The Weird and Wonder of Low-Carb Eating

pickled beetroot eggs on the Diabetes DietLadies and gentlemen – the pickled eggs were a huge success, though I’m the only fan in our household. And reader views varied as you will see in the comments on my original post and recipe.

I think you’ll agree they make the prettiest egg mayonnaise, though. Dollop a generous portion next to some poached or fried white fish or just put in a bowl, arm yourself with a teaspoon (smaller mouthfuls make it last longer) and eat like that. Before I completely repulse you with my slovenly eating habits—oh, scratch that, while we’re here, let’s continue with the weird and wonderful…

Embrace the odd

When you decide to eat a wholefood, low-carb diet, you can embrace odd combinations, pairings and dishes that stray from the well-trodden path. An oft-quoted saying for low-carb eating is that meals cease to be so different from each other.

Take breakfast as the best example. What can you eat if you shun the sugar, chemical load that is most cereals, you don’t eat bread but yet another plateful of bacon and eggs feels like a chore? Last night’s leftovers of course! A meal isn’t only dinner just because it’s got vegetables in it. Heat up your stew and have it for breakfast. Try a burger, chicken leg or a bowl of warming winter vegetable soup.

I like salad so I’ll add a side helping of it to anything, including the afore-mentioned bacon and eggs. Yolks that melt into salad leaves provide an instant dressing. A tin of anchovies, chopped up and mixed with steamed broccoli and cauliflower, gives you a side dish par excellence.

Cheese, cheese food of the Gods

I haven’t even started on cheese… Crumble blue cheese into minced beef cooked with peppers and mushrooms, top a curry with it, and always, always put it in meatballs and top it on burgers. Eat a lump of it with in-season strawberries, their sweet delicacy a nice contrast to a medium mature cheddar, or chop up carrots into batons and serve with a stronger farmhouse version. As we’re low-carb proponents, I can’t recommend this suggestion for frequent sampling, but a moist, dense fruit cake topped with a thin slice of blue cheese is heavenly… far better than icing overloaded cupcakes or birthday cake.

And then there’s the joy of butter—cooking, topping hot things with and paring off thin slices to eat as you cook. That might just be me. One of the more peculiar delicacies I like is two walnut halves stuck together with a bit of butter. Fatty heaven! I’m a big fan of creamed coconut too. You can cook amazing curries with the stuff, sure, but the real fun of creamed coconut is cutting yourself small cubes and allowing them to melt in your mouth. You can tell the warnings about saturated fat trotted down the road towards me, came to an abrupt halt and ran for the hills, screaming.

If a low-carb diet has been in your sights for a while but all that comes to mind is chicken, broccoli bacon and eggs and not much else, I promise you this way of eating is for food lovers; those of us who live to eat and who can spend hours planning, reading recipes, shopping and cooking. Take the starch out and other things rush to fill the space—weird, off the wall combinations individually tailored to your own tastes.

Enjoy!

Do you have any weird food combos or dishes you love to eat in secret? Let us know in the comments below.

PS—articles in the news recently focused on a study that stressed the importance of eating far less meat, fish and dairy for planetary and health reasons. For those of us who are concerned with both, there are some thought-provoking articles and arguments on the Diet Doctor website, which also focuses on low-carb diets for health.

Thrity-One-Year-Old Claims Cure for Type 1 Diabetes

A PICTURE OF BLOOD TESTING EQUIPMENT AND NEEDLES

A PICTURE OF BLOOD TESTING EQUIPMENT AND NEEDLESGoogle alerts frequently pairs ‘diabetes’ and ‘cure’ together, but most of the time the words don’t capture my attention. Even when ‘type 1 diabetes’ and ‘cure’ make the same sub-heading, I’m not jumping up and down.

Yeah, yeah, heard it, bought the tee shirt, and no impact on my life so far…

But The Sun newspaper carried a story this week about a 31-year-old who claims to have cured his type 1 diabetes with diet and exercise alone. Again, that approach can achieve results with type 2 diabetes but it’s the first time I’ve seen it accredited to a cure for type 1.

Exercise and diet

Daniel Darkes’ regime isn’t for the faint-hearted. He eats a diet high in zinc (nuts, oily fish and veg) and runs more than sixty miles a week.

But before you dig out your trainers and start stock-piling the Brazil nuts, Daniel’s type 1 diabetes has some qualifications. He has a rare, abnormal gene, which doctors believe might have restarted his pancreas.

The 31-year-old from Daventry in Northants developed diabetes eight years ago and stopped giving himself insulin last January (2017)*. He started cutting down on insulin after experiencing hypos in 2016. He travelled to the US in March 2017 to find out more. Doctors ran further tests to find out what we happening to his body.

Brain sending messages to pancreas

He was put on a fasting diet and exercised at the same time. The medical staff noted his brain had begun sending new signals to his pancreas, and he hasn’t injected himself with insulin ever since.

Daniel told The Sun that doctors believed his abnormal gene combined with exercise is the reason he’s been able to cure himself—it’s as if the gene acts as a back-up immune system and has recharged his pancreas.

He is still being monitored at Northamptonshire General Hospital.

Abnormal genes

I’m fascinated by this story—as I suspect most type 1s will be. I’m no medical expert so my opinions are qualified, but I suspect that Daniel’s abnormal gene plays a huge part in his ‘cure’ (and this won’t be regarded as such until he reaches the two-years-without-insulin mark). It’s also interesting that the description of his diet (scant as it is) sounds like a low-carb diet.

The article said that Daniel’s case “could provide a revolutionary new approach to treating type 1 diabetes”, while Diabetes UK said it couldn’t speculate on whether Daniel had ‘cured’ his diabetes or not, and that there was “no clear cure for type 1 or type 2 diabetes”.

 

*DISCLAIMER – please, for the love of all things injectable, do not skip your insulin injections if you have type 1 diabetes…

 

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.

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. 

Seasonal Low-Carb Dishes

diabetes diet
Mediterranean trout with kale.

February is almost at an end – as it the season for many fruit and vegetables we associated with this time of year.

Nevertheless, we’ve done a round-up of what’s in season at the moment. If you eat seasonally, you get food at its best. It also means less food miles, as the food can be produced in the UK and has therefore not had to travel as far to get to your plate.

Fruit

  • Lemons
  • Clementines (coming to the end of their season)
  • Pears (coming to the end of their season)
  • Kiwis

Vegetables

  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac
  • Leeks
  • Kale
  • Purple sprouting broccoli

Meat and fish

  • Turkey
  • Salmon

If you want some recipe ideas for what to do with what’s in season, you could try:

Enjoy!

 

Mediterranean Trout with Kale

diabetes dietInspired by the Diet Doctor – if you ever need low-carb recipe ideas this site is amazing – I created my own version of one of their recipes this week.

And, whisper it, I think mine’s better! I swapped salmon for trout fillets which brings down the cost substantially, replaced spinach with crispy kale and gave the dish an overall Mediterranean feel with some basil.

You end up with an extremely low-carb dish – about 3g net carbs – that’s also delicious and really filling. I bought my trout from Costco where I was able to buy a giant fillet that I cut up into eight 150g portions.

Kale is packed with vitamins and minerals – including beta carotene, and vitamins K and C – while trout has plenty of Omega 3s and B vitamins.

Mediterranean Trout with Kale

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 x 150g trout fillets
  • 4tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 200g kale
  • 2tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 175 degrees C. Season the fish and place them on a baking sheet lined with grease-proof paper or foil, skin side down.

Mix the mayonnaise, tomato puree and basil and spread the mixture evenly over the two fillets. Cook in the oven for 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Five minutes before the end of the fish cooking time, heat a large saucepan or work with the butter. Add the kale and plenty of seasoning and cook until softened.

Serve with the fish.

 

A Day of Very Low-Carb Eating

What does a day of very low-carb eating look like? Bacon and eggs, chicken salad and then steak, blue cheese sauce and green beans?!

Okay, some of the low-carb clichés work well. I don’t mind bacon and eggs in some form for breakfast every day. Otherwise, I might have low-carb bread (and you can see our great recipe for this here) with butter and Marmite, or I have smoked salmon or leftovers from the night before.

Whisper it: I’m not fussed about steak. A great burger, on the other hand… I’m also keen on turkey, particularly turkey mince which is very versatile. Turkey tacos, turkey chilli, turkey burgers and turkey curry are regular features in my house.

Bacon and egg.

Two rashers of back bacon, chopped up and fried in a little egg. Once they have cooked, I add in one large egg and mix it up. The whole thing takes less than 10 minutes to make.

2g carbs

Prawns and vegetables

imageI made my own Marie Rose sauce (2tbsp mayonnaise, a teaspoon of tomato puree and a dash of Tabasco), and mixed this with 100g king prawns. I served this with salad and steamed broccoli. I also had some dry-roasted peanuts.

10g carbs

Turkey steaks in mushroom sauce

I had one and half turkey steaks, diced with a cream sauce. The sauce was made from mushrooms fried in a little butter. I added a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard, 250ml double cream and some salt. (I used about a quarter of this sauce.) I served it with steamed cauliflower and salad.

8g carbs

atkins-barI finished with an Atkins bar – the chocolate coconut one that’s a bit like a Bounty bar. These bars are controversial in low-carb circles. They are heavily processed, after all. However, I really love the coconut chocolate one and I count 8g of carbs per bar, not the 2g of net carbs the label claims*.

8g carbs

 

 

 

*You need to figure this out yourself. The nutritional information for the Atkins bar subtracts polyols (the sugar alcohol used as a sweetener) from the total to give you the net carb content, but some people find polyols do affect their blood sugar levels.