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.