Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Easy Fresh Cranberry Compote

This is really easy to whip up, and it's great with pork, as well as traditional poultry holiday fare.

- 2 c. fresh cranberries

- 1/2 c water or chicken broth

- 1/4 c SF orange marmalade (I like Polaner's w/fiber, it has lots of zest in it) or SF apricot or peach jam

- 1 tsp dijon mustard (you can add a little horseradish too, if you like a little zing)

- sweetener to taste.

Over medium-high heat, bring all ingredients except sweetener to a slow boil until the berries 'pop', then lower the heat to low, smashing the berries and combining ingredients well. Simmer for 5 mins. or so until thickened, but still 'chunky', sweeten to taste, if desired. Serve warm or cold.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Manifesto - 'What I Believe'

Just so you know, as a chef, I consider it my job to help people find a way to live better thru food. I don't judge what they choose to eat, I try to help them find better ways to get what they want/need from their food, while trying to improve that food nutritionally.

I believe in low carb/high fat living, and am passionate about sharing this healthy lifestyle with as many people as possible, in whatever way I can.

I pride myself on giving people back their relationship with food. Often, when people have an illness or disease (mental or physical) that is caused by, or exasperated by, food and food choices, they lose that relationship that is often such a large part of our lives. To many of us, food is not just nourishment, but also love, family, nurturing, and so many other things.

That said, I know that everyone has a different threshhold for sacrifice and compromise. Living healthfully means something different for each one of us, and I respect that. I consider it my calling to help anyone who asks, to meet their individual goals by doing the best they can with what their working with at that time. We all have to prioritize, or you'd go crazy with every bit of information and research that's out there, and I don't believe I have the right to tell anyone else what their priorities should be. I'm just here to help them with whatever they believe might get them that much closer to achieving what's important to them.

I will never criticize anyone else's choices, whether or not they agree with me, and I will never single anyone out because they simply don't know any better...every one of us was in that same place once. I believe that honey gets you more than vinegar, and that kindness and compassion should lead me if I am truly to be considered a 'caregiver'. I will always try to live by example to the best of my ability, and hope that others follow...and I'll always be first to offer my help when they're ready.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Solving the Stuffing Dilemma...

One of my favorites at Thanksgiving is stuffing...carby stuff for sure, but I've done it a couple of years in a row for myself and clients the low carb way. I've included some ideas here for using lower carb breads, or to eliminate the grains alltogether.

The key is to make a stuffing that starts or combines with some low carb ‘bread crumbs’ for base texture. Toast your favorite low carb slices, then tear or cut it up into cubes, (I like King Sooper's Carb Helper or Orowheat Light 100% Whole Wheat), or make a delicious grain-free flax ‘faux-coccia’ bread that has a texture like cornbread (recipe here). Alternatively, you can do a stuffing with just roast cauliflower as a base, if you like. Add your melted butter, chicken broth, pan drippings (whatever you use to moisten your regular recipe), and season well. I like a combo of fresh and dried poultry seasoning blend, as it’s got a lot of sage, thyme, savory and other seasonings you traditionally find in bread-based stuffing, fresh herbs are lovely!

Now add a 'kitchen sink' full of good low carb stuff to fill it out. Here are some of my favorite things to 'fill out' the stuffing: sauteed mushrooms (the wilder, the better), artichoke hearts, sliced/chopped olives, hearts of palm, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, diced chayote, celery, carmelized onions or leeks, diced sautéed zucchini/cabbage/fennel/eggplant/ bell pepper, or chopped roasted cauliflower, celeriac or lc winter squash in get the idea. I sauté my vegetables first before adding for three reasons: 1) sautéing adds flavor that the veg wouldn’t have if it just ‘steambaked’ in the stuffing, 2) cooking prior releases a lot of the water from veg like mushrooms or zuke that would otherwise leech into the stuffing and could make it too mushy (although you may want to reserve and add back some more flavorful liquids from veg like wild mushrooms and onions), and 3) you want to make sure your veg is cooked thoroughly, without overcooking and drying out your stuffing.

Don’t forget you can add meat! Breakfast sausage, ham, bacon, pancetta…all make a meaty stuffing that can double as a standalone meal. Some traditional cornbread stuffing recipes with diced apple and sausage would be lovely with some shredded sautéed cabbage and flax bread…grate some white cheddar on top…yum! Cook your meats before adding to stuffing, and use the pan drippings to further moisten your mix.

Speaking of cheese, grated or shredded cheese mixed in, and/or browned on top, is one of the best ways to bind your stuffing, as is using a couple of lightly beaten eggs (one or two, depending on how much you’re using, otherwise you’ll end up with quiche).

The idea is to pick a flavor profile you like, and add accordingly. For example, Italian stuffing might have artichoke hearts, red bell pepper, sweet onions, mushroom, olives, cooked diced pancetta or Italian sausage, and fresh thyme and basil, with grated parmesan browned on top. An Asian twist would include sautéed wild mushrooms, spring onion, water chestnut, bamboo shoot, hearts of palm, bell pepper, and some soy sauce, lemongrass, ginger or a little sf terryaki in the broth mix. Traditional stuffing flavor profile would be lovely with breakfast sausage (watch for sugar), fresh poultry spices, caramelized onion, leek, celery or water chestnut for crunch, and sautéed button mushrooms and pearl onions, with a little worcestershire or sherry in the broth mix…maybe a little gruyere shredded on top. The sky’s the limit, be creative! Remember, you can try to re-create a traditional stuffing, or whip up something completely unique as a side, or main meal. Also great for leftovers, day two, add shredded leftover turkey and some of your gravy to your stuffing for the next day’s casserole.

This is really too good to save just for Thanksgiving...bake some up and freeze it for whenever!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Potato Substitutes for the Holidays

So, if you're like me, your favorite parts of the holiday meal are the side dishes. For the holidays, that usually means starches...stuffing, potatoes, sweet potato casserole, what's a low-carber to do? Well we've covered the mashed potato dilemma with my fantastic Caulimash recipe given in a my very first entry, try adding your favorite flavor profile to the mix for your holiday meal...I like sauteed garlic, green onion (just the white parts), black pepper and some grated makes a tasty base for gravy on top! But you can add bacon and cheddar, poultry seasoning, sour cream and chives...whatever you like that will pair best for your meal.

Now let's discuss sweet potatoes and yams. Although they may have slightly more nutritional value than white potatoes, they are still waaaaay to carby for most. I have found some beautiful squashes that have a very similar taste and mouthfeel, but only a fraction of the carbs. It's a shame that most 'expert' sources lump winter squashes into the same forbidden group, because there are some lesser known, but almost widely available, varietals that are delish and lend themselves well to traditional holiday fare. (I've found some of these at my local grocery, but also try your gourmet specialty market...Sunflower, Whole Foods, etc.)

My particular favorite is Buttercup...not Butternut...big difference. Here's a picture of it...take a look, and note that it is VERY similar looking to the Kabocha squash, which is also low in carb count, and can be substituted for buttercup in any recipe. It's a member of the turban squash family, so I always look for the slightly more developed ones that have a bit of the gray "hat" starting to stick out, as opposed to the only rounded younger ones that are very easy to confuse with Kabocha. Check out a Buttercup squash: . This squash is relatively dry in texture, so steaming it works best (I found baking makes it too dry), just remove seeds, cut into chunks and steam covered in the microwave for 10-15 minutes (depending on how much you're steaming at a time). Let it cool, scrape the meat from the skin (it should be very fork tender) and you have a fabulous treat that tastes like, and has a similar mouthfeel to sweet potatoes or yams. I think Buttercup, Kabocha and Hubbard are the best subs for sweet potatoes.

I like them mashed or pureed with just a little butter or cream cheese and salt/pepper, but for a real treat, add a little sugar free maple syrup or LC sweetener and maple extract and you get something that tastes fabulous. Yes, you could even make a traditional casserole by topping with some La Nouba sugar free marshmallows (watch the maltitol, I can't have it due to tummy sensitivity, they're available at or baking the puree with the SF maple syrup topped with whole or chopped pecans. Use these lower carb subs in soups, casseroles, stews...anywhere you would traditionally see sweet potatoes, butternut or acorn squash. I like it with an Indian or Moroccan flavor profile too, and often use it cubed in curries.

Here's the lowdown on some lower carb winter squashes. All are based on 1/2 cup servings (before mashing or pureeing!) and are terrific substitutes in any recipe calling for higher carb winter squashes, or as a yummy substitute for sweet potatoes:

Buttercup squash, carbs 3g, fiber 1g, protein 3g, 70% RDA vitamin A, 15% RDA vitamin C

Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), carbs 3.5, fiber .5, protein 0 g, RDA 70% vitamin A, RDA 15% vitamin C

Golden Nugget squash, carbs 5g, fiber 1g, protein 1g, 15% RDA vitamin A, 10% vitamin C

Hubbard squash, carbs 5g, fiber 2g, protein 1g, 15% RDA vitamin A, 10% vitamin C (can be white, gray, green, can be very large, look for pre-sliced sections in the produce dept.)

Pumpkin (smaller “pie” ones), carbs 4, fiber 0g, protein 1g, 90% RDA vitamin A, 8% vitamin C
Spaghetti squash, carbs 3g, fiber 1 g (yum, great for more than it in a puree with curry and coconut milk)

Turban squash, carbs 5g, fiber 1g, protein 1g, 45% RDA vitamin A, 10% vitamin C

And don't forget one of our favorites...spaghetti squash! It's also lovely baked with some butter, salt, pepper and LC maple syrup or maple extract. I find that kids actually love it and find it fun to eat...I just never really mention that it's 'squash' before serving!

Hope this helps, I find that you can give your family a completely low carb and delicious holiday meal, and not even miss the other stuff! Next we tackle desserts!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Holidaze

So, the holidays are approaching, traditionally one of the hardest times of the year to stick to my commitments to my low carb lifestyle. Oh weakness...all those holiday treats and goodies...these couple of months seem absolutely wrapped around food! I try to remember what it's really about, though, family and friends...the warmth and appreciation of the holiday spirit. To make it through, I make sure I have plenty of things that I CAN eat around, things that I like and consider special. I often bring my own treats to parties and get make sure that there's something around that I can treat myself to, and to share with others (nothing like a really great tasting low carb treat to bring my friends and family around to my side of the nutrition table!)

So first we face thanksgiving. Traditionally not too bad, but then you come to the mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, breads, rolls, stuffing and pumpkin pie! Well, I've got some tricks up my sleeves to get us all through it, and I'm sharing a couple of my secret weapons!

Turkey, a perfectly fine no-carb protein, but my favorite recipe was a basting sauce that included apricot or peach preserves and Kahlua. Yes, the sugary liqueur. Trust me, this was so delicious, and it made the gravy unbelievable. Okay, so not so hard to replicate...try this basted on your turkey this year and you'll never go back! (If you're not sure you want to commit to experimenting for the 'big dinner', try it basting a roasted chicken and cutting the recipe in half or a quarter)

Bridget's Favorite Poultry Baste
Whip up in the blender:
1 cup (4 sticks) melted butter
1/2 cup sugar free apricot or peach preserves (preferably no maltitol, I like the new Polaner Sugar Free with Fiber, or Walden Farms)
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1/4 cup DaVinci's Kahlua flavored syrup* (available at and CarbSmart)
*Alternatively you can use 1/4 cup chocolate syrup, like Hershey's or Walden Farms and and extra tablespoon of instant coffee

That said, another one of my favorites at Tgiving is stuffing...carby stuff for sure, but I've done it a couple of years in a row for clients the low carb way. The key is to make a stuffing that starts with some low carb bread crumbs (toast your favorite low carb slices, then tear or cut it up into cubes, (I like King Sooper's Carb Helper or Orowheat Light 100% Whole Wheat), chicken broth, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper...and then add a 'kitchen sink' full of good low carb stuff to fill it out. If you use some bastings from your turkey instead of standard chicken broth it'll be even better. Here are some of my favorite things to 'fill out' the stuffing: Sauteed mushrooms (the wilder, the better), artichoke hearts, sliced/chopped olives, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, diced chayote, onions, get the could even do some diced zucchini or chopped cauliflower in there. This is really too good to save just for thanksgiving...bake some up and freeze it for whenever!

Next post: solving the potato dilemma.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Deadliest Words in the English Language

So tonite was the first meeting of the year for the Denver Low Carb Living Meetup support group...I've been crazy busy since the holidays, and travelling a lot too. We had 8 members participating, and it was great to see some new faces as well as some familiar favorites. The subject was Re-Motivating...I needed it bad. Went to Australia for 3 weeks in October with my friend Britt...ate everything put in front of me and more...walked a lot, but couldn't keep up with the carb loading. Then the holidays...managed not to do too much more damage, and drop a little Aussie weight since I'd have to be on the beach soon...but then went to Mexico in January. The deadliest words in the English language: All You Can Eat Buffet. I did okay the first couple of days...meat in savory sauces, cheese, a little low glycemic fruit...but they had absolutely no low carb mixers for alcohol, so I was on the vodka and sodawater program. Starting to feel a little deprived, I moved to vodka and sodawater with a splash of the nasty sugar pina colada mix. That was it...all bets were off...a couple of these on the beach or by the pool and I had no resistance at the devil the last four days were "all you can eat" (and I can eat a lot) no holds barred. Yikes. So since the end of January I've been "kinda good" and "kinda bad"...mostly bad...I can't seem to shake the All You Can Eat Buffet feeling that's washed over me the last month or so. Seriously, getting together with the group tonite was so cleansing...there are so many people there who are so inspiring and supportive...It's just what I needed. So back to being good to myself...I miss the high energy, steady mood and lack of hunger I feel when I'm living the good life...the low carb life...I'm ready to step away from the buffet and get back on track for good. There's a reason I've lived this way for 8 years...I feel better, look better, work better, play better...well, you get the point.

Monday, August 6, 2007

A great meal!

Every Wednesday, my friend Laura and I try a new Denver restaurant. We've both been living here only about a year, and I tend to be the kind of person who gets in a rut...I like to go to familiar places, see familiar faces, and order the same thing I always get...minimizes disappointment, you know? So to break out of this "unhealthy" practice, we initiated the Wednesday nite dinner out. We've tried a lot of restaurants so far, and been mostly disappointed. So many overrated, overpriced restaurants, so many Wednesdays. To date, Solera has been our bright point, offering some really original dishes and a great wine tasting on Wednesdays...but really pricey. Go to the wine tasting for $15 bucks, get a little tipsy, order dinner, bam! $100 bucks on the tab. Worth it, though, if you want a dependably delicious meal...the cheese plate is not to be missed. This past weekend friends Britt and Philip came into town for Aspen and we planned a special dinner out at a restaurant I've been dying to try...Barolo Grill. I've got a real soft spot for Northern Italian and the associated rich food...usually very do-able on low carb. I was so pleasantly surprised, Barolo Grill now takes my "favorite Denver restaurant" category, hands down. Tons to eat on a low-glycemic program...try the tartare, or the pheasant turrine to very many great secondi, and all of the salads and pastas can be ordered as "small plates" or primi, if you just want a little taste! I had lamb chops that were so grilly-grill good, with a mushroom ragout and braised kale (yes, kale!) on the side...and it came that way on the menu! Tried the sea bass, the tenderloin and a little pork too, all lovely. There are so many great "better" sides available too, and I wouldn't have hesitated to ask for a substitution, as the staff (and I mean everyone who came to our table) was friendly, helpful and seemed delighted that we were there...a rarity at most high-end restaurants. I skipped dessert, but had a glass of lovely Barolo wine with dinner. If you're looking for a low-carb friendly, special occasion (or not so special!) restaurant that won't make you feel like you're missing out, Barolo Grill is not to be missed...wave if you see me there stuffing my face at the table next to you!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Getting Started on the Low Carb/Low Glycemic Lifestyle

I've been getting a lot of inquiries from people who want to start on a low carb/low glycemic lifestyle, but either don't know much about it, or are misinformed about it. If you or someone you know is looking for information about this eating program, it's very important that you get the right info from experts in the medical field, for your health's sake. "Doing low carb" incorrectly, or without medical advice can not only be dangerous for those with medical issues, but also lead to weight gain and poor health. Once they've made the decision to make the lifestyle switch, I recommend to all of my clients that they read one of the following books, in addition to taking my 4 hour "quickstart" package that will give them shortcuts, helpful articles, recipe conversions, personal counseling, food choice lists, and meal ideas. Happy reading, and of course, feel free to contact me via comments here if you have any questions.

-The Atkins Essentials, A Two-Week Program to Jump-Start Your Low-Carb Lifestyle
by Atkins Health & Medical Information Services. An easy reading primer.

-The Diabetes Diet, by Richard K. Bernstein, MD. Probably the best and most comprehensive guide to controlling blood sugar, for those with, and without, diabetes.

-Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution, The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars, by Richard K. Bernstein. He was the originator of, and is the authority on, low carb for diabetics Type I and II.

-Atkins Diabetes Revolution, based on the practice of Dr. Robert C. Atkins, with Mary C. Vernon, MD, CMD, and Jacqueline A. Everstein, RN. The Atkins approach to preventing and controlling Type 2 diabetes.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Crack Pretzels

Okay, so I spent a little time at home in Ohio with my parents, and niece and nephews and got a little off track...I don't know how people with kids manage to watch their carbs! We try to limit the sugary snacks and, of course, no soda or sports drinks, but it still creeps up on left uneaten on the plate (you're not going to throw that away are you?), the ubiquitous pretzel snack (what kind of a devil-person brings peanut butter stuffed pretzel bites into a house?? Don't you know those things are like crack?!), and of course, a little fast food (oh what the heck, at this point I'll wrestle you for the bun). At 8, 10 &10, these kids are just starting to really learn about food choices, and it's interesting to watch. One loves the little cups of mandarin oranges, but when she's finished with the oranges, drinks the "best part"...the "juice", otherwise known as high fructose corn syrup these things are packed in. Someone get that kid an actual orange! I realize how hard it is for kids to learn about nutrition, what with their cartoon network channels crammed with commercials for fast food and sugary snacks and drinks, but they do like wholesome good food in the absence of other bad choices...........ah ha! Just like me, they do fine unless the bad food options are omnipresent. So why do we bring the stuff into the house? I don't have crack pretzels at my place, so I usually crave those microwave greenbeans dipped in ranch dressing. What if, as responsible adults, we simply didn't make the excuses and refused to buy this garbage? Having grapes and fresh cut fruit readily on the counter when the kids want a snack, instead of the big tub of pretzels and a couple bags of chips makes the decision easy...and they don't ask for anything else. I know, life is full of temptation and hard decisions, and there will always be the equivilent of peanut butter filled pretzels around to lead us astray...but can't we just admit we're human and capable of taking the path we know is wrong, and make it easier on ourselves by not throwing those detours in the middle of our perfectly good path? Grandma, get rid of the crack for me, I'm back on induction.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Been awhile

Been awhile since I've posted, but business is good. I've got a couple of great regular weekly clients, and June was packed every weekend with special events....whew. I'm doing a four-hour "Jumpstart" package now, to get people started or re-motivated on the Low Carb/Low Glycemic lifestyle, complete with cooking lessons and recipes converting their favorite "cravings" into acceptable options. That's going really well, and I get so excited when others get psyched about living this way. Check out my website for details...

We also managed to get in a meetup of our Low Carb Lifestyle Support Group and had a great dinner at BD's Mongolian BBQ. We've just scheduled another one...plans for a potluck BBQ in the works, check it out. I also posted my Romanian Summer Slaw Recipe here: Summer I've never given out before...everyone loves it, as it's low carb, low calorie and low fat...a little something for everyone! (I've been told it tastes like crunchy lemonade)