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

My Crappy Diet So Far 11-11-2014

Another missive from the trenches. Where was I?

Oh, yeah – November 8th – a Saturday. I spent a good part of the day cleaning up the house, and part of that was the fridge. My wife has a tendency to purchase greens for what ends up being a form of torture of vegetables as they slowly degrade into uselessness, only to be thrown away – an utterly pointless existence. One could argue that food that has died for us so that we can eat has participated in ‘the circle of life’ – but to be thrown in the trash seems a sin against existence itself.

I think this philosophical position is one of the reasons I’m fat.

Anyway, I found a bunch of vegetables well past their prime and decided to make a soup out of them. The sad and wilted made it into the soup – the fuzzy from mold were too far gone even for me and got discarded. I didn’t even recognize what the greens *were* – except for the fennel root.

They either came from our excellent Farmer’s Market or from Whole foods, so they were – at least at one time – high quality – whatever they were.

Everything got chopped with the care and precision of an axe murderer late for an appointment and placed in the crock pot with the leftover chicken broth and beef broth. I then topped the chopped up greens with some Trader Joe’s IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) chicken thighs. These are very handy to have around. As individual chunks of meat-ice, you just take what you need and don’t have to worry about defrosting as I believe that they squish them to be sorta flat – making cooking time from freezer to plate reasonable within the context of a busy modern life.

Some things about food processing technology are not bad ideas at all.

I had a cup of my zucchini noodles in cream cheese pasta sauce as my first meal of the day. This is really good stuff. Who would have thought cream cheese would make an ideal ingredient in a pasta sauce?

I also made another pot of coffee and had more – along with cream.

While cleaning the fridge I found 1/2 burrito left to perish as its guacamole faded to black – but I had found it behind another item on the top shelf before this descent into inedibility occurred. So I ate it – the first cheat of the day.

I need to learn to waste food. My family does it with nary a thought – which is why I always seem to be taking up the slack and eating leftovers I shouldn’t. The problem is – as parents of depression-era parents, I heard too many stories about not enough food to go around and I suppose it scarred me as I find the wasting of food to be as abhorrent a thought as eating a bowl of wiggly worms.

Given I can’t change anyone but myself, this is something I need to work on – but it’s very near the core of what I consider ‘sacred’ and someone once said that the closer you get to what people consider ‘sacred’ the closer you get to the irrational.

Anywho,  I ran out and got chicken breasts as dinner for the kids. I also got them canned corn.

As I did all of this it occurred to me that something was different: my energy level. I didn’t feel as fatigued as I normally did. I wanted to do more, and kept at the long list of chores rather than putting them off. Things I didn’t expect to get done got done.

After 4 or 5 hours of my decrepit greens and chicken crockpotting I took the chicken thighs out of the crockpot and hit the mix with the immersion blender to break up some of the larger chunks. It didn’t blend as nice as my kale soup but it did help kinda even out the hack job I had done on the veggies when I hacked them up.

I then took the chicken thighs, cut them into bite-sized chunks, and put them back into the soup to cook for another hour.

When the hour was done, I had a small bowl. It tasted…OK, I guess, but I had put no spices in. I thought to try salt but then thought: Lea & Perrins sauce.

Yummmmmm. I am such a slut for Lea & Perrins. It’s said that Worcestershire sauce stimulates the umami taste buds – the more recently discovered taste bud to join the sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. I believe the Japanese discovered umami in the 1980s, which is why it has a Japanesified name. English speakers sometimes refer to it as ‘savory’.

You know what else goes well with this kind of very thick soup with little broth? Sour cream. Put a spoonful on top, and the hot and cold, the differing textures, and the sourness of the cream increase the complexity and makes it quite enjoyable. I had a second cup while my kids had their chicken, potatoes and corn.

I also drank 2 liters of Orange soda – sugar-free of course.

Of course I then enjoyed some of their chicken and potatoes and corn. Not too much – at least for me, but I didn’t stop there. I had some grapes as well, and right before bed, a handful of dried fruit.

Sunday, November 9, 2014. Woah. Abrupt change in direction. The magic fairies that gave me progress despite my lax diet standards have abandoned me. I’m up to 238.4 with my blood glucose up to 122. I’m guessing the dried fruit drove up the blood glucose and I’m retaining a goodly portion of the 2 liters of orange soda from the night before, but we’ll never know for sure.

The body does what the body does.

I’d like to think that the past week was a ‘practice run’. I’ve ditched the alcohol habit. It wasn’t particularly bothersome, but I didn’t drink daily anyway – I just needed to break the habit of drink as a ‘reward for a stressful day’ – and *every day* was a stressful day in the past week so it was good practice under my belt. I’m feeling less sluggish and actually had an honest-to-goodness energy burst yesterday. I have plenty of the right foods in stock. My middle of the night GERD has disappeared and my Tums usage has gone way down.

And this post is *way* less grumpy than my last few.

I think I’m ready for a next step where I focus on two things:

  1. Eating all low carb (no cheats)
  2. Portion control

Both of these are a cakewalk during the day. I need to bring all my energies and focus on these items to the time period between 6pm and bed time.

Here’s an idea: perhaps I should attempt to go a week without eating after 6pm.

Logistically, I can do this. I can bring my pre-made dinner to work, eat it at my desk before I leave at 6, then only drink fluids at home.

But could I actually *do* this? This is a really big change in my habits. It’s a simple rule – no eating after 6pm – and I believe just this one rule would cause a dramatic change in my adherence to my low carb diet as well as weight loss. but my search-and-destroy approach toward food in the evenings is so powerful that I wonder if it’s possible. I’d be fighting a powerful force within myself and I might be asking too much.

How about this: change it to just ONE rule for the coming week – starting today:

No food after 6pm

Trying to do too much too fast is the trap of every dieter. I’ve been dieting since I was in 5th grade. Don’t try to undo everything at once – even two things at once.

So I’ll start with just one.

So I made sure I had a good meal – two hamburgers covered in melted cheese and Worcestershire sauce. While I waited for the burgers I had salami and cheese. I also had some slices of American cheese with tomatoes and mayo – one of my favorite weird eats – after the burgers.

At 5:57pm I had some crunchy chocolate chip cookies my daughter wanted during our stop at Trader Joe’s.

Then it was 6pm. No eating.

I was good until about 7pm. Then a mental inventory of the fridge began.

I sat back and had more orange soda.

I tried distracting myself, reading on my phone while my younger daughter binge-watched some Disney show on Netflix.

I would go a half hour, then the inventory would start.

Around 8:30pm, the ‘renegotiation’ began. Perhaps a better plan would be one more thing to eat just before bed – low carb, of course. don’t you think? Then an alternate voice started mentioning the leftover pasta. No, said the first voice: low carb or nothing.

Ultimately, I caved and had a small bowl of pasta. Seemed like a good idea at the time…

Ugh. Some force just refuses to let me get a *single day* of low carb under my belt!

I am going to explain it as a result of how far I had fallen. McDonald’s every day. Deli sandwiches at lunch.

Perhaps I just need to keep trying and failing until I stop failing. My only other option is to stop trying and I did that – it didn’t work out. I’m at a point where the easy way out isn’t even easy.

My last thought as I reread this post for spelling errors is: I write too damn much.

Monday, November 10, 2014 – I porked up some more and landed above 240 at 241.2. Given what I ate – and the liters of water I drank, I’m going to attribute much of this to water weight – though it still sucks.

To be continued…

The April Fool Day 2: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – 223.4

Day 2: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – 223.4

Small 2 lb. drop. Given I felt I ate a lot the night before I was slightly surprised.

38.5 pound to go to reach my September 1 goal of 185.

The morning was my typical coffee and cream as well as coconut oil and cream a bit later.

My first meal of the day (aside from caffeine and pure fat) was some of the lovely Applegate American cheese and a mini brie. I also ate fruit – an avocado.

I’m feeling that ‘weird’ feeling that means the onset of ketosis. It shouldn’t be hard – I haven’t been exactly binging on carbs for a good part of the previous month. My carb intake might have been higher than I’d have liked bit it was probably less than half of the average person’s already.

As is usual during the ketosis conversion, my head is clear and I feel OK – just weird.

If I was in ketosis, though, it was only light ketosis. Not what I expected.

I finished up that tiny bit of chicken / bacon / sour cream combo from the night before, then made a tuna salad with scallions. I put in what amounted to 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise but it seemed a bit dry, so I tried adding a bit of sour cream – my thinking here is the sour cream is a better choice than another 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise – and perhaps it will add the creaminess without eliminating the flavor notes of the mayonnaise. I also added about 4 shakes of Worcestershire sauce.

It came out good. I’ve come to find that Worcestershire sauce works well for more than a steak.

I ate this on pork rinds and left it unfinished – again, trying to get into the habit of not eating to the container. I washed this down with the ‘comfort food’ flavor of almond milk sweetened with EZ-Sweetz.

I went to bed early as the wife was studying there and my younger daughter was doing her homework in bed with her. My wife was watching some concert on Youtube – I don’t share the same musical tastes as my wife usually. As of late I’ve been listening to Caravan Palace (I love the cartoon on this one):

She was watching Chris Botti with the Boston Pops. I usually tune out whatever she’s listening to, but this particular concert was unique: a symphony orchestra backing up a jazz ensemble, with appearnaces by Yoyo Mah, Sting, Steven Tyler, and John Mayer, among others. That’s not your usual lineup. The music was eclectic and unexpected – and the musicians truly looked like they were enjoying themselves.

I had no idea who Chris Botti was before this – I want to check him out further after seeing the concert.

I’m reading Do you Believe in Magic? (http://amzn.com/0062222961) which details nicely my concerns with supplements and how we have come to a place where entirely unregulated pills can make whatever wild claims they want and get away with it. As with most things I read in this area, the book is not without its own biases, but the information is interesting.

For example:

On October 10, 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that women who took supplemental multivitamins died at rates higher than those who didn’t . Two days later, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that men who took vitamin E had an increased risk of prostate cancer. “It’s been a tough week for vitamins,” said Carrie Gann of ABC News.

These findings weren’t new . Seven previous studies had already shown that vitamins increased the risk of cancer and heart disease and shortened lives. Still, in 2012, more than half of all Americans took some form of vitamin supplements.

Offit M.D., Paul A. (2013-06-18). Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (Kindle Locations 613-616). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I have a funny feeling that some of you are feeling a distancing from me as I quote the above. Most people love their vitamins and herbal supplements.

My choice in music might also distance you. When I add details like this that don’t jibe with your preferences it prevents you from projecting things onto me that, since I typically leave them out, you can be free to assume.

“Let’s see – this guy listens to Chris Botti and Caravan Palace – and he thinks supplements are dangerous – I’m outta here!”

Oh well – unlike most bloggers, I’m not trying to get the most hits – this is an experiment in authenticity in a world of posers and I want to see where that takes me.

The concert completed with the book as I stopped to watch some amazing performances.

In bed, reading and watching the concert, I finished off the evening with a few squares of the Lindt 85% Dark Chocolate and a Fage Yogurt with EZ-Sweetz. I was up a bit later than usual reading after the concert was over, then quickly fell asleep.

Another giant rabbit-shaped sugar cookie appeared on my bed stand – my younger daughter snacking on it as she did her homework between Mom and Dad. I almost reach for it a number of times when going for my iPhone.

Sugar cookies are following me.