The Low Carb Treehouse

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Recipe Roulette: Japanese Eggplants and Bell Peppers October 31, 2009

Filed under: low carb,recipe roulette — Kimberly @ 5:20 pm
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The japanese eggplants I got in the bargain veggie bin were not in their first youth, but I am nothing if not determined to get more bang for my 99 cents a bag.  I have never really cooked eggplant before, so I was looking for something simple.  I also had 2 green bell peppers to use up.  Spinning the roulette wheel that is Google, I found this:

 

Marinated Eggplant Salad

  • 2 pounds Japanese eggplants, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespons balsamic vinegar or 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2-ounce bunch fresh basil, chopped

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Cut eggplants on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Brush slices lightly with olive oil. Grill or broil eggplant until golden brown on both sides, turning once, about 4 minutes. Cool eggplant slightly.

Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar and garlic to blend in small bowl. Layer eggplant in baking dish, seasoning eggplant with salt and pepper, drizzling with oil mixture and sprinkling with chopped basil between each layer. Let eggplant stand 1 to 2 hours at room temperature before serving.

(Courtesy of epicurious.com)

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As usual I added a few tweaks:  I used garlic paste instead of fresh, and I had those bell peppers, so after I broiled the eggplants, I cut up the bells into small chunks and broiled those with olive oil, too.  I added them in as well as some chopped basil leaves. That I actually happened to have some fresh basil was a miracle, but I wasn’t ready to commit the whole bunch at once (Gotta get at least a COUPLE meals out of that suckah!)  So I chopped up maybe 10 big leaves, tossed them all together with the marinade, and dug in. Wow. Just wow.  I always forget how delicious vegetables can be.  This is a perfect side dish, and I actually might try serving it with spaghetti sauce sometime.  It’s substantial and could take the place of the pasta base.  When I made the marinade as written, I thought it was kind of blah–I was tempted to throw in a few more glugs of wine vinegar, but I’m so glad I didn’t—as it turned out, this was totally subtle, flavorful and delish just as it was.

Surprisingly it was a little sweet—these veggies must have some natural sugars.  I am continually noticing small changes since I got rid of all sugar, flour and bread from my life six months ago.  One of the best is being able to notice subtle flavors I never noticed before, like the sweetness that basil adds and the flavor of a slight char from the broiler.

It’s a whole new world of yum in ADDITION to losing (as of today) 34 pounds.

 

Recipe Roulette: Ground Beef and Zucchini October 29, 2009

Filed under: low carb,recipe roulette — Kimberly @ 7:48 pm

I am in love with my local grocery store’s tradition of placing non-perfect, “day old” or otherwise needy fruits and veggies in bags near the back of the store. Everything in the bag is 99 cents. I always come home from the local market with a strange assortment of ugly vegetables. The bags are opaque so you can’t really tell what you’re getting although if you feel up the bags you can avoid the potatoes and bananas (MANAGER! Crazy lady on aisle 3 fondling the bargain bags!)

When I got home and checked out my haul, I realized tonight’s offerings really needed to be eaten soon. I got three healthy zucchini, a couple of elderly tomatoes and a wizened looking jalapeno in one bag, and a dozen so-so  mini-eggplants in another. My last one held two nice heads of lettuce which I couldn’t find a thing wrong with. The mini-eggplants are sitting on the counter waiting for Saturday, and the salad will do for lunch tomorrow. I decided to play my favorite cooking game, recipe roulette, with the rest. I googled “zucchini and ground beef” (since i had a couple of packs I needed to use up) deciding I would cook whatever recipe came up first (with some reservations: it had to be a recipe that was low-carb–or adaptable to low-carb—AND tasty-sounding.) This is what I got:

ZUCCHINI & GROUND BEEF CASSEROLE

1 lb. ground beef
1 c. chopped celery
2 c. sliced zucchini
Salt & pepper
1 (8 oz.) can tomatoes, cut up
3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. sugar
3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

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Brown beef and celery in skillet, remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Saute zucchini in pan drippings until lightly browned; remove with slotted spoon.

In greased 1 1/2 quart casserole alternate layers of beef mixture and zucchini. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Stir together tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and sugar; pour over casserole. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until bubbly.

(Courtesy of cooks.com)

I did do some tweaking because I had no celery or worcestershire sauce. I just left those ingredients out. And the sugar, forgettaboudit. I used freshly chopped tomatoes instead of canned, and sprinkled parmesan cheese more liberally than the recipe probably intended. And it turned out great….a real winter dish for the windy cold nights we’ve been having here in Los Angeles. If you’re a ground beef fan like me (those big value packs always tempt me, with their flirtatious beefy whispers I’m such a good deal! Buy me and turn me into almost anything!) this one will be a quick solution to that age old problem…how the hell can I use this up?

 

Down on the Souplantation October 25, 2009

Filed under: low carb,restaurant reviews — Kimberly @ 9:43 am

souplantation

Do you have a Souplantation where you are? We have one here and it can be either a low-carber’s dream or nightmare, depending on how hungry you’re feeling and how strong your resistance is. Souplantation is an all-you-can eat soup, salad and dessert place. They’ve been around forever—I can remember back in my college days, going to Souplantation and paying the lunch rate (which back then was like, 5.99?) and staying THE WHOLE AFTERNOON studying and snarfing up the soft serve ice cream. Now the going rate is $10.99 (which does not include a drink, so being cheap, I usually just get the free water).

I have to say that it’s easy to eat low carb at Souplantation, despite the fact that there is almost NO meat served in the entire place. I grab a salad plate, bypass the tempting bowls of pasta-based salads, load up on their romaine, and pick out my toppings. I usually go for the mushrooms, shredded cheese, carrot shreds, dill pickles, olives and sunflower seeds, but there are about 11,243 other things you could throw on top of there, including hard boiled eggs (which I don’t touch because of the toot factor). Naturally I stay far, far away from the croutons and crispy Asian noodles….but the dressing station is a thing of joy. They have at least 10 dressings at the Souplantation I visit, and even disregarding the three or four fat-free ones, that’s a lot of dressing goodness to choose from. I admit it, I am a dressing junkie. I have been known to whip up a batch of ranch dressing and DRINK IT STRAIGHT. I’m sorry to admit the ugly truth, but there it is. My personal favorite at Souplantation is the Creamy Garlic, which sweats through my pores for DAYS afterwards, but dayum, I can’t resist.

Having paid up at the salad station, I usually try to grab a decent seat near the soup bar. My Souplantation tends to be a zoo after 6 pm, so if I’m there at peak times I might have to settle for the tables in the back dining room (AKA BFE). Just another reason to come in early, friends and neighbors. After depositing my salad at the table, I head for the soup station. My Souplantation always has eight soups to choose from but they always have three that never change: chicken noodle, chili with beans, and clam chowder. The rest rotate through some calendar which I’m not privy to, so I’m usually surprised. Last night it was potato leek, split pea, creamy tomato, some kind of bean based soup, and a couple more.

Here is where I’m going to share my special low-carb soup serving method with you. Are you ready?? I normally charge big bucks for this information, but just this once…..Anyway, I take the ladle and press it directly down into the soup, instead of dipping it in on an angle. By pressing straight down, I’m doing my best to get mostly the broth and avoiding the inevitable chunks of potato or noodle or bean that float around in the liquid. I’m never 100% successful, but most of the time I end up with much less carby filler and more yummy broth in my bowl as a result. I did this last night with the potato leek and the chicken noodle. It’s easy to avoid one piece of potato or one stray noodle when I’m eating the soup back at my table.

Remember I said there was a downside to Souplantation? Sometimes the horn of plenty is just TOO powerful to resist. I was unable to handle the idea of bypassing the split pea, which is my favorite soup ever. The peas are so blended in that no soup-sieving strategy was going to work, so I succumbed to the inevitable and had a bowl. It was yum. I consoled myself by remembering that I did NOT have muffins, cookies, pizza, or a baked potato (all of which were also available at the hot foods bar). I passed up the soft serve. One nice thing about Souplantation is that they almost always have a sugarfree dessert available. Usually it’s chocolate mousse, which is a lovely treat; other times it’s some kind of whipped cream with raspberry or lemon jello which is “eh” but hey, thanks for tryin’.

Because I’m usually pretty good at staying on plan, foodwise, I’m comfortable at Souplantation. I do have problems with portions, though. Where I would normally eat ONE regular sized salad, I go back for two huge ones. Where a bowl of soup would usually satisfy me, I have three (because I want to taste them all.) So it ends up being a bit of a calorie splurge, and usually sets me back a day or so on my weight loss—-I don’t gain, but I don’t lose. Portion control. It’s my downfall. Overall though, I love knowing I can go out to eat at Souplantation with a friend and not have to be the oddball with the special food requirements. I can just seamlessly get the food I need. For that, it gets high scores on the low-carb happy dance scale.

 

Welcome to the treehouse….. October 24, 2009

Filed under: low carb — Kimberly @ 5:06 pm

When I was a kid, my cousin and I had a treehouse out in the back yard.  On summer days my grandmother would come out with a tray of sandwiches and lemonade and hoist it up to us so we could eat it up there.  Somehow, food always tasted better in the treehouse….so voila, the Low Carb Treehouse.  I want to use this site to spread the word about people and sites who provide wonderful products/services for low carbers, and generally connect with others on the same wavelength.  Oh and yeah, the bitching and moaning….can’t forget those.
Luv ya,
Kimberly