I had pulled pork cooked in an green egg a few weeks ago at a friend’s house in Georgia. A green egg? It’s a high end ceramic charcoal cooker that keeps temperatures regulated throughout the cooking process and it’s shaped like a green egg (see photo). It tasted delicious, but unfortunately, the green egg costs over $1,000, requires a deck or balcony (which is impossible in NY), and takes 8 hours of monitoring. Instead of all that, I just use my handy slow-cooker. And what about the BBQ sauce? Aha – this is where it gets exciting…Zero-calorie delicious BBQ sauce – keep reading and all will be revealed.
Instructions for Cooking the Pulled Pork:
Zero-carlorie, Zero-carb BBQ Sauce:
There are 2 incredible parts to this secret sauce:
FIRST, Walden Farms makes these amazing zero-calorie zero-carb dressings and sauces (and even a chocolate dip). You can buy it off Amazon for $3.99 plus shipping or at random little stores like the one on the corner of 9th Ave. and 36th St. without the shipping. There are 4 flavors, and I’ve tried 2 so far: Honey and Thick N’ Spicy. Ok, if you’re reading their reviews on Amazon or you’ve tried it, it’s not exactly amazing. The Thick ‘N Spicy is pretty good if you can handle a lot of spice. The Honey isn’t spicy, but you can taste the fake sugar in it. But, if you add the second part of this secret sauce, it transforms….
SECOND, Crystal Hot Sauce, which you can buy from Amazon for $7.99 and free shipping. It may not sound that amazing, especially since the ingredients are so simple: Aged Red Cayenne Peppers, Distilled Vinegar, Salt. But, it is just that…amazing. It adds so much flavor without being too spicy. I love spicy food, but I can’t take huge amounts of spice, so this is perfect.
The trick is to combine the Crystal sauce with the Walden Farm Honey BBQ and then adding a touch of salt. The hot sauce flavor completely covers up the fake sugar taste in the BBQ sauce so that you’re simply left with a delicious sauce! Pour onto your pulled pork, or pulled chicken or whatever meat you want. Zero calories. Zero Carbs. I could write something very cheesy right now, but I’ll stop here.
Low carb desserts are definitely the weak link in the locarbolicious diet! And, unfortunately, my search for an edible low carb ice-cream has so far lead me nowhere. In fact, it’s really a disgrace to call the frozen foods that I’m going to describe below “ice-creams” because they bear so little resemblance in taste to them! If you don’t believe me, you’re welcome to go try them, but just remember that you’ve been warned! There’ll be a part 2 to this as I’ve got a few more ideas to try before giving up!
Arctic Zero: You know, they do such an amazing job of advertising their 150 calories per pint fake ice-cream, that I’ve actually been fooled twice into buying it! I somehow forgot just how awful it tasted after my first purchase (the mint chocolate cookie), and so when I saw it again in Wholefoods, I was fooled AGAIN (I bought the vanilla maple flavor that second time)! So, what is this Arctic Zero that’s able to fool me twice? It’s not ice-cream in any way (even though they call it an “ice-cream replacement”) – it has no milk or cream in the ingredients list. At best, it might be described as a bad sorbet perhaps. It’s true that their ingredients list looks pretty “natural,” but “natural” does not equal good tasting! On the contrary, their main ingredient is purified water (which, if you forgot, tastes like nothing). Their second most populous ingredient is whey protein concentrate, which also does not taste good (that’s why you have to flavor protein shakes so much!). Then comes a whole slew of sugars and flavorings, including organic cane sugar, chicory root, guar gum, xantham gum, natural flavors, sea salt, monk fruit concentrate. These are definitely not ingredients for the low carb purists! Ok, enough about the ingredients, the truth is I just care about whether it tastes good!
How does it taste? Because most of the pint is just frozen water, it doesn’t have the creaminess of ice-cream. Instead, it’s closer to ice, which presents a slight challenge when you’re trying to scoop it out. You could of course wait for it to melt a bit, but then it turns into a slushy frozen fudge-like consistency, which tastes even worse. I prefer the taste when this so called “ice-cream” is frozen because I can at least pretend that it’s just flavored ice or something! The mint flavor smells ok – mint + chocolate. The taste though, was just a watery mess. It was kind of minty and kind of maybe chocolatety and vaguely sweet. The vanilla maple was even worse – maybe vanilla and maple just doesn’t work well together, I don’t know, but all I can say was yuck!
Bananas: You might have heard of this trick already, but after you put frozen bananas through the blender, they come out looking very much like creamy ice-cream. You can easily try this yourself by getting 2 bananas (you need enough bananas in the blender for it to have something to blend otherwise it doesn’t work) and chopping them up into half-inch chunks (as shown in the top picture). Place the chunks of bananas into the freezer overnight (it doesn’t work if the bananas are not well-frozen as I found out on my first attempt, which resulted in a disgusting gooey mess). Then place the frozen banana chunks into the blender and blend well for a few minutes – at first it looks like it’s just chopping the frozen bananas into smaller frozen chunks, but after a while, you’ll see the “ice-cream” form (see photo).
How does it taste? Like bananas (surprised?). It’s kind of creamy, but it’s not really creamy like full fat dairy ice-cream and it has a gooey texture when it melts in your mouth (not surprising since that’s the texture of banana puree). So maybe if you really like banana-flavored, not-so-creamy ice-cream, then this might work! Oh, and it’s not really low-carb since bananas have a lot of carbs. One medium sized banana (7″ to 7-7/8″ long) has 27g carbs (3g fibre and 14g sugar!). So, not a great choice!
Ok, don’t despair just yet as there are a few other options for low carb ice-creams out there. I’m going to try and get my hands on a tub of the Carbsmart Breyers Ice-cream (their website claims that Food Emporium carries one of the Carbsmart ice-creams). And then there’s also the trial and errors of home-made ice-cream. Part 2 coming soon… If you’ve tried a low carb ice-cream, please comment below to let me know what you thought of it.
I’m actually more of a fan of the French crepes (which I once heard an American call “creeps”) rather than the thick pancakes that you’re used to finding at brunch and in diners, but they start to taste super good when you can’t eat cake or any other desserts! I’m sure the low carb diet would never have taken off if the wonders of coconuts hadn’t been discovered. We drink the milk, make cookies from the flesh, and now make pancakes from the flour! And these pancakes sure seem popular with low-carbers! I found an abundance of different recipes, but I thought this recipe from nourishingdays.com was pretty easy and tasted super good! I made a batch of 10 pancakes and stored them in the fridge – delicious for breakfast!
Ingredients (makes 10 small pancakes):
For one pancake: Calories = 151 Fat = 11g Carbohydrate = 9g (5g fiber, 0.4g sugar) Protein = 4g
Update: I got tired of the No Low Carb Cereal situation I originally wrote this post about and created my own Low Carb, No Grains/Gluten, No-Added Sugar Breakfast Cereal (it’s 100% all-natural and is called Breakfast Bites)! It looks like breakfast cereal, tastes like breakfast cereal, but is Low Carb (3g net carbs per serving). You can get it at Louise’s Foods. So now I can’t complain about the lack of low carb cereal at breakfast anymore 🙂
Why can’t I eat a nice bowl of low carb cereal for breakfast instead of these eggs and bacon? I’m always in a rush in the mornings, so breakfast options are low. I’m not even a huge fan of corn flakes or anything, but after a while, some low carb cereal sounds delicious. Some crunchy flakes covered with fresh cold milk. Yum! So what options are there in terms of cereal? A quick internet search yields some disappointing and some interesting options.
First there’s Hi-Lo cereal. Although it’s marketed as a low carb cereal, it fails in many aspects to convince me that I should even give it a try! First, there’s the ingredient’s list – soy, wheat gluten, corn and rice flour – not a great combination when many low carb diets recommend no grains! Then there’s their net carb count – 7g per 1/2 cup serving, and I’m betting a 1/2 cup serving would not be sufficient for me to starve off the hunger until lunch. Having said all that, it is still lower than other cereals. For example, corn flakes (plain) contains approximately 12g of carbs per 1/2 cup, so it’s definitely an improvement. Some consumers on Amazon seem to really like their Maple Pecan flavor, although others seem to think it’s a bit “bland” and tastes like “cardboard.” Regardless, it’s not on my list!
Then there’s a variety of low carb hot cereals, mostly made from flax. Flax seeds are highly nutritious with lots of omega-3 fatty acids and a ton of fiber. If you grind up the flax seeds (in a coffee grinder or a blender with no water), then it forms a flour, which when mixed with water forms an oatmeal-like consistency. Here’s a simple recipe (from about.com) for a hot nutty oatmeal-like cereal that you can make at home.
I made the pictured bowl of low carb cereal by using coconut peanut butter, no cinnamon and 3 drops of liquid sucralose. It tasted ok, not completely like oatmeal though. I think the best description for the consistency is oatmeal with a tablespoon of oil coating it. It’s just a bit gluey!
And lastly (yes, I ran out of low carb cereal options very quickly), there’s a low carb hot pumpkin cereal(from about.com again) that I’m going to try soon. The ingredients sound a bit crazy (but the reviews seem to suggest this tastes really good!).
I’ll let you know when I make this!
Dehydrator?? I recently bought a dehydrator, which just dries out various foods like fruits, vegetables, and even meats (think beef jerky). It’s a simple device – it basically blows hot air at your foods until they become dry. It’s reasonably cheap for a food device -mine cost $60 on Amazon. I got the Nesco FD-75PR 700-Watt Food Dehydrator, which comes with 5 trays to place food on and has a variety of temperatures for drying different foods. See the pictures below.
How to Dehydrate Foods? It’s so easy to dehydrate foods. For the veggies, I like to slice them into thin slices (around 1 millimeter thick) so that it doesn’t take too long for them to dry. I also like to salt them, which makes them taste better and helps to dry them faster (you can also try adding spices to them) – so boil some water and add a bunch of salt and dump the sliced veggies into the water for 1 minute. Fish them out quickly before they get too soggy. Then place the slices on the dehydrator. I dehydrated the zucchini and eggplant slices for around 9 hours – it’s a bit of a trial and error game because it was difficult to get the slices the same thickness, and the drying time really depends on how thick the slices are. For pears and kiwis, I cut them into thin, 1-2 millimeter slices. They took a little longer to dehydrate though (probably because they were thicker and didn’t have any salt on them). I put them in for 11 hours, and they came out pretty crispy but still a tad chewy and leathery (so it’s not going to break at the touch).
Why dehydrate fruits and vegetables when they taste perfectly good fresh? There are a variety of reasons for this! First, it allows the foods to stay fresh for much longer, so you can buy of box of apples (which is often cheaper than buying them a few a time – think Costco!) and eat those apples several months later. Then, there’s the variety – the dried fruits and veggies are a great snack that you can take with you anywhere in a small ziploc bag. Also, dehydrated fruits and veggies are “not cooked” so they count as raw food if you’re on the raw food diet. It’s super healthy and tasty. I’ve noticed these kale chips in Wholefoods recently. They cost a fortune (they’re not trying to rip you off – it really just cost a lot to produce them!), but you can make your own by buying some kale, salting it, and dehydrating it!
I started making some dried watermelon slices…
The Atkins’ Induction diet ended two weeks ago, and since then I’ve been traveling and generally drinking and eating as if these would be my last meals ever! In hindsight, the Atkins’ diet wasn’t so horrific (although I’m sure that’s a result of my selective memory). There was nothing wrong with the diet – it was strict, but doable, and I definitely saw results within those two weeks (I lost 6 lbs and felt so much more awake during the day). The problem only came when I ended the diet.
There was the initial joyous anticipation, which started a few days before the diet was scheduled to end, and I didn’t stray from the diet during those few last days even though I had to fly to Atlanta (I dutifully packed some home-made jerky and Atkins’ mudslide bars for the flight and enjoyed a very large salad (see photo) at the airport before the flight). I know, pat pat on the shoulders! Then, there was the day itself – I wasn’t too bad initially (I had a sticky bun at a local brunch place in Woodstock, GA), but then it just fell apart over the following two weeks as more and more carb-full and sugar-packed delights came into my purview. I had everything from milkshakes (including a foie gras one that I did not enjoy) to burgers and doughnuts (the ones at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland were amazing!). Then I topped it all off with a brioche french toast brunch coupled with butter slathered on moist biscuits (the Southern kind) this morning at Craftbar. Sigh. I knew after the meal that something had to change. I was exhausted and ready to go to sleep at 2pm in the afternoon after having only gotten up two hours previously. This was not how I wanted to spend my previous weekend days.
So, a new challenge. No more eating out for a WHOLE MONTH! It’s going to recharge my energy, boost my health, and increase my bank balance! Friends, if you want to see me for dinner, bring your dinner and come over to eat 😀 I’ll even share some of my food with you! I’d like to say I can do this challenge for longer, but I already have a trip to Chicago planned in mid-October (traveling always seems to screw up my diet as Atlanta and Portland demonstrated!).
And to keep up with my experimentation of low carb diets, I am planning to start Mark Sisson’s Primal diet (a popular version of the Paleo “caveman” diet) next week.