Monday, November 17, 2014

Spinach-Artichoke Chicken

It's been COLD here lately - the past few days, we've woken up to temperatures in the 20s. I like my bedroom a little cooler (and I hate turning on the heat unless necessary - it smells funky and leaves the air so dry), so I've been layering my clothes to stay toasty (thank goodness for Wal-Mart's Faded Glory stretch leggings - about $6, and perfect for under jeans or for sleeping). 

Anyway, this cold snap has made me crave warm, comforting foods. Since this has also been a major weekend for college football, I've also been craving football foods, like my favorite Spinach & Artichoke Dip. Since I can't just eat dip as a meal (even though I totally have before), I knew adding some protein was a must. Enter "Spinach-Artichoke Chicken" (there's a chicken choking joke in there somewhere). It's just as easy to prepare as the dip, but is baked atop chicken! 

This recipe makes a LOT, so be prepared for leftovers. If you're not feeding a starving horde, feel free to cut the recipe in half and use a square 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan instead.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Last year, C went ALL OUT for my birthday - he bought me a bunch of slices of Pita Stop's amazing coconut cake. They don't sell the cakes whole, so he bought me a bunch of individual slices - which means, he paid individual slice price, making for one of the most expensive birthday cakes I've ever received. 

This year, I decided to make my own birthday cake, and to keep it low-carb. I opted for a simple vanilla bean cheesecake - most low-carb/keto cheesecake recipes are crustless, so I really like that this version actually had a crust. Luckily, this version, even with so many substitutions, doesn't have that 'fake sugar' flavor - it doesn't taste 'low carb' at all!

Of course, when it comes to sweets, trying to 'ketofy' things gets a lot more difficult compared to preparing savory meals. Basically, a lot of special ingredients come into play. That being said, I was able to find every single ingredient for this dish locally, but I've added Amazon links as well. Swerve can be found at Whole Foods or Earth Fare stores, and I've found the almond flour, coconut flour and coconut oil at Wal-Mart, Winn-Dixie and Publix. The stevia glycerite was found at Whole Foods, right next to the Swerve. I always have good luck finding vanilla beans at World Market or Fresh Market. 

Oddly enough, I have better luck finding keto foods (Joseph pitas, PB2, flax meal, etc) at the Wal-Mart in Boaz, AL (a tiny town of under 10,000 people) than I do at any of the many Wal-Mart stores here in the Birmingham metro! So, I tend to 'stock up' when I'm up there!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cheesy Broccoli Chicken Bake

There are hundreds, if not thousands of recipes out there on them world wide interwebs for casseroles involving chicken, broccoli and cheese. The flavors go together so well, and are readily available on any budget. Some recipes use breadcrumbs or Ritz crackers, while some add extra crunch via water chestnuts, or rice for more substance. The common denominator is usually a can of condensed soup - usually a 'cream of' soup like cream of chicken or cream of mushroom. Casseroles are probably the ONLY reason products like cream of celery soup exist!

This version cuts out the condensed soup, using tangy sour cream and rich mayonnaise instead - and no, you won't be able to taste either flavor. I also left out the rice, bread crumbs and crackers to make a casserole that really focuses on the chicken, broccoli and cheese. Without all of the starches, this casserole doesn't leave you stuffed or uncomfortably full, and also provides a comfort food option for anyone watching their carb intake. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuna Broccoli Casserole

Trying to maintain a low-carb lifestyle means I've had to give up a lot of foods, especially casseroles. Most contain things like rice or pasta, or condensed soups. I've really been missing my Tuna Noodle Casserole, but this is a great alternative. I don't make it frequently (C hates tuna casserole), but, this week I am cooking the things he won't/can't eat since he's in NC for business!

I typically buy cauliflower at ALDI - it's far cheaper, and always better quality than the local grocery stores. I usually buy several at a time since I usually have to make a special trip to ALDI since there isn't a location convenient to my home. Luckily, cauliflower freezes well; I just chop everything up, dump into a freezer bag, and pull out what I need, when I need it!

This casserole isn't fishy at all - it's definitely more on the creamy/cheesy side.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake

A few weeks ago, I mentioned my incredible disdain for cottage cheese. However, I've learned to love the stuff by hiding its awful texture in things like macaroni and cheese, or casseroles. Plus, it's a great inexpensive source of protein, so I'm all for it. 

I realized that cottage cheese would be great in protein shakes or smoothies. You can blend it with frozen fruits like strawberries and peaches, or do like I do and make a quick and easy breakfast shake to start off the day. The lumpy texture goes away with just a few second of blending, resulting in a smooth, thick drink. This takes me no more than 2 minutes to throw together and keeps me full and energized all morning (especially since I don't drink coffee). Best of all, it's hard to argue with the flavors of chocolate and peanut butter!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

"Fauxtmeal" (Low-Carb/Keto Friendly/Gluten-Free)

I know - that name is a mouthful, and it sounds kind of pretentious. BUT, I promise this is a really tasty alternative to oatmeal/hot cereal/Cream of Hhhhwheat. Instead of oats, this cereal uses chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp hearts, adding tons of fiber without carbs. This means that it will keep you nice and full, but not stuffed or bloated. Also, um, it will help keep things regular, but not in that "I ate a McGriddle and now the bathroom is mine" kind of way. 

In addition, it's ideal for anyone watching their carbohydrate intake, or those who need to avoid grain or gluten. It took a bit of experimentation, but I tried the original recipe and tweaked it to my tastes. Now that the weather is getting cooler, this is the perfect easy breakfast for me. When I need to take it with me, I can just toss all of the dry ingredients (basically everything except the cream and water) in a baggie or plastic container, give everything a good shake, and then add my hot water when I get to where I'm going. The addition of cream is completely optional, but I have to have it for a nice, creamy texture.