Monday, February 3, 2014

Menu: LCP (Low-Carb Paleo) Lovelies

For some reason, I only now feel like the holidays are finally over. I know lots of people force New Year's Resolutions onto themselves according to the calendar, but my experience has shown me that when I'm mentally ready to try something, the results are much more positive. That doesn't mean I give up when I decide things get tricky, but starting under your own willpower and desire is more powerful than for arbitrary or external reasons.

Both my husband and I like to eat low-carb or paleo style meals when we can. We've read enough of the research to be convinced as to what high amounts of carbs and processed foods can do to the body, and from personal experience, both of us tend to feel better when we follow these diets. That said, there are certain things I don't like to do. Filling up a dish with "substitute" food, items that are not natural but have been produced to imitate something real, to me, is just as bad as eating processed food.

Low-carb recipes often skimp on using natural flavors, for the sake of carbs, resorting to tepid amounts of powdered spices or canned cheese products instead of fresh vegetables, or freshly grated spices and cheeses. Paleo recipes are almost always written from an upper-class perspective and assume that people have limitless reservoirs of cash to buy three pounds of custom ground grass-fed beef for $30 from a local butcher, or access to rare or unusual ingredients sold only in specific cities.

It's like food idiot meets food snob, so when I cook LCP (low-carb paleo), I try to think like a chef instead. Look at the recipe and decide what's the most important. I guarantee you it's not the cheese in a can or the uber special ingredient. Substitute for fresh, and trusted ingredients, and you'll often end up with a fairly healthy and super delicious dish.


  • Health Bent's Paleo Chorizo Burger
  • Image Credit: Health Bent
    • New! Having grown up in Texas, a chorizo and egg wrap from Taco Cabana in the morning is a lovely, greasy mess. However, it's a bit more tricky to find around here. The recipe suggests I also find ungodly expensive handcrafted grass-fed beef as well, and while there are local butchers around here I would love to support, I have a weekly food budget to stick to. My version will be made with lean ground beef and ground pork, and seasonings yet to be determined. I'm intrigued by baking the burgers in the oven as well. I have great success with meatballs, but my pan fried burgers always seem under or overcooked. (Yet another reason to dream of living in a house with a proper outdoor grill!) Fried egg, fresh avocado and tomato, caramelized onions, and melty cheese over a juicy burger? Why would you need a bun?
    • Verdict: Pretty flavorful! I wound up finding a spice mix recipe for chorizo seasoning and added that to the pork before mixing everything together. The burgers came out, well cooked and overall, this was fairly tasty. Lots of prep to put these together, but overall a nice combo for a burger.
  • Kludgy Mom's Easy 5 Minute Slow Cooker Ribs
  • Image Credit: Kludgy Mom
    • New! My mother makes her ribs by baking them in the oven, sealed with tin foil, effectively steaming them. Them come out perfect every time. But I'm lazy and I want to try something new. (It's a hell of a personality combo.) I love the spice rub ingredients on this and think that the use of a crockpot would very closely imitate the oven, thus giving me similar results. Yes there is sugar in the recipe. No, I don't much care. When doing LCP, I think in terms of daily nutrition. There's less than a 1/2 cup of sugar, including the BBQ sauce I'll choose, in the entire recipe. Split that up between 4 pounds of meat and an individual serving is only going to have you eat a tablespoon or less. And that's the only sugar you have in the day, awesome. Carbs aren't evil, they're just bad for you in huge quantities.
    • Verdict: I really liked the seasonings on these ribs, and cooking them in the crockpot was super easy. However, we all felt like the meat wasn't as juicy as we'd like. We couldn't decide if that was because of the cooking method or the particular type of ribs (side, I think). I would definitely try this again, but with a different cut of ribs (baby back if I can find them).
  • Epicurious' Paprika Chicken, Ina Garten's Roasted Brussel's Sprouts and CBSOP's Brown Soda Bread with Molasses
    • Paprika chicken is a dish I've made several times. If you click on the link, you'll see Epicurious gave it a pretty pretentious name, so I've simplified it. Be generous with your paprika, add a dash of cayenne at the end, and patient with your chicken. It's better to initially undercook it then finish it in the simmering sauce, then to end up with a luxuriously creamy sauce and hard chicken chunks.
    • Ina Garten's Brussel's Sprouts is also a tried and trusted favorite. Like most people, I
      Image Credit: Food Network
      grew up with those horrid frozen, then steamed balls of moist sulfur. But somewhere along the way, I ran into this recipe. If I had never met my husband, I wouldn't have tried it, because I still then hated Brussel's Sprouts. But he had spent Christmas with a friend's family for several years and always raved about the mother's Brussel's Sprouts. So he liked them, but I didn't. This recipe works for us both. There is absolutely no sulfurous smell, and the slight crisping of the leaves transforms these petit chou chou into gourmet french fries.
    • New! That only leaves the Brown Soda Bread with Molasses. Yes! I remembered that I
      Image Credit: CBSOP
      do have a Molasses showdown to work on. I also note that this is the first time I've actually listed a "meal" for one of my dinners. It's try that we generally only eat a main course, since it's just the two of us. Rarely, I'll through together a salad or some other vegetables as well. It just ends up being too much food, and we're happy to eat a plate of meat. But this bread calls to me. It's the only item on this week's menu that is clearly not LCP, and like the ribs, I don't care. There's a difference between eating homemade bread once a week and Pop Tarts every day. As per CBSOP's suggestion, I'm going to up the molasses a bit, because it's so wonderfully tasty!
  • Martha Stewart's Savory Sauteed Leeks becomes LEtI's Economy LCP Dinner!
    • New! Well, OK. I didn't really make this recipe. I took the idea of cooking leeks in bacon fat and made something of my own. Because frankly, her recipe sounds really bland and boring. So, for the first time ever, here's an Let's Eat the Internet "Original":
      • Let's Eat the Internet's Economy LCP Dinner, Serves 2
      • Ingredients:
        • 1 leek, whites only, rinsed, dried, and sliced into 1cm half moons
        • 3 slices of bacon, cut into 2cm slices
        • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
        • 1 small smoked Kielbasa or other smoked sausage
        • pat (about 1 TBS) of unsalted butter
        • freshly ground black pepper
        • Cayenne pepper
      • Cook it:
        • Prepare a pan with about 1/4 of water and a lid. Throw the bacon slices in a heated skillet, cast iron or similar works well and cook until crisp. Once bacon is finished, turn on the heat for the water pan. 
        • Remove bacon onto a paper towel to drain, dab up most of the grease lower the heat a bit and throw in a pat of butter. When the fats are mixed, throw in the leeks and the garlic. Sprinkle on the peppers and add a dash of salt if you like. Saute until almost fully caramelized. Eyeball it folks. Don't burn them. 
        • Meanwhile, your water pan should be at a rolling simmer. Put the smoked Kielbasa in, cut in half if you like, and tap the lid back on. Let the meat simmer for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, you'll probably find the casing on the Kielbasa is barely holding in the meat. Pull the sausage out, and chop into bite size wedges. Return the bacon to the leeks.
        • Optional Step: Throw the wedges into the leek-bacon mix and add a splash of the sausage water. Simmer for a while and try to get a slight crisp on the sausage. This adds two layers of flavor to the dish, so I highly recommend it.
        • Serve!

Sweet Tooth

  • Linda's Low Carb's Chocolate Truffle Torte
    • New! In the spirit of an LCP week, and needing to use up my leftover chocolate from
      Image Credit: Linda's Low Carb
      last week's Triple Chocolate Mexican Cookies (omg!), the torte won out over some delectable looking spiced cookies. The recipe calls for an entire cup of granular splenda, and while I don't mind a dash in my morning coffee, this is a whole other level of chemical substitution. I'll have to think about what I want to do here. I've found that recipes with that much alternate sweetener just taste off, but I also don't want to eat a mouthful of real processed sugar. I'll report back on that. However, I'm fairly confident I'm going to add some crushed sea salt to the top of this lovely torte!

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