February 22, 2013

My Key to Survival on a Low-Carb Diet: Crunchy Snacks

Ever since the birth of our daughter in November (via c-section, my second such surgery), I've been anxious to be healed enough to get back to working out.   Being in is shape important to me and having excessive weight lingering around is seriously bad for my mental health.  

While I was pregnant with my son during 2006-2007, I was the heaviest I had ever been and after I gave birth it showed.  Let's put it this way, Pizza Hut and Blue Bell Ice Cream were very sad when my pregnancy was over. They missed my business and I had an extra 25 pounds to lose.  To some that struggle with much more severe weight loss issues, 25 lbs may not seem like much, but having never had a weight problem, it might as well have been 100 lbs for me.  I had no idea how to lose it.  It took me two years and lots of trial and error to drop that weight.
  
I'm NOT a good dieter...AT ALL.  I cheat.  If you tell me I can't have it, I totally rebel. Rebelling is an instinct we children of the 80's developed (better than other generations, in my opinon...sorry) and mine hasn't faded with age. This rebellious instinct extends to all, even the slightest, self-destructive tendency. I mean it.  It kept me eating cake and drinking entirely to many sodas to ever, ever be a  beach-worthy babe again...even though I totally knew better somewhere deep in my soul.  It was a painful time. (I'm being overly dramatic for humor's sake, you know this right? Okay, good)

What it came down to with me was a lightly controlled, low-carb diet and a ton of exercise.  I repeat, a ton of exercise.  I can't do the whole Adkins (nightmare) diet of only 20 carbs allowed a day.  I try to limit it to about 50-100 carbs a day. That doesn't mean I always take in that much, okay?  Just don't tell me I can't.  I have to have a window...or that rebel thing I have going on will sabotage it all.  I will never write a diet plan, what I do plays completely to my psychology...or need for psychology.  But, I have come up with some tasty and easy low-carb snacks that help me with my no-plan, quasi-low-carb, diet-plan. 


Cucumbers with Chive Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon & 
Celery with Cottage Cheese and Salsa


I know, not the greatest picture here, but it serves the point.  Low-carb snacks with some crunch!

 Slice cucumber to about 1/2 inch thick and top with 1/2 teaspoon of cream cheese and a sliver of smoked salmon.  I used a store-bought cream cheese flavored with chives, but you can just as easily make your own.  It's a great combination.

I stuffed the celery sticks with low-fat cottage cheese and then drizzled some quality, jarred salsa on top.  Easy and tasty.  

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers



These are quite possibly the most delicious low-carb snacks EVER, in my opinion.  Fresh jalapeños stuffed with low-fat cream cheese and wrapped in bacon.  I prepare them and then bake them on a cookie pan at 400° for about 20-25 minutes or until the bacon is crisp.  If my significant other is grilling, I make sure they are cooked on our smoky, charcoal grill. 

Cottage Cheese with Strawberries and Grapes 


I told you, it's low-carb...not NO carb.  I'll die.




This is one of my favorite snacks in general.  It just happens to be low-carb.  Take about 3/4 cup of low-fat cottage cheese and mix in 2 fresh, sliced strawberries and about 6 halved-grapes.  It's good and good for you too.   

Of the 12 extra pounds I had left to lose after my daughter's birth in November 2012, these snacks and another entire ton of exercise have already helped me lose 6 of them.  

What are your low-carb faves?  


January 17, 2013

Crostini with White Beans, Olives and Anchovy


I first saw this recipe presented on Gordon Ramsay's television show, "Ultimate Cookery Course", which is airing on BBC America lately.  The pictures and ingredients of this recipe spoke to me instantly.  I mean, I love hearty white beans, black olives, parsley, and, in small quantities, anchovies too.  Although, I'm not sure I would have ever put them all together on my own.   

This post leads me to tell you something that I'm certain you don't know about me: I am a huge Gordon Ramsay fan.  I've followed his television shows and antics for years now.  However, I've never tried to cook up any of his recipes...I know, weird, right?  This fact is due to lack of preparation and time, and not lack of interest.  

Well, for my post-birth, come-back post here on Little Fish, I'm sharing about my first attempt at making one of many Ramsay recipes that have caught my attention.  

In his presentation of the recipe, he serves the bean mixture as a topping on grilled ciabatta bread as an open-face sandwich.  He classifies this dish as a brunch meal.  In my adaptation of this dish, I chose to serve this powerfully flavorful recipe in smaller portions as an appetizer.  The flavors are delicious, but very, very strong.  A larger portioned sandwich with these ingredients may have been a bit too much for me.

Overall, I thought the recipe was quite tasty and it was a nice change of pace for us on a typical Monday night. However, the taste of the filling is pungent, especially after being topped with the anchovies. This dish is probably not weeknight, bowling team fare...it's likely best served to a crowd who enjoy such unique, sharp flavors.  But, it sure is pretty to look at, isn't it?   




Crostini with White Beans, Olives and Anchovy 
  • 1 (15 oz) can white beans with some of the can juices reserved (I used canned Great Northern beans as I had them on hand.  Ramsay used canned Cannellini beans)  
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives 
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley 
  • a few tablespoons of roughly chopped anchovies 
  • One French baguette, cut into 3/4 inch slices for toasting 
  • Extra virgin olive oil
1.  In a medium sized sauce pan, heat the beans and then lightly mash them with a fork.
2.  Add in the black olives and parsley and remove the pan from the heat; set aside.
3.  Lightly drizzle the bread slices with olive oil and toast them.  If you have a grill pan, grill the slices until they are slightly toasted.  If you don't have a grill pan, use your oven.
4. Top your toasted bread slices with a tablespoon or two of the bean mixture.  Top with a few chopped anchovies.
5.  Enjoy.