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

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Monday, December 30, 2013

Chocolate Almond Cheesecake Truffles

Christmas may be gone, but New Year's parties are just around the corner. This is a sweet little cheesecake truffle that features one of my Christmas presents from the hubby. Cocoa Almonds. Yum. I love those... in moderation. While I have been known to spend a little extra to buy the hundred calorie packets, John got me the warehouse club version. Caution ahead! All too easy to eat them without thinking! I may need to portion them out for myself, then hide the packages in the freezer. Do you have as much trouble limiting nuts as I do?

With the new year ahead, I have decided to refocus my diet a bit. Let's not put on airs. I always seem to fall off the bandwagon during December, then get very serious in January. Not that I recommend it, but it does seem to be a recurring behavior for me. The last couple of years, I did a Whole 30 paleo style. I hate going too long without some cheese, though. It is my favorite food. This year, I am delving into the nutritional ketosis w.o.e.  I will be watching my fat to protein to carb ratios to be sure I stay in a state of ketosis. Those requirements will vary for everybody, but I am striving to be around 75 % fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs for each day's totals in January. In fact, the January Diner News is devoted to recipes and meal plans to fit the nutritional ketosis ratios. Of course, they will be good for any low carber, but especially  helpful for those wanting to up the fat, have moderate protein and very low carb. I hope it will make me feel better from the far too many cheats I had this holiday season. It would be a good way to get some nice keto meal plans if you want to give it a try too. Yah, I know this is not new science, and there is lots of great advice out there. Just not enough meal plans already done!

This recipe will fit nicely into that plan. Each truffle has 58 calories, 5 g fat, 2 g protein and 1 net carb. That is 81% fat with 10% protein and 10% carbs. I think the carb is actually a bit lower percentage because that is figuring on total carbs, not net. I haven't yet figured out how to make my new software analyze it on net carbs, but I am trying. I hate cooking being about math, but sometimes, we have to count to see what we are really eating. It is so easy to fool ourselves!

So forget the math, these truffle are wonderful regardless of your eating plan. They are easy to make and will be a hit for your New Year's Eve party. You don't have to use the cocoa roasted almonds--they do have a teeny bit of sugar in them. The recipe would be fine with plain roasted almonds and perhaps another teaspoon of cocoa powder.

Chocolate Almond Cheesecake Truffles

3 ounces Cocoa Almonds (Emerald or Planter's) (about 2/3 cup whole)
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup Swerve powdered sweetener
Stevia equal to 10 tsp
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 tbsp blanched almond slivers (optional)

In a bullet blender, finely chop the almonds. Remove 2/3rds of the nuts from the blender and set aside. Pulse the remaining nuts a few more times to make a finer grind for the coating of the truffles.

In a medium bowl, combine softened cream cheese with the cocoa powder, sweetener, stevia and almond extract. Stir by hand or with and hand mixer. Stir in the nuts by hand. Let this mixture chill for 30 minutes. Using a small scoop, make 24 truffles. Put the remaining ground almonds on a plate and roll each truffle to coat. Place an almond sliver into each truffle if desired. Serve in mini muffin papers if desired.

Each truffle has 58 calories, 5 g fat, 2 g protein and 1 net carb. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Brunch Yogurt Parfait Bar

We are planning a Christmas Brunch for the family this year. Among the  breakfast casseroles, gingerbread waffles, candied bacon and other goodies will be this treat. Mini Yogurt Parfaits. Forget the yogurt cups. It is so much more special to be able to build a multi-flavored parfait with delicious nut crumble granola between the layers. Because we will have lots of foods to choose from, I will provide various sizes of small glasses so we can choose the size of our individual parfaits. From the smallest shot glasses to the standard juice glass, this will work great for all appetites and is really cute too. You can layer three different flavors of yogurt with a delicious nut mixture in between, or you can go with one favorite flavor.

I often make individual yogurts flavored with my own flavorings, but using a large tub of unflavored yogurt. That way, I can control the sweetener and additives. I have several favorites of Capella flavorings, but you can use all sorts of things for flavoring. Besides the ones I will give the recipes for, don't forget about coffee flavorings, syrups, fruit and even nut butters.For my holiday buffet, I am choosing to place my yogurts in a decorative ceramic muffin pan. Serving bowls of any kind will do; I just like to look festive when possible.

 To make 6 flavors, I used one 32 ounce container of Brown Cow yogurt, plain and unsweetened. The sweetener I have been trying out lately is one mentioned in our new Among Friends books--Natural Mates Stevia and Erythritol blend. It is very concentrated. One tiny scoop is equal to 2 tsp sugar or one packet substitute. No maltodextrin to bulk it up though. I like to blend stevia and erythritol--I prefer the taste over either sweetener alone. This is an easy way to do it. The powder dissolves really easily and is 100x sweeter than sugar. Some people have a problem with stevia tasting bitter. I am not especially sensitive to that, but if you are, you might choose the sucralose and erythritol blend instead. The stevia blend has no GMO ingredients, no calories and no artificial sweeteners. You might want to try it. It is on Amazon here. In these recipes, I am saying how much sweetener I used. You may need less or you may need more. I suggest adding a little less and adding sweetener until you arrive at your personal flavor zone. Every taste is different, and I am one who loves dark, dark chocolate, so I am cautious when it comes to recommending the right amount of sweetener. The same goes with the Capella drops. Add a drop or two less then add and taste until it is best for you.

Italian Eggnog Yogurt

3/4 cup plain yogurt
14 drops Capella Italian Eggnog flavoring
2 drops Capella Butter flavoring
3-4 scoops Natural Mate Stevia and Erythritol Blend or any sweetener equal to 6-8 tsp sugar

Blend all ingredients together.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Yogurt

3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 tsp LorAnn Red Velvet Emulsion
8 drops Capella New York Cheesecake flavoring
3-4 scoops Natural Mate Stevia and Erythritol Blend or any sweetener equal to 6-8 tsp sugar

Blend all ingredients together.

Maple Bacon Yogurt

3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 drops Capella Sizzlin Bacon flavoring
1/4 tsp maple flavoring
3-4 scoops Natural Mate Stevia and Erythritol Blend or any sweetener equal to 6-8 tsp sugar

Blend all ingredients together.

Cinnamon Danish Swirl Yogurt

3/4 cup plain yogurt
12 drops Capella Cinnamon Danish Swirl flavoring
3-4 scoops Natural Mate Stevia and Erythritol Blend or any sweetener equal to 6-8 tsp sugar
ground cinnamon

Blend all ingredients together. Garnish with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon

Amaretto Yogurt

3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 Flavor Creations Almond Amaretto coffee flavoring tablets
1/4 tsp almond extract
3-4 scoops Natural Mate Stevia and Erythritol Blend or any sweetener equal to 6-8 tsp sugar

Blend all ingredients together. 

Very Very Vanilla Yogurt

3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 scoops Natural Mate Stevia and Erythritol Blend or any sweetener equal to 6-8 tsp sugar

Blend all ingredients together. 

The Nut Layer

3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup almond meal
2 scoops Natural Mate Stevia and Erythritol Blend or any sweetener equal to 4 tsp

In a small skillet, melt butter. Add all the nuts and nut meal. Stir continuously for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Sprinkle in sweetener and mix well. Let cool.

To build the parfaits, simply layer the nut mixture between layers of flavored yogurt.

Make these up on Christmas Eve, and pull them out for an almost instant breakfast while everyone checks the stockings or opens packages--whatever your tradition. Enough to tide you over til the big meal, or a compliment to a meat and egg casserole. Of course, you don't have to save this idea just for holiday brunches. I like to make lots of flavors from one container of yogurt and pack them in small containers for quick breakfasts or something sweet in my lunchbag.  Do what fits you!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wrights Liquid Smoke Giveaway

We have some winners for the Wright's Liquid Smoke Giveaway!

This stuff is amazing in marinades. Delicious in meatloaf and burgers. It makes great barbecue sauces. It adds a unique touch to chicken and tuna salads. Breakfast casseroles like my Smoky Okie. So many possibilities.Now it is your turn to try it out.

If your name is listed below, please send me a message with your mailing address. To keep information nice and private, just use this link to go over to the Diner site and give me the information via our contact page. That is safe, I promise! Now to the winners...

Michael Haley
Nichole T.
Adele Forbes
Carla Prasad

It is not too late to enter Wright's Sweepstakes though. You can enter everyday until Dec. 20th. Don't forget you can use your bottle to make this incredible chicken salad. The Applewood Smoked Chicken Salad is perfect for holiday gatherings.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wright's Liquid Smoke Giveaway and Smoked Cheese Spread

I don't endorse very many products directly. Wright's Liquid Smoke products are an exception. I think the flavor if their product is superior to all other liquid smoke products I have tried. I found them when my son was on the SCD protocol and could not have added soy products, gums and many colorings and other additives. This product is all natural and delicious.  No caramel coloring. It is really from condensed smoke. Read about the process here.

Wrights contacted me recently about a contest they are sponsoring. It is Deer Days Sweepstakes. Seems I don't have any hunters who headed out to bag a deer this season. Actually, none of my men have ever tried. So, I did not have any venison recipes to offer up. That doesn't tarnish my appreciation for liquid smoke at all,  however. We all have the same chance to win the sweepstakes--a $500 Bass Pro Gift card. Heck yah with all the guys in my family, we could spend that easily! For a chance to win that, head on over to their Facebook page, like it and enter. You can enter every day.

But it doesn't stop there. They sent me some coupons for free bottles too. I have been wanting to get my blog followers up, so I am giving away  coupons for new followers. I only have a limited number, though. So here's how it will work. Every new follower up to this Sunday Dec. 15 will be entered in a drawing. I will publish the names of those I draw. If your name is drawn, you will email me with your mailing address and I will send the coupon. I also want to give my newsletter a boost, so new subscribers will also get an entry. To order the Diner News for 2014, go here. I will publish those names here on the blog on Sunday as well.

Then lastly, I want to give all my tried and true Diners a chance to win a bottle. So, you longstanding followers, leave me a nice comment here and I will add you in a drawing as well. Then you come back Sunday and look for your name. Remember, I will just be mailing you a coupon. You can redeem it for a bottle at your retailer. I won't be mailing a bottle.

If you don't care about free stuff, just  run out and buy your own bottle and make this recipe. I created this recipe a couple of years ago and still love it. It is a great addition to holiday parties.

Smoked Cheese Spread

6 ounces Colby/Monterey Jack marbled cheese, shredded 
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp butter 
1 tsp Wright's Liquid Smoke
2 beaten eggs

In a small saucepan, combine shredded cheese, water, mustard, salt, butter and liquid smoke. Over very low flame, stir constantly until the mixture is melted and free of lumps. Keep warm. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Remove sauce pan from heat and remove a few tablespoons of hot cheese to temper the eggs. After the cheese is incorporated, slowly add the egg mixture into the saucepan with cheese, stirring well after each addition. When all the egg is stirred in, place the sauce back on the stove and heat gently until mixture is thick. Pour into a crock, cover and chill.

This recipe is great. The smokey cheese flavor is wonderful with low carb crackers, but it is also perfect on burgers or scrambled eggs. Give it a try. And give the Sweepstakes and sample giveaway a try too.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Chocolate Raspberry Cake Balls

Still snowed in here. I am getting cabin fever with school cancelled and all. Had I known, I would have stocked up on ingredients to test a bunch of new recipes. Oh well. Today's delicious little cake balls have no real raspberries. Who can get those in the middle of an ice and snow emergency? Lucky for me, I have a bottle of chocolate raspberry flavoring for coffees. Those really can add a lot of interest to basic recipes, so don't just save them for your coffee. I just finished up this little bottle, so I will add this flavor to my next order of Capella Drops. Maybe you should too.

These cake balls are so simple to put together. I use my cake pop appliance. So easy--no stick, no clean up, and they bake in only 5 minutes per batch. The whole recipe bakes in less time than I would have them baking in the oven. You can make them as mini muffins too though. The batter is a coconut flour base with lots of chocolate flavor. If you prefer almond flour, try this recipe. The coating is a yummy coconut oil glaze that is perfect. Not messy like a frosting, not full of sugar like a candy bark. I used an unrefined coconut oil, so there is a bit of that flavor, but you can use refined so all you taste is the chocolate raspberry. You might want to do a better job of covering that skewer hole than I did, but hey, these are not for a fancy party, just for us, so....Martha I am not.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake Balls

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup Swerve or any sweetener equal to 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup mild flavored oil, melted butter or melted coconut oil
10 drops chocolate raspberry flavoring (more or less, depending on brand and taste preferences)
up to 1/4 cup water or almond milk

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 packets (6 tsp equivalent) stevia
5 drops chocolate raspberry flavoring

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Then stir in the eggs, oil and flavoring. If using coconut oil, you may need to briefly heat the batter to remelt the coconut oil, as it can sometimes solidify if the eggs are cold. Add water or almond milk if the batter is still too thick. Fill the wells of the cake ball appliance with slightly rounded spoonfuls of batter. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool. Repeat until all the batter is used. My machine makes 15 cake balls. Before dipping the cakeballs, place them in the freezer.

In a very small cup, melt coconut oil. Stir in the cocoa powder, stevia and raspberry flavoring. Adjust sweetener to taste. Pierce each partially frozen ball with a skewer. Dip the ball into the glaze and shake off excess. Place on a plate and let the coating set up. Use the remaining coconut oil to make a few pieces of chocolate bark. Just pour it into molds or onto waxed paper and break up when cool.

Serves 6:  236 calories   2 net g carbs (7)  5 g protein   22 g  fat

These cake balls can be muffins as well. 6 regular or 12 mini muffins, I am guessing. Play around with different flavors for this basic recipe. You could add some shredded coconut, or some other flavorings--mint perhaps? I love cake balls. They are perfect for quick little snacks, go great in lunch boxes, and help with portion control. If you don't have a cake pop machine, consider asking for one for Christmas!

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cranberry Crumble

I have to admit it. I still had some cranberry sauce lurking in the fridge from Thanksgiving. I decided to use it up rather than tossing it. I love cranberries, but I think we just had too many dishes to choose from. This particular recipe was a fancy version. I made a plain one also, and plain would work in this crumble, but the ginger and orange are marvelous here.This one is a variation of one featured in the November Diner News. I am posting the cranberry sauce, which is a good condiment on its own. But put it with an almond meal crumble, and it is amazing.

First, do the sauce. It is easy. If ya want, reserve some to eat the traditional way. The filling in a crumble is pretty forgiving.

Gingered Orange Cranberry Sauce

1 bag (12 oz) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup water
1 tsp liquid stevia or sweetener equal to 1 cup sugar
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp fresh orange juice or one packet True Orange crystals

Place berries and all the other ingredients into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the berries begin to pop and the sauce thickens.

Now granted, mine were leftovers, but I also only made a half recipe of the crumble. Go ahead and make the whole thing. It is sweet and tart and makes you happy if you love the humble cranberry. If you are working from leftovers, half the recipe. Yes it is tough to half an egg.

On to the dessert...

Cranberry Crumble

3 cups almond meal (or blanched flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup erythritol blend or any sweetener equal to 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup mild oil or melted butter (I used MCT oil)
4 tbsp erythritol or any granular sweetener
3 tbsp chopped pecans or walnuts
1 recipe sugarfree cranberry sauce

Place almond meal, salt, baking powder and sweetener in the bowl of a food processor. (If using stevia or a liquid sweetener, add it to the wet ingredients instead) Process to mix. In a small bowl, combine the egg with the vanilla and liquid sweetener if using. Add it to the food processor. Add the oil slowly through the feed while processing. Process until the mixture just combines and remains loose. Do not process into a ball of dough.

Remove one cup of the nut mixture and set it aside. Press the remaining dough into the base of an 8 inch casserole or small pie plate. Bake the crust for 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove the crust from the oven and spread the cranberry sauce over it. Add the 4 tbsp of granular sweetener and the pecans or walnuts to the reserved dough. Use a fork to break it up. Pour the nut mixture crumbles over the cranberry sauce. Return to the oven for 15 minutes. To serve, scoop the crumble out with a large spoon or cut into squares and remove carefully. 

This is a delightful holiday treat. I made a crust so you can serve it as squares if you like. Or you can make it in individual ramekins. You can just scoop it out like a cobbler too. The nuts go well with the bite of cranberry. A bit of whipped cream would add yet another dimension. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if you like. Let's hear it for leftovers!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Red Velvet Cookie Cheesecake Cups

It's here....the holiday season is truly upon us. I have to admit, with all I have going on, it has snuck up on me this year. Last week was a Hanukkah party at school, Thanksgiving and my birthday. You would think the approach of Christmas would be no big deal. Traditionally, this is the weekend we get our tree up. Not so this year. I have been working on the Diner News all weekend it seems. It is a good one, with lots of good ideas and new recipes especially for Christmas.

These Red Velvet Cookie Cheesecake Cups are so cute. I have seen a similar recipe that used a boxed red velvet cake mix. These babies, however, are completely low carb and sugarfree. Woohoo. Tasty too.

Red Velvet Cookie
Cheesecake Cups

Cookie Cup:
1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 cup granulated erythritol blend
2 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup melted butter or mild oil
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp Red Velvet Emulsion (LorAnn brand)
10 drops stevia

Cheesecake Filling:
4 oz heavy whipping cream
4 drops stevia
4 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup powdered erythritol blend

Begin by preparing the cookie shells.  In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, erythritol, coconut flour, xanthan gum, and salt.

In a small bowl, combine melted butter, egg, vanilla, red velvet flavoring and stevia. Add the wet ingredients to the larger bowl, stirring by hand to combine. Roll the dough into 24 balls and place each ball in a mini muffin pan. Use a rounded measuring spoon to create a well in the dough. With your thumb, depress the edges to create the shell. Bake for 10-11 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool while you make the filling.

With an electric mixer, beat the cream until stiff. Fold in the stevia drops. In a separate bowl, blend the cream cheese, vanilla and powdered erythritol. Add the whipped cream by hand, stirring until incorporated. Spoon the cheesecake filling into the cookie shells. Alternately, fill a pastry bag with the cream cheese mixture and pipe it into the cooled cookie shells.

Each cup has 89 calories    1.13 g carbs     8 g fat    2 g protein

If you would like to order the Diner News, filled with even more holiday treats, plus ideas for party food, festive dinners, and cozy evenings by the fire, the head over the the Diner website and order a full year of newsletters for just $6.

Here are a few other things in this issue to tempt you.

Now to get to that tree...maybe.

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