Kara's Keto Plates

Fatty Food Blogging

Month: December 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Fried Tofu and Veg with Peanut Sauce

Every so often, the old vegan in me or Michael kicks us and says, hey, guys, what about me? It’s hard for me to help it: I am much more passionate about vegetables than I am about pretty much any meat (my exceptions: grass-fed steak; salmon; bacon). I understand vegetables. I know how to cook them and how to season them and most importantly, I know what I like about them. Meat is almost always a shot in the dark for me. I couldn’t fry a piece of chicken to save my life. But I can fry tofu.

Enter this meal. A brick of tofu, an assortment of vegetables, a peanut butter and coconut milk based sauce. It’s not the lowest carbohydrate meal or the highest protein meal but it is packed with vegetables and flavor and texture. It is also free of any animal products, which can be a welcome change of pace.

tofu and veg in peanut sauce

Pan-Fried Tofu and Vegetables with Peanut Sauce

Sauce Ingredients:
6 tablespoons Natural Peanut Butter, creamy
1/4 cup Coconut Milk, full fat
1/3 cup water to thin the sauce (you may need more)
Sweetener equivalent to 2-3 tablespoons Sugar. I used liquid splenda.
Juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Ginger Garlic Paste (or you could do two teaspoons each of minced garlic and grated ginger)
1/4 teaspoon of Sriracha (if you have it on hand)
Crushed Red Pepper, to taste

Meal Ingredients:
Brick extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
Vegetables of your choosing, at least 4 cups. We used 1 cup broccoli; 4 oz snow peas; 2 cups bok choy (it cooked down a LOT); 8 oz mushrooms and one green bell pepper. I did not use any onion to keep the carb count low.
Avocado, lime and cilantro for garnish.
Oil – we used canola and sesame oil to fry the tofu and cook the vegetables. Probably a tablespoon of canola and maybe 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil.

Directions:
Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl until smooth and set aside. I like my sauce to be pretty sweet and spicy, since the vegetables won’t be seasoned. Drain the tofu – I also press mine. I happen to have a tofu press (which looks an awful lot like flower presses I used to use back in the day) but you can also wrap the tofu in a kitchen towel, place it between two plates and weigh the top plate with a can or something and let it be for at least half an hour. While you’re doing that you can prep your vegetables. I steamed my broccoli ahead of time, and also cleaned, trimmed and chopped the bok choy, mushrooms, snow peas and bell pepper. The white parts of the bok choy, the mushrooms and the pepper I set aside in one bowl and then the greens of the bok choy, the snow peas and the steamed and drained broccoli I put in another container.

Once the tofu has pressed for at least half an hour, chop it into 1/2 inch cubes. My cubes were bigger and harder to fry evenly. Set a pan on medium-high heat and add a tablespoon canola oil and maybe a teaspoon of sesame oil. Once the oil is heated, add your tofu. Stir it as you cook it to brown each side. The browned tofu will be crispy on the outside and creamy and almost airy on the inside (this is especially aided by the pressing beforehand). Once the tofu is done, take it out of the pan and set it aside. There should be some oil left in the pan – if not add some additional sesame oil and throw the tougher vegetables in: the whites of the bok choy, the pepper and the mushrooms. Keep stirring your vegetables for a few minutes then add the broccoli, snow peas and and the greens from the bok choy. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until the greens of the bok choy have wilted. Add the peanut sauce to the pan and continue stirring. Serve with lime slices, chopped cilantro and avocado as garnish.

This made four servings. I didn’t include garnishes in the nutrition information below, but we each ate half an avocado as garnish (a not insignificant quantity of tasty fat and fiber, but it also added 2 grams carbohydrate to our meal.)

Nutrition Information (per serving):
Calories: 392 kcal
Total Fat: 28 g
Saturated Fat: 5.5 g
Total Carbohydrate: 15.5 g
Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 19 g

Net Carbohydrate: 10.5 g

Solstice Cookies

It’s nearly the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Historic records are pretty spotty, but generally speaking, the Solstice would be treated as a feast day. In Germanic and Scandinavian traditional cultures, Jul would take place around the solstice as a feast day wherein animals were slaughtered and beer which had been started a month or so earlier (after the grain was harvested) would be drunk. It was, in short, a time to get drunk, stuff your face and give thanks to the gods with your family and neighbors.

I could talk a lot about how the mythology and symbols around the Solstice was taken up by conquering Christians as a means to assimilate the culture (ie, evergreens were brought inside to represent eternal life in a season of death; stars and suns were common decorative accents – an assurance that the sun would rise again). But instead, I’m going to post a cookie recipe.

I used a lot of different citrus fruits (Orange, Lime and Lemon) in this recipe because I had a lot of citrus on hand – ’tis the season. I like all the different flavors, but you could always use just lemon or just orange or just lime. I also freshly ground cardamom for this recipe (which entailed cracking open green cardamom pods to get to the seeds and then running those seeds through a burr grinder). If you use already ground cardamom, you may need to add more of it for flavor. I should also say, I bought some King Arthur almond flour because it was a finer ground than the Bob’s Red Mill brand I’d been using and it made a huge difference in the texture of these cookies. I chose not to ice these cookies because the cooling effect of the Erythritol in icing was unpleasant to both me and Michael – as such, I added some EZ-Sweetz liquid splenda to the dough for some extra sweetness.

Citrus Cardamom Cookies

Citrus Cardamom Cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Almond Flour
1/4 cup Coconut Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Cardamom, ground
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1/4 teaspoon Salt
6 tablespoons Butter
1/2 cup Erythritol (I powdered mine for use in this recipe)
1 Egg
1 1/2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon Orange Juice (juice from a quarter of a medium orange)
1 1/2 tablespoon citrus zest: I used lime and orange zest
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
A few drops of EZ-Sweetz (to taste – I probably added 1/4 teaspoon)
Optionally: sea salt for topping

Directions:
Mix dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt) in a bowl and set aside. In a mixer, cream together butter and Erythritol (maybe a couple minutes of mixing). Add the egg, lemon and orange juice, vanilla extract, EZ-Sweetz and zest. Mix until incorporated, then gradually mix in the dry ingredients. Once the dry ingredients are mixed in, divide the dough in half.  Flatten each half and wrap in wax or parchment paper to set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a cookie sheet in parchment paper. I rolled out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes, but the dough is a bit wet and sticky (you can tell, because I gave up and started cutting the dough with a boring old biscuit cutter).  If you don’t want to cut out shapes with cookie cutters, this dough would work great as a log that you cut – in which case, divide the dough in half, roll each half into an even log (maybe two inches in diameter) and set in the fridge for at least half an hour. Then just slice the log into 1/4 inch rounds and cook those. The cookies bake for about 10 minutes: as soon as they start to brown at the edges, they’re done.

Because I wasn’t icing the cookies, I topped a small number of cookies with a bit of fleur de sel on an impulse. Turns out, both Michael and I really liked those salt-topped cookies, so I totally recommend doing that. I’d say we got about 30 cookies out of this recipe.

Nutrition Facts (per cookie):
Calories: 57 kcal
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Total Carbohydrate: 2 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 2 g

Net Carbohydrate: 1 g

And happy solstice! I’ll be busting open a very, very dry hard cider tomorrow instead of a beer and we’ll be feasting on tofu, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Grocery Shopping and Meals

I realized, in all the excitement of cooking and posting recipes, that I haven’t really talked about grocery shopping or meal planning. So, I thought I’d post the groceries I got this week, and my planned meals. This is a particularly interesting week because there’s really a lot of variety in what we’re eating and frankly, it feels like a metric butt load of vegetables for two people.

We have our groceries delivered intermittently by GreenBEAN (some weeks we don’t do GreenBEAN and instead I head to our local grocery store). The following are the groceries we got from GreenBEAN on December 18, which should get us through most of the next week.

Groceries, Week beginning December 18:

Avocado (2)
Bell Pepper, Green (1)
Blackberries (1 pint)
Broccoli (2 heads)
Bok Choy (16 oz)
Cabbage, Green (1 head)
Kale, Lacinato (1 bunch)
Kiwi (1)
Limes (3)
Mushrooms, Cremini (16 oz)
Onions, Green (1 bunch)
Orange (1)
Romaine (1 head)
Snow Peas (8 oz)
Tomatoes, Cherry (1 pint)

Astute readers will have noticed that many of these foods are not particularly low carb: tomatoes; snow peas; the orange. But since Michael and I have cut out the Atkins junk we’d been eating, we’re both eating about 20 net carbs a day – which leaves plenty of space to eat half an orange or kiwi; a handful of blackberries or cherry tomatoes; and add the snow peas to a stir fry. The meal plans for the next few days are as follows:

Friday, December 19: Baked kale chips; scrambled eggs; breakfast sausage and cherry tomatoes
Saturday, December 20: Taco salad with romaine; cherry tomatoes; avocado and ground beef. Baked low carb tortillas for crunch.
Sunday, December 21: Pan-fried tofu and stir-fried snow peas, mushrooms, green pepper, broccoli, bok choy with Peanut Sauce. Avocado, lime, and green onions to garnish.
Monday, December 22: Pulled Pork (storebought) with coleslaw
Tuesday, December 23: Leftovers from Sunday (if not already eaten as lunch) or beef stroganoff with mushrooms; steamed broccoli on side

That meal plan uses up all the vegetables we have on hand. The orange, the kiwi, the blackberries? Sweet treats. The extra limes? For use in gin rickeys or gin and tonics. The leftovers we have from dinners are usually eaten the next day for breakfast/lunch. I imagine we may have sufficient leftovers to not have to cook on December 24. If I do have to cook? Frozen salmon and frozen steam-in-bag vegetables to the rescue. And my plan for December 25, as a holiday meal, is a low-carb cheese fondue with steamed and fresh vegetables and salami for dipping (which I will shop for separately, early next week).

Layered Peppermint Candy

One of the candies I almost never eat except for Christmas day: York Peppermint Patties. It’s one of the candies my mother in law always includes in our stocking candy (and she has sent stocking candy to us even after we moved halfway across the country… even going so far as to send us the stockings for the first Christmas we spent in Missouri). I don’t know about Michael, but for me those peppermint candies are now fully associated in my mind with digging into stockings. So I set about making a peppermint candy… although given the quantity of coconut oil, I would not recommend sticking this in a stocking.

These aren’t the prettiest candies, although if you had a chocolate mold you could certainly make them pretty. They are tasty little fat bombs, though. Michael says they are far more reminiscent of Andes mints than the patties from York,  which made me instantly regret not dying the filling, so keep that in mind (if you’re not anti food-dye). The peppermint filling recipe I used is from this site, but I think my process is a little bit easier and I made a chocolate coating out of cocoa powder because that is much, much cheaper than buying chocolate sweetened without sugar.

Layered Peppermint Candy

Layered Peppermint Candy

Ingredients For Chocolate Coating:
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
1/4 cup Coconut Oil (the kind that is solid at room temperature – not liquid), melted
Liquid Splenda, to taste
1/4 teaspoon Mint extract

Ingredients for Peppermint Filling:
6 Tablespoons Coconut Oil (again – the kind that is solid at room temperature)
1/3 cup Coconut Milk – Full Fat
1/3 cup Erythritol, Ground + Liquid Splenda to taste
1 Tablespoon Coconut Flour (finely ground)
1 teaspoon Mint extract
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Optional: Green food dye

Directions:
Prepare your mold or candy liners first. I just used mini baking cups, which I set in a plastic storage container to hold them steady. You could use a chocolate mold, a mini muffin tin with liners, whatever.  Make the chocolate coating (it takes only a few moments): melt the coconut oil over low heat, mix in the cocoa powder, liquid splenda and mint extract – then use about half the chocolate to put a layer of the chocolate coating at the bottom (you can also try to coat the sides of the liners or mold so it looks more like a peanut butter cup). Stick the liners/mold with the chocolate coating in the freezer for a few minutes to harden.

While the chocolate shell is hardening, make the filling. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl – it should form a pretty thick paste (do not melt the coconut oil you use for the filling). Pull the hardened chocolate shells out of the freezer, scoop the peppermint filling into each liner (for my mini cups, I added maybe 2 teaspoons or so of filling to each) and smooth the top of the peppermint filling. Place the candies back in the freezer to let the peppermint filling harden – maybe five to ten minutes, depending on how big your candies are and how thick your filling is. Then pull the candies out of the freezer and spoon the remaining chocolate coating on the top of each candy (if you want pretty candy, spread the chocolate so it coats the entire top), then place the candies back in the freezer to harden.  I store them in the freezer in one container with the layers of candies separated by parchment paper. This recipe made about twenty mini candies (like miniature Reese’s cups size).

Nutrition Information (per each candy):
Calories: 75 kcal
Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 7 g
Total Carbohydrate: 1.5 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 1 g

Net Carbohydrate: .5 g

Creamed Spinach

Creamed Spinach is one of those foods I consider to be grown-up food. That being said, I have loved spinach my entire life. My mother used to buy Stouffer’s brand frozen Spinach Souffle as a side dish pretty rarely but it was among my favorites (and I know it was one of her favorites); she also made spinach squares (sort of a cheesy egg casserole) and phyllo dough stuffed with spinach and cheese around the holidays. So, yes, spinach is healthy enough to eat year-round but I always think of it around the holidays. Maybe my mother purposefully pulled out the spinach recipes around the holidays to try to get us some healthy vitamins in the midst of all the face-stuffing with cookies.

I love creamed spinach, but it frequently harbors hidden carbs in the white cream sauce – sometimes a LOT of carbs. It makes sense – typically when you make a white sauce, you either start with a roux (butter and flour) or you thicken the sauce with cornstarch – both of which are full of carbohydrates. For this recipe, I replaced the flour with arrowroot, which worked so well that I am thinking we need to work on a biscuit recipe (maybe Carbquik?) and make up some sausage gravy and biscuits.

Creamed Spinach

Creamed Spinach

Ingredients:
14 oz Spinach (one brick frozen, chopped spinach) or you can use fresh
1 tablespoon Butter
2 cloves Garlic, minced
4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of Water
1 teaspoon Arrowroot
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
1/8 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions:
Start by prepping your spinach. If you’re using fresh, wash thoroughly, and then place in a covered skillet on medium heat, salt and cover. The spinach should be wilted in a few minutes – drain in a colander until it cools, then squeeze the excess liquid out by hand (or use a cheesecloth if you have one). Once you’ve squeezed the moisture out, chop the spinach. If you’re using frozen chopped spinach (which is easier), place it in a covered microwave safe dish with a small quantity of water and heat until warmed through. Drain in a colander to cool, then squeeze the excess liquid out. Set aside.

To make the cream sauce, start by melting butter in a small saucepan on medium high heat.  Add the garlic to the butter. Mix the cream, water and arrowroot together separately in a different bowl/cup. When the garlic has been in the pan for a minute or two, add the cream, water and arrowroot mixture to the saucepan and start whisking. Keep a close eye on the mixture – when it seems as though it is close to boiling (the sauce will start thickening), add the cheese and seasoning. Keep whisking until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Take the sauce off the heat and add the spinach to the pan and stir until coated. Taste to make sure the seasoning is adequate. This recipe made about three generous servings for us, but we are people who can eat some serious spinach – you might get more mileage out of it. I served this alongside a Tofurky brand italian sausage and oven-roasted mushrooms.

Nutrition Information (per serving):
Calories: 181 kcal
Fat: 12.5 g
Saturated Fat: 8.5 g
Total Carbohydrate: 6 g
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 5 g

Net Carbohydrate: 4 g

Gingerbread Cookies

The holidays have meant many different things to me over the years, but there has been one constant: cookies. My mother was always famous (infamous?) in our family for her cookie smorgasbord. When we were younger, she might make ten or fifteen different kinds of cookies: 7 layer bars (hello dolly); sugar cookies; spritz cookies; ginger cookies; rugelach; chocolate butter cookies; homemade fudge; this amazing pistachio toffee dipped in dark chocolate; truffles. My mother was like a one-woman cookie factory and every year there were new recipes to try. Tins full of cookies went to neighbors, teachers, friends. She has cut back as time has gone on, but the memories stay with me: the holiday season is not the holiday season if I’m not standing in a warm kitchen over a mixer or rolling out cold dough. I feel strongly enough about cookies during the holidays that when I moved out and married Michael, one of the first things I bought for us was a set of cookie cutters.

Oh, I’ve tried to approximate cookies without cookies. I’ve made cinnamon spiced ornaments with cookie cutters instead of cookies (not the same). I’ve made spiced tea for myself instead of cookies (not the same). I’ve spent holidays baking nothing, but that always felt so empty and lonely.

Enter the gingerbread cookie recipe which I found here. I liked the fact that the dough could be rolled out and that it included an icing recipe.  I ran to our fancy grocery store this Monday for coconut flour and arrowroot and I came home and made this recipe.

I found that the dough was way too dry – I added a teaspoon or two of melted butter so the dough had the right consistency. I also used Erythritol instead of Swerve – so I added some additional sweetener (liquid splenda) since Erythritol is only 70% as sweet as sugar. Even though I have finely ground almond and coconut flour and threw my erythritol into a coffee grinder to powder it, the dough was still very grainy. I wonder if I shouldn’t have put the coconut flour and almond flour in the food processor for a bit more of a smooth grind. In any case, the dough did roll out and was easy to stamp with cookie cutters. I would definitely roll the dough out thinner instead of thicker, the crunchier texture is nicer in this context. I also used lemon juice (and some orange zest I had on hand) to flavor the icing instead of vanilla. I didn’t bother piping the icing or doing fancy decorations because I figured only Michael and I would be willing to stomach the low carb cookies. The icing did dry hard, but once again, even after grinding the Erythritol, it leaves a grain (which kind of shimmers in the light) and is unpleasantly cooling. I would not recommend Erythritol for icing due to the cooling factor.

That being said, Michael and I have plowed through the cookies. Like most cookies, they make a good breakfast alongside a cup of coffee. Or afternoon snack with a cup of tea. Or after-dinner treat with a cup of gin.

Gingerbread Cookies

Baked Radish “Chips”

By and large, I am not a huge fan of radishes. I like them pickled (for example, takuan). I will tolerate a small quantity raw in a salad. But with a world of other vegetables to eat… radishes don’t often come to mind.

Maybe that changes with this recipe. I originally intended to deep fry the radish slices, but Michael convinced me that without a deep fat fryer, it would be difficult to heat the oil consistently and I would be disappointed with the results. I sliced the radishes (the small, red kind – not daikon) on the thinnest setting on my mandolin. They ended up paper-thin: I would probably use the second setting next time. I hate myself for thinking it, but I almost wish I had a deep fat fryer. I would fry all the things: zucchini, radishes, pickles.

baked radish chips

Baked Radish “Chips”

Ingredients:
1 bunch Radishes, sliced thinly (about ten radishes)
1 tablespoon Oil to coat the radish slices (I used 2 tsp coconut oil; 1 tsp melted butter)
Seasoning (we used salt, black pepper, garlic powder and sweet paprika)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash radishes and slice thinly, by hand or with mandolin. Place radish slices in small saucepan, cover with water and bring to boil. Boil for about 5 minutes (the pink peel will start to lighten) and drain in colander. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet (I needed two because I sliced the radishes too thin). Once drained, coat with oil (maybe a tablespoon total – I went heavy on the oil) and then place radishes flat, in one layer on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle seasoning of your choosing on the slices and then place in oven. Ours were done within ten minutes (again, sliced way thin), so keep an eye on them. They didn’t crisp up but the flavor was very reminiscent of roasted potatoes. We ate through most of the bunch of radishes – so I’d say this makes two generous servings. I served these alongside a green salad and pulled pork.

Nutrition Information (per serving):
Calories: 59 kcal
Fat: 6.5 g
Saturated Fat: 5 g
Total Carbohydrate: ~ 1 g
Fiber: .5 g
Protein: 0 g

Net Carbohydrate: .5 g

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