Last July, I began my low carb journey. After ignoring my pre-diabetes for two years, I finally buckled down and set out to cut out sugar from my life and lose a lot of weight. I got creative in the kitchen and tried lots of new recipes; some were awesome, others… not so much. Ten months later, I’ve lost 17 pounds and kept them off.
I find that I’m able to do a lot with the following 9 foods. I try to always have them in the house so I can make flavorful meals that are tasty without compromising my dietary needs.
Bananas. This fruit is super versatile. My favorite thing to do is coerce ST to mix one banana, a tablespoon of peanut butter, and an egg to make moist and delicious low carb pancakes. I also cut them up and add them to yogurt and cereal for extra sweetness.
Eggs. I LOVE eggs; baked, scrambled, sunny side up over a grilled pork chop – the possibilities are endless. Eggs are also a vital ingredient for flavorful dishes such as meatballs, meatloaf, and brunch.
Almonds. When I come home from work, I’m usually hankering for a snack. Instead of grabbing ST’s provolone Cheez-Its, a handful of roasted, salted almonds take the edge off my hunger until dinner is on the table. Arrange them on a plate with Gorgonzola cheese and grapes and you have a deliciously fancy low carb cheese platter.
Peanut butter. Spread it over a banana, mix it with banana and freeze it to make ice cream, combine it with an egg and banana to make pancakes… the possibilities are endless. This sweet and nutty spread really hits the spot for me.
Parmesan cheese. I combine this with spices to coat chicken thighs in lieu of breadcrumbs. The chicken comes out of the oven crispy and KFC-like. I use it whenever a recipe calls for breadcrumbs.
Spices. Garlic salt, onion powder, paprika, thyme, rosemary, mustard seed, ground cumin, sea salt, and pepper are a must.
Fresh basil. Two words: fresh pesto. Chop up some almonds in the food processor; add the basil, olive oil, two cloves of garlic, and season with salt and pepper. You’ve got yourself a delicious sauce for virtually any type of protein that floats your boat. I usually make a side of carbs for ST (rice or pasta) and drizzle some pesto over it.
Frozen chopped spinach. I try to include as much vegetables in our meals as possible but sometimes, I don’t have time or energy to go out and buy fresh produce. Whenever I find myself in either scenario, I thaw frozen spinach and use it to stuff meatballs and meat loaf, both of which are ST’s favorites. You can also toss it with grilled chicken, pasta, and a bit of olive oil for another easy weeknight dinner.
Greek yogurt. Freeze it to make frozen yogurt or just eat it normally for a light and sweet snack. I find that it helps curb any PMS-driven desires for sweets and carbs.
It’s kind of crazy just one year ago, I was miserably uncomfortable with my body and couldn’t believe I could change my situation. I hope this helps anyone on their own journey to good health.
I’ve never tried a meat-replacement food product before so I was intrigued when Bzz Agent invited me to participate in their new MorningStar Farms campaign. For some reason, my perception of vegetarian “meat” has been that it tastes bad and is expensive. Spoiler alert: I was proven wrong.
During a Target run this afternoon (I scooped up some Prabal Gurung stuff! More on that later.), I picked up a box of MorningStar Farms Original Sausage Patties. Target had them on sale for $3.50 each, which dispelled its pricey stigma for me. I chose the sausage patties because 1) I haven’t had a sausage patty in forever and I love them! and 2) Real sausage patties are chock full of fat and cholesterol, hence the reason why I haven’t had one in forever.
Once home, ST got to work making brunch. I tore open the box and was a bit disappointed that they were so tiny. The good thing is, since they’re fully cooked (all you need to do is reheat) there weren’t getting any smaller. Whew.
Since I was up early and hadn’t eaten for hours, I was feeling ravenous. So ST decided to reheat them all. He tossed them into the cast iron skillet on low heat and covered it for about 15 minutes.
They were reheated to perfection: crispy on the outside, hot and yummy on the inside. Good things come in small packages because these little guys were delicious! The seasoning was on point and I couldn’t tell I wasn’t eating real meat at all. ST said he could tell they weren’t meat but he didn’t hate them either, which is actually quite a compliment. He served them with a mushroom omelet (my man makes the BEST omelets ever).
Each patty contains only 3 grams of carbs so my tummy felt totally fine and flat after eating three in one sitting. They were very filling and completely satisfied my craving for sausage patties. I think I’m hooked for life.
If you’re curious about MorningStar Farms’ products, I highly recommend you pick up a box. At $3.50 per box, they’re cheaper than real sausage patties and much healthier. These would be the perfect sandwiched between some scrambled eggs and an English muffin or crumbled over pasta. The possibilities are endless. MorningStar Farms also has some yummy-sounding recipes posted on their website here.
I think its safe to say that I’m obsessed with pesto. The first time I tasted it was at L’asso a few years ago when our friend was a chef there. He served me pesto over fusilli and it was love at first bite. The simple combination of basil, garlic, and oil is heavenly. I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to make it myself until a few months ago.
After making the basic basil/garlic/olive oil concoction, ST asked if I could make a variation with nuts, since pesto is supposed to have pine nuts. We didn’t have any pine nuts, but we did have this bag of roasted and salted sunflower seeds just waiting for a purpose. So while the storm raged outside, I was cooking up a storm inside (I know – I’m so witty). And in case you’re wondering, Leela was watching The Adjustment Bureau with ST and evidently being bored to tears (it was a terrible movie).
You’ll need two salmon filets (I purchase the ones with the skin on because that’s what my mom gets). Chicken works well too. For the pesto, you’ll need half a package of basil, roasted and salted sunflower seeds, two cloves of garlic, and olive oil. We have a food processor but I prefer to use our nifty little Cuisinart Smart Stick. It’s perfect for making portions for two and easy to clean.
Side note: I love the nuts sold at Trader Joe’s. They’re always fresh and cheap. I purchased a bag of roasted salted sunflower seeds for $2! We get our almonds there also for $5. So much better than what our local Pathmark offers.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Rinse the salmon under cold water and dry with paper towels. Place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Don’t use foil! Parchment paper gets everything browned perfectly on the bottom and its nonstick. You’ll never use foil again. Season each piece with a bit of salt and pepper and stick it in the oven. There’s no need for any oil; salmon is naturally fatty.
Now you’re ready to make the pesto. Thoroughly rinse the basil and dry it with paper towels. I cut off the ends of the stems but use everything else. Roughly chop the basil and toss it into the food processor.
Add two cloves of garlic, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, a light handful of sunflower seeds, and olive oil. Some people like their pesto runny while others a bit more like a paste. I like runny, ST likes pasty. Add enough olive oil to achieve your desired consistency. Do what feels right to you.
Hello, deliciousness. Go ahead, taste a few spoonfuls for quality control.
Once you’ve determined that this pesto meets your high standards, slather some on top of each piece of fish. I think at this point the fish had been in the oven for 15 minutes. Once your fish are well coated with the delicious homemade pesto you just made, pop it back into the oven for a total of 45 minutes of baking time.
While it bakes, you can make sides. I steamed some rice for ST and some string beans for both of us.
I can’t decide what the best part of this meal was: that it only took 45 minutes to prepare and cook, that it was no carb, or that it was so healthy. This love affair with pesto isn’t ending any time soon!