Spicy Healthy Crackers*

Cheddar-Cracker-3-800I love cheese and nuts and fruit as snack. But you need crackers and crackers are usually white flour and thus not so good for lo-carb folks.

Good crackers are hard to come by. A lot of them are really awful.

Actually there is one commercial one that isn’t too bad, Wasa crackers have a lot of fiber and you subtract the fiber from the actual carbs, and it comes out decent. They are pretty tasteless though.

This recipe isn’t terrific but it does the job, and the spices do help a lot.

Next time around I’m going to cut the oven temperature down quite significantly and try to cook them longer to get a crispier cracker. These were fairly fragile  but as long as you were careful they withstood being spread with goat cheese pretty well.

Give them a try.

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¾ cup almond meal
  • ¼ cup of flax seed
  • ¼ cup of coconut flour
  • ¼ cup of unsalted butter (can use salted but the chip will be more salty)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp of chili pepper spice (use more if you like it extra spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle pepper
  • 1 tsp of onion powder
  • ½ tsp of cumin
  • ½ tsp of paprika
  • ½ tsp of salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. (Next time I’m going for about 275°)
  2. Mix all ingredients together either with a food processor or mixer.
  3. Divide in half.
  4. Place half between 2 sheets of parchment and roll out very thin to a cracker thinness. (Try to do this as best you can to fit a cookie sheet. but I wasn’t fussy about the edges. You can be as anal as you want here about making it square and then cutting with a pizza cutter. I did neither.
  5. Peel off the top parchment and transfer to a cookie sheet.
  6. Do the same to the other half.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes, removing when brown but before the edges start to get real dark.
  8. Cool completely on the cookie sheets on a rack.
  9. When cool, break apart into chunks and store uncovered in a container to ensure that they stay dried out.

SERVES: 30 or so chips

NOTES: You can vary the spices as suit you. cinnamon would be an alternative to make a sweet chip. Make hot or mild. Or make Italian. Could add cheese as well. If I did cheese I think I might shred it and then let it dry out a good bit and then process it in the food processor to make it quite fine and not as likely to turn the cracker too moist.

SOURCE: Ditch the Wheat

A Significantly Good Low-Carb Bread*

lowcarbbreadBread is the bane of lo-carb cooking. It’s so hard to get something that functions as bread. I tested this recipe in three ways–as toast, as a sandwich, and as french toast. It passed two of the three.

This recipe has many forms, and I tried one. I think some tinkering can make it better frankly, and I altered it from a bread machine recipe to a regular method. So to some extent it’s my own creation.

What it has going for it is that it rises spectacularly and makes a good sized loaf that makes it excellent for sandwiches. It has a spongy texture which is a bit off-putting and it also has a bit of off taste, I think because of the large amount of wheat gluten used.

I think this can be fixed. And I’ll include some of those hints in the recipe as to how to cover up that. All in all, it can work for you if you really don’t want to use white flour in your diet.

INGREDIENTS:

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Add all the ingredients through the rye into your mixer bowl and mix, using the dough hook. Cover the top with a towel and let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the balance of the ingredients and turn on high, kneading for five minutes. (Be careful if your machine “walks” as this is a heavy dough)
  3. Turn into an oiled bowl, cover with a couple of towels and leave in a warm place. (I turn on my oven and heat to about two hundred and then turn it off, putting the bowl on the top of the stove over the oven vent).
  4. Usually a hour is sufficient to get it to rise hugely.
  5. Oil a large bread pan and then gently so as not to completely deflate the dough, shape into a loaf size and insert into the bread pan. (You could also free form a round loaf if you wish)
  6. Cover with an oiled piece of Saran and towels and return to warm place to finish rising over the top into a good sized loaf.
  7. Preheat oven to 400°.
  8. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Loaf will brown up nicely but is fairly soft. So don’t try to remove from pan until it’s cooled on a rack to nearly cool.
  9. Wrap it well in Saran and then in foil and then place in a large plastic bag and keep in the fridge. It will stay very moist and not go bad for more than a week. Or slice in half and freeze half using the same wrapping method.

SERVES: 12 slices

NOTES: I learned the vanilla and molasses technique as a way to cut the wheat gluten “flavor”. It worked well in a rye bread I made which I will post in a week or so. The instant coffee and cocoa is I think another attempt to do the same thing, so you might try one or the other rather than both. I’ll revise this recipe as I try it again and alter the techniques. Ditto the rye addition and caraway.

SOURCE: Adapted from Food of Love and Food.com

Grilled Green Chile Chicken

greenchilechickenHere in the Southwest, we tend to use chiles of one sort or another in just about everything. And like most people in America at least, we struggle to find new ways to use chicken, our pretty much favorite meat.

Chicken and chiles are a natural pairing, and this is just another nice way to make a okay dinner just a bit brighter and livelier.

You can of course dial the heat up or down as you desire.

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

 

  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 2 whole Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce (more To Taste)
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 6 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 6 whole Hatch, Anaheim, Or Poblano Chiles
  • 1/2 pound Monterey Jack Cheese, Cut Into Slices Or Grated

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Make the marinade: combine the olive oil, lime juice and 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobe, garlic, cumin and salt and pepper in a blender and whirr up  until smooth.
  2. Place the marinade in a large plastic bag and add the breasts. Massage to make sure all are covered well, and refrigerate for 4-12 hours.
  3. Grill your chiles until outside is blackened, remove the skin, open by slicing off the stem end, removing the seeds and membranes (most at least–this is where the heat is) and reserve, one for each breast filet.
  4. Grill the chicken until done, placing one chile on the top of each breast once turned. When both sides are done, add a couple of slices of cheese of your choice. Monterey is fine, but also consider pepper jack, or any other Mexican slicing cheese that melts well. Cover with a pan after shutting down the grill or moving to another location just until the cheese is melted.
  5. Serve with anything that you wish.

SERVES: 6

NOTES: You can serve with salsa or pico de gallo, beans and rice, or tortillas warmed and make tacos. Or you may any sides at all that you wish, such as potatoes and other veggies roasted or grilled.

SOURCE: Pioneer Woman

 

Coconut Chocolate Ganache*

This would not be traditionally thought of as a “healthy” alternative, but plenty of folks do prefer using coconut products rather than dairy.

A regular ganache is made with chocolate and cream. This is made with chocolate and coconut milk.

Believe me, it’s utterly amazingly succulently terrific and the cream version doesn’t have a single step on this.

For those trying to cut calories, use the highest cocoa percentage you can tolerate. Seventy-two percent works for me, but sixty percent is also good.

Some recipes call for whipping the finally product but I found that unnecessary.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 oz or so of chocolate, whatever cocoa strength you desire from bittersweet to milk.
  • 1 can of coconut milk, chilled overnight in the fridge (this is essential!)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place the chocolate over simmering water in a bowl or microwave it until it is melted.
  2. Open the can of coconut milk and with a spoon remove the solids (don’t worry if some of the liquid gets in too, it will be fine). About 1/2 of the can will be solid.
  3. Add to the melted chocolate and stir until the solids are also melted. Whisk well to combine.
  4. Cool to the appropriate consistency you wish, warm to pour over something, or refrigerate until its very thick for frosting. Warm slightly on the counter if it’s harder than you wish from refrigerating.

SERVES: enough for a 9 x 13 cake or 2 layers

HINTS: you could also use unsweetened chocolate and add sugar substitutes to really take down the calories, but I’m not sure about graininess problems, or about what combinations work best for taste.

SOURCE: Sherry Peyton

Oh Gosh, It’s Good! Chocolate Cake*

quinoacakeWith low carb desserts, there is most always a tradeoff. You just lose something. Often it’s taste, and that’s unforgivable. Often it’s texture, and that’s sad, but usually acceptable.

Well, that was until now.

This cake is actually as chocolaty as you would expect looking at it, and it’s moist too. The texture is close enough that unless you tell people, I suspect few would guess that it has no white flour in it at all. In fact it has a grain–quinoa.

The quinoa can feel a bit pebbly but if you soak your quinoa over night, that disappears as well.

I played a bit with the sugars. Be advised that I don’t use Splenda© because recent studies show that it raises glycemic indexes and it has a nasty habit of causing diarrhea in a lot of people. Aspartame and Saccharine are equally as bad. Erythritrol is natural and does not raise the glycemic index.  It is about 70% as sweet as sugar. Monk Fruit  in the Raw is also natural and is equal in sugar strength. Stevia is much sweeter than sugar so you use less, but it does have an after taste. Swerve is part Erythritrol and another process and about the same price. I used my own combination of these to arrive at a sweetness that I found perfectly fine.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa. Cook according to package directions. I recommend soaking in water over night and draining well first.
  • 1/3 cup full fatted milk (use any substitute you wish if you wish)
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (or any substitute you wish)
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 c Erythritrol
  • 6 packets Monk Fruit in the Raw
  • 1/4 c regular sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder Ghirardelli
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and then line two round cake pans (or a 9×13” pan) with parchment paper, or use a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  2. In a food processor or blender, combine the eggs,  milk and vanilla extract then blend for ten seconds to combine.
  3. Add the cooked and cooled quinoa along with the melted and cooled butter and coconut oil  then blend until completely smooth, about thirty seconds to one minute.
  4. Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl (cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt).
  5. Add the wet ingredients in the blender to the bowl with the dry and mix together until well-combined.
  6. Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool.

SERVES: 10

NOTES: As it stands this is gluten-free, low carb. You can make it vegan by opting out of the butter for a substitute. I found the proportions of sugar worked just right for me, but you can eliminate all the sugar if you wish (1/4 c) in favor of other substitutes. Swerve I think would work fine alone. I know that Splenda if you choose it, sucks up moisture, and so the cake will lose some of it’s moistness which I find unacceptable. This was very moist and retained it through a week in the fridge under plastic wrap.

SOURCE: Adapted from Making Thyme for Health

Some Spicy Dills

Spicy DillsI made these up about six weeks ago, and just opened them last night. The wait was worth it.

These turned out very well indeed.

Especially if you like some heat in your dills.

Since you can regulate the number of jalapeño or Serrano chiles that you add,  why I guess there is no excuse not to make these.

Don’t wait until the season is ripe, you can now buy small bags of small cucumbers which are perfect for this recipe year round in most grocery stores.

So get a move on.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups water
  • 5 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 5 lbs whole pickling cucumbers
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 12 sprigs dill
  • 3 jalapenos quartered

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Prepare the jars by scalding the jars, and lids and rings and then leaving in the water (turned off until ready to pack.
  2. Add the water, vinegar and salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Set aside at a very low simmer while you pack the jars.
  4. Distribute the cucumbers, garlic, dill and chiles between the jars (about 3 pints I found)
  5. Pour the pickling liquid over the contents, bringing it to the lower rim of the can.
  6. Affix the lid and then the screw top. Don’t screw on the lid too tightly, just securely.
  7. Sit on the counter and allow to cool.
  8. Test each jar to make sure the seal has taken. Press down and it should not pop up. You may have heard most of not all “ping” but pulling down the lid themselves. It’s fine if one or more doesn’t, as long as it stays down when you push it.
  9. Unsealed jars should be stored in the fridge and consumed. Sealed jars, once cooled can be stored in a pantry.
  10. Let jars sit for 6 weeks to properly “age”.

SERVES: I got 3 jars from a bag of store bought snacking cucumbers.

TIPS: You can of course vary the heat by the amount of chiles you place in the jar. cutting the chiles open will help making the cukes hotter than leaving them whole.

SOURCE: Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide

Pitter-Pat Pancakes*

pancakesI’ve been looking for easy ways to eliminate wheat flour which spikes the glycemic index. So I find myself trying a lot of new recipes. Some I know will no live up to taste or texture and will be discarded, but if I can replace half or more, I figure I’m doing okay.

This recipe was a huge success, and I promised my husband that he may well have seen the last of regular pancakes. This recipe is that good.

There is a minor different taste as you would expect but really once you put on the usual toppings, whether they be fruit, syrup or so forth, you really barely notice the different.

As to texture, they puff up exactly as they should, and look like a pancake should. They are light and fluffy. I’d be willing to bet that if you substituted without telling your family or friends, they might wonder what was the slightly different taste in the pancakes, but never guess it was made from soy flour rather than wheat.

Give them a try.

INGREDIENTS:

* 2 eggs
* 1/4 cup soy flour
* 1/3 cup sour cream (full or reduced fat is fine)
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1 Tbsp olive oil (two can be used for density)
* 1 Tbsp whole flaxseeds (meal can be used)
* 1/8 tsp salt (more or less to taste)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Mix everything together as you would regular pancake batter. The consistency will be about the same.
  2. I use about a 1/3 measuring cup to make about 4 inch pancakes. Cook in the usual fashion.

SERVES: 1-2 (makes about 3 4-inch pancakes)

NOTES: you can of course add blueberries or mashed bananas if that is how you like yours.

SOURCE: Spark Recipes