Iraqi Grilled Cornish Hens

Up until now, I have only used my Baharat spice in braised chicken dishes (cooked in liquid): braised beef and braised lamb.  When I created this recipe, I tried it both grilled and baked in the oven.  I was most pleased with both methods of preparation actually.  Very tasty both ways!  In Iraq, they would likely use whole, cut-up chicken pieces as I don’t think Cornish hens are available there.  I especially like to use Cornish hens for serving company, if I can get them,  simply for the cute visual impact on the plate.  The meat doesn’t taste one bit different than larger chicken.  This recipe would be very for preparing quail, dove or other wild game fowl as well.  

I allow a half a bird per person when buying your Cornish hens but make sure there is one half bird extra for a bigger eater.  Most women and men will only eat ½ Cornish hen when two sides are served.  I have seen a man with a hefty appetite eat a whole hen on one occasion.  I have only done so once in my life, but it was a particularly small hen.   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 hens (or appropriate # pieces cut up chicken for 4 people)

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) on the grill.  If 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.  If baking, pop pan into 350º oven and bake for 45 minutes.  If grilling, turn once midway through cooking. Cook 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 reads 165º they are properly cooked.  Remove from oven or grill and serve half a Cornish Hen to each person at the table to start off.   Only the hardiest of eaters will eat more, most likely.     

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, but particularly nice with my Shawarma Roasted Vegetables.  I also like to enjoy it with 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


Salmon with Pink Tarragon Cream

Now THAT is a plateful of nutritious food!  Just look at the nutritional info below for this recipe!  I included more than I usually do here to drive home that point.  And those numbers are just for the fish and sauce!  If you add in values for the spinach and broiled tomatoes………WOW!  You can’t eat any healthier!  It probably almost meets your entire RDA nutritional requirements for the day!  This delicious sauce I have used on so many different things.  It’s good on with sautéed spinach, chicken, and over grilled shrimp.  It’s marvelous on scrambled eggs at breakfast (using diced tomato instead of tomato paste). I’m sure I’ll continue to find new ways to use this tasty pink sauce, changing up the herbs and spices.

I have discovered recently this is delicious on salmon.  It never disappoints! I served it alongside broiled tomatoes and sautéed spinach.   My husband isn’t terribly fond of salmon but he definitely liked this rendering of a very healthy fish that is very rich in Omega 3’s.   In order to be acceptable for Atkins Induction you must omit the wine.  It’ll still be good, just not quite as good.  😉  Wait until you get to Phase 2 OWL to add the wine.  This recipe is suitable for Keto diets but you might want to omit the wine as it may throw you out of ketosis.  It is perfectly OK for Primal-Paleo followers if you substitute coconut cream or coconut mild for the heavy cream.


12 oz. salmon filet (skin removed)

2 T. butter (I use unsalted)

½ c. heavy cream (or coconut cream or coconut milk)

½ c. water (or ½ c. more cream, if you can afford the extra carbs)

2 T. tomato paste

½ tsp. dried tarragon leaves  (or about 1½ tsp. fresh, chopped)

Dash each salt and black pepper

¼ c. rose or white wine (omit for Induction)

1/8 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum (or your favorite thickener)

1 sprig parsley, chopped or more tarragon (for garnish)

DIRECTIONS:  Cut the fish into two equal servings.  Melt the butter in a large skillet.  Sear the pieces of salmon on both sides over high heat until golden and flesh is fully done (peek in the center with a fork).  This will only take a couple minutes on a side.  Remove to a platter and pop into warm oven to hold while sauce is made.  Lower heat to medium.  Add the water, cream, tomato paste and tarragon to the skillet.  Bring to a slow simmer for about 3-4 minutes.  Add salt and pepper.   Dust the xanthan/guar gum slowly, a little at a time over the sauce and whisk it into the cream mixture.  Stir constantly as it begins to thicken.  Turn off heat, plate the fish and dip sauce on top.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley or bit more tarragon.  Save any unused sauce for your scrambled eggs in the morning!  So yummy on eggs!

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes two 6-oz. servings, each contains:  (including half the sauce)

580 cals, 43.7g fat, 4.85g carbs, 0.6g fiber, 4.25g NET CARBS, 38.8g protein, 275 mg sodium, 92 mg potassium

57% RDA Vitamin A, 66% B6, 300% B12, 7% C, 18% E, 10% D, 10% calcium, 16% copper, 19% iron, 20% magnesium, 91% niacin, 71% phosphorous, 115% selenium, 20% thiamin, 12% zinc



Dad’s Peppered Beef Marinade

This recipe was my Dad’s pride and joy.  In 80 years of cooking he never found a marinade he liked better.  I often make this truly out-of-the-ordinary roast for company and holidays, but we do it on smaller cuts of beef year-round!  It’s DELICIOUS!  You grilling fanatics MUST try this recipe sometime!  This is truly my all-time favorite beef marinade as well and has been since I was in high school over 40 years ago.  We invariably have this recipe for Christmas dinner, because we are usually turkey’ed out by then.  This recipe makes enough marinade for an 8 lb. boneless rib roast, which will (after shrinkage) serve 10 nice servings, with some leftover for the most delicious cold roast beef sandwiches you ever had.  I do not recommend reheating this meat, as the meat and marinade loose some of their impact on reheating.   But it makes the best cold roast beef sandwiches you ever ate!  🙂

Once I realized this marinade could just as easily be used on smaller cuts of beef, we enjoy it much more often now.  I have used it for rib roast (shown top above), lean boneless chuck roasts, sirloin of varying sizes (shown above) and individual ribeye steaks.  It’s also good on wild game you want to do on the grill.  It’s a truly unique flavor when cooked over charcoal (not so good oven-cooked though).  It is Atkins friendly (just not Induction friendly, because of the wine).  Leaving out the wine just isn’t an option for this recipe, so wait until the Atkins OWL (Ongoing Weight Loss) phase to enjoy this wonderful dish.  I guarantee, this is so good you’ll be fighting over who gets the two end slices, just like at my house.  🙂  

MARINADE INGREDIENTS: (remember, it is not all consumed)

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. paprika

1/8 c. low-sodium soy sauce (1/4 c. if you can tolerate the sodium, I don’t though)

¼-½ c. dry red wine (burgundy or claret work nicely but any dry red will do)

1 T. tomato paste

1½ T. coarse ground black pepper (or enough to entirely coat your meat thickly)

DIRECTIONS:  Pound the coarse ground black pepper over all surfaces of an 8 rib roast (or sirloin, or chuck roast) using the butt of your palm or the smooth side of a meat cleaver. Use less pepper if doing a smaller piece of meat. Place meat in glass dish. I drizzle marinate every half hour (as often as you can remember to stop and do it) most of a day (minimum 6 hours). Most efficient way to marinate without disturbing pepper coating is to use a basting brush. Do not touch the meat with your brush, or you’ll wipe all the pepper off! Hold it over the meat and let it drip off the brush. When surface is soaked, put in refrigerator to marinate between “bastings”.  I baste hourly until cooking time.


This recipe really is not good cooked inside in your oven. Not sure why, but it just isn’t.  It seems it is the marriage of the marinade with charcoal smoke that makes this recipe taste divine.  You need to grill the 8 lb. rib roast for about 2 hours over medium coals (using a rotary spit if you own one).  If you don’t have one, like me, just turn the meat every half hour to sear all surfaces nicely. Best if not cooked past medium to medium rare stage.  I take mine off when my meat thermometer reads 120º degrees and set it on my cutting board for another 10 minutes to “rest”.  A piece of meat this large will continue to climb to around 130º while resting. That’s usually a nice pink medium-rare inside.

If doing sirloin or chuck roast (around 3-4 lb.) grill about 20 minutes on a side for medium-rare. This marinade really does a nice job of tenderizing a chuck or sirloin roast.  Cook rib steaks just like you usually would to your desired doneness.

This recipe always gets the WOWS when I serve it.  Hope you folks will try it! I think you’ll find you won’t be sorry you did! The outside slices are so good we always fight over them at home.  🙂


The marinade is discarded when you cook the meat.  No further basting should be done while cooking as there is now raw meat juice in the marinade.   Calculating how much marinade is consumed is difficult.  It would also be impossible for me to know how many servings you are able to get out of your roast.  So I’m providing the totals for the entire batch of marinade and you will have to see how much it makes and how much is left in the pan before discarding to determine roughly how much is staying on the meat and thus consumed by how many people you are serving.   Most of the sauce goes down the drain, to be perfectly honest, so you’re getting mostly sodium from the soy sauce and a few carbs from the wine and tomato paste that cling to the surface of the meat (a little more if you get the end slices).  The figures below DO NOT INCLUDE THE MEAT.

The entire batch of marinade has:

131 cals, 0.7 g. fat, 18 g. carbs, 4.6 g. fiber, 15.4 NET CARBS (entire batch), 5.5 g. protein, 1070 mg. sodium

Peppered Bacon-Cheese Bread

I saw a Paleo Bread recipe on Elena’s Pantry blog and finally did get around to trying something similar.  But of course, I tweaked it up front, a permanent addiction of mine.  I added 3 flavor ingredients that produced a delightfully tasty breakfast or snack bread.  Hubby and I both liked this new creation.  I eliminated the honey in the original recipe, as I didn’t want any sweetness to the bread.  I eliminated the salt, as cheese and bacon have plenty in them.  Otherwise, the basic batter was the same as hers.  Adding the peppered bacon and cheese makes this memorable.  This bread is not suitable until you reach the nuts and seeds rung of the Atkins OWL carb-re-introduction phase.   It is suitable for Primal diners, if you eat occasional cheese.   Omit the cheese to make this suitable for Paleo.  This batter cooks up nicely as biscuits or muffins, as the crust is particularly nice on this bread.  Muffins or biscuits will only take about 15-20 minutes to cook however.

You’ll find many more delicious bread recipes in our Low Carbing Among Friends cookbooks, a series by Jennifer Eloff and other talented low-carb kitchen gurus.  You can order them from Amazon or direct .


1½ c. almond flour

2 T. coconut flour

¼ c. golden flax meal

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 c. grated cheese

4 oz. lean bacon, chopped (preferably peppered bacon)

¼ tsp. coarse black pepper (or just use Wright’s peppered bacon)

5 eggs, beaten

2 T. coconut oil, melted

2 T. olive oil

1 T. cider vinegar

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease a loaf pan and set aside.  I used a NON-standard sized loaf pan that is 4½” wide, 2½” deep and 12″ long.

Baked in an abnormal-size loaf pan 4½” x 3″ x  12″ (Italian import)

Measure all dry ingredients and cheese into a medium measuring bowl, stir and set aside.  Chop bacon and brown in skillet with black pepper shaken all over it (I didn’t measure the pepper, but I’d guess about ¼ tsp. total).  When bacon is done, set aside to drain/cool on paper towels a few minutes.  While it cools, add all liquid ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir to blend.  Add cooked bacon and stir one last time to blend bacon evenly throughout batter.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape batter into non-stick, greased or parchment lined loaf pan and pop into preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.  Ovens vary, so check with toothpick test.  Remove and cool in pan a few minutes.  Run sharp knife around edges to loosen and tip out onto a cutting board. Slice into 10 servings and serve warm.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 10 large slices, each contains:

293.6 cals, 26g fat, 6.16 g carbs, 3.18 g fiber, 2.88g NET CARBS, 11.24 g protein, 481 mg sodium

BBQ Crack Cabbage with Ham

I found a small package of grilled pork slices in my freezer this morning I need to use up.  Since I have cooked this recipe numerous times now and my husband and I just LOVE it, it’s what’s for dinner tonight!  It’s so simple to make you’ll want to try this some time.  The mystery added ingredient, to what is basically the Crack Slaw recipe, makes all the difference in the world!  The BBQ sauce is the KEY INGREDIENT, so don’t omit that.  The flavor impact is astounding.   Without the sauce, it’s pretty much just an ordinary Crack Slaw in my opinion.  Carb count is a little high on this dish, but it is all in the healthy vegetables in it.  This recipe provides your daily requirements for Vitamins B6, C, iron, manganese, niacin, phosphorous and thiamin.  So the carbs are well worth it in nutrition alone!

This recipe is suitable for all phases of Atkins and most Keto programs.  Paleo/Primal Blueprint folks must use a plan-acceptable BBQ sauce.


3 T. bacon grease

8 oz. cooked cured ham, cut in small strips

2 oz. red bell pepper, cut in small strips

1 leek (12 oz.), washed, sliced ½” (or 1 lg. yellow onion)

12 oz. green cabbage, cut in ½” stir-fry slices

¼ c. low-carb BBQ sauce (I use G.Hughes, thinned with 1 T. each vinegar & water)

Dash of coarse black pepper

VARIATIONS:  Instead of ham, use thinly-sliced smoked sausage, leftover grilled pork meat, breakfast sausage mini-meatballs, or leftover BBQ brisket.  Brown all meats first in the skillet as was done with ham in the directions.

DIRECTIONS:  In a large non-stick wok or skillet, melt the bacon grease over high heat.  Add cut-up ham (or leftover grilled BBQ meat) and stir-fry to caramelize and lightly brown it for about 3 minutes.  Add the red bell pepper next and sauté until just barely starts to soften.  Add leeks and stir-fry until it just begins to go limp (about 4-5 minutes).   Add the cut-up cabbage and cook all together just until cabbage begins to soften.  Drizzle the water/vinegar- diluted BBQ sauce over the top and turn off heat.  Stir to mix the sauce to coat all ingredients with its smoky, sweet goodness.  Sprinkle top of mixture with a quality coarse black pepper.  At this juncture, you have two choices.  You can either serve the dish at once if you like your cabbage to still be a bit crunchy.  Or you can pop it into a 350º oven for 15-20 minutes for flavors to develop further and for veggies to get a bit softer.  Your call.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Made with leek rather than yellow onion, makes 5 servings, each contains:

199 cals, 11.72g fat, 12.02g carbs, 2.78g fiber, 9.24g NET CARBS (only 7.5g NET CARBS using yellow onion), 11.78g protein, 768 mg sodium

Jicama Cinnamon Chips

My husband went to the grocery store today and came home with a jicama.  This is one of my favorite ways to have jicama.  I love these for an easy dessert, for breakfast or for a late night snack.  They are very filling and taste a lot like baked apples!  These things satisfied my sweet tooth during Atkins Induction Phase when I craved something sweet.  This recipe is suitable for Keto, Paleo and Primal diets.


3 oz. jicama, peeled & sliced less than ¼” thick

2 T. melted butter

4-5 drops liquid stevia or liquid Splenda (or your preferred sweetener)

½ tsp. cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350º.  In sheet pan, melt butter.  Stir in cinnamon and liquid Splenda.  Slice jicama about 1/8″ thick (1/4″ if you like them crunchier) and place each slice into butter/cinnamon mixture.  Turn over so both sides are coated well.  Bake at 350º for about 20 minutes until begin to soften.  Serve warm!

VARIATION:   I have made this in a skillet using peeled chayote squash and a bit more butter.  Then I pop the skillet into the oven to finish off.  But I didn’t invent that wheel.  You can find that recipe over on Linda Genaw’s website:  

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Serves 1 person.  Entire recipe contains:

239 cals, 23.1g fat, 8.4g carbs, 4.8g fiber, 3.6g NET CARBS, 0.9g protein, 6.8 mg. sodium


Apricot Trail Mix


I absolutely LOVE trail mix.  And such a healthy snack!  It has the added bonus of being very transportable, for hiking, biking, camping, or taking to the office in a little baggie.  This apricot-coconut mix was a Christmas favorite of a relative.  She always brought some to the holiday gatherings.  The pumpkin seeds are my addition to her recipe.  The stuff is so good I have to dip my ½ cup portion out and put the bag away, or I’ll just keep eating and eating it.  Wrapped prettily with a ribbon, this makes a lovely gift when going to parties or for the holidays.  Just place in a pretty clear glass container and affix a pretty bow on top!  This very nutritious dessert/snack is not suitable until the highest fruit rung of the Atkins OWL carb re-introduction ladder (pre-maintenance or maintenance).  This recipe is suitable for Paleo-Primal eaters.

VARIATION:  Substitute pieces of dried prunes (Delmonte has no added sugar) for the dried apricots. I also have a Cranberry Trail Mix recipe you might like.


5 oz. pumpkin seeds, hulled, roasted (unsalted)

5 oz. sunflower seeds, hulled, roasted (unsalted)

2 oz. walnuts (about 28 halves), coarsely chopped/broken up

6 oz. fresh coconut meat, slivered thinly

4 oz. sliced almonds

6 oz. dried apricots, no sugar added (I buy them at Sam’s)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 200º and spread thinly sliced coconut onto a sheet pan. Dry for about 1½-2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Remove from oven before coconut begins to brown and cool.  You don’t really want to toast it for this recipe, just dry it out a bit.  In a large mixing bowl, toss all ingredients together.  Using kitchen shears, cut apricots into small pieces and add to the bowl.  Stir to mix well.  Store in a zipper plastic bag in your pantry.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes about 6 cups or twelve ½ cup servings.  Each ½ cup serving contains:

301.6 cals, 23.5g fat, 18g carbs, 5.3g fiber, 12.7g NET CARBS, 9.8g protein, 53.6 mg sodium

Best Banana Bread

Although I’ve said many times I’m not a BIG sweets eater, my husband is.  So I bake maybe one thing a week, enjoy one serving and he eats the rest.  That’s the way it was even before I started low-carbing.  This banana bread was one of the first sweets recipes I tried in 2009 when this journey began.  It came out so good, I still make it often.  I’m going to share those dessert recipes this week that I keep coming back to……favorites.  Although not always the spectacular, showy desserts, they are the ones I bake again and again.  That says something to me.  

To give credit where it is due, the basic batter that inspired this creation was a  recipe at Sugar Free Low Carb Recipes which no longer appears to exist when I Google it.   Hmm.   Anyway, I changed it up by adding vanilla, sweetener, baking powder and glucomannan powder.  I believe the smooth texture on my result is attributable to the glucomannan and makes this the perfect foundation for a wide variety of sweet bread possibilities.  

My first experiment with this batter was this banana bread recipe.  A slice only has 3.74 g net carbs using bananas!  The texture of this batter is amazing and the bread is ever so moist.  The basic batter made with only extract as flavoring has 1.08 g. net carbs (cut into 18 slices), so conceivably you could add any variety of fruits, dried fruits, nuts and flavorings for an endless variety of breakfast/dessert sweet breads.  Be sure to recalculate to include anything  you add and recalculate your new per-serving numbers, because the numbers below only reflect the basic batter and 2 mashed bananas.  This is suitable for Atkins OWL or above and I believe for Paleo-Primal adherence as well.

This recipe appears in Vol. 5 of Jennifer Eloff’s cookbook series Low Carbing Among Friends.  These books are a compilation of fantastic recipes from well-known low-carb cooking gurus on the internet.  Even Chef George Stella has participated in Jennifer’s cookbook venture. They make a wonderful addition to any low-carb cook’s library.  You can order copies at Amazon or here:


1/3 c. coconut flour

2/3 c. almond flour

¼ tsp. sea salt

1 T. glucomannan powder

1 tsp. baking powder

Sweetener equivalent for ½ c. sugar 

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

3 T. coconut oil, melted

½ tsp. vanilla

8 eggs, beaten

2 mashed bananas

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease a loaf pan with a bit of coconut oil or butter.  I use an odd-size loaf pan 4″x 2½x 10″ that allows me to get 18 smaller slices from my loaf.  Using a standard loaf pan, you may only get 9 slices and have to cut them in half to get the carb values shown below for each of my 18 slices.  Mix dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl. In a larger bowl, beat or whip all wet ingredients.  Add the dry items to the wet and whip with a whisk or electric mixer until smooth. Fold in your desired fruit, nuts or flavorings and stir well.    Spoon batter into greased pan, level with a spoon and bake at 350º for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into center comes out dry/clean.  Cool a bit, slice into 18 servings (or 9 cut in halves) and serve warm.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 18 servings, each contains: (2 bananas calculated in below, but no nuts)

141 calories, 12 g  fat, 5.61 g  carbs, 1.87 g  fiber, 3.74 g  NET CARBS, 4.24 g  protein, 90 mg sodium

Flax Crackers

My very first low-carb crackers.  Flax itself carries a sodium load and I rarely have to add salt to anything made with flax.  Texture on these is very good:  brittle, crunchy and crisp, especially the browner crackers that bake around the outer edges of the pan. But even those in the center of the pan were pretty crisp.

Each time I bake these, I try some new seasoning in them.  I think rosemary/onion may be my favorite.  Those are so good!  I’m very pleased these will stay crisp all week long just in a ziploc bag on the counter!  Re-toast them a bit in the oven if yours do not stay crisp.  

The ratio of flax and almond meal in these is JUST RIGHT!  This is my go-to cracker recipe when I’m really watching carbs tightly.  My non-low-carb husband likes these as well!  These crackers, excellent with cheese, butter, soup or whatever, are suitable most Keto plans, Paleo, Primal and of course, Atkins followers, once you reach the OWL (on-going Weight Loss) phase ‘nuts and seeds’ reintroduction level.


2 c. almond flour

1 c. flax meal (I use a 50:50 mixture of dark and golden)

2 tsp. onion powder

½ tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. optional seasoning of your choice (see ideas below)

2 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 eggs, beaten (or 3 egg whites if you prefer a crisper cracker)

VARIATIONS:  Any herb(s) you like along with onion and garlic powder, any combination of grated cheeses with or without onion/garlic powders, rosemary and onion powder, coarse black pepper, Everything Bagel spice, sliced toasted shallots, just onion powder, just garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne, onion powder and smoky chipotle powder, Montreal Steak Seasoning, Cajun seasoning.  Get creative!    

DIRECTIONS:   Preheat oven to 350º.  Line a sided sheet pan with parchment.  Mine is 11½ x 17″.  Measure all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.  With a fork, beat in the two eggs and olive oil until the mixture is moist throughout.  Crumble the dough evenly over the parchment lined pan.  Then, using plastic gloves or baggies on your hands press the dough evenly into the pan, trying to achieve the same thickness throughout.  If you have a straight sided glass, you can even roll the dough out for a smoother surface, but this isn’t really necessary.  This will take you a few minutes. Score into 48 crackers (8 x 6) with a straight edge knife.  Pop into preheated oven and bake for 15-16 minutes.  They will brown around the edges of the pan faster and you may have to remove outer crackers as they bake.  Don’t over brown as flax products can get a burned taste real fast if over-browned.  Cool and break apart along score lines.  When thoroughly cool, store in ziploc plastic bag at room temperature in your pantry.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 48 crackers, each cracker contains:

33.2 cals, 2.84 g fat, 1.37 g carbs, 0.93 g fiber, 0.44 g NET CARBS, 1.1 g protein, 15.2 mg sodium

Fish Filet in Shawarma Sauce

This quickly thought-up menu turned out to be one of the best fish dishes I’ve created in a VERY long time!  I just can’t believe how good it is to be so simple.  A great recipe for weeknights when you’re tired after a long day at work.  This recipe just made my regular fish recipe rotations, for sure!  I don’t believe I’ve ever used my shawarma spice on seafood before, but will be definitely be doing so again in the future!  It’s truly delightful on fish!  It was almost like a Hollandaise sauce, but without all the fuss, since I keep a fresh batch of homemade mayo made up all the time.  This dish is acceptable for Atkins Induction and is Paleo friendly if you use coconut milk in lieu of the cream.  You can use Swai, sole, flounder, tilapia, bluefish, halibut or any mild fish.  I’ve even used this sauce on broiled salmon and liked the results.  I keep this spice blend made up in my spice rack so making this is a snap at my house. 🙂


4   5-oz. fish filets or fish filet portions of your choice

2 T. unsalted butter

1½ tsp. Shawarma Spice blend

1/3 c. homemade mayonnaise

2 T. heavy cream

Pinch salt

DIRECTIONS:    Stir 1 tsp. of the spice blend and the cream or coconut milk into the mayo in a small saucepan and set on burner set to lowest possible heat setting.  Now to sauté the fish.  Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Pat any moisture off the fish with paper towels and sprinkle both sides evenly with the remaining ½ tsp. shawarma seasoning and a pinch of salt.    Raise heat to high and sear the fish on both sides until golden brown and done in center (takes just about 3-4 minutes on a side.  Plate the filets and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the creamy sauce over each portion.    Serve with a green vegetable or nice green salad.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 4 servings, each contains:

338.5 cals, 25g fat, 0.63g carbs, 0.13g fiber, 0.5g NET CARBS, 28.3g protein, 83 mg sodium


Indian Broiled Fish

A lot of Indian food fans don’t realize what a stellar job they do with fish in India.  Many menus don’t have it on the menu, but a quick perusal of an Indian cookbook will have you realizing they eat a lot of fish.  Their exotic spices compliment fish in the most wonderful way. 

Originally posted in 2010, I thought of this recipe today and am fixing this for dinner tomorrow night, I think.  This baked fish dish goes together really fast, so it is an easy meal prep during the summertime when you’d rather be outdoors having fun than cooking in the kitchen.  If you wish, you can use whole fish for this recipe.  This spice mixture would also be good on flounder or trout.  This recipe is Induction friendly.  The batch pictured has 1 small Roma seeded and finely chopped.  I enjoy this entrée both with and without the tomato.  I have not included the tomato in the recipe or nutritional stats, however.


2   8 oz. tilapia or flounder filets (or white flesh fish of choice)

1 tsp. minced ginger root

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 finely chopped jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1 T. chopped cilantro

¼ tsp. turmeric

Dash each of cayenne & black pepper

3 T. unsalted butter, melted

Dash/sprinkle of Garam Masala spice blend

OPTIONAL:  2 tsp. tomato sauce or 1 small tomato chopped on fish before spices added is very good.

DIRECTIONS:  Mix all ingredients in a glass bowl.  Do not use a plastic bowl or the turmeric will permanently stain it.  Add melted butter and mash it all up together.  Place fish on oiled, non-stick or parchment-lined pan.  Spread tomato sauce or chopped tomato on side that is up (if using), add seasoning mixture evenly on the top of each filet.  Broil for about 10 minutes (15or so for whole fish), until thickest part of the filet is firming up.  Or, you can bake for about 20 minutes (30 minutes for whole fish, depending on size), but I personally think broiling is best.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Serves 2, each serving contains:

327 cals, 15.5g fat, 1.6g carbs, 0.5g fiber, 1.1g NET CARBS, 45.5g protein, 123 mg sodium

Crawfish Pad Thai

I have been intrigued by recipes I see for Pad Thai, although I am very new to it.  Recipes for it would indicate every recipe for it is a little different although some ingredients are consistently in all the recipes, so I went about concocting my own version, pulling from this recipe and that recipe.  I had no idea if the final dish was going to be good.  Told my husband “If we don’t like it, we can just go out and eat.”  It far surpassed our expectations the first time I put this together!  Other than the fact I got it a little too hot with peppers, the overall flavor was truly OUTSTANDING!  I love when I make new culinary discoveries.  I now see why people rant and rave about Pad Thai.  I will definitely be making this dish on a regular basis in future!  I can’t wait to try it with pork, chicken and shrimp one day.

I’m showing a lesser amount of hot pepper ingredients below than went into my dinner tonight 😉 as it was way too hot for as I originally constructed it.  This meal would be suitable for Atkins Induction Phase, Keto diets and would even fit a Primal-Paleo lifestyle if plan-appropriate sauce ingredients are used.


3 cloves garlic, minced

3 T. rice vinegar

1 T. oyster sauce

1 T. low-sodium soy sauce

1 drop or pinch of your favorite sweetener (optional)

1 T. fish sauce

2 c. cooked spaghetti squash threads

2 T. olive oil

1 medium carrot, julienned lengthwise and cut into 2″ pieces

2 oz. purple onion

1 small jalapeno, seeded and cut into thin strips

1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like things HOTTER!)

1 c. bean sprouts (I had none and used 1/3 c. julienned water chestnuts)

4 large green onions, chopped, ½” pieces

12 oz. cooked crawfish tail meat, (or cooked shrimp)

3 large eggs, beaten

½ c. cilantro, chopped

1 T. butter

DIRECTIONS:  Cook half the spaghetti squash by slicing in half, removing seeds, putting cut side down into baking dish with 1/2″ water and microwaving on HI for 13 minutes.  Holding the squash half with a pot holder or towel, fork out threads from one half of the squash.  Reserve the other half of the squash for some other use.  In a small bowl, make a sauce of the first 6 ingredients.  Set aside.  Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet and scramble the beaten eggs lightly.  Chop with a knife a bit on a cutting board and set aside for now.  Cut up all the vegetables so they are ready for final cooking and assembly.  Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet.  Add the carrot, purple onion, green onion and sauté until tender crisp.  Add the cooked spaghetti squash threads, the bean sprouts (or water chestnuts) and crawfish tails (or shrimp).  Continue to stir-fry over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, to allow flavors to blend.  Add the scrambled egg now and then the cilantro, stirring to mix them in evenly.  Lower heat.  Stir the sauce you prepared and pour it evenly over the mixture.  Stir one last time to mix everything thoroughly.  Remove from heat and serve at once.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 6 servings, each contains:

178 cals, 9.8 g fat, 8.9 g carbs, 1.9 g fiber, 7 g NET CARBS, 14 g protein, 715 mg sodium

Cran-Orange Acorn Squash

I’m trying to use just fresh fruit for the occasional sweets craving.   I’ve never been a big sweets eater, so this works just fine for me.  I like to bake an acorn squash from time to time, especially at the holidays, both as a side dish and as a dessert.  It goes so well with pork and roast turkey.  Including holiday flavors like cranberries and orange, seems like you can’t go wrong. 

I traditionally used maple syrup or brown sugar in this recipe, but maple extract can fill that brown sugar taste.  Splenda or Stevia will have to do to sweeten up the squash a bit.  This is a pretty high-carb vegetable, so it should not be enjoyed until Atkins Pre-maintenance or Maintenance phases.  It is also suitable for Paleo-Primal dining.  This was lovely with pork!  This is also very good with a holiday turkey or wild game.


1   5″ diameter acorn squash

½  naval orange, peeled and chopped

1/3 c. fresh cranberries, chopped

½ tsp. cinnamon

Sweetener of your choice (I used liquid stevia extract)

¼-½ tsp. maple extract

4 tsp. unsalted butter or ghee

VARIATION:    Sprinkle on a few chopped pecans before baking.  

DIRECTIONS:   Preheat oven to 350º.  Using a large knife, cut the squash in half.  Scoop out and discard seeds. Place a little water (1/4″) in a shallow quiche dish.    Place squash cut side down in the water and microwave on HI for about 8-10 minutes or until it is beginning to get tender inside but is not falling-apart mushy.  Remove from oven and drain off water.  Turn squash cut side up and set aside while you make the filling.  In a small bowl, place the chopped orange, chopped cranberries, cinnamon and if using, the sweetener and maple extract.  Stir well.  Fill each squash cavity with half the mixture.  Top with 2 tsp. butter/ghee each and bake in preheated 350º oven for about 20 minutes.  

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 2 servings, each contains: (not including any nuts used on top)

188 cals, 8.4g fat, 30.7g carbs, 5.8g fiber, 24.9g NET CARBS, 2.3g protein, 8 mg sodium

Carrots in Tarragon Cream

Carrots in Tarragon Cream

My grandmother on my Dad’s side was very fond of creamed vegetables.  She was a country girl raised in a very poor farm family but was a very good cook.  My great-grandmother, who I also knew, taught her well.  She grew her own vegetables and love, love, LOVED creamed soups and creamed vegetables.  Over the years, I guess she served me creamed peas, new potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, baby onions, spinach, corn………. You name it and she probably creamed it.  🙂  She had 2 dairy cows on her property, some chickens and a nice garden.  She produced her own milk, cream and even taught me to churn butter.  This defrayed the grocery costs of a single mom raising 9 children during The Depression.    She was quite the gardener and sold vegetables at the local curb farmer’s market in Texarkana.

My non-green vegetable tonight was created in honor of her love of all things creamed.  She wasn’t big on spices, so I doubt she ever even heard of tarragon, but I think she would have  liked these and been proud to serve this dish.  My husband isn’t too fond of carrots and even he liked this new dish of mine!  His thumbs up on an un-favorite vegetable speaks volumes to me.  This recipe is not suitable until the Atkins OWL phase, as carrots are a bit carb-y.  It is suitable for Paleo-Primal followers also.


4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½” pieces

Water to cover carrots

1 T. unsalted butter

Dash each sea salt and pepper

¼ c. heavy cream (or coconut milk)

Optional: 1/8 tsp. xanthan gum or your preferred thickener

1/4 tsp. dried tarragon

DIRECTIONS:  Bring carrots and water to slow boil and cook until just barely tender.  Drain off all but about ½ c. of the cooking water.  Add butter to the carrots and remaining water.  Lower heat and add cream.  Sprinkle with xanthan gum and simmer on low until it begins to slightly thicken. The cream sauce will turn slightly yellow from the beta carotene in the carrots, but that doesn’t impact flavor.  Sprinkle with the dried tarragon and toss.    Dip up into serving dish.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 4 servings, each contains:

103 cals, 8.55g fat, 6.55g carbs, 1.95g fiber, 4.6g NET CARBS, 0.9g protein, 89 mg sodium

Spicy Zucchini Cakes

Spicy Zucchini Cakes

Sometimes I like to turn my vegetables into croquettes!  That way I can introduce whatever seasonings into the mixture I want before searing them off to create a flavorful browned surface.  I created these with zucchini, but have done similar things with broccoli.  I have even made croquettes of my calabacita recipe (omitting the cheese).   Anything I think I can form into the right thickness of batter, well it’s highly likely I’ve tried to turn it into croquettes over the years.  What can I say?  I love fried food like so many of us do.  🙂

I created these to serve with baked ham, but have since learned they are pretty good with all meats.   I even varied these once for a complete lunch. by adding 2 oz. tuna to them (which was quite good).  These are so delicious for so little effort and ready in no time!  This would therefore be a good recipe for your busy week nights.  Over 100,000 people on Facebook thought so when I posted this recipe debuted there on our ‘Low Carbing Among Friends’ page.

These lovelies are not suitable for Atkins Induction unless you use an Induction-friendly One Minute Muffin for the breadcrumbs instead of the biscuit listed.  They are a go for Keto, Paleo and Primal eating plans if you use plan-suitable bread and skip the hot sauce (use more cayenne instead).


15 oz. grated zucchini (3 small zucchini)

1½ oz. onion, grated fine

2 eggs, beaten

1 plan suitable biscuit or piece of bread, crumbled (or ½ c. crushed pork rinds)

Dash of salt

Dash each black pepper and cayenne pepper

2 tsp. Sriracha chile sauce (or plan-suitable hot sauce)

1 T. oil of your choice

DIRECTIONS:  Grate the zucchini over a clean kitchen towel.  Lightly salt with the dash of salt and let it sit there while you work.  The salt will draw out the water from the zucchini while you are mixing everything else.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs.  Grate the onion into the eggs and add the black pepper, Sriracha sauce and bread crumbs (or crushed pork rinds, if using).    Stir to mix well.

Roll the zucchini in the towel so you can wring/squeeze out any remaining water over your sink.  Open towel over the bowl and scrape the zucchini into the egg mixture.  Stir well with a spoon.

Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat.  Using a ¼-cup as a scooper, scoop ¼ cup mixture into the hot oil and let it spread a bit so it is flat.  Cook until first side is golden brown.  Do not disturb these excessively as they are cooking.  When the first side is brown, flip with a spatula and cook the other side to a golden brown.  Remove to a paper towel to drain excess grease.  Transfer to serving platter and serve at once.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 9 cakes, each contains: (will vary slightly with your choice of bread or crumbs)

68.4 cals, 5.46 g fat, 2.58 g carbs, 0.78 g fiber, 1.8 g NET CARBS, 3.55 g protein, 70 mg sodium

Red Radish Cottage Fries

Red Radish Cottage Fries

I’ve been making hash browns with onion fried in bacon grease pretty much all my life.  Of course, back in the day, I used real potatoes.  My Southern roots grow deep and this is how my mother and her family fried potatoes.  But many years later, I worked for a boss that had been stationed in Vietnam who was always talking about how he loved to cook Asian stir fries.  He invariably mentioned using red radishes in his stir fries, which astounded me.  I had used kohlrabi before, but never radishes.  He said they weren’t at all bitter when cooked like that.  I tried them and was pleasantly surprised.  Just like he said:  no bitterness/hotness at all!    Then a light bulb went off.  Daddy’s hash browns!!  Once I tried them, I’ve done them hundreds of times like this now.  They’re GREAT with breakfast eggs and bacon.  These are another of the dishes that got me through the difficult Induction Phase of Atkins.  I even enjoy these now as a ‘potato’ side at dinner, like the Chicken-Fried Steak shown above!

You will just be amazed how close to red potatoes red radishes taste when fried this way.  For me, the key here is the onion and bacon grease.  They’re just not as good done in olive oil in my opinion.  🙂  Do try this some time if you have not yet had the pleasure.  The carb count is astounding compared to real potatoes!  This recipe is suitable for All phases of Atkins, Keto diets and Primal-Paleo followers as well.


15 medium radishes, cut in large pieces

2 oz. yellow onion, sliced

2 T. bacon grease

Dash each salt and coarse black pepper

DIRECTIONS:  Heat skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bacon grease.  Toss in the onion and saute until it begins to get soft and brown/caramelize on the edges.  Add radishes, salt and pepper and continue stir-frying until radishes are no longer opaque.  You want them to just begin browning so the skins will stay a pretty reddish color.  🙂

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 3 servings, each contains:

87 cals, 8.9g fat, 2.26g carbs, 0.56g fiber, 1.7g NET CARBS, 0.3 g protein, 75 mg sodium

Sofrito Zoodles

Early along in my Atkins journey, I learned that zucchini noodles not only made a great support for spaghetti sauce and to create a new twist on mac and cheese, but they could also be pretty delicious with not much added to the picture.  One of my favorite ways to serve them is just sautéed in butter and a good dousing of Parmesan cheese.  It reminds me of risotto.

When I created my version of sofrito sauce, I found it to be delicious on just a plate of zoodles.  These healthy “noodles” are delicious alongside a variety of meats and seafood.   Their flavor profile is most adaptable to what you are serving.  Last night I served them with broiled shrimp.  They will also serve as a foundation for a number of delicious meat stir-fries, Bolognese sauce, as well as numerous seafood dishes like my Clam Sauce.    They are exceedingly easy to make, cook and are Atkins Induction friendly.  This recipe is also acceptable for other Keto plans, Primal or Paleo regimens as well.


2 large zucchini (about 16 ounces)

2 T. unsalted butter

2 T. my Sofrito sauce

2 T. Parmesan cheese (finely grated)

VARIATION:  Use yellow summer squash instead of zucchini (or any combination of the two).  For added color impact, you could add some carrot you have run through the noodler.

DIRECTIONS:   Form the zucchini noodles in your preferred noodling tool.  I used my hand-held Vegetti® for this task as my larger Spirooli® broke irreparably not long ago.  I like the little Vegetti®!  I understand they make an electric Vegetti® now, but I’ve not seen them in the stores yet.  Saw it on the internet.  But the hand held model works just fine.  You will end up with about 3½-4 c. zucchini noodles.  Depending on your tool, you may want to cut them shorter with a knife (I did).    Place on a clean kitchen towel and pat/press to absorb all the water.  Wait a few minutes and press again to dry them well of their water.

Heat a non-stick skillet and melt the butter.  Add the noodles and with a large kitchen fork, stir them gently just until they go limp and translucent.  Add the Sofrito sauce and mix well.  Remove from heat and dip into a serving dish or onto plates.  Sprinkle Parmesan on top either in your serving dish or allow your diners to add it themselves at the table.  Enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL INFO:    Makes 4 servings (about 3/4 c. each after shrinkage).  Each serving contains:

108 cals., 8g fat, 5.95g carbs, 1.9g fiber, 3.05g NET CARBS, 3.1g protein, 60 mg sodium

Lobster Salad

We bought a huge box of lobster tails at Sam’s at Christmas.  We’re down to the last two tails in the box.  Going to make a nice lobster salad for our dinner this evening.   Neither of us are terribly hungry and we’ve been at doctor’s appointments and physical therapy all day long.  Needless to say I forgot to defrost any meat and can thaw these tails fast.

This salad is visually appealing and its flavor matches its attractiveness on the plate.  With avocado added to the plate, it is also extremely filling, so I would definitely call this one a main dish.  This recipe is suitable for all phases of Atkins and other Keto diets.  Paleo and Primal folks can enjoy this one as well!


4 c. mixed salad greens

10 leaves baby spinach

4 San Marzano mini tomatoes, sliced crosswise (or use 8 cherry tomatoes)

2 oz. red bell pepper, sliced thin

½ green onion, chopped into ½” pieces

1 ripe avocado, skin & seed removed, sliced

4 T. homemade mayonnaise, seasoned with your fav blend (I used my Shawarma Mayonnaise)

2 lobster tails (10 oz. in shell, 8 oz. meat yield total)

VARIATION:  Add some finely diced celery and a dash of cayenne pepper to the lobster salad mixture.

DIRECTIONS:  Bring a 4-qt. saucepan of water to a boil.  Drop in lobster tails and boil for about 7-8 minutes.  Remove, cool a bit and holding with a pot holder, cut the tail shell down the “belly” side and remove the meat from the shell.  Cut meat into 1/2″ bite-sized pieces and set aside for now to cool further.

While the lobster is boiling, plate your base salad greens, dividing the above vegetables equally between two serving plates.  In a small bowl, toss the cooled down lobster meat with the homemade mayo and spoon half of the mixture onto the center of the greens on each plate.  You can use a plain, unseasoned homemade mayo, but I like to use a seasoned mayo for salad dressings, particularly good that way with lobster.  Serve salads at once.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 2 servings, each contains:

414 cals., 35.4g fat, 13g carbs, 7.25g fiber, 5.75g NET CARBS, 26.45g protein, 415 mg sodium

Bacon Salad

shawarma-bacon-saladThis salad is one of my favorites.  It was the only salad I would eat when I was a child.   It combines two of my very favorite flavors:  bacon and creamy tangy onion.  This yummy salad makes a delightful, light lunch can be enjoyed during all phases of Atkins, Keto diets and Primal-Paleo regiments as well!  Nutritional numbers are approximate, as I can’t know how much of the greens you will put into each salad bowl.   Salads aren’t an exact science in my opinion. Most of the calories and fat are, as you might expect, in the dressing.


6 oz. raw bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces

Enough greens for 4 salads:  romaine or lettuce of choice, green onion, celery, bell pepper

1 small carrot, peeled and slivered with peeler

8 cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves

6 slices cucumber, sliced again into halves

4 T. my Homemade Mayonnaise or my Shawarma Salad Dressing

3 T. hot bacon grease

DIRECTIONS:  Prepare the salad greens in a large salad serving bowl.  Set aside.  In a skillet, brown the bacon until fully done to your liking.  Dip bacon onto paper towels to drain.  Turn off heat and let skillet cool a few minutes.  Drain off for some other use all but 3 T. of the bacon grease. You only want 3 T.  left in the skillet.  Add the shawarma mayo to the skillet grease and stir quickly.  Pour over the salad greens and top with the cooked bacon.  Serve at once as this salad is supposed to be slightly warm at serving.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 4 salads, each contains approximately:

409 calories, 43 g fat, 6.45 g carbs, 2.75 g fiber, 3.7 g NET CARBS, 4 g protein, 380 mg sodium

Jicama Mint Salad

I’ve had this salad dressing on cucumbers many a time and loved it.  Tonight I decided to try it on jicama and it was WONDERFUL!  Very refreshing salad for summer.   The crispness and slightly sweet quality of the jicama is perfect with mint!   This salad is suitable for all phases of Atkins, Keto diets and Primal-Paleo as well.


2 T. of my Mint Sauce

1 c. jicama, peeled, cut in strips about 1″ long (or grated if you prefer)

Sprinkle of salt to taste

Splash rice wine vinegar (optional)

DIRECTIONS:  Mix up the Mint Sauce recipe linked above and set aside.  Peel and cut up jicama and place in bowl large enough to toss easily.  Add 2 T. of the mint sauce and toss.  Taste to see if you want to add salt.  If you prefer your salads tart, add a sprinkle of rice wine vinegar (available in most grocery stores in the Chinese Food section) to the jicama as you toss it.  Plate and serve with tomato slices.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 1 serving which contains:

78 calories, 2.4 g  fat, 13.2 g carbs, 7.1 g fiber, 6.1 g NET CARBS, 1.7 g protein, trace of sodium in vinegar

Purslane Salad

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Does it get any prettier?  I have seen the occasional recipe that called for purslane over the years, but was never inclined to try any.  Quite honestly, I wasn’t very familiar with what it was.  But I have begun growing it on my patio in huge pots.  It is so hardy and has such lovely blooms!  The entire plant is edible, leaves and flowers!  I decided I was going to finally taste it today.  To me, the flavor of all three parts of the plant (flower, leaf and stem) I would liken to a lemony bib lettuce.  Purslane is a powerhouse of nutrition!  I no longer live at the house with the ginormous pots of multi-colored Purslane, so I include a photo of my current small pot of yellow purslane below:


To harvest purslane, just pinch off individual stems from the mother plant, grab the end of the stem with one hand, and in one quick motion with your other hand’s thumb and index finger, strip the leaves off the stems like you would strip rosemary leaves off the stems.  Place the leaves (and blooms,, if using) into a colander or sieve.  Rinse under cold water to remove any dirt or insects hiding there.  Purslane wilts fast in dressing, so wait and prepare and dress your salad right before serving.  Below is a pic of what edible purslane looks like growing:

CAUTION:  If you find and gather what looks like wild growing purslane, be sure to snap the stem.  If it oozes a white, milky-looking substance, BEWARE! What you have found IS NOT edible purslane!!  The plant that oozes the white milky substance when pinched is an inedible impersonator known as spurge that just happens to look like purslane!  Its blooms are tiny and barely visible.  The edible purslane, when a stem is snapped has clear fluid in it.  Another difference, is the leaves are ‘alternate’ along the stem on the edible purslane.  Leaves are ‘opposite’ along the stem of wild spurge.  If eaten by mistake, wild spurge will make you very sick!  It’s leaves are also less thick and fleshy than the leaves of edible purslane.  Edible purslane has a clear fluid when squeezed.  Toxic wild spurge has a milky white liquid and is shown photo right:  creeping-spurge

The inspiration for this recipe is a Middle Eastern salad I’m familiar with known as Fattoush.  It has toasted torn pita bread pieces in it.  Well, I decided to just omit the bread because I sure don’t need to be eating bread in my salads.  But you could break up toasted low-carb bread into this salad if you like.


1 c. purslane shoots and leaves, stripped off stems (I only use the very tips of the stems)

2 c. romaine lettuce, broken into pieces

1/4 c. fresh mint, coarsely chopped

½ c. cucumber, peeled and diced

6 grape tomatoes (I cut mine into halves)

½ oz. red onion, slivered as thinly as possible

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 oz. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 tsp. sumac (optional, but traditional in Fattoush)

Dash each salt and black pepper

Couple purslane blooms (also edible)

OPTIONAL:  Toasted, broken up bits of 1 slice of low-carb bread

DIRECTIONS:  Harvest the purslane leaves and rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper toweling.  Add the torn lettuce, mint, cucumbers, red onion, tomatoes and salt/pepper.  In a small dish mix the measure out and stir the oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic and sumac.  Drizzle over the salad greens and toss.  Serve at once.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 3 servings, each contains:

101 calories

9 g  fat

4.66 g  carbs, 1.43 g  fiber, 3.23 g  NET CARBS

1.1 g  protein

61 mg sodium

258 mg potassium

16% RDA Vitamin A, 25% C, 10% E, 16% iron, 11% manganese

Tomato-Mushroom Salad

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We’re dining outside the box tonight for our Easter Sunday dinner tonight.  I’m serving my tasty Lobster & Shrimp Dien Bien on real rice (I always treat myself for holiday dinners) with this tasty Tomato-Mushroom salad above.  We’re also having a side of butter-sautéed garden-picked spinach with it.  Yum!

This Atkins Induction, Keto and Primal-Paleo friendly salad is ever so good with seafood and colorful, too!  I just love this stuff!


1 Portobello mushroom, cut into ¾” dice

3 T. olive oil

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped large

10 black olives, cut into halves or thirds

2 fresh basil leaves chopped

¼ c. green onion, chopped

1 tsp. yellow onion or shallots, chopped

1 T. balsamic vinegar

1 clove minced garlic

Sprinkle of black pepper and salt

DIRECTIONS: Sauté cubed mushrooms in olive oil with onion/shallots and green onion.  Remove when mushroom is done.  Allow to cool on counter.  Add dressing ingredients and toss well.  Chill 30 minutes or so before serving.  I serve this in a Romaine lettuce leaf if serving to guests.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Makes 2 servings, each containing:

251 cals, 23g fat, 10.7g carbs, 3.1g fiber, 7.6g  NET CARBS, 3.75 g protein, 190 mg sodium

Spinach Salad with Olive Dressing

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Whenever I make up a batch of my Olive Tapenade, I love to use part of it for a lovely salad dressing.  My husband is an olive addict if there ever was one.  This salad came about in just such a scenario.  We had enjoyed the tapenade I made this week on my Almond-Arrowroot Crackers and there were just a few tablespoons left.  I had an open bag of fresh spinach, with just enough left for two salads, so I took the balance of the tapenade and created a tasty spinach salad to go with our dinner tonight.  This salad is delicious and suitable for all phases of Atkins, Keto diets and Primal-Paleo as well.


3 c. fresh spinach leaves

12 slices cucumber

8 tiny San Marzano tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes), sliced in half

2 T. my Olive Tapenade

3 T. olive oil

3 T. red wine vinegar

Dash each salt and pepper

Sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Few thin slivers of red onion (optional)

DIRECTIONS:  Plate half the spinach in each of 2 salad bowls or plates.  Top each decoratively with 6 slices of cucumber and 4 of the tomatoes.  Add red onion if using.  Sprinkle with Parmesan if using.  Drizzle each salad with half the dressing and serve at once.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 2 salads, each complete salad contains:  (does not include Parmesan or red onion)

254 cals, 26.3g fat, 4.15g carbs, 2.2g fiber, 1.95g NET CARBS, 1.75g protein, 239 mg sodium

DRESSING ALONE:  half recipe contains: 239 calories, 26 g  fat, 1.2 g  carbs, 0.5 g  fiber, 0.7 g NET CARBS, 0.2 g  protein

Shawarma Mayo or Salad Dressing

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One of tastiest salads with grilled steak

If you are a fan of Middle Eastern Shawarma meat wraps, you need to try this flavor on a salad!  Pretty amazing!  This creamy salad dressing uses homemade mayonnaise as its base.  The Shawarma spice does the rest!  It’s imbued with the flavors of Middle Eastern gyros or kebabs.  It a delightful flavor to change up chicken or turkey sandwiches.  It’s equally delicious atop green salads and spinach salads.  This recipe is suitable for all phases of Atkins, Keto diets and Paleo-Primal diners as well.  Just thin with an extra splash of vinegar, some cream or coconut cream to turn this thick mayo into a lovely salad dressing.  It is also doubles as a Bernaise Sauce stand-in (just use tarragon instead of shawarma spice mix) to serve with grilled meats, fish and even some veggies!  Yum!!


½ c. my Homemade Mayonnaise

1 T. my Shawarma Spice Blend

Dash salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:   Mix ingredients, stirring well and chill until ready to use for sandwiches.  To use it as a salad dressing or sauce for meats or seafood, thin it with a splash of more vinegar, a little heavy cream, sour cream or yogurt.  Keeps about 7-10 days in the refrigerator.  It will get an off odor when it has gone bad.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 8 T. of mayo (4 servings).  Each 2T. serving contains:

200 cals, 22 g fat, 0.16 g carbs, 0.02 g fiber, 0.14 g NET CARBS, 0.64 g protein, 32 mg sodium

Kale-Orange-Walnut Salad

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We’ve covered my favorite soups thoroughly this week.  Now I’d like to shift my readers thoughts to the next meal course:  salads.  As a child I didn’t much care for salads.  It wasn’t the greens that I didn’t care for, but rather the dressings.  The sourness of vinegar, nor mayonnaise-based dressings were my cup of tea.   When I discovered how to make homemade mayonnaise after I got married…….well my world flipped on its head.  I loved the homemade variety of this famous condiment.  And man, oh, man did it ever lend itself to endless variations for salad dressings!

And once I tasted balsamic vinaigrettes, well the world of tart dressings expanded immensely for me.  That edge of sweetness was apparently what I craved on a salad.  So I’d like to re-share some of my all-time favorite salad creations with these two foundational dressings.  My favorite was created from a lovely bunch of kale.  Rather than cook it all, which was my traditional approach to this leafy green, I decided to try a raw kale salad one night.  I’d seen in magazines people eat it raw, so I thought why not?

Since kale is a bit stronger than other greens when cooked, I thought a bit of fruit might round out any bitterness of the vegetable when eaten in its raw state.  And it did!  The earthy taste of the walnuts and walnut oil playing off the citrus in the orange vinaigrette are pure heaven in this salad.  It is delicious and perhaps my favorite salad of all time now, to be quite honest.  I serve it often.  Even my husband loves this one, and he’s not fond of walnuts or nuts period!  I do hope all my readers will try this one on your less-than-enthusiastic salad eaters.  It will change them I’m convinced!

This recipe is not suitable until you reach the the higher fruit level of the Atkins OWL carb ladder (Phase 3).  It is perfectly OK for Ketogenic diets (although you may want to use lower-carb berries rather than oranges).  It is also suitable for Primal and Paleo as well.

You will find many more delicious salads and dressings like this in the hottest selling Low Carbing Among Friends cookbooks.  International author Jennifer Eloff has pulled in the most incredible talent on the the low-carb cooking scene.  Together they bring to you a bevy of tasty recipes you will be proud to serve to friends or family.  Order your personal set (or individual volumes) today from Amazon or here: 


1½ oz. kale leaves, stems removed, sliced thinly  (this was 2 large leaves for me)

2 oz. raw onion, sliced thinly (I only had white on hand, but red onion would be perhaps even better)

½ oz. walnuts, coarsely broken apart  (about 7 halves)

2   ½”-slices of orange, cut into thirds


1 medium orange (you will only use part of it for this recipe)

2 T. walnut oil (important not to substitute other oils here)

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

2 T. orange juice (fresh squeezed)

Dash each salt and coarse black pepper

Dash garlic powder (optional)

DIRECTIONS:  Cut the orange in half across the segments.  Peal one half of the orange with your knife.  Cut away 2 slices about the size of two large sections and cut the two into about 6 bite-sized pieces.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, squeeze out 2 tablespoons of orange juice from the uncut half.  to the orange juice, add the walnut oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and if using, the garlic powder.  Stir and set aside.

Remove the tough stems from the kale.  Wash and dry the leaves.  Julienne slice the kale (thinly) and place into a medium salad serving bowl (unless you plan to plate the salads individually). In that case, you can use any old bowl large enough to toss this in.  Add the thinly sliced onion, walnuts and pieces of orange.  place the bowl of greens and fruit in your refrigerator until ready to serve.

The final step right before serving is to pour the orange vinaigrette over the greens and toss well to coat.  If you wish to plate it, place half the salad onto each of two individual serving plates. Garnish with a slice of orange if desired.  I didn’t have any tonight, but a sprinkle of pomegranate kernels would be delicious as well as pretty on this salad.  🙂

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 2 servings, each contains:

206 cals, 18.4g fat, 9.85g carbs, 3.2g fiber, 6.65g NET CARBS, 2.3g protein, 90 mg sodium

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

As with most of my soups, this one was again a result of leftovers I needed to use up.  And as always, those soups often turn out to be the most delicious!  I had a lot of lean pork shoulder I whittled off a bone for my foundation.  I had two smallish baked sweet potatoes in the refrigerator.  I always have homemade pork stock on hand in my freezer, as I save broth from all roasted pork.  Then I just started adding ingredients I know to be delicious in Indonesian curries and a tasty, filling soup was the result.    

This soup is not suitable until Atkins Pre-Maintenance or Maintenance.  It is perfectly suited for Paleo and Primal diners.  You can reduce the carbs a bit (4.74 net carbs) by using only 1 small sweet potato or about 1/3 c. flesh.


2 oz. onion, sliced

1 T. coconut oil

1 lb. cooked, lean pork, chopped

1/2 tsp. fresh ginger root, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. dried lemon grass (or 1 small stem fresh, chopped, if available)

1/4 tsp. salt

Dash black pepper

1  13.5-oz. can coconut milk

3 c. homemade pork (or chicken) broth

2 c. water

1/4 tsp. Thai red curry paste

2 small baked sweet potatoes (about 3/4 c. flesh yield) [use less to lower carbs]

1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS:   Bake the sweet potatoes until done.  Heat coconut oil in a large soup pot and saute union until it begins to brown.  Add garlic and pork and saute a couple minutes.  Split the sweet potatoes with a knife.  Using a fork, mash the flesh and scoop it out and add to the soup pot.  Add to the pot the following:  garlic, ginger, all spices, lemon grass, coconut milk, broth, water and Thai curry paste (if using).  Stir well.  Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook about 5-10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Add cilantro and cook 1-2 minutes.  Using either a stick blender, or transferring to a blender in small batches, pulse a couple times to reduce to a not-quite-smooth soup.  Serve garnished with a 1-2 cilantro leaves and serve.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes six  1¼-cup servings, each contains:

294 cals, 20 g fat, 6.73 g carbs, 0.45g fiber, 6.33g NET CARBS, 21 g protein, 262 mg sodium

Thai Chicken-Pumpkin Soup

Texas is seeing quite a chill in the air for April.  I went out looking for some bedding plants and was so cold wandering my favorite nursery, I just drove back home when done there, despite having a haircut and grocery shopping on my errand list. 

When it’s a chilly 52º, it’s not quite cold enough for making chili, but pumpkin and winter squash soups are nice at such times.  For this delicious soup, I just need a couple things in my pantry.  I use Sam’s “Daily Chef” canned chicken meat as it only has chicken, salt and water in it.  No modified food starch or other junk ingredients.  I always have some homemade chicken stock in my freezer, so this is an easy lunch for me.  This soup is quite tasty and is very nutritious, too.  I went for a Thai flavor today.  GOOD choice for my key ingredients!  This recipe isn’t suitable until you reach the nuts and seeds rung of Atkins Phase 2 OWL carb ladder.  It is perfectly suited to other Keto diets and Primal-Paleo as well.


1  15-oz. can pumpkin puree (please do not use spiced pumpkin pie filling!)

1  can (13 oz.) coconut milk

3 c. homemade chicken broth

¼ c. packed, fresh cilantro, chopped

¼ tsp. salt

Dash black pepper

¼ c. green onion, finely chopped

1 tsp. Thai Red Curry Paste (or to taste)

1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce

½ tsp. Thai fish sauce (I use Thai Kitchen brand)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1  can (13 oz) chicken meat (salt/water pack, with broth)

OPTIONAL GARNISH:  Sprig of fresh cilantro or my 8-seed Spice Blend

DIRECTIONS:   Basically, place all ingredients into a large soup pot, stir well and bring to a boil and then lower heat.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Although not absolutely necessary, use a stick blender to puree the soup if desired.  Garnish with sprig of cilantro or seed blend of choice.  

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

273 calories, 19.2 g  fat, 10.2 g  carbs, 2.6 g  fiber, 7.6 g  NET CARBS, 13.66 g  protein, 432 mg sodium

Tomato Soup al Pesto

I have never liked how sweet canned tomato soup was.  Wouldn’t eat the stuff as a child.   But for some strange reason, I was craving tomato soup today and thought I can must make mine from scratch……..even better!  Made it a little different though.  It was thick and very flavorful.  Cream can be added for extra richness, but that is not used or included here.  This is Atkins Induction friendly at all phases and Keto friendly as well.  Paleo and Primal folks can have this delicious soup, too.


2    14-oz. can of diced tomatoes, no-salt added

12 oz. cauliflower, cooked and well-drained ( ½ large head)

4 oz. onion, chopped

3 T. my pesto sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:  Cook cauliflower in your usual manner, drain and pour into a bowl.  Cook tomatoes and onion in the same pot until very tender.    Add the cauliflower to the tomatoes and onion.  Add the 3T. pesto sauce.  Either using a stick blender or a food processor (in small batches) pulse/blend until fairly smooth.  Add hot water if you find it too thick for your liking.  Serve garnished with a fresh basil sprig as shown, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, or a sprinkle of parsley.  This would pair nicely with a salad and a piece of your favorite low-carb garlic bread.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 5 large bowls, each contains:

116 cals, 6.2g fat, 11.8g carbs, 3.9g fiber, 7.4g NET CARBS, 3.5g protein, 174 mg sodium

Fish Dill Chowder

I’ve been making this chowder for many many years.  It was actually a recipe my father created when I was in high school.  Daddy was the real cook in the family.  I can only emulate his culinary skill in the kitchen now that he is gone.   I’m not very fond of dill, and yet this was delicious then and is still one of my all-time favorite seafood chowders.   this one will pleasantly surprise you should you decide to give it a go.  

In my opinion, Redfish is best for chowders.  It is so firm (often  have to cut with a steak knife) it holds up to cooking without falling apart in the soup.  although readily available when I lived in Galveston, it is hard to come by for most of us.  The other fish varieties indicated below will also work nicely in this chowder if added last just before serving.  I often have to use whatever fish I can get here in Central Texas, since I no longer live on Galveston Island. 

The flavor balance of the fish, wine and dill in this recipe is quite delicate, so this is one fish chowder I would NOT recommend adding additional shellfish to.   The one time I added shrimp or clams, this just wasn’t as good a soup.   Dill just doesn’t seem to compliment shellfish quite like it does whole fish.  My original recipe called for 2 c. diced potato, not allowed on a low-carb regimen.   I substitute diced red radishes, parsnips, daikon radish  or rutabaga for the potato stand-in here.  If you’re up to the starchy veggie rung of the OWL carb ladder, I’d lean toward the rutabaga myself.  

Added note: I regularly make seafood stock from all my shrimp/lobster shells (simmered 30 min. in water) and keep frozen at all times in 1 & 2 cup jars.  Makes a recipe like this easy to put together.

A nice variation on this recipe is to use a little coconut milk for some of the cream.  I find the bacon simmering in this adds enough saltiness for us, but by all means, add more if you feel it needs it.   🙂  Induction friendly recipe if wine is omitted.


6 slices bacon, coarsely chopped

3 oz. onion, chopped

¼ c. parsley, chopped

¼ tsp. dill seed

2 sprigs fresh dill

8 c. seafood stock

1 c. heavy cream

2 lb. mild fish filets (Redfish if available, otherwise, any boneless fish filets will do), cut into 1″ chunks

½ c. dry white wine (omit if on Induction phase)

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

¼ tsp. black pepper

DIRECTIONS: On high heat, brown bacon in large stew pot until just done, not crisp.  Add onion and sauté until onion begins to brown and caramelize.  If you wish to add a starchy vegetable, pass on the potatoes and add lower carb diced rutabaga, daikon radish, red radishes, turnip or rutabaga.  Be sure to add those values in to the nutritional info provided below.  Add all remaining ingredients except the fish and cream.  Allow chowder to come to a boil and then immediately lower heat.  Simmer 30 minutes or until all vegetables added are tender.   When tender, add fish and cream.  Continue simmering on lowest heat just long enough for fish to go opaque.  Do not overcook lest the fish fall apart into threads in your liquid.  Won’t hurt the taste, but somewhat less attractive visually.  I usually add right before I want to serve the chowder.   You can turn the fire off awhile before adding the fish and cream with no harm to final soup.  Thicken with your favorite thickener if not thick enough for your preference.  Garnished service bowl with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Makes 8 large bowls, each containing:

180 cals, 9.86 g fat, 3.25 g carbs, 0.66 g fiber, 2.59g NET CARBS, 22.4 g protein, 993 mg sodium (can be reduced with less bacon)

“Tortilla” Soup

Tortilla Soup is one of my favorites at Mexican restaurants.  My rendition here is delicious beyond words so I hope you’ll try this one!

My very first exposure to Tortilla soup was at a little place in San Antonio called El Mirador (Spanish for ‘mirror’). My Dad and Mom kept bringing up how fantastic this soup was and we finally went there on one of my visits to try it.   What a flavor delight!  It was every bit as good as my parents had advertised!  Let me tell you, I’ve had it many places since and none shine a light to El Mirador’s rendering of it.  🙂  I know the restaurant is still there and assume they are still offering this wonderful soup, but it looks like at their website linked above, they have changed the name of the soup to Chicken Cilantro Soup.  I’m sure it’s the same soup though.  You San Antonio dwellers who were unaware of this culinary treat need to get on over to El Mirado and try it if you haven’t yet!  The rest of you might want to try my version of it.  

I’ve tried to recreate that wonderful soup ever since I tasted it!  I’ve gotten pretty close, but it’s still not quite as good as theirs.  Not a true “mirror” version, in other words.  This low-carb rendition, without the little strips of crisp tortillas strips (very high in carbs) typically atop tortilla soup, will blow your socks off!  If the base soup is good enough, you really don’t need the tortilla strips for this to be delicious.  This recipe is Atkins Induction friendly and also suitable for Keto and Primal lifestyles.  Paleo followers will want to omit the cream or sub in coconut milk (which will greatly change the final flavor).


13 oz. cooked chicken meat (canned with juice is just fine in this)

1 qt. water + 2 c. homemade, low-salt chicken broth

1  oz. tomato paste

1 c. yellow squash, diced (about ½ med-large squash)

2 oz. yellow onion

2 oz. green bell pepper

1 oz. poblano pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 tsp. chili powder

dash chipotle chile powder (or 1 small chipotle in adobo, rinsed, seeded and mashed)

1 small Guajillo chile, seeded and chopped (these are very mild and found in most stores’ produce dept. dried, sold in a bag)

Dash cumin

1/4 c. heavy cream

VARIATION:   Bake thin strips of 1 cut-up corn tortilla until crisp and top each serving with a few.  Be sure to recalculate your numbers if you make this carb-y change.

DIRECTIONS:  Cut chicken meat up into small pieces.  If using canned meat, just break up the large chunks.  Put all ingredients but the cream into soup pot.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer until squash and all veggies are tender but not falling apart (about 15-20 minutes).  Turn heat to lowest setting. Now add cream and stir.  If you like, you can puree this soup with a stick blender or in small batches in your food processor.  I’ve done the soup both ways and prefer it chunky, as El Mirador served theirs.  

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:  Serves 4, each serving contains:

283 calories, 15.1 g.  fat, 6.95 g.  carbs, 1.6 g.  fiber, 5.35 NET CARBS, 26.3 g.  protein, 780 mg sodium

Texas Bone Broth Soup

Click to enlarge

Bone broth is so very good for you!  I make it, freeze it and use it at every opportunity in my cooking.  I like to collect my grass-fed beef bones in a large plastic bag in the freezer.  Then when I have a big batch, I make extra rich bone broth from them.  The man who leases our pasture down at our rural cabin property gives me grass-fed beef bones regularly, as he doesn’t save them.  His wife doesn’t cook much, apparently, and since he does most of the cooking, he isn’t into making soups and such and never keeps the bones.  His loss is my gain, is how I look at it.

I happened to have  1½ quarts of made-up broth in my freezer the day I made this soup.  Everyday is a good day for soup, non?   I didn’t need to add too much to the pot, it was so rich.  Just a few vegetables and some leftover grass-fed brisket that was also in the refrigerator.  I tossed in a couple things to spice it up and VOILA!  Another delicious, hearty soup for a chilly winter day.  This soup is suitable for all phases of Atkins, Keto diets and Primal-Paleo as well.


1½ qts. (6 cups) beef bone broth

1 c. rich, beef gravy or roast pan drippings (or beef broth)

8 oz. cooked beef, diced

½ c. Rotel tomatoes with green chilies

1 c. diced canned tomatoes (I use no-salt)

3 stalks celery, chopped

2 small carrots, chopped

4 T. my chimichurri sauce:  (or 2 T. each fresh parsley, cilantro and minced jalapeno pepper)

½ tsp. your favorite chili powder blend (I used smoky chipotle, guajillo and ancho)

2 cloves garlic, minced

Dash each salt & coarse black pepper

DIRECTIONS:   Place all ingredients in a large soup pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for at least 1 hour to cook vegetables tender and to blend the flavors together.  Serve with your favorite low-carb crackers.  I served mine with my new Almond-Arrowroot Crackers.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   Makes 6 large bowls (about 1-1¼c. each).  Each serving contains:

228 cals, 14.5g fat, 6.01g carbs, 1.61g fiber, 4.4g NET CARBS, 16.4g protein, 262 mg sodium

Chicken “Fried” Steak with Cream Gravy

Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken Fried Steak is an southern American classic!  It’s on every menu in the Deep South.   If you’ve never had it with the cream gravy, you haven’t lived!  I live in Texas and man, I was missing classic Texas chicken-fried steak with cream gravy the first two years on my low-carb eating program!!  Well no more yearning for a long-lost love, once I created this low-carb CFS coating & method that produces a result pretty darn close to the real deal!  I’ve had such good luck with my mayo-pork rind coating for “fries”, numerous veggies, fish filets and chicken, I thought today “Why not give it a whirl for chicken fried steak”? Well, IT WORKED!  Now I have this favorite as often as we want it!

My first thought on how to go about this was that the beef would exude too much moisture during baking, if I just coated it raw, even if I patted it very dry with paper towels.  Didn’t want the pork-rink coating to get “soggy”, so I decided to sear the meat first to seal in those juices before I began the coating process.  That turned out to be a VERY good decision!!  This came out FANTASTIC!  And the gravy was SUPER, even without the usual browning of flour.  The natural caramelized meat juices deglazed from the skillet made a DELICIOUS cream gravy without one bit of flour!

I served this alongside a sauté of radishes and onion and steamed broccoli. I got distracted cooking the radishes and almost browned my meat TOO much, at least browner than I usually do chicken fried steak.  But it was STILL GREAT!  Timing can be merciless in the kitchen.  🙂

You can use round steak or rump roast for this dish if you prefer, but it may come out a little tougher.  They are lean enough cuts, but I have always preferred chuck or sirloin for my CFS as they have much better taste in my opinion.  I’m just not very fond of round and rump.  This recipe is suitable for all phases of Atkins, Keto diets and Primal-Paleo if you eat pork rinds.

One reader’s comment:

Just made this and it is great! My 3 year old grandson ate it all and never knew that it wasn’t “real” chicken fried steak!

You can have many more delightfully tasty dinner menu ideas at your fingertips with your very own set of LOW CARBING AMONG FRIENDS, the best selling cookbooks by Jennifer Eloff, the famous George Stella and several other incredibly talented low-carb cooks.  Click the link above to see a preview of what awaits you in these wonderful cookbooks. You can order yours in regular binding or coil binding at Amazon or here.


1 lb. trimmed beef chuck, round or sirloin, sliced ½” thick, pounded with meat tenderizing mallet

1/3 c. homemade mayonnaise (if commercial mayo, may require more)

1 T. coconut oil (or oil of your choice)

2 oz. pork rinds, crushed fine

½ tsp. seasoning of your choice, I use my Seafood Spice Blend

1 c. water

½ c. heavy cream

1/8 tsp. black pepper

DIRECTIONS:  Crush pork rinds fine and stir in spice seasoning.  Place into shallow bowl with a spoon for applying and set aside while you prepare the meat.

Trim meat of all visible fat and gristle along the edges.  If using chuck or sirloin that is very thick, slice it laterally if need be to to create pieces about ½ thick.  Preheat oven to 425º. Cut meat into 4 portions and pound the pieces with a meat cleaver/mallet to tenderize it a bit.  Heat oil in skillet and sear meat on both sides until lightly browned, sprinkling lightly with black pepper as it sears.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP AND ATTEMPT TO COAT MEAT RAW DIRECTLY WITH COATING.  TRUST ME ON THIS ONE, YOU WILL NOT BE PLEASED WITH YOUR SOGGY RESULTS.  Been there; done that!  Searing first seals the juices INSIDE the meat.  You don’t want to cook the meat DONE, just sear the surface.   Remove from heat and pat off any moisture with paper toweling.

Pour mayo into a saucer and using a brush, holding the HOT meat on one tip with tongs or a fork (I use tiny ice bucket tongs), coat both sides of each piece of meat well with mayo (don’t miss any spots!).  Then move over to the bowl of crushed pork rinds and using a spoon, spoon the rinds over both sides of the meat.  You’ll get decent coverage without any one piece getting excess.  I have found that if you just dip the meat into the rinds, it “grabs” more coating than is necessary, resulting in not having enough rinds to finish the job at hand and you will then have to crush more (voice of experience again) and increase calories.  🙂  Place the coated meat directly onto a METAL baking sheet, preferably non-stick.  DO NOT line with silicone sheet or use a glass dish as this won’t crisp properly. Pop into preheated 425º oven and bake about 20 minutes or until browned to your liking.

As the meat is cooking, make your cream gravy.  Add 1 c. water to the skillet you seared the meat in and over low heat, over low heat, completely de-glaze all the tasty brown bits off the bottom of the skillet by scraping with a spatula.    Add the cream and simmer over very low heat to reduce and thicken.  This adds both color and flavor to your gravy.  Add a dash of black pepper and salt to taste.  If you prefer a thicker gravy, you can slightly thicken with your preferred thickener, like a light dusting of xanthan gum whisked in.

Serve with gravy dipped over meat or on the side.  This goes well with many of your favorite vegetable dishes or a big pile of my Red Radish ‘Cottage Fries’ for a potato substitute.  You’ll swear you’re eating real potatoes when you have these!  I hope you enjoy this “national” food staple of Texas!

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes four 4-oz servings, each contains:

471.3 calories, 30.8 g  fat, 1.9 g  carbs, .03 g  fiber, 1.87 g  NET CARBS, 45 g  protein, 356 mg sodium

Beef Jerky

Peggy's Beef Jerky2

Jerky has been around for centuries and in all parts of the world.  It goes as far back as Egyptian times.  It was such an integral part of earliest America’s days, particularly frontier life.  I can’t imagine the Lewis and Clark Expedition surviving without it, can you?      I do think of it as American food, but it most assuredly not just American.  It is loved around the world.  Many like my husband are almost addicted to the stuff and replenishes the pantry supply the minute it is gone.  So I think it deserves a place in our American food ‘classics’ discussion.

I just love my 10-tray Guide Gear food dehydrator.  All metal parts so none crack from heat over time.  🙂  It cranks out the most beautiful, tasty batch of beef jerky in 4 hours flat!! I love beef jerky!!  This has always been my husband’s favorite snack as well.  And the perfect low-carb snack indeed!  At a range of $26-$29 per pound now (beef has skyrocketed recently), this is a very expensive little snack!  For years I made my own jerky on regular sheet pans in the oven at 155-170º for 5-6 hours, basting and turning the meat a couple times during the drying process.  A dehydrator allows the strips of meat to dry on open racks, with forced warm air circulation around all sides of the meat simultaneously, eliminating the need to turn the meat, as well as speeding up the time required.

This recipe can be done with other cuts of beef, but sirloin will be the lowest in calories and fat (except for skirt meat) and probably the best meat value for jerky, followed by lean round or rump roast.  I began with 4 nice pieces of sirloin (about 6# raw meat total) that when trimmed of all visible fat, sinew, and gristle, yielded exactly 5# of lean strips of raw beef.  That dried out to exactly 2# of finished jerky.  See why it’s so expensive now?  Since I can’t possibly know how much you will eat at a sitting, I’m giving you nutritional info for a 1 oz. serving, which is probably 2-3 pieces.

When slicing your meat, it is important to slice it uniformly thick (FYI, longer strips are best for dehydrator trays.  If oven cooking, the length of the strips is unimportant).  I aim for 3/16″-1/4″ thick slices.  HANDY TIP:  Slicing partially frozen meat is easiest, if you can take the time to partially freeze it.  Any thinner than 3/16″ will reduce your final jerky to crispy critters faster than the thicker pieces (must remove those from cooking sooner); thicker than 1/4″ will take a long time to fully dry out.

I like to marinate my meat for at least 6 hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator in a covered plastic pan before dehydrating.  You will get better flavor results with longer marinating time. 🙂  For those that like a sweeter, teriyaki jerky, you can add 1 tsp. of maple extract and a dab of your favorite sweetening agent.


6-6½ lbs. boneless sirloin (will yield about 5 lb. trimmed meat)

1 T. tomato paste (Walmart Great Value brand is pure tomato pulp, no added sugar)

3/4 c. red wine or water

1/3 c. soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos)

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. coarse black pepper

1 pkt. stevia, Splenda or other sweetener (optional)

DIRECTIONS:   Trim all fat, membrane, sinew and gristle off the meat.  Any left on will expedite spoilage during storage. Partially freeze meat to facilitate slicing.  Slice the partially frozen meat 3/16″ thick.  In large plastic/glass marinating pan,  blend tomato paste with soy sauce until smooth.  Add water and remaining ingredients and stir well.  Add meat to the marinade and using hands, toss meat several times to coat well.  Cover and marinate 6 hours or overnight, covered, in refrigerator.  You can also marinate the meat in gallon zipper plastic storage bags.  I recommend placing them into bowls/marinating pan, in case of leakage you won’t want to mess up the refrigerator 😉  Stir once or twice during marinating (or manipulate the bag with your hands to be sure all the meat is touching the marinade.

When ready to dehydrate, lift meat pieces out of marinade and lay on dehydrator trays or non-stick baking sheets, leaving a ¼” space between pieces.  You do not want them to touch each other as this will block air/heat circulation. Set dehydrator to meat setting (155º-160º) for 4-6 hours.  I check mine every hour, in case small/thin pieces are over drying. No matter how hard you try, some pieces will slice out thinner than others.  It just happens!

My jerky takes 4 hours in my dehydrator, but it used to take me 8 hours, for several reasons, mostly tray overcrowding in my old smaller dehydrator.  If oven cooking on pans, set oven between 160º-170º. Turn meat every hour (usually 1 or 2 times is enough).  Take pieces out of the dehydrator/oven as they appear to be fully dried.  It goes without saying, any thick pieces will take longer to fully dry out.  Discard any marinate remainders as it is contaminated with raw meat juices.  When jerky has cooled, ENJOY!!

To store jerky, wrap in small batches in foil and then place the foil packs into a large ziploc bag.  Though they can be stored on the counter for 1-2 months, if not 100% dried, it can mold/spoil quickly.  Refrigerating therefore, is always the safest way to store jerky that has not been done commercially.  I actually keep most of mine in the freezer and just thaw 1 foil pack as needed, keeping the open one in the fridge until that pack is fully consumed.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 32 oz. (2 lb) finished jerky, or 32 servings of 1 oz. each.  Each serving contains:

94.59 cals, 2.52g fat, 0.58g carbs, 0.09g fiber, 0.49g NET CARBS, 16g protein, 128 mg sodium

Baked “Potato”

Baked Potato

Shown with an achiote (a Latin American spice blend) seasoned beef patty (thus the red-orange color), steamed summer squash and onions (my husbands favorite)

Although baked potatoes in their skin (called Jacket Potatoes in Britain) are certainly not unique to America.  But I have always thought of them as American comfort food, so I’m including them in our exposé on American classic foods.

I wish I could take credit for this “recipe”, but another low-carber brought this up on one of my low-carb forums.  I finally was able to find a moderately large turnip in the grocery store and tried this tonight.  Man, oh man!  Upon tasting, I was in baked potato heaven for sure!  This tastes JUST like a baked red skin potato, slightly sweet and not mealy like most types of white bakers!  No taste of turnip at all!  Now this comment is coming from someone who for YEARS picked the turnips out of the turnip greens pot; who didn’t care for turnips stir-fried, boiled or oil fried.  Always found them bitter.  My husband likes them even less than me!  But I tell you, the way to cook these things is to microwave them!!!  No taste of turnip at all!   Just the creamy, sweet taste of a buttery red-skin potato!

The skin is textured about like a potato skin, but it will not get crispy and is quite bitter, so DO NOT EAT TURNIP PEELINGS.   Just eat the soft inner flesh.  My husband even agreed these do not taste like turnips cooked this way!  It’s pure magic what happens in that microwave!  So now I can have my baked “potato” with grilled steaks once again!  I’m so delighted to have learned about this method of cooking turnips!  This “potato” recipe is Induction friendly!


4  whole 4-5 oz. turnips (larger ones if you can find them)

8 tsp. butter (2 tsp. per “potato” serving)

DIRECTIONS:  Wash and scrub the turnips under running water.  Trip the stem end flat and cut the point off the tip of the turnip as well.  Poke the turnip skin several times to avoid rupturing during cooking.  Place on microwave turntable.  Cook on HI for about 3 minutes.  Turn over and cook on HI for about 3 more minutes.     They should be thoroughly soft when done.  Split and place 2 tsp. butter on each turnip.  Feel free to add the traditional baked potato toppings like sour cream, cheese, bacon bits and chives, however those are not calculated in the nutritional info below.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Serves 2, each whole “potato” serving contains:

230 cals, 20.5 g fat, 11.2 g  carbs, 4.4 g fiber, 6.8g NET CARBS, 1.7 g protein, 60.2 mg sodium

Italian Meatloaf (or Meatballs)

Italian Meatloaf

Although I think of this as my Italian meatball recipe, it is simultaneously my preferred meatloaf recipe.  Meatballs are truly Italian, but meatloaf as we know it in America, isn’t really served in Italy to my knowledge.  I’ve just added Italian seasonings to a good base meatloaf recipe so I call it an Italian Meatloaf.  Serving this classic ground beef mixture as a baked loaf is uniquely American,I believe.

After trying many meatloaf recipes over the years, I keep coming back to this one that was my mother’s.  As I said, it’s Italian in flavor profile, cooks up consistently and never fails to get compliments when served to guests.   I’ve not found a recipe I like better in nearly 55 years of serious cooking.  Before my low-carb days, the only difference in the recipe was I used 2-3 slices of sliced white bread or leftover rolls or biscuits for the flax or low-carb roll.  But the carb savings in making the switch is barely detectable to our palettes.

This tasty fare is suitable for all phases of Atkins, Keto diets and if you omit the cheese, it is suitable for Paleo-Primal followers as well.  This is also the recipe I use whether I want a meatloaf or Italian meatballs for spaghetti.  I bake my meatballs on a sheet pan for about 30 minutes (or you can fry them over medium heat).  When baked, I usually don’t bother turning them during cooking, so the ease in baking over frying is a no-brainer.

If you are avoiding flax, and you don’t have any low-carb bread on hand, you can instead sub in 1 tsp. chia seeds soaked 10 minutes in 3 T. water OR just increase to 2 eggs in the meat mixture.  You definitely want to do one of these things to avoid the meatloaf coming out dense/hard.


1.5 lb. lean ground beef (or 1 lb. beef+½ lb. ground pork)

2 oz. chopped yellow onion (more if you can afford extra carbs)

2 oz. chopped green pepper  (more if you can afford extra carbs)

1 T. bacon grease

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 c. parsley, chopped fine

1 egg, beaten (or 2, if you need to omit the flax meal below)

1 T. flax meal or ground chia seeds soaked 10 min. in 3 T. water (or crumbled low-carb biscuit/roll, or another beaten egg)

2 T. Parmesan cheese, grated

4 oz. can tomato sauce (no added sugar)

1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

DIRECTIONS:  Soak flax meal or chia, if using, in water in a small bowl for about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally as it thickens up.  Place meat in large mixing bowl.  Chop onion, bell pepper and sauté both in bacon grease in an oven-proof skillet until very soft.  Add to the meat in the mixing bowl, grease and all.  Add oregano, parsley and Parmesan.  Add soaked flax meal, salt and pepper.  Add all remaining ingredients (except tomato sauce).  Using your hands or a fork, thoroughly mix all ingredients until well-blended.  Shape slightly and tip bowl to allow meat to fall onto baking pan (I use the same sauté pan, actually).  Reshape as desired.  If making meatballs, roll into ½” balls, placing fairly close together on large baking sheet.  Place in 350º oven and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes.  If baking into meatballs, they will be done in about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven at 30 minute mark and pour a 6 oz. can of tomato sauce evenly over the top of meatloaf and return to oven for 20-30 more minutes baking.    Best to check at 15 minutes here as every oven cooks differently.  I can usually tell if the center is done by pressing lightly with a knife at the center top of loaf.  If it feels firm the meatloaf is done.  It should read internal temperature of 160º on a meat thermometer at the center.  If not quite done, cook 5-10 minutes longer.


Makes 6 servings, each 4 oz. serving has (including the tomato sauce topping):

349  cals, 22.9 g  fat, 4.27g carbs, 1.1g fiber, 3.17g NET CARBS, 30.2g protein, 588 mg. sodium

Net Carbs drop about 1g. per serving if tomato topping is omitted.

Roasted Turkey

Roasted Turkey (done in a roaster oven)

Although not just a classic American food, turkey is uniquely a North American food.  They also enjoy turkey and dressing for Canada’s Thanksgiving Day celebration that occurs in October.  Turkey is just not seen in the rest of the world.  When I lived in Iran as a child, chicken,  pheasant or wild prairie chicken were all Mom could cook at Thanksgiving.

Although I usually bake my turkey in my regular oven, as it has a built-in meat thermometer probe, I also love cooking my holiday turkeys in my roaster oven.   I especially use this appliance during the holidays when I have company, as it gives me extra oven space for baking all those delicious sides.  🙂

Roaster ovens also do a great job on cakes, muffins, cookies, biscuits and other baked items just beautifully!  So if you’ve never used one, You might like to ask Santa for one this year.   They are getting so cheap, one can be had for sometimes as little as $29 during the holiday season sales.  I paid $60 for my first one in the 60’s, when $60 was worth a lot more than it is today!  I find a roaster oven to be the most useful and versatile small appliance in my kitchen after an electric mixer.  I can carry it out onto the patio to cook for hours in summer, eliminating excess kitchen heat, as well.  🙂

You go about cooking turkey in a roaster oven pretty much as you would in a regular oven.  The lid acts as a foil cover, but it get very hot at the top of the oven.  Important note:  be sure to buy a bird that will FIT in your roaster oven!  🙂  That lid needs to come all the way down to the oven base.  😉  I still cover my wing tips, drumstick knobs and breast meat with foil, as the bird sits so close to the lid where the oven is very hot.  Don’t want to dry out or overcook those areas.

Turkeys consistently come out delicious, exceedingly moist and tender done in a roaster oven.  I’m convinced they cook even BETTER than in my regular oven.  The skin doesn’t get quite as crispy, but crisp enough for me to be able to consistently to get that level of moist meat.

Turkey is suitable for all phases of Atkins, Keto, Primal and Paleo diets alike.  Here’s what a typical Thanksgiving Day feast looks like at my house.


1  12-13 lb. turkey, thawed (follow chart on wrapper for a larger bird)

4 T. melted butter

Dash each of salt and black pepper

some small pieces of foil

DIRECTIONS:   Preheat oven or roaster oven to 325º.  Open turkey wrapper and I  like to remove bird to a clean sink.  Remove the leg binding gadget.  Remove giblets and set aside for making your gravy.  I only use the neck meat for my gravy so I simmer it for an hour or so with chopped celery and onion.  I like the innards OK, but my husband does not, so the dog gets those goodies added to her kibble for a few days.    🙂

I like to rinse out the inside of the bird.  I then pat the exterior dry with paper towels.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave.   Sprinkle bird inside and out with salt and pepper.  Baste skin with butter all over on the outside and inside with a basting brush, using half the butter.  Place turkey, breast side up in a pan large enough to hold it.

I cook my dressing outside the bird as I like it to brown on top.  You can shove some into the bird cavity if you like that.  Alternately, you can place chunks of celery, onion and parsley inside cavity for flavor enhancement, but I do not, generally.  Your call there, but be sure to add those carbs below if you do and they are consumed. Cover wing tips, leg knuckles and breast meat only with foil so they will not overcook or burn.

Place pan with bird into the oven and cook for about 1 hour.  Lift oven lid just long enough to baste with any remaining butter.  Close oven and cook bird for 1 hour.  Check for doneness with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast and around the thick hip joint (the hidden joint of the leg quarter) which is the slowest area to get done on a turkey.  You want the thermometer to read 170º.  Cook for another 30 minutes or so, checking with thermometer every 10-15 minutes now so as to not overcook/dry out the bird.

Remove pan from oven when thermometer has reached 170º internal temperature at the specified two areas. Set pan for bird to “rest” 10 minutes before attempting to carve.  This resting period will prevent tearing up the meat as it is sliced and will keep all the juices inside the meat instead of running out onto your cutting board.  You want those juices to STAY in the meat!  Lift bird onto a cutting board and slice for serving.  This turkey should be extremely moist.  Cooking this size bird for 2½-3 hours in a regular oven should also render a juicy turkey.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:   I can’t know what pieces or amount you will eat, so I’ll inform as follows:

4 oz. dark meat, skin eaten, contains:  250 calories, 13 g  fat, 0 carbs, 0 fiber, o net carbs, 31 g  protein and 269 mg sodium

4 oz. white meat, skin eaten, contains:  222 calories, 9.4 g  fat, 0 carbs, 0 fiber, 0 net carbs, 32.3 g   protein and 255 mg sodium

Oven-Fried Fish

Oven-Fried Fish

I hate standing over a pan of hot, popping grease to do traditional deep frying.  But I do love me some fried fish.  There’s nothing more American than a back yard fish fry!  And fund raiser Southern fish fries are always well-attended.  Served with coleslaw and cornbread or hush puppies, people just can’t resist those fund raisers.   I often serve this fish with my Curried Hush Puppies.

This has been one of the most popular recipes on my site, with hundreds of thousands of Facebook fans when I was posting there.  It’s very tasty and well worth a try if you’re a fried fish fan.  It takes the coating used on my Jicama Fries to a new level!  I haven’t found a good coating for shrimp yet, but this one is great for fish! I didn’t find it did shrimp so well the one time I tried this on shrimp. It didn’t crisp up very well on shrimp for some strange reason.  Will have to keep experimenting there.

Unlike every coating I’ve tried doing with flax meal, this recipe really came out crunchy!  Even the bottoms of the filets were crispy and browned nicely!   That is accomplished using only a metal baking sheet when oven-frying!  This coating also works well with cut-up chicken.  Best of all, this recipe is Atkins Induction friendly!

Though I mention tilapia and swai below, cod or whitefish (any mild fish) will work nicely here as well.  If you don’t want to make up the homemade mayo for this, I have, in a hurry, just used jar mayo, but it will take much more as it is thicker.   Though I have not tried it yet, it has been reported by my blog readers that this fish, when leftover, reheats nicely in the microwave and STILL STAYS CRUNCHY!   It of course, will reheat just fine in the oven or an air fryer, too.  To be quite honest, I never have any leftover to test that out.  🙂

We just LOVE fish done this way, even my husband, who is not a fried fish fan.  🙂


30 oz. (six 5-oz. pc.)mild fish filets (catfish, tilapia, swai, cod, whitefish, or flounder)

6 T. homemade mayo

3 oz. crushed plain pork rinds

½ tsp.  Seafood Spice Blend

1 T. olive oil

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 450º.  Rub a metal baking sheet (preferably non-stick) with olive oil.  DO NOT USE A GLASS/CERAMIC PAN OR SILICONE PAN LINER OR THESE WILL NOT BROWN PROPERLY.  Been there; done that.  Trust me on this one, use a metal pan.

Crush pork rinds and place in shallow bowl.  Add spice blend and stir well.  If you like things real spicy, you might want to increase the spice blend a bit or add more cayenne.  Most important step here:  Pat surfaces of fish dry with a paper towel. Then brush each fish filet on both sides with a tablespoon of mayonnaise.   You want to be sure not to miss any spots.  There doesn’t have to be a LOT of mayo, but the entire surface must be moistened with it for the coating to adhere.  If you substitute a commercial mayo, you will have more difficulty getting good coverage, as it is so thick.

Holding the filets up (one at a time) by the tips, between your index finger and thumb in one hand, and with your other hand, spoon the coating over each filet on both sides to coat well. I find if you just dip them into a plate full of the coating, the first two get coated nicely and you run out of coating before all are coated!  That’s ever so annoying!  When all are coated, lay each filet onto your oiled pan.   Place in hot 450º oven and bake for about 20 minutes total or until done and crispy on top.   There’s actually no need to turn the filets over during cooking as the bottoms get even browner than the tops!  For more even browning, you could turn them at the 10 minute mark if you wish.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Makes 6 servings, each contains:

364 cals, 22.9 g  fat, 0.43 g  carbs, 0 g  fiber, 0.43 g  NET CARBS, 41.4 g  protein, 338 mg. sodium

Jicama “Fries”

Jicama Fries

Man, who eats a hamburger without some fries?  But low-carbers don’t eat potatoes!  Oh My!  Whatever shall I do?

I tried these on a whim early on in my low-carb journey and they were truly  FANTASTIC!  Best of all, you don’t have to stand over a skillet of hot grease popping on you!  The Seafood Spice blend in the coating takes away the sweet edge jicama has, without dominating the final fries.  So don’t side-step this part of the recipe.  It’s essential for the best results.  Other spices and blends could be substituted in if you prefer.  The coating really browned nicely and stayed crispy even as the fries cooled off!  Even my picky hubby gave these a thumbs up, and at first, he wasn’t even going to taste them!  These are Atkins Induction friendly, too!

Many low-carbers swear by turnip fries, but I find they don’t get crisp enough for my liking.  Eggplant fries will get crisp enough, but the center is too slippery to taste anything like classic pommes frites (French fries).  Jicama sort of tastes like potatoes……..especially when fried hard, so I thought my experiment worthwhile.  In fact, many people call the Mexican potatoes!  I’ve even made breakfast hash browns and potato cakes (latkes) out of jicama with success!  Don’t poo-poo these until you’ve given them a try for a potato substitute.  Only thing they won’t do is get soft simmered in soups.  Although some say freezing peeled jicama before using in soups will allow them to soften up, I have not tried that personally.  For soups, I tend to use diced daikon white radish or turnips for a potato substitute.

Some of you may be tempted to take a shortcut and use spicy/BBQ pork rinds and omitting the seasoning blend in the recipe.  Please don’t forget flavored pork rinds are laden with sugar and sometimes modified food starch as well……not acceptable ingredients for us low-carbers.  So don’t sabotage your diet efforts with such a shortcut.  Read the ingredients listed on the packaging if you don’t believe me.  In fact, as a matter of routine, low-carbers should ALWAYS read ingredients listings, for ALL processed food packages.  It’s the only way to get the WHOLE picture of what you are or are not putting in your mouth.  Trust me, the net carb count just isn’t the whole picture when it comes to food!  The math works, but the ingredients sabotage you.


8 oz. jicama, peeled and cut into fries

What a Jicama looks like

What a Jicama looks like

2 T. homemade mayo

2 oz. plain pork rinds, crushed

1/2 tsp. my Seafood Spice Blend

Oil to coat baking pan if not using non-stick sheet pan


Preheat oven to 450º.  Cut jicama and place in bowl.  Brush well with mayonnaise, making certain you haven’t missed any spots. You want total coverage for the pork rinds to adhere to.  Crush the pork rinds in processor/blender.  Add spice blend to crushed pork rinds in a small bowl.  Now drop mayo-coated jicama (a few at a time) into the seasoned rinds and shake to coat well.   Place directly on oiled or non-stick baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes until tops are nicely browned.  I like to turn them mid-baking for more even baking, but that is not necessary.  Bottoms will be even browner than the tops!  A word of experience, DO NOT BAKE THESE ON SILICONE SHEETS, as they will not brown and crisp up properly on the bottom.  I found this out the hard way.

VARIATION:   Substitute turnip for the fries.  Brown them a bit more than shown for crisper turnip fries as turnips have more moisture in them.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Makes 4 servings each contains:

165 Cals, 11.4 g fat, 5.50 g carbs, 2.78 g fiber, 2.22 g NET CARBS, 11.2 g protein, 276 g  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

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


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 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

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

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 Cornish Hens

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 use whole, cut-up chicken pieces as I don’t think Cornish hens are available there.  When I do this dish for company, I prefer to use Cornish hens, if I can get them,  simply for the visual impact at table.  The meat doesn’t taste one bit different than larger chicken.  

Allow a half a bird per person when buying your Cornish hens.  Most women and men will only eat ½ Cornish hen, but I have seen a man with a hefty appetite eat a whole hen a few times in my life.  I have only done so once in my life, but it was a particularly small hen.   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) on the grill.  If 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

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)