Slow Cooker Low-Carb Beef Pot Roast

slow cooker pot roast beef recipe by Emma Baird of the Diabetes DietSeasonal eating is valuable, I know but here’s a confession… I don’t mind eating soup and stew all year round, even though the dishes are usually associated with autumn and winter.

Can you blame me? Imagine meat and vegetables soaked in lusciously thick and flavoursome sauces, or onions, carrots and celery melded together and used as the basis for the best soup in the world. [Cauliflower cheese soup, since you ask.]

That said, it’s now the tail end of autumn in the UK and I’m digging into beef stews a-plenty. The miracle of carrots and beef is a flavour combination you can’t beat. Cut those carrots in big chunks, nestle them in your stew and leave to bubble away for hours. I could almost fish them out and eat them as a soup with the juices from the stew.

Recently, I adapted a Mary Berry recipe for pot roast. Mary’s method used suede or turnip as we know it in Scotland. I’m not that fond of it (sorry Rabbie*) and I decided to substitute celeriac. It worked a treat.

One of the rules of stews and casseroles is that they improve the day after cooking. This depends on your self-discipline. If you’ve had a pot of stew simmering on your stove for a few hours or cooking away in your slow cooker, your whole home will smell heavenly and resistance will require added steeliness.

Slow cooker Beef Pot Roast with Winter Vegetables

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.2kgs (roughly) beef topside or brisket
  • 4 onions, cut into wedges
  • Half a celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3-4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 150ml white wine
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Put the oil in a large frying pan or wok and add the beef. Cook over a high heat, turning occasionally until it is browned all over. Place in your slow cooker along with the vegetables tucked all around the meat, and pour the wine around. You might want to add up to 100ml water, but the vegetables will give off a lot of water anyway.

Cook on slow for eight hours. Add plenty of salt and pepper and dot with a little butter to serve. The dish goes well with steamed cauliflower or broccoli.

Allow about 10-15g carbs per serving.

*Scotland’s national dish is haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties, and it’s traditionally eaten on January 25 to celebrate Robert Burns’ birthday.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Diabetes

olive oil pic taken by Emma Baird, author of the Diabetes DietWe’re just back from Crete and enthused with the joys of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Yes, readers, splash it everywhere with gay abandon just as the Cretans do.

The island’s average inhabitant consumes 36 litres of the stuff every year—more than any other nation in the world. Even the Italians, also fond of the EVOO, manage only ten litres of it and they are the third highest consumers.

Does it have implications for we sugar-challenged folks? The factory I visited while there had a sign claiming health benefits for sufferers of all kinds of things, including type 2 diabetes. The Cretans produce mainly EVOO (and they harvest the olives by hand rather than machine), and they don’t bother with the ‘rule’ that you only use it for salads or to dress vegetables. They stick it in marinades, cook with it and even use it to deep-fry chips.

Positive benefits

In the Mediterranean region where olive oil is the main dietary fat, there are lower levels of deaths from cardiovascular disease. A Medicine News Today article also claimed positive benefits for stroke risk, breast cancer, liver protection, Alzheimer’s, ulcerative colitis, acute pancreatitis, maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels and even depression. [The article quoted from different studies, all of which used the words ‘appear to’.]

Anyone with diabetes has an increased risk of all the above conditions. The so-called Mediterranean ‘diet’ isn’t that dissimilar from the low-carb diet we promote. Broadly, eat tonnes of vegetables, some fruits preferably berries, plenty of fish, full-fat dairy, some beans and pulses if you can tolerate them and dress your salad and veggies with plenty of olive oil*.

Apart from the health benefits, a decent splash of EVOO does miraculous things. Steam some broccoli and then finish it off in the pan frying it with olive oil, thin slices of garlic and sea salt and you get to eat something that is three hundred times nicer than the boiled stuff.

The best Greek salad

And naturally a Greek salad needs the stuff… the best ones are simple. Large chunks of cucumber (peeled for purists) and tomatoes, black olives, thin slices of red onion and topped with a slab of feta cheese, plenty of salt and pepper and a generous drizzle of EVOO.

Sadly, because we’d opted for the hand luggage only flight, we could only bring back a 100ml bottle. One of the big issues with olive oil, and especially the extra virgin variety, is fraud. Most olive oil distribution is done through Italy, including the Cretan stuff. Investigations in recent years have uncovered wide-scale issues where virgin olive oil is passed off as extra virgin. There have even been cases where the oil was blended with sunflower oil and others..

The Guardian has a useful article that contains advice about buying genuine EVOO. Basically, it’s best to buy it in small quantities and if you think that stuff in supermarkets is too cheap to be the real thing, you’re probably right.

Olive oil recipes

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for olive oil recipes here are some suggestions from our blog:

What’s your favourite olive oil recipe or use?

*If you are overweight, you might want to be a little more cautious with your use of it, as it is calorie dense.

 

 

 

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.

The Pulse of Life!

Diabetes and how you cope with it is an ongoing exploration. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with pulses such as lentils, and beans (kidney and butter) and even (shock, horror) whole grains such as barley.

I find their effect on my blood sugar minimal, and I love the variety they add to my diet. I was vegetarian for a long time, and lentils were a favourite food – lentil curries, patties and stews, all delicious.

Keto proponents don’t approve of lentils and beans because such diets promote extremely low carb intakes as sub 50g, but if you aim for a more moderate carbohydrate intake, such as 90-150g a day, you can easily add in pulses and beans. Remember too, that they have a high fibre content and you’ll probably be able to subtract that from the carbohydrate total when you work out how much insulin you need to cover a meal.

Apart from adding variety to my diet, I’ve also gone back to pulses and beans because of their fibre content. A lot of nutritional research these days points towards the importance of fibre, and it’s difficult to get much fibre on an extremely low-carb diet.

My body seems like the pulses and beans, and my blood sugar results confirm this. If your diet opens up and allows you more variety, this is always a good thing.

So, to celebrate here’s my recipe for hummus. Hummus is high in fibre and relatively low-carb. Used as a dip or sauce, you’ll only be adding minimal carbs to your diet.

Now, one thing I tried with this is the peeling the skins off thing. I’d read about this online, that if you want velvety-smooth hummus, you need to peel the chickpeas. U-huh. I wouldn’t do this every time as it’s possibly the most tedious job in the world, but for a special occasion, absolutely. You get beautifully smooth hummus.

Velvety-Smooth Hummus

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

·         1 x 400g tin chickpeas (save two tablespoons of the water)

·         Juice of one lemon

·         1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

·         2 heaped tablespoons tahini

·         Salt to taste

Drain the chickpeas, reserving two tablespoons of the water. Peel the skins off. The easiest way to do this is to pinch each chickpea between your thumb and finger, and it should pop out of its skin. Do this above a bowl and be prepared for a few to ping across the room.

Pop into a food processor, along with the garlic and reserved water and whizz for a minute or so. You can also use a stick blender, but this is the less messy method.

Add the lemon juice and tahini and whizz again, for a couple of minutes, so you get a smooth, creamy texture.

Add salt to taste – about ½ to one teaspoon.

Use as a dip, spread on your favourite low-carb bread. It’s also lovely spread on lamb steaks.

Total carbs – 24g, minus 11g for the fibre.

 

 

Low-Carb Eating in July

Ah, July – what to eat now…

As far as we can (and it’s challenging in Scotland) we like to eat seasonally, and some months are easier than others. Presently, I’m coping with a glut of courgettes (zucchini to our American friends) spring onions, tomatoes and potatoes from the garden, as well as a LOT of herbs.

Spiralised vegetables are super trendy at the moment so I could spiralise those courgettes and serve them as a replacement spaghetti. I did make a giant pot of slow cooker ratatouille with plenty of them, using the spring onions and lots of rosemary, thyme and basil.

House and Garden offers this lovely courgette and baked feta cheese salad, which has minimal carbs per serving and would be great as a side dish.

What else is seasonal in July?

Beetroot, salads, peas and aubergines make up the vegetable quotient, while cherries, peaches, strawberries and raspberries are in the fruit category. When you’re eating a low-carb diet to help your blood sugar management, remember the best time to eat fruit is after meals. Why not serve your fruit with some cream or Greek yoghurt to slow down it’s glucose-spiking qualities too?

For fish and meat, prawns, crab, salmon, mackerel and sea bream are seasonal in July. Mackerel works brilliantly with a beetroot salad. Chop some cooked beetroot, mix with sliced spring onions and dress with a little cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and wholegrain mustard.

Beef and lamb are still seasonal at this time of year. You probably don’t feel like eating a roast, but cold sliced meat in a salad works well. As far as we’re concerned you can serve moussaka whenever you want too.

July recipe ideas

Beef Stroganoff

Steak Au Poivre

Rack of Lamb

Thai Prawn and Chicken Soup

Bon Appetit!

Aubergine Parmigiana – Low-Carb Sides

Purple foods are good for us. According to the US Department of Agriculture, purple foods have nutrients called anthocyanins. These are antioxidants that protect against cell damage from free radicals.

I’m a big fan of the mighty aubergine. Curry it, roast it, grill it or turn it into ratatouille, this is a vegetable with a lot of uses.

I make my own version of Aubergine Parmigiana, that famous Italian dish. Buy the best quality mozzarella you can find, and top the dish lavishly with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve this as a side dish with roasted chicken. Or just cut yourself a ginormous portion and eat with salad.

Aubergine Parmigiana

  • Servings: 4 as a side dish
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 large aubergine, sliced
  • 1 ball of buffalo mozzarella
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 2tbsp oil
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • 1tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 50g grated Parmesan*
  • Salt and pepper

Turn your oven to 175 degrees C. Slice the aubergine into half-centimetre thick slices. Drizzle with one tablespoon of the oil and cook in the oven for about twenty minutes. You want the slices softened and lightly browned. Leave the oven on once the slices have cooked as you will be using it again.

While the aubergine is cooking, heat the other tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and cook the sliced onion for five minutes until softened but not browned. Add the tomatoes, garlic and dried oregano. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and leave for fifteen minutes. You want a thick, concentrated sauce.

When the sauce and the aubergine are cooked, rip the mozzarella ball into pieces. Layer up slices of aubergine, tomato sauce and mozzarella in a casserole dish. Grind on some salt and top with the grated Parmesan and a generous helping of pepper. Cook in the oven to heat through and brown the top – about ten to fifteen minutes.

Top with the chopped basil.

6g net carbs per serving.

*The cheese so good, Pepys buried a round of it in his garden during the Great Fire of London.

 

 

Jovina cooks Italian: Seafood and Vegetable Grill with Green Goddess Marinade

 

Seafood On The Grill Tonight

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Tips On Grilling Shellfish

The flavor of shellfish benefits significantly from grilling. Removing the shellfish from the grill before they become too well done and rubbery is the biggest challenge. Watching closely for shellfish to turn opaque (non-transparent), removing them from the grill and serving them immediately are key to delicious tasting fish.

Prepare scallops for grilling by cutting off the curved shaped appendage that is attached to the side of the body, if still intact.

Prepare shrimp by removing the shell and the vein that runs along the back. Personal preference dictates whether to leave the tail on or off.

Marinating shellfish in a flavorful oil will help to prevent the tendency of the scallops and shrimp to dry out.

Two skewers work best to prevent the seafood from spinning or turning on the grill.

Grill shrimp on each side for 2-3 minutes, depending on the thickness of the shrimp. Cook scallops for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on their size.

Tips On Grilling Vegetables

Make room on the grill for vegetables. The caramelized, smoky flavor that comes with grilling does wonders for vegetables. A lot of veggies do well on the grill, but some really stand out — asparagus, corn, eggplant, squash, mushrooms, peppers and onions.

Most vegetables cook better and are less likely to stick if they’re marinated first or brushed lightly with vegetable oil.

For added flavor, sprinkle grilled vegetables with chopped fresh herbs. Cut the vegetables all about the same size for even cooking.

If you use wooden skewers, soak them in warm water for 20 minutes.

Marinade for the Shellfish and Vegetables

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

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Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a measuring cup. Divide in half. Use one half for the shellfish and one half for the vegetables.

Grilled Shellfish Skewers

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For 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 medium sea scallops
  • 6 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Marinade, recipe above
  • 2 double skewers
  • Green Goddess Dressing, recipe below

Grilled Vegetable Skewers

For 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 of a Fennel bulb, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/3 of a Red Bell Pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 small Zucchini, cut into 2 inch slices
  • Marinade, recipe above
  • 2 double skewers
  • Green Goddess Dressing, recipe below

Directions

Marinate the shellfish and vegetables separately for 30  minutes. Drain and thread the scallops on one double skewer and the shrimp on a second double skewer.

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Do the same with the vegetables. Save any marinade left in the bowl to use as a basting sauce.

Preheat an outdoor grill to high and grease the grill grates with oil.

Place the vegetable skewers on the grill first, since they will take longer to cook. Cook until the vegetables are tender, turning and basting them with the olive oil mixture occasionally, about 15 minutes.

After the vegetables have cooked for 10 minutes, place the shellfish skewers on the grill.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Serve the grilled shellfish and vegetables with the Green Goddess Dressing.

Green Goddess Dressing

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This may be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This dressing is also delicious drizzled over hard-boiled eggs.

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup snipped chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Place the chives, parsley, anchovy fillets, tarragon and vinegar in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.

With the motor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream, scraping down the sides, and process until pureed. Add the sour cream and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Store in the refrigerator until serving time.