Spicy Italian Pork Sausage Keto Meatballs – Dairy-Free, Cheese-Free, Nut Flour-Free

I try to cook new things on the weekend to increase the variety. It’s gotta be pretty simple though because while I like to experiment, I don’t like it to take that long.

I’ve seen sausage balls – meatballs, essentially – but all of them had ingredients I didn’t want – so I invented my own:

In a mixing bowl, I added:

Ingredient Calories Fat Net Carbs Protein
14 oz. mild Italian pork sausage (Whole Foods 365 Brand) 900 60 6 78
2 jumbo eggs 180 14 2 16
1/2 cup coconut flour 240 8 12 8
3 tbsp nutritional yeast 60 0.5 2 8
2 tsp cayenne pepper 12 0 2 0
2 tsp baking powder 10 0 4.6
1/2 tsp salt 0 0 0 0
Total for the entire recipe 1402 82.5 28.6 110
Total Per serving (1/21) 67 4 1 5

I mixed all this together with a fork, then rolled them into cocktail-size meatballs, and put on a baking sheet into an oven at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.

The Verdict: pretty damn good. It tasted like an Italian meatball. No one would know there’s coconut flour in it. It was maybe a tad spicy for some folks but I like spice. You might want to eliminate that if you’re not into too much spice.

This was my first time using nutritional yeast. I don’t know if it really added anything to the flavor but they do taste good – and nutritional yeast has a lot of, well, nutrition in it. If you don’t want to use that, it would probably taste OK, but I really don’t know.

As to the effort: not bad. One mixing bowl to wash. One piece of parchment paper to throw away. Rolling up the meatballs was probably the longest part but prep time total couldn’t have been more than 20 minutes.

Might be nice with a little low carb pasta sauce.

I asked my younger daughter to try one. she looked at them suspiciously: “What’s in them?”

“Pork sausage meat.” Is all I said.

She tried one. There was a pause and then: “Woah! that’s a good meatball.” Of course if I had told her they contained nutritional yeast and coconut flour she never would have tried them.

Sneaky.

After having a few more I noticed that some were a little salty in spots. Perhaps that’s a warning to mix better or cut back on the salt.

Beef and Bacon Keto Chili Recipe Version 2

I’ve been more strict in counting my carbs, and while the last Bacon & Beef Chili was great, there were carbs in some of the things I added and didn’t taste the difference.

Version 2 leaves out the unnecessary ingredients, really ups the bacon to the majority of two packages, and adds more flavor with an additional pepper and mushroom to add a nice texture.

So here’s the ingredients and the numbers:

Ingredient Calories Fat Net Carbs Protein
2 lbs. 80/20 ground beef 2272 179 0 152
5 Tbsp bacon fat 570 60 0 0
2 packages of bacon, precooked 840 42 0 56
1 can Trader Joes Chiles 40 0 8 0
1 14.5 oz can Trader Joes Fire roasted organic tomatoes with green chiles 87 0 14 4
1 large green bell pepper 48 0 8 2
1 large red bell pepper 48 0 8 2
2 tbsp chili powder 42 2 2 2
2 tsp ground cumin 16 1 2 1
Trader Joe’s – Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms – 10 oz Container 72 0 10 7
Salt 0 0 0 0
Pepper 14 0 1 1
Total for the entire pot 4049 284 53 227
Total Per Portion (1/12) 337 24 4 19

(The portions last time were a guesstimate. This time I put the chili in 1 cup covered glassware. While I already ate some, I think if were using one cup of the stuff, the number are pretty correct.)

The instructions are simple:

  1. Melt the bacon fat in the bottom of a pot
  2. Set the burner to high and add ground beef, black pepper, and some salt (add to taste later)
  3. Let it cook on high while you deal with cutting the vegetables and bacon, stirring occasionally
  4. Dice the bacon and toss in the pot
  5. Cut the peppers and toss in the and give it a stir
  6. Toss in the can of chilis and tomatoes
  7. Add the remaining spices. I tend to go heavy on the chili powder and grind the cumin in a mortar and pestle – what a great fragrance
  8. Add salt and pepper, but remember that there’s a lot of salt in the bacon so don’t overdo it.

Now set it to a low simmer and let cook for 2 hours to let the flavors meld.

The verdict: very enjoyable. As I am attempting to cut back on dairy I’ll skip the cheeses and sour cream – but you’re free to use it if you like.

Beef and Bacon Keto Chili Recipe

A quick update for the old gang: I’ve been away because, well, I had nothing to write about. On April 2nd, however, I went full-bore into a strict ketogenic diet. I’ve written a whole lot about that, but it’s not ready for publishing yet – but how about a recipe?

I’ve been deep into ketosis and have been very strict for the past 2 weeks. I use the weekends to cook and wanted to have a goto meal for the week so I thought: why not chili?

In the past I have not watched my carbs as closely as I am now, and it has paid off: a 10 lb. loss in 2 weeks, a 20-40 point drop in blood glucose levels, and ketones as measured by a blood testing meter averaging between 2-3 mmol/ml.

So unlike in the past where I might have gone apeshit with onions and other higher carb vegetables, this chili measures nutrients down to every damn spice.

So here’s the ingredients and the numbers:

Ingredient Calories Fat Net Carbs Protein
2 lbs. 80/20 ground beef 2272 179 0 152
5 Tbsp bacon fat 570 60 0 0
7 slices bacon 308 25 1 20
1 medium onion 46 0 3 1
1 can Trader Joes Chiles 40 0 8 0
1 14.5 oz can Trader Joes Fire roasted organic tomatoes with green chiles 87 0 14 4
1 large green bell pepper 48 0 8 2
2 tbsp chili powder 42 2 2 2
2 tsp ground cumin 16 1 2 1
2 tsp garlic powder 18 0 4 1
Salt 0 0 0 0
Pepper 14 0 1 1
Total for the entire pot 3461 267 43 184
Total Per Portion (1/10) 346 27 4 18

It was a pain in the ass to pull these numbers together – especially as different sources give different nutrient counts for the same thing, but I think this is about as accurate as I’m going to be able to get it.

The instructions are simple:

  1. Melt the bacon fat in the bottom of a pot
  2. Set the burner to high and add ground beef, black pepper, and some salt (add to taste later)
  3. Let it cook on high while you deal with cutting the vegetables and bacon, stirring occasionally
  4. Dice the bacon and toss in the pot
  5. Cut the onion and toss in the and give it a stir
  6. Do the same for the pepper
  7. Toss in the can of chilis and tomatoes
  8. Add the remaining spices

Now set it to a low simmer and let cook for 2 hours to let the flavors meld.

The verdict: pretty darn good. I’ll be eating this all week. I found it very flavorful by itself, but I’m sure with a little shredded cheese on the top – and maybe a dollop of sour cream – I’d be in some serious flavor territory.

Kielbasa and Zucchini Recipe

IMG_4890Forgive if you will the sloppy recipe amounts as you read below. This started as a way to dispose of mismatched items I found in the fridge by either rendering them inedible by cooking or by pure chance making something edible.

I think this came out so good that I must make this accident again.

While I am listing the ingredients I added, I see no reason why – with one exception – you can’t riff on this with whatever low carb veggies and sausage you find lying around.

I think the secret was the bacon fat. I have kept bacon fat for years but always ended up throwing it out. This was the first time I added it to a recipe – and Oh. Boy.

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium-sized zucchini, diced
  • 1 Polish Kielbasa, sliced
  • 2 andouille sausages, maybe each 6″ long, sliced
  • 1/2 cup bacon fat
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • Few dashes of salt
  • dash of oregano

Cook all the ingredients in a pan as shown above covered on a high flame for a half-hour, stirring frequently until the liquids come out of the veggies and more liquid appears. This is not a bad thing – this liquid is awesome.

How awesome you say, my younger daughter, who has earned the nickname ‘carbs on carbs on carbs’ because of her eating habits gobbled up 3 servings of this stuff. Her only complaint? the andouille sausage – she preferred the kielbasa.

 

 

 

Chicken Broccolli Casserole with Cheese

I whipped this up last night with ingredients I found in the house.

  • 5-6 IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) chicken breasts
  • Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
  • 3 cups shredded Jarlsberg cheese
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli florets
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In my convection oven, I cooked the chicken for about 20 minutes while defrosting the broccoli for about 8 minutes in the microwave. I then cut up the chicken with kitchen scissors, gave it a healthy coating of the seasoning mix. After a few minutes, in went the broccoli while I shredded the cheese with a cheese grater.

After mixing and cooking a few more minutes, the mixture went into the casserole dish and I then covered the entire top with a lot of cheese. When done I sprinkled the top with paprika more for color than anything and put it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

I had some for dinner – it was pretty good. The cheese was more hard than gooey, and maybe the cayenne pepper was a bit too much, but I ate it and enjoyed. Trader Joe’s @1 Salute seasoning is a handy blend of seasonings for those of us clueless at the sight of a spice rack.

What surprised me was the family also enjoyed it. “It’s actually pretty good.” was one comment – which shows both the typical expectations of my low carb cooking as well as the review of this particular dish in comparison.

I’d say it’s a keeper and I’ll be making it again.

Creamed Asparagus and Scallion Soup

UPDATE: I’ve been eating this the past couple of days and have a few tweaks to add

I love my immersion blender. 12 bucks or so at most large grocery stores, these things can take the place of a regular blender or food processor with minimal cleanup.

I was searching the Internet for something low carb I might be able to make with some ingredients I have lying about and came up with this idea based off another recipe I found.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of fresh asparagus
  • 10 scallions
  • 1 box (32 oz) chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/3 pint heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 20 turns of the pepper mill
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Using a soup pot I melted the butter on high heat while washing and cleaning the asparagus and scallions. I chopped it in 1/4″ lengths. Thrown into the pot with the butter, I stirred on high flame intermittently for about 10 minutes while looking for the rest of the ingredients and the immersion blender.

Be careful with asparagus. While I cut off more than an inch of the bottom stems, it was still more fibrous than I would have liked and might be off-putting to some. My solution: cut the asparagus – especially at the stem end very, very closely together to be sure any fibers will be as short as possible. The immersion blender won’t fix this.

I do this with kale when I make kale soup and use the stems and it works splendidly.

After that, in went the chicken broth. I brought to a boil, then added the garlic and onion powder, turned down the heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Once the simmering was done, I turned off the heat and blended until smooth. Then I slowly poured in the cream with the immersion blender on.

Now it was time for a taste – and I came up with a trick to have a good-sized taste with the extremely hot soup not burning my mouth.

We have some small metal ingredient cups about the size of the business end of a soup ladle. The keyword here is ‘metal’. Using a soup ladle I put a few tablespoons into the cup. It became almost too hot to touch – good. All that heat was being conducted out of the soup into the metal cup. To make something hot, you got to make something else cold. In less than 30 seconds I had a mouthful of the stuff at a temperature that would let me taste it.

It was very good – creamy and flavorful. I did think it needed a little salt and put in a teaspoon at that point and mixed it again with the immersion blender.

Oops – maybe just a teensy-weensy too much salt – the broth and butter brought their own salt and it was *almost* enough. My advice if you try this: be careful with the salt.

The final product was delicious. It’s a one-pot meal using only a few utensils and in a half-hour you have a great soup for a cold, possibly snowy day. It’s also suitable for vegetarians who use dairy – not usual for my recipes.

I did find after repeated lunches of the stuff that it was missing ‘something’. I added more salt and pepper at work and it was better, but it could have used some other ‘something’ – but what?

Any ideas out there?

Recipe – The Cream Spinach Fat Bomb

Quick and easy to make – and quite good.

I’d better be right about fat being harmless though or I might be in a body bag after this one.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1/2 box of cream cheese
  • parm cheese (the stuff in the cardboard can)

Directions

Thaw the spinach in the microwave for 10 minutes. It will leak so place the boxes on a plate to catch the leakage.

Once thawed, let stand for 15 minutes at least – it will be too hot to handle the next step.

Now that it’s cooled, use a strainer to squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as possible – but don’t kill yourself over this – good enough is good enough

In a microwave-safe bowl, toss in the spinach, along with a stick of butter and the cream cheese. After about 4 minutes the butter and cream cheese should easily mix into the spinach without fuss and to my surprise got absorbed into the spinach. There were no puddles of butter as I feared.

The taste was good but a little lacking. A healthy sprinkle of the canned parm cheese made it perfect.

It *looked* like ordinary creamed spinach – but we know better. This innocent-looking creamed spinach was a Cheesecake Factory-style Fat Bomb made to look ‘lite’ and ‘healthy’. It was one of those menu items where you’d go: “Oh – I don’t know *how* they can make creamed spinach so tasty!”

Just for the heck of it I ran the numbers for the whole thing in my LoseIt! iPhone App:

  • Calories: 1,408 (1,200 of these calories come from fat)
  • Fat: 135g (81%)
  • Carbs: 37g (10%)
  • Protein: 33g (9%)

I would say that realistically this serves 4 – which means I ate 4 servings in one sitting.

Me and my body need to have a little ‘sit down’ to talk about ‘portion control’ – ya think?

This would be a splendid recipe for a pot luck – and you can look ’em in the eye and say it’s ‘diet’ – though change the subject if they start asking questions about the recipe. Based on the crowd at the New Year’s party I went to, this would have been gone in a flash.

Need I say it? This is safe for a ketogenic diet. In fact, it is *so* safe you might want to dial it back a notch – though this is ideal for people doing a ‘fat fast’ (though you don’t eat as much as I did). It is also vegetarian as long as they are the type that do dairy – there’s so many variants it’s hard to keep track.

I Started Ketosis in Less Than Two Days With This One Weird Trick

I’m sorry – I couldn’t help myself with that ‘one weird trick’ phrase that’s used as clickbait all over the Internet – but it really *was* one little thing that helped me get into ketosis.

I’ve been doing low carb to varying degrees for a dozen years now and the one thing I noticed in myself is eating enormous amounts of butter always got me into ketosis in record time. Once I’m in ketosis I can throttle back the butter – and the ketosis itself helps with carb cravings.

It’s also motivating to see the keto sticks turn a dark red. Doing this when I come home in the evening is a great motivator to keep me away from the carb-laden ‘kid chow’ that my daughters like.

The problem is *eating* enormous amounts of butter. Don’t get me wrong – I love butter, but the amounts needed to make this trick work was kinda ‘yuck’.

I used to wrap it in roast beef but I’ve grown sick of this trick.

This past week I stumbled across a way to get the amount of butter I need to do the trick – one stick per day – that I actually look forward to having. It’s also simple and takes 5 minutes.

Here’s the trick:

Ingredients:

  • The best butter I can afford. Kerry Gold Irish butter is great, but any ‘pastured’ butter will do. If you were stupid enough to try this you could probably do this with the cheapest stuff that you can find but there’s beneficial substances in the pastured butter – and since you’re going to be getting a massive blast of calories from this, shouldn’t you go upmarket if you can?
  • Chicken broth or chicken stock with sodium. Unless you are salt-sensitive (and I question if such people should go on a ketogenic diet), a ketogenic diet will deplete you of salt. I personally see nothing wrong with salt, but I’m a little nuts and you probably shouldn’t be taking my advice anyway
  • Tamari Soy Sauce. More salt. Tamari soy sauce is gluten-free and I’m experimenting with minimizing my gluten intake just for fun.

So what I do is get a large coffee mug – 16 oz. – and put a half stick of butter in it, then cover with the chicken broth and place in the microwave on high for about 3 minutes. The stick of butter won’t be completely melted, but with a bit of stirring and a minute or two and it will.

I then add the Tamari soy sauce to taste. I like salt so for me that’s at least a teaspoon if not more.

This – to me – tastes pretty darn good. It tastes like a creamy, buttery, chicken soup where the butter does not overpower the chicken and soy sauce flavor.

On day one of my upteenth time tried to restart my low carb diet I had this twice daily. I typically skip breakfast and just have coffee and cream, then have this at lunch time and right before leaving work to help me get past the dozen or so fast food places I pass on my way home that have been my downfall as of late.

To say this is ‘filling’ is an understatement.

By the evening of the second day the keto strips showed I was in full-blown ketosis – and there’s certainly a number of other physical symptoms of starting ketosis that I was feeling that backed up the strips.

My plan at the moment is to stay on a ketogenic diet for as long as I can. I’d like to do 3 months and go back to my doctor and get my bloodwork done. I might mix in intermittent fasting as well. Once your body is used to burning ketones for fuel – and this ‘keto-adaptation’ can take weeks if not months to fully adapt, fasting is way easier because you are not going to be dealing with hypoglycemia like you might coming off a high-carb diet. Your body knows how to mobilize fat as fuel and it just won’t be as much of a struggle.

I *do* feel compelled to state that this is awfully extreme and I don’t recommend ANYONE be as daredevil as I am. I think I’ve become quite the kook and super-duper low carb, high fat diets are not for everyone and have their hazards. Perhaps each post from now on should have a variation of the disclaimer you see on car commercials when you see them do high-speed maneuvers to convince guys in mid-life crisis to buy overpriced sports cars:

Professional stunt dieter – do not attempt this at home. 

Kitchen Experiment: Homer Simpson-Style Low Carb Vegan Pumpkin Almond Suprise

The ‘surprise’ was it was good.

Our cupboards are filled with the discards of good intentions never followed up on, of exotic treats and unusual ingredients that go unused, of family food-fads that peter out and leave us with excess Water Chestnuts, applesauce cups, or Quinoa that seemed like a good idea at the time but now when offered up to the kids is reacted to as a punishment.

I was looking for something different – something sweet – and something that wouldn’t totally ruin the fragile hold I had on the start of a low carb diet. I found one of those aseptic boxes of cooked, unsweetened, unspiced pumpkin – the sort of thing you’d use for a pie. I don’t ever recall seeing it – but I also don’t remember looking for boxed pumpkin, so that might have something to do with it.

I’ve tried just sweetening this stuff with some sucralose in the past but that just doesn’t do it.

Then I noticed the forgotten almond flour. I try to avoid too many Omega-6s and most nuts are chock-full of them, but I’ve promised myself that I wasn’t going to get anywhere at present if I put too many restrictions on myself. Almond flour is low carb, high fiber, and tastes good, too.

I don’t have measurements for you but the box of pumpkin was roughly the size of your regular soup can, and I kept putting in almond flour until it had thickened considerably. Maybe 3/4 cups? I mixed well, and gave a taste.

Not bad. The almond flour ratcheted back the intense pumpkin flavor and the pumpkin blunted the almond flavor. It tasted like what? A pumpkin pudding? Pumpkin cake batter? I could picture throwing in a couple of eggs as binding and baking it into a cake of sorts but I didn’t go there.

It really wasn’t bad as-is. As a young adult/dope I used to occasionally buy rolls of cookie dough and eat it raw so I have a little Homer Simpson in me – and this was way better for me than that was. It *did* need a little touching up, however, so I added about 4 drops of liquid sucralose, maybe 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, and a 1/4 tablespoon of nutmeg and mixed well until no powder showed in the mix.

If I had intended to make this rather than bumbling around it would have taken less than 5 minutes.

I ate maybe a cup of the stuff and was quite satisfied. Whatever flavor-hole needed filling, this did it, I have maybe 3 cups left and can see myself probably finishing it up in the coming week.

I also realized the purely by accident it happened to be vegan, which helped the title of the post be even more absurd than it already was.

UPDATE 5/9/15: I have received comments on this that essentially say: ‘Worst. Recipe. Ever.’ Despite this, I’m having some for breakfast today and I still think it ain’t that bad. If you like pumpkin pie, it’s not a bad substitute in my opinion. Go ahead: hate on me, hate on my recipe.

REPOST: Low Carb Crockpot Beef and Daikon Radish

Daikon Radish, for those of you unfamiliar with this vegetable
Daikon Radish, for those of you unfamiliar with this vegetable

04/16/15 Update – I just made this again except simpler: just the meat, fire-roasted tomatoes, daikon, an onion and Worcestershire sauce. It came out great and I thought I’d unearth it from the 2013 archives for those of you who haven’t seen this one. 

This kitchen experiment was prompted by a recipe my wife made with short ribs and daikon radish. You often find this mild radish in Japanese cuisine, julienned into fine threads and served raw with sushi. I had never considered cooking radishes, but I thought I I was eating potatoes when I tried my wife’s dish.

This gave me the idea of a beef ‘stew’ of some sort so it was time to perform an experiment and potentially waste $20 worth of food. Of course, being a hot an muggy day, I was inspired to make it a crockpot recipe (I wonder about me.)

Using just the daikon and the stew meat as the main ingredients and a large can of fire-roasted tomatoes in a supporting role, I threw in whatever else I found lying about the fridge, low carb, and reaching it’s golden years in terms of edible lifespan.

  • 2 pound stew meat
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 shakes tabasco sauce
  • 1 large can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 10 shakes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 daikon radishes, each as long as a forearm, diced into chunks about the size of a thumb
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oregano

I used the fire-roasted tomatoes in particular to save a step: browning the meat beforehand. I think this step is to introduce the flavor notes from the browning and does not change anything else about the result. I spared myself the extra time spent but getting those flavor notes from the tomatoes.

I placed the beef at the bottom, then added can of tomatoes then the cut veggies.

You will note that I did NOT use beef stock nor add water. The hope was that the liquid from the tomatoes and the juices from the meat and veggies would be enough. Crock pots are tricky in that they need enough liquid to transfer the heat to the solid pieces of food – and crock pots are s-l-o-w so you don’t know for 8 hours if you’ve created a delight or a disaster when experimenting.

I crossed my fingers and set the crock pot on low for 8 hours.

After 6 hours I had a small bowl.

The stuff was great. 6 hours proved to be enough.

The combination of vegetables made for a flavorful broth, the meat was tender, the fire-roasted tomatoes added nice flavor notes and the Worcestershire sauce and tabasco added some complexity that didn’t overwhelm the dish or make it too spicy. The chunks of daikon reminiscent of potato in texture and played their part nicely. Imagine a vegetable soup with meat and potatoes.

I didn’t know what I was going to get when I started this, but these are all fine ingredients that tasted great together.

The feedback I got was it might have used a little more salt, and in retrospect I would dice the daikon a little smaller next time – I found myself breaking the daikon into smaller pieces.

Given the temperature, eating hot soup was somewhat bone-headed as it put me in a sweat, but regardless, I think I have another interesting crockpot recipe to add to my repertoire for the colder months when this would fit the bill after coming in from the cold on a winter day.

I have one of those large oval crockpots. I’m guesstimating that we have 8 servings here. If that’s the case, here’s the nutrition info:

Calories: 333
Net Carbs: 8 grams
Total fat: 20 grams
Protein: 26.5