Low-Carb Adventures with a Pizza Oven

 

Landed—in our garden, one pizza oven. Given that the pizza doesn’t feature in low-carb diets apart from in a bastardised form, what else can you do in an outdoor oven?

All kinds of things, it turns out. Yes, the pizza oven is a vegetable’s dream destination, the wood smoke turning them into delicious, charred things you want to toss into a warm salad and scoff. We’ve yet to try out a steak in there, but the vision already dances in my head.

Black lines, a crispness to the outside and then meltingly soft pinkness within, anointed with a blue cheese sauce that slowly melts into the crevices of the meat…

But for now? Chicken wings, EB! That’s what you’ll do.

Having hit upon the idea, I decided information overload was the next logical step. I headed for the internet and entered the search terms chicken wings in the pizza oven, low-carb chicken wings, best chicken wings etc., until I had far too many options in front of me.

[Does anyone else do this? I usually flip through hundreds of recipes on line before reverting to my trusted Mary Berry cook book.]

A lot of the recipes for chicken wings featured sugar, honey or flour. I found one that used a third of a cup of flour—not a lot, but I used coconut flour instead.

The coconut flour has sat in my cupboard long enough for it to go out of date. But flip, it’s so pricey I couldn’t face throwing the bag out. Now, I was going to use it. And then toss the rest as the use-by date was…

Embarrassingly long ago. Don’t do this at home, folks!

The true joy of chicken wings is the dip that goes with them. You’ll have gathered from the steak description above, blue cheese features so often in my life it’s got my number on speed dial. There are lots of variations on the blue cheese dip, but one I’ve been making for years is criminally simple—Greek yoghurt, mashed up blue cheese in proportions of about one to two parts. Add pepper if you want to be fancy.

I worried coconut flour would make the drumsticks too coconut-y. I love coconut, but the distinctive flavour doesn’t belong in a lot of places it finds itself these days. (Coconut oil for roast potatoes—I ask you!) Luckily, the spices masked the flavour. But swap the flour for cornflour and cut down the quantity to a quarter cup if you want.

Another swap was drumsticks instead of wings, seeing as Morrison’s had none of the former.

Low-Carb Chicken Drumsticks with

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 10 chicken drumsticks
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1tbsp paprika
  • 1tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1tbsp garlic salt
  • 1tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3tbsp rapeseed oil and one teaspoon butter
  • 250g Greek yoghurt
  • 125g blue cheese, crumbled.

Heat your oven – it needs to be about 180 degree C to cook the drumsticks. Mix the flour, paprika, pepper, garlic salt and cayenne. Add to a plastic bag.

Put half the drumstick in the bag and shake well to coat. Do the same with the rest of the drumsticks.

Line a sturdy baking tray with foil and place the oil and butter on it. Heat in the hot pizza oven for five minutes. Place the drumsticks on it and spread out. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes, turn the drumsticks over and cook for another five minutes until crisp.

Combine the yoghurt and blue cheese and serve. You’ll need plenty of napkins as this is one messy dish.

About 10g carbs per portion and 5g fibre.

Next up—the steak. Or baba ghanoush as a pizza oven would make short work of blackening those aubergines…

And finally, does this count as food porn for we low-carbers? Here’s the pizza we made in the oven. My husband’s a pizza gourmet. He promised me this was amazing. Wood smoke does incredible things to food.

Low Carb Go-To Meals

picture of chorizo sausage, the Diabetes Diet
I’d probably eat this Every. Single. Day.

What are your go-to meals? Everyone has them, the ones you eat at least once a week or more. We choose them for their mix of taste and convenience.

When you throw diabetes into the mix, the go-to meals are usually the ones where you know the exact carb count, how much insulin you need to take with them and they’re probably quick and easy.

I go through phases too—eating one dish for weeks and weeks before getting thoroughly bored of it. I add the odd newbie into the mix occasionally, usually picking something I find online. I like simple dishes—a generous helping of protein, two of vegetables and fat in the form of mayo, cheese or nuts thrown in.

My ‘go-to’s’ are:

  • Chopped cooking chorizo fried with mushrooms on top of salad generously dressed with balsamic vinegar and a bit of chopped avocado.
  • Prawns in home-made cocktail sauce with salad leaves and broccoli
  • Low-fat cauliflower cheese with salad leaves and two eggs to give extra protein
  • Any home-made soup with boiled eggs
  • Roasted chicken legs with broccoli or cauliflower and…you guessed it, salad leaves.

For all that we post recipes giving you lots of choices for your low-carb diet, I wonder how many of you are like me? Do you too return to the same meals time after time and are they as simple (boring!) as mine?

 

Jovina cooks Spanish: Gazpacho

Gazpacho_in_Mijas.jpg
This cold soup is delicious and refreshing—a perfect summertime starter.
Ingredients
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 cup peeled, seeded and roughly chopped cucumber
3 cups  good quality tomato juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

A few drops of Tabasco for added kick (optional)
Garnish: chopped cucumber, onion or bell pepper
Directions
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
Chill in the refrigerator for twenty four hours for the best flavor.  Garnish with chopped vegetables, if desired.

Avoiding Boredom on a Low-Carb Diet

Yawnsville. I’m so bored of gazelles…

Boredom is the enemy of healthy eating, right? It’s easy to be enthusiastic five days into low-carb dieting, but 20 days later? Not so much.

I suffer from this myself. Sometimes, you long to nose-dive into a gigantic bowl of crisps. Or scarf down eight slices of bread, covered in butter. Here are some ideas for keeping boredom at bay.

Do try out lots of different recipes. Most of us rotate the same meals week in/week out. When you’re restricting what you’re eating, that’s a double whammy. We’ve lots of suggestions here, but the Grand Daddy of diabetes-friendly recipes is The Diet Doctor. There, you’ll find various carb counts, vegetarian choices, fish, meat and eggs ideas in abundance.

Look for different texture. Low-carb foods can lack crunch. (Think crisps, crackers and more.) Pork rinds are crunch-tastic. Make them yourself by cutting pork skin into strips and tossing with a little sea salt and hot smoked paprika. Place them on a rack over a tray and whack in a very hot oven for 25-30 minutes. You can buy them too.

De-carb your favourite recipes. Missing bread? Try our easy, low-carb version here. Use cauliflower for rice or those zero noodles to make Chinese and Asian-inspired dishes. Cauliflower also makes fabulous mash.

Eat enough. Boredom might be hunger in disguise. Work out your calorie allowance for your levels of activity and ensure you’re meeting it. Adding cheese, cream and mayonnaise to dishes is an easy way to bump those numbers up.

Try new foods. Yes, branch out and eat something you thought you hated. Liver, cabbage and sprouts (not all together) might turn out to be delicious.

Have at least two or three go-to sweet recipes. Humans love a sweet taste. While you might want a low-carb diet to get rid of yours, the wise woman (or man) has low-carb options on hand just in case. Try our peanut chocolate fudge for a sweet hit. Or this recipe for ice-cream.

Eat high-carb occasionally. Make it worth it, though. I ate a slice of chocolate cake recently which was…average. I muttered to myself afterwards, “Well, that was a total waste of carbs.” Choose the very best you can and eat in the evening, rather than at lunchtime or breakfast as the resultant tiredness won’t matter so much.

Happy days!

For a book stuffed to the gunnels with low-carb recipes, The Diabetes Diet (now available in print and e-book format) is your number one choice.

A Week of Super Low-Carb!

diabetes diet
Mediterranean trout with kale.

This week, I’m going super low carb. The carb count has crept up lately. And I was ill for a while which sent the blood sugar levels soaring.

And yes, I wouldn’t mind knocking off a kilo or two. Then treating myself to a whole new wardrobe.*

Does anyone else love a spot of dietary planning? You dig out your recipe books, go online, write menu plans and shopping lists. All instead of doing the day job. Bliss!

I’ve researched the recipes I fancy, here and on Diet Doctor which has every kind of keto option you can imagine. A lot of them can be cream and cheese heavy (not a bad thing), but they do offer salad-y type stuff and dairy-free options too.

I thought I’d try these chicken drumsticks, the crunchy coating made from coconut and pork rinds. I’ll skip the coconut, though, as I don’t think I’d get that past my husband. [“Coconut flakes?! On drumsticks? Get thee behind me, Satan.”]

I’ll also be making the cauliflower cheese recipe from our website, and the Mediterranean trout with kale you see pictured above.

And I’ve already knocked up a batch of home-made mayonnaise, using rapeseed oil because I love the gorgeous yellow colour it gives.

Chocolate fudge is in the fridge ready for when the dreaded sweet tooth growls at me. And I’ll be making turkey curry with spinach to handle the spice craving.

I’ll report back on what happens.

 

*Kidding. Freelancing makes even shopping for clothes in Asda tricky. 

Eat green leafy vegetables to give your brain many extra years

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If you eat one or two portions of green leafy vegetables a day you could have a brain 11 years younger than you otherwise would.

That is the conclusion of a longitudinal study of almost a thousand elderly  people in the USA. Compared to people who rarely or never ate green vegetables there was a very marked difference in brain function over time.

This seems to be due to the folate, phylloquinone and lutein in the foodstuffs.

So eat up and protect your brain. If like me, you prefer your salad well dressed and your vegetables laced with fat and garlic and spices look around the site for our recipes. Spinach in a cheese and garlic sauce, and buttered peas and leeks are my favourites.

Adapted from BMJ 13 Jan 2018 from an article in Neurology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eatwell plate advice doesn’t reduce cardiovascular disease

UPDATED_Eatwell_guide_2016_FINAL_MAR23-01

 

Adapted from  BMJ 27 Jan 2018 from a study reported in PLOS Med

The UK Food Standards Agency uses a scoring system of their own devising to determine whether a food is “healthy” or not.  Fruit, vegetables, fibre and protein get top marks and saturated fat, sugar and salt get a fail.

When 25 thousand participants in the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer study completed a seven day food diary at the start of the study, and their food choices were marked on perceived health benefits, there was no difference in the incidence of cardiovascular disease over the next 16 years.

Time to lay the Eatwell Plate advice in the bin?