Asian Shrimp Patties


These tasty shrimp patties make a wonderful lunch for us.  We both LOVE them.  They are suitable for all phases of Atkins and Keto diets.  This recipe was one of the first ever posted on my blog back in 2009.  But it is still a keeper for us!


8 oz. raw, peeled shrimp
1/2 tsp. chili paste (I used Sambal Oelek)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp. minced shallots or green onion
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp. lemon grass, grated (if available)
1/4 of a Revo Roll crumbled

1 ¾ tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. peanut butter
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 tsp. chili paste or Sriracha sauce
1 tsp. Splenda or sweetener of your choice
1 T. low sodium soy sauce

Process all the ingredients for the patties in a food processor or blender until well blended. Shape into 6 small patties and brown in a skillet rubbed with an oiled paper towel.  You’ll know when they are done as they become visibly opaque and golden brown.  This recipe is technically not suitable until Phase 2 OWL due to sauce ingredients, but the patties themselves are OK for Induction and there’s so little PB and rice vinegar in the sauce, it probably won’t cause you problems or cravings even if still in Atkins Induction phase.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:  Makes 3 servings, each contains:

142 cals, 6.33g fat, 3.5 g  carbs,0.92 g fiber, 2.58g NET CARBS, 17.6 g protein, 178 mg. sodium


Eggplant in Garlic Sauce

Click to enlarge


This is my version of a dish that we used to order regularly at Szechuan East, a Chinese restaurant that was once (and may still be for all I know) at the Galleria on Westheimer in Houston, TX.  It was truly one of the very best Chinese dishes I’ve ever eaten in my life.  I admit, up front, eggplant can be visually off-putting, but the flavor on this dish is just amazing!  All at the same time it is sweet–sour–and spicy.   One night while enjoying dinner in this particular restaurant, we saw Debra Paget (well-known 50’s actress who played Indian princesses in more than one film) enjoying a meal across the room, all alone at her table.  My husband told me her last husband was a wealthy, business Asian, but reading his bio , he was well-known in his own right.  Being children of this film era, we were quite excited to see someone who had been so famous at one time and my husband went quietly over to her table after her meal concluded and asked for her autograph.  She seemed genuinely pleased she had been recognized and was delighted to do so.  Sorry, I digress.  🙂

Though this dish is also off-putting texturally (pieces are quite slippery when properly cooked and sauced), the flavor is so delightful it continues to be a favorite in many Chinese restaurants.  Both my husband and I can get past the look and texture to appreciate the subtle flavor nuances of this dish.  It is typically eaten atop rice, but it’s not bad eaten alone or incorporated into a simple shrimp-stir-fry.  It is outstanding with grilled Asian Marinated meat.  If you like eggplant and are not bothered by its sometimes slippery texture, you will REALLY like this dish.  🙂

VARIATION:  This is also good with RED bell pepper strips sauteed and added to the mix.  Colorful, too.


1   1-lb. eggplant, peeled and cut into ¼” strips

4 T. olive oil

½ tsp. HOT sesame oil

½ pkt. Splenda or Stevia   

1 T. rice wine vinegar (no substitions)

1½ T. low sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos

3 small cloves garlic, minced

½ c. chicken broth

1/2-1 tsp. oriental chili paste like Sambal Oelek (or use crushed red pepper flakes)

1/8 tsp. xanthan gum to thicken

1 tsp. sesame seeds (optional and not included in numbers below)

DIRECTIONS:   Peel eggplant and cut into ¼” strips.  Heat olive and hot sesame oil in non-stick skillet or wok.   Add eggplant strips and gently stir fry.  Keep gently tossing them around on the hot pan surface and they WILL eventually get limp and soft.  When they are all starting to look translucent, add all remaining ingredients and simmer 1-2 minutes.  Add a tiny bit of your favorite thickening agent and stir well until slightly thickened.  Serve at once.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 3 servings, each containing:

214.7 cals, 19.8g fat, 9.37g carbs, 4.77g fiber, 4.6g NET CARBS, 2.23g protein, 355 mg sodium

Asian Grilled Pork Chops


It’s hard for me to believe this is one of the very first recipes I posted on my blog back in 2009.  My, time flies.  This grilling marinade recipe helps tenderize less-expensive cuts of meat.  You can use it to oven-bake the meat, but grilling takes it to a whole new level as you can imagine.  I have used this marinade on beef chuck, sirloin steak, flank steak strips, pork ribs and pork chops as shown above.  I like to serve with grilled slices of yellow squash, onion and tomato.  It is also good with my Eggplant in Garlic Sauce which I will post momentarily.  This recipe is only Atkins Induction friendly if you leave out the sherry/wine.


1 T. low-sodium soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos

2 T. water

2 tsp. sugar equivalent sweetener of your choice

1 tsp. minced fresh ginger

2 cloves minced garlic

1 T. white wine or sherry (omit for Induction)

Dash of red cayenne pepper

3-4 drops Tabasco

2 tsp. olive oil (to coat steak before grilling)

1 lb. pork chops (about 4) (or 4 servings thick pork country ribs)

DIRECTIONS:  Put first 8 ingredients into a gallon ziploc bag.  Zip and manipulate to mix well.  Add meat to bag, close and manipulate again until all meat is coated.  Marinate for 6-8 hours.   Remove from refrigerator and take meat out of bag.  Marinade should be discarded.   Pat meat dry with paper towels and baste with olive oil on all sides.  Charcoal over hot fire (3″-4″ from coals) to desired stage.  Remove to cutting board and let stand 2-3 minutes before slicing or serving.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Makes 4 servings each containing:

207 cals, 20g fat, <1g carb, 0g fiber, 1g NET CARBs, 26g protein, 66mg. sodium

Asian Turkey Tofu Soup

I made a delicious soup for lunch one day earlier in the month. My husband came across a 9.5# bird (a rarity) at the grocery store and bought it just because of its small size. The soup came out delicious. Small as my bird was, we still had a lot of meat leftover. This is one of the things I made with the leftover meat. As I was in the middle of our Indian food extravaganza here on the blog, I just photographed it and waited until we reached the Asian segment of our food travels to share this one with you. This soup was very light yet surprisingly quite filling.

We ate what we could for lunch that day (having seconds) and I froze the rest. This makes a big batch of soup! Should be good for about a month. Turkey fat can actually go rancid (even cooked) in your freezer. Been there myself once and had to throw out the meat. So I never keep cooked turkey frozen for long.


10 oz. turkey meat, chopped (with any meaty turkey bones you saved)

8 c. water

½ c. dried tiger lily flour, cut in halves

1½ c. bean sprouts

1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped

2 oz. red bell pepper, chopped

2 oz. green bell pepper, chopped

2 tsp. fish sauce (I use Thai Kitchen brand)

3 T. rice wine vinegar

1 T. Sriracha sauce

¼ tsp. coarse black pepper

2 T. my Hoisin sauce

3 T. low-sodium Kikkoman soy sauce

1½ c. bean sprouts, rinsed

5 oz. firm tofu, rinsed, cut into ½” bites

DIRECTIONS: Place turkey pieces (along with any carcass bones you probably saved) in large soup pot. Add water and bring to boil over high heat. Cook for an hour on low heat. A good cup or more of the liquid will evaporate during cooking.

Remove carcass to cutting board. Allow to cool a bit for handling and strip meat off bones, chopping up any large pieces. I got about 1½ c. meat off my leg bones, to which I added another cup of loose leftover meat. Add all chopped meat back to pot. Add all other ingredients above except the tofu. Simmer on low heat for maybe 8 minutes, just until bean sprouts are no longer opaque. Cut up tofu to ½”cubes. Add to the pot and stir. If not serving at once, turn fire off as you don’t want to overcook the vegetables. Freeze any leftovers.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Makes about ten 1 cup servings, each contains:

89 cals, 3 g fat, 5g carbs, 1g fiber, 4g NET CARBS, 15g protein, 430 mg sodium

Shrimp Stir-Fry on Shirataki Noodles

Click to enlarge

I’ve been occasionally using the opaque variety of shirataki noodles (made from the konjac tuber) and I am definitely liking the ones that contain oat fiber much better than the translucent variety.  I need my noodles to be opaque.  The tofu shirataki noodles definitely LOOK like flour-based pasta, but are anything but.  They are actually fairly tasteless on their own.  Instead they take on the taste of whatever delicious sauce/food you put over the top of them or cook them in.  And that’s OK with me.  Even if just a mind game, they are filling and they psychologically allow me to have noodles (a tabu food for low-carbers) on my low-carb journey.  🙂  Eaten on shirataki noodles, this dish is OK for all phases of Atkins provided those still on Atkins Induction omit the sherry/wine.

This dish got a two thumbs up from my husband.  Whenever he gets this excited about a recipe, I definitely like to share it here with my readers.  This dish has few ingredients and goes together in about 10 minutes, so it’s a great recipe for those days you fall asleep all afternoon. 😉    I’m honored the nice folks at Konjac Foods featured my recipe on their website amongst a number of other tasty-looking recipes on their recipes page!   🙂


24 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2   8-oz. packages of tofu shirataki noodles (Konjac noodles)

1½ T. coconut oil

2 oz. onion, slivered into thin strips

2 oz. red bell pepper, slivered into thin strips

1 very large jalapeno, seeded and slivered into thin strips

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ tsp. ginger root, peeled and minced

1 T. sherry or white wine (omit if on Induction)

1 T. low-sodium soy sauce

Pinch black or toasted sesame seeds

1 c. chicken broth (homemade) or 1 cube in 1 c. water

1/8 tsp. xanthan gum

OPTIONAL:   Sambal Oelek chile sauce to taste.

DIRECTIONS:  Open bags of noodles and rinse them for 3-4 minutes under hot water to get the fishy odor off of them. Drain on paper toweling.  Trust me the shrimp topping will kill any remaining odor on the noodles after rinsing. Set aside. Prepare all the vegetables and have them at the ready by the stove.  Crumble the bouillon cube into the hot water.  Add soy sauce, garlic and ginger.  Heat coconut oil in a non-stick wok or skillet.  Stir-fry the onion, red pepper and jalapeno until just begins to get tender.  Add shrimp and sauté until they are curling and opaque.  Pour chicken bouillon mixture into pan and sauté 1-2 minutes.  Sprinkle xanthan gum over top of mixture and stir/sauté 1-2 minutes or until it begins to slightly thicken the sauce and the liquid is adhering to the shrimp and veggies, turn off fire.  Plate half the noodles on each of two dinner plates and dip half the shrimp mixture up over the noodles.  Serve with a nice green salad.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 2 adult servings, each contains:

237 calories, 13.15 g  fat, 11.7 g  carbs, 4.1 g  carbs, 7.6 g  NET CARBS, 17.8 g  protein, 1135 mg sodium

Pork on “Lotus Leaf”

I often am smitten with a good recipe at my worst times.  I worked in my garden out back and the iris bed out front today.  I was so tired when I came inside I fell asleep watching TV in my favorite recliner.  It was already late when the hubs woke me up asking “Are you going to cook dinner or shall I order/pick up something for us?”.  I had thawed 3 small pieces of pork loin earlier in the day but hadn’t decided what I was going to cook for dinner yet.  A quick stir fry is usually what I do to pull off a fast, effortless meal.  This idea erupted in my head when I saw the fresh, small head of cabbage sitting right by the pork in the refrigerator.  So I proceeded iwth a dish I created some years back.

I understand the entire lotus plant is edible and is also used in Chinese medicines.  They say the tubers tastes a lot like sweet potato.  I’ve read they use the blossoms in cooking as well.  They do dry the slightly sweet leaves and sell them on-line.  I have read they tend to be aromatic when cooked.  If you have lotus flowers growing in a pond where you live, I would encourage you to use real lotus leaves for this.  Not being so lucky, I use outer cabbage leaves as a stand-in.  The shape is similar and visual impact is nice on th eplate.   Cabbage is also slightly sweet and is just so good in Chinese food!

We love this dish!  This dish may sound spicy upon first reading, but I assure you, it is not, as I don’t care for overly spicy food.   Many of you may want to increase the Sambal Oelek, in fact, or maybe double the jalapeno!  This dish has just a tingle of heat on the tongue (as written) and that’s all the heat I want.  A little bit of mashed cauliflower seasoned with a dab of Sambal Oelek chili paste really rounds the flavors out on this.

This recipe is suitable for Atkins Phase 2 and beyond as well as other ketogenic diets.  Omit the sherry and those on Atkins Induction can also enjoy this delightful concoction.


3 T. coconut oil (or your preferred oil)

9 oz. pork loin, trimmed of all fat, sliced julienne-style

3 T. total dry sherry or white wine

3 T. total low-sodium soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos

2½ finely shredded green cabbage

½ c. green onions, chopped (I used the white ends only)

1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 tsp. sea salt

2¼-2½ c. butter-seasoned cauliflower mash

1 tsp. Sambal Oelek chile paste

½ small carrot, peeled, shaved into long thin strips

VARIATION:  Use lean beef instead of pork.

DIRECTIONS:  Place julienned pork in a bowl with 2 T. of the sherry and 1½ T. of the soy sauce.  Mix with your hands and let marinate about 10 minutes while you cut up the other ingredients.

Peel off 3 outer leaves of cabbage and dunk in boiling water for 2-3 minutes to slightly soften.  If you want to actually eat the serving leaf (which we do eat), cook them maybe 4 minutes.  Remove from water, drain on paper towel and set them on serving platter (mine, as you can see, are shaped like a giant lotus leaf, hence the recipe name).  Discard water.

In a small non-stick skillet, mix the leftover cauliflower mash with the tsp. of Sambal Oelek.  It will turn the cauli pink when uniformly stirred.  Turn heat on low and warm while you do the stir-fry.

In a heated wok, melt the coconut oil over high heat.  Add the julienned pork and stir-fry until it begins to brown.  Add cabbage, green onion, jalapeno, ginger and garlic to the wok and continue to stir-fry.  Sprinkle the mixture with the sea salt, add the strips of carrot you have made with a carrot peeler and stir a couple minutes to let the carrot slightly cook. Add the remaining tablespoon sherry and the remaining 1½ tablespoons soy sauce.

To serve, spoon 1/3 of the pink cauliflower ‘rice’ onto each leaf of cabbage and spread out a bit, leaving the dark edge of the leaf exposed.  Then spoon on 1/3 of the meat mixture on top of the cauli-rice mixture and serve your family and guests at once.  I found one of these filled me up like a tick, as we say in the South.  My husband did eat two.  I do eat the ‘lotus leaf’ or cabbage leaf bowls, too.   🙂

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 3 servings, each contains:

439 cals., 26.7g fat, 13.93g carbs, 6.0g fiber, 7.93g NET CARBS, 23.3g protein, 1178 mg sodium

Asian Pork Riblets

I’m a Baby Boomer, raised in the 50’s and 60’s.  My first memories of Chinese food were of Chicken Chow Mein, with those fun curly noodles on top, and the Pu-Pu Platter all the Chinese restaurants offered as appetizers.  No discussion of Chinese food would be complete without mentioning the Pu-Pu appetizer platter.  Besides, it’s just fun to say the name, non?  🙂 

It was the little, slightly sweet ribs I remember off those appetizer platters that were my favorite.  I was never a fan of the crab toast or cheese stuffed fried noodles.  If you love those ribs half as much as I did, you will want to give this recipe a try.  They are not too sweet or sticky, but do have a slight sweet edge.  There’s just the right amount of Asian spice on them for a nice flavor addition to serve alongside your next stir-fry dinner!  Or have them as snacks or appetizers at your next party!  These are suitable once you get past the first 2-week Induction Phase of Atkins and are OK for most Keto diets if the numbers will fit into your daily macro limits.


1½ lb. pork spareribs, cut apart into separate ribs/pieces 

10 drops liquid smoke

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. ginger root, peeled & minced

2 T. low sodium soy sauce

1/8 tsp. coarse black pepper

1 tsp. rice wine vinegar

1/8 tsp. dry mustard

1 T. molasses

1 T. my homemade Hoisin Sauce

¼-½ tsp. Sriracha sauce

1 T. dry sherry or white wine (tenderizes)

2 T. tap water

¼ tsp. Chinese 5-Spice Powder

DIRECTIONS:  Cut ribs along bones to separate.  If using the point end of a rack of ribs, that is almost totally boneless, cut any wider strips of boneless meat into strips about 3/4″ wide, or roughly the  size of the bone-in ribs.  Set them aside for a few minutes.  In a large mixing bowl, measures out all other ingredients.  Stir to blend well.  Add meat and toss well to coat.  Cover and chill for 1-2 hours.  When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400º.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place marinated meat strips onto pan making sure they are not touching.  With a brush baste lightly with marinade.  When oven is hot, place in oven and cook for about 20 minutes.  Turn and baste the other side of the meat pieces and cook another 15-20 minutes.  When browned nicely on both sides, remove meat to a platter and serve with whatever other Asian fare you like or enjoy these as an appetizer.  Be forewarned this is finger food and can be a wee bit sticky.  Have plenty of napkins on hand. 🙂

You can also grill these for even more flavor!  They would also cook up nicely in an air fryer cooking at 360º for about 15-20 min. turning at the 10 min. mark.  Fryers vary, so be sure to keep an eye on them the first time you try them in your air fryer.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 4 servings, each contains:

515 cals, 40g fat, 6.17g carbs, 0.27g fiber, 5.9g NET CARBS, 29.7g protein, 428mg sodium

Moo Shu Pork

               Roll Under Construction

                   The filling

And now, as promised, my recipe you can try out my Hoisin sauce on.  We were  first introduced to Moo Shu Pork by a friend in Houston probably 40 years ago (Has it been that long?) by a friend who was married to a girl from China.  We fell in love with Moo Shu Pork at first bite!  There’s something about the unusual ingredients and the sweet, tangy bean/plum sauce that is a flavor marriage made in heaven.  As with any Chinese food, more time is spent in slicing/cutting up the ingredients than the actual cooking takes, but this dish is so worth the effort!

I line up paper plates by my stove and get each ingredient chopped and onto a plate, ready to add to the wok at the right moment.  I first soak the tiger lily buds, cloud ear and mushrooms in little bowls in hot water to rehydrate them while I’m cutting other items up.  I make the marinade in a bowl and set aside.  I next scramble the eggs, chopping them when cooked into smaller bits (but not too small).  I slice all the veggies last.  Then I’m ready to cook!

This recipe is slightly higher in carbs than most on my site and therefore it is not suitable until you are closer to goal weight, but this dish is a special treat to me and I don’t indulge in this one often.  The way I look at it, I consider any recipe below 10g net carbs per serving to be OK, considering that is ever so much lower than the average carb count for most Standard American Diet (SAD) entrées of my past.  🙂

NOTE:  Shitaake mushrooms, Cloud Ear Fungus (also called wood ear mushroom) and Tiger Lily Buds are essential to traditional Mu Shu Pork classic flavors.  If omitted, you are not eating Moo Shu Pork.  Asian groceries will all carry these items.  I have to order mine on-line.


¼ c. mushroom soaking liquid

4 T. my homemade Hoisin Sauce

1 T. rice wine vinegar

1 T. fish sauce (I use Thai Kitchen brand) [or a good bottled oyster sauce]

1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. Sambal Oelek chili sauce

¼ tsp. xanthan gum or preferred thickener


2 large eggs, scrambled in 1 T. butter

8 oz. lean only pork loin, sliced thin

3 T. peanut or olive oil (or your preferred oil)

½ c. cabbage, sliced thin as in photo above

4 large dried shitake mushrooms, soaked

3 large green onions, cut 3/4″ pieces

1 c. fresh bean sprouts

¼ c. canned bamboo shoots, julienne  sliced

½ c. dried Cloud Ear Fungus strips, soaked (if using whole, slice them)

½ cup dried Tiger Lily buds, cut in half, soaked

8 low-carb flour tortillas (I use ‘La Banderita’)

Hoisin sauce to “dress” each roll before rolling/eating

VARIATION:  Use slivered chicken in lieu of pork for a Moo Shu Chicken version

DIRECTIONS:  In 3 small bowls, soak mushrooms, Tiger Lily Buds and Clour Ear in very hot water until soft.  You want to save the mushroom liquid and just lift them out of that “stock”.  Cut out the tough mushroom stems and slice the mushroom flesh.  Place on paper towels to dry off for now.  Discard water off the Cloud Ear Fungus.  If using whole ones, chop or slice and paper towel dry.  If using pre-cut strips just set them on paper towel to dry.  Discard water off the Tiger Lily Buds and chop them in half.  Dry on paper towels.  Set these 3 ingredients near the stove.

Mix all marinade ingredients in the small bowl.  Add ¼ c. of the mushroom soaking water.  When well-mixed, pour half the marinade into medium bowl and add the sliced meat.  Toss the meat with your hands to coat meat well and let it marinade while you continue your prepping.  Remaining marinade will be added to the wok at the end of cooking.

Scramble the eggs over medium in the butter until set.  Remove from heat and chop into medium bits (but not too fine).  Set those aside by stove so they are at-the-ready.

Now you’re ready to cook.  Heat a dry wok or large skillet.  Chinese cooks have a saying:  “Hot Wok; Cold Fat.”  If you do it this way, the meat does not stick to the pan.  If you heat the oil as you heat the wok,  the meat almost invariably sticks to the pan!  When the steel is VERY HOT, quickly dump in the oil and promptly the meat into the cold oil.  Don’t worry, the oil will get hot quick when it hits the hot metal.  Stir-fry with spoon until meat is no longer pink.  Add in cabbage and Cloud Ear Fungus next.  Stir-fry until they just barely begin to go limp.  Next add the bean sprouts & scallions and cook those just 1 minute.  Add the mushrooms, bamboo shoot slivers and Tiger Lily Buds next, cooking the mixture 2-3 minutes.  Pour in the remaining marinade and stir well so all filling is now moistened.  Cook another minute or so for the thickener in the marinade to do its job.   Add the egg to the wok last, during the final minute of cooking. Turn off heat and stir once just to mix the egg in well.  Remove wok from heat.

Serve the filling at the table (I like to do it right in the wok so it stays warm) with low-carb tortillas and the hoisin sauce.  I haven’t gotten around to creating a Chinese-style pancake, but give me awhile and I may do that one day.  Place about ½-3/4 c. filling on the tortilla down the center.  Dab a little extra hoisin sauce down the filling edge (as shown above) and fold the bottom edge up like an envelope end (to catch juice as you eat).  Then fold the sides of the tortilla inward, first the left side, then the right side, much like you’d form a burrito.  Pick up and eat it with your hands, like a burrito.  Moo Shu Pork is traditionally eaten with hands and is actually rather messy/difficult to eat with a fork, to be quite honest.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 8 servings, each contains:  (Includes tortilla but does not include hoisin sauce)

216 cals, 12.4g fat, 24.35g carbs, 13.72g fiber, 10.63g NET CARBS (plus hoisin consumed), 13.7g protein, 814mg sodium

Homemade Hoisin Sauce (low-carb)

I made some Moo Shu Pork for dinner tonight.  My first exposure to Moo Shu Pork was at a restaurant in Houston called Shanghai East.  On one occasion, the actress Debra Paget was dining across the room from us.  She is/was married to an Asian oil businessman, my husband said.   I will always see her as the beautiful Indian princess Sunsiree, who marries Jimmy Stewart in “Broken Arrow”.  The restaurant was fairly empty as it was mid-afternoon, so we walked over, introduced ourselves and chatted a moment about her career.   Such a pretty woman, even then, in her late 50’s or early 60’s maybe?  I remember this occasion every time I eat Moo Shu Pork now.  Photo below.  🙂

We love, love, love Moo Shu Pork.  But to make it at home, you just have to have Hoisin Sauce to go with it and that just isn’t low-carb.  Readers have been asking me for years to create this sauce low-carb, but kept dragging my feet as I didn’t actually know where to begin.   Here goes.  Better late than never.  🙂

All the commercial Hoisin sauce either has brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup or a considerable amount of molasses in the ingredient listing.  I tried several several recipes for this sauce I gathered around the net over the past 9 years and the only two I had actually tried I annotated “not so good” or “not special”.  :{

So I set about creating my own sauce finally.   Hoisin sauce is used in making/serving Peking Duck and as a condiment for the famous Moo Shu Pork rolls.  Since Hoisin is basically a seasoned, slightly sweet and salty fermented soy bean/plum sauce, and I had an open bag of no-sugar-added prunes in my pantry, I finally got around to filling the long-time request of my readers to develop a low-carb version of this famous sauce.  I started with 10 dried prunes as my base.  Then I added a few store-bought ingredients mention on commercial labels of the sauce, cutting carb “corners” and guessing the amounts for those ingredients to derive the correct taste.

Well, I’m here to tell you my final sauce came out pretty darn good!  Not exactly like the high-molasses stuff right out of the jar at the store, but it gets much better and closer to that flavor when it has “aged” a bit.  We ate it while it was still warm and it was considerably milder than I would have liked.  The anise (licorice flavor) in the Chinese 5-Spice Powder was pretty pronounced but the bean paste, not so much.   Those flavors mellow and develop in just 24 hours, getting considerably better in a week.

All in all, not bad for my first shot at a low-carb version of this essential condiment. Most commercial hoisin sauce has around 8 carbs per tablespoon, so this number is trimmed down considerably with my recipe.  Using liquid Splenda lowers carbs a tad, but not very much.  A couple weeks later, the sauce had aged quite nicely in flavor, so the key is letting it age before using.

I’ll post the Moo Shu Pork recipe later today.  I have been cooking many years with with Gloria Bley-Miller’s marvelous cookbook The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook  as my “Bible” for Chinese cooking.  I highly recommend her cookbook.  I can cook Moo Shu pork blindfolded but must be sure to have dried tiger lily buds and dried cloud ear fungus on hand to prepare it.

This sauce is suitable once you get to Phase 2 of Atkins, since it is used in such small amounts on the “pancake” (low-carb flour tortilla) that you will use to roll up the Moo Shu Pork.  This sauce is totally unsuitable for Primal or Paleo due to the soy beans, as all legumes are eschewed in those food plans.  Sauce should keep a long time in a jar in the refrigerator.  Mine is now 3 months old and it smells/tastes just fine.


10 large dried prunes (4 oz.), no sugar added

½ c. water

1 T. rice wine vinegar

3 T. low-sodium soy sauce (dark soy sauce if available)

¼ tsp. Chinese 5-Spice powder

1 tsp. molasses

3 T. Splenda or few drops of liquid sweetener of choice

2 T. Eden soy black beans, rinsed & mashed smooth

DIRECTIONS:  Place prunes in small saucepan with about ½ c. tap water.  Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer until they are soft, or about 5 minutes.  Mash well into the water with a fork until pretty smooth.  You can puree in a blender or food processor if you like, but is difficult to do with such a small amount.  Remove from heat.

Mash the beans on a paper plate to as smooth a paste as possible and stir into the prune mixture.  Add vinegar, soy sauce and 5-Spice powder to the pot and stir well.  Spoon into a lidded jar and store if in your refrigerator for  a week.  I do not know how long this keeps yet, and it sure has no preservatives in it.  But since it’s just made from basically dried fruit, vinegar and sugar ( preservatives naturally) with some soy sauce (fermented), I suspect a pretty long time.  Just don’t know yet.  The soy beans will be what spoils first in this combo.  I’ll try to remember to post back my findings on that when mine no longer seems to smell/look right to me and I toss it out.  🙂  UPDATE:  Lasted about one month for me in the refrigerator.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes about 1 cup (16 Tbsp.).  Each tablespoon contains:

17.2 cals, 0.1g fat, 3.65g carbs, 0.51g fiber, 3.14g Net CARBS (2.8 NC with liquid Splenda), 0.45g protein, 101 mg sodium

Asian Pork Patties with Dipping Sauce (dumplings optional)


Finally, a way I can at feel like I’m having delicious Pot Stickers on the table and EAT them with a clean conscience!  Since low carbers like me can’t have the dumplings they are traditionally wrapped in,  I’ve found a way to have this tasty dish without the traditional wrappers!   Instead, I make a batch of very small simmered dumplings that I make with glucomannan powder, sear separately from the meat bites and eat them alongside the meat and dipping sauce.  It’s almost like eating real steamed Chinese dumplings!!  So good!!  This dough is not very “rollable” else I would have tried to make my creation more like the original dumplings are formed in the traditional Chinese kitchen.   I may try introducing a little psyllium and see if they can be rolled, but in the meantime, this method of side-by-side works for us.

This recipe is suitable for all phases of Atkins and other Keto diets.  To make these suitable for Primal-Paleo, do not use the peanut butter in the dipping sauce and use a plan-suitable vinegar  and coconut aminos for the soy sauce.

Click to enlarge

Shown with seared “Dumplings”


1 lb. lean ground pork

1 beaten egg

2 jalapenos, seeded, ribs removed and minced fine

2 tsp. coconut aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce)

2 cloves, garlic, minced

2 T. olive oil (for frying)

1 recipe and a half of the dough for my here: Dumplings


2 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. creamy natural peanut butter (omit if on Atkins Induction)

2 T.  rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. ginger root, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. Sambal Oelek chili sauce (or Sriracha sauce)

2-3 drops liquid stevia or sucralose

1 T. low sodium soy sauce (or coconut aminos)

1 T. finely minced green onion

2 T. water

VARIATION:  Add 1 tsp. peanut butter to the dipping sauce

DIRECTIONS:   If you wish to serve this dish with the dumplings on the side, prepare a recipe and a half of my glucomannan dumplings at the link above according to that recipe’s instructions, simmering them in plain water that is barely at a simmer.  Be sure to make them real tiny, about ½” is what I did, as they swell to about 3/4″ during simmering.  When they are done, brown the dumplings in a hot skillet you have oiled lightly.  Set the plate of dumplings aside for now.

Mix the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix up the meat ingredients in a medium bowl with either a fork or your hands.  Heat the 2 T. olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Form into 10 patties (mine were about 1½ oz. each and about 2″ long).  Place the meat patties in the skillet and brown on both sides until golden brown, making sure pink juices are no longer coming out of the meat when slightly pressed with the edge of your spatula.  Turn off heat and dip them onto a serving platter in a circle.  Prepare dumplings per that recipe’s instructions.  When done, place those in the middle of the serving platter with the meat patties around the outside.  Pour the dipping sauce into 3 tiny bowls and place one at each person’s place setting.   Once on my plate, I forked 1 dumpling with a bite of meat, dipped into the sauce and shoved the two right into my mouth!  Pure heaven it was! I swear it tasted just like steamed and then seared pot stickers!  Must try to brown my little dumplings in a skillet next time!   Pic of the fried version shown above.  🙂

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes ten 1½-oz. meat patties.  Each meat patty & sauce contains:  (includes 1/10th of the sauce).  NOTE:  The info below does NOT include the optional dumplings, but since they have negligible food value, I wouldn’t worry about them too much.  They are virtually pure fiber.  I get around 36-40 mini-dumplings out of the dumpling dough so 3 dumplings only have around 0.1 net carb (or less)!  Like I said, virtually negligible value:  167 cals, 14g fat, 1.11g carbs, 0.16g fiber, 0.95g NET CARBS, 8.7g protein

Pepper & Bok Choy Chicken

chinese-chicken-with-peppers-bokchoyYesterday I shared my Pepper Steak recipe.  Today let’s do that classic with chicken and a little bok choy thrown in for color and flavor!  This colorful creation is simply yet delicious.  It is quite “light” in flavor yet satisfies my desire for Chinese stir-fry.  Once you have all the sauce ingredients handy and the veggies cut up, you can be eating this tasty meal in 15 minutes!  We ate it as is since rice isn’t allowed on a low-carb regimen, but you could serve this on a nice bed of steamed cauli-rice.  This recipe is suitable for all phases of Atkins, Keto diets, Primal-Paleo as well, provided you omit the xanthan gum or use a plan-suitable thickener.


1 large chicken breast, de-boned, skinned  & cut into small pieces (mine yielded 10 oz.) save skin and bones

3 T. coconut or light olive oil

3 oz. yellow or white onion, sliced in wedges

1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced thin

3 oz. red bell pepper, cut into small pieces

2 cups bok choy (1-2 stalks), sliced, keeping white & green parts separate

½ c. canned mushrooms, drained  (or 1 cup fresh, sliced)

¼ c. green onion tops, chopped ½”

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. minced ginger root

1 c. chicken broth  (from boiled bones/skin you saved)

2 T. low-sodium soy sauce

¼-½ tsp.  Sambal Oelek chili paste  (or ½ tsp. Sriracha sauce)

¼ tsp. xanthan gum or your favorite thickener

OPTIONAL:  Sprinkle on some sesame seeds.

DIRECTIONS:   Debone chicken breast, cutting meat into small pieces.  Set meat onto a paper plate.  In small saucepan, boil bones and skin for the needed broth.  Discard bones and skin.  Discard all but 1 cup of the broth.  Stir the soy sauce, Sambal Oelek, garlic, ginger root and xanthan gum into the broth and set aside while you cut up the veggies.

Cut up the carrots and onion and place in one paper plate.  Open and drain mushroom liquid into the bowl of broth (or slice up fresh mushrooms if using fresh). Place mushrooms on paper plate.  Tear apart bok choy leaves and place on mushroom paper plate.  Slice the white stems and place in a separate paper plate with the sliced green onions.  Line up these plants so they’re right by your stove.

Heat a wok empty over high heat a couple minutes.  Add the oil and chicken immediately before the oil fully heats up.  Old Chinese cook’s saying: “Hot Wok, Cold Fat”.  This method prevents meat from sticking to the pan. Stir-fry until chicken is no longer pink and just beginning to slightly brown.  Add the yellow onion and carrots.  Continue stir-frying until they just begin to soften a bit but are still quite firm.   Add red pepper and white bok choy stems next.  Stir fry until they are just slightly softened.  Add mushrooms, bok choy green leaves and green onion last, stirring a few times.    Lower heat to medium-high and now pour in the sauce you set aside.  Simmer just long enough for the bok choy to go limp, or about 2 minutes.  If using, add sesame seeds and stir one last time. Serve at once as is or on steamed cauli-rice.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 4 large adult servings, each contains:

250 calories, 13.2 g fat, 9.30 g carbs, 2.92 g fiber, 6.38 g NET CARBS, 25 g protein, 712 mg sodium

Asian Cabbage Salad


When we lived in Galveston, we discovered a fun fast-food Chinese place near a favorite shopping center in Houston called General Joe’s Chopstix.  Their menu was varied, but their steamed dumplings and seared pot stickers were to-die-for and a real bargain!  They put just the right amount of jalapeno in them for me, too!  A year later, one of these places opened up right on the Seawall in Galveston.  We were ecstatic!!  One of their specialties we loved to order at lunch was a tasty light chicken salad made with napa cabbage and a most interesting dressing.  It had crisped rice noodles on top for a bit of crunch.  My husband was particularly fond of this salad.

Sadly, General Joe’s went out of business a number of years later (not sure why), so I had to create my own version of this delicious salad we just couldn’t get enough of.  I love this recipe in the summertime when we tend to eat light!  So easy to throw together and no heating up the kitchen.  When I have a little leftover cooked or grilled chicken, I like to add it to the top of this salad.  But this salad is actually delicious without any meat on top!  🙂 .  This tasty dish can be enjoyed by people on all phases of Atkins and Keto diets.  It is suitable for Primal-Paleo followers as well.


2 T. lime juice

2 T. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. plum sauce or my homemade hoisin sauce

2T. + 2 tsp. sesame oil

¼ tsp. Sriracha sauce

3-4 drops liquid sweetener

3 T. low-sodium soy sauce

1 tsp. minced fresh ginger

6 c. shredded napa cabbage

1 c. chopped fresh cilantro

1 shredded carrot

½ large or 1 small fresh jalapeno, seeded, sliced thinly

OPTIONAL:  2 T. peanut butter added to dressing (not calculated in below).  Leftover cooked chicken chopped or sliced.  Adding ½ c. chicken adds about 150 calories, 9g fat, 18g protein to each serving.

DIRECTIONS:  Whisk first 7 ingredients together in a small bowl for the dressing.  Set aside.  Shred/slice napa cabbage and place in large bowl.  Add grated carrot, cilantro and julienned jalapeno.  Toss well and plate servings.  You can alternately plate directly in layers on each person’s plate if you prefer (what I did in the photo above).  If adding any meat, sprinkle in equal amounts on each serving.  Provide dressing in individual small cups for each person to add as they like.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Makes 4 servings, each containing approximately:

95 calories, 3.6 g  fat, 2.9 g  protein, 13.5 g  carbs, 5.0 g  fiber, 8.5 g  NET CARBS, 350 mg sodium

Hot and Sour Soup

This is my version of the well-known Hot and Sour Soup.  I always enjoy this soup when we’re at our local Chinese restaurant buffet.  Mine reminds me so much of the Hot and Sour soup served there, all but the tofu, that is.  I try to avoid soy as much as possible and used bean sprouts in place of tofu, but if you consume tofu, add about 1 c. small cubes of firm tofu to the pot during cooking for a more authentic soup.  This recipe is suitable for Atkins, ketogenic diets, Primal and Paleo as well.


5-6 oz. piece of pork loin, trimmed of all fat, slivered thin

1 T. olive oil

4 c. pork or chicken broth (I use homemade)

1½ c. bean sprouts, fresh (or canned, drained)

1 large green onion, chopped

1 bok choy leaf (green part only), or 1 leaf kale, chopped

4 oz. red bell pepper, sliced (not authentic, but very good)

¼ c. dried sliced shitake mushrooms (equivalent of 2 mushrooms)

½ c. dried clour ear fungi/mushrooms

few drops of toasted sesame oil

¼ c. rice wine vinegar (no substitutions)

½ Tamari or soy sauce (I use Kikkoman low-sodium soy sauce)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. Sambal Oelek chili sauce (more if you like real spicy)

Water (as needed to adjust excess saltiness lower)

½ tsp. xanthan gum to slightly thicken

Dash toasted sesame seeds

VARIATIONS:  Add 1 c. diced firm tofu.  You can also sub in slivered canned bamboo shoots for the bean sprouts for a different look but not much flavor change.

DIRECTIONS:  Brown slivered pork in the tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a 4 qt. saucepan.  Add all remaining ingredients but the last 3 (water, xanthan gum & toasted seeds).  Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat and simmer just until red pepper is starting to soften (but is not mushy, limp), or about 5-6 minutes.  Bok choy (or kale) will be done by then.  Add optional tofu cubes if using.  Taste broth.  If too salty for you add the water slowly until to your desired salty level.

I use a salt shaker for my xanthan gum.  Lightly dust it over surface and stir in.  Simmer a couple minutes to let it take action.  Repeat until soup is thick enough (or until all used).  This should be enough thickener even if you add the cup of extra water.  Add sesame seeds and stir or you can serve them with the soup at table, letting diners sprinkle seeds on their own.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 4 servings, each contains:

251 cals, 18g fat, 9.87g carbs, 4.85g fiber, 5.02g NET CARBS, 18.5g protein, 1207 mg sodium (Use low sodium soy sauce to reduce, but I was out of it.)


Lets head out of North Africa and take the shortest route west, through the Middle East, stopping in China.  I’d like to spend this week sharing some Asian classics as well as personal creations of Oriental foods.  You just can’t think about Chinese and Southeast Asian foods without first thinking of rice, a staple in that part of the world.  Sadly, low-carbers do not eat rice typically served with Asian foods.  Well, some clever genius out there invented what is known as cauliflower rice (Cauli-rice for short).  Lord only knows who offered this “mock rice” dish first, but it has become a staple in low-carb kitchens around the world now.  Commercial food distributors even offer it pre-frozen for convenience!  Asian foods are no longer eschewed in the low-carb kitchen!    

Many low-carbers complain they just can’t seem to get their riced cauliflower to come out to their liking.  I sure had my problems cooking with it in the beginning.  We’ve all tried steaming it over water, but that tends to overcook it and make it too odiferous and soggy for my liking.  We’ve all tried sautéing it in oil in a skillet, but I find that is the path to overcooking.  My preferred method of preparing it is actually in my microwave!  Who’da thunk?   I’ll tell ya, it comes out perfect every time!  Here a how to explanation:


1 large head cauliflower (about 6½-7″ in diameter)

DIRECTIONS:   Remove the leaves and with a heavy large knife, cut the flowerets off the stalks.  Place them in a food processor and pulse 8-9 times or enough to reduce the flowerets to little “pellet” like pieces.  I do not use the stalks as that doesn’t chop up so nicely, but you can.  If you do, I would process them by themselves first a couple pulses  Me, I usually eat those while I’m cooking dinner.  I simply LOVE raw cauliflower. 😉

Scrape the riced cauliflower into a medium-large bowl.  DO NOT ADD ANY WATER!  Cover with a microwave dome or loose fitting plate or microwaveable paper plate.  Microwave on HI a total of 3 minutes, stirring completely after each minute.  The stirring is essential!  Remove, taste and if not quite done to your liking (microwaves vary), cook 1 minute longer.  If going to use your cauli-rice in a casserole, add it to the casserole UNCOOKED.  If using in a wetter dish like étouffée, jambalaya or gumbo, stir the cooked meat mixture right into the cooked cauli-rice and serve at once.  When serving company, I prefer to dip the cooked meat mixture on top of the cauli-rice as is shown below, as this is more attractive on the platter.

Shown with Cajun Lobster Andouille on top

Shown with Lobster Andouille

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes approximately 6 servings of 1 cup of cauli-rice, each (slight variables: exactly how big your head of cauliflower is and whether you riced the stalks or not). Each serving contains approximately:

34 cals, 0.13 g fat, 7.41 g carbs, 3.5 g fiber, 3.91 g NET CARBS, 2.76 g protein, 42 mg sodium

Moroccan Chicken and Olives

I absolutely love olives but tend to think of them as a food eaten separately, or atop salads.  However every time I adventure out and put them into meat dishes I’m always amazed at what they bring to the final dish.  This was yet another example of a tasty surprise for me.  Since they have a lot of olive trees on the shores of the Mediterranean, they do tend to use them in a variety of ways.  

The Baharat spice blend I chose for this dish is also prevalent in this region.  So I put 2 and 2 together and voilà, a dish to remember!  If you haven’t tried it yet, I think you’ll like this spice on chicken.  I highly encourage you to give this blend a try sometime, even if not on this particular dish.    It was incredible on the chicken tonight and it’s great on baked or grilled fish.  The cinnamon and cloves come through the most, but the other spices in the blend have a subtle flavor presence as well.  The spice here is the key flavor ingredient here so I would not encourage substitutions or you will be creating a totally different dish.   This meal is suitable for Atkins Induction, Keto diets, and Primal-Paleo lifestyles as well.  Be sure to use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil for this recipe.  


3 medium chicken thighs

3 medium chicken drumsticks

3 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. my Baharat Spice Blend  (the key flavor, so don’t substitute)

4 oz. purple onion, sliced lengthwise

3 plum tomatoes, each cut into 4 wedges

24 medium black olives

Dash each salt and pepper

VARIATION:   Substitute my Moroccan Spice Blend for the Baharat Spice mentioned in the ingredients.  Makes a slightly spicier final dish.  🙂  

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 425º.  Place olive oil, Baharat spice and minced garlic in a pan large enough to hold your chicken without any crowding.  Stir it well.  Take each piece of chicken and dip each side into the oil mixture.  Rub or baste each piece all over well.  Evenly space the pieces skin-side up in the pan.  Cut the tomatoes into wedges and space them evenly around the chicken in the pan, trying not to cover the pieces of chicken.  If covered, the juice from the tomato will inhibit browning of the skin.

Next place the olives evenly around the chicken pieces.   Lastly, separate the slivers of onion and spread them all around the chicken.  Dip a basting brush into the olive oil mixture and baste the olives and vegetables with the oil (add more oil if needed).  Lightly sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Pop into a preheated hot 425º oven and bake for about 1 hour, re-basting at 30 minutes cooking time to be sure the vegetables don’t dry out.   I served this with buttered, steamed asparagus.  It would also be good with a Greek salad.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 3 adult servings (serving = 1 drumstick + 1 thigh).  Each serving contains:

438 cals, 32g fat, 8.26g carbs, 2.26g fiber, 6g NET CARBS, 29.8g protein, 742 mg sodium

Moroccan Grilled Chicken


The Moroccan spice blend in this grilled chicken is an interesting creation that will take ordinary grilled chicken to a whole new level.  I have also used it on on grilled beef chuck, lamb, pork and even for a whole grilled fish with good results.  For those who don’t do much grilling, this recipe bakes nicely in your indoor oven.  This one is suitable for all phases of Atkins and other Keto diets.  I do hope you’ll try it someday.  I think you’ll like it if you do!


1 lb. chicken breasts or 4 thighs, deboned only if you wish to speed up cooking

3 T. olive oil

1 T. my Moroccan Spice Blend

6 T. your favorite low-carb BBQ sauce + 3 T. water

DIRECTIONS:   Preheat oven to 400º.  Slice deboned chicken breasts laterally on an angle to form 4 thinner pieces.  If using thighs, slit with knife so you will be able to spread the meat out as flat as possible.  Place oil in baking sheet.  Dip each piece of chicken into oil to coat.  Sprinkle the spice blend over all meat surfaces.  Lay coated chicken onto awaiting hot charcoal grill or your oiled baking pan  if cooking indoors.   If meat is deboned, grill for about 12-13  minutes on a side.  Alternately, bake at 400º oven for about 20-30 minutes.  Baste with sauce a couple times during cooking.  Time will slightly vary depend on thickness of meat, type of meat/fish and of course, the heat stage of your fire/oven.   If grilling, cook as you normally would the particular meat you are doing, basting with sauce several times during cooking to keep meat moist.  I recommend serving with a green salad topped with tahini dressing, tabouleh salad, or roasted/grilled veggies of your choice.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 4 servings, each contains:

306 cals, 19 g fat, 3.1 g carbs, 0.95 g fiber, 2.25 g NET CARBS, 33.7 g  protein, 42% RDA Vitamin B6, 30% iron, 102 % niacin, 34% phosphorous, 275 mg potassium and 50 % selenium.  Another very healthy dish!

Moroccan Walnut Chicken

Moroccan Chicken

This is one of our favorite ways to have chicken.  It’s a little carb pricey and not doable during Induction due to the prunes.  They really are a key flavor in this dish, so wait until Atkins Phase 2 to prepare this one properly.  🙂    I can only “afford” the carbs  on this dish when I work to keep my breakfast and lunch carb numbers pretty low that day.  🙂   The spices in this dish will astound you.

Let me just say it:  This dish is not Atkins Induction friendly!   Wait until farther along with your weight loss journey to enjoy this wonderful entrée.  Be sure to read the ingredients label and use only fruits with no added sugar!  Del Monte brand dried prunes are “virgin” and acceptable for low-carbers to use in recipes in very small amounts.   I actually cooked more pieces of chicken in the batch pictured so I would have leftovers, as this is one of those dishes that gets better each time it is reheated!


2 T. olive oil

1 chicken breast

2 chicken legs

2 chicken thighs

4 oz. onion, sliced thin

2 cloves minced garlic

3/4 c. chicken broth, low sodium

½ tsp. each coriander, cinnamon, paprika, cumin and black pepper

¼ tsp. cayenne

1 tsp. ground ginger

1 T. tomato paste

5 dried prunes (no added sugar variety), each cut into 4-6 little pieces

OPTIONAL:   1 oz. coarsely broken walnuts

VARIATION:   Substitute chopped dried pieces or apricots for the prunes.  Delicious!

DIRECTIONS:  Heat oil in a deep non-stick Dutch oven or a large, deep, non-stick skillet.  Cut breast into two pieces, making a total of 6 medium-size pieces of chicken.  Brown chicken in oil until skin is golden brown.  Drain off excess oil if desired, but its value is included in the nutritional info below, so you may prefer to leave the oil in the pan and reap its nutritional benefits!  Scatter the onion and garlic over the top.  Mix the spices into the chicken broth and pour over the chicken.  Add the tomato paste, nuts and prunes.  Stir well.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for about 45-1hr. 30 minutes or until chicken is clearly done (depends on size of chicken pieces).  Uncover and simmer for another 10-15 minutes to reduce and concentrate the juices a bit.  Serve each piece of chicken with some of the cooking broth/fruit/nut mixture spooned over it.  For non-Atkins eaters at the table, this dish is outstanding served over Basmati rice.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Serves 3 adults, or 2 adults and two children.  Two pieces with sauce contains: These numbers do NOT include the optional walnuts

468 calories, 25.5 g  fat, 14.2 g carbs, 2.7 g  fiber, 11.5 g NET CARBS, 43.8 g  protein, 80 mg. sodium

Moroccan Spice Blend

If we move down and westerly along the Mediterranean coast of Africa on our travels, we eventually reach Morocco.  A country I’ve never been to, but think I would like to go there one day.  I have always loved their detailed wood art, wooden furniture, metal art and tile crafts.   Their cuisine is an interesting mixture of Arab, French, Spanish, Berber and a heavy influence of Middle Eastern cuisine.  Much of it is prepared in a tagine, a medium-sized clay pot.  I personally have never used one.  Photos of some lovely tagines below.    

I’ve only tried to create a few Moroccan dishes based on my limited reading of a very few recipes.  This spice mixture is very similar to Baharat spice in other Arab countries with the addition of paprika and a bit of spunk with the crushed red pepper (the Spanish and Berber influences).  I think you’ll like this one.  Delicious  with everything I’ve tested it on so far.   It’s great with grilled meats, or in water-braised dishes and stews.  It really lends itself to dried fruit added to your meat dishes as well.  I tried it one time on a grilled fish and it was most excellent used that way.  As most spice mixtures, it is Atkins Induction Phase friendly.


4 T. Smoked Spanish paprika

4    3″ sticks cinnamon, broken up, (about 3 T. if using ground cinnamon)

¼-½ tsp. cayenne, depending on taste

3 T. coriander seed

1 rounded tsp. whole cloves (about ½ tsp. ground cloves)

1 tsp. cardamom seeds, removed from their outer pod/husk

1 T. coarse black pepper

3 T. cumin seed (whole)

½ tsp. turmeric

DIRECTIONS:  Measure all whole seeds/spices into a dry, non-stick skillet.   Turn heat to high and roast spices a couple minutes until they become very fragrant.  Turn off heat and cool.  Run through a spice grinder or coffee grinder dedicated to spice grinding.  When you use your coffee grinder,, those tastes will linger for months and months, producing some really funny tasting coffee………so don’t do that.  🙂  Grind the mixture pretty fine.  Add any UNGROUND spices you are having to use instead of whole (whole is best though), mix well and spoon the blend into a lidded jar.  Store in a dark cabinet as is proper for all spice storage.  

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes about 1 cup or 16 Tablespoons.  One tablespoon is about how much you would use for a 4-serving braised entrée or to grill fish or meat for four people.  One tablespoon contains:  

18.4 cals, 0.75g fat, 3.78g carbs, 2.28g fiber, 1.5g NET CARBS, 0.71 g  protein, trace sodium

Mediterranean Meat Patties

Click to enlarge (wrap made with patty sliced laterally)

Served on (Flour tortilla)

One can’t talk about Middle Eastern food without thinking of  meat wraps.  These I whipped up for lunch one day.  I was transported to all the Middle Eastern cafes I’d had wraps in in various places.  These wonderful little meat patties can be ready in just 15 minutes!  Grilling them, which is traditional, will of course take a little longer.  I most DEFINITELY liked the flavor and confess I can eat two of them they are so good.  I serve them typically with tzatziki yogurt sauce or my Shawarma mayo.  The flavor of the leftovers only  improves these!  This meat mixture would also make great meatballs added to Mediterranean casserole dishes with eggplant, tomatoes and feta. If you have some low-carb tortillas on hand, make the wrap shown above,  on the table in no time.  This recipe can be made with beef or lamb and is suitable for all phases of Atkins.  Primal-Paleo folks can eat this meat on a Greek salad or plan-suitable “wrapper”.  When used in wraps, my delicious tzatziki sauce is very good on these sandwiches, particularly with a little extra chopped parsley sprinkled on top!   Another great choice is some of my homemade Shawarma Mayo as the sauce reminds me of Shawarma sandwich wraps I’ve had in the past.  Click here for the recipe for my no-flour  tortilla wraps.


1 lb. ground beef or lamb (pork works for me, but pork is not eaten in the Middle East)

about 1/3 c. kale or spinach leaves

¼ c. parsley

1 oz. onion

1 clove garlic

½ jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine

¼ c. feta cheese, crumbled

Dash each salt, pepper & allspice

1/8 tsp. my salt-free Homemade Cavender’s Greek Seasoning

1 T. za’atar sauce

1 medium egg

DIRECTIONS:  Place all but the meat in a food processor or blender. Pulse until fine, but don’t reduce it to paste in texture.  You want it about like pesto sauce.  Place the meat in a bowl and with a rubber spatula, scrape the spice/herb mixture on the meat.  With a fork or your hands, blend it all together like you would a meatloaf mixture.  Form into 6 equal patties.  These are traditionally cooked over charcoal on your grill, but almost as good browned in non-stick or lightly oiled skillet on each side until meat in completely cooked.  Your choice. Serve at once with your favorite sides or veggies OR let it cool off a bit, slice the patties laterally so that each one will make a Mediterranean-style wrap sandwich butter-grilled on your favorite plan-suitable tortilla/pita type bread.  If you are using cold, leftover meat for a sandwich the next day, after slicing the patties, I would sear a couple seconds in a non-stick skillet to warm them slightly.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 6 patties, each contains:  (numbers are only for the meat)

240 cals, 19g fat, 1.65g carbs, 0.33g fiber, 1.32g NET CARBS, 15 g protein, 155 mg sodium

Lebanese Baked Chicken (Frarej)

Lebanese Baked Chicken

This recipe has been one of my most popular Middle Eastern recipes therefore I would be remiss in not including it in our adventure through my Middle Eastern recipe collection.  It has garnered millions of Facebook fans where I once maintained a presence, during those years I was on the Low Carbing Among Friends team.  I no longer maintain a Facebook page or presence. 

Our dear friends in Dallas have taken us several times to a wonderful little Lebanese restaurant over in Ft. Worth named Hedary’s.  Family-operated for many years by a Lebanese family.  I can say their tabouleh  salad and kebabs are the best I’ve ever eaten.  So is their slow-roasted baked lemon chicken known as Frarej.  For those tables positioned close enough to do so, they used to serve their fresh-baked Lebanese bread all the way from behind the counter on long, paddled poles used to place them into and out of the ovens for cooking.   Don’t know if they still do that, but is sure was fun to watch!  Next time you’re in Ft. Worth, give Hedary’s a try! 

In the meantime…………………..experience their delicious baked chicken at home!  This Induction friendly version of their ever-popular lemony chicken dish is slightly changed, but just as yummy nonetheless.  The original dish has potato wedges, so I always substitute rutabaga or turnip wedges to keep the carbs reasonably low.  I did not include the root vegetables in the nutritional info below as I don’t always include them in the pan.  I tend to vary the vegetables I use based on what I have on hand.  So be sure to calculate the veggies you add (and consume) over and above what I consider to be the base recipe of onion, garlic and tomatoes.  If you have family that are not on Atkins, I would definitely use a few wedges of potato for those folks, as they soak up those tasty pan juices like a sponge and are sooooooo tasty.

My rendition is very close to the inspirational dish from Hedary’s, though the tomatoes are my personal addition.  I must confess, mine is good, but not QUITE as it is at Hedary’s.  Sigh.  I understand Hedary’s has left the original location and moved farther out in Ft. Worth somewhere.   This meal is easy to prepare and the oven basically does the work for you!  Gives a whole new meaning to Ron Popeel’s expression “Set it & forget it.” for a sheer heavenly, delicious dinner almost effortlessly.  🙂  Please follow directions closely as they are KEY to getting the best results.


4 T. olive oil

1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces, cutting breast in half (Do not remove skin or you will ruin this dish)

4 oz. onion cut into wedges (separate layers)

2 Roma tomatoes cut into wedges

6-10 cloves garlic, (leave half of them whole, mince the rest)

½ tsp. oregano

Juice of 1 lemon

Dash salt and pepper

OPTIONAL: Original dish had potato wedges and whole carrots roasted in the pan with the chicken.  The carrots are OK  but I’d substitute in pieces of rutabaga, turnip or daikon radish for the potato wedges to keep carbs down.

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 500º (therefore do NOT use a ceramic baking dish!).  Cut up chicken into separate pieces making 8 pieces in all.   I never use the back as I simmer that for broth to freeze for other purposes or it becomes dinner for my dogs.  🙂  Drizzle 1 T. of the olive oil on the bottom of a very large METAL baking/roasting pan (I use a 12 x 15 stainless steel metal pan).    If you don’t yet have a really large, good quality stainless steel roasting pan, I think it is one of the single most important investments you can make in your kitchen tools.  Place chicken skin side up  in the pan.  You don’t want any overlapping or crowding.  Do not use a glass/ceramic baking dish as it will break in a 500º oven.  

Crowding of this chicken and the veggies in the pan will result in deeper pan juices.  Deeper juices keeps chicken from crisping of the chicken, so use a really large pan.  Place tomato wedges around and in between chicken pieces.  Do the same with the onion pieces and add the garlic.  If using the root vegetables, cut them up and place them evenly around the chicken.  Squeeze the lemon over everything in the pan.  Drizzle remaining olive oil over the pan contents as well.   Lightly sprinkle some oregano or Greek seasoning over all (about 1/4-½ tsp, I don’t measure it).   Bake 30 minutes at 500º.  Baste with pan juices, lower heat to 350º and bake another 20 minutes or to internal temperature of 170º on a meat thermometer.   Baste with pan juices just before serving.  I like to place the juices in a gravy boat and have it on the table for basting the drier breast meat while eating.  If there are any juices leftover after the meal, I always freeze them and add them to the bottom of the next pan I make of this recipe (which is often!).  Each successive pan is therefore better than the last!  I like to serve this chicken dish with my Cucumber Mint Salad or my Tabouleh salad

NUTRITIONAL INFO: (does NOT include the optional vegetables).
Please note, these numbers are only approximate, because the actual counts will vary depending on which pieces of chicken and which roasted veggies you consume.

Serves 4, each 2-piece serving contains: (these numbers do not include the carrots or rutabaga)

447 cals, 30.4 g fat, 7.98 g carbs, 1.1 g fiber, 6.88 g NET CARBS, 34.8 g protein, 39 mg. sodium

Roasted Shawarma Vegetables


If you’re a Middle Eastern food fan, this is a must try!  This dish is incredibly easy to make and is exceptionally good with charcoal-grilled meats.  Shown above with a rib-eye steak but these are equally good with grilled chicken or shrimp.  This flavor reminds me so much of the eggplant stew Khoresh-e-Bademjan I ate when we lived in Teheran.  I have even been known to cook the veggies in a grilling basket right on the grill with the meat!  It’s even BETTER that way!   This dish always elicits a thumbs up from diners and definitely sits proudly amongst my very best-tasting veggie recipes.  You can certainly use other spice blends here, but the Shawarma blend is what makes this recipe truly unique!  This is an Atkins Induction friendly recipe.  If you have leftovers, I often cut up any leftover grilled meats and toss it right in the vegetables for lunch the next day.  You will find that this is one of those dishes that just tastes better every time you reheat it, assuming there ARE any leftovers! 😉  This veggie or veg with meat combo dinner is also good baked in the oven when the weather doesn’t accommodate grilling.


1 medium yellow squash cut in 1″ chunks (or zucchini is OK)
1 small eggplant (about 10-12 oz) cut in ½” slices, then cut those in quarters
4 plum tomatoes cut into quarters
1 green, yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and cut in 1″ chunks
1 red bell pepper seeded and cut in 1″ chunks
1 purple onion cut into ½” wedges, layers separated
12 cloves garlic (one entire bulb, cloves peeled but left whole)
2 T. my Shawarma Spice Blend
¼ tsp. each salt & black pepper (opt.)

Splash of  olive oil (about 2 T., or more if you can afford the calories)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 425º.  Cut up all veggies and place in large mixing bowl.  Drizzle olive oil over all and stir well to coat all veggies with oil and seasonings.  Toss to try and coat all veggies with oil.  Splash on the extra olive oil if using.  Pour all into glass casserole dish and bake at 425º for about 30-40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Serves 6, each serving contains:

91 calories, 5.0 g  fat, 11.45 g  carbs, 3.48 g  fiber, 7.97 NET CARBS, 2.22 g  protein, 105  mg. sodium

Shawarma Spice for Chicken

Click to enlarge

As we travel south out of Turkey, we come to the Eastern Mediterranean nations of Syria, Lebanon and Israel.  I have been to Beirut, but quite honestly, didn’t find the foods there to be very different from those in Greece, Turkey and Iran.  They do the stuffed grape leaves, hummus, tabouleh, grilled kibbeh meat kebabs and a lot of rice dishes with lentils, nuts and dried fruit.  I have never been to Syria or Israel, so my only exposure to their cuisines is through cookbooks and on-line recipes.

One flavor I associate with Middle Eastern dining is the taste of cumin in their dishes.  I’ve mentioned before in other recipes how much we love a chicken Shawarma spice mixture we used to buy at the Phoenicia Deli/Importer on Westheimer in Houston, TX.  I believe the family that owned it was Egyptian, but not certain about that.  My huge 1# bag of the spice was getting real low so I decided I better try to come up with my own version before it was totally gone and I would lose the capability to compare any trials to the flavor of the real thing!  Houston is 3 hours away, so buying another isn’t an option and they do not have a website for placing orders.  😦

So I took my almost empty container of this spice and studied it closely.  First I went for visual clues as to its possible ingredients. I could clearly see black pepper in it.  It had a yellow hue, so turmeric was there.  I could actually see bits of coriander seed husk in it.  Then I went for smell and taste.  I could taste cumin for certain.  I could definitely detect a little “bite” on my tongue, so I also included a wee bit of cayenne to the final recipe.    At that point I was stymied and decided to just go for it.  I mixed the few things I felt certain were present.

I usually start with equal amounts of spices when creating a blend, backing off a bit on cayenne, as I don’t like things too hot, and their shawarma blend was not “hot” at all really.  But when all was stirred and tasted, something was still missing.  Seemed a bit flat compared to the original Phoenicia product.  So I decided to spunk it up with a little onion powder and garlic powder.  A little of those never hurt anything, right?  Finally I was close enough to the original blend to just stop!  Here’s the final result of my endeavors.  This one does NOT disappoint, folks.


3 T. ground cumin seed

2 T. ground coriander seed

1 T. turmeric

1 T. black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

DIRECTIONS:  Mix all on a paper plat.  Curl/fold plate and pour contents into a lidded jar.  Store spices in a dark cabinet.  This is sprinkled on broiled chicken or chicken that you plan to grill outside for the famous Shawarma chicken sandwich wraps. I find I also like it on a plain cooked ground beef patty or broiled fish, on oven-roasted chicken and even roasted vegetables!  I like it so much I always put 1-2 T. of it into a double batch of my homemade mayonnaise recipe.  Mmm.  That is good on all sandwiches and makes a great dressing for your meat wraps!

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Makes 8 T. or 24 tsp.  One teaspoon contains:

7.2 cals, 0.27 g  fat, 1.28 g  carbs, 0.47 g fiber, 0.81 g NET CARBS, 0.27 g protein, trace sodium

Turkish Pide (pronounced pee-day)

Moving north out of Iraq, we end up in Turkey.   I spent a very long day in Turkey’s Istanbul airport once.  That part of my trip home to the States I would never willingly repeat.  but the day included a wonderful little food experience I’ll never forget.  I understand they make something similar to this ‘pizza-like’ dish in several Arab nations.   How it is constructed may change a bit from country to country (probably spices, too), but the concept remains the same.

We purchased it at a little eaterie near the airport in Istanbul.  Our flight was laid over due to an engine problem.  They said the  replacement engine had to be flown in from Paris, so the ‘short wait’ ended up spanning a period of about 16 hours in all.  They kept announcing over the loud speaker it would just be another hour, so we were afraid to leave the airport for a hotel room, meal or any tourist sight-seeing when it got light in the morning.   😦  Sixteen hours on those hard wooden benches in the airport didn’t afford much sleep for this 12 year old (at the time).

At one point my parents sent my older brother and I on a food obtaining mission around the airport.  We were all beginning to get pretty hungry.  One food vendor had something that intrigued us.  He called it (what sounded like) “pee day”  🙂 .  Of course, being children, we found the name funny and smiled at each other.   The item looked good, so we bought some and carried it back to where Mom and Dad were.  They had been sick our entire trip back home.  We loved the pide and gobbled it down!

We had no idea what we were eating, but could tell it was spiced ground lamb with a ‘pizza’ crust.  Years later, at a Barnes & Noble bookstore,  I found this dish mentioned in a book on Middle Eastern cuisine that was organized by country.   After gaining more knowledge of Middle Eastern spices over the years, I made a feeble attempt to reproduce the flavors of this food memory.  My recipe is close, but surely not quite the same.

I have also learned that Pide is typically served during the Moslem religious holiday known as Ramadan.  It is shared when the feasting begins after the long fast.  What we ate was clearly made with a whole wheat flat bread dough similar to Iranian noon/naan.  My version posted here is instead made with my Mozzy Dough to keep it relatively low in carbs.  My husband ranted about this the first time I made it for him, so I think you will like it as well!   

This recipe is not suitable for Atkins Induction as the dough has a small amount of flour product in it (it’s in the Carbquik).   Although this is a main entrée, it can be served in smaller slices as snack food.  It goes over well at parties but does requires a plate and fork if served in the traditional longboat shape.  For party serving, I have formed the dough into small mini muffin cups and filled with smaller portions of the toppings to make it more manageable as finger food.


½ recipe my Mozzy Dough

8 oz. lean ground beef (or lamb, to be authentic)

2 oz. onion, finely chopped

15 San Marzano mini tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes), chopped

3/4 c. parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp. Baharat Spice

¼ tsp. each: dried mint

¼ tsp. crushed dried fenugreek leaves (optional, but a key flavor for me)

¼ tsp. each salt and coarse black pepper

DIRECTIONS:  Make the Mozzy Dough per that recipe’s instructions, reserving half the dough for another use.  It freezes well in a plastic bag.  Roll the dough into a fat canoe/longboat shape about 12″ x 7″ on a parchment lined sheet pan.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375º.  Brown the beef (or lamb) in a skillet with the onion.  Add the parsley and all seasonings listed above.  Cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes to tenderize the onions.  Remove and spoon evenly into the “canoe” of dough, leaving a good inch of dough free of filling.  Sprinkle the chopped tomatoes on top.  Fold the uncovered dough up over the meat to create the sides of the “canoe”, pinching the pointed ends together with your fingers to help maintain the “canoe” shape.  Traditionally, they sprinkle sesame seeds on the sides of the “canoe” dough before baking but I did not, as the hubs isn’t fond of seeds on/in breads.    Pop into 375º oven for about 20-25 minutes or until begins to brown.  Remove from oven and cut into four equal portions.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:    As a meal, makes 4 servings of pide (cut smaller into snack size for lower carbs), each contains:

316 calories, 23.5g fat, 12.17g carbs, 6.2g fiber, 5.97g NET CARBS, 24.424 g protein, 476mg sodium

Imam Bayildi (Stuffed Eggplant)

These tasty stuffed eggplant will fill you right up! If you’ve eaten Dolmades in Greece, it was a tasty meat/rice filled rolled grape leaf; in Iran, it is folded into a square box shape and they call them Dolmeh.   Stuffed peppers are called Dolmas in some Middle Eastern countries.  Whatever the specific name, whatever the country, these things have a lot of flavor layers to excite your palate.  My stuffed eggplant is yet another form of dolma seen in most Middle Eastern cookingI know they usually choose the slender oblong strain of eggplant for making Imam Bayildi in most parts of the Middle East, rather than the larger, fat eggplants we grow primarily in the U.S., shown above.  We use what we have on hand, right?   

This dish is actually quite easy to make.  It’s a little carb-y, but that’s because of the eggplant itself, not what’s in the stuffing.  No empty carb/calorie fillers in this recipe!  This dish is suitable for all phases of Atkins and Keto diets if you can fit the carbs into your daily limits. It is also suitable for Primal and will even work for Paleo if you sub in chia gel or an extra egg for the ricotta or cream cheese.


2 T. coconut oil

1  16-oz. whole eggplant, stemmed and cut in half lengthwise

10 oz. ground beef (or lamb)

2 oz. onion, chopped

¼ tsp. sea salt

Dash black pepper

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cumin

1 Roma tomato, seeded & chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 T. fresh spearmint, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried mint)

Pinch crushed dried dill leaf

2 beaten eggs

1/4 c. ricotta or cream cheese (instead use chia gel or an extra egg for a Paleo version)

VARIATION:   Add just a few (1-2 T.) scissor-snipped raisins to the filling.

DIRECTIONS:  Melt the oil in a very large skillet over high heat.  Place eggplant in the pan cut-side down.  Brown the cut surface, pressing the eggplant halves down with your hand as they cook.  Cook them for about 10-15 minutes.  Remove them to a cutting board to cool a bit.

Add the meat to the skillet and brown over medium-high heat.  Add the onion toward the end of the browning process and cook until pretty tender.  Add the seasonings next.  Lower heat and simmer 5 minutes or so to let the spices mingle in the meat nicely.  Turn off heat.

Preheat oven to 350º.  Using a knife slice or scoop out most of the eggplant flesh from the halves, leaving about 1/2″ of the flesh intact on the skin for shell support during baking.  Place the two hollowed out shells in a baking pan.

Next, chop the scooped out eggplant flesh into ½” dice and add back into the meat mixture in the skillet.  If the eggplant is still opaque in places (likely it is not fully done), turn the fire on to medium and stir/simmer the meat-eggplant mixture until the eggplant is pretty tender.  Turn off heat.

Stir the beaten eggs into the ricotta and add to the meat mixture and mix well to bind and moisten the filling.  Spoon half the mixture into each eggplant shell.  Pop the pan into your preheated oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the shells appear to be fully cooked.  Pairs nicely with my Iranian Mint Cucumber Salad as shown.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:    Makes two large adult servings, each contains:

467 cals, 42 g fat, 19.85 g carbs, 9.25 g fiber, 10 g NET CARBS, 38.4 g protein, 499 mg sodium

Middle Eastern Stuffed Peppers

When they stuff grape leaves, peppers, tomatoes, onions, or whatever in the Middle East with meat mixtures, they call that food ‘Dolma‘ (or a word similar), which literally means “stuffed”.  

I haven’t had these particular stuffed peppers since I lived in Iran but I do stuff peppers with a variety of meat mixtures fairly often.  Our maid in Iran made something like this for us one time.    I remember she put raisins in her meat filling, which I thought very odd at the time.  That jacks up the carbs too high for me on my low-carb regimen, since peppers themselves are pretty carb-y.  So I tend to leave out the raisins.   If I think I can splurge a bit, I’ll snip up a few with kitchen shears and add them since they add so much flavor.   Fatimeh also used bulgur wheat in hers, whereas I used lower-carb hemp seeds.  Even with my changes, the peppers themselves have quite a bit of carbs, as you can see in the stats below.  But peppers are so good for you, I don’t care.  I’m just going to fix stuffed peppers once in awhile and that’s a fact!   One of these is a serving and fills me right up.  These are suitable once you get to Phase 2 Atkins.  Keto folks can probably fit these macros into their day with menu planning.  These are also suitable for those following Primal or Paleo programs.


4 medium-large green peppers (or any other color you like)

20 oz. lean ground beef

2½ oz. onion, chopped

3/4 c. chopped parsley

1   14.5-oz (total) can diced low-sodium tomatoes

3 T. hemp seeds/hearts

1 tsp. each turmeric, dried mint and dried dill

1½ tsp. ground cinnamon

Dash each salt and pepper

VARIATIONS:  Use ground lamb instead of beef.  Use cooked lentils instead of hemp seeds (carbs will go up with lentils).  If you can are in maintenance and can afford the extra carbs, add 2 T. snipped raisins to the meat mixture before filling the peppers. 

DIRECTIONS:   Cut the tops off the peppers.  Pull out the seed cluster and discard.  Save the “lids” if you want to use them for plate presentation, otherwise, chop the flesh and save all but the stem in a baggie in the refrigerator for future pepper needs.  Parboil the peppers in a braising/soup pot of water 1″ deep for just 2-3 minutes to slightly cook them.  Carefully drain off water and stand the peppers cut-side up in the pot.  Set aside for now.

For the filling, in a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the meat and onion together.  Add half of the can of tomatoes (just solids) to the meat and stir.  Add all remaining ingredients and simmer 5 minutes to cook off any water in the tomatoes.  Preheat oven to 350º while you are simmering the meat.  After 5 minutes of cooking, spoon the filling equally into the peppers.  Place pepper “lids” on top if using. Pour the remaining diced tomatoes and their liquid down into the bottom of the pan around the peppers as shown below to help the peppers remain moist during cooking.  Pop your cook pot into a 350º oven for about 40-50 minutes.  The amount of time will depend upon the size of your peppers and the thickness of the pepper “walls”.  Bigger/thicker peppers will take more time.  If they look like they are about ready to  collapse, they’re done!  As the filling is totally cooked, you just want to cook the peppers until they are tender and not fall-apart stage, so keep an eye on them (ovens vary).

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 4 stuffed peppers, each contains approximately:

391 cals, 22g fat, 17.07g carbs (in the tomatoes and peppers), 5.9g fiber, 12.17g NET CARBS, 32.7g protein, 443 mg sodium

Iraqi Grilled Chicken

Up until now, I have only used my Baharat spice in braised chicken dishes, braised beef and braised lamb.  When I created this recipe, I tried it both grilled (traditional) and baked in the oven.  I was most pleased with both methods of preparation actually.  Very tasty both ways!  In Iraq, they would most likely use whole, cut-up chicken pieces as I doubt Cornish hens are available there.  When I do this dish for company, I like use Cornish Hens simply for the visual impact at the table.  Meat doesn’t taste one bit different.  

Allow a whole bird per person when buying your Cornish hens; allow 2 pieces of cut-up whole chicken per person.  Most women and men will only eat ½ Cornish hen, generally speaking, when two sides are served with it.  I have seen men eat a whole Cornish hen, as some sold are quite small (others can be pretty good size).  I rarely can eat a whole bird if serving with just salad (which I do often).  If I fix 2 sides, ½ Cornish hen fills me right up.  This recipe is suitable for all phases of Atkins, Keto diets, Primal and Paleo as well.


2    1-1¼ pound Cornish game hens

4 T. unsalted butter  (use less if you need to cut calories)

1 tsp. my homemade Baharat Spice Blend

½ tsp. Aleppo pepper  (or dried, ground ancho chile pepper)

1/4 tsp. onion powder

Optional:  1/2 tsp. sumac (if available)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350º.  Melt the butter in a saucer in the microwave.  Stir in the spices to mix well.  Split the hens in half up the back bone with a knife or kitchen shears.  This technique is referred to as spatchcocking or butterflying the bird.   If grilling, prepare the fire.  When it is hot, place the pieces evenly (or butterflied Cornish Hens cut side down).  I baking them, place on a grate set inside a baking pan to catch juices. 

Using a brush, baste the hens well with the spice-butter mixture.  Pop pan into 350º oven and bake for 45 minutes.  If grilling, cook (turning once midway) to internal temperature of 165º in the breast.  Turn up oven to 375º and continue to roast for about 15 more minutes to brown the skin.   Watch them closely this last 15 minutes, as ovens can vary.  When a meat thermometer poked in the center of the breast meat should read 165º at which time they are properly cooked.  Remove from oven or grill and serve 1 Cornish Hen to each man at the table;  half a bird to the women at the table.  The other halves of the women’s birds are usually leftover at my house.  

Traditionally, this meat is grilled.  Try it that way first as it is truly memorable grilled!  But also try it just baked in your oven sometime so you can see the difference.  This meat pairs nicely with any side dishes you like.  I serve it with a sauté of spinach and kale and my Iranian Mint Cucumber Salad.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 4 servings (I allow ½ hen per person), each contains:

501 cals, 39.3 g fat, 0.62 g carbs, 2.50 g fiber, 2.12 g NET CARBS, 34.1 g protein, 347 mg sodium

Iraqi Stewed Shrimp

I created a tasty dish using Baharat and shrimp some time ago.  This dish is not an authentic Iraqi recipe, but it might be if it were done with chunks of fish filets added the last 5-7 minutes of cooking instead of using shrimp.  Being land-locked, Iraq doesn’t have access to shellfish other than down on the small coastline along the Persian Gulf.    I like to call this creation ‘Iraqi gumbo’.  It certainly reminds me of gumbo in appearance, although not much like Louisiana gumbo in flavor.  This shrimp entrée really delivers on flavor.  Hope you’ll try it and do think you’ll like it!  This curry-like dish is quite different from Indian curries.  The flavor of cloves in the Baharat spice, so unique to food in the Arab world, is really quite nice with shrimp.  Guess that’s why it is always in those pouches of shrimp boil spices we buy at the grocery store.  

As written, this recipe is suitable for Induction.  If you have already reached the fruit rung of OWL, this is greatly enhanced served with a side of butter-seared, lengthwise sliced banana halves.  In fact, this banana side dish is outstanding with ALL curry dishes, in my opinion.  For those not on a low-carb diet, this is usually served with basmati rice, but low carbers can have it on steamed cauliflower rice or it is also delicious on my Seared Eggplant slices.    


2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 T. butter, melted (I use unsalted)

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 oz. onion, sliced

3 Roma tomatoes, quartered

¼ c. each parsley and cilantro, chopped

1 tsp. turmeric

Dash each black and cayenne pepper

1½ c. water (or mixture of water and seafood stock if available)

1 T. Iraqi Spice Blend (Baharat):

about ¼ tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum

12 oz. zucchini or Mexican zucchini (calaba squash), cut into 1″ chunks (unpeeled eggplant is a great substitute here)

DIRECTIONS: Peel shrimp and set aside.  Melt butter in large stew pot.  I use a large non-stick oven-proof wok for such dishes.   Add onion and cook over high heat until lightly browned. Add spices and saute 1 minute so the spices release their aroma.  Add parsley, cilantro, tomatoes and water/stock.  If using cubed squash add now, along with  water/stock and stir well.  Once the stew reaches a boil, lower heat and cover.  Simmer about 60 minutes total, when squash should be fully done and the flavors will have blended nicely.  If using eggplant, add about 20 minutes before stew is done cooking so it won’t completely fall apart.  Lightly dust a bit of the xanthan gum over the surface and slowly stir in, allowing the sauce to “set up” between dustings, as you don’t want this to get too thick.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Depending on how you’re serving this dish, as a gumbo/stew, or served atop cauliflower rice or eggplant, I can’t know exactly how many servings you will get from this recipe.  So I’m giving macros as follows:

Entire recipe contains 1978 cals, 65g fat, 83g carbs, 21g fiber, 61g NET CARBS, 249g protein 5547 mg sodium  

Served as stew/gumbo, it should serve 5-6 people with a 1½ c. serving that will contain approximately: 329.67 cals, 10.83g fat, 13.83g carbs, 3.5g fiber, 10.33g NET CARBS, 41.5g protein, 924.5 mg sodium 

Served atop cauli-rice or eggplant, your serving sizes will be more like 1 c. and you’ll probably realistically get 9 servings, I would imagine.  I’ll let you do that math from the “entire recipe” stats above, based on how generous you are with the mixture when dipping up onto each plate.     

Baharat Spice Blend

Moving a little west of Iran on our food journey, we would be in Iraq.  When I was attending UT Austin, two of the fellows in my future husband’s social circle and roommates were Middle Eastern.  One, Sabah, was a native Iraqi and Farouk, whose father was Syrian and his mother was French (so he was fluent in French).  Farouk and I were even in a French literature class together there.  They often talked about the good foods from their native countries, both insisting the rice from their country was the best in the world.   Having never tasted rice from either country, I always said I personally couldn’t imagine any rice being better than that we ate in Iran.  

Intrigued about our culinary discussions I read in a Middle Eastern cookbook about Baharat Spice.  Never gave it another thought until after I married and started doing a little Mid-East cooking myself.  Baharat is quite common throughout all the Middle Eastern nations along the Mediterranian:  Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan,  even in Iraq.  I don’t recall it in Iran, but it might be possible they may have used it, too.  This spice mixture varies somewhat from country to country, and even from kitchen to kitchen.  I have seen recipes for it that also have dried mint and hot red chili pepper.  My husband is particularly fond of beef and lamb dishes made with this spice blend.

A couple of years after our tour in Iran, Dad was teaching at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas and was asked to ‘sponsor’ a visiting Iraqi officer stationed there for 6 weeks (military command school there).  Sponsoring a newcomer in the military means to help them feel welcome to the base/post, the city, the country, and to show them the ropes of American culture they have been abruptly immersed in.  Dad’s experience mixing with many Iranian officers gave him the experience to do so.

To make a long story short, This Iraqi officer dined in our home several times and before he went back home to Iraq, he insisted my mother allow him to cook us a traditional Iraqi dinner.  Let me just say it was delicious beyond words!  He was quite impressed my mother had Iranian rice on hand (200 lb. of which we had shipped back home with us when we left Iran, it’s THAT unusual and THAT good!).  He was blown away that she also knew how to prepare it traditionally, to create that wonderful nutty-tasting, crusty browned layer at the bottom of the rice pot that is so prized at the Middle Eastern dinner table.

He was also impressed she already had all the requisite spices to prepare his special meal.  Being a veteran recipe collector, Mom wrote down every little thing he was threw into pot the next morning lest she forget.  Sadly, I have not found it amongst her recipe collection or I would post it for you.

This spice mixture is also good in regional seafood dishes, on grilled fish and for most lamb recipes.  I use it on beef kebab as well.


2 T. black peppercorns

1 whole nutmeg, grated

1 tsp. turmeric

2 T. paprika

1 tsp. allspice

1 T. cumin seed

1 T. coriander seed

1 stick cinnamon, 3″ long (yields 1 tsp. ground)

1 tsp. cloves, whole (or allspice)

1 tsp. cardamom seed (Removed from outer husk/pod coating

DIRECTIONS: Break up the cinnamon stick a bit and place in spice grinder.  Grind until quite powdery.  Add all other spices and grind as fine as possible.  Depending on the size of your grinder, you may have to grind these in batches and then stir up in a bowl.  Place spice blend in an air tight jar and store in dark cupboard.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Makes about 1/2 cup (8 T.) of spice mixture.  Each tsp. contains:

6 calories, 0.26 g  fat, 1.25 g  carbs, 0.6 g fiber, 0.65 g NET CARBS, 0.24 g protein, 0 mg sodium

Pistachio-Rosewater Cookies

Click to enlarge

Before we move on from Iran to another area of Middle Eastern cooking, I want to share one last fond memory of our stay there.  That was going into the Iranian and German bakeries that dotted the city streets.  Exciting sweets like “Birds Nest” phyllo cups filled with chopped pistachios and drizzled with honey.  They also made a wonderful baklava with almonds, honey and rosewater.  Rosewater is a commonly used dessert flavoring in the Middle East.  I use Sadaf brand available in Middle Eastern Groceries and you can also order it on-line.

One particular sugar shortbread-like cookie at a bakery near our house was one of my favorites.  They were made with pistachio nuts and a hint of rosewater.  Theirs were not iced, but I would like that addition.  I decided today I would try my hand at a basic refrigerator sugar cookie recipe, using alternate flour ingredients and artificial sweeteners, of course.  The result was quite nice.  These are similar to what I remember from that bakery.  These are delicious and I really like that you can just refrigerate, slice off a few and bake just the number you want/need.  The total recipe of dough will make about 4 dozen cookies, if they are sliced about ¼” thick.   This recipe is not suitable until the grains rung of OWL.

This is my first experiment using the bake mix of a former member of Low Carb Friends forums, KevinPa.  Sadly, Kevin passed away and his baking expertise is sorely missed by folks like me who greatly admired his culinary prowess.  The various bake mixes and flour substitutes called for in this recipe can be varied with likely the same good result, so if you don’t have the ingredients for Kevin’s mix, you could just use all Jennifer’s mix and get about the same result.

This roll of batter can also be frozen.  Just remember to thaw before attempting to slice.

VARIATION:  Omit the pistachios and substitute chopped almonds for another tasty shortbread cookie.


2 sticks butter, unsalted, softened

2 small or 1 large egg

¼ tsp. salt

2 oz. pistachios, coarsely chopped

1 T. + 1 tsp. Rosewater (I use Sadaf brand)

½ c. granular Splenda

¼ c. erythritol

1 c. KevinPa’s Bake Mix, Peggy’s Version (see that below)

½ c almond flour

½ c. Jennifer Eloff’s Splendid LowCarb Bake Mix

2 T. Carbquik Bake Mix

1 T. oat fiber

DIRECTIONS:  In a medium bowl, soften the butter and beat the egg into it well.  Add the salt, nuts, sweeteners and rosewater.  Measure and mix in each of the bake mixes.  Mix well and shape into a log on waxed paper.  Roll the log up snugly and chill for about 2 hours.  Preheat oven to 350º.  Slice off in ¼” slices and place on silicone or parchment lined baking sheet (these don’t spread much during cooking.   Bake for 10-12 minutes (don’t let get too brown) and remove to cool.  Ice with your favorite cream cheese frosting with 1/2 tsp. rosewater added and sprinkle with some finely chopped pistachios, if desired.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes about 48 cookies, each contains (does not include icing or nut garnish):

63.63 cals, 5.68 g  fat, 2.10 g  carbs, 1.10 g  fiber, 1 NET CARB, 1.83 g  protein, 20mg sodium

Kevin’s Bake Mix (MY version of it):

½ c. Carbalose flour

¼ c. wheat protein isolate 5000

1 T.  wheat protein isolate 8000

1½ T. almond flour

1½ T. resistant WHEAT starch (Kevin used resistant corn starch)

1¼ tsp. Splenda

½ tsp. xanthan gum (Kevin used Not/Sugar)

Iranian Mint-Cucumber Salad

Iranian Cucumber Salad

This is one of those recipes I make so often, I no longer even think of it as a recipe.  It’s just what I do with cucumbers, most times.  I keep saying I’m going to upload it to the blog, but frankly have just kept forgetting to do it.  I think it’s high time I shared this one.  It’s so darn good with Middle Eastern foods!

When I lived in Iran,  our maid Fatimeh made this salad often for us.  She made hers, of course, with traditional Iranian sheep or goat yogurt, as that was what was available.  I prefer it made sour cream or Greek Yogurt.   This is absolutely delicious with baked or grilled meats, grilled fish and all Middle Eastern foods.  We find it is even good with Indian food, as it is similar to their raita salad.

Fatimeh also made us a cucumber dish similar to Greek Tzatziki using 2 grated and well-drained cucumbers, enough yogurt to coat nicely and a bit of dried dill leaf (not dill seeds).   That national favorite is known as Maast-o-khiar and is served alongside grilled kubideh and Iranian Grilled Chicken as well as being used as a simple bread ‘dip’.  Dill is problematic for me, as it doesn’t sit well on my stomach (nor does fresh basil).  The dried forms of these two herbs do not bother me…..just the fresh.  So I much prefer Fatimeh’s sliced cucumber salad with mint.

This salad is suitable for all phases of Atkins, Keto diets and Primal Blueprint, if you eat sour cream or yogurt.


1   8″ long cucumber, peeled or not, your preference

¼ c. sour cream or Greek yogurt (or a mixture of the two)

2 tsp. crushed dried spearmint (or 1 T. fresh finely chopped)

Dash of salt

VARIATION:    Add 1 T. finely minced onion

DIRECTIONS:  Peel cucumber if that is your preference.  Cut into slides not too thin and place in a bowl of water with ice cubes in it.  Chill there for 15-20 minutes.  Strain off water and ice and dump the slices onto some paper towels.  Pat them dry with more paper towels and place in a medium mixing bowl.  Finely crush the mint between your palms and add to the bowl.  You can use fresh mint, of course, but the dried is what Fatimeh used.  I have been known to use a mixture of dried and fresh.   Add the sour cream (or yogurt) and dash of salt.  Stir until all sides of the cucumbers are coated with sour cream and mint.  Place in a pretty serving bowl.   Garnish with mint or tomatoes if desired and serve right away or the dressing will get watery from the bleeding moisture of from the cucumbers.  When I serve this for company, I toss the sour cream on at the very last minute before serving. 🙂

NUTRITIONAL INFO:    Makes 4 small servings, each contains:

40 cals, 3.15 g fat, 2.25 g carbs, 0.57 g fiber, 1.68 g NET CARBS, 1 g protein, 87 mg sodium

Iranian Kubideh (meat kebabs)

Iranian Kubideh 2

I’ve mentioned living in Teheran in my childhood.  Dad, USAF,  was  basically teaching their officer pilots to fly the newly acquired American F-84 and F-86 jets.  Our assigned motor pool driver, Reza, a serving soldier in the Iranian Army, loved to cook and hunt.  Dad & Reza hunted duck, pheasant and gazelle a number of times while we were there.    One time, Reza shot a prairie chicken that was right along the roadside on one of our drives down to Isfahan.   The area was wide-open desert terrain, no habitation, so why not?   Reza hid the feathered bird  in a cloth tucked under his arm as we entered the hotel restaurant that evening and were being seated.  Reza asked the waiter if the chef would be willing to cook it up for us.  In just a few minutes, the chef came to our table and said he’d be delighted to whip up a tasty braised Fesenjan (Reza’s self-proclaimed favorite food), if we could be patient.   This chicken in this dish is braised in the oven and has walnuts and pomegranate kernels in the sauce.  Took a long time, but man, was it ever worth waiting for when it came to the table!  There’s not much meat on a single prairie chicken, but all 5 of us got a small portion.  Luckily, we ordered plenty of other tasty dishes to round out the meal.  I still make Fesenjan and definitely need to post in here here on the blog.

On the rare weekend, Reza would even cook one of his favorites in our home, to show off his culinary skills.  On one such occasion he made us Kubideh on the grill, another of his favorites.  Although I have been able to run down many recipes for it on-line.  My version evokes the flavors of his.  The jalapeno is not traditional but what can I say?  I’m in Texas and we put jalapeno in most everything we grill!  🙂  It does not make these overly spicy “hot”, just adds a nice flavor layer in my opinion.  Your call on adding it or not.

Kubideh are traditionally made with lamb, but as I explained in my last post,  I prefer using ground beef.   When grilling your kubideh, you want them somewhere between the doneness stage of the kubideh on the left side of the platter and the kebabs on the right side of the platter in the photo above.  Obviously my husband’s fire was uneven on this occasion.   You’re aiming for a nice, light char on the meat.  The skewers in photo right are some lamb kebabs we grilled to freeze for a second, future meal.  We do that often when grilling.  🙂  This recipe is suitable for all phases of Atkins, Keto diets, Primal and Paleo.


1 lb. ground beef or lamb (preferably 80% lean)

1 egg, beaten

¼ c. parsley

1 oz. onion, minced very fine

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. allspice

¼ tsp. black pepper

Optional:  ½ jalapeno, seeded and minced fine

Optional:  1 T. bacon grease or softened butter, only if using 90% meat.  Not needed for 80% or 70% meat.

DIRECTIONS:   Soak wooden skewers for 20-30 minutes (if using).  This retards scorching of sticks during grilling.  Mix all ingredients well in a bowl with a fork or your hands like you would a meatloaf.     Dry off the skewers.  Form hot-dog like meat shapes on the wooden skewers, pressing the meat on tightly and as evenly as possible.   Set them on a platter as you form them. Prepare a hot charcoal fire.  Gently place the skewers of meat on your charcoal fire, disturbing the skewers as little as possible until the first side is lightly browned.  Carefully, with a large spatula, flip the skewers over.  If you use tongs, they are likely to tear up on you.  The voice of experience here.  Brown the second side of the kubideh.    Serve at once with a nice creamed spinach, a cucumber-tzatziki or sour cream mint salad or perhaps a quinoa side.  ENJOY! 🙂

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 4 kubideh, each contains:

371 cals, 30.4 g fat, 1.95 g carbs, 0.4g fiber, 1.55 g NET CARBS, 21.4g protein, 93 mg sodium (I add salt to meat at table so as not to dry meat out during cooking)

Iranian Lamb Curry

Continuing our journey throughout the Middle East, this has to be one of my fondest memories of our years there.   This dish Mom traditionally made with Iranian lamb, and I would eagerly eat it then.  I’m not fond of American lamb as it is much stronger tasting, so I now make this dish with beef.  Iranian lamb is processed under a year of age, and has thus not yet developed the stronger taste older lamb gets over time.  Once we got back to the States, where lamb is processed much older, I could no long stand the taste of lamb (not even New Zealand imported lamb).

I cannot stand to even smell lamb cooking in the kitchen, as it reminds me of the smell of the unrefrigerated meat markets we had to patronize in Iran!    Back in 1960, there was only one chain of meat markets in Teheran (German operated) that had refrigerators.  You haven’t lived until you’ve smelled pork and lamb carcasses hanging on the hook for hours in the summertime, heat often as high as 112º in the shade.  That olfactory memory just never goes away.  Nope, I just can’t do lamb, even though I’ve tried a few times since.  When my husband cooks lamb on the grill for himself, I make him clean the grill grate before we can do ribeyes on that grill again, my issues with U.S. lamb are so bad.  As we don’t have easy access to the mild tasting lamb of Iran, lamb is a non-meat for me.  Beef will have to do in those recipes.

This delicious curry is very simple to cook.   Traditionally served over Iranian rice, a most unique rice  and the best rice in the world in my opinion.  I has a wonderful, indescribably nutty, highly aromatic flavor (similar to basmati rice , but much, much better!).   It’s so unique my family shipped 250 lbs. of it back to the states in a huge metal storage drum.  We ate that rice for the next 6 years, until I graduated from high school actually!

On Atkins I avoid rice due to high carbs, plus I can’t get Iranian rice anymore, so I serve this curry over a bed of steamed, mashed cauliflower.  Or sometimes I grate the raw cauliflower into riced bits and microwave it 4 minutes on HI, stirring each minute.  Bananas sliced in half lengthwise (if you’ve reached Atkins Maintenance) seared off in a skillet with melted butter are absolutely GREAT eaten with this particular curry!   I just have to have my fried bananas with this curry!!  Try them with it  and you’ll see what I mean!  This curry sauce is actually quite different from Indian curries, in my opinion,  so I hope you’ll try this one if you’re a curry fan.  This recipe (without the bananas) is Atkins Induction friendly.


1 ½  lb. thinly-slivered lamb, beef chuck, flank or sirloin
2 T. olive oil
Enough water to cover the meat
1/2 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
4 oz. chopped yellow onion
2 T. chopped parsley
2 tsp. high quality curry powder (I use Sharwood’s mild)
1 T. tomato paste (2 if you’ve overdone the water)
Xanthan gum to thicken further, if desired

DIRECTIONS:  Brown meat over high heat in a deep skillet or wok. Cover (just) with water and add remaining ingredients. Simmer covered with lid for about 1 hour or until meat is fully tender. Time will vary with different meats and thickness used in slivering it up. Maintain water covering, adding a bit as you cook down the curry.  When your meat is tender (chuck will take the longest to get tender), lightly dust the curry sauce with xanthan gum a couple times (it doesn’t take much at all), stirring between each addition, allowing it to develop/thicken before adding more.   Too much is not a good thing when it comes to xanthan gum.   Stop when just when you’re satisfied with thickness (it only takes about 1/8-1/4 tsp xanthan gum in my experience).  Taste for salt and add to your taste.

If you need fewer servings, go on and cook the whole recipe, as it freezes well and like Italian food, it just seems to taste even better each time you reheat and serve it!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:  Serves 4, each serving has:

290.3 cals,12.6g fat, 3.88g carbs, 1.93g NET CARBS, 1.95g fiber, 38.58g protein, 39 mg  sodium



When I make Middle Eastern Tabouleh Salad I usually want some hummus to go along with it.  Being made from basically chickpeas, this is far from a low-carbers “safe” food to eat.  But I recently I saw where some make it with cauliflower for much lower carb count.   But when I tried it myself, I added just a few cooked chick peas for the flavor boost.  Very good that way.  Next trial, I used a little chickpea flour I keep in my pantry.   Much better than opening a whole can of chickpeas for just a few.

Man, if you’re craving hummus, this is really good.  I honestly couldn’t really tell it apart from the carb-laden variety made with all chickpeas!   This recipe is not suitable until the legumes rung of the OWL ladder.  The bread sticks pictured are made from 1 slice of my focaccia bread

NOTE:  This hummus is not so great leftover.  The cauliflower taste gets much stronger on day 2.  So only make up as much as you think will get consumed completely the day you make it.  I recommend making a half recipe the first time around to be sure you like and can eat it all.  


16 oz. cauliflower

2 T. tahini paste (sesame seed butter)

2 T. chickpea flour (or ¼ c. cooked chickpeas. mashed up well)

1 T. fresh lemon juice

½ clove garlic, minced

dash salt

1 T. olive oil (for the hummus mixture)

¼ c. olive oil for top garnish

Dash paprika for garnish

parsley sprig to garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:   Steam cauliflower over boiling water until tender.  Lift out of pot and put into food processor.  Add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT the ¼ c. olive oil, paprika and parsley sprig.  Blend until smooth.  Scrape out onto serving dish.  Sprinkle with paprika.  Drizzle with ¼ c. olive oil, allowing some to pool around the edges.  Garnish with sprig of parsley (or chopped) and serve with your favorite low-carb breadsticks or crackers.  I personally love this stuff best when served with Tabouleh Salad and black or kalamata olives.  The flavors are wonderful together!

NUTRITIONAL INFO:    Makes about 2 cups or around five servings.  Each serving contains:

196 cals, 17.76 g fat, 8.04 g carbs, 3.16 g fiber, 4.88 g NET CARBS, 3.46 g protein, minimal sodium.  Check out the other nutrients:  70% RDA Vitamin C, 18% B6, 16% E, 20% copper, 16% iron, 18% manganese, 15% phosphorous, and 14% thiamin.  A veritable medicine bottle, this one.

Za’atar Herb Blend

This lovely-tasting herb blend is common throughout the Middle East, most often mixed with quality olive oil to dip bread into.  I like a bit of it in the oil I encircle my hummus with.  It is also sprinkled on roasted or grilled chicken, grilled fish, or grilled lamb.  I have even used it myself over roasted root vegetables like carrots and parsnips!  We love the earthy herb flavor profile. 

It is all herbs and spices, with some toasted sesame seeds, so it does have carbs, but not many, plus herbs are so good for you.  I put no salt in mine, but you can add a bit if you like.  This recipe is suitable once you reach the nuts and seeds rung of the Atkins carb re-introduction ladder.  Keto, Primal and Paleo followers can also enjoy this flavorful condiment.


1 tsp. dried marjoram

2 T. dried oregano leaves

3 T. sumac

1 T. toasted sesame seeds

2 T. dried thyme leaves

½ tsp. Aleppo pepper (optional)

2 tsp. onion powder

Optional:  ¼ tsp. sea salt

DIRECTIONS:  Toast sesame seeds over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet or in your oven.  Watch them closely to not over brown.  Remove and pour them onto a paper plate or into a jar (that has a lid).  Add all remaining ingredients and stir/shake well.  Store in a lidded jar in your spice rack.  Will keep as long as the sesame seeds keep, or about a month or so.  Add ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil for a pita bread dip or to use on hummus.  If using on grilled/roasted meats, coat meat surface with olive oil and sprinkle on 1 T. of the spice mixture and cook meat as usual until properly done.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes about ½ cup, or 8 tablespoons.  1 T. contains (spice only, oil not included):

26 cals, 1.51g fat, 3.07g carbs, 1.68g fiber, 1.39g NET CARBS, 0.98g protein, 350 mg sodium (salt can be omitted and added at table).

Iranian ‘Noon-Sangak’ (Flat Bread)

Let’s get to that Noon Sangak flatbread I mentioned in my last  post.  How I miss Iranian street bread!  They cook in on pea gravel or pebbles in huge open ovens.  Bread is called ‘noon’ in Iran and the particular 2-foot sheet-bread I recall is called ‘sangak’, as it is cooked on an open-front, kiln-like oven directly on the surface of the white hot pebbles therein.  I found a wonderful video on this bread making I will share:  He uses much larger rocks, but you get the idea from his nice video.  The Teheran bakeries used a size pebble we call pea gravel here in the U.S.  The also used long-handled wooden paddles to reach in the ovens to just flip the oiled bread dough onto the pebbles, and long tongs for flipping the sheets over to cook the second side.  They picked off the burnt-on pebbles cursorily when it came out of the oven and quickly flopped the sheet onto awaiting brown paper for carrying home.         

This recipe for bread I have been working on for quite sometime in my attempts to replicate their bread with minimal flour.  It is finally to a nice point both in texture (somewhat chewy) and flavor.   Though not true ‘noon-sangak’ by any stretch of the imagination, as a low-carber that can’t eat a lot of whole wheat flour, it is similar in flavor and texture for serving with my Middle Eastern foods.   It is excellent right off the griddle hot with butter and will work well with your favorite curry recipes.  It also works for rolling and filling with eat mixtures or just for dipping into some hummus or Syrian Za’atar herb/oil mixture well-known throughout the Middle East.  I think any way you decide to serve it, this bread, for me, comes close to a ‘noon-sangak’ experience, minus the pebble part, that is.

This recipe is not suitable until you are at the grains rung of the Atkins carb re-introduction ladder as there is some flour product in it.  But I found this little bit of flour absolutely necessary.  All trials for flat breads to dat attempting to use coconut flour alone, almond flour alone or any combination have come out just awful in my opinion.  This bread is one step closer in the right direction.   


1 c. low-carb CarbQuik bake mix (or some other low-carb bake mix)

1 c. almond flour

½ c. Einkorn whole wheat flour (from Jovial Foods)

3 T. psyllium husk powder

1½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. sea salt

2 T. olive oil

1¼ c. boiling water (added slowly, as all may not be needed)

1 T. olive oil for browning on griddle

DIRECTIONS:   Bring a kettle of water to boil and pour off 1¼ c. into a measuring cup (preferably one with a pour spout) and have by your work bowl.  Measure dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir well to blend ingredients evenly.  Drizzle the 2 T. olive oil over the dry ingredients.  With water in your left hand and a fork in your right, slowly pour most of the water (1 c.) over the dry ingredients whisking with your fork continuously as you do so.  All should begin to come together into a single mass of dough.  It will firm up as you work the dough.  Only add the remaining water (in small increments) if the mass of dough seems too dry to knead.  Dough will be a little sticky at first, but it dries slowly as you work it.  Use a silicone spatula to help you work the dough into a contiguous ball of dough and to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get all the dough.  Let dough sit on counter for 12-15 minutes or until you can hand knead it.

Knead the dough 8-10 times.  You can dust your hands with some low-carb flour to help you with handling if need be, but if the dough has set long enough, it should be getting dry enough extra flour dusting should not be necessary.

Set dough ball on a silicone sheet (or a piece of plastic wrap “glued” to your counter with a swipe of water), form a log shape with the dough.  Cut the log into 8 equal pieces.  Roll each into a smooth ball of dough with your palms and set on the edge  of your silicone sheet while you work.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel if you are a slow worker so it won’t dry out.  Heat a non-stick griddle to medium-high heat.  The remaining 1 T. olive is for oiling the griddle.  With your spatula, dot the griddle lightly between batches as you cook the breads, much as you do when making pancakes.

I cook 2 round flat breads (or 2 oblong one) on my griddle (spans 2 stove burners).  Using your palms and fingers, press 1 ball of dough on your silicone sheet into a 5-5½” circle.  Again, you can dust your hands with low-carb flour if need be, but I found it wasn’t necessary.  Lifting the silicone sheet, tip the flat dough round onto your free hand and transfer to hot, oiled griddle.  Brown to a golden color on both sides.   Remove to a serving platter and set near stove to keep warm while you cook the remaining sheets.  Serve at once with butter, za’atar herb/oil mix or your favorite Middle Eastern foods.  

VARIATION:  If making to use as tortillas, divide the log of dough into TEN portions and roll it out much thinner, as thinly as you can.  Each tortilla will have 126 calories, 11g fat, 13.37g carbs, 7.7g fiber, 4.8g protein and 180 mg sodium

Iranian Grilled Chicken

Leaving Italy, let’s turn our fun food ‘tour bus’ a bit toward the east.   That part of the world produces so many  culinary delights.  As I’ve said before, we lived in Teheran for two years when I was just a wee lass of 10-12.  Sometimes we would take a 4pm hike on 6-lane Shimran Boulevard to go buy our daily fix of fresh-baked Iranian flatbread called ‘noon‘.  It was so good, some of the bread didn’t make it all the way home most trips.  🙂 

On our walk, we passed a number of merchant shops where turban-wearing shopkeepers were crouched down  cooking their dinner on portable Aladdin kerosene heaters they used as grills.  I still own our old Aladdin in fact.  They might be cooking a lamb grill or curry; perhaps kubideh meat rolls, or this popular grilled chicken.    It was fascinating to watch and the aromas on our ventures were indescribable!  Fatimeh, our maid and ‘translator’, would often stop & chat with the ‘cooks’.  They offered my brother and I a bite of their goodies more than once.  We knew just a few words of  Farsi, so we would just soak it all up, mesmerized.  This yogurt sauce with onions was about the sum total of what went on the chicken.       

This is a dish we attempted to copy, with pointers from Fatimeh and our motor pool driver, Reza.   Just talking about this evokes those olfactory memories.  I understand they renamed many streets after the Iranian Revolution so Shimran Blvd. may even be called something else now.  Not sure which aroma was more intense on our walks to get ‘noon’, the chicken or the fresh wheat bread sheets cooking in the kiln-like open-front pebble ovens.  At my age, it was always fun picking off the remaining pebbles when we got home, as some typically burned right into the bread surface.   

My changes to the traditional method on this dish:  subbed butter in for some of the yogurt to cut carbs; added the  Spanish paprika.  They used ALL yogurt in their marinates.  They used all sumac & turmeric for the spices, which can be obtained in better spice stores, ordered on-line from places like Penzey’s Spices.   Sumac is the ground, dried berries/fruit of the sumac bush.    It is slightly acidic, lemony tasting and is used in many Iranian, Israeli and other Gulf State dishes.  The yogurt and onions are in the flavor driver’s seat.   This recipe is Atkins Induction friendly and Paleo-Primal acceptable as well.  Because it is impossible to calculate the total nutritional info per serving on a portion of this meal, I will just provide the information for each of 10 servings of the marinade.  You will have to add in the values for the meat pieces eaten.


1 stick butter + ½ c. yogurt  (or 1c. yogurt & no butter to stay traditional)

Juice of 2 lemons

Dash each salt and black pepper

1 tsp. sumac 

1 tsp. Smoked paprika

½ tsp. turmeric

1 onion (either minced fine or sliver extremely thin)

1 whole chicken, cut in 10 pieces ( cut breasts in half)

DIRECTIONS:  Melt the butter in a small pot.   Remove from heat.  Stir in yogurt and add all other marinade ingredients.  Stir again well.  Cut up the chicken into 10 pieces (I reserve the back for making stock).  Place chicken into gallon Ziploc bag.  Pour 1/2 of the marinade over the chicken.  Zip bag and manipulate it to coat each piece of chicken well with marinade.   Set rest of marinade aside for basting meat during grilling.  Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.  This is important as the yogurt tenderizes the meat. 

Although this chicken is OK baked in a regular oven (I have tried it) it is worlds better done on your grill.  Prepare charcoal fire.  When the coals are hot and white, place chicken on the grill and cook on each side until done (about 20 minutes per side).  Baste with the remaining marinade mix as it cooks.  Allow the last application of yogurt sauce to brown on both sides of meat before taking off fire.  You don’t want to have uncooked onions/sauce in the end.   Enjoy a true Iranian feast!   Typically served with butter basted grilled vegetables like long slices of summer squash, tomatoes, eggplant or bell peppers.  If we don’t grill veggies, I serve with my sour cream cucumber mint salad.  

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes ample sauce for 10 pieces of chicken.  Each serving of the marinade only contains:

95 cals, 9.2g fat, 2.87g carbs, 1.2g fiber, 2.67g NET CARBS, 1.8g protein, 17.9 mg sodium

Chicken Eggplant Parmigiana

This will be my final recipe post in my travelogue of tasty Italian fare.  I love Chicken Parmesan, but I find it a little rich and prefer to tone the richness down with eggplant.  I have a Chicken Parmigiana Casserole on my blog already, but when you serve company, the individual servings are ever so much prettier served up on the plate.  So I developed this construct.  🙂   It’s so simple to make and in no time you are eating these delicious bundles of goodness with a lovely green salad and low-carb garlic bread.  This dish is suitable for all phases of Atkins, Keto diets and Primal Blueprint followers as well.  The cheese makes these unsuitable for Paleo folks.


2  ¼” thick long slices cooked eggplant (oven-baked or pan seared)

2  8-oz chicken breasts

1 T. butter

½ c. your favorite low-carb spaghetti sauce (I use Lucini “Basil”)

4 oz. mozzarella (4 slices)

½ c. shredded Parmesan cheese

Dash each oregano and basil (or Italian Seasoning blend)

DIRECTIONS:  Debone and remove skin from chicken breasts (if desired).  Slice each laterally into two thinner filets.  Pound with tenderizer to speed up cooking.

Preheat oven to 350º.  Bake the eggplant slices for 20 minutes and set aside.  Melt butter in non-stick skillet.  Sear the four chicken portions on each side until nearly done through and golden brown. Arrange the filets evenly in the skillet or in a baking dish.  Top each with 1 T. of the spaghetti sauce and spread over top surface. Place 1/4 of the mozzarella on top of each filet evenly. Cut the two eggplant slices in half and lay one piece across the top of each chicken filet.  Spread 1 T. more sauce on top of each.  Sprinkle 2 T. shredded Parmesan on top.  Pop pan into preheated oven and cook about 10 minutes just until cheese is melted.  If you are using a baking dish (not the skillet), you can just pop into your microwave for 2-3 minutes on medium to melt the cheeses to speed things up a bit.  When melted, serve at once with a lovely green salad and low-carb garlic bread.  This dish freezes well.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 4 portions, each contains:

462.5 cals, 27.15 g fat, 5.32 g carbs, 1.5 g fiber, 3.82 g NET CARBS, 48.5 g protein, 888 mg sodium

Italian Herb Bread

Click to enlarge

I developed a nice quick Italian ‘bread’ when I first started low-carbing 14 years ago.  We love it as a great compliment to Italian food. It’s a little sponge-y right out of the oven, but gets more bread-like as it cools off.  This bread doesn’t rise very much, so it’s easiest to just spread butter on top of the flat pieces of bread, rather than attempting to slice it.

The flavor on this bread is quite nice.  Since the oat fiber is basically a carb wash at 26 g carbs and 26g fiber per 1/3 cup, I would think you could try this at any rung of Atkins Phase 2 OWL unless you find you do not tolerate even this tiny amount of oat fiber without setting off cravings.  I’ve been cooking with it for a year now and have not found that to happen after eating anything with a bit of it included.  It greatly enhances texture, but too much is drying….so don’t increase it in my recipes.


1½ c. riced, steamed cauliflower

2 small eggs

1½ c. mozzarella, grated

1 T. Parmesan cheese

1½ tsp. baking powder

1 T. chopped parsley

¼ tsp. oregano

Sprinkle each garlic and onion powder

2 T. heavy cream

3 T. golden flax meal

2 T. oat fiber (substitute 2 T. Jennifer Eloff’s Gluten-Free Bake Mix for gluten free version)

1 T. olive oil for oiling muffin cups

VARIATION:  Omit the herbs for a plain cheese bread.  Change it up and use cheddar cheese for the mozzarella.

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350º.  Using grater or food processor, rice cauliflower until fine and scrap into into a medium bowl.  Microwave (covered) on HI for 3 minutes, stopping and stirring after each minute.   Add mozzarella and Parmesan cheese to the warm cauliflower.  Beat in the eggs.  Add all remaining ingredients except the olive oil.  Stir well to blend ingredients.  Oil 12 muffin cups and scoop about 2T. batter into each muffin cup.  Repeat with any remaining batter to distribute amongst the 12 muffins.  Pop into 350º oven and bake about 25 minutes or until nicely browned.  Cool a few minutes before removing from pan and serve warm with butter.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:    Makes 12 rolls/servings, each contains:

81.5 cals, 5.81g fat, 3.1g carbs, 1.92g fiber, 1.28g NET CARBS, 5.41g protein, 217 mg sodium

Eggplant-Sausage Rollatini

These little Italian delights were fun to make and absolutely delicious so they deserve a seat on our Italian Food celebration train!  They would be a great dinner party choice as you can make them ahead and then just pop them into the oven when guests arrive.  This frees you up to visit with your dinner guests.  They have a rich, creamy, cheesy lasagna-like flavor with a little spinach thrown in for some added flavor nutrition.  I served this with a lovely green salad and two filled us right up!  Vegetarians can leave the meat out entirely and this is still a delicious dish for them.  🙂  Suitable for all phases of Atkins and other Keto diets.  Paleo followers will need to leave the cheeses out.


1  medium (12 oz.) eggplant

¼ c. olive oil

3  links Italian sausage, casings removed (4″ links)

3/4 c. Classico® Spaghetti Sauce with Basil (or other low-carb sauce)

1 oz. baby spinach leaves

4 oz. cream cheese

3/4 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

1 Roma tomato, sliced into 8 thin slices

1/4 tsp. crushed dried basil leaves

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 375º.  Cut the stem and bottom bits off the eggplant and slice lengthwise into 8 long 1/4″ slices.  Brush both sides with the olive oil and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Pop into hot oven and bake 10-15 minutes.  Turn and bake on the other side for 15 minutes.  You’re not looking for brown here, just softened (partially cooked).  🙂  Remove and cool for handling.  Lower oven to 350º.  Spoon 4 T. of the spaghetti sauce onto a ceramic baking dish and spread thinly to prevent sticking.

While the eggplant is baking, remove casings from sausage and using your hands as with meatloaf, mix the meat up into a single log.  Divide the log into 8 equal portions and shape into smaller thumb-size logs.  Lightly brown them in a skillet and then remove from heat.  Alternately, you can just use 4 links of sausage and cut them in half lengthwise after removing the casings.  This will give you the 8 portions needed for the rollatini. 

When eggplant has cooled enough to handle, place a portion of sausage, 1 T. cream cheese, 4-5 baby spinach leaves, a tiny bit of the Mozzarella (about 2 tsp.) on one end of each eggplant slice.  Carefully roll them as tightly as you can and place seam down into the baking dish.  Spoon the remaining spaghetti sauce evenly over the tops of the rolls.  There won’t be much sauce, but these are so rich, you won’t need any more!  Sprinkle the Parmesan over the tops of the rolls.  Next sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese on top.  Slice the tomato into 8 thin slices and place one on each roll and dust with the dried basil leaves.

Cover with foil and bake in a 350º oven for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and baked about 15-20 minutes more or until bubbly and cheese appears to be all melted on top.  Dip up with a spatula so as to get the sauce off the bottom of the pan with each serving.  Serve with a nice green salad and ENJOY!

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 8 rollatini, each contains:

280 cals. 23.3 g fat, 5.97 g carbs, 2.0 g fiber, 3.97 g NET CARBS, 12.5 g protein, 465 mg sodium

Spinach Cheese Bread

As we continue on down the road of Italian foods, let me just say up front this recipe is NOT an authentic Italian recipe.   But I make it often to serve with Italian fare.  It came about one day when I was thinking about having pizza for lunch and didn’t really want a heavy, multi-topped iteration of that food dream.  So I decided to start out with a bread and add  some mozzarella cheese (which makes anything Italian to me) and to add just some frozen chopped spinach to the picture.  That’s it!  Boy, was the final bread ever good!  and just look how low-carb this one is!  Even my husband said “This is really, really good, Peggy!  Be sure to upload this onto the blog!”  And its delicate flavor would lend itself to just about any Italian dinner fare.  This is so easy to put together you simply must try this one!  You can enjoy this delicious treat once you have reached Atkins Phase 2 or are beyond that point in your weight loss journey.


½ c. almond flour

¼ c. whey protein powder, unflavored

¼ c. golden flax meal (or ¼ c. more whey protein)

1 tsp. baking powder

2 T. oat fiber (NOTE:  Not the same thing as carb-y oat bran!)

2 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1 T. heavy cream

1 tsp. dry yeast, dissolved in 2 T. warm water

2 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese

1 c. frozen chopped spinach (I did not thaw)

VARIATION:   Remove from oven before fully done, spread a few tablespoons Alfredo sauce and some more sprinkles of spinach on top.  Dust with Parmesan and pop back into oven for more of a true spinach pizza result.  (variation not figured in the nutritional numbers below)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350º.  In a medium mixing bowl, measure out all dry ingredients but the yeast.  Stir well.  Dissolve the yeast in the 2 T. water.  Add to bowl with dry ingredients.  Add in the beaten eggs, cream, vinegar and softened cream cheese.  Beat the wet ingredients into the dry a few strokes.  Add the Jack or mozzy cheese shreds and un-defrosted spinach (break up clumps as you go) and stir to form a thick batter.  Line a 9″ x 12″ pan with parchment paper.  Spread batter evenly to fill the pan.  Pop into 350º oven for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned on top to your liking.  Is will be dry to the touch in the center when done.  Remove and cool a few minutes.   Cut into 12 pieces.  Let it cool down a few minutes or you will need a plate and fork to eat it, as it is so soft and fluffy.  It’s actually tastier and easier to handle in your hand as it begins to cool down.  Just a tip.  🙂

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 12 servings, each contains:

154 cals, 12.3 g fat, 3.75 g carbs, 2.49 g fiber, 1.26 g NET CARBS, 9.5 g protein, 232 mg sodium

Eggplant al Pesto

This delicious Italian dish can be a side with meat or seafood, an entrée (with ground beef or Italian sausage  added) or even a bruschetta for spreading on toasted low-carb bread!  Very versatile, this recipe.  I make my own pesto sauce and usually have some spaghetti meat sauce in my freezer, so this dish is real easy to whip up most of the time.  Fresh basil often doesn’t agree with my stomach, but I’m here to tell you this was one of the very best eggplant dishes I’ve eaten in a LONG time!  I used just a hint of my pesto sauce.  This is one of those dishes that isn’t so pretty, but it makes up for this photographic flaw in flavor!  DELICIOUS!

This recipe is suitable for Atkins Induction and it freezes well, too!  It is a fairly small side dish recipe, so double the recipe for a large family.  This serves 4 as a side. With the addition of a layer of pre-browned ground beef or ground Italian sausage, this would make a delightful entrée for 2 people.  As an appetizer bruschetta spread, each 1-2 tablespoons (1/4 serving) would contain around 55 cals, 4g fat, 1.6 g carbs, 0.66g fiber, 1g NET CARBS, 1.3 g  protein, 18 mg sodium (not counting the toasted bread you use).

NOTE:  As an alternative preparation method, to cut fat grams you can toss the cubed eggplant in just 1 T. olive oil.  Then spread onto onto a silicone-lined or non-stick baking pan lightly oiled with olive oil.  Your call there.    


8 oz. eggplant, peeled, sliced ¼” thick and then cut into smaller pieces about 1″ in size

3 T. olive oil  [see note in red above]

1 T. my pesto sauce

½ c. low carb spaghetti sauce

1 T. Parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 c. mozzarella cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS:   Preheat oven to 350º.  If sautéing eggplant, heat oil in non-stick skillet and sauté the eggplant, turning often with a spoon, until it is completely translucent (will be nearly done at this point).  If pre-baking your eggplant, lightly oil a pan and bake/broil the slices on a baking sheet at 350º about 10-20 minutes.  When nearly done, remove from heat.  Place the chopped eggplant in a small casserole-type baking dish (no need to grease the baking dish).  Dot the eggplant evenly with the spaghetti sauce first.  Then dot evenly with the pesto sauce.  Sprinkle on the Parmesan and finally spread the mozzarella evenly on top.  Pop into a 350º oven for about 20-30 minutes.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   As a vegetable dish, this serves 4.  As an entrée (8 oz. meat added) it serves 2 people.  Each side dish serving (no meat) contains:

214.5 cals, 18.5g fat, 6.3g carbs, 2.63g fiber, 3.67g NET CARBS, 7.08 g protein, 71 mg sodium

Classic Shrimp Scampi

My father introduced us to this dish when we lived in Hampton, Virginia (my senior year in high school).  Of course, we had all the fresh seafood in the world the year we lived in the Tidewater area.  What is amazing about Shrimp Scampi, besides its wonderful flavor, is how easy and fast it is to make, start to finish!  Traditionally served over white rice, but as a low-carber, I tend to spoon ours over a heaping serving of my Foolproof Mashed Cauliflower.  I’m very pleased with this recipe and fix it for dinner whenever I can get my hands on really good shrimp in Central Texas.  I like to add a bit of my Seafood Spice Blend to most of my seafood dishes, but it is not in traditional shrimp scampi recipes.  That’s my personal change to this classic Italian fare.  I’ve also been known to add a couple tablespoons of white wine to this dish, but do not always do that, so I don’t show it in the ingredients below.  Your call on the wine.  It’s delicious with or without.  This recipe is suitable for all phases of Atkins and other ketogenic diets, as well as for Primal and Paleo followers.  Those still on Atkins Induction should not add the white wine I just mentioned.


1 lb. large shrimp, headed, peeled and deveined

4 T. butter, unsalted

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ c. parsley, chopped

1/8 tsp. coarse black pepper

¼-½ tsp. my Seafood Spice Blend

1 oz. (optional) dry white wine, (Pinot Grigio, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc would be good)

DIRECTIONS:    Preheat broiler.  In a large skillet melt the butter over high heat.  Add garlic and let sauté a couple minutes.  Add shrimp and sauté until the begin to get opaque and golden on the edges.  Add black pepper and spice blend.  Add white wine now if using.  Sauté couple more minutes.  Finally add parsley and stir to blend.  Remove and pop into broiler long enough for the shrimp to begin to brown just a bit.  Remove from oven and serve immediately over bed of mashed cauliflower (or rice for non low-carber diners)

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 3 servings, each contains:  (does not include cauliflower, 1 c. would add around 2.8 net carbs to each serving of scampi)

306 cals, 18.1g fat, 3.73g carbs, 0.43g fiber, 3.3g NET CARBS, 31.4g protein, 233 mg sodium

San Marzano Focaccia

This is what I fixed for lunch today, with the addition of some sliced olives.  I’m noticing as I get older, I’m liking many fewer ingredients on what I think of as basically, um….  pizza.   Did I tell you?  I’m trying my hand at growing San Marzano tomatoes this year!   I hope that experiment proves to be successful.  I love their ultra sweet, fruity flavor over all other tomatoes.

This is yet another great new use for my Mozzy Dough.  I’m having so much fun trialing new applications for this dough.  TIP:  I make up 10 batches of the dry ingredients pre-measured on paper plates.  Then I fold and pour each into a sandwich bag and store the bags zipped up in a shoe box in my pantry.  Very convenient… then all I have to do is grab a bag, melt the butter, add the beaten egg, melt the cheese and make my dough ball.  So easy that way.  I store the paper plates and baggies and re-use for making each batch of 10. 

Boy, is this focaccia ever simple to make and yummy good!  I make mine fairly thin.  If you like focaccia thicker, make a smaller sheet than shown right (using fewer tomatoes, of course) and being sure you cut it into 12 slices so the nutritional info will be accurate.  This recipe is not suitable until you get to Phase 2 grains re-introduction level of Atkins as the Carbquik does have some flour in it.


1 recipe my Mozzy Dough

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

25-27 San Marzano mini tomatoes (10 oz. bag)

1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ shredded Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

½ tsp. dried basil (or 1 T. fresh basil chopped)

¼ tsp. dried oregano (or 1/2 tsp. fresh)

VARIATION:   Add a few sliced black olives

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350º.  Make the Mozzy Dough per that recipe’s instructions.  Line a 13″x15″ baking sheet with parchment and using your fingers, press the ball of dough out to a 9″x12″ rectangle (smaller if you like it thicker.  With a brush baste the dough with half the olive oil.  Sprinkle the chopped garlic evenly over the top and press it down a bit.  Now sprinkle 1/2 c. mozzarella over the crust evenly.  Slice the tomatoes lengthwise into halves and place skin-side down evenly over the top of the focaccia sheet.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on next and then the shredded Parmesan.  Sprinkle on the basil and oregano last.  Add olive slices, pressing them into the dough (if using).  Pop into oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the dough is browning on the edges and the tomatoes are looking cooked on top.  Serve with a nice green salad.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:    Makes 12 3″x3″ squares of focaccia, each square contains.

190 calories, 15 g fat, 6.88 g carbs, 3.61 g fiber, 3.27 g NET CARBS, 12.6 g protein, 276 mg sodium

Zuppa Toscana

Having water on all 3 sides and that warm Mediterranean sunshine for gardening, you can imagine Italy would make some pretty incredible soups.  And they do!  Seafood chowders as well!  This soup I re-worked to be acceptable for my low-carb dietary plan, is similar to the Zuppa Toscana many of you have had at Olive Garden restaurants, but mine has diced cauliflower standing in for the potatoes in their soup.  

If I have some in the freezer, I use my Homemade Italian Sausage rather than Italian sausage from the store, as I find theirs to be excessively salty.  You just need to add oregano, fennel and garlic to ground pork really.  But you can certainly substitute in commercial Italian sausage if you prefer for convenience.  It will almost DOUBLE the sodium and increase carbs though.   Just be aware of that.  This soup is delicious and we both gave it a resounding thumbs up.  It will make the regular menu rounds at our house. 🙂

VARIATIONS:  Substitute 1/2 c. chopped parsley for the kale; substitute diced rutabaga or daikon for the cauliflower.


6 slices bacon, cut into 3/4″ bits

12 oz.  lean ground pork or Homemade Italian Sausage, coarsely broken up to 1/2″ chunks

2 oz. onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1½ c. coarsely chopped kale (about 3 leaves after stemming)

3 oz. cauliflower, diced to ½”-3/4″ pieces

1 oz. pimiento (half a 2 oz. jar)

3 large mushrooms, sliced or cut however you like

4 c. homemade chicken broth (32 oz.)

1 c. water

1 c. heavy cream

Dash black pepper

Dash crushed red pepper

3-4 drops Tobasco hot sauce

¼ tsp. dried oregano leaves

½ tsp. fennel seed, crushed

DIRECTIONS:  In a large Dutch oven or soup pot over high heat, cook the bacon.  Add the pork, onion and garlic and sauté until meat is no longer pink.  Lower heat to medium.  Add all remaining ingredients but the cream.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Add cream and simmer 5 more minutes.  Thicken with xanthan or gum if desired.   Serve at once.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes six 1½ c. servings, each contains:

356 cals, 30.5g fat, 5.51g carbs, 1.08g fiber, 4.43g NET CARBS, 15.6g protein, 865 mg sodium

Focaccia Bread

One cannot celebrate Italian food without thinking of their iconic focaccia bread.  Oh, the sandwiches one can create with it!  It is so versatile it is used in many ways but quite honestly, is delicious buttered right out of the oven with nothing else.  My inspiration for this 8-seed garlic version of my focaccia bread recipe was a photo of a seeded bagel recipe I saw somewhere on the net.  The texture of this sheet focaccia is soft, and it is very much like real focaccia.  Not at all grainy or coarse as is the crumb of many low-carb breads.  If serving to company, I like to skip the baking pan conformity and with a rubber spatula, shape the dough thicker into a smaller, somewhat irregular-edged oblong shape for a more ‘haphazard’ thrown-on-the pan look.  That makes calculating nutritional almost impossible, as the pieces will be irregular in shape/size.  But hey, it’s for company, so I cut a few corners on such occasions.

This recipe is not suitable until you are well into Phase 2 (OWL) of Atkins due to the ingredients in the bake mix.  This recipe is OK for other Keto diets if it can fit into your daily macro number limits.  This sheet bread can be cut differently (like bread sticks for hummus or soup).  Take the “entire recipe” numbers and divide by the number of portions you get for the particular cut on the sheet to get your ‘per piece’ (estimated) nutritional numbers.


2 oz. cream cheese

2½ c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1 c. blanched almond flour

1 T. baking powder

½ c. my new Buttoni’s Low-Carb Bake Mix

2 large eggs, beaten

1 clove garlic, minced (optional)

TOPPING:  1 T. melted butter brushed on and then sprinkle on 1 tsp. Italian seasoning (or my  8-seed blend)

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350º.  Lightly oil an 8″x11″ metal baking pan. Set aside for now.  Measure out onto a paper plate the almond flour, bake mix and baking powder.  Stir them together well and set aside.  In a glass or ceramic bowl, place the mozzarella and cream cheese.  Place bowl in microwave and cook on HI for about 2 minutes.  Stir, adding a few more seconds of cooking if cheese is not fully melted.  Remove from microwave, add flour mix, minced garlic, and beaten eggs.  Stir quickly with a fork (while cheese is still hot and pliable).  When it begins to form a single ball of dough, moisten hands with a bit of water or oil (as it is sticky if you don’t) and knead into a smooth ball.  Press into oiled 8×11 pan as evenly as you can.  Sprinkle on the 8-seed blend.  Pop into preheated 350º oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown (to your liking) on top. Remove and brush with the tablespoon of melted butter over the top.  Cut into 8 portions and serve at once.  This would make delicious sandwiches so I am providing numbers below for entire recipe for alternate baking pan size or slicing methods.  You will need to re-calculate nutritional “per serving” numbers if you change the indicated slicing suggestion.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 8 small slices.  1/8 recipe contains:

265 calories, 20g fat, 6.92g carbs, 2.21g fiber, 4.71g NET CARBS, 16.3g protein, 379mg sodium

ENTIRE RECIPE CONTAINS:  2118 cals, 161.8g fat, 55.4g carbs, 17.7g fiber, 37.63g NET CARBS, 130.1g protein, 3032 mg sodium. Dived these by the number of cut servings you get a per serving value.

Chicken Scalopini

My father did a lot of flying over Italy (interdiction bombing missions) in World War II.  He developed quite a taste for Italian food while stationed in that area and this was one of his all-time favorites.  This was served often when I was growing up made with veal, which is traditional for this dish.  Since veal is no longer politically correct, it’s also super delicious made with chicken.  It’s such a simple dish to make and truly Atkins-friendly without a single modification.  It’s rich, but how I love this one!  Vermouth has a distinctive flavor, but if you don’t have it, you could use an equal amount of dry white wine instead.  This change will, however, greatly change the final flavor that makes this dish so special.  If you decide to spring for a bottle of vermouth, it is also delicious used in sauces for baked whole fish or fish filets.  This dish really delivers on flavor, so I hope you’ll try it.  If you omit the vermouth/wine, this is quite suitable during the initial Atkins Induction Phase.


4  4-oz skinless, boneless pieces chicken breast

1 ½ T. olive oil

8 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

¼ c. chopped parsley

½ tsp. dried tarragon

1/3 c. heavy cream

3 T. dry vermouth or white wine (omit if on Induction)

Dash Salt & Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:  Pound chicken breasts between two pieces waxed paper until flattened to about ¼” thickness.  Lightly salt and pepper.  In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 T. of the oil and sear chicken until lightly browned on both sides.  Just cook until done (no pink juice exuding).   Remove to a platter and cover with plate or foil to keep warm.

Add remaining olive oil to skillet and sauté mushrooms, stirring occasionally  until lightly browned and done, about 5 minutes.  Lower heat and add vermouth, cream, tarragon, parsley and deglaze any brown bits off bottom of pan.  Pour mushroom cream sauce over chicken.  Decorate with a sprig of parsley or a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Serves 4, each serving containing:

368 cals, 21.43 g fat, 4.25 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 3.25g NET CARBS, 36.88 g protein, 39 mg sodium

Chicken Bolognese

Traditional Chicken Bolognese is made with ground chicken that is put directly into a good Bolognese spaghetti sauce.  But I find the chicken flavor frankly gets lost in that co-habitation arrangement.  This dish is how I think the chicken can shine and it is actually easy to prepare (provided you have the spaghetti meat sauce on hand).  It is quite tasty this way and makes a nice plated dish for serving to company.   This extremely nutritious dinner is suitable for your Atkins Phase I Induction menu rotations provided you omit the bit of red wine. Each serving consists of 5 oz. raw chicken breast, which cooks down to about 4.5 oz.  Of course, you may choose to use larger portions of chicken for the men at the table, but the 4 oz. portions fill me up quite nicely.


20 oz. deboned chicken breast, skinless (4 oz. per serving after cooking)

1 c. low-carb spaghetti meat sauce (I used spaghetti meat sauce)

4 basil leaves, chopped

4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

½ c. grated Parmesan cheese

1 oz. (2 T.) red wine (omit for Induction compliance)

2 T. olive oil

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350º.  Pound the chicken breasts with a meat cleaver between two sheets of plastic wrap until they are just about ¼-3/8″ thick.  Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sear the chicken on both sides until golden and nearly done.  Turn off heat.  Spoon ¼ c. meat sauce over each of the four pieces of browned chicken.  Next drizzle ½ T. red wine over each serving.   Next sprinkle ¼ of the chopped basil on each piece, followed by 1 oz. of mozzarella on each.  Finally sprinkle the top of each portion with 2 T. Parmesan.    Pop that skillet into your preheated 350º oven.  Bake 20 minutes to finish off.  Serve with your favorite green vegetable or a nice green salad.  If I have some Oopsie Rolls in the fridge, I love to make some low-carb garlic bread to serve with this.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 4 servings, each contains:

475 calories, 28.4 g  fat, 6.4 g  carbs, 1.3 g  fiber, 5.1 g NET CARBS, 45.7 g  protein, 702 mg sodium

Porcini-Portobello Braised Chicken

Oh my goodness, does my husband ever like this recipe.  If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, I locked it up with this creation.   Porcini mushrooms have a very ‘beefy’ taste and are quite potent, so don’t use too many of them in any dish or you may be disappointed in the results.  

This recipe is a little on the carb-y side as I added 1½ cups  AlDente brand “Carba Nada” low-carb fettucini noodles to the pan.  They soaked up the the rich broth flavors quite nicely.  Clearly that makes this recipe unsuitable for Atkins Induction.  But you could certainly cook some zucchini noodles on the side for a lower-carb option and enjoy this dish once you get to Phase 2 (due to the wine, which is not allowed until Phase 2).  You could even go a step farther and substitute more chicken broth for the wine and enjoy this during Induction Phase!  Won’t be quite as good, but doable early in the diet.  🙂  This dish has stellar flavor and I hope my readers will try it sometime.  We both have always enjoyed the flavor affinity of wine and thyme on chicken and beef dishes.  And this is yet another wine + thyme success.  🙂


4-5 dried Porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water

2 large chicken breasts (or choice of chicken pieces for 4 portions)

¼ tsp. each coarse black pepper, salt, Spanish paprika and onion powder

2 T. unsalted butter

1 T. olive oil

3 oz. onion, slivered or chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 portobello mushroomgills removed & sliced (or 4 oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained of liquid)

1 c. chicken broth (preferably homemade)

½ c. dry white wine (I used Chardonay)

1 tsp. dried thyme leaves (1 T. fresh, chopped)

¼ tsp. xanthan gum (or your favorite thickener)

1½ c. raw AlDente “Carba Nada” egg fettuccini noodles”  (about 1/3 of bag) [or use 4 c. zucchini noodles]

DIRECTIONS:  Soak the Porcini mushrooms in a small bowl of very hot water for about 30 minutes or until soft.  When soft, slice them, cutting away any tough stems.  Boil the Carba Nada noodles in a medium saucepan until tender but not quite done.  Drain water off noodles and set aside while you prepare the main dish.  Butterfly the chicken breasts so they will cook faster and to create 4 portions of meat.

Mix the black pepper, paprika and onion powder on a paper plate.  Sprinkle the chicken pieces on all sides with the spice mixture.  Heat a large skillet over high heat, melting the butter and oil together.  Sear the chicken pieces on all sides until golden (it will not be done yet).  Remove chicken temporarily to a plate.  Add the onion slices to the skillet and allow it to caramelize in the hot oil.  When the onion is softening and browning, next add the drained canned mushrooms, garlic, chicken broth, wine and thyme to the pan.

Bring to a boil and immediately lower heat to lowest setting so the contents of the pan are just simmering.    Whisk in the xanthan gum and let it begin to thicken for a couple minutes.  Gently stir in the partially cooked, drained noodles (if using), replace the chicken on top, cover pan with a lid and simmer for about 30 minutes on lowest heat possible or until chicken is done and noodles have absorbed most of the liquid (internal temp of 170º).   Remove lid and let dish breathe and moisture to evaporate from atop the chicken.  If substituting zucchini noodles, prepare those while the main skillet is in this final stage of cooking and add their value to the lower nutritional numbers below.   Serve with a nice green salad and enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL INFO:    Makes 4 servings, each contains (calculated using chicken breasts):

With Noodles:  412 calories, 19g fat, 13.75 g carbs, 4.27g fiber, 9.38g NET CARBS, 39.8 g protein and 714 mg sodium

Without Noodles:  377 calories, 18.5 g fat, 7.75 g carbs, 2.87 g fiber, 4.88 g NET CARBS, 36.8 g protein, 709 mg sodium

Chicken Cacciatore

Continuing my journey into Italian food this week, Chicken Cacciatore (Hunter’s Chicken) was the first Italian food I learned how to cook (after ordinary spaghetti meat sauce).   It’s one of the dishes I made my husband before we got married, in fact.   He tells me me often this recipe and the shrimp curry I also made while we were still dating, cinched the proposal.  🙂  This one only takes about an hour from start to finish to get it to the table, so that’s always a plus for me.   I love good food, but don’t wish to be a slave to my kitchen to have it at home.  This dish can be served on the shiratake noodles with oat fiber, or commercial low-carb pasta, but I find I really like it served with seared or baked eggplant slices better.  I think you’ll like this delicious, traditional Italian fare.  

This recipe is not suitable for Induction unless you leave out the red wine.  But it just won’t be classic cacciatore without it, in my opinion.


1  chicken breast, (around 8 oz) deboned, cut into 2-3 pieces (I leave the skin on)

1 large chicken thigh, deboned

1 large drumstick

2 T. olive oil

4 oz. sliced onion

1 medium green bell pepper, sliced

1 can sliced mushrooms (or 4 fresh mushrooms sliced)

1 clove minced garlic

3/4 c. chicken broth, low sodium

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1  can (14.5 oz) diced or crushed tomatoes (or 3 fresh Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges)

¼ c. red wine

DIRECTIONS:   Cut up the breast into 2- 3 pieces.  Heat 1 T. of the oil in a non-stick skillet and brown all the pieces of chicken on all sides.  Remove the chicken temporarily to a platter.  Add remaining tablespoon of oil and sauté onion & bell pepper a couple minutes only.  Add all remaining ingredients to skillet, stir and replace chicken pieces into the skillet.  Lower heat to low, cover and simmer about 30-40 minutes or until the largest chicken pieces are fully done.   If it isn’t cooked down enough to be of intermediate thickness, you can thicken it a bit with a light sprinkle of your favorite thickener and simmer, but I don’t usually have to thicken mine.   This dish is traditionally served over spaghetti pasta, but I usually just serve it by itself as a meat entrée or with sautéed eggplant as shown above.  If you like them, the opaque tofu variety of shiratake noodles with oat fiber in them pair well with this recipe.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:    Makes 4 servings each contains:  (does not include the optional eggplant)

274 cals, 13.23g fat, 8.83g carbs, 2.33g fiber, 6.5g NET CARBS, 26g protein, 741 mg sodium

Chicken Eggplant Mushroom Parmigiana Casserole

This Italian dinner was created by me and is not an authentic Italian recipe to my knowledge.  I used leftover cooked chicken breast meat, a small amount of cooked spaghetti sauce and some commercial no-sugar sauce (Lucini) from a jar.  I bought a beautiful eggplant and some nice mushrooms, so I created a quick Parmigiana dish I know you are going to like!  This recipe is suitable for all phases of Atkins, Keto lifestyle and Primal followers that eat occasional cheese.  This meal would not be suitable for Paleo diners due to the cheese.


8 oz. cooked chicken meat, cut bite size

2 T. olive oil

6 oz. mushrooms, sliced

5 oz. eggplant, sliced 1/4″ thick (I do not peel)

1/4 c. low-carb spaghetti sauce (I use Lucini with no added sugar)

3/4 c. homemade spaghetti sauce   [you could use all homemade or all Luccini sauce]

6 oz. Mozzarella cheese, grated

½ c. grated Parmesan cheese

½ tsp. dried oregano (or 1 tsp. fresh, chopped)

¼ tsp. dried basil (or 1 tsp. fresh, chopped)

¼ tsp. dried rosemary (or ½ tsp. fresh, chopped)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 400º. Use a small amount of the oil to grease your casserole dish and a small baking sheet.  Place eggplant on baking sheet and bake at 400º for about 15 minutes, turning once during this pre-cooking.  Remove from oven and lower temperature to 350º.

In a non-stick skillet, sauté the mushroom slices in the rest of the olive oil. Place eggplant in a single layer on the bottom of your greased casserole dish.   Spoon half the spaghetti sauce over the meat. Top with the shredded chicken meat.  Sprinkle on half the Parmesan and half the mozzarella cheese.  Sprinkle with half the spices.  Spoon on the remainder of the sauce. Sprinkle on the rest of the two cheeses and the last of the spices.  Top with the sautéed mushroom and pop into your 350º oven for about 30-35 minutes or until cheese is melted and the casserole is hot hot in the center.  Serve with your favorite salad or green vegetable and some garlic bread made with low-carb bread.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 4 servings, each contains:

427 cals, 26.1g fat, 10.4g carbs, 2.98g fiber, 7.42g NET CARBS, 38g protein, 270 mg sodium