Peppercorn Sauce for steak #low-carb

plate with steak and peppercornsauceThis week, I tried a cooking method I’ve never used before—low cooking. For those unfamiliar with the term, low cooking can be used for tender cuts of meat. You sear it in a pan and then place in an oven at a very low temperature and cook for a long time.

It differs from slow cooking in that slow cooking is usually used for tougher cuts of meat and involves liquid. I used the low cooking technique to cook a ribeye steak we got from Donald Russell. If you live in the UK and buy certain magazines or Sunday newspapers, a Donald Russell flier will have fallen out of them at some point.

True cost of meat

‘Donald Russell’ is a farm in Inverurie (Aberdeenshire) which supplies many top end restaurants and Balmoral with meat and fish. I can vouch that the quality of the produce is superb. It is also stonkingly expensive, but that will reflect the true cost of meat especially if you want to buy meat that comes from animals that have lived a life as close to the one they are supposed to. If (and that’s a big if) my writing career ever makes me decent money, this will be the only meat I buy.

Anyway, I cooked the steak for three minutes all-in on a high heat and then popped it in the oven at 80 degrees C for 35 minutes, and served it with peppercorn sauce and salad (and fried potatoes for my carb-loving husband). Here’s the peppercorn sauce recipe. It isn’t the classic one as I find fiddling around with sauce recipes too much to resist. The sauce has about 5g of carbs per serving.

Peppercorn Sauce for Steak

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 50g butter
  • 1tbsp peppercorns, crushed
  • 50ml brandy or white wine
  • 1tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 100ml beef or chicken stock
  • 50ml cream (I used crème fraiche as I had some left over, double cream or sour cream will work too)
  1. Melt the butter in a pan and add the onions. Fry gently until softened—about three to five minutes.
  2. Add the pepper, mustard, garlic and mix well. Add the brandy or white wine and bring to a simmer. Cook for three minutes and add the beef or chicken stock. Cook for another three minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat and add the cream and stir through until thickened. Serve with steaks or chicken. Or use it to make a sublime vegetable side dish.

Have you used the low cooking technique before and what’s your favourite sauce to serve with steak?

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.

Beetroot Pickled Eggs – low carb snacks

picked beetroot eggs on the Diabetes DietFor most of us, eggs are the mainstay of a low-carb diet. Poached, fried, scrambled, baked, turned into omelettes, used as a bulking or raising agent or the basis of delicious sauces such as mayonnaise and Hollandaise, there are many ways to eat an egg.

And I thought I’d done them all… but there was one thing I shied away from, too scared to touch it—the pickled egg. The thought of it did funny things to my stomach. I imagined unscrewing a jar of them, my senses assaulted by an over-powering sulphuric, vinegary smell. And that’s despite the fact I love sauerkraut, so you could argue I’m no stranger to the sulphuric, vinegary stuff.

Anyway, as part of my Keep Sundays Special Campaign, last week my husband and I lunched at the Shilling Brewing Company, a Glasgow city centre pub that has its own micro-brewery on location, and happens to do stone oven baked pizzas. I left that dietary choice to the carb-lover in my life and opted for the salad on offer—quinoa, beetroot, rocket, whipped Gorgonzola and a beetroot picked egg.

Blimey, it was delicious. I was determined to make my own. One whiffy afternoon later—pickling anything at home means your house reeks of vinegar for days afterwards—and the results are these purple-pink beauties. Put them in your salads, eat them as a snack, chop up and scatter over cooked cauliflower for colour and contrast.

  • 6 large eggs
  • 150ml water
  • 350ml cider vinegar (Asda sells this bottle size)
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 1 large raw beetroot

You’ll need a Kilner jar or other jar large enough to hold six eggs and half a litre of liquid

Sterilise your jar by washing it in hot soapy water and then drying it out for 30 minutes in a low oven (about 110 degree C).

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a little malt vinegar as this will help you peel the eggs. Once the water is boiled, lower the eggs in gently, bring back to a simmer, cover and leave to cook for seven minutes. Run under cold water for two minutes to stop the cooking process and peel the eggs. Leave aside.

Peel and dice the beetroot. You might want to use plastic gloves for this, as the juice can stain. Place in a saucepan with the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved and then bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes and strain to remove the beetroot.

Put your eggs into the sterilised Kilner jar and pour over the eggs. Seal the jar and leave for a few days (advice online differs—from 48 hours until two weeks). Once you’ve opened the jar, store the eggs in the fridge and eat within a few days.

It’s hard to guess at a carb count. How much sugar and beetroot penetrate them? But I’d guess it’s minimal.

Vitamin B12 and Diabetes

vitamin B12 bottle on the Diabetes Diet
Vitamin B12 Gummies by icethim on flickr. Reproduced thanks to Creative Commons 2.0

In the news this week was an article about Vitamin B12 and its deficiency in those with type 2 diabetes*.

A new study by Nottingham researchers has shown that most people (64 percent of those assessed) people taking metformin (for type 2) were not being routinely tested for levels of vitamin B12 in their bodies. The assessment is needed to check for signs of nerve damage, a painful side effect of diabetes. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin the body requires to work properly.

The study’s author, Dr Kaenat Mulla from Hucknall Road Medical Centre said: “Current British Society of Haematology guidelines recommend that vitamin B12 levels are checked only when there is clinical suspicion of deficiency. However, peripheral neuropathy is irreversible and it may be too late once symptoms have developed.”

In an article on diabetes.co.uk, she stressed her warning wasn’t intended to discourage people from taking metformin, but she wanted to encourage doctors to monitor vitamin B12 routinely so deficiencies are picked up quickly and can be treated.

Before you all rush to Holland & Barrett to stock up, there are plenty of food sources that are rich in Vitamin B12. And funnily enough, we have a few recipes that feature them… Here’s what you might want to consider.

Liver and kidneys

Animal organ meats are a good source of the vitamin. A lot of people find the taste too strong—and I for one am never going to eat kidneys as their function puts me off—but chicken liver is more delicate than lamb’s for example, and might be more palatable.

Sardines

Sardines are another source and they are one of the few fish where Omega 3 levels survive the canning process. They are also cheap as chips and packed full of calcium as again the canning process softens the bones enough for you to eat them (and not notice you’re doing so).

Tuna, trout and salmon

More fish products that are super high in vitamin B12. You can find recipes on our site for salmon here and here, and trout here. I prefer trout to salmon as I find the flavour more delicate and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper too.

Dairy products

Milk, plain yoghurt and cheese have decent levels of the vitamin. Make a delicious sweet treat using Greek yoghurt, two teaspoons of good cocoa powder and a tablespoon of granulated sweetener and you’ve got a calcium, protein and magnesium packed pudding. And as for cheese, is there anyone out there who doesn’t love, adore like it? Hard, soft, strong, mild blue or from the cow, goat or sheep, there’s one that suits all. Want to make the most of it? Try our cauliflower cheese, broccoli and Stilton soup or our aubergine and pepper parmigiana.

For more information on vitamin B12 levels in food, check out healthline.com

*Please note—this article doesn’t constitute medical advice.

Aubergine and Pepper Parmigiana

The Diabetes Diet picture of an aubergine and cheese dishIf you read your way through my weeping and wailing post about meat-eating and ethics last week (congratulations, by the way), then this recipe will seem a natural follow-up.

To recap, I’m reading The Ethical Carnivore: My Year Killing to Eat by Louise Gray and hoping for easy-to-follow guidelines that assuage my conscience about eating meat, falling short of killing it myself as I’m pretty sure I can’t do that.

In the meantime, there is always low-carb vegetarianism. I know vegans argue that vegetarianism is little better than meat-eating given what goes on in the dairy industry, but it’s a start. Besides, I can’t imagine a life without cheese.

Low-carb veggie

Here’s a low-carb veggie recipe for you—a bastardised version of aubergine parmigiana. Allow roughly 10g of carbs per portion.

Aubergine and Pepper Parmigiana

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • A large aubergine
  • One red pepper
  • One yellow pepper
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2tbsp rapeseed oil
  • Grated rind of one lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 75g grated parmesan cheese
  • 50g grated cheddar cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees C.

Chop the aubergine and pepper into equal-sized pieces and toss in one tbsp of the oil. Cook on a griddle until softened—about ten minutes.

Heat the other tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and add the chopped tomatoes, garlic and lemon rind. Allow to come to a boil and turn down to a simmer, stirring from time to time. Cook for about ten minutes to, allowing the sauce to become thick and concentrated.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper and sprinkle some on the cooked aubergine and peppers.

Layer up the vegetables, sauce and cheese in a gratin or rectangular casserole dish finishing with cheese. Cook for twenty minutes.

For other low-carb vegetable recipes, see:

 

 

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?