circle about the size of a large burger bun. Microwave on full power for about one minute and 20 seconds. Flip the hot crust over to cool and crisp. Repeat with remaining batter. It is fine to use the same parchment.
      For each mini pizza, add a slice of cheese, sauce and meat and vegetable toppings. Return to the microwave and cook until cheese is melted. The cheese placed next to the crust helps keep it from absorbing the sauce and getting soggy.

Toaster Oven Version:

      Place a square of parchment onto a toaster oven pan. Place about two heaping tablespoons of batter onto the paper. Use the back of the spoon to spread the batter into a very thin circle about the size of a large burger bun. You should be able to get two crusts per pan. Set toaster oven to the medium dark toast selection. Toast. Remove and flip crusts over.  Toast again, but remove the crust about midway through toasting cycle. Repeat with the remaining batter.
     For each mini pizza, add a slice of cheese, sauce and meat and vegetable toppings. Return to the toaster oven and toast until cheese is melted. The cheese placed next to the crust helps keep it from absorbing the sauce and getting soggy.

This recipe makes 4 mini pizza crusts, so feel free to half it if you are cooking for one. The crusts are much better eaten right away. They tend to get dry and more crumbly after an hour or more. So eat 'em up while they are fresh.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Kale Pesto Chicken

This is the way to get the family to eat Kale. Seriously. After I saw numerous other bloggers make this stuff, I abandoned their recipes and headed into the kitchen.  I had a bunch of kale, the superfood, but alas no fresh basil leaves. I just can't imagine pesto without that basil flavor. I tried it without, but no. Good thing I discovered that some dried basil added to the pesto does trick my taste buds. This will be my new recipe--even though I just may try it with sunflower nuts again like this recipe.

The Sunflower Basil Pesto is in the first Among Friends Cookbook. So if you want that recipe and still don't have the book, this is the perfect week to order it. The sale is this week only, so go on over to Among Friends and order Volume 1--or 2 or 3. You even get a discount on shipping when ordering more than one. Good deal on amazing food.

This pesto will save some cash too. The prices of fresh herbs at the market make me cringe. But winter is not over yet and my pots are empty. Kale steps in and saves the day.  My hubby couldn't stop saying how great this tasted. When he first saw the beautiful green, though, he was not so sure. It is a little bit brighter than my basil pesto, but  I promise you, no one will know the difference. This is even tasty with the canned Parmesan cheese, so I imagine it will be phenomenal with freshly grated kind. Oh my... not sure I will be able to control my husband in that case. He is so glad he married a woman who cooks.

Kale Pesto

4 cups diced kale

½ cup raw almonds

½ cup Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tsp dried basil

2 tsp garlic puree

½ tsp salt

½ tsp crushed red pepper, optional

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until nuts and greens are well blended. You may need to scrape down the sides. If using dried Parmesan cheese, you may need to increase the amount of olive oil.

24 servings    1 carb each

I mean when was the last time your family got excited about a superfood? I didn't even use half of the jar for dinner, so plan some other uses. I also used less than half the bunch of kale, so  plan for that too.

To make the pesto chicken, I simply pan grilled some boneless skinless breasts in a little coconut oil. When done, I cut the chicken into larger chunks with my kitchen shears. That makes for more surface area for the marvelous sauce. I stirred in  about 1/2 cup of pesto and let the chicken simmer for just a few minutes to heat the sauce. We had a side of a frozen veggie blend seasoned with pepper and butter. Simple and perfect. For my carby boy, I added a spoonful of pesto to some pre-cooked rice. That is one thing you can do if not everyone in your family is on plan. Make some carby side dishes for the freezer wo you don't need to cook that illegal stuff too often. He ate it all up--even the veggies. Maybe why that is why this single guy still lives at home. Mom's cooking or frozen dinners. Big decision. So glad I still have one single boy to eat my cooking. I get a visit from the newlyweds this weekend. They will come home and open the gifts, so that will be fun.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

5 Spice Chicken Lettuce Cups and a Cookbook Sale

 This is another of those recipes with sneaky ingredients.  Who woulda thought to put jicama in Asian lettuce wraps--well besides me that is. My son snuck up behind me in the kitchen to see what I was doing. I was peeling a jicama, and definitely trying to hide that fact by turning my back to him. Jicama is one of those things that is seldom greeted with enthusiasm around here. My men are not huge raw veggie eaters and jicama is tricky to cook to softness. I just answered truthfully and offered no more information. That being said, I doubt Pearson will find the jicama in this delicious chicken recipe. I used my Ninja to finely chop this watery root, and it is barely discernible in the finished product. It just absorbed all those wonderful Asian flavors and made for an excellent meal. If you want to say, "Hey, there is jicama in these wraps!" then by all means cut matchsticks by hand. I will continue my clandestine activities. That secret ingredient paired with the crunch of the celery makes a very nice texture. You might even like a sprinkle of sliced almonds on top of the cups-- just add them right before serving.

 5 Spice Chicken in Lettuce Cups or Wraps

2 large chicken breasts
4 ribs celery (with leafy tops)
1/2 large onion
1/2 large jicama
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp coconut aminos or tamari
1 tbsp wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp 5 spice powder
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using tamari rather than coconut aminos)
stevia equivalent to 2 tsp
hot sauce or red pepper flakes optional
1/2 head lettuce

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Chop celery and onion. Peel jicama and cut it into large slices. Place these in a food processor and chop finely. Remove the jicama to a small bowl. Press out excess moisture with a soft spatula. Absorb the remaining moisture with some paper towels. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet. Add chicken, celery and onion and jicama. Cook until chicken is cooked through. In a small bowl, combine coconut aminos or tamari, sesame oil, minced garlic, fish sauce, salt if using, stevia and hot sauce if using. Pour this over the chicken and vegetables and cook an additional 5 minutes. Serve wrapped in lettuce leaves or placed inside open lettuce cups. Serves 3-4.

4 servings:   230 calories      15 g protein   11 g fat    8 g net carbs

You can go the easy route and just put the chicken mixture over chopped lettuce if you have a hard time rolling like I did. It all tastes the same! Remember to taste for saltiness you prefer. I find that my coconut aminos are not nearly as salty as the tamari sauce I use. While I needed to add some salt to this dish, you may not. You might also enjoy this dish with the addition of bell peppers, water chestnuts or shredded carrots. Some recipes call for mushrooms, but I love the crispier texture this recipe offers. The husband loved it today. The boy liked these too.

This recipe is good enough to make the cut and go into the upcoming Low Carbing Among Friends Volume IV. Try this recipe now and remember to grab the already released volumes now during this great sale. Check out the sale, and click on the dancing leprechaun to order. I should head back into the kitchen now and plan for some good Irish food this week.

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Chorizo Mini Quiches

Wow has life been crazy as of late.  I am just now getting settled back into the normal routine...even though normal is still hectic. Yes, here it is almost midnight, and I am still packing my lunch for tomorrow. No prep this past weekend since we were still in the midst of wedding entertaining. Yes, my boy is now a husband. Hard to believe that they grew up so fast!

I did fall victim to some of the wedding treats. I certainly was not going to pass up the carrot cake the bride chose for her cake. Back on track this week though. I love mini quiches for lunches. They are more substantial than salads. This one takes advantage of some of the Spanish style chorizo--the aged, thinly sliced type, not the fresh Mexican style. I just shredded it with a knife to add to the egg mixture. Chorizo is flavorful, so you don't need to add much more in the way of flavor. I added some kale for nutrition and some sun dried tomatoes for flavor too. If you don't pack a lunch, these are excellent brunch food as well. I love packing bento style meals though. All those little compartments challenge me to add in more variety. This particular box is made from a  pencil case filled with silicon baking cups. It works great.

Chorizo Mini Quiches

6 eggs
3 oz Spanish Chorizo sausage slices
2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes
1 large leaf  kale, diced finely
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and black pepper to taste

Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Finely slice the chorizo sausage and add it to the eggs. Stir in the tomatoes, kale, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour into 6 silicon baking cups and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Serves 6:    142 calories 2 net g carb

For the rest of my bento style meal, I added some grape tomatoes and green olives. Olives would be excellent in these mini quiches, but hubby is not a fan, so I left them separate for my lunch. Then there is this really interesting cheese. See those brown flecks in the cheese? That is chocolate. I bought this for the dessert buffet I put together for the rehearsal dinner (smashing success by the way). It is not sweet at all, but tastes similar to a chocolate cheesecake--only savory. I like it, but in very small doses. It is so flavorful, one small bite is enough. I will stick with this while the kids at school eat up all the leftover cookies and cake pops.

Our Diner website has been down for some time. The problems are all worked out now, so if  you missed being able to order the e-book or Diner News, everything should work now. Remember, every order directly supports our educational program's scholarship fund....and we really need the help! I have a teenager who just lost her mom and is having trouble coping at public school. She would so benefit from our program if we can find scholarship money for her. I am so thankful that my cookbook earnings have helped make a difference in the lives of our teens. So tell everyone you know about the Diner.

Get more great  low carb recipes at Low Carbing Among Friends.

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