Archive | Slow Carb (4-Hr body) Diet

Keto Sheet Pan Dinners

Love good food… don’t want carbs…no time to cook?  Enter the darling of the year, Sheet-pan dinners.

Sheet-pan dinner with chicken & veggies

Sheet-pan dinner with chicken & veggies

Can Sheet-pan dinners take the place of Fast Food?

In the 70’s the quick and easy dinner darling was Hamburger Helper (remember that?).   In the 80s the crockpot was the way to go, as long as you added a spice packet of Lipton’s French Onion Soup.  The 90’s were all about foods in pocket form, packaged salads and lunch kits, and things you could cook in the microwave or toaster (pizza bagels, pizza pockets, toaster strudels).

Somewhere around the 2000’s farmers’ markets really started to come into their own (in the US anyway), and the number of farmers markets offering fresh local produce has grown to the level of abundance.  You can often find a good farmers market within 50 miles of your home these days.

The problem is our knowledge of how to cook with all this fresh produce is a bit rusty and the grandmothers are not always nearby anymore.  Sheet-pan dinners might be the rescue dinner of the 2000’s.  They are certainly gaining in popularity right now, and rightfully so.

What is the biggest complaint about Low Carb or Keto Lifestyles?

One of the biggest obstacles I have seen in coaching people on a range of different diets is the challenge of cooking whole foods at home.  In particular cooking vegetables.  It seems dieters these days fall into one of 3 camps:

  • a stressed out professional who doesn’t have time;
  • a busy parent (often a working parent) who needs to get something on the table without fuss;
  • a non-cook who just isn’t familiar with cooking and is either intimidated to learn or has no interest

The thing everyone seems to have in common however, is we all like to eat.  And we prefer eating something that tastes good!  I have heard of some people that really don’t enjoy food or eating, but so far in my fairly lengthy life I have not met any of them.

The Sheet-pan

Historically, sheet pans were a tool seen mostly in professional kitchens. You can get good ones in any kitchen store these days and they typically measure 18 x 13 inches with a lipped edge. You’ll often find them labeled as half sheet pans if you’re purchasing them from a restaurant supply store. If you have a pan at home that is a different size, don’t worry about it.  As long as you have enough space to spread things out into a single layer, everything will be fine.

The How-To:

The idea around sheet-pan dinners is that they are easy and it allows you to be creative with whatever you have available.  The idea is to get proteins and vegetables that cook up golden and crisp — not steamed and mushy?   The best way to achieve this wonderful crispy ideal is a combination of high heat (usually around 425 F) and enough food to fill in the space in your pan.   The only trick is to select proteins and veggies that will cook at approximately the same time.  If you need help with deciding perfect combinations of proteins and vegetables this link to Food 52 is a great resource.

Tips and Tricks to Sheet-pan Cooking

  1. If you want crispy proteins, leave the skin on chicken thighs or choose meat that will render its own fat.
  2. Use a piece of parchment paper to line your sheet pan with for fast and easy clean-up
  3. Frozen vegetables can be tossed onto the sheet pan without having to wait for them to thaw.
  4. Eggs and beans are great additions to make it something like a hash.
  5. I like to add some lemon wedges to use to squeeze over the dish at the end.  The fact that they are broiled lemon wedges makes them even more powerful of a taste treat.

Last week a neighbor brought us some lake fish (sun fish and croppies) and that went onto the sheet-pan with some chard, garlic, lemon wedges and fennel.

This week I went with chicken thighs, brussel sprouts, carrots, fennel, lemon and rosemary (see above photo).

It is really the simplest way to be a creative cook that I have seen in a long time.  Not to mention I finally have a way to easily make all those vegetables from the farmers’ markets!

I will add the exact chicken recipe to this post next week.  Otherwise check out the Food52 link and go wild!

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 250 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 Pork Posole – with Keto and Slow Carb Variations

The classic Mexican posole is a rich stew made with pork butt, hominy, mixed chiles and flavored broths.  But alas, hominy is corn and corn is not compliant with a slow carb diet.  Not to worry however!  This variation of a low carb pork posole is every bit as tasty with navy beans standing in for the hominy.

What?  You’re on a ketogenic diet?  Well then, please substitute cabbage for the hominy instead.  It’s all good.  And I mean really good.

low carb pork posole

Pork Posole – Slow Carb

 

Ancho chiles in Low Carb Pork Posole

The ground ancho chile is the key to the flavor here, and go as fresh as you possibly can with the anchos.  Ancho chile powder is not the same things as generic “Chili Powder” that you get at the grocery by the way.  The generic stuff is usually a blend of multiple ingredients such as cumin, oregano, garlic powder and ground chiles and the ratio of each ingredient varies widely between brands.

You can usually find ground ancho chile at Latin grocery stores and sometimes in regular supermarkets in the Mexican grocery aisle.  If you want really fresh ancho powder, you can buy some whole dried anchos from me and grind them up yourself.  I sell them at the local farmers’ markets, but if you don’t live in Minnesota, contact me at dsheathglen@gmail.com and order some.

Pork Posole Toppings for the Crowd

This recipe for low carb pork posole makes a lot and if you don’t want to have it for lunch all week, share it with your family or invite some friends over.  It’s always fun to put a platter of toppings on the table so everyone can add them to their soup, and most of the traditional garnishes/toppings are also low carb!  Here are a few ideas:

  • thinly sliced red radish
  • shredded cabbage
  • cilantro
  • diced avocado
  • Queso Fresco
  • lime juice
  • diced fresh green chile

Recipe for “Slow” Carb Pork Posole

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin, toasted and then ground if possible
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup ground Ancho chile powder
  • 2 1/2 – 3 lbs boneless pork shoulder (aka Boston Butt), cut into small chunks
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 cans of white navy beans (or 2 cups of dried navy beans soaked overnight)
  • substitute cabbage in for the navy beans if you are strictly ketogenic or use hominy for beans if you just want a classic version

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a crockpot or slow cooker and cook on low 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.  Add salt and more Ancho chile powder if needed.
  2. This is even better the next day.  Just turn the slow cooker back on low for a couple more hours.  You really can’t overcook.

 

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 250 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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Protein Smoothies for a Low Carb Diet

I’ve been playing around with high protein smoothies in an attempt to get a mix of low carb, low sugar ingredients that will allow the smoothie to do three things:  taste good, be compliant with a low carb diet, and keep energy levels high until lunch.  It took me a while to buy in to the smoothie trend, but I’m fully on-board now, as long as you leave out the bananas and high fructose fruit and the high lactose dairy.  Smoothies can be a great way of getting leafy greens and protein into our diets, both of which have a high correlation with weight loss success.

protein smoothies

Blueberry Protein Smoothie

 

Template for Basic “cover-the-bases” Protein Smoothies:

Ingredients:

  •  1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  •  1/2 cup frozen berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries are best tasting)
  •  1 scoop protein powder (Isopure, Premier, or MuscleTech are good brands – just make sure your powder is a whey isolate and not a plant-based powder)
  •  1 Tablespoon chia seeds (these are great for calcium and some minerals that are hard to get)
  •  1-2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves water (I use 1 cup, but it just depends on how thick you like it)
  •  1 cup water plus some ice cubes

 

Directions:

Blend it all up together, pour  in a glass and enjoy!  Remember to run hot water in your blender to sit so that cleanup is easy when you get home from work or have time to rinse it out (it’s hard to clean if you let it sit without water).

Compliant Substitutions or Add-ins for Basic Protein Smoothies:

I never get tired of protein smoothies for breakfast and look forward to the basic one above one each morning.  If you do get bored with the same thing every day however, here are a range of low-carb compliant ingredients that you can substitute in to the above standard (or simply add in):

  • avocados
  • romaine lettuce instead of spinach
  • undistilled apple cider vinegar (if you have digestion issues or flatulence)
  • peanut butter (not much, it’s dense in calories)
  • cottage cheese (high protein)
  • MCT oil, or coconut oil
  • cacao nibs

Enjoy!  If you want to know more about low-carb diets and/or need support, accountability or information from someone who has “been there, done that”, I would love to share and help as your personal online diet coach.  If low carb is not your thing, there are plenty of other types of coaches available (vegan coaches, vegetarian coaches, Bulletproof coffee coaches, etc.)  Try it out!  The first 3 days are free with any coach.

Click here to link to my coaching profile, and you can explore other coaches from there:

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Easy Vegetable Dish for a Low-carb Diet

Low Carb Romano Bean Side Dish

Low Carb Romano Bean Side Dish

Why is it so difficult for most of us on a Low Carb diet to cook/make vegetables?  I love vegetables.  Plus I grow vegetables on my small farm, but it is still hard for me to include them in daily meals!  I think the challenge revolves around two obstacles:

  1. Having to think about it:  Many of us grew up learning to cook with convenience foods (if we learned to cook at all).  Grilling meat has been a mainstay in most households so it is easy to do without looking at a recipe.  Making pasta is another one that doesn’t require a recipe.  Vegetables….now that requires a bit of thought.  How long do you cook them, what method, what spices to add, etc.?  If you didn’t grow up cooking vegetables, it is likely that the idea is attractive but the thought of looking up a recipe when our lives are so busy is less appealing.
  2. Prep Time:  Vegetables require washing and chopping.  While this isn’t really difficult, it is another step in that already hectic dinner-time rush.  Yet vegetables are very important to a healthy diet, whether your diet is low carb, high fat, or high protein.  So, one of my goals this year has been to try and make cooking vegetables as easy and mindless as possible.

Why even include vegetables at all in a Low-carb diet?

Vegetables offer the micro-nutrients that you can’t always get from high protein diets.  Getting a good repertoire of veggies under your belt will give you the micro-nutrients you need without resorting to fruit.  Fruit can be healthy (depending on what kind you are eating), but if you are interested in weight loss, fruit is considered “natures candy” as much of it is so high in fructose that it will essentially be processed in your body the same way that table sugar would be (in terms of spiking blood sugar and causing an insulin response that will result in storage in your fat cells).  Best to save fruit for cheat days and stick with the veggies……if you want to lose weight that is.

Easy Ways to Add Vegetables into a Low-carb Diet Plan:

The easiest way I have incorporated vegetables into my diet has been by adding fresh spinach to my morning smoothie.  (Click here for the smoothie recipe).

Before I was hooked on smoothies I would often just microwave frozen spinach or broccoli and slather it with butter (sometimes adding a vinegar).  Frozen veggies are generally flash frozen and have their nutrients intact, sometimes more than the older fresh vegetables you might find on the grocery shelf.

Because it is summer and the farmers’ markets are so abundant with fresh, organic, inexpensive vegetables, I have tried to get a little more creative.  Remembering a favorite dish I had a while back with Romano beans I decided to try and recreate something similar.  I did have a hard time finding the Romano beans as they are an Italian variety not common at our farmers’ markets or in the grocery store.  Luckily I found an heirloom variety of the beans called Dragon’s Tongue.

With a focus on “easy”, I decided to take advantage of all the cherry tomatoes that were coming out my ears.  I have the good fortune to live in the same area as Lynn Rosetta Casper, star of The Splendid Table on NPR.  She honors me every year by purchasing tomatoes from my farm booth at the St. Paul Farmers market and chatting with me about how she uses them.  I’m always amazed at the varieties she selects and one day when the big slicers were gone she picked up a bunch of cherry tomatoes.  She told me they’re actually quite good just mashed up and quickly made into a sauce.

I set to work and came up with the following dish.  It was easy and really flavorful.  I drizzled some of our HeathGlen Plum-Orange-Rosemary Shrub Syrup over it at the end to enhance it even further, but if you are being really strict on a low carb diet, the dish is quite good without the added syrup.  Have to say however, the shrub syrup took it to new heights!

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Romano & Cherry Tomato Mash-up

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil (a couple of tablespoons)
  • 1 large red onion, sliced into thin slices
  • a pound or so of Romano beans, snapped into bite size pieces
  • a pint or so of mixed cherry tomatoes (I loved the Yellow Pear with this dish along with some red cherries)
  • salt to taste
  • a drizzle of plum shrub vinegar (could also use balsamic or any other vinegar or none!)

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat up some olive oil over med-high heat.  When oil is starting to get hot add the onion slices and cook over medium heat until caramelized (about 5 min.)

When onions are somewhat caramelized, add the beans and sauté with the onions for a few minutes (don’t burn them).

Add some water to cook the beans in to soften (I added about 1 1/2 cups but it depends on how many beans you have in your skillet – slightly cover them).  Cook this mixture down until the water has almost evaporated and the beans are soft (about 5-7 min).

Add the cherry tomatoes and mash into the mixture with a potato masher or a fork.  Cook until the mixture is heated through.

Season to your liking with salt and serve.  If you are using a shrub vinegar or another vinegar, just drizzle some over the finished dish and go ah-h-h-h.

 

 

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Low Carb Fish Dinners: Almond Crusted Cod

Fish and seafood are wonderful proteins for low carb, slow carb and keto lifestyles.   The problem is many people don’t like fish, or find it too bland when made without breading.  Enter mustard and ground up almonds!  No more bland!  This recipe for a low carb fish dinner highlights cod, but any white fish could be used.  I do prefer the thicker filets like halibut and cod, but we’ve tried it with sunfish and crappies and it works just fine.  I do live in the state of 10,000 lakes after all.  Crappies are just a bit more abundant here than cod and halibut!

low carb fish dinner

Almond Crusted Cod

White Fish Often Needs Enhancement

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.

This low carb fish recipe (inspired by Eating Well magazine) was still quick and easy, but it packed a lot of flavor while maintaining compliance with low carb diets and lifestyles of all kinds.  Here’s the recipe….enjoy!

Low Carb Fish Dinner:  Almond Crusted Cod with Dijon Mustard Base

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dill, either fresh or from the tube
  • 1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4 cod filets (or halibut or other thick white fish)
  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Either use parchment paper or coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Zest the lemon over a small bowl.  Grind/chop the almonds to a coarse texture (I used a Vitamix blender).
  3. Add the almonds to the bowl, along with the lemon juice, the dill, 1 Tbsp oil and salt and pepper.
  4. Pat the thawed out fish dry and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Spread each filet with 1 tsp mustard and then divide the almond mixture among the 4 filets, pressing it evenly onto the mustard.
  5. Bake the fish until opaque at the thickest part, about 7 minutes for most.
  6. Cover and keep warm.  We served it here with a spinach-egg-drop soup.

If you’re looking for other fish dishes compliant with low carb diets, try this scallop on a bed of spinach dish, or this uniquely wonderful seared scallop dish.

In the meantime, if you want one-to-one coaching on diet and fitness visit me over at this online coaching site (there are also coaches there that coach on productivity, meditation, saving money and a host of other things).

 

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