Low-Carb Berbere-spiced broccoli cheese “flatbread” with Tahini sauce

xolvp9yIngredients for the sauce: 

  • 1/2 cup tahini paste
  • 2/3 cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves of garlic – smashed and then minced
  • two hand-fulls of flatleaf parsley – finely chopped
  • two hand-fulls of mint leaves – finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses (optional)
  • 2 Tbs high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup+ water

Ingredients for the flatbread:

  • 1 x 15oz bag of riced broccoli (you can also use cauliflower or any other riced veggie blend or rice your own with a food processor and a few pulses)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic – smashed and then minced
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbs shredded mozarella
  • 2 large eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • scant 1/2 tsp berbere spice mix (you can buy this online here at World Spice)

Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce, except for the water in a bowl. Add the water, a little at a time, until you have a thick sauce with a pour-able consistency. You may need to add a bit more water depending on the thickness of your tahini paste and other ingredients.
  2. Preheat your oven to 425F.
  3. Add your riced broccoli into a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover it and heat on high for around 6-7 minutes or until the broccoli is tender. Give it a few stirs to start cooling it down. Add the garlic, and berbere and stir. Once it has cooled a bit add the shredded cheese. Stir to incorporate and then add the eggs and stir the mixture again.
  4. Onto a large baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, add your broccoli mixture. Use a large spatula to spread it around. I like to keep mine on the thinner side (a little less than 1/4″ thick) as it helps to give it a nice dry consistency when it is done. Bake for 25 minutes on a middle rack. Give it a check and rotate it after 17 minutes.
  5. Cut it up into your desired shape. I find a pizza cutter works well. Serve with tahini.
  6. This recipe also works well as a low-carb wrap bread. I find it pairs well with my Israeli Chicken Meatballs.

 

 

Israeli Chicken Meatballs with Creamy Garlic and Sumac Sauce

anmimic1I love, love, love this recipe. So often chicken turns out dry. So often, when we’re trying to avoid starches (breading), meatballs have this dry, grainy texture. Not with this recipe. Plus, it is packed with flavor. Then there’s the ridiculously delicious sauce. As wonderful as the meatballs are, and they are, the sauce is the shining star of this dish. With a base of sour cream and thick greek yogurt, it too can be a healthy addition to any diet (even a low cab one) if you use it in moderation.  Continue reading

Chicken Tikka Masala

I’m posting this one with no photo mostly because I had some friends request the recipe. It is suitable for the maintenance phase of a low-carb lifestyle so long as you omit the rice. I choose to pair it with a leafy veg side dish and if I’m feeling celebratory I will maybe have a small piece of low carb bread to go with it. If you want a bread that doesn’t taste low carb I like the to toast HALF a piece of the “light Original Flat out Wraps” which comes to 3 grams of carbs after you sub out the fiber. Seriously, it tastes like bread, I don’t know how they do it.

This recipe is fairly heavy on cream but I’ll make no apologies. I think full fat dairy is delicious, satisfying, and very filling. You won’t have to eat much of this dish to be properly full for a long time especially if you pair it with a good side of veggies. I never use food coloring because I find it unnecessary but if you want to be more authentic you can add 1/4 tsp tandoori food coloring to the chicken marinade which you can purchase at most Indian grocers. My version of this recipe isn’t strictly authentic anyways, so if you’re a purist, consider yourself warned. I’ve also omitted most of the chilli pepper heat to make it more palatable to my milk-mouthed husband and also to children. Feel free to spice it back up with some cayenne or any other powdered peppers you prefer.

The spice mixes can all be purchased at World Spice Merchants. If you’re lucky enough to live near Seattle, they have a shop at Pike Place Market. You can also order online and I’ve included links below, just click on the spices in the recipe.

Marinade the day before:

  • 1/2 Tbs smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbs kashmiri garam masala – ground (you can use regular garam masala if you like but I prefer the kashmiri version)
  • 1 Tbs tikka masala spice mix – ground
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • zest of 1/2 lemon – grated
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic – roughly chopped
  • 2″ section of ginger – peeled and thinly sliced against the grain
  • 1/2 cup cilantro – roughly chopped stems and all
  • 1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt (Greek yogurt works very well)
  • 1 to 1.5 lbs chicken breast – cubed about 1 to 1.5 inches
  • salt to taste (if you grill over propane I like to use some alderwood smoked salt to give it better flavor)
  1. Into a food processor add the paprika through cilantro and pulse until everything finely chopped. Make sure the ginger and garlic have no large pieces left. Add the yogurt and pulse into a paste. Add to the cubed chicken breast and mix thoroughly. Chill and marinade overnight.

Grilling and Stewing – the day of:

  • 1 recipe chicken tikka (above) marinated from the day before
  • 1 Tbs olive oil or ghee
  • 1 small onion – finely chopped
  • 1 small shallot (or half an american shallot) – finely chopped
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves of garlic – crushed and then minced
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tbs Tikka Masala spice mix – ground
  • 1x 14 oz can of finely diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 Tbs kashmiri garam masala – ground
  • a pinch of coconut sugar (optional)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (you can substitute up to a few tablespoons of it with 2% or whole milk)
  • 1 Tbs ground almonds
  • salt to taste
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
  1. Put your chicken on skewers (pre-soak if using wooden ones) and grill over low-medium heat to cook with minimal charring but so that the chicken is cooked through. Reserve the left over marinade.
  2. Into a deep walled, heavy pan over low-medium heat cook the onions and cardamom until the onions become translucent and begin to brown, stirring often.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a minute then add the tikka masala and cinnamon. Cook for another 30 seconds to a minute or until the spices warm and become fragrant.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cook until they soften, loose shape, and the sauce becomes thick and almost paste-like. This may take 30 minutes or more, lower the heat if necessary to prevent sticking to the pan or burning.
  5. Add the garam masala and coconut sugar (optional) and then the cream, almonds, and the grilled chicken masala. Stir and simmer gently for 5 minutes or until the chicken is warmed through.
  6. Add salt to taste and serve garnished with cilantro. If you can have brown basmati rice as part of your diet or whole-wheat naan bread serve accordingly. Low-carb substitutes would be cauliflower rice or 1/2 a light original flat out wrap (toasted).

Why a lowered-carb diet is my new healthy: auto-immune Thyroiditis and insulin sensitivity

I know I haven’t really posted a whole lot on here in forever. I’ve been cooking up a storm but I’ve been conflicted about writing for a long time now. You see, I’ve taken up a lowcarb lifestyle for many years and I know that’s considered controversial in this day and age. For myself, it was the right choice.

About 3 years ago I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic and with thyroid disease. Both, in my case, were hereditary as I’ve never been one to eat huge amounts of starch or sugar and had kept my weight mostly under control my whole life. That is, until a few years ago when my thyroid took a nose dive and I rapidly gained weight despite tightening my diet, removing all processed foods, starches, and sugars, and increasing my cardio and weight training routines.

Even with those changes the weight gain increased and, for a time, I gained a pound a day. I’ve never been tiny but at 5’9″ and with a lot of muscle I carried my 135 lb well. I was shocked when I ballooned up to over 200 lbs in less than 6 months. My doctors were at a loss and, looking back, I can’t believe no one thought to check my thyroid. I even brought it up to a few of my doctors and they told me it must be my diet without even ordering a blood test.

I lowered my food intake even further. The weight gain continued and all I had for my efforts was weakness and fainting spells. Eventually, I took matters into my own hands and begged an endocrinologist (thyroid specialist) to see me. I was tested and put on synthetic thyroid hormone. The first 20 pounds dropped off almost instantly in the first two months.

That said, quite a bit of damage to my body was done. It is possible that along with my auto-immune thyroiditis there are some other unresolved auto-immune issues going on. I live with chronic inflammation that seems tied to a sensitivity to starches and sugars. Basically, when I eat rice, bread, sugar, etc. I have pain and swelling. The swelling is bad enough that you can see it in my hands and face. The pain and inflammation started several years before I was diagnosed with thyroid disease but my doctors say I’ve likely had problems with my thyroid my whole life. I’ve also had problems with my blood sugar my whole life so it isn’t a huge leap to think that maybe the three, seemingly separate issues, are tied together.
I started this blog as a way to teach picky eaters to be more adventurous. It chronicled my personal adventure in getting at least one picky eater to try a larger and larger variety of things, my husband whom I affectionately refer to as Thogg in this blog. Now, I have to cook for myself too.

From here on out, most of my recipes will only include trace amounts of processed starches or sugars. I do still cook for friends and family, so there will be the occasional non-low carb recipe. For the most part, my diet these days consists of lots of non-starchy veggies, protein, and fat. These days, fat is my fuel and I don’t shy away from it. I’m also no longer afraid of saturated fats and will often include fair amounts of butter or other full-fat dairy and cream.

I will say though, that my recipes will not include a carb count but given that I rely mostly on fresh and unprocessed foods you should easily be able to do some calculations for yourself if you so choose. For those of you on phase 1 of a diet like Atkins or for those of you who are in the first stages of South Beach or any other ketosis type diet most of my recipes will possibly not be suitable. I’m at what most people would consider to be the maintenance or final phase of a lowered carb lifestyle. I also work out and do cardio regularly (6-7 days a week), which has further allowed me to increase my carbohydrate intake.

I no longer count carbs but rely on my body to tell me if I’ve overdone it. For myself, I’ll notice pain and inflammation the next day if I overindulge. Even before that though, I also notice a huge uptick in my hunger within a few hours of eating a meal that triggers an insulin response. That’s usually my first indication that I’ve had a meal that was too heavy on carbs and didn’t have enough fat and fiber to offset it.

That said, the focus of my recipes will still be on eating foods that are fresh and unprocessed and will include recipes with flavors and techniques from around the world.

I’m ready to being sharing my culinary adventure again. The road may be a bit different than before, but I’m excited about the possibilities and I hope you are too.

Porcini-dusted White Fish with Grilled Bok Choy

 

A delicious spring meal for a warm day.

 

 

Did you know that bok choy is good grilled? Do you ever get bored of mild-flavored white fish or don’t know what to do with it to give it more flavor? Have you ever tried Asian mushroom powder and marveled at its ability to add balanced flavor to vegetarian foods but been scared off because the list of ingredients on the packaging is very vague. I know I have, but I’d like to convince you that it is very easy to make your own at home. In fact, this whole meal is incredibly simple to make at home. Give it a try, you’ll be glad you did. Continue reading

Spiced Savory Zucchini Flat-Cakes

 

This is a little something that I made up. Since my body is still being really cranky (inflammation and pain) with grains and starchy food, I’ve had to start experimenting with non-starchy veg. This has been my go-to for something fairly quick to turn out of the oven. Spiced with Indian and Middle-Eastern spices, it is a treat for the palette. What makes me even happier – it is filling without adding a lot of calories or starch to the diet. Continue reading

Green Eggs – Adding Some Color to a February Morning

Green Eggs

 

I have been such a bad food blogger recently. Shame on me for being so neglectful. Last summer I was diagnosed with Thyroid disease. I was very sick and had to do some diet changes. Unfortunately, my particular Thyroid disorder went along with Insulin issues. For the time being, I have had to give up almost all sugar and starch. As you can imagine, this doesn’t relate very well to what most people would consider gourmet (even healthy gourmet) food.

I am doing better these days but my diet is still very limited. I will try to start posting food recipes again but most of the upcoming recipes will be very low on starches and sugars and will likely have a higher fat content than my previous recipes.

On to the good stuff now… Continue reading