low carb

Estância Churrascaria: Because Meat is the Language of Love

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Estância Churrascaria is a Brazilian steakhouse with an endless salad bar, and delectable cuts of meat.

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They don’t stop at beef: there’s also pork, poultry, sausage, lamb, and an intoxicating (get it!) wine list. Do you need any more reasons to go? Well, I’ve got you covered…

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Dine in this Friday-Sunday, and get a complimentary gift card to use later! Now you have an excuse to have deliciously prepared proteins not once, but twice! Besides, I’m a huge fan of any excuse to celebrate Valentine’s Day (since, you know, it’s my birthday and all). 😉

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Raw Spice Bar: Cooking Outside the Box

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As an avid watcher of travel shows, I’ve always been deeply curious about laksa. I’ve Googled how to make it, searched for local restaurants carrying it, and have always come up short. It wasn’t until Raw Spice Bar, a monthly subscription service for spices, came along that I finally had the motivation I needed to make the dish I’d been wondering about for years.

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I was sent 3 packets chock full of the freshly ground spices needed to make: Malaysian laksa, sambal oelek (which can be used to give your curry a kick), and zingy kaffir lime salad. They included recipes for all, which I interpreted loosely. For example: they advised using noodles, and I used spiraled zucchini to make a more low-carb friendly version. Also, they suggested green beans in the salad, but I went straight cucumber. Everything still came out amazing!

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I love how they’re priced at just $6/month, and they provide not only spices, but recipes for inspiration to cook dishes way outside of your comfort zone! If you’re looking to start cooking outside the box, then this is the subscription ‘box’ for you.

Dining Downtown: Stella San Jac

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I live a pretty good life, and as a blogger I’ve been to some very amazing events.

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Though all places I have visited have been incredibly kind, I do have to tip my hat to the wonderful folks at Stella San Jac for the super-cool night they gave me last night.

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The newly opened restaurant, housed in the Westin, brought a ton of local bloggers in for a happy hour with some complimentary appetizers, and even a cooking demo! (More on that later. Actually, seriously, the straight up video for you below.)

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The space was gorgeous, and the food was delish! (Who says ‘delish?’ Oh god, did I just say ‘delish?’ Sign me up for pink sweaters, and tennis lessons STAT.)

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Naturally, I ventured to the bar. (Me?!?!? BAAAAAAAAR????) I asked if there were any happy hour specials, and the bartender replied, “Every hour is a happy hour.” I like it! He poured me a glass of rosé that I was convinced would cost $2508582094821, but it was only $8.66, so you know what? He was right! Every hour is happy hour when good wine is fairly priced.

Now, for the biscuits! If you check out my amazing-super-awesome-cinematography (sarcasm) video above (it was Periscope) you’ll see a demonstration from the chef on how to make his famous #16 Biscuits. He calls them ’16’ because it took that many tries to perfect the recipe, and they’re reportedly good enough to make low-carbers crumble. Fret not, dear reader, I crumbled not (“Not today, Satan!”), but I plan to soon. I spent most of my night eating his delicious salmon spread, and put all of my carbs in through pink wine.

Coconutz Mix: Local, Paleo, and Even Vegan


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I’m a sucker for sweets, which means that going low-carb last February meant sacrificing the things I loved the most. Living for the past year on cream cheese and Splenda desserts wasn’t only unhealthy, I was also feeling really deprived in the “guilty pleasures” department. Thankfully, Valerie Figlin felt my pain, and created a low-sugar treat of her own: Coconutz Mix.

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I heard about the snack from a vegan friend who knew Valerie, and absolutely loved what she was making. As soon as I saw the tasty, coconut-y goodness in her photos, I knew I had to reach out and nab some of my own.

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I was lucky enough to meet Valerie in person, and her enthusiasm for healthy, delicious food is obvious. She gave me a few ideas of what to do with the mix, and I followed those (as a cereal with almond milk) and added my own (mixed into PB Fit). She has a slightly spicy blend, and a more “plain” flavor. I love that they’re chock-full of healthy delights, made here in Austin, and are mixed up with delicious, guilt-free pleasures like cacao nibs. Whether you’re Atkins, paleo, vegan, keto, or just plain hungry… Grab a bag!

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

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!