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Low-Carb Breakfast: Bell Pepper Eggs

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There are some dishes that look prettier than they taste. For example: eggs baked in avocado. I don’t care what food blogger told you that it was ‘amazing,’ they are are filthy liars and shouldn’t be trusted. (Also, sorry about that time I Instagram’ed that exact dish and pretended it was amazing.) Bell pepper eggs are not like that. They actually taste as good as they look! Promise.

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I’ve tried it twice, and found the best method to be cutting the bell pepper in half, and using both halves as egg-holders. It does take some de-seeding, but it’s nothing major. Even a novice can tackle this dish.

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Pre-heat the oven to 350, and drop your eggs in those bell pepper cups. You’ll want to add salt and pepper, or even herbs! I added a handful of mozzarella to mine, but to make it Paleo, you can omit this.

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The baking time is closer to ~40 minutes (depending on how ‘done’ you want your eggs), but it’s worth it for the char you will eventually get on the pepper. This dish is absolutely delicious, and a fantastic way to get your veggies and protein in. I threw in some de-seeded jalapeños with cheese on my last bake, and everything came out cooked to perfection. Wait for the egg to look done, and the cheese to begin to brown, and you’ll know it’s ready.

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My Most Requested Recipe: The Best Pho You Ever Had, That Also Happens To Be Low-Carb & Vegan

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Believe it or not, there’s been a recipe that those-in-the-know have requested from me since long before I became a food blogger. The recipe came about due to my (at the time) obsession with low-calorie items, and veganism (also, at the time), which doesn’t matter. I had straight-up friends that were first generation Americans that loved the recipe (shout out to Mellie!), and I have yet to make a ‘bad batch,’ despite the fact that I kinda/sorta wing it every time. (You’ve been warned: My instructions are, as per usual, not 100% clear on measurements.) Know this: My pho is good, and you can tweak it to your meat-loving heart’s desire. If you’re vegan? You’re welcome!

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I never said this recipe was authentic, but it more than does that job. To start, you’ll want to procure:

  • 1-2 lemongrass stalks
  • 2-3 star anise
  • 1″ of ginger (peeled, sliced)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or dash of cinnamon, sometimes I omit it and just use the star anise by itself)
  • 5-10 mushrooms (your preference, and these are what gives the super-meaty taste to the broth)
  • protein of choice (chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu)
  • soy sauce
  • green onion
  • cooking oil (I do a blend of chili, toasted sesame, and vegetable, but that’s not super important)
  • noodles (I use the 0 calorie shirataki, you can use regular – depends on your carb preference)
  • vegetable (or beef or chicken) stock
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 an onion
  • jalapenos/thai chilis
  • cilantro
  • basil
  • lime
  • sriracha and/or garlic-chili sauce
  • and the super optional Chinese 5 spice powder

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Let’s start by sautéing the star anise, ginger, garlic, and onion. You kind of want to burn it, honestly. Don’t char it until it’s unrecognizable or anything, but definitely put a black edge on those ingredients. Once you have that done, in your delicious chili oil blend (or regular oil!), you can add water to the pot and a bouillon cube or 2 of the stock of your choosing. Turn the heat up on a separate burner, and sautee your chosen protein in oil (again, I like to use chili/toasted sesame). Add the mushrooms and remaining ingredients (sans noodles and toppings such as: green onions, herbs, peppers) to the pot of broth. Let it all cook together for as long as possible; I’d say 20 minutes at a minimum, but I can vouch for making this, saving the leftover (half a pot) broth for the next day, then adding more water and having excellent results.

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If you’re using shirataki noodles, just follow the instructions on the pack, and add them to the broth when ready. The same goes for any other type of noodles, really. Shake some soy sauce into the broth, and don’t be shy. I know most would say you should have drained the ingredients out of the broth, but I prefer to enjoy the sliced ginger, and pieces of garlic in my soup; use a slotted spoon to remove the inedibles (star anise, lemongrass) before serving. Add copious amounts of sriracha, basil, lime (go easy), cilantro, and peppers. Voila!

Class Pass: A New Way To Get Fit

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Class Pass just launched in Austin, and I am genuinely excited. Have you ever wanted to take a cardio rowing class? Perhaps you hoped to someday visit Ride Indoor Cycling? Maybe you’re more extreme (like me) and are just dying to sign up for a torturous session of boot camp at Heat? Class Pass charges a flat monthly fee of $99 that let’s you take a plethora of classes at places all around town.

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The site is super easy to navigate: You choose your neighborhood(s), activity, time, and date. You can input as much or as little information as you’d like, and once you spot a class you like: you reserve the spot. I’ll be taking my first class on Friday and can’t decide between Zumba and barre. Don’t wait until after the holidays to get in shape! Class Pass gives you so many options that you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll enjoy.

Disclaimer: I will be trying these services free of charge. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Thai Inspired Shrimp & Shirataki Noodles

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Shirataki noodles are those “scary” looking noodles that you may find near the meat alternatives/dairy products at your local grocery store. Generally, they’re stored somewhere cold. They promise 0 calories, or in some cases, 20 calories per serving, and are extremely low in carbs. I’ve been eating them for years, and highly recommend getting the type that’s blended with tofu. I was in the mood for Thai the other night, and whipped up a delicious shrimp stir fry to use with my noodles.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb frozen shrimp
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 1″ peeled, chopped ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 red chilis
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • basil
  • cilantro
  • fish sauce
  • lemongrass
  • soy sauce
  • chili oil
  • toasted sesame oil

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I heated a large skillet with a blend of toasted sesame and chili oils. I added garlic, ginger, onion, tomato, zucchini, bell pepper, jalapeño, red chili, and fresh lemongrass (peeled and sliced in large chunks) to the oil. As I let that cook over medium-high heat, I thawed my frozen shrimp using cool, running water. As soon as the shrimp were ready, I added them to the pan, and used a colander to rinse my shirataki noodles for several minutes under hot water. Trust me, you want to do this. Shirtaki noodles have a strange smell to them until they’ve been either thoroughly rinsed, or par-boiled. With the shrimp now in the pan, I added both soy and fish sauce to taste. When the vegetables looked soft, and the shrimp were almost done, I added the juice of 2 limes, a bit of my fresh basil, and some green onions. At this point I poured the mixture, and subsequent sauce, over a bowl of shirataki. You may also want to try stirring the noodles into the pan ahead of time so that they absorb more flavor. Once it was all done, I covered the dish with even more basil, and a fistful of cilantro leaves. This dish is so low in both carbs and calories that you can enjoy it guiltlessly and frequently.


Sensational Side: Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

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I know what you’re thinking: What’s the easiest possible side dish to bring to Thanksgiving? One that makes it looks like I put in a lot effort, when I really just slapped 2 ingredients together, and made them look and taste phenomenal without breaking a sweat? 

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At least that’s what I was thinking.

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This dish makes a great low-carb side, and it’s excellent as a party snack. Simply take a bunch of asparagus, and a few thinly sliced pieces of bacon (I sliced mine vertically in half), and wrap the bacon around each stalk. Spread a bit of olive oil on a baking pan, and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until you see that the bacon is done. If you’re using thinner stalks, you may want to cook for a shorter amount of time. That’s it!

Happier Hour: Soto Japanese Restaurant

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I’m probably one of this city’s biggest sushi fans, and make a point to try and sample every single sushi bar within driving distance. Soto may be a little on the north side of things, but after hearing numerous rave reviews, I thought it might be worth a 20 minute “road trip.”

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We knew that it would be all night happy hour on Monday, so that’s the night we went. The space was intimate and dark, but quickly went from nearly empty to brimming with diners in a matter of minutes.

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The happy hour menu included rolls, as well as some cooked items. We ordered the salmon collar, which was delicious, but a bit bony, which is to be expected with certain parts of the fish.

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My seafood-weary partner got adventurous and tried exotic-to-him pieces of nigiri, and several sashimi orders. He loved every bit of it.

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Despite service being a bit slow (they were a little understaffed on that particular night), we decided to stick around for dessert. I couldn’t sample anything sweet because of my (insert curse words here) diet, and so I watched in agony as my dining companion licked the bowl clean from his green tea tiramisu dessert. Next time you’re looking for high-end, well-presented sushi, look no further than Soto. A lot of people are calling them the “Uchi of the north,” but I think that creatively, they have their own thing going for them, and they really are in a league of their own.

East Side Find: Jalapeno’s Taco Bar

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I went to Jalapenos Taco Bar expecting not to like it, and boy was I wrong.

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The place was small, but not cramped, and the salsa was delicious.

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I mixed it into everything.

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The ceviche tostada was overloaded with fish, and my boyfriend’s bacon breakfast tacos more than filled him up.

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Their prices were already low, but we had a Restaurant.com coupon, and the check was unbelievably cheap. We essentially had a Mexican Thanksgiving feast for what came out to be around $13. I highly recommend stopping by this place for good, cheap tacos.

Food Find: Salata

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Healthy lunch options can be few and far between in North Austin, especially if you’re adhering to phase 1 of the Atkin’s diet. (It’s working great! I can fit into things I thought I’d never be able to wear again!) It was just my luck, rambling about my diet at a fancy party near downtown, that I ran into the owner of Salata, a fresh, healthy restaurant that lets customers completely customize their salads just minutes from where I work.  (more…)