Ginger Garlic Chinese Chicken

Bok Choy 5.7.13

Those of you who are with me on the low carb train know how difficult finding something acceptable to eat at Chinese restaurants. I’ve pretty much avoided going out for Chinese for the last year. There is usually some type of breading or coating on the proteins in the dishes and the sauces are full of sugars and/or corn starch. This was a difficult change for me…I loved spring rolls, crab rangoon, and the spicy/saucy goodness of most American Chinese foods!

So I got to work concocting a recipe that I could make in the comfort of my own kitchen. I came up with Ginger Garlic Chinese Chicken!!! It’s a nice blend of Asian spices and garlic-y goodness with a healthy portion of veggies.

Ingredients:
2 large chicken breasts
1-2 T coconut oil
1 head of bok choy chopped into uniform pieces
1 bunch of asparagus (approximately 1 lb.) chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
8 oz pre-sliced, pre-washed, ready to use white mushrooms
1/4 C soy sauce
2 t minced garlic
1 t Asian five spice seasoning
1 t ground ginger (I used the dried spice, but fresh is acceptable)
1/2 T dried basil
1 t red pepper flakes
artificial sweetener (this is subject to taste and I use liquid, which doesn’t add to the carb counts below)
xanthan gum (I used approximately 1 t…maybe 2)

Cut chicken into bite-size cubes. Sauté chicken in coconut oil until just cooked through. I added a splash of soy sauce and garlic during the cooking process. Remove from pan (either large cooking pot or wok). Add veggies, soy sauce, garlic, five spice seasoning, and ginger. When the vegetables are cooked through (with still some bite to them…we don’t want mushy veggies people!), finish the dish by adding the chicken back into the mix and add the basil, sweetener, and xanthan gum. You will find the sauce will thicken in about 2 minutes after adding the xanthan gum.

I get approximately 4-6 servings per batch.

Nutritional Information for entire entree:
calories: 1395      fat: 65 g     protein: 165 g     carbohydrates: 51 g     fiber: 21 g
net carbs: 30 g

The Dreaded Airplane

Airplane 4.13.13

I recently reserved my flight to go back home for a family reunion in July. I am absolutely ecstatic to spend some good, quality time with the fam…especially with the arrival of my newest nephew coming in June! However, I am having flashbacks to one of the last times I flew on an airplane.

It was such a horrible and embarrassing experience. As I sat in the terminal waiting to hear the announcement that it was time to board my flight, an airline employee tapped me on my shoulder and asked to see me at the counter. When I got to the desk, the woman informed me that I needed to buy a second ticket. Due to my size, I was being asked to purchase a second seat “…for the comfort and safety of yourself and other passengers.” I was assured that since the flight wasn’t full, I would be able to receive a full refund…if I filed the necessary paperwork.

Como say WHAAAAAAAAAAT?!?! I was too embarrassed to say anything than ok and handed the lady my credit card. I was given a second ticket that had “RESERVED” printed in big, bold, black letters. I was told to sit it on the seat next to me so no one would sit next to me.

When it came time to board, I was given “special boarding privileges” and was one of the first people to enter the cabin. I sat next to the window and placed my “RESERVED” ticket on the seat next to me. As the plane filled, more and more passengers who were traveling together looked to sit in my row, but quickly moved on when they saw my “special” ticket. I was so ashamed and set my gaze out the window. I avoided eye contact with passengers and crew.

When I got home and reflected on my experiences I became angry. I thought, “How dare they do that to me?!” Then I started say the most horrible things to myself…calling me names and telling myself really hurtful things. Even though this was such a traumatic experience, it still wasn’t enough to make me want to change. Instead, things got worse. It was like I wanted to “show” them…you think I’m too fat to fly??? Well, just wait! I’ll show you what fat really is!

No, I didn’t really say or think that explicitly, but I remember feeling that way. Needless to say, I have some reservations about flying this summer because I realized after getting my confirmation that this flight is with the same airline. Thankfully I’m quite a bit lighter than when this event happened, but it will definitely be a test!

I don’t want to give fear power over my choices anymore. I will continue to move forward.

Where to Start: Prepping the Kitchen

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So the kitchen is going to be your new best friend when you go all in on whatever WOE you choose. I don’t know about you, but before I went low-carb, I spent a lot of time eating in my car. Fast food drive-thrus were my best friends. Greasy wrappers littered my car’s floors and my refrigerator was almost empty…except for last night’s take home containers.

Preparation is key when starting out. One of the main things I did was cleared all of the junk out of my kitchen. Anything with wheat and sugar was placed in a bag. I gave these evil foods to a few friends for their enjoyment. Pasta, bread, fruit (at first), chips, juices, potatoes, chips, popcorn (oh, my salty favorite!!!)…EVERYTHING that was not on the acceptable food list was OUT!

I have so many websites with GREAT recipes that are low-carb and easy to make. I really try to think of what I want to make for the next week or so before I go shopping. At first I kept my menu fairly simple consisting of chicken, salad, and veggies. As I learned what I liked and disliked, I was able to expand my recipe repertoire.

Then I went shopping. I wrote a few posts ago what I keep in my pantry and fridge. You can read it here. I shop mostly on the outer aisles in the grocery store…produce, meats, and dairy. With the exception of the frozen department, there’s really not much I need from the inner aisles. I always make sure I have easy and quick snacks for on the go.

Again, I have to reiterate the importance of ENJOYING what you eat. If you hate the food, this is not going to work. I encourage people to try some new things every once in a while. Pallets really change after removing processed, sugary, carby foods. Get a little adventurous and try a new veggie or recipe every now and then. That’s how I fell in love with my cauliflower pizza (read about it here)!

Where to Start: Choosing What Works For You

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I’m getting asked a lot lately, “So how are you losing all of this weight?” I usually don’t initiate conversation about my weight loss, but if someone opens the door to a discussion, LOOK OUT! I’m not shy talking about all aspects of my weight loss (except for that pesky starting weight number…I’m still not ready to divulge that information yet!).

I decided it may be helpful to start a step-by-step blog series about starting on a path to health and happiness. I’m not sure how many installments there will be, but this first post focuses on figuring out what works for you.

Each person is unique, which means what works for me, may not be right for someone else. As I’ve mentioned a time or two before, I subscribe to a low-carb way of eating. I did research about what it meant to be low-carb. I realized I didn’t have to give up my coffee with cream (at first I used heavy cream, but now it’s almond milk all the way) and sugar (stevia of course!). I could continue eating bacon (c’mon…who doesn’t love a little bacon in their life?!?!), butter, and cheese. Seemed like a WOE from heaven, right???

Well, hold on now…I then had to look at what I would have to remove from my diet. Sugar…no problem there for me. I rarely was into the sugary, baked goods and candies. Wheat…this would prove to be slightly more difficult. Wheat is in EVERYTHING!!! Breads, pastas, crackers, etc. I used to eat a lot of pasta. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would be able to find several pasta substitues that I actually enjoy more than the real deal. Starchy veggies…potatoes, corn, peas, carrots, oh my! I was a french fry freak! Would I be able to break that habit??? Obviously I did, but it was really difficult the first week.

I have read a lot about how it’s so horrible to remove a food group entirely from ones diet, but I’m here to tell you that for me, it’s way more healthy. I tried Weight Watchers and counting points. I stopped after a few months. I was constantly hungry. I didn’t enjoy a lot of what I was preparing for meals, which is what this post boils down to. Figure out what you’re willing to change as far as what you eat. In order to lose the flab, the first step is figuring out a healthy WOE! Do your research before you start. It is important to prepare for changing up how you shop for groceries and cooking in the kitchen.

What I “Get” To Eat

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Most of the time, when someone goes on a “diet,” there is this self-sacrificing mentality. “I have to give up this and that and those!” Sure, I removed wheat, sugar, and some high starch vegetables from my diet, but the list of acceptable foods is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay longer than the list of no-no’s.

When many people change their food lifestyle, especially when they are “forced” to do so due to medical issues, the focus is placed on what they will be missing out on. Don’t get me wrong, I have thrown a few pity parties due to the choices I’ve made to remove certain foods from my diet, but then I remember all of the delicious foods I can still have. Nope, I can’t have popcorn anymore, which was one of my favorite snacks and has been the most difficult to find a replacement snack that is acceptable. And I really miss fruit…pineapple, apples, kiwi, peaches/nectarines, plums…the list can go on for quite a while. Popcorn and fruit…my only foods I truly miss. Although I can’t eat these right now, I can slowly add them back into my diet eventually.

So what do I do when I wish I could have popcorn??? Well, for a little while pork rinds drizzled with butter was my snack of choice. It worked for a while. I got the buttery crunch I was looking for, but it just wasn’t the same. Eventually I succumbed to the fact that there isn’t a substitute and instead stocked my cupboards with other options. I love almonds and can have these tasty treats in moderation. I love all of the fun flavors available now…cocoa roasted, wasabi soy, smoked, salt and vinegar…yum!

I guess the point of this post is to remind you and me to stay positive. Don’t focus on the “can’t haves.” Focus on the “can haves!” Life is way too short to get hung up on the short list of things I can’t have. Last week (March 6, 2013), I reached my one year anniversary of starting this journey. I would have never made it this far if I hated what I was eating! If I dreaded my food choices there would have been no way to stick with it for so long. I am living a life I can ENJOY and I don’t feel deprived!

Chicken Fried Steak

I had Sandra Lee’s Money Saving Meals show on the other day and she made chicken fried steak with sawmill sausage gravy. I thought to myself as I watched her fry up the steaks, “Hmmmm, I really think I could make this recipe.” And that’s exactly what I did! I am quite pleased with how this recipe turned out. Some of you may be asking, “Don’t you have to use flour to bread the cube steak?” YES! I did use flour, however not that nastly, old wheat flour. No, I had a bag of soy flour in my pantry just waiting to be opened.

Here’s how this recipe went down….

Ingredients:
4 cube steaks
1/2 C soy flour
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t smoked paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 eggs
1/2 C canola oil

First combine the flour, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika in a pie plate. In a second pie plate, wisk eggs. The eggs may need some thinning out. You can use either water or a small amount of heavy cream.

Season the cube steaks with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef first in the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour and then dip in egg. Dredge in flour mixture a second time. Shake off excess flour and set aside. Be sure the cube steaks are evenly coated with the egg mixture before dredging for the second time.

Heat the oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Fry the cube steaks until they form a golden brown crust. This usually takes approximately 3-5 minutes per steak. Let the beef rest on a paper towel lined plate.

That’s it! Super simple and quite tasty. I have to admit, this is the first fried food I’ve had in almost a year. It was fun to have, but I definitely won’t be making this very often. I am not craving this fried foods anymore. I also did not make the sausage gravy. I may try to concoct this recipe in the future. I could see myself making some flaxseed “bisquits” and topping them with the gravy.

Each steak is approximately 2 Net Carbs. 1/4 C of soy flour has 3 Net Carbs.

Spicy Sweet Buffalo Chicken

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As I was planning what I wanted to make for dinner the other night, I got a big craving for buffalo wings. I thought about all of my favorite bar haunts and the ridiculous number of ways these places prepare their wings. There is inevitably always a sweet and spicy option that usually has an Asian flare to it, however I really wanted the traditional buffalo taste with a slightly sweet note.

What transpired in my kitchen has to be one of my most favorite chicken recipes to date! I’ve made this recipe 3 times in the past week!

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Ingredients:
Family pack of chicken thighs (approximately 8-10 pieces)
1/4-1/3 C Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
Artificial Sweetener (I used the equivalent of 3-4 packets of Stevia in liquid form)
3 T butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get a frying pan screaming hot and brown thighs skin side down until it’s crispy and golden-brown. Flip and brown other side of thighs. During the browning, stir the wing sauce and sweetener together. Melt butter in microwave. Place browned thighs on cooking sheet. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Drizzle the thighs with the butter and spoon the wing sauce over thighs liberally. Bake thighs for 45 minutes.

That’s it! Easy, peasy, right??? I topped my thighs with blue cheese dressing. Another option is ranch dressing. Any way you eat these, you will be addicted!!! The carbs for this recipe is so minimal, that I’m not even going to give totals. If you add dipping sauces, be sure to count those Net Carbs.