Low Carb Keto Lasagna – with spaghetti squash

Unlike many of the winter squash varieties, spaghetti squash does not pack in the carbs and sugar.  It has long made a good foil for substitutions for pasta dishes.  A baked lasagna made with spaghetti squash, aka low carb keto lasagna, is every bit as filling and tasty as a classic pasta lasagna.  Watch out for sugary tomato-based pasta sauces however.  Try this one with diced tomatoes for less sugar.

Low Carb Keto Lasagna

Low Carb Keto Lasagna

Spaghetti Squash vs. Zucchini Noodles for the “pasta”

Some low carb keto lasagna recipes use zucchini noodles rather than spaghetti squash but I think spaghetti squash is not only tastier, but also easier.  It does have to bake in the oven for about an hour but that is hands free.  I’ve just never gotten into the spiralizing craze and maybe that’s why I think it’s easier.

Spaghetti squash doesn’t take any specialized equipment, just stick it on a baking sheet and turn the oven on 350 for an hour (you can also turn it upside down on a plate and microwave).  If you do this part of the recipe a day ahead you can just keep it covered in the refrigerator (whole or scraped out strands) until you are ready to make the lasagna.

You do have to scrape the seeds out of the squash before baking and you do have to scrape the strands out of the squash when it has cooled, both of which take a bit of muscle.

The other nice thing about spaghetti squash is that you can buy it at the store or the farmers’ market and keep it on your counter until you are ready to use it.  Zucchini doesn’t have nearly the shelf life and should really be kept in the fridge if you are going to wait to cook it.  I never really know when I am going to get to a certain dish so the fact that I can just look at that spaghetti squash for weeks until I inspired to use it is a bonus.

I grow both zucchini and spaghetti squash on the farm and personally think spaghetti squash has more flavor than zucchini.  The flavor and texture differences are going to boil down to your own tastebuds.  They both have much more nutrition than pasta and the carbs, sugar and calories are pretty comparable.  So…..the bottom line is either one is a great alternative for pasta in a low carb keto lasagna!

Is Low Carb Keto Lasagna Quick & Easy to Make?

Well, it’s a heck of a lot easier than classic lasagna (and tastes just as good if not better).  Since I started coaching 4 years ago, I’ve seen that it is a huge challenge for people to cook whole food these days.  People are either too busy with families and careers or they never really learned how to cook so it is a bit intimidating.  My goal is to make it as easy, painless and quick as possible.

This recipe, therefore, uses canned tomatoes, garlic from a jar, and a minimum of equipment.  If you want to chop up fresh garlic and make your sauce with fresh tomatoes, it “might” taste better, but the jury is still out on that.

Like I said earlier, the spaghetti squash does take some time to bake so do it ahead, and it takes some muscle to cut in half and de-seed.  The rest of it is really just hamburger helper with a layer of cheese.

 Recipe for Low Carb Keto Lasagna

Serves: 4 – 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash (or two small) *a large one will weigh 4-5 lbs.
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground pork (can substitute hamburger, sausage, ground chicken or any ground protein)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (from jar – alternatively mince 2-3 fresh garlic cloves)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1-2 tsp chili spice (I used our smoked chipotle spice but use your favorite)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan (I used freshly grated parmesan but it isn’t necessary)
  • 1 egg

Directions for the squash (can be done ahead)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (or just use microwave).
  2. With a large, sharp knife, cut the spaghetti squash in half.  With a strong spoon, scoop out the seeds.  Then, if using the oven, lay the squash flesh-side down on a baking sheet and bake for about an hour (flesh will be soft and easy to penetrate with a fork).  If using the microwave place the squash flesh side down on a plate and microwave about 20 minutes (or until soft)
  3. Let the squash cool so you can handle them and then take a fork and rake the flesh into a bowl. It will come out in strands….like spaghetti!  Set the empty squash shells aside and save for later use as a baking “vessel” if you want.
  4. Cover the bowl of strands and put in the refrigerator to use when ready.

Directions for the Lasagna:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet, saute the onion in oil over med high heat for around 5 minutes, or until translucent.  Add the ground pork to the pan and saute with the onions until no longer pink.  When meat is no longer pink, add the garlic, spices and tomatoes.
  3. Turn the burner down to medium-low heat and let the meat sauce simmer about 10 minutes while you mix up the 2 cheeses and the egg in a medium sized bowl.
  4. Now you are ready to layer the lasagna.  Put some meat sauce in the bottom of a glass baking pan or in the saved shells of the spaghetti squash.  Then add a layer of the spaghetti squash on top of the meat sauce and then a layer of the cheese mixture.  Add one more layer of the meat sauce and then top it off with little dollups of mozzarella cheese if using fresh or a layer of shredded mozzarella if using packaged.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.  Let it sit for 5 minutes or so before serving so it can “set”.

** Add chopped up black olives and/or baby spinach for more taste and nutrition.

Nutrition:  Serving size = 228 g

  • calories: 396
  • carbs: 10.4
  • sugar: 3.1
  • protein: 26.6 g
  • fat: 27 g

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 2 years, the keto diet for 1 year and now 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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Golden Milk Tea – Low Carb & Keto

I love coffee, especially in winter, but I also love sleep so I try to cut off all caffeine by 2 pm.  This Golden Milk Latte (aka Golden Milk Tea or Turmeric Tea) is a wonderful substitute for coffee, as it is warm, aromatic, tasty and yes, even healing and healthy!  This drink is quite addictive and is starting to be my go-to drink in the winter.  That first cup of coffee in the morning is still a mainstay, but this new-to-me elixir is taking over the afternoons and especially the evenings!

golden milk tea

Golden Milk Tea (aka Turmeric Tea)

What is in Golden Milk Tea (or Turmeric Tea)

I’m a big fan of the study done by National Geographic on the world’s “Blue Zones”.  A National Geographic team studied the regions of the world that had the highest number of people that reached an old age (beyond 80 years) in good health. They came up with 5 regions in the world, with Okinawa, Japan being one of them.

On the Japanese island of Okinawa, turmeric tea is a way of life. The population drinks this traditional favorite daily, and numerous studies have linked turmeric with wide-ranging anti-inflammatory effects.

While a number of different criteria were applied to understand the “why” of each Blue Zone region, the people of Okinawa were shown to have one of the world’s longest average life spans: 81.2 years.  A daily dose of Golden Milk Tea may play into the overall reason.

Why is Golden Milk Tea Considered Healing?

Turmeric is the Golden Milk Tea ingredient thought to be most beneficial.  Ginger, cinnamon, hot peppers with capsaicin, black pepper and honey all purport various types of healing, but turmeric is the star of this “tea”.

Inflammation is running wild in our bodies these days, leading to all kinds of seemingly disconnected symptoms, from joint pain to food allergies to digestive troubles.  Turmeric’s active ingredient is curcumin, which is a well-documented powerful anti-inflammatory herb.  Turmeric contains up to 3% curcumin by weight.

Consuming turmeric (whether in tea or in curries, soups, sauces, or other cooking) is an ancient healing spice, and this tea maximizes the natural antioxidant power of turmeric because it is a) hot and b) combined with other beneficial spices and a little bit of fat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of milk of choice (unsweetened almond or coconut) or use bone broth in place of the milk for a more hearty tea
  • 1 tsp turmeric (or 1 Tbsp peeled, grated fresh turmeric)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (or 1 Tbsp peeled grated fresh ginger)
  • pinch of black pepper (increases absorption)
  • pinch of hot pepper spice (optional – I used HeathGlen’s chipotle spice)
  • 1 tsp honey, maple syrup or sugar substitute (I use Truvia brown sugar substitute)
  • consider adding more fat like butter or coconut oil as it increases absorption (there is a little fat in the coconut milk but adding more fat is common, especially on a keto diet)

Directions:

  • Heat 2 cups light, unsweetened coconut milk (or almond milk
  • Heat all ingredients in a saucepan and stir well
  • Bring to a simmer for a few minutes up to 10 min.
  • Strain if you used fresh ginger and turmeric.  Pour into a cup if you used ground spices
  • Add honey or sugar substitute to taste

**Note: This may stain blenders and countertops. The color will eventually fade, but making a thick paste of baking soda and water and scrubbing the stain can help.

Recipe for Golden Milk Tea using dry spice mix

Ingredients for the dry mix:

  • 1/2 cup turmeric powder
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon powder
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1-2 Tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (or your favorite hot pepper spice)

To use:  Add 2 tsp of this mix to 2 cups milk of choice and simmer for a few minutes.

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 325-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.

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.

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.

 

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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