Ultimate Low Carb Carnitas Bowl with Pickled Onions

Carnitas refers to Mexican pulled pork, which is succulent and full of flavor. When combined with beans, salsa, pickled onions, avocados and lime you have the Ultimate Low Carb Carnitas Bowl.  This bowl of goodness will  make you forget all about the rice, chips or tortillas that often accompanies Mexican food.  I love Chipotle and will still opt for their burito bowl if I’m out and about, but if you have the time for some slow cooking, this low carb carnitas bowl puts Chipotle to shame.

low carb carnitas bowl

Ultimate Low Carb Carnitas Bowl

Building Robust Flavor in the Ultimate Low Carb Carnitas Bowl

Carnitas bowls often include corn and rice, but these ingredients are not considered low carb, slow carb or keto.  Compared to the ingredients in this bowl the corn and rice are also, well they’re bland.  So who needs bland calories?

The pickled onions are really what takes this carnitas bowl over the top in the flavor department.  And they are really, really easy to make!

I like refried beans, but they are also a side dish that comes out quite bland in many Mexican Restaurants.  I had some great refried beans in Portland, Oregon not long ago as well as some memorable refrieds in Southern California.  In general, however, they tend to be pretty nondescript.  The recipe below came very close to the great ones I remember in Oregon and California.  They do take some time to make from scratch, but it is non-active time for the cook, and it is worth it.

The last enhancement to the carnitas bowl is the avocado.  It adds the creamy texture to the crunch of the onions, the savory of the pork and the earthy comfort of the refried beans.

So there you have it.  The Ultimate Low Carb Carnitas Bowl!  Here are the recipes I used below:

Pickled Onions for the Ultimate Low Carb Carnitas Bowl

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
Whisk first 3 ingredients and 1 cup water in a small bowl until sugar and salt dissolve. Place onion in a jar; pour vinegar mixture over. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Cover and chill. Drain onions before using.

Refried Beans (from scratch) for the Ultimate Carnitas Bowl

Yield:  4 cups
Active Time: 20 min
Total Time 2 hours 20 min.
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 pound dried pinto or black beans
  • Water
  • 2 sprigs fresh epazote (see note) or oregano
  • 1 medium white onion, 1/2 minced (about 1/2 cup), 1/2 left whole
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons lard, bacon drippings, vegetable oil, or butter
 Directions:
  1. In a large pot, cover the beans with cold water by at least 2 inches. Add herb sprigs, the whole onion half, and garlic cloves and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until beans are very tender, about 1 to 2 hours. Season with salt. Drain beans, reserving bean-cooking liquid. You should have about 3 cups of cooked beans; if you have more, measure out 3 cups of beans and reserve the rest for another use. Discard herb sprigs, onion, and garlic.

  2. In a large skillet, heat lard, bacon drippings, or oil until shimmering, or butter until foaming, over medium-high heat. Add minced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Stir in beans and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of reserved bean-cooking liquid. Using bean masher, potato masher, or back of a wooden spoon, smash the beans to form a chunky purée; alternatively, use a stick blender to make a smoother purée. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until desired consistency is reached; if refried beans are too dry, add more bean-cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed. Season with salt and serve.

    Recipe for the best Carnitas for the Ultimate Low Carb Carnitas Bowl:

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 for Carnitas (per serving):

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

There ya go.  Slice up an avocado or two, add some lime wedges for squeezing and some salsa or cilantro and you have a low carb carnitas bowl that will please many palates, low carb or not.

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 2 years, the keto diet for 1 year and now I currently do a nuanced version of the best of both including a 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol.  I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out and customize the approach that works for them.  I am currently an online fitness coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 325-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet or exercise, 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 Tortillas for Keto or Low Carb Tacos

Taco fillings can range the gambit of low carb variations, but the problem always comes up with the tortilla shells.  There are some available for purchase now, but you need to read labels carefully and many of them have a ton of additives that may not be desirable.  So, in an effort to make the beloved tacos (along with enchiladas, tostadas, and other Mexican fare) I tried my hand at making some low carb tortillas at home.

Low Carb Tortillas

Low Carb Fish Tacos with Low Carb Tortillas

Evaluation of Popular Ready-made Low Carb Tortillas

Since I am all about quick and easy I first checked out whether the store-bought low carb tortillas were really low carb.  The best ones I found were those from La Tortilla Factory and those from Mama Lupe (nutritional analysis below).

The low carb tortillas from La Tortilla Factory were the lowest in calories of the two, but also the highest in carbs and the lowest in protein.  The main problem with both of them was the difficulty in finding them in local grocery stores.  Mama Lupe was available online, but based on the comments they were quite expensive to buy online, compared to the cost if you could find them locally.

I haven’t tried either one yet so I can’t tell you about taste, but my “educated guess” is that Mama Lupe would win based on a higher fat content.  They both had a ton of preservatives that I was not familiar with.

Evaluation of Home-made Low Carb Tortillas:

I scanned the recipes on the internet for low carb tortillas and talked to other low-carb people in my “tribe” (so to speak) and landed on two variations to try.  The first was a recipe using pork rinds, cream cheese and a lot of eggs.  Although many people cringe at the idea of fried pork rinds (aka chicharrones), I love them and use them as breading in a lot of recipes.  For tortillas however, they just didn’t offer the taste I was looking for.  The taste was key, but I also found them to be less pliable than you would want for a tortilla.  Perhaps if I had tried the recipe a few times I could get there.  If you want to try this recipe, click here for the link.

The next attempt was a combination of recipes from the web that used almond flour and/or coconut flour.  This ended up being much more similar in flavor to a classic tortilla and was very pliable.  It was one of the lowest in carbs also!  I made this recipe twice, and although it is a bit time-consuming, you can make a big batch and freeze it and then take out smaller portions to roll out and cook on taco nights.  Just roll it into a big dough ball, wrap in saran wrap and a freezer bag and freeze.  It was definitely tasty and at some point I’ll order the ready-made tortillas online for a taste comparison.

Nutritional Analyses for the Four Low Carb Tortillas:

La Tortilla Factory

  • Serving size of 1: 39 g
  • Calories: 80
  • Total carbs: 16
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Sugar 1 g

Mama Lupe:

  • Serving size of 1: 36 g
  • Calories: 60
  • Total carbs: 7 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Fat: 3 g
  • sugar: 0 g

Almost Zero Recipe from Low Carb Maven

Serving size:  hard to say.  She says 12,  6-inch servings but I found 12 to be smaller than 6 inches.  I’m going to guess it’s around 20 g, but that’s a guess.
  • Calories: 124
  • Carbs: trace amt to 1 g
  • Protein: 10 g
  • Total Fat: 9 g
  • Sugar: 0 g

Adapted Recipe using Almond Flour and Coconut Flour (recipe below)

  • Serving size: 6″, about 35 grams
  • Calories: 89
  • Carbs: 4 g
  • Total Fat: 6 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sugar: 0 g

Recipe for Home-made Low Carb Tortillas using Almond Flour & Coconut Flour

Servings: 6-8 tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour (96 g)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (24 g)
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tsp water

Directions:

  1. Add all dry ingredients (almond flour through salt) to a bowl and stir together thoroughly.  I like to use a slotted spoon to do this.
  2. Pour dry ingredients into a food processor bowl and turn processor on to low. Be careful that ingredients don’t fly out of processor and make a mess.  While the processor is running, add the vinegar, then the beaten egg, and then the water.  Mix until everything is combined and the dough sticks together
  3. Remove dough from processor and roll into a ball and cover the ball with saran wrap. While still in the wrap knead it for a couple of minutes through the plastic.  Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes before using or store it in the fridge for up to two days.  Alternatively, place the wrapped dough in a freezer bag and freeze it until you are ready to use it.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  It should be hot but not smoking hot.  I put a little lard in the skillet but you could use oil.  It doesn’t take much, just a light coat.
  5. Break dough into 8 1-inch balls for small tortillas (this is what nutritional analysis is based on).  I liked them more at a 2-inch size but I don’t have the analysis for that.
  6. Place a ball between 2 sheets of waxed paper and roll out with a rolling pin to the approximate size you want. Place a small bowl the size of desired tortilla over the dough and use a knife to cut around the perimeter of the bowl.  Gather cut pieces together to form additional dough balls at the end.  Lift the bowl up and gently pull the tortilla off and place on a smooth counter or another piece of waxed paper for easy transfer to the skillet.
  7. Using a thin metal spatula, transfer the tortilla from the waxed paper or countertop to the skillet and cook for only about 5-6 seconds.  Flip it over with the thin spatula and cook for another 20-30 seconds.  If you want them to be pliable it is important not to overcook them.  If you are using them for tostadas or open-faced tacos you can cook a tiny bit longer.
  8. **Note:  The temperature of the skillet and cooking the tortillas quickly is the key.  If the skillet is not hot enough the tortilla will harden and crack.  If the skillet is too hot the coconut flour burns rapidly.  Test it out with a small one first to get the hang of it.

 

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Low Carb and Keto Sweets for Valentines Day

Before losing my weight on a low carb lifestyle I loved to bake treats and send them in care packages to my college age kids.  As your body adjusts to low carb eating, many of the baked goods become too sugary sweet for your adapted tastebuds.  That’s not to say the sweet tooth disappears…just changes a bit.  These low carb and keto sweets are adapted to low carb baking.  Yes, they still have calories, but total deprivation is really not part of a low carb lifestyle IMHO.  Here’s a few desserts for Valentines Day that satisfy the sweet tooth and keep the sugar and carb levels moderate to low.

By the way, there are healthy sugar substitutes and some not-so-healthy ones.  Erythritol and Stevia (Truvia is a blend of both) are the ones I recommend.  They are not artificial sugars, but rather natural sugar substitutes.  More about that in another post.

low carb and keto sweets

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

Low Carb & Keto Sweets: Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

These bars (or brownies) have a pronounced raspberry flavor to them, but if you want the swirls to look pink or red instead of brown, you’ll have to add a little red food coloring gel to the cheesecake layer.  If you want wonderful raspberry flavor without food coloring they will look like those above.

Makes a 9″ x 13″ pan

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted (use almond flour for low carb or keto)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Truvia brown sugar blend (75% fewer calories and natural sugar substitutes)
  • 8 oz. softened butter, unsalted, 2 sticks plus 1 Tbsp

Raspberry Cheesecake layer

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temp.
  • scant 1/4 cup Truvia (make sure it is the Truvia for baking)
  • 1/4 cup low-sugar raspberry jam (I used HeathGlen’s low sugar Raspberry Chambord jam)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3-5 tsp red food coloring (optional)
  • fresh raspberries (optional)

Directions:

  1. Grease an 9″ x 13″ pan with butter and sprinkle some flour into the pan.  Shake the pan around until flour coats the butter (can use cooking spray instead of butter if preferred)
  2. Sift the cocoa and then measure 1 cup.  Sift the flour and then measure 1/2 cup.  Combine sifted cocoa, flour and salt into a bowl.
  3. Beat the eggs in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Add in vanilla and sugars and mix over low speed to combine.  Using a spatula, scrape mix into a clean bowl.  Wash out mixer bowl to use in making cheesecake layer.
  4. Fit the whisk attachment to a stand mixer and beat together all ingredients for cheesecake layer over medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes).   Raspberry seeds will make it look a little lumpy.
  5. Spoon 3/4 of the brownie batter into the prepared pan and spread out to the sides.  Spoon the raspberry cheesecake layer on top of the brownie batter.  Spoon the remaining brownie batter on top of the cheesecake layer.  Using a fork, pull the raspberry cheesecake through the brownie mixture, swirling the layers together.  (if desired, you can poke some fresh raspberries into the mixture for even more raspberry flavor).
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool on a rack completely before cutting brownies.

Low Carb and Keto Sweets:  Strawberry Panna Cotta

low carb and keto sweets

Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar

This one is an elegant dessert to serve to your Valentine at a fancy dinner.  Although it looks fussy, it is actually quite easy if you just get the right mold and are patient.  It’s one of many low carb and keto sweets that includes fruit.  Click here for the recipe

Low Carb and Keto Sweets:  Chocolate Truffles with Pistachio Coating

low carb and keto sweets

Chocolate Pistachio Truffles

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (shredded with a box grater)
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp Truvia
  • 3/4 tsp to 1 tsp liquid sucralose
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp bourbon (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup crushed nuts (pistachios, hazelnuts, etc.)

Directions for the Low Carb and Keto Sweets version:

Make according to the directions for regular truffles (below).  The only difference is to shave or grate the unsweetened chocolate ahead of time so it melts quicker and watch the mixture closely until it is melted, making sure it doesn’t separate.

**Note:  Place these in the freezer and pull out one when you need a chocolate fix.  Just know that the cocoa has quite a bit of caffeine so don’t eat too close to bedtime.

Directions for Classic Chocolate Truffles

**Please note that the ingredient list will be different.  If you want to make classic truffles click here to get the ingredient list (directions will be the same)

Double Boiler Method:

  1. Place chocolate and cream and sugar substitutes in a stainless steel or glass bowl and place over a pot of lightly simmering water.  Stir constantly until everything is melted and mixture is smooth. (maybe 5-10 minutes).  Do not heat over high heat or mixture might separate.  Stir with a spatula and watch it melt until it is smooth and creamy.
  2. Stir in salt, vanilla and bourbon while mixture is still warm.
  3. Pour into a pie plate or baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to overnight.
  4. When ready to make truffles, remove from refrigerator and let it get soft enough to form balls.  Using a melon baller or spoon, make balls (about 1 inch in diameter). Roll between palms and then roll in crushed nuts.
  5. Refrigerate, but don’t serve ice cold; remove from refrigerator about 10 minutes before serving.
  6. Can be refrigerated for up to 10 days or freeze and consume at a later day  (but consume within 10 days of thawing).

Microwave Method:

Place chocolate and cream and sugar substitutes in microwave for one minute and 10 seconds at HALF POWER (50%).  Take out and stir until smooth.  If not completely smooth, place back in microwave for 5 more seconds only.  Stir again.  Continue with above recipe starting at step 2.

Enjoy these as low carb and keto sweets or click here to make them the traditional way with pure cane granulated sugar.  Either way, they are delicious!  Just make sure if you choose the sugar version that it’s on cheat day!

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 2 years, the keto diet for 1 year and now I currently do a nuanced version of the best of both including a 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol.  I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out and customize the approach that works for them.  I am currently an online fitness coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 325-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet or exercise, 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.

 

0

Pozole with Garbanzo Beans – Slow Carb Cooking

Pozole (aka Posole) is such a flavor-filled, rib-sticking, satiating meal that it is difficult to be convinced that it has a place on any kind of diet.  All of the ingredients in this Pozolillo de Garbanzo however are compliant with the slow carb diet (aka 4-hour body).

Pozole

Pozole with Garbanzos (slow carb)

Changing Hominy for Beans in Pozole and Why Beans are Slow Carb Staples

Beans and legumes are allowed on Tim Feriss’s slow carb diet, but after working with many clients on this diet I have found that it is fairly easy for people to stall out their weight loss by overdoing it on bean/legume consumption.

Based on various podcasts or interviews of Ferriss, I have come to the conclusion that he included beans for two reasons: 1) they are indeed a carb but they don’t spike blood sugar like the refined carbs do, and 2) when you eat mainly protein and vegetables, it is common to get fatigued at first.  Beans and legumes offer a slow carb way to offset fatigue.  If you are doing a vegetarian form of slow carb, beans and legumes are going to be very important.  The garbanzo beans in the Pozole offer a lot more protein and slow carbs than hominy will and that’s why they were substituted in.

How Many Beans Do You Need on a Slow Carb Diet?

So are beans necessary to a slow carb lifestyle and if so, how many?  I like to approach this particular aspect of slow carb dieting using one of the findings of a world-wide study on longevity funded by National Geographic, called the Blue Zones Project.  Dan Buettner, team leader of the Blue Zones project, and his team came up with 5 geographic areas of the world that had the longest-lived (and healthiest) people.  The five geographic regions included:

  • Sardinia, Italy,
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
  • Icaria, Greece.

After identifying these areas, the Buettner team went on to analyze what characteristics the five areas shared to try and tease out why the people lived so long and why they were relatively free of disease.  I will list the characteristics below, but the interesting thing to me with respect to diet was that the overall diets of these areas were very different from each other.  The only dietary ingredient that each region shared was a cup of beans a day.  The rest of the characteristics the long-lived people shared were more along social and cultural lines.  Here is a list of the shared characteristics that contributed to their longevity:

  • Family – put ahead of other concerns
  • Less smoking
  • Semi-vegetarianism
  • Constant moderate physical activity (as a part of daily life rather than exercise routines)
  • Rich social and community networks.
  • A cup of legumes/beans a day was a cornerstone characteristic of diet

So, if you want to know more about this fascinating project, Dan Buettner has written a series of books on the specific findings and one of the books is a meal plan/cookbook.  Click here for a link to check them out.

Recipe for Pork Pozole with Garbanzo Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs. pork shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch (or bite size) cubes
  • 1 tsp salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (can use minced cloves in jar)
  • 2 cups garbanzo beans (I used dried and soaked beans, but you can use 2 14 oz. cans)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ancho powder (I used fresh smoked Ancho blend from Heathglen)
  • 1 tsp chipotle spice ( I used fresh smoked chipotles from HeathGlen)
  • 1 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 10 cups chicken stock

Garnishes:  can use sliced avocados, chopped red onion, chopped fresh cilantro, sliced radishes, or lime wedges

Directions:

  1. If using dried beans, soak them in 8-9 cups of water overnight or for about 8 hours and then rinse before using. If using canned garbanzo beans, pour them in a strainer and rinse the gel off.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  3. In a large Dutch oven (or oven proof pot), heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium high heat.  Season the pork with salt and pepper and brown the pork on all sides.  You will need to work in batches to get a good sear and not overcrowd the pan.  It took me 3 batches and I added the 2nd Tbsp oil in the second batch.  It takes about 5-8 min. per batch.
  4. When all of the pork is seared, return all the meat to the pot and add the onion and garlic.  Saute onion and garlic with the pork over medium heat, stirring occasionally for around 5 minutes.  Add garbanzo beans, oregano, ancho powder, chipotle powder, cocoa, chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste and stir it all up to combine.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then cover the pot and place it in the oven for about 2 hours, or until pork is tender
  6. Ladle the pozole into bowls and garnish with any or all of the above listed garnishes.

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 2 years, the keto diet for 1 year and now I currently do a nuanced version of the best of both including a 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol.  I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out and customize the approach that works for them.  I am currently an online fitness coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 325-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet or exercise, 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.

2

Making Vegetables Delicious with infused vinegars

It’s 2018 and vegetables are “in”.  Restaurants are featuring vegetables, the trending diets are exalting  the lowly vegetable (creatively) and farmers’ markets are growing more popular every year.  Roasting veggies to the point of caramelization is one popular way of eking out more flavor,  but I think the best tip for making vegetables delicious is adding a few splashes of vinegar while roasting (or sauteeing) the veggies.

Making vegetables delicious

Roasted Veggies with Infused Vinegar

Best Vinegars to Use in Making Vegetables Delicious

Vinegar, like salt, is a flavor enhancer so experiment with different vinegar and vegetable combinations.  You can’t really go wrong.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Balsamic vinegar:  This is typically a sweet, aged vinegar, but there is quite a large range of flavor between brands.  In general, the longer it is aged, the sweeter and thicker it gets, and the more expensive also.  Less expensive balsamic vinegars can be used in roasting vegetables, as well as for marinades and salad dressings where there are many other ingredients.  Save the expensive balsamic vinegars for drizzling over cheese and greens, or to top off strawberries and ice cream.

Sherry Vinegar:  Sherry vinegar is wonderful on marinated red onions and tomatoes, and works well as a vinaigrette on salads (add in a little walnut oil or other good oil).  Sherry works well when combined with strong, robustly flavored vegetables because it has been aged in wood.  Sherry vinegar is great for brightening braised greens.

Infused Vinegars: If you’re looking to really boost the flavor of your vegetables, check out some of the infused vinegars.  Infused vinegars (aka flavored vinegars) give everything a bit of a flavor boost while only adding a few calories.  There are more and more infused vinegars on the market now, some with berries, some with herbs and some with rather exotic ingredients like tree barks.

At our farm we make a wide range of what is called “shrub syrups” which is basically different vinegars infused with fruit, herbs and some sugar.  Yes there is sugar in the shrub syrups, but you don’t use much of it when cooking (or drinking) as it is concentrated.  The large tray of roasted vegetables that I experimented with only needed 1/4 cup of the shrub syrup to enhance the flavor tremendously.  With drinks (like fizzy waters or cocktails), it only takes a couple of tablespoons to give your water a wonderful boost.

I tried the recipe below with Rhubarb-Fennel Shrub Syrup and the Cranberry Ginger Shrub Syrup.  I plan to also try it with the Orange Chipotle and the Smoked Cherry in the coming winter weeks.  This is a very versatile and easy recipe for making vegetables delicious.  Just grab whatever vegetables you have in your fridge, add some oil, some salt and pepper and a few splashes of vinegar and roast at 400 degrees for an hour.  Here’s the details:

Recipe for Making Vegetables Delicious

Ingredients:

Use whatever vegetables you have available and cut them into similar size chunks that will take about the same amount of time to roast.  This is what I used:

  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 1/4 head of cauliflower, broken up into florets
  • 1 large stalk of broccoli, broken into florets
  • 5 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups chopped bell peppers
  • 1 head of garlic, sliced in half
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup Rhubarb Fennel Shrub Syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Coarsely chop the veggies (peel the carrots) and lay out on a sheet pan or broiler pan tray.
  3. Drizzle with the oil and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Using your hands toss the veggies with the oil and salt so they are pretty much covered.
  4. Drizzle the Rhubarb shrub syrup over the top of the vegetables and cover loosely with aluminum foil
  5. Roast for 40 minutes and then take the foil off and roast another 10 minutes.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Other veggies that I have used with success include: cabbage, brussel sprouts, summer squash (zucchini and yellow squash, and celery.  The vegetable world is really your oyster here 🙂

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 2 years, the keto diet for 1 year and now I currently do a nuanced version of the best of both including a 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol.  I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out and customize the approach that works for them.  I am currently an online fitness coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 325-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet or exercise, 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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