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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Low Carb

I recently discovered black soybeans. What are they, you ask?

Black soybeans are very similar to regular yellow soybeans—free of fat and a good source of protein. They are low in net carbohydrates (the number of carbohydrates per serving minus the grams of fiber) and high in protein, fiber, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and riboflavin. Half a cup of cooked black soybeans has 1 gram net carb plus 7 grams of fiber (8 grams of total carbohydrate), 11 grams of protein, and 120 calories.

The black variety is higher in some phytonutrients, including antioxidants. The only distinction between white and black soybeans is the color of the hull so any nutritional difference will be found in the black outer shell. Similar to blueberries and raspberries, the dark exterior of the black soybean contains the antioxidants.
You can buy them canned in most supermarkets but I prefer the taste of home cooked.

Cooking Technique

Black soybeans are great substitutes for higher-carb beans, such as black, navy, and pinto beans. They don’t taste soybean-like as the yellow ones do, but rather more like regular black beans. You can substitute them in dishes that call for black beans, such as baked beans, refried beans, bean soup, chili, and 4-Bean Salad.

I learned the secret of how to cook these beans successfully from the Very Well Fit Dieticians’ blog.
Because of their delicate skin and silken texture, black soybeans need to be cooked a bit differently than regular beans. To avoid their getting mushy, it is best to soak the dried black soybeans overnight in salted water. You will use the same water measurements called for in recipes using regular beans, but be sure to add the salt. For one cup of dry black soybeans, soak in 4 cups of water with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt added.

When it’s time to cook the beans, use the same measurements you would normally, except salt the water. So if, for instance, you are using 1 cup of beans (which have been soaked overnight in salt water), add them to a pot with 3 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring the beans to a boil uncovered, reduce the heat to a simmer and skim off the whitish-gray foam on top. Add a clove of garlic and half a small onion, cover and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until tender, adding more water if necessary.
Use these cooked beans in a variety of dishes. I tried them in my baked bean recipe and it turned out quite delicious.

Baked Beans

Ingredients

3 slices bacon
1 large sweet (Vidalia) onion, diced
4 cups cooked black soybeans
1 cup low sugar barbecue sauce, see recipe below for homemade
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced plus 1 teaspoon sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In a Dutch oven or oven-ready, flame-proof casserole dish cook the bacon over medium heat until it just begins to crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper-lined plate.

Turn the heat to low and add the onion and garlic to the pot. Continue cooking until the onion softens.

Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Cut each piece of cooked bacon in half and place on top of the beans.

With a lid on, place the bean mixture in the oven. Cook for about 3-4 hours or the until beans are completely tender and the sauce has thickened.

Adjust the seasoning to your taste. They can be served immediately but are better if left to sit for the next day.

Makes 8-10 servings.

BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

26 oz container strained or crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground yellow mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer. Cook, uncovered, until thick about 1 ½ hours. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Ripe avocados are typically a dark, almost black color with hints of green when they’re ripe. If you want to use the avocado as soon as you get home, choose one that is dark. If you plan to use one in a couple of days, select one that’s more green. If an avocado looks ripe, you should still feel it to test its ripeness. Hold it in the palm of your hand, and squeeze gently. A ripe avocado should yield to a firm, gentle pressure, but shouldn’t feel overly soft or mushy. Store whole, ripe avocados in the refrigerator.

Breakfast Sandwich

You can vary this sandwich by replacing the tomatoes with smoked salmon or adding bacon or a sausage patty.

For each serving:

1 large egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 slice sourdough, whole wheat, or pumpernickel bread, toasted
Half an avocado pitted and skin removed
4 thin slices of a plum tomato
1 slice American cheese

Directions

Heat the butter in a small skillet. Add the egg and cook over easy or the way you like to cook eggs.

Place a slice of toast on a small foil-lined pan.

Mash the avocado and season with salt and pepper. Spread the mashed avocado over the slice of toast. Place the tomato slices over the avocado. Top with the cooked egg.

Place the cheese on top of the egg and place the sandwich under the broiler just until the cheese begins to melt. Remove and serve immediately.

Avocado Boats

2 servings

Ingredients

1 ripe avocado, cut in half, pit removed
1 cup chicken salad, recipe below
Chopped chives or chopped cooked bacon for garnish
Lettuce, optional

Directions

Loosen the avocado flesh with a spoon by running the spoon around the shell. Do not remove the avocado from the shell.

Place a ½ cup of chicken salad on one avocado half. Garnish with chives or bacon. Repeat with the second half of avocado. Place on a lettuce leaf, if desired.

Chicken Salad

Ingredients

For the cooking the chicken

2 bone-in chicken breast halves
1 small onion, halved,
1 clove garlic, cut in half
The tops of the celery stalk that will be used in the salad
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups water

Ingredients for making the salad

4 scallions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced tops used for cooking the chicken
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Place 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Add the chicken breasts and remaining ingredients for cooking the chicken.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook the chicken about 15-20 minutes or until they are white through the center.

Drain the chicken over a bowl and save the broth for another recipe. Cool the chicken breasts. Discard the cooking vegetables. Dice the chicken.

Place the diced chicken in a mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and chill covered in the refrigerator for several hours.

Cobb Salad

2 servings

Ingredients

2 grilled chicken breasts or 2 cups chicken salad (recipe above)
4 slices bacon
Lettuce, chopped (4 cups)
2 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and sliced or cherry tomatoes
1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
4 ounces chilled blue cheese (preferably Roquefort), crumbled (1 cup)
4 hard-boiled eggs
Blue Cheese or Ranch Dressing
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Directions

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Gently lower in 4 large eggs into the water. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes.

Drain off the hot water and add ice cubes and cold water to the pot.

Once the eggs are cool to the touch, peel them and set them aside until you’re ready to assemble the salad.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.

Slice the hard-boiled eggs. Cut the avocado into slices.

Arrange the lettuce on two individual salad plates.

Place the chicken salad (or sliced chicken) on one area of the lettuce, the tomatoes on another followed by the eggs and avocado as you go around the plate.

Place the blue cheese in the center of the plate. Break the bacon into large pieces and place on the salad plates.

Sprinkle with chives and serve with Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing.

Blue Cheese Dressing

Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped chives
4 ounces blue cheese crumbles
1 dash salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, and Worcestershire until smooth. Stir in chives, blue cheese crumbles, salt, and pepper.

Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.


Beef Pot Roast

Ingredients

3 lb chuck beef roast
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups beef broth

1 large sweet onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

Directions

In a small bowl combine the sea salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, thyme, and onion powder. Mix together. Rub seasoning mixture all over the roast.

Heat a large Dutch Oven over high and add the oil. Sear the roast on both sides until browned.

Pour the beef broth over the roast. Sprinkle minced garlic over the top and add the onions. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower heat to low.

Cook for 60 minutes, turn the roast over and add the carrots and mushrooms. Cover and cook for 2-3 hours more or until the meat is falling apart tender.

Remove the carrots and roast from the pot and place on a serving platter. Cover with foil and let rest while you thicken the gravy.

In a small bowl combine: arrowroot powder and cold water. Stir until mixed.

Bring the sauce in the pot to a boil and pour in the arrowroot powder mixture. Boil and stir until the sauce thickens. Turn down the heat to very low.

Slice the roast and serve with the carrots and hot gravy.

Swiss Chard and Mashed Rutabaga

You may use two Yukon gold or one large baking potato instead of the rutabaga in this recipe.

For the Swiss Chard

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
2 large bunches of Swiss chard, washed in several changes of water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste

For the rutabaga

1 medium rutabaga
Salt
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions for the Swiss Chard

Drain the washed chard very well. With a knife, remove the chard stems that run up the middle of each leaf. Cut the leaves into smaller pieces.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and black pepper.

Heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are tender.

Add the chard leaves and cook, covered, for 5 minutes until the leaves are wilted and brightly colored. Add a tablespoon of water to the pan if it seems like the leaves are getting too dry.

Add salt to taste and set aside.

Directions for the Rutabaga

Peel the rutabaga. Cut into ½ inch diced pieces. Place the rutabaga in a medium saucepan with a cover.

Add the chicken broth, garlic, and a little salt to taste. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook until very soft, about 45 minutes.

Drain the rutabaga over a bowl and reserve the broth for soup. Return the cooked rutabaga to pan and mash with a potato masher. Add the olive oil.

To finish the dish

Stir the mashed rutabaga or potato into the Swiss chard. Heat the mixture over low heat, cover the pan and let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes until the chard is very tender. Serve with the pot roast.


Pork Marsala with Mushrooms

3 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup all-purpose or gluten-free or low carb flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound boneless pork loin chops, about 3/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 minced garlic clove
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream

Directions

Cut the pork chops in half lengthwise. Mix flour, salt, garlic powder, and oregano together in a medium bowl. Add pork and toss until well coated. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture and set aside.


Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the pork cutlets in the skillet in a single layer, and cook, turning occasionally, until brown on both sides. Place the pork on a plate.


Add the mushrooms, shallot and minced garlic to the pan; cook and stir briefly.


Stir in wine, scraping the skillet to loosen any brown bits. Add the broth and the 2 tablespoons of reserved flour. Stir well. Return the pork to the skillet.

Cover and simmer over medium heat until the pork is tender and the sauce is thickened for about 15 minutes. Add the cream, stir and simmer for a few minutes. Serve.

Zoodles or Pasta with Herbs

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs
4 oz thin spaghetti, cooked or zoodles (2 zucchini)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the garlic. Cook for one minute, add the cooked spaghetti or zucchini noodles and herbs.

Toss until hot. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Mini San Marzano Tomato Salad

Ingredients

2 cartons mini San Marzano tomatoes
3 tablespoons Italian vinaigrette
Salt & pepper to taste
Your favorite herbs to taste ( I use a dried herb blend called Sunny Paris from Penzey’s that includes: shallots, chives, green peppercorn, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil, and bay leaf.) Tastes so good on tomatoes.

Directions

Several hours before serving time.cut the tomatoes in half and place them in a serving bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Leave the salad at room temperature to marinate until serving time.


My market had a sale on Florida mini peppers. I like stuffing large peppers, so I thought I would try something similar with all these mini peppers. After thinking about what ingredients I would use – I came up with Nachos. I replaced the chips with mini peppers and this recipe turned out to be so delicious. Give it a try. Coleslaw is a good side for this entre and here is the kink to my recipe.

Mini Pepper Nachos

Ingredients

15 mini peppers
1 lb lean ground beef
2 tablespoons taco seasoning, see recipe below
½ cup water
1 cup salsa
Half an onion, diced
Sliced pickled jalapenos to taste
15 Mini peppers

Cheese Sauce

1 cup Velveeta light cheese, cubed
½ cup shredded Mexican blend or Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Oil a13x9 inch baking dish.
Cut the mini peppers in half and remove the seeds. Place the halves in the baking dish.

Brown the meat in a medium skill. Add the taco seasoning and water. Simmer until the liquid evaporates. Spoon the beef into each pepper half. Place a spoonful of salsa on each pepper. Sprinkle the diced onion on top. Add slices of jalapeno to taste. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Make the cheese sauce: Place the cheeses and milk in a microwave-safe dish or measuring cup. Hear for two minutes. Stir. Return the mixture to the microwave for 30 seconds if the cheese is not melted or set aside for a few minutes and the cheese will finish melting. Stir well.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and pour the cheese sauce over the peppers and place the dish under the broiler. Broil for a few minutes, just until the top begins to brown. Watch carefully.

Taco Seasoning

Ingredients

2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

Stir all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container.
Add 2 tablespoons taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water per pound of browned meat.


Have lots of leftovers from the holiday? I do. So I thought I would share with you how I used some them in some new dishes.

Ham Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

2 cups finely diced baked ham
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Half medium onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
Half a bell pepper, finely diced
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Combine the mayonnaise, mustard and pickle relish in a large bowl. Add the ham, vegetables, salt and black pepper to taste. Stir well and refrigerate until serving time.

This salad is also tasty mixed into cooked elbow macaroni for a ham and macaroni salad or as a sandwich filling.

Deviled Eggs

Good for leftover Easter eggs.

Ingredients

6 large eggs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Paprika for garnish

Directions

Place the eggs in a saucepan just large enough to hold the six eggs. Cover with cold water and place the pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and cover the saucepan.

Let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes. Drain the water from the pot and add some ice cubes and cold water to cover the cooked eggs.

Let them cool until you can handle the eggs without burning your fingers.

Gently tap the eggs in several places and remove the shells. Place the peeled eggs on paper towels to dry.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks and place in a mixing bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork. Add the onion, celery, mayonnaise, mustard and salt and pepper. Mix well.

With a spoon fill each egg where the yolk had been with some of the mixture.

Place the eggs on a serving platter and sprinkle the tops with paprika. Chill until serving time.

Coleslaw

I never use an entire cabbage at once, so I am able to get several meals from a head of cabbage.

Servings 4

Ingredients

Half a medium cabbage, sliced thin
2 scallions sliced
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup heavy cream (whipping)
1⁄2 tablespoon white vinegar
1⁄2 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the honey, salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, cream, vinegar and lemon juice, using a whisk. Add the cabbage and scallions, stir gently to mix.

Refrigerate until serving time.

Mock “Split Pea” Soup

12 cups

I had green beans and cauliflower leftover from the holidays and decided to use them in a soup along with the ham bone. I was so surprised that soup tasted just like split pea soup but without all the carbs. Amazing taste.

Ingredients

1 baked ham bone with some meat attached
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups water
1 onion or 1 leeks, diced
1 large carrot, diced
3 stalks celery with leaves, diced
2 cups cooked cauliflower
2 cups cooked green beans
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Put the ham bone in a large soup pot. Add the broth and water; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the meat is starting to fall off the bones, about an hour.

Remove the ham bone from the broth and set aside to cool.

Add the vegetables to the broth in the pot. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer until the vegetables are very tender about 30 minutes.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Remove the meat from the bones, cut into bite-size pieces and add to the soup.

Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.Heat on low for about 20 minutes.


Trying to get back in shape after the holidays or just wanting to eat more healthy foods in the new year, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice eating some of your favorites – especially Italian – a high carb cuisine. I have a few suggestions on how to make your recipes lower in carbs and gluten-free.

Change the coating on your food to a low carb.
Bake your food in the oven instead of frying.
Substitute low carb vegetables for high carb vegetables.
Make your own sauces, so you can control the ingredients, especially sugar.

Low Carb Coatings For Meat And Fish

“Panko” Style Coating
Toast several slices of low carb (or gluten-free) bread. Cut the bread into smaller pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor. Process until coarse crumbs form. Add spices according to the type of food you are making and use to bread your ingredients.

Almond Flour Coating
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup finely ground almond flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Combine all the ingredients in a shallow bowl and use in place of breadcrumbs.

Whey Protein Powder (unflavored) – what you use to make smoothies.
Pure whey protein powder is a dairy product and is completely gluten-free. However, commercially sold whey powders vary widely in what they contain, and some varieties do contain traces of gluten. So check the ingredient list.
Use in place of flour when you need a flour coating. Add spices, salt and pepper.

Dinner Menu:

  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Roasted Spaghetti Squash
  • Balsamic Mushrooms and Spinach

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

1 whole spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash the skin of the squash with warm water and dry with a towel. Pierce the squash in several places with a sharp, thin knife.

Rub the skin with olive oil and place in a shallow baking dish lined with heavy-duty foil.

Bake for about 60 minutes until you can pierce the skin and flesh underneath easily with a paring knife. Let cool for a few minutes before you cut into it.

Turn the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare the chicken and place it in the oven.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds in the middle with a big spoon and discard.

Then, using a fork scrape out the flesh. It will look like spaghetti strands. Place a serving on each dish and season with salt and pepper.

Healthy Parmesan Chicken

2 servings

Ingredients

2 boneless chicken breast cutlets
1 1/2 cups homemade marinara sauce, warmed
1/4 cup refrigerated egg substitute (egg whites) or 1 egg beaten with a little water
1/4 cup unflavored whey protein powder
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Breadcrumb Coating
1/2 cup low carb “panko” style breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon dried Italian herb seasoning
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon. smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Directions

The oven should be heated to 400 degrees F. Oil an 8″x 8″ glass baking pan.

Pound chicken breasts gently between sheets of plastic wrap with a meat mallet to even out their thickness.

Combine the breadcrumb coating ingredients in a shallow dish

Add salt and pepper to the protein powder and lightly coat the chicken with it.

Next, dip the cutlets in the egg substitute and then in breadcrumb mixture, coating them well.

Place the breaded cutlets in the prepared baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes. Top each cutlet with sauce and then shredded mozzarella.

Bake for another 10 minutes until the chicken is 160 degrees F when checked with a meat thermometer and the cheese is melted.

Place a cutlet with sauce on top of the spaghetti squash.

Balsamic Mushrooms and Spinach

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
10 ounces clean fresh spinach, roughly chopped or frozen and defrosted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic and mushrooms in the oil, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the spinach, and cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the vinegar. Serve hot.



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