Healthy Grape-nut Pudding

One thing I really miss about living in Massachusetts is the Grape-nut Pudding. For anyone who doesn’t live there, it’s a thick custard with soft Grape-nuts on the top, and pieces mixed in throughout. It has a special taste, like Grape-nuts so a little hard to describe. When I was growing up, we’d buy it at the deli. I tried to make it at home once, many years ago, but it wasn’t the same.

About six months ago I discovered agar agar. It’s a thickening agent like gelatin but made from seaweed, and not horses. Being a vegetarian, gelatin isn’t something I eat anymore. Even when I did, it was always Jell-O brand, and fruit flavored. The recipes for agar agar range from sweet to savory and I’ve used it dozens of times since I discovered it. I made a lot of mistakes with it during this time and learned what not to do, how much to use, and some tips along the way that avoids getting a mouthful of what feels like plastic. I know, I’m making it sound unappealing. Seaweed? Plastic? Forgot all that and instead think of how nice it would be to have a large portion of Grape-nut pudding that’s only 100 calories, 6.5 carbs (5 net carbs if you subtract the fiber) and 15 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

Use half of the Grape-nuts, and spread them into the bottom of 4 small ramekins.

Add all ingredients except the Grape-nuts and agar agar to a medium saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Whisk (you need a whisk or the agar agar will clump) as you sift in the agar agar. You don’t need to use a formal sifter, just add it in gradually as you whisk.

Whisk quickly. For five minutes it will seem fruitless but then it thickens all of a sudden. Keep whisking for another 2 minutes or so until it just starts to come to a boil. Pull off the heat and add the rest of the Grape-nuts and whisk those through. Pour into the ramekins carefully, so as not to upset the Grape-nut layer. Leave them to cool for about a half hour and then refrigerate.

If you eat it warm there’s a weird gluey texture. Wait until they’re completely chilled, a couple of hours or the next day, even better. Use a knife to loosen the edges and pop them out. Top with whipped cream or whatever you like.

There are endless possibilities you can make with protein shakes and this thickener so use your imagination.

Happy Low Carb Eating

-Tracy

Low Carb Pumpkin Pudding

After many years of yo yo dieting, I’ve some to accept that low carb is really the only thing that will ever work for me. What I can’t seem to handle long term though is total Atkins, meaning very low carb or none at all. That works for a week or two for me. I lose a bunch of weight, feel motivated…then I get so sick of hunks of meat and eggs and cheese I run screaming back to Snickers and mac and cheese.

So I decided a modified low carb might work best for me. I’ll stay away from bread and pasta and rice and the big sugar triggers but I’m going to add in more fruits and vegetables.

get-attachment.aspxTonight’s recipe tastes a lot like the inside of a pumpkin pie. I find it makes 4 large servings at 7.5 carbs each. It takes a few hours as you cook it in a crock pot, but it’s super easy with just a few ingredients.

-1 can pumpkin. NOT pumpkin mix

-3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp cinnamon

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1 egg

4 packets Splenda to taste. For me 4 was just enough.

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Mix everything in a food processor until smooth.

Pour into a crock pot on high for 3 hours. I used crock pot liners to make clean up easier. In three-four hours, it will be golden brown and steaming hot. I eat it as a dessert with a squirt of whipped cream or as a side dish for dinner.

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I’m estimating on the carb count but I’d say 21 carbs for the pumpkin 4 for the Splenda, 1 for the egg, 4 for the cream. Total carbs for full batch 30. That’s 7.5 for a large serving,

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Or divide accordingly.

Here’s what I had for dinner tonight. Chicken salad (baked breasts in a food processor with mayo) wrapped in lettuce, pumpkin and a cheese stick, divided.I don’t know how many carbs were in the total meal but I know it’s a heck of a lot less than a bowl of spaghetti and a bunch of garlic bread. Baby steps…

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Apologizing to the Little Fat Kid Inside

Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, but today I woke up with a new perspective on my eating and life habits. I suddenly thought of the unhealthy side of me as a separate person. As a little fat kid who wants to be healthy but I just won’t let her.

Some typical conversations came to mind:

Chubby Me: Please can we go out for a walk? You promised when the warm weather came we’d walk. My legs are getting yucky and flubbery.

Bad Me: Not now, here let’s sit on the couch and write. I made cookies for us.

Chubby Me: Can we have a salad? When we were on the Atkins kick and ate only veggies and meat, I felt great. My confidence came back and I had a lot of energy.

Bad Me: I’m too tired to make all that stuff. Let’s just eat Ramen noodles or a potato chip sandwich. Here’s an espresso. That will give you energy.

Chubby Me: Can we go to the gym? Last year I was starting to feel good about myself but then you said we couldn’t go anymore.

Bad Me: No. Now I’m too self-conscious to go there. We’ll just go for long walks. It’s just as good.

Chubby Me: When? We never go anywhere and I’m getting fatter. I want to be pretty again, like that girl in the picture from before.

Bad Me: Let’s just sit on the couch and write. Tomorrow we’ll go for a walk and exercise and eat healthy. Come on, let’s make brownies. It’ll stave off the insecurity and loneliness.

Chubby Me: Okay. But really tomorrow, you have to take me out. My heart is beating funny and I’m of breath. My clothes hurt my tummy.

And that’s when I look at Chubby Me and realize how much I’ve neglected and disappointed her. Why do I keep her chained up, under-exercised and overfed when clearly she doesn’t like being that way? She’s got confidence and wants to breathe fresh air and hike and listen to her iPod while she exercises. She insists that if we keep doing this, we really could hurt our bodies and reach a point where there’s no going back. She’s right.

I’m not going to launch into another promise to eat healthy and exercise but I really ought to, for her. For Chubby Me. For  Pretty Me who is hiding underneath, trapped there against her will.

Sorry Body. I promise to start treating you better.

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Low Carb Pepperoni Mini Pies

One of my favorite standby recipes before I became a low carb eater ( a few weeks ago) was Pepperoni Pie. I made it all the time and often brought it to parties. I’ve been trying to come up with a recipe that will take the place of the old recipe and still be acceptable on this diet. The new creation is delicious, healthy and low carb. Yay!

Ingredients:
carb count
3 eggs 3
2 tbl Heavy Cream 1
1/4 tsp pepper 0
1/4 tsp oregano 0
 3/4 tsp concentrated basil 0 less than 1
 2 tbl Tomato eggplant brushetta 1
1/4 cup water 0
4 tbl flax seed meal 0 net carbs
22 slices of turkey pepperoni 2
8 1/4 slices Muenster cheese 4
11
Only one carb per Pepperoni Mini Pie

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously spray 11 full-sized muffin tins with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a blender (or mixer but I like using a blender) combine all the ingredients except for the cheese and pepperoni. Blend well. Pour into a small bowl. Cut the 8 slices of Muenster Cheese into quarters.  Pour 1 tbl of the liquid into each tin. (my recipe yielded exactly 11 so don’t fill all 12).

Next put one slice of the cheese, then one slice of pepperoni, then cheese, then pepperoni, then top with cheese. Finally, top with another tablespoon of the mixture to cover.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until they are golden brown and bubbling. Let them cool slightly before removing from the tin or they will stick. These can also be served cold.

These are good-sized servings, and at just one carb each you’ll be happy and well fed. Flax seeds have some great health benefits so that’s a plus. Looking at the recipe, it appears to be gluten free as well.

Happy eating!

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Wicked Low Carb Chocolate Cheesecake

I’m at the end of my second week of Atkins. I’m down 5.6 lbs. Last week I hit a plateau. Despite my special ketone strips yielding results in the pink section, and my staying on track, and walking like crazy, this is just how it goes sometimes. No weight loss all week then 1.2 pounds yesterday when I weighed myself this morning. So hopefully I’m back to losing again.

Today, I made my very favorite low carb recipe of all, gleaned from The Low Carb Cookbook, by Fran McCullough. I foolishly donated all my Low Carb cookbooks a few months ago so borrowed this one from the library and copied my favorite recipes. I’m listing this one out because I modified it slightly (added chocolate) and also because once you taste this you will run out and by her book, as you should. It’s chock full of delicious recipes and tips on low carb dieting. Consider this recipe a sample of the kind of delight you will find when you buy or borrow her book.

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a springform pan with cooking spray.  I got just a great new pan and recommend it highly. It’s by The Food Network. The ingredients are few, and very basic.

2 lbs cream cheese. (4 packages) at room temperature

2 tbl heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs at room temperature

1 and 1/2 cups of Splenda

4 tbl of unsweetened cocoa powder

Note, from the recipe in the book I have altered three key things: I did not add lemon or orange zest, I used Splenda instead of Equal, and I added in 4 tbl of unsweetened cocoa which will add 4 total carbs to the recipe. Per serving (12) that is just an extra .3 carbs so not a big deal for the extra flavor.  When this book was written, when I bought it 13 years ago, you couldn’t buy Splenda in the U.S. I used to buy it from Canada and have it shipped. I’ve always used Splenda in this recipe.

Beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth and creamy. Slowly beat in the Splenda till smooth. Add in the eggs one by one. Next add in the vanilla and heavy cream.

Next, the 4tbl of cocoa. It will be thick and creamy. Pour into the springform pan.

The next steps are vital. Place the cake into a preheated over for JUST 10 MINUTES.  Drop the temp to 275 degrees and cook for an hour. 

After the hour, shut the oven off. Slide the cake out on the rack and loosen it from the sides. Put it back in the oven to cool.

The final product will shrink down but will still be lovely. This makes 12 servings at 4.3 net carbs each. Note, this cheesecake has no crust and doesn’t need it. Reading over the ingredients, it’s Gluten Free too so there’s another plus for those with allergies.

When I did this diet so many years ago and lost all that weight, I had this for breakfast everyday so it’s clearly fine to eat. On the Atkins Diet Induction phase you are only allowed 20 carbs per day so make sure you count this in at 4.3 carbs.

Happy eating!

-Tracy

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Crunchy Cheese Chips-Low Carb

In the relentless quest to find interesting things to eat, I discovered a quick and easy way to make crunchy cheese chips that you can have in any phase of the Atkins Diet. You can make these in a pan but it’s a lot of work and it ends up messy. It’s possible, and I’ve done it. But if you have a non-stick quesadilla maker, this is a snap. If you plan to maintain a low carb lifestyle, it’s worth your while to get one of these machines.

First, turn on and spray your non-stick machine. After a few minutes to warm it up, Sprinkle one cup of shredded cheese over the bottom of the maker. You can use anything. I chose cheddar. Close the lid and let it cook.

Give it  3 or 4 minutes. When it looks like the picture above, it’s safe to shut the machine off.  What’s important is to just walk away. Let it cool. 

In this close up picture, you will see the grease in the cheese. If you let it cool long enough (not cold, just cooled) you can pull off the chips in pieces, or one sheet, and blot the heck out of it with paper towels. I know with low carb diets we don’t have to concentrate too much on fat content but I figure if you can blot it off, you should.

Once blotted and cooled they will harden and become crunchy. A challenge in low carb diets is finding crunchy salty stuff. We here you have it.

This makes six big pieces. 4 carbs for the whole batch so each one is just .67 carbs. Not bad. They’re pretty big. If you dip them in a spoonful of sour cream you’re still on track and it will feel just like old times eating  Nachos.

These keep well in the fridge. They retain their crunch cold so not to worry. I hope you enjoy the newest recipe.

Happy Eating!

-Tracy

Delicious Low Carb Custard

Let me first say that this is the one week mark since I started the Atkins Diet. I weighed in at 4.8 lbs less than last Sunday! Woo hoo! I know myself and know full well I need to keep creating new recipes to make this work for me long-term.

I posted about Low Carb Custard Bites the other day. It was a fun recipe and did the trick for providing something yummy. However, as I spent the next couple of days trying to make them creamier and tastier I came up with this new tweaked recipe. It’s something I plan to make often and keep on hand. Extra ingredients, different method. Better recipe.

They’re quick and easy and only about 3 carbs or less each. This recipe will make two. You could easily double the recipe to same time. They keep well in the fridge and have the same glossy feel as a much more fattening “real” custard or flan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cooking spray into 2 ramekins or custard cups. Half fill a baking pan with hot water.

Ingredients:

Pinch of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cinnamon,1 tbl  heavy cream, 3 eggs, 2 and  1/2 packets of Splenda, 1/4 tsp coconut extract, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Put the eggs, cream, 2 Splenda packets, coconut and vanilla extract and cinnamon in a blender and mix it well for 30 seconds. Pour this mix into the prepared ramekins. It makes exactly 2. Fill about 1/2 full. Sprinkle with half packet  (or less) of Splenda and a pinch of nutmeg. Place the ramekins in the hot water bath.

Bake for about 28 minutes or until they are  golden brown and firm and an inserted life comes out clean.

They are great warm or cold but I prefer well chilled.

Good luck and happy eating!

Tracy

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Low Carb Custard Bites

I started the Atkins diet On Sunday after a long hiatus in which I gained back some weight.  About 14 years ago I lost 60 lbs on Atkins and kept it off for all but the last few years. I didn’t gain it all back but enough that my clothes are too tight and I feel lousy. I’ve been caught in a carb and sugar spiral lately so a few days ago I said, “I’m DONE!” and went full force into starting the diet again.

I’ve lost 4 pounds since Sunday (this is Thursday) so I’m feeling encouraged.

If you need to know the basics about Atkins, then click HERE. This blog is just to post a new recipe I created which I’ve VERY pleased with.

They’re quick and easy and only about 6 carbs in the whole batch. Each one is only a 1/2 carb.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cooking spray into mini muffin tins.

Ingredients:

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp  cinnamon

1 tbl  heavy cream

3 eggs

1 1/2 packets of Splenda

Put the eggs, cream, 1 Splenda packet and cinnamon in a blender and mix it well for a few seconds. Pour this mix into the tins. It makes exactly 12. Fill about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with half packet of Splenda and 1/4 tsp of nutmeg.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until they are puffed up and golden brown and firm.

They are great warm or cold. They don’t have the true glossy custard texture but they are very good.

Next time, I may add coconut extract. If I do I’ll write an update.

Good luck and happy eating!

Tracy

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