Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Out of town, out of ketosis, oh well.

I spent last week in Chicago for a convention, and took the opportunity to diverge from my ketogenic ways for a little while. I was focused on eating cheaply, and getting things that I would not be able to find at home. I was a little worried that I would reverse some of my weight loss, since I would be away from Kent's good influence, our magic exercise machine, the Noblerex K1 vibration plate unit, aka "The Jiggler," and my usual routine. I am pleased to say that despite having some blatant keto-cheato moments (cough, Magnolia Bakery, ahem), I actually lost three pounds upon my return home. I chalk that up to the sheer quantity of steps I took- I was walking miles all over the giant convention center and the streets of downtown Chicago exploring. For the most part, besides the bakery sweets and the burger and fries, I ate pretty well, even when consuming carbs. I made an effort to always have a salad for lunch, and incorporated vegetables into as much as I could. Sometimes, you have to think of what nutrients you want to give to your body, rather than what you want to avoid. Here are some of the highlights from my week in Chicago!

Naughty: There was an amazing buffet at the kickoff party for the convention. I did eat carbs, but a lot of the things pictured, I only had a bite or two of. 
Post party hotel bathroom selfie! We stayed at the Palmer House Hilton, downtown Chicago. 

Neutral: My new favorite restaurant- Roti Mediterranean Grill. It was amazing! It's like the Chipotle of Greek food. I still felt virtuous, despite the carbs. 

Nice: A couple of my salads for lunch- Southwest Chicken and Asian Chicken. These were both from a cafe inside the convention center, and I was impressed with how good they were. 

Naughty: A double cheeseburger with sauteed onions, mushrooms and mayo, plus cajun seasoned fries. I had heard great things about Five Guys, and they didn't let me down!

Naughty: Magnolia's famous vanilla cupcake, as seen on Sex and the City. I couldn't help but wonder, "Was it the best cupcake I've ever had?" The answer is yes. 

Naughty: personal sized pistachio cheesecake. Swoon.

Nice: Bacon and Blue cheese steak salad

Naughty, yet again: I had to return to Magnolia one more time for a slice of birthday cake. If it makes it any better, it WAS my dinner. 

A fruity spinach salad with pomegranate vinaigrette from the Corner Bakery Cafe next to the Palmer House. Eaten outside on the sidewalk while waiting for the chartered bus! 
It was a great week of adventure out of town, and I made some awesome memories. But I am very glad to be home and back into the routine! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cooking with dog!

Arrroooo! (That's a dog howl...) I don't mean cooking dog meat! I am talking about this fun Japanese cooking show that Kent showed me the other night. The narrator/host of the show is a French poodle, who is voiced by a Japanese guy attempting a French accent. It's ridiculous, but entertaining. This is the episode that we watched, and decided to try to make these ourselves. I'm not going to post the recipe, since it is all clearly spelled out in the video.

We were already familiar with shirataki noodles- pasta made from konjac, a high fiber root, that have zero calories and zero net carbs. We hadn't yet tried to use them for an Asian noodle bowl, but our favorite Vietnamese restaurant recently closed, so we have to do it ourselves now. We had a few differences between our version and the video recipe. We used ribeye instead of sirloin steak. We used splenda + stevia instead of sugar in the sauce. We left out the bean sprouts. Kent added both fresh ginger and jarred garlic to the sauce. It didn't make sense to us to not include garlic! We garnished ours with fresh mint and Thai basil, as well as some fresh jalepeno slices that we let soak in the sauce while the noodles chilled.

Here are our results!
Tasteful noods.
Shirataki Noodle Bowls

2 pouches Miracle Noodle shirataki noodles, drained and rinsed well
2 ribeye steaks (charcoal grilled)
1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1 tomato, diced
2 eggs, scrambled into a thin omelette and sliced into strips

3 Tablespoons soy sauce
4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon Splenda
1 Tablespoon granulated stevia
2.4 oz water (we used a 1 oz shot glass to measure this out)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
3/4 Tablespoon minced garlic

1 fresh jalepeno, sliced
fresh basil leaves
fresh mint leaves

Drain and rinse noodles after removing them from their bags. Boil in water for a minute. Drain and pat dry. In a dry skillet, cook noodles briefly to remove any excess water. Set noodles aside. Mix sauce, and spoon half of it over noodles. Set remaining sauce aside for finishing bowls. Slice the jalepeno and put the slices in the bowl of sauce. Grill steaks and make omelette. Let omelette cool and cut into thin strips. Also slice steak into strips. Set eggs and steak aside. Cut up vegetables. In two bowls, place half of the noodles in each. Top with steak and egg strips, cucumber and tomato. Garnish with basil, mint, and jalepeno slices to taste. Top with half of remaining sauce in each bowl.

The next day, I used the leftover ingredients as part of a delicious Asian salad. Kent turned the leftover sauce into a salad dressing, by adding some vegetable oil and a little more sesame oil to it, then shaking to combine in a jar.

Asian Steak Salad

Grilled sirloin steak, sliced into strips
butter lettuce
sliced cucumbers
sliced radishes
shredded carrots
shelled edamame
Asian vinagrette dressing- soy sauce, rice vinegar, minded garlic and ginger, sesame oil, stevia/splenda, and vegetable oil

Shake up dressing, adjust ingredients to taste. Combine all other ingredients in a bowl and toss. Easy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

No compromise cheesecake!

I've gotten used to adjusting my expectations when it comes to diet desserts. I love the keto fat bombs that we've been making, but as delicious as they are, they are not the same as good old sugary candy. It's not a flavor issue, it's more of a texture thing. I wasn't sure what to expect when Kent told me about this cheesecake recipe. I was worried that it would seem fluffy and fake. I am very pleased to say that it seems like normal New York cheesecake- nice and dense and decadent! Not only is this cheesecake sugar free and low carb, it also happens to be gluten free! I have a feeling this will be a holiday standby for here on out.
Right on the money!
Individual Keto Cheesecakes

1/2 stick of unsalted butter (410 cals, 0 carbs)
1 cup almond meal (720 cals, 8 net carbs)
2- 8 oz packages of softened cream cheese (1600 cals, 16 carbs)
1/2 cup of Splenda, plus 1 Tablespoon (0 cals, 0 carbs)
1/4 cup of granulated stevia (0 cals, 0 carbs)
2 tsp vanilla (0 cals, 0 carbs)
2 eggs (148 cals, 1 carb)

(239 calories, 2.08 carbs per cheesecake)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper muffin liners in a 12 cup muffin tin. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Add the almond meal and the tablespoon of Splenda, and stir to combine. Divide this mixture into 12 spoonfuls and place one spoonful in each muffin cup. Using an oiled shot glass, press it down to cover the bottom of each liner. In a stand or hand mixer, combine eggs, Splenda and stevia, vanilla, and cream cheese. Mix on low to combine, then increase speed to remove lumps and make smooth. Spoon filling into each muffin cup, and smooth tops with a spoon. Bake for 17 minutes. The tops will not brown, but they will slightly puff up and crack. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before eating.

We topped ours with diced strawberries and whipped cream, which will add a couple more carbs. Other stir in ideas or toppings could be blueberries, raspberries, shaved Choco Perfection chocolate bars, or citrus zest. I saw on Pinterest that someone suggested making your own almond meal using almonds dusted with cocoa powder. You could also just add cocoa powder to the regular almond meal mixture. This is a great base recipe that will work with a lot of variations. Now, the hardest part will be controling ourselves, so that we can each eat one of these every night for the rest of the week!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Recipe: Blueberry Cheesecake Fat Bombs

Continuing with National Blueberry Month, I used our remaining blueberries from last week's salad on a variation of the fat bomb candy I talked about last week. Kent is a chocolate fan, but given the choice, I lean more toward fruity options. I wanted to figure out how to make something similar in texture, but flavored with something other than cocoa powder. This one was a winner! It would also be great with the addition of diced strawberries for a very 4th of July theme!


Blueberry Cheesecake Fat Bombs

7 oz coconut oil, melted
1 package of sugar free cheesecake flavored instant pudding mix
1/4 cup heavy cream
half a pint of blueberries

Lightly spray candy mold with non stick spray, and place it on a cookie sheet for stability. Place 4-5 blueberries in each mold. In a microwave safe bowl, melt coconut oil. Add remaining ingredients, except for blueberries. Use a blender to quickly combine. (If you delay, the gelatin in the pudding will get clumpy.) Once mixture is thoroughly combined, pour over blueberries into molds. Place in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes. Pop each candy out of the mold, and store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Blueberry Lemon Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

I was already planning on writing about this salad we invented last week, when I learned that July is National Blueberry Month! It was meant to be! This week, I'll share two blueberry recipes that we've made recently. For the first, let's go the savory direction. I needed to come up with a side salad to take to an informal dinner party. The main course was grilled steak, and I wanted to make some sort of summery green salad that had fruit in it too. It doubled as dessert!

I was recently in Des Moines with my best friend Shannon, and we visited an amazing store there called Allspice. Besides having an awesome selection of dried herbs and spices, they have an area in the back with dispensers of various flavors of olive oil and balsamic vinegars. With tiny cups for tasting! It was incredible! It warrants many exclamation points!!! Kent is a master vinaigrette maker, so I had to get some choice balsamics for him as an early birthday gift. (It's no coincidence that I benefit from this gift, too!) After tasting almost all of the vinegars, I decided on a sampler pack of my choice of flavors- four smaller bottles for $36, which appears to be available in the store, but not online. I went with Peach, Cinnamon Pear, Dark Chocolate and Blueberry. We happened to have some blueberries in the fridge already, so a salad inspiration was born! I'd already had the idea to pair lemon zest with blueberries, but then Kent found this amazing Stilton cheese at the gourmet cheese island at Hy-Vee, and it really took it to the next level. If you can't find it, a mild blue cheese or goat cheese would work as well.

Blueberry Lemon Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

2 bags of prewashed salad greens, we prefer Butter lettuce
   (or a combination of butter lettuce with another salad green, like Frisee)
1 pint blueberries
1 cup pecan halves
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 large lemon, zested
1/2 cup lemon infused Stilton cheese, crumbled

1 part blueberry vinegar
1 part white balsamic vinegar
1 part powdered stevia
1 part granulated Splenda
1 part canola oil
1 part olive oil

Use equal parts of each ingredient. (1/4 cup of each will make a generous batch of dressing to be used for multiple salads.) Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine. We used half and half with the vinegars to conserve our fancy ingredient, and I'm glad we did, because it is plenty flavorful, even tempered by half cheaper white balsamic. We also prefer the flavor of half and half  ratios with the sweeteners and the oils. It's kind of hard to explain why, but they just seem more balanced and full when combined, rather just relying on one kind.

This salad was so good, we made it again a few days later, but this time, we used a blueberry Stilton cheese, pictured above, which is also found at Hy-Vee. It was really good, but I liked the lemon cheese just a little more. The lemon seemed a little more subtle and ethereal. Two of my favorite qualities in an ingredient.

On Thursday, we will continue with our blueberry celebration, and I'll share my recipe for blueberry cheesecake fat bombs!