low carb

Meat Lovers: Jerky Snob

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In my pursuit of really cool monthly subscription services (and low-carb snacks) I stumbled upon Jerky Snob. A monthly service that sends you, or someone you really love, a box of amazing, artisanal jerky. This month’s box had 2 flavors from each: Lawless Jerky out of Phoenix and Mikey’s Jerky from Chicago.

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I thought it’d be fun to sample the different flavors on fancy plates, because I’m classy. I believe that the hands down winner was the Honey Chipotle by Lawless, but all 4 flavors really were winners in my book. Lawless prides itself on 100% grass-fed, dry-aged beef and the ingredients read like a sonnet to those of us who avoid corn syrup and Frankenstein-esque chemicals like the plague. (You’ll be be pleased to know that all of the brands that Jerky Snob partners up with pride themselves on having no MSG, no nitrates, and no HFCS.)
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I’m also now a huge fan of Mikey’s Original flavored jerky, and its perfect amount of kick. In fact, I’ve been working my way through the bag all morning. (I can’t put that one down!) If you’re low-carb, Paleo-ish, health-minded, or just want a surprise bag of amazing snacks at work: get this box. Get 20% off your first box with the code: AMBER

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What’s In the Box: Plated

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Plated is a delivery service that sends the freshest ingredients to your door so that you can make dinners like a boss. They include just about everything you need from the stars of the entree, straight down to the oils and small packets of butter you’ll want to have to enhance the flavor.

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We decided to try their initial offer, and ordered 3 meals: Thai peanut chicken, portobello burgers, and pollack with fennel and blood orange.

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When you open up the box, it looks a little something like that (above). Even though we’re in Texas, the food was still cold by the time I got it, and the freshness of the herbs was still intact.

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I must admit that the pollack dish, which even contained green olives, was one of my absolute faves. It did need some additional salt, but what doesn’t?

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Plated has certainly made the past 3 nights interesting for me, and it was a lot of fun to watch my partner go all Chef Emeril in the kitchen. Think of it like having a romantic dinner prepared by you/for you every night, and you get all the fun of cooking it. It helped us to break out of our routine ‘go to meals,’ and we really enjoyed the process.

Low-Carb Pizza Crust

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I know being low-carb isn’t always easy, and there are some vices, such as pizza, that people really miss. Sometimes I sauté a bunch of vegetables and cheese in a pan, then pretend it’s pizza without the bread. It does the job for me, but I got really curious when I heard that you could make a crust out of straight up cauliflower (one of my favorite veggies).

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With my new food processor, I decided to embark on this cauliflower pizza crust journey, and I would definitely say that the results are pretty great, though not necessarily something I would say is ‘exactly like pizza crust!!!’ but still pretty dang tasty.

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To make it: grate half a head of cauliflower using a food processor, or a hand grater (if you’re a masochist!). Using a paper towel, try to get as much moisture out of the cauliflower as possible. Otherwise, you’re going to get mush. Add 1 egg, a handful of shredded parmesan cheese, and mix together. Spread this on a lightly oiled pizza pan, and bake at 425 for about 10 minutes. Once it begins to look a bit golden, pull it out and add the toppings you desire. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, and you should have a delicious low-carb pizza! I used pesto, tomato, jalapeño, olives, mushrooms, and even the kitchen sink in mine. 😉

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.

Offbeat Omelet: Sun Dried Tomato & Pesto

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Recently, I bought a jar of olive oil soaked sun dried tomatoes, and small jar of pesto. The purchase wasn’t intended for an omelet, but this morning I got the wild idea that maybe it should be.

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It began as omelets typically do: I whisked 2 eggs together with a fork in a glass prior to starting. I know Gordon Ramsay once said on a show, “You should whisk the eggs while they’re in the pan,” but that just doesn’t work out for me.

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In case you’re wondering what brands of pesto and tomatoes I used, these photos are available, and in black and white because the lighting on them was CRAP.

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I didn’t only use the jarred items though, I also added onions and cheese. The result? My boyfriend says he wants to eat this every day, and I completely agree. As we ate, Giada came on TV, and I think ol’ tooth-grin would agree.

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Omelet (Ingredients based on 1):

  • 2 eggs
  • 1T pesto
  • 2-3 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2T chopped onion
  • 1 small handful of sprinkly white cheese (I used this weird, Mexican off brand cheese, so I really think you go can go with whatever.)

Put a small amount of oil in a non-stick skillet, and turn the heat on Medium. Add the chopped onions, and then the tomatoes, once the onions are translucent. Whisk 2 eggs in whatever container, and pour into pan. Watch it closely, as this will cook quickly. Add your pesto in small dollops to spread the flavor, and your handful of cheese. Once it looks *almost done* lift one half of the omelet to fold over on the other side. Remove when it looks golden-perfect.

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!

Broccoli Bacon Cauliflower Cheese Soup

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I’ve been doing the low-carb thing for almost 8 months now, and the results are great. Sure, there are days when I have a little way too much wine, and my weight goes up a bit, but all in all I am consistently shrinking my waist. One of the biggest downsides of the diet has been that I find myself eating eggs constantly, and I do mean constantly.

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 I was recently craving something that didn’t come from a shell, and recalled the pureed soups I used to make back in my vegan days. I was always amazed at how something could come out so silky and creamy without the use of milk (dairy or otherwise) or cream. I decided to take the idea of a decadent ‘baked potato soup,’ and combine it with the low-carb, veggie-packed elements of those blended soups.

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One of the greatest things about this recipe is its versatility. You can make it vegan/dairy-free if you want, or load it up with cheese and bacon if that’s more your style. It’s very low in carbohydrates either way, and a decadent tasting treat that you can add spinach, and other nutrient packed items to.

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You can even eliminate the greens, and go straight for the cauliflower for something that more closely resembles a baked potato in a bowl. Essentially: you do you on this soup. 😉

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Ingredients:

Fistful size floret of caulilfower

Large broccoli Crown

Enough vegetable/chicken stock to barely cover vegetables

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 white onion

3 slices bacon

Salt and pepper to taste (I add cayenne)

Cheese (I mix 2 different kinds: cheddar and a white cheese made for enchiladas, but anything goes)

Optional: spinach, parsley, jalapeño

Instructions:

Cook the bacon over low/medium-low heat. Boil the stock, and add one of the pieces of bacon to the stock when it looks about 3/4 of the way done. Add the vegetables (chopped) and cook until soft. Remove bacon when it is finished and drain on paper towel before cutting into bite sized pieces. Once the vegetables are soft, remove pot from heat and use immersion blender to puree until smooth. If this mixture is too ‘liquidy,’ add more cauliflower/broccoli and cook until soft, then puree again. Ladel into bowls, garnish with a sickening amount of cheese and bacon in each. I’d recommend a good dose of salt (after tasting) and pepper. Pasley also works well, if you have it.