Drinking Vinegars: Cocktails with Grapefruit and Cherry Shrubs

Drinking Vinegars have a multitude of great uses including:  turning regular boring cocktails into enhanced “craft cocktails”;  adding them to sparkling water or club soda with a squeeze of lime for a refreshing “craft mocktail”, or using them for health purposes to get yourself to drink more water (required on most of the popular diets).  Two of the newest drinking vinegars we’ve come up with at HeathGlen include the Grapefruit Cardamom Drinking Vinegar and the Spiced Cherry Drinking Vinegar, both of which are great for the holiday season ahead.  Here are a few of our favorite drink recipes to try them out with.

DIY Drinking Vinegars

If you are interested in making your own drinking vinegars, or for more general knowledge on mixology with drinking vinegars, click here to check out a detailed “how-to” post.

Now, on with the Recipes using drinking vinegars

drinking vinegars

Grapefruit Shrub Salty Dog

Recipe for Grapefruit Shrub Salty Dog

Ingredients:

Directions:

Pour coarse salt onto a small plate. Moisten the rim of your glass with a lime or grapefruit wedge. Gently dip rims into salt to coat lightly. Fill glasses with ice cubes. Pour gin (or vodka) over ice in each glass. Add Grapefruit Drinking Vinegar and bitters and stir.

Drinking vinegars

Grapefruit Shrub Spritzer (Cocktail or Mocktail)

Recipe for Grapefruit Shrub Spritzer

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Fill a tall glass with ice and add vodka and grapefruit shrub syrup. Stir well.  Top off the glass with club soda or sparkling water and a pinch of sea salt if desired. Garnish with grapefruit peel.
  2. For a mocktail, just forego the vodka or gin.

 

cherry drinking vinegar

Bourbon Cherry Bomb Cocktail

Recipe for Bourbon Cherry Bomb Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz bourbon (I like rye whiskey but bourbon is great also)
  • 1/2 oz. Spiced Cherry Drinking Vinegar (use 1 oz if you like sweeter drinks)
  • juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • 3-4 dashes cherry bitters (other bitters are fine also)

Directions:

Add ice to a short glass (aka highball glass).  Add bourbon or rye and the Cherry Syrup.  Cut 1/2 lime into a few wedges and squeeze into the glass.  Add 3-4 dashes bitters.  Stir.

 

*** Additional Ideas for cocktails and mocktails can be found by entering the word cocktails into the search bar for this site.

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 3 years and the keto diet for 2 years now, and I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out.  I am currently an online diet coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 300-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet, there are other coaches on the site that coach anything from writing a blog, to getting up early, to getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site while you are there.  There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.

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Low Carb Carnitas – Slow Carb Mexican

Mexican cuisine often has a bad rap in the diet world, but many of the food choices associated with Mexican food are actually quite healthy and fit with a slow carb diet beautifully.  It is more difficult to modify Mexican food to a low carb diet, and even more difficult to modify Mexican food to a ketogenic diet.  Difficult, but not impossible.  One of my favorite food memories were some perfectly cooked low carb Carnitas I had at a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Riverside California.  The recipe below comes pretty close to replicating that food memory….crispy seared on the outside and warm and tender on the inside.  The only thing missing were the fresh avocados (a hard thing to come by in Minnesota!).

Low Carb Carnitas

Low Carb Carnitas

How are Low Carb Carnitas Different from other Mexican meat dishes?

Carnitas, literally means “little meats”, and is often looked at as just one of the “taco or burrito meats”.  Since tortillas and taco shells are not compliant with a low carb or slow carb diet, the meat itself takes on a more important role however, and you’ll never miss the tortilla if you treat yourself to carnitas cooked to perfection.  In fact, the tortillas and the rice tend to mask the flavor of the carnitas.  I think that’s why it was such a food memory for me.  It was simple and perfectly cooked and the flavor was allowed to shine through.  My dish was accompanied with fresh avocado, cilantro, sour cream and refried beans….all slow carb and all delightful.

The fact that it was a very authentic Mexican Restaurant with old seafood restaurant decor made it even more fun.  The Marlin and netting theme were still there from the last restaurant!

Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender (do not fear the lard).  The traditional way to cook carnitas is to simmer the meat slowly in lard in a thick-bottomed pot (I used a dutch oven), which disperses the heat evenly in a process reminiscent of confit.  Mexican spices are added as it simmers, and once appropriate tenderness is achieved, the heat is turned up and the outside of the pork begins to crisp.

The crisping of the outside of the pork is one of the things that distinguish carnitas from pulled pork.  At their best, carnitas are moist, juicy, and ultra porky, with the rich, tender texture of a French confit, and riddled with plenty of well-browned, crisp edges.

Pop sugar has put together this summary of the differences between carnitas and other Mexican meats, which I found really helpful:

  • Carne asada: Grilled, marinated pieces of beef (typically sirloin or rib) served inside burritos and tacos.
  • Carnitas: Shoulder of pork that’s been seasoned, braised until tender with lard and herbs (oregano, marjoram, bay leaves, garlic), pulled apart, and then oven-roasted until slightly crisp, then eaten alone or used as a filling for tacos, tamales, tortas, and burritos.
  • Al pastor: Crisp-thin shavings of vertical spit-roasted pork, marinated with guajillo chiles and achiote, then served on tortillas. Pastor means “shepherd,” the name given to Lebanese merchants who immigrated to Mexico City in the early 1900s, bringing the concept of shawarma with them.
  • Cochinita pibil: Whole suckling pig or pork shoulder that’s marinated in citrus with achiote, then wrapped in banana leaves and roasted. Historically, it’s buried in a pit with a fire at the bottom.
  • Barbacoa: Traditionally, beef cheek and head that’s covered in leaves from the maguey plant, then slow cooked over a wood fire in a pit in the ground. In America today, it also refers to spicy, shredded, slow-braised beef that’s been made tender, then pulled apart.

How to use Low Carb Carnitas for a full Low Carb Dinner

A classic accompaniment to carnitas is broiled red onions (Cebollas Encurtidas).  These onions are often broiled and then soaked in citrus juices and are a perfect foil with carnitas.  Add some avocados or guacamole and some refried beans and you will leave your slow carb dinner ultimately satisfied.  Other accompaniments might include salsa and coriander leaves.

Recipe for Low Carb Carnitas:

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange
  • 2 Tbsp lard (olive oil if you must)
  • 3 lb boneless pork shoulder roast, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chile pepper spice (choose a spice that meets your heat preference)
  • 1 Tbsp lard (or oil)

Directions:

Zest an orange and then squeeze the juice from the orange.  Add them together in a bowl and set aside

  1. In a large Dutch oven (or heavy-bottomed pot), heat 2 Tbsp lard over medium-high.  Add the meat, a little at a time, being careful not to crowd.  Cook first layer of meat until browned, remove and cook next layer of meat until browned and then remove.
  2. When meat is browned and removed to a plate, add the onion and garlic to the Dutch oven.  Cook until tender, about 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.  Return meat.
  3. Add the reserved orange zest and juice and the next 6 ingredients to the Dutch oven (through the chile pepper).  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and cover.  Simmer for 2 hours.
  4. Bring back up to a gentle boil and cook, uncovered 15 to 20 minutes more or until most of the liquid is evaporated, stirring occasionally.  Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves and either go to the next step or store the meat until ready.  The meat can be stored at this point in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  5. When ready to make the carnitas, heat 1 Tbsp lard over medium heat in a large skillet.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the sauce and spread it in a single layer in the skillet.  Cook 5 minutes or until meat starts to crisp, turning occasionally (may need to do this in batches).
  6. Serve with lime wedges, jalapeno pepper, guacamole, refried beans or broiled onions.

Nutrition Analysis (per serving):

  • 204 calories
  • 7 g fat
  • 2 g carb
  • 31 g protein
low carb carnitas

Low Carb Carnitas Dinner

 

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 3 years and the keto diet for 2 years now, and I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out.  I am currently an online diet coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 300-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet, there are other coaches on the site that coach anything from writing a blog, to getting up early, to getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site while you are there.  There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.

 

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Low Carb Roasted Chickpeas – slow carb snacks

Finding alternatives for chips is often problematic for people living a low carb lifestyle.  Some people crave sugar, but almost as many crave a salty, crunchy snack.  Protein, fat and vegetables don’t lend themselves to salty and crunchy.  I’ve recommended chicharonnes (pork skins) in the past, but this easy recipe for Low Carb Roasted Chickpeas is another alternative for those that just can’t handle the idea of pork skins.  It’s really easy to make, but there is a new prepared convenience food currently in stores that is also great — Parmesan Crisps!

 

Low Carb Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted Chickpeas

Recipe for Low Carb Roasted Chickpeas with herbs and Parmesan:

This is the recipe I used in the photo above.  There is a plethora of different seasoning mixes to use with Roasted Chickpeas (just google Roasted Chickpeas), but the basic process is the same.  Here is my recipe for a low carb version, followed by an infographic with a few more ideas.

makes 9 servings of 1/4 cup each

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp chile pepper spice (I used this Chipotle spice)
  • 2 tsp mixed dried herbs (I used a mix of oregano, thyme & rosemary)
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 15-oz can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the first 5 ingredients (oil, Worcestershire, chile spice, herbs and garlic salt).  Add the chickpeas and toss to coat.  Spread out the mixture onto a baking sheet.
  3. Roast 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in cheese and roast 25 minutes more or until brown and crisp, stirring twice (beans may pop during roasting).  Cool.
  5. To Store:  Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.  To serve, preheat oven to 350 degrees and roast 5 minutes or until crisp

Nutritional analysis:

  • 131 calories
  • 8 g. fat
  • 12 g. carbs
  • 4 g. protein

Variations on the Seasoning mixes for Low Carb Roasted Chickpeas

The process for roasting chickpeas is pretty similar for all the various recipes.  What changes is the seasoning mix you might choose.  This link is a nice, clean infographic on how to make roasted chickpeas. using 5 different seasoning mixes.  Not all are low carb, but they offer some other ideas.  I like the idea of turmeric and

Also, here is a photo of the Parmesan Crisps I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  These are a great and convenient low carb snack…. slow carb also!

Parmesan Crisps

Parmesan Crisps

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 3 years and the keto diet for 2 years now, and I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out.  I am currently an online diet coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 300-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet, there are other coaches on the site that coach anything from writing a blog, to getting up early, to getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site while you are there.  There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.

 

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Low Carb Cocktails – Cranberry Drinking Vinegar (Shrub)

While not a food group, cocktails are one of those things many people miss on a low carb diet (along with bread and sugar).  Alcohol itself, doesn’t pack in a lot of carbs or sugar, rather it is usually the mixers that take cocktails over the proverbial low-carb top.  With margaritas, it is generally the sweet and sour mix.  So… if you are going to imbibe over the holidays, why not try a low carb cocktail (margarita) dressed up beautifully with a Cranberry Shrub Syrup (aka drinking vinegar) instead of a sugary sweet and sour mix.  The low carb cocktail below was made with a Cranberry Hot Pepper Shrub Syrup, but you could use the Cranberry Ginger Shrub Syrup if you’re not a fan of heat. And there are more ideas for low carb cocktails at the end of the post!

low carb cocktails

Cranberry Shrub Margarita (with Cranberry Hot Pepper Syrup)

Is a Shrub Syrup really an alternative for low carb cocktails?

Well, there is sugar in a shrub syrup for sure, but it is reduced considerably compared to a simple syrup.  Shrub syrups are typically 1/3 fruit, 1/3 vinegar, and 1/3 sugar.  Simple syrups can be anywhere from 1/2 sugar upwards and they often contain artificial flavors for the fruit.  Shrub syrups (at least ours) are made from real fruit.

In the case of the Cranberry Shrub syrups, the cranberries come from Wisconsin, and are purchased from our friends at the St. Paul Farmers Market fresh off the bog each Fall.  Nothing artificial is added to our syrups.

Also, it is important to note that you don’t need to add a lot of shrub syrups to get a lot of flavor in low carb cocktails.

Oh, and as far as low carb fruits go cranberries are at the top of the list.

So, while not “no-sugar”, you can definitely make a low carb cocktail with a shrub syrup.  I wouldn’t recommend cocktails on a daily basis if you’re leading a low carb lifestyle, but if you’re a little mindful during the holidays you could certainly imbibe without a lot of damage to your progress.

For those that don’t drink alcohol, these syrups are wonderful with sparkling water and a squeeze of lime.

Recipe for Cranberry Shrub Margarita (made with Cranberry Habanero Shrub Syrup)

Yield:  1 margarita

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 2 oz. Cranberry Habanero Shrub Syrup
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. triple sec (or orange liqueur)
  • kosher salt for rimming the glass
  • Garnishes: thinly sliced limes, lime wedges or fresh cranberries

Directions:

  1. Use one of the lime wedges to moisten the rim of the glass and then dip glass rim into some kosher salt spread out on a plate.
  2. Combine the tequila, cranberry syrup, lime juice and orange liqueur in a shaker with ice.  Shake rather vigorously for about 10 seconds.
  3. Strain into low tumblers filled with ice.
low carb cocktails

Ingredients for Cranberry Shrub Margarita

More Low Carb Cocktails made with Cranberry Shrub Syrups:

 

Cheers!

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 3 years and the keto diet for 2 years now, and I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out.  I am currently an online diet coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 300-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet, there are other coaches on the site that coach anything from writing a blog, to getting up early, to getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site while you are there.  There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.

 

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Low Carb Breading Mix – for Fish, Veggies, Pork, etc.

The main food that people say they miss most when on a low carb or keto diet is bread.  In fact there is some trending science indicating that the “mouthfeel” of breads and starches may indeed be the “sixth” discovered taste sensation (following the five tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami).  While it is totally compliant to fry proteins and veggies in olive oil, coconut oil, butter or ghee, it is difficult to enjoy a lot of fried food without some sort of breading.  Enter this low carb breading mix!  It tastes just as good as it looks….without all the carbs!

low carb breading mix

Low Carb Breaded Cod

Low Carb Breading Mix on Fish

I’ve been on a high-protein-low-carb diet for years now (nuanced versions of slow carb, low carb, & ketogenic) and most of the dinner recipes I share on my recipe blog focus on chicken, beef and pork proteins.

I have posted several really tasty dinner dishes using salmon and scallops, but whenever I cooked white fish of any kind (cod, flounder, tilapia, etc.) it just tasted blah.  Easy and quick to make yes, but blah.

Using this breading mix on white fish truly enhanced the flavor and is a go-to dish now for quick and easy week-night dinners.  It’s also a great foil for the walleye and crappies our friend brings us in exchange for bow-hunting the deer on the farm (thanks Greg!)

Of course the low carb breading mix could be used for zucchini sticks, fried cheese sticks, pork chops, and any number of fried foods.  I think I might try it on oysters next time.  I have a food memory of a Fried Oyster Po’Boy from San Francisco that I’d like to emulate sometime soon!

Recipe (& Variations) for a Low Carb Breading Mix

This is the recipe I used, but I’ve listed a few variations below also.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 fish filets (I used cod, but any white fish is fine
  • 1/2 cup crushed pork rinds (aka chicharonnes)
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (use ghee if you have it for high temp cooking)

Directions:

  1. Place the pork rinds in a Ziploc bag and crush with the bottom of a glass or a heavy small plate
  2. Combine the crushed pork rinds, the Parmesan cheese and the pepper in a medium sized bowl.  Mix well.
  3. In another bowl, use a whisk or fork to stir up the egg
  4. Heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Olive oil is a low temperature oil so don’t heat it to the smoke point.  Heat the oil hot enough that when you add a drop of water to the pan it sizzles)
  5. Dip the fish filet into the egg mixture and then dip it into the pork rind mixture.  You can use tongs for this or your hands.  If it is not thoroughly coated you might want to do a double dip (repeat the egg dip and the pork rind dip for the filet).  Place all of the dipped filets on a plate.
  6. When the oil is hot, gently place the filets in the skillet.  Do not move them around or try to flip them right away.  You want the crust to get crisp.  After a few minutes, gently lift the edge of a filet and see if it is brown and crisp.  If so gently turn it over to the other side.  The fish will cook quickly (only a couple of minutes on each side).

Variation of a Low Carb Breading Mix:

If you don’t like pork rinds this combination works well also:

  • 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp golden flaxseed meal
  • 1 Tbsp almond flour

Based on the current information on flaxseed, I don’t use it anymore, but the above combination is tasty if you prefer flaxseed and are not a fan of pork rinds.

Follow the same directions for either list of ingredients.  Feel free to add seasonings to match your tastes or the protein you are using.  Old bay works well with fish.  Some people like garlic powder, onion powder or seasoning salt.

Me, well I prefer one of HeathGlen’s pepper spices of course.  Sometimes I use the sweet paprika and sometimes the smoky chipotle.  It’s all good….as they say.

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 3 years and the keto diet for 2 years now, and I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out.  I am currently an online diet coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 300-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet, there are other coaches on the site that coach anything from writing a blog, to getting up early, to getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site while you are there.  There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.

 

 

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