Review: Carrabba’s Italian Grill

Carrabbas-TrioWhile eating at an Italian grill is not the first place that pops to mind when wanting to eat a low-carb diet. However, Carrabba’s Italian Grill comes through. They currently are running a lovely “Trio” special where you can choose 3 different items (one from each category) for $16. For an additional $4, one can choose any 3 items, including all 3 items in their protein category (Chicken Bryan, Grilled Salmon and Sirloin Marsala).

This dining option is delicious and pure protein. Just wave away the bread appetizer and choose the wine over the sangria, and you have a lovely low-carb dinner. In fact there is so much food, I had to take left-overs home for a 2nd meal. It was delicious and satisfying!

There are other options for the low-carb palette on the menu. They are open to customizing anything on the menu. Just sub the pasta side for veggies on many of their dishes, or order a salad with added chicken or steak,  and you’re good to go!

Asian Stir-Fry

INGREDIENTS

Asian Stirfry

Beef Asian Stir-fry

  • 1 – 2 boneless chicken breasts (can substitute chicken tenders or thighs as well, or beef if you prefer)
  • Soy, Terriyaki and/or Hoisin sauce
  • 1 – 2 tblsp cooking oil (I generally use light olive, but any other will work – don’t try and cook with sesame oil, it’s too flavorful)
  • 1 tblsp fresh ginger (minced)
  • 1 clove fresh garlic (minced or pressed)
  • Chopped onions (to taste)
  • Bok Choi
  • Red, Yellow or Green Bell Peppers (diced)
  • Mushrooms (Shittake if you prefer) (sliced or diced)
  • Snow Peas (Chinese Pea Pods or any other type of pea pods will also work)
  • Water

PREPARATION

Dice the chicken and marinade in a the soy, terriyaki or hoisin sauce (or a blend of all three, or any other soy based Asian marinade if you prefer). Marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes before cooking.

Put the wok on high heat and add the cooking oil. Then add the ginger, garlic and onion and stir for about 1-2 min before adding the marinaded chicken. Stir the chicken over high heat until mostly cooked. Add vegetables and keep stirring for another 5-10 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked and the vegetables are hot. Add the marinade and some water to help the cooking process.

Getting Back on the Low-Carb Wagon

I realize I haven’t blogged on this site for awhile and I thought I’d post an update. I’ve been traveling a *lot* since early February, and because of that I completely fell off the low-carb wagon. It’s nearly impossible to avoid carbs when attending conferences or trying to grab a quick bite at an airport while running to catch a connecting flight.

Now that I’m back I need to get back into the low-carb lifestyle, along with trying to drop a dress size so I can fit into my wedding dress before July. To that end I am going to attempt to add juicing to my low-carb lifestyle. My plan is to do mostly veggie & some fruit juicing for breakfast & lunch, and then having a good low-carb meal for dinner (which would consist of 6oz+ of lean protein and a side of veggies, and occasionally a whole grain/seed like quinoa or barley).

In addition I’ll also be attempting to re-introduce exercise into my lifestyle (it’s nearly impossible to find time to work out when you’re constantly on the road). My challenge is to find a fun activity to do. I have always found exercise exceedingly boring, and often when I try to make it more fun, I end up injuring myself (I can’t win for losing sometimes). There is always walking the dogs, and perhaps I’ll supplement that with some “Just Dance” which I got for our Wii.

I will be posting my progress, along with any good juicing recipes I find. I also will continue to add low-carb recipes and the occasional Northern Colorado restaurant review as well.

Wish me luck!

Low-Carb Brownies

I just made this recipe today and it turned out delicious! The only noticeable thing with using the sugar-free sweetner is that you get a sort of “cool” feel in the mouth as you eat it – similar to how sugar-free candies feel. If you are not keen on that “cool” feel – warm up the brownie for about 15 – 20 seconds in the microwave and it completely goes away.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of erythritol (brand name Z-sweet)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup coconut flour

PREPARATION

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.

In a sauce pan over medium heat, blend the butter and cocoa powder until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, erythritol and vanilla, using a whisk. Then stir in the chocolate mixture. Next slowly add the coconut flower and mix until all the lumps are gone. Pour the mixture into an 8×8″ baking pan.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean.

Makes: 9 servings. Each serving has about 185 calories and 10.5g of carbs (1.5g from sugar – from the coconut flour).

Review: CB &Potts at Collindale Golf Course

I recently had the chance to dine at the CB & Potts located at the Collindale Golf Course. There I enjoyed a lovely 6oz sirloin with a side of steamed vegetables and a salad. This dish usually also includes fries, but I opted for extra veggies instead. I also had their ginger dressing on the salad and picked off all the croutons.

CB & Potts isn’t the most low-carb friendly establishment, but they do have a few good options on their menu, such as the one I just described. My  other favorite is their chicken almond salad. I just have them leave off the crispy noodles. I love the ginger dressing that comes with this. They have a total of 4 entree salads which are all excellent, but the Almond Chicken is definitely my favorite.

They have several nice low-carb entress besides the sirloin I mentioned, although they all require some substitution since they all come with either fries or a baked potato.

They also have a nice hummus and veggies plate as an appetizer that also makes a great low-carb snack if you just want something to munch while enjoying a light beer while watching the game.

I’m Being Bad for the Holidays!

Holiday Cookies

Holiday Cookies

The holidays are once again upon us, and this is the only time of year that I throw all caution, and low-carb eating, to the wind. I have far too many happy, childhood memories surrounding the baking of bread, cookies, and other carb-loaded treats. I can ignore my cravings for 11 months out of the year, but in Decemeber my will power disappears and goes into hibernation.

I figure if I’m good with my diet and exercise (and I keep up that exercise throughout December), than the carb-loaded indulgences I allow myself during the holidays shouldn’t be so bad. I save all my “cheats” for this time of year, because this is the only time of year my carb cravings are overwhelming.

Are you following a low-carb lifestyle? How do you handle the holidays? Do you stick to your guns and refuse any and all carb-laden offerings, do you indulge in just the littlest of nibbles here and there, or do go whole-hog and just dive into all the carby goodness? Please leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!

Pork Rinds – The Perfect Low-Carb Snack

I have always been somewhat of a muncher, and the one thing I miss the most after switching to a low-carb lifestyle is all my favorite snacks. Popcorn, pretzels, tortilla chips with guacamole, even the occasional potato chip.

A friend of mine recently pointed out a fact to me that I had forgotten – pork rinds are virtually carb free. They are, after all, deep fried pig skins.

While this may sound gross to some people, you may not realize what a tasty snack these are. When they are fried, pork rinds become this light, crispy snack with a very nice flavor. Eating them you would never believe they used to be the skin of anything. If you are living low-carb and crave a crunchy snack, I highly recommend you try these tasty treats.

 

El Monte Grill

El Monte Grille

Veracruzana (Red Snapper) at El Monte Grill

El Monte is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise run down location. It’s near the Chuck E. Cheese on College and Prospect.

I’d classify this restaurant as “Mexican Fusion.” They try and blend authentic Mexican cuisine with an upscale, American flair, and I think they succeed very well at it.

Admittedly they do have a lot of dishes with tortillas which are not low-carb, but they have a few dishes that are either good low-carb options, or can be made so with a simple substitution or two.

My personal favorite is their Veracruzana – a delicious red snapper served with roasted veggies, and I swap out the mashed potatoes for a side order of beans. They also have a lovely 12 ounce Rib-Eye served with a cheese relleno that can also get the beans for potatoes swap. My favorite appetizer is their cevice, which they change daily. The last time I had it, it was a mahi mahi “cooked” in lime juice with cilantro and other spices. Absolutely delicious!

So if you love Mexican, and enjoy a meal with a bit of upscale flair, I’d highly recommend this as a low-carb friendly option.

Crockpot Chili

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey (can substitute Boca Crumbles to make this a vegetarian dish)
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can pinto or black beans (optional)
  • 1 can stewed or peeled tomatoes (fire roasted are really nice if you can find them)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 – 1 onion
  • 1 green pepper (optional)
  • Chili powder (to taste)
  • Cumin (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

PREPARATION

Brown the ground beef (or turkey) with the onions (finely chopped) and olive oil. (Note: when using Boca Crumbles, no need to “brown” first – just add to the crockpot frozen and they will thaw/cook in the crockpot just fine. Add salt and pepper to taste.) Put the browned meat into a 3 quart crock pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on high for 3-4 hours (or low for 6-8 hours). I recommend adding in the spices slowly over the course of cooking and tasting to see if you would like more. For me I added about 3-4 tsp of chili powder and about 1-2 tsp of cumin.

Makes 2-4 servings of chili.

German-Style Hamburgers

German Style HamburgersThese tasty burgers are like mini-meatloaves. In Germany they are commonly known as “Frikadellen”. This particular recipe was one of my favorites from my grandmother and is one of my comfort foods.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef (may substitute ground turkey)
  • 2-4 Tbsp Ketchup (to taste)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 slices whole-grain, sprouted grain or seed bread (optional, based on your low-carb diet requirements)
  • 1/2 small yellow onion (finely diced)
  • Butter or olive oil

PREPARATION

Soak the bread in water and squeeze out excess liquid. Add bread and all other ingredients in a bowl and mix together well (easiest way is either with bare hands or a potato masher). Divide into balls and form into hamburger patties. Place the patties on a plate and store in refrigerator for 1-2 hours before cooking. When ready to cook, add butter or olive oil into a large skillet (or 2 smaller skillets). Cook on medium high, flipping regularly for even cooking and cook until done (about 20 minutes or so). Optionally you may also grill them instead, although this is less authentic.

Excellent with a side of veggies. My favorite choice – peas and carrots! Serves 4.