Low Carb BBQ Ribs with Cranberry BBQ Sauce

It seems to be pretty darn difficult to find a BBQ sauce in the store that is compliant with a low carb lifestyle.  If you start reading labels it’s readily apparent they’re loaded with sugar.  Whether it is listed as molasses, honey, demerara, etc. it is still sugar as far as the body is concerned.  So does that mean low carbers have to give up the beloved BBQ?  Absolutely not, but you might have to make your own sauce.  I’m listing a recipe below for one version of a low carb BBQ sauce, but we also developed one at HeathGlen’s Kitchen using fresh Wisconsin cranberries that is quite awesome.  Try your version or HeathGlen’s with this great recipe for BBQ ribs.

low carb BBQ Sauce

BBQ Ribs with Low Carb Cranberry Sauce

Tips for Making your own Low Carb BBQ Sauce

BBQ sauce in general is pretty simple to make on your own.  Basically you toss all the ingredients in a pot and let it simmer, stirring only occasionally.  Alternatively toss all the ingredients in a food processor, pout it over the ribs or whatever protein you’re making and let it cook in the oven with the ribs.

The main problem with making your own sauce is that most recipes call for ketchup as the base, and then go on to add more sugar.  I found several recipes online that avoid the added sugars but still result in high flavor.  One of these is listed below for your convenience.

It’s easy to get creative with a BBQ sauce and it’s difficult to ruin it.  To cut the sugar use diced tomatoes or tomato sauce or tomato paste and start adding vinegar and spices.  If you want a smoky sauce add some liquid smoke.  Spice?  I like chipotles with their added smokiness, but use cayenne or red pepper flakes for a brighter spice.

If you want a grocery store variety, I did find one brand in our local grocery with only 2 carbs per 2 Tbsp serving.  It is called Classic 2 Carb BBQ Sauce by Ken Davis.  It is “OK” in a pinch.

Adding Berries to Low Carb BBQ Sauces:

Since we grow blueberries at HeathGlen Farm, I have made and sold a Blueberry Bourbon BBQ sauce that was very popular in past years.  This year I bought 240 pounds of cranberries from a Wisconsin cranberry farmer that I know from the St. Paul Farmers’ market and used some of them in a cranberry BBQ sauce (pictured on the ribs below).  Berries are one of the lower carb fruits that is often allowed on low carb diets and this Cranberry BBQ sauce is in our new line of Low Carb Sauces.  This sauce will be added to our low carb product line at HeathGlen in a few weeks.

 

Recipe for Oven-Baked Low Carb BBQ Ribs

serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pounds pork ribs (country-style or spareribs)
  • your favorite rub (cajun rub, HeathGlen’s Harissa mix, jerk seasoning, etc.)
  • 1-2 cups Low Carb BBQ Sauce (one recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Wash ribs and pat dry.  Line a large baking dish or roasting pan with foil for easy clean up.  Arrange the ribs in the baking dish and use your hands to coat the ribs with the rub.
  3. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours
  4. Spoon Low Carb BBQ Sauce over the baked ribs.  return to the oven, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes longer

Recipe for a Low Carb BBQ Sauce:

  • 14.5 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
  • 3/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (or any hot pepper spice)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
  • optional spices  (cinnamon, celery seed)

Directions:  In a food processor, combine all low carb BBQ sauce ingredients and blend until smooth.  Taste. Adjust seasonings to your taste.

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 Meatballs with Spaghetti Sauce

This is as easy as it gets if you want to get a family-friendly low carb dinner on the table quickly.  If you used prepared ingredients the whole dinner takes about 5 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes in the oven.  If you have a bit more energy, you can make the low carb sauce (recipe below) while the meatballs are baking.  It’s hard to go wrong with low carb meatballs and spaghetti sauce!

low carb meatballs

Meatballs and spaghetti sauce on Shirataki

The Low Carb Meatballs:

I found a package of low carb meatballs at Sam’s Club made with real parmesan cheese and no fillers.  There were 2.5 grams of carbs and 1 gram of sugar per meatball, which is really quite low.  The ingredients were primarily pork and parmesan cheese.  The brand name was Stefano’s.  Sam’s Club will often just premier something for a while so I’m not sure they are always available there, but you can look for something similar in your grocery store.

The “Noodles”:

I used shirataki noodles which are available in most grocery stores these days. Spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles also work.

The Sauce:

This is where you either make your own or read labels carefully for sugar.  Many prepared spaghetti sauces have quite a bit of sugar.  Read the ingredient list and focus on grams of sugar and then compare.  If you have the time to make your own, it is not too difficult and easy to modify to your own tastes.  Here is a recipe for a sauce that I make ahead and freeze to bring out when needed.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (or bacon fat)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes, preferably Italian
  • 1 28-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 4 small peperoncini
  • grated parmesan for serving

Directions:

  1. In large pot, skillet or dutch oven, heat oil on medium and add onions.  Saute for about 3 min. and then add garlic and cook 2 min. longer
  2. Add tomato paste and stir.  Add all spices and stir to combine
  3. Add cans of tomatoes and tomato sauce, then 4 1/2 cup water.  Stir in sugar (if using), parsley and peperoncini.  Bring to gentle boil.
  4. Turn heat down to a simmer partly cover and leave sauce to simmer 2 1/2 hours or more, stirring regularly.

The assembly:

Cook the meatballs per directions (375 degrees for 30 min).  Heat the sauce and the shirataki together or in separate pots.

Serve the low carb meatballs and sauce on top of a bed of shirataki noodles.  Spaghetti squash and zucchini also make great beds of “noodles”.

For a more elaborate meatball dinner with lamb meatballs, yogurt, cucumbers and chilies, click here.

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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Ketogenic Meatballs – Lamb, Cucumber, Yogurt & Chiles

Meatballs of some sort exist in the cuisine of every culture worldwide.  These lamb meatballs would probably be considered Moroccan cuisine, with the cool cucumber and yogurt melding with the spicy heat of chile peppers and the aromatic seasonings of cumin, fennel and coriander.  It appears to be a classic in New Zealand also however.   I’ll just call them ketogenic meatballs for now and let the countries debate the origin.  One thing you can certainly call them with confidence is great!

ketogenic meatballs

Lamb Meatballs with Chiles, Cumin & Yogurt

The inspiration for these ketogenic meatballs is from the April 2015 edition of Bon Appetit magazine where they were highlighting a tapas recipe from a New York City restaurant called El Colmado.  Although developed as a shared dish for a tapas bar, if you make enough of them they can serve as a main dish on a ketogenic diet.  Zucchini noodles or shirataki noodles make a good low carb bed for the meatballs.

If you are not living a ketogenic or low carb lifestyle, you can certainly add couscous or pasta to round out the meatballs.

The meatballs are smokey and full of flavor, the yogurt is a nice cooling element, and the cucumbers and the mint make for a nice and fresh contrast.

This is a beautifully balanced dish although the preparation does take some time so I would save it for weekends.  Alternatively, if you want to make this dish for guests just make the chile sauce the day before and the lamb meatballs earlier in the day.  The chile sauce makes quite a bit, so your hard work can also carry over to another meal.

Recipe for Ketogenic Meatballs with Lamb, Yogurt & Cucumbers

 Ingredients:

4 servings

Chile Sauce

  • 3 pasilla chiles, chopped or ground
  • 1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ cup Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Meatballs

  • ¼ small onion, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • ¾ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more if needed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1¼ pounds ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (can use almond meal)
  • 4–5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ English hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1½ tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup plain full fat Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)

Directions for Chile Sauce

Toast chiles, red pepper flakes, and cumin seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and cumin seeds are golden, about 3 minutes. Let cool. Working in batches, finely grind in spice mill, then transfer to a blender.

Add vinegar, paprika, and garlic to blender and blend until smooth. With motor running, gradually stream in oil and blend until combined. Transfer to a large bowl; season with salt.

Do Ahead: Chile sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Directions for Meatballs and Assembly

  1. Pulse onion, chopped garlic, parsley, oregano, sage, fennel seeds, coriander, cumin, and 1 Tbsp. salt in a food processor, scraping down sides as needed, until finely chopped. Add egg, lamb, and flour and pulse until evenly combined. Form lamb mixture into 1 ½” balls.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Working in 2 batches and adding another 1 Tbsp. oil to skillet if needed, cook meatballs, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides and cooked through, 5–8 minutes. Transfer meatballs to paper towels to drain.
  3. Transfer all meatballs to bowl with chile sauce and toss to coat.
  4. Toss cucumber in a medium bowl with lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Spoon yogurt into bowls. Evenly divide meatballs among bowls; top with dressed cucumber and mint and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Do Ahead: Meatball mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Now, if you like meatballs in general, but want a recipe that is quick and easy for weeknights, see this other idea for ketogenic meatballs.  If you used the prepared meatballs suggested in the post, the prepared shirataki and the leftover sauce from this recipe you have a meatball dinner that takes about 5 minutes to prepare.

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 Lunches: Portable, Out or at Home

I have found the easiest overall plan for sticking to a low carb or keto lifestyle to be:  1) eat the same thing repeatedly for breakfast (I go with a smoothie or bacon & eggs), and 2) save dinner for your more creative or social meals.  That leaves the quandary of what to do about lunch?  Most people are time-starved during this time of day, and will opt for something easy and convenient, which often translates to prepared foods or fast foods.  Here are some a few ideas for low carb lunches that work in a variety of settings.

Low carb lunches

Easy Low Carb Lunch Combo

5 Strategies to Prevent Cheating at Lunch on a Low Carb Diet:

  1. Pre-planning.  This generally means making low carb lunches ahead of time, or planning far enough in advance that you have a refrigerator or pantry full of portable, convenient low carb snacks.  It also means having clean, sealable containers in your kitchen.
  2. Curating nearby restaurant menus.  Many popular and/or fast food restaurants have menu items that are compliant with a low carb diet.  It is a matter of knowing what the menu options are and knowing which restaurants do not balk at substitutions.  This is easy enough to figure out with an online search, or maybe it might take a phone call (old school I know, but sometimes worthwhile).  Some of my favorites are listed below.
  3. Having the right equipment and ingredients on hand.  If you are at an office, having a blender available for smoothies might be problematic but most offices have microwaves and refrigerators.  If you work or parent from home, the equipment is an easier feat, but you do need to make sure your pantry and refrigerator are well stocked with compliant food.
  4. Employing the “Strategy of Inconvenience”.  This is a strategy made popular by Gretchen Rubin and it is useful for low carb lunches, but it is also critical for snacking.  If the office candy dish is open and full of candy all the time, it is a siren for mindless eating.  Ask the person in charge if the dish can be one that is not transparent and that has a cover.  Google apparently tried this and the amount of M & M’s that people ate went down dramatically.  It was just too inconvenient to open the jar in front of everyone and the visibility of the candy didn’t suck you in.  At home this would involve making your kitchen off limits for non-compliant foods, or in the case of mixed diet households placing the candy and snacks in covered, non-transparent containers (or in the freezer).  In other words if you can’t get it out completely, at least make it inconvenient.
  5. Drinking bulletproof coffee or getting in some form of fat fasting that will keep you full until dinner and still keep your brain productive.
Low Carb Lunches

SCD lunch in Valencia, Spain

Ideas for Low Carb Lunches when Eating Out:

These are some of my favorite places for going out to lunch that are quick and compliant:

  • Jimmy Johns – lettuce wraps (called an unwich)
  • Chipotle – salad bowl with meat, beans, veggies, salsa, sour cream and guacamole  (no rice and no tortillas)
  • Red Robin– any of their burger options as a wrap without the buns, and opting for the vegetables instead of the fries
  • Most Popular Restaurants – large salad with protein (chicken, shrimp, eggs, etc.), dressing should be oil and vinegar or blue cheese on the side (no ranch, french, etc.)

Ideas for Portable Low Carb Lunches for Office or Home

  • Celery with peanut butter (easy on the peanut butter)
  • Tuna (I usually get tins of tuna in olive oil or brine, dress it up with capers, mustard, mayo, etc.)
  • Hard boiled eggs (you can buy these already peeled)
  • Deviled eggs
  • Dill pickles (use the corchicon small pickles as dippers)
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese (full fat cottage cheese), with sunflower seeds for extra protein
  • Nuts (keep this to minimum, easy to overdo)
  • Baba Ghanoug (eggplant dip from Holy Land)  with zucchini sticks as dippers
  • Jerky or smoked meats from the deli (read labels, some jerky is made with a lot of sugar)
  • Pre-made bacon to use as “crackers” in a tub of guacamole
  • Sugar-free Jello, alone or with cottage cheese and a sprinkling of nuts
  • Make sugar-free lime Jello with part coconut milk — For a large package, dissolve the powder in a cup of boiling water, add a can of coconut milk, and then add the rest of the water. Stir well.
  • Smoked salmon on cucumber slices
  • Lettuce Roll-ups — Roll luncheon meat, egg salad, tuna or other filling and veggies in lettuce leaves
  • Microwave a can of black beans (rinsed), add some salsa on top and some sliced avocado if you have it.
  • Spread a low carb bean dip or spread on the lunch meat or lettuce and then roll it up
  • Raw veggies and humus (jicama works well for dipping sticks)
  • Pork rinds (these work well as dippers into a tub of guacamole)
  • Pepperoni Chips — Microwave pepperoni slices until crisp. Great with bean or salmon dips
  • Avocado is low in carbs (4-8 g net carbs per 1 avocado) and high in fat, so makes a very satisfying snack. Mash it up with a bit of salt and pepper (drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar for a treat)
  • left-overs from dinner

**NOTES:

NUTS:  Nuts are great, but they are quite dense in calories and have stalled many a diet.  The best options are nuts with higher fat content: macadamia, Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds. Net carb content is around 2-5 g net carbs per 50 g (1.8oz). Stay away from cashews and chestnuts, as they are much higher in carbs.

CHEESE:  Aged hard cheeses do not have the lactose (milk sugar) that makes cheese non-compliant on a slow carb diet.  They are dense in fat and calories however, so be careful.

COLD MEATS:  Choose sliced whole meats such as ham or turkey breast, rather than processed unidentified concoctions. Carb count should be below 1 g per 100 g / 3.5oz. My favorite is Wiltshire cured ham.

JERKEY & PEPPERONI:  Most shops sell small pepperoni sticks as individual snacks. These are highly processed and not the healthiest thing you can eat due to the nitrates. However, there should be hardly any carbs in them (0-1 g total per 1 stick). So if you are in a bind and stuck with gas station food you may have to resort to something like this.  Any time you have a choice, always go for whole foods over processed foods).

DARK CHOCOLATE:  It is the sugar in chocolate that is a problem, not the cocoa. Some sugar-free chocolates products are available.

CHICHARRONES:  Crispy, fatty, salty, zero-carb .  They turn some people off, but they can be a great snack to fill the gap left by potato chips.  Also known as Bacon Puffs or Pork Rinds.

PROTEIN SHAKES:  Protein shakes with limited sugar can make easy low carb lunches.  Just make sure and get a protein powder that is a whey isolate.  A tsp. of cinnamon added to vanilla-flavor shake adds a lot of flavor plus health (no more than a tsp of cinnamon a day though – it is a blood thinner).  Some people add coconut milk (unsweetened) instead of just water.

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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Keto Mashed Cauliflower: Mock Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower seems to be the favorite low carb substitute for a range of comfort foods, including tortillas, pizza crust and mashed potatoes.  I’ve made them all to varying degrees of success, but using cauliflower for mock mashed potatoes is by far the best tasting in my mind.   It wasn’t long (two dinner’s worth) before my family preferred the keto mashed cauliflower over traditional mashed potatoes.  Even my athletic son who wasn’t the slightest interested in a low carb or keto diet came to prefer it.  The bonus is that they are quick and easy to make.

We even slipped it in at Thanksgiving and grandma had no idea that it wasn’t her beloved mashed Yukon Gold potatoes.  Grandma is 94 years old, but still.  She’s had a lot of mashed potatoes in her life and this one slipped right by her.

keto mashed cauliflower

mock mashed potatoes with “fried” chicken legs

Keto Mashed Cauliflower (aka Mock Mashed Potatoes)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon straight chicken base or bouillon paste (may substitute 1/2 teaspoon salt)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • S & P to taste

Directions:

  1. Set a large pot of water to boil over high heat.
  2. Cut out stem of cauliflower and pull off florets (if you hold the whole head of cauliflower over a counter and smash it down firmly on the stem end, it should break apart without having to cut the stem out).  Place the florets in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until tender when pricked with a fork. Drain well; do not let cool
  3. In a bowl with an immersion blender, or in a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with the Parmesan, garlic, chicken base, and  salt & pepper until almost smooth, or until it is the texture you prefer.

If you want the recipe for the mock fried chicken shown in the picture above click here.

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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