Monday, April 18, 2016

Creamy microwave scrambled eggs

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Perfect scrambled eggs in the microwave: It's all in the timing

Do you eat breakfast at work? I often eat breakfast at the office — I'm just not hungry before leaving the house. My favorite low carb breakfast: eggs. Which is why I've been experimenting with making scrambled eggs in the microwave in my office kitchen.

I've found the secret to making fluffy, moist scrambled eggs that aren't dry or rubbery. It's all in the timing. The trick is to undercook them, then stir briskly to break up the curds and use the residual heat to finish cooking the eggs. The result: creamy, dreamy scrambled eggs you'd think were made on the stove.

Here's a step-by-step tutorial with visuals:

I keep eggs, shredded cheese and butter in the office refrigerator

1. Keep a dozen eggs, a bag of shredded cheese, and a stick of butter in your office refrigerator. My office has salt and pepper, but if yours doesn't, bring that too.

Crack the eggs in a bowl

2. Crack two eggs into a bowl. We have real utensils and dishes in our office kitchen, but paper bowls work fine too. Add salt and pepper.

Add shredded cheese and butter

3. Add shredded cheese (optional) and a few bits of cold butter. Whisk it all together with a fork.

After one minute in my office microwave

4. Microwave on high for 30-60 seconds. I'm giving a range here because microwaves vary. Start checking after 30 seconds. The eggs should look liquid, with just the first solid curds forming around the edge. Stir vigorously with a fork, blending the curds into the uncooked eggs.

After a total of two minutes in my office microwave

5. Return the bowl to the microwave and cook another 30-45 seconds. It is very important not to let the eggs cook too long in this step. They should look like the photo above when you take them out: Cooked around the outsides, but liquid and raw in the center.

Stir again, breaking up the curds with your fork

6. Stir again, very vigorously, breaking up the curds with your fork and mixing the uncooked egg into the curds. The residual heat will cook the remaining raw egg without turning it dry and rubbery. You'll end up with a creamy bowl of perfect scrambled eggs.

Perfect microwave scrambled eggs

7. Sprinkle with more shredded cheese if you like and eat immediately.

Warning: Your coworkers may start asking you to make their breakfasts, too.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Best low-carb products at Natural Products Expo West 2016

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Visiting with Nikki Frezza of Nikki's Coconut Butter
Disclosure: I tried all the products listed below at the Natural Products Expo West trade show. Some of the companies below also sent me home with small free samples.

Last month I walked the exhibition halls at Natural Products Expo West, the largest trade show for health-conscious food and beauty products. I was specifically looking for low-sugar and low-carb foods to fit in with my new eating habits. Here are my favorites, in no particular order:

Lily's Sweets chocolate


1. Lily's Sweets stevia-sweetened chocolate. I have tried just about every non-sugar-sweetened chocolate on the market, and Lily's is my favorite without question. It's smooth and creamy, melts evenly, and there's absolutely no bitter aftertaste, which you can sometimes get with stevia. The Lily's team gave me some samples at the show (the Blood Orange flavor is fantastic), but I can assure you that I spend plenty of my own money on Lily's chocolate bars every week. Look for the small snack-size bars at Whole Foods.


2. Nikki's Cashew Cookie Coconut Butter. Nikki and I belong to a small group of women food entrepreneurs on Facebook and have been sharing our journey building our companies for several years. She has taught me so much about branding, balancing health and work and aspirations, and overcoming manufacturing challenges. This was the first time we actually got to meet in person and I could have hugged her for an hour. I love all of Nikki's flavored coconut butters (they're like peanut butter but made of coconut), but her brand-new Cashew Cookie Butter is the first with no added sugar, which means it fits perfectly into my current eating habits. It's smooth, rich and absolutely delicious.


3. Ginger's Healthy Habits Veggie Trail Mix. One of the things I've missed most since reducing the carbohydrates in my diet is the salty crunchy category. I love chips! These veggie trail mixes totally hit the spot. I loved the Garlic/Herb and Pepperoni Pizza flavors. With zucchini, kale, tomatoes, olives, nuts and seeds, these two flavors really felt like a decadent savory snack. All thumbs up.


4. Terra celery root chips. Terra makes chips out of several exotic root vegetables, and these celery root chips are so new they're not even on the Terra website as I'm writing. They're not zero-carb, but they're lower than potato or sweet potato chips, and they had a very interesting flavor. Look for them in stores soon.


5. Mikey's Muffins. These Paleo English muffins made from almond and coconut flours come in three flavors (Original, Toasted Onion, and Cinnamon Raisin) and definitely satisfy my bread cravings. Like all English muffins, they're best toasted to golden brown.


6. Mr. Cheese O's cheese snacks. Made of real cheese and available in Original, Cheddar, Tuscan Herb, Sweet Chili, Zesty BBQ and French Onion flavors, these little rings offered all the crunch of a typical junk food cheese puff with very few carbs and truly delicious taste.


7. La Onda Almond Dip. I wish I'd gotten more information about these products because their website is lacking. But they were delicious, like hummus but made from almonds. I'll update this if I find out more.


8. Siete Foods grain-free tortillas. I have cut just about all grains out of my diet, but I still need a bread-like vehicle, especially in the morning. These almond flour and cassava-coconut tortillas were very good. I liked the slight chewiness and can see wrapping up a veggie omelette in these for breakfast on the go. They're definitely at their best when they're warmed.


9. Wild Zora Original Meat and Veggie Bars. There were bars galore at the Expo, but it was extremely hard to find bars without a lot of sugar or carbs. (Even the ones that were sweetened only with fruit had enough fruit to make each bar high in total sugar.) The Wild Zora bars are made with beef, lamb and turkey mixed with fruits, vegetables and spices. I know it sounds weird, but I thought these were delicious. My favorite: the Mediterranean Lamb Bars with Spinach and Turmeric, although the other flavors are also excellent.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Roast chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

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To paraphrase a popular chick flick:

In winter, we eat chicken with garlic.

On pink plates.

Note: This recipe is super easy when you buy one of those huge containers of peeled garlic cloves from Costco (or whichever big-box store you frequent).



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Roasted Garlic Chicken
Chicken. Garlic. Oven. What else do you need?
Ingredients
  • 8 large chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on
  • 1 Tablespoon herbes de Provence, Italian herb mix, or any other dried herb mix you prefer
  • 1 cup fresh garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray.Lay the chicken pieces in the pan, skin side up. Sprinkle them with the dried herb mix and scatter the garlic cloves around them. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the chicken. Put the lemon halves in the roasting pan. Drizzle the chicken with the olive oil, then shower it generously with salt and pepper.Turn the chicken pieces over so the skin side is down. Put the roasting pan in the oven. Set the timer for 15 minutes. (This step crisps the skin.)After 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Bake another 40 minutes or until the chicken thighs are cooked through and very tender.Serve the chicken skin side up with the garlic cloves and pan juices poured over.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

Monday, November 16, 2015

Copycat Starbucks hazelnut Frappucino

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My kids have always loved coffee.

My older son, now 16, developed a taste for coffee with milk (not milk with coffee) when he was a toddler. The Starbucks baristas gave him some funny looks when he ordered his own decaf before he could see over the counter.

My younger son, now 13, drinks his coffee black most of the time. Decaf, of course - we'll never know if the old wives' tales about caffeine stunting your growth hold water, but I don't take any chances in the height department given my five-foot-nothing stature.

Younger son, however, also has a sweet tooth. When he spent his allowance one too many times on a huge-ass blended coffee drink, with its many, many grams of added sugar, I decided to bribe him with a copycat version where I control what goes into the blender.

This copycat Starbucks hazelnut Frappucino tastes better than the original, in my opinion. I buy sugar-free hazelnut syrup via Amazon Prime. Not even the 13-year-old minds the lack of sugar.



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Copycat Starbucks hazelnut Frappucino
This hazelnut-flavored blended iced coffee drink has a fraction of the sugar and calories of the real thing. Trying to cut down on added sugar and trim your expensive coffee habit? This recipe is for you.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar-free hazelnut syrup
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • Whipped cream (optional)
Instructions
Add ice cubes to blender. Pulse a few times to break the ice into smaller pieces. (If your ice maker generates crushed ice, use that instead.)Add coffee, almond milk, syrup and cinnamon to the blender. Blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds.Pour into two glasses, dividing evenly. Top with whipped cream if desired. Serve immediately.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 large servings

Monday, September 14, 2015

Grain-free cheese cookies (call them crackers if you must)

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Disclosure: I received this particular block of cheese from Cabot as a gift, although I also buy quite a lot of it on my own dime.

I've been cutting back on grains lately, but that hasn't stopped me from craving cookies and crackers.

And then I made a miraculous discovery.

Replace the all-purpose flour in my Parmesan Smoked Paprika Crackers with almond flour or almond meal and you end up with cheese crackers (or cheese "cookies," as I prefer to call them) that are even more delicious than the originals.

These cheese crackers are also gluten-free, grain-free, and the perfect snack for people following a mostly-Paleo or LCHF (low carbohydrate, high fat) way of eating. (Some Paleo people eat dairy occasionally, as I understand it.)

Here's the basic recipe. I used Seriously Sharp Cheddar from Cabot Creamery, one of my favorites, but you can use any shredded hard cheese - Parmesan, Gouda, Jarlsberg, or any strong cheddar cheese. Feel free to add herbs or spices to suit your taste.

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Paleo Cheese Cookies or Paleo Cheese Crackers
Crisp, crumbly and extra cheesy, these easy cheese crackers contain three ingredients and bake for just 15 minutes. A perfect snack for those eating a grain-free, gluten-free, Paleo or LCHF.
Ingredients
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup almond flour or almond meal
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (substitute any shredded hard cheese)
Instructions
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.Blend all ingredients together in a bowl with a wooden spoon or hand mixer, or use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix (aggressively if you're doing it  by hand) until a smooth dough forms.Roll 1-inch balls of dough between your palms and place on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each dough ball. Flatten the balls slightly with your fingers. Bake 15 minutes, or until the edges of the crackers start to brown. Cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove the crackers to a rack to finish cooling.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: about 24 crackers