Tag Archives: grain-free

Easy Leek Carbonara – Grain-free

INGREDIENTS

There’s a restaurant in Portland, Oregon called Le Pigeon, which makes a leek carbonara that I read about in The Globe and Mail. My lovely aunt forwarded it to me. I will link to the recipe at the end of this post if you want to try out the original.

Although I don’t eat grains anymore and rarely crave bread or pasta – my Achilles’ heel is spaghetti carbonara. There is something so comforting about creamy fettucine noodles in an egg and parmesan sauce, complemented with rendered pancetta that I just can’t get out of my head. Until now.

This recipe replaces the boring fettucine noodles with strips of leeks, cut into the width of fettucine. Since leeks are probably my favorite vegetable, I decided this was a very, very good idea.

The reason I have messed with the great recipe from Le Pigeon is just to make it a little simpler to prepare on hurried nights, and to increase the fat content (obviously!)pancetta

EASY LEEK CARBONARA

SERVES 4 – 5 AS A MAIN DISH, 6 – 8 AS A SIDE

  • 3 big leeks
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup of parmesan
  • 200g of pancettaleek noodles
  1. Cut up 200g of pancetta into small cubes. Cook these slowly in a heavy pot to render out the fat. I always cook for about 15 minutes while I’m getting the other ingredients ready.
  2. Boil a big pot of water.
  3. Trim off the hairy bottom and dark green tops from your leeks. Cut them lengthwise into long strips that resemble fettucine noodles. Rinse these well in a deep bowl of water or the sink to get off any dirt and grit.
  4. Grate about a cup of parmesan cheese.
  5. Crack 3 egg yolks into a large bowl. Add the parmesan cheese and mix together with a fork. Set aside.
  6. Once the water boils, add your leek “noodles” to the pot and boil for about a minute. “Parboil” if you will.egg yolks
  7. Finish rendering the pancetta, being careful not to overcook or your cubes will be crunchy rockettes. Most recipes will drain off the fat at this point, but not me! I spent good money on fancy pancetta from the Healthy Butcher and I’m not throwing any of it away.
  8. Strain the leeks after a minute. At Le Pigeon they are all fancy and plunge the leek “noodles” into an ice bath. I wouldn’t bother, though it is nice to dry them a bit on a towel, and then  add the dry “noodles” to the finished pancetta and hot fat. Toss like crazy in the warm, heavy pan.
  9. Once all the “noodles” have been coated with pancetta fat and the pancetta is evenly distributed, and the leeks have cooked a little more to their desired softness, quickly use some tongs to dump the entire pan into the prepared bowl of yolks and parmesan.  Stir quickly so that the sudden heat doesn’t make the yolks “cook”. (They will “temper” with the heat, but not actually cook). stirring
  10. Serve out smaller portions than you think you can eat, and top with some extra parmesan and fresh ground pepper.

If you think regular carbonara is heavy, this is about twice as heavy. But what I mean instead of “heavy” is filling. What is so remarkable is that even after a large portion, there is no bloating or heaviness – just fullness. I swear you cannot overeat this because it’s just so rich.  And absolutely delicious!

If you are not a fan of leeks, I still think you should try this. Boiling the leeks for a minute before the sauté seems to soften their flavor quite a bit. And yet that subtle leek-ness is still there, making this carbonara dish so much more layered and intense than the standard fare. easy leek carbonara

MACRONUTRIENT BREAKDOWN

One cup of standard carbonara (and who only eats one cup of pasta at a sitting?) is 43g of carbohydrates. One cup of this Easy Leek Carbonara (and you probably can’t eat a full cup) is 7g of carbohydrates.  This recipe also contains 19g of protein and about 32g of fat per serving/cup. If you want less protein, use less pancetta.

As it is, this recipe has 74% of calories from fat, 20% from protein and 6% from carbohydrates. Very LCHF.

What else? Each serving has 25% of your RDA for Calcium, 10% of your Iron, 27% of your Vitamin B12, 28% of your Phosphorous, plus a decent amount of Selenium, Riboflavin, Folate, Potassium, Vitamin A and Vitamin B6.

HOW TO PORTION THIS RECIPE

If you are alone and want to make this for yourself, just use one leek and one egg yolk, with a smaller amount of parmesan and pancetta. You will have leftovers. Generally, a big leek cooked this way will be too much for one person or just enough for two sides  – so gage the recipe that way.

FURTHER READING

Original and slightly more exciting recipe from Le Pigeon restaurant (includes lemon juice! red pepper flakes!)

Read about why leeks are so awesome and also support cardiovascular health. Try to eat something from the allium family every day (garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, etc).

A reminder about just what LCHF stands for (low carbohydrate high fat) and why it matters

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back to School Bagels

Back to School Bagels

This can actually happen, people. Bagels without grain. I mean, the Oopsies are a game-changer because they are perfectly LCHF. But these come close.

Let’s Talk Macronutrients

This recipe makes 6 bagels, which break down to 7g carbohydrates each, plus an amazing 18g of fat and 11g of protein. Your ratio for one of these is 69% fat, 13% carbs, 18% protein. Pretty ideal.

(Compare that a classic bagel has 45g of carbohydrate, 1g of fat and 9g protein – you can see that it is the opposite of a low carb high fat product. If you eat a classic bagel, you are probably going to feel full, bloated and yet simultaneously hungry. You can see why Dr. William Davis chose to put a stack of bagels on the cover of his best-selling book, Wheat Belly!)

Now if you add a few ounces of cream cheese or nut butter, or cheese and salami, or a fried egg with bacon and cheese… OMG I could go on and on.

But for people who still remember fruits you could do the classic Australian breakfast: toasted grainfree bagel smeared with ripe avocado, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt. Throw a tomato on top, preferably fried in bacon, and life is pretty good.

To make this really easy on yourself, do this in a food processor (like a classic Cuisinart).

Back To School Bagels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Into the bowl of a food processor, add:

1.5 cups almond flour
.25 cup golden flaxmeal
1 Tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
.25 tsp sea salt

Pulse a few times to blend.

Break into a large measuring cup or similar:

5 eggs
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Stir this up with a fork and then pour the wet mixture into the adding funnel of your food processor while you pulse everything together.

Now it gets a little messy. If you are a tidy person, you can carefully spoon this thick dough into a buttered DOUGHNUT PAN (mine is from Crate and Barrel).

If you are not as skilled, scoop the dough into a pastry bag or a ziploc bag and cut a hole in the corner. Pipe the dough out into clean circles in your doughnut pan.

Seeds on top help this to “look” more like a bagel, as eating is a visual exercise. So over the top of the bagels, sprinkle:

.5 Tbsp sesame seeds

Bake for 20 minutes. Makes 6 bagels.

After you’ve perfected these, start adding cheddar, scallions, garlic powder, poppy seeds, onion powder, jalapeños, cinnamon and raisins, or whatever you feel like.

It’s as if you just inherited your own What-A-Bagel.

One Last Note (of Caution)

You couldn’t actually take these bagels to school, even though they are called Back To School Bagels. They are made with almond flour, and schools don’t allow any kind of nut product anymore. So these are technically for breakfast before school, unless you go to some awesome nut-loving school or are home-schooled, you lucky freak.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Protein Ceiling: Not As High As You Think

Okay so let’s say you’ve made an effort to reduce or eliminate your grain and sugar consumption. Let’s look at what kind of a calorie deficit that might have created for you:

REMOVE:

  • 1 cup oatmeal (250 calories)
  • coffee with 1 tsp sugar (16 cal) – keep the coffee, eliminate the sugar!
  • 2 slices of sandwich bread (200 cal)
  • 7 crackers (65 cal)
  • 1 cup brown rice (210 cal)
  • 2 cookies (100 cal)

= 841 calorie “deficit” by eliminating those foods.

I don’t really rely on calorie requirements, but calories are at least a useful tool. We can probably agree that you are not getting enough food if you eat less than 1000 calories a day, and that you are getting too much if you are eating more than 3000 unless you are doing manual labor or serious physical training. (The early Canadian loggers were said to eat between 5000-8000 calories/day).

But what happens in between those brackets doesn’t necessarily depend entirely on your level of exercise, but also largely on what the calories are from – carbohydrates, fats or proteins (and then it will also depend on the quality of each).  To really delve into this topic, read the authority Gary Taubes’s epic Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health. 

The point I’m getting to is that if you suddenly have a calorie deficit of over 800 calories (or more) from cutting out grains and sugar, you will probably feel compelled to replace those calories with something. In simplest terms: you’re going to be HUNGRY. VERY, VERY HUNGRY. And in general, most people initially fill that void with protein.

I WANT TO EXPLAIN WHY THAT MIGHT BE A MISTAKE

protein platter

Humans actually have a protein ceiling, a maximum amount of protein that can be effectively utilized before the excess protein is oxidized and excreted through the urine. First of all, generally the body can’t process more than 50g of protein at a time – so definitely space out your consumption. Secondly, the body cannot store extra protein, so the kidneys get overworked and fatigued dealing with getting rid of all the excess. This is manageable in the short term, but fatal if you already have kidney disease.

Although protein is acid-forming, it actually increases the body’s ability to excrete acid. The acids in proteins are not buffered by bone loss (which is the incorrect assumption behind the Alkaline or pH diet), they are buffered by bicarbonate ions in the blood and kept at a very stable pH around 7.4. (You can change the pH of your urine by changing your diet, but you can’t change the pH of your blood. And if you make your urine too alkaline you open yourself up to bladder infections.) This bicarbonate reaction produces carbon dioxide, which we exhale, and salts, which get excreted by the kidneys. Healthy kidneys have their own sustainable cycle whereby they create new bicarbonate ions as they excrete excess salts. But when someone already has kidney disease or previous stones, this cycle is compromised – these people should go really easy on protein and acidic foods. They should also go really easy on green vegetables that are high in oxalates though – so an “alkaline diet” could do more harm than good for kidney stones.

When most people start reducing their carbohydrates by eliminating grain and sugar (and then legumes, beans, starchy vegetables and tropical fruits), they assume the most logical replacement would be protein because people have a misplaced bias against and fear of fat – especially saturated fat. The problem is that if you replace your carbohydrates with protein without increasing your fat consumption, you can end up with “protein poisoning” or rabbit starvation which just means your body starts to literally starve on protein without fat.

CALCULATE THE PROTEIN CEILING

An average person needs about 1g of protein per kg of lean body mass.

So let’s say you are a 125 pound woman. Divide that by 2.2 to get your weight in kg = 56.8kg.

Now let’s estimate your lean body mass, maybe 80% if you are a pretty lean woman but not ripped exactly. See these photos for a quick visual guide to body fat percentages. Google for more photos because people love posting this stuff. Multiply your weight in kg by 80% = 45.5 kg. You need 1 g of protein for every kg of lean body mass.

This is generally how much protein an 125 pound moderately active woman will need every day – about 45g. Now if you are pregnant, nursing, or really into exercise, manual labor or training you will obviously need more. If you are really into sitting, Netflix and knitting you might need a tiny bit less.

But you will never need drastically less. Too little protein leads to malnutrition, mental retardation, fatty liver, flaky skin, edema of the belly and legs so that you look like those hungry African kids.

You can get 45g protein by eating 2 eggs, 2 cups of kale, and a 4-oz piece of salmon.

So you don’t need to also eat a bowl of cottage cheese and a cup of walnuts or whatever. You don’t need to stress about protein shakes. Those are for vegans to worry about! But you? You’re already there.

But then what to replace your calorie deficit with? Hopefully you’re already eating lots of vegetables, so we don’t want to gorge; preparing even more vegetables in new ways gets pretty tiring, expensive and labor intensive quite quickly. Mainlining vegetables is great in-season and when you have the time or a chef, but it’s probably not sustainable – or even necessary. The answer (unfortunately for people who are afraid of fat) is that you must replace your carbohydrate deficit with calories from fat. Obviously I mean non-industrial, traditional fats. Pay attention or something.

HOW ABOUT ADDING ANOTHER 500 CALORIES A DAY FROM FAT?

You could get 500 calories JUST from adding 2 TBS grass-fed butter and 2 TBS coconut oil to your life every day. Go ahead and add the whole 841 calories from fat if you feel like it – all it will take is another few TBS of fat, maybe olive oil this time. But when you eat so much healthy fat, you just won’t feel hungry enough for the extra calories. You’ll see.

You’re still reading? Maybe you should also read this interesting article from Discover Magazine about the Inuit Paradox: How Can People Who Gorge on Fat and Rarely See A Vegetable Be Healthier Than We Are?

Indeed!

BUT BUT BUT WILL IT MAKE ME FAT?

Didn’t you read the Gary Taubes book yet that I recommended 15 paragraphs ago? You need to keep up. He explains it quite simply in under 600 pages.

Obviously I’m not going to recommend something that is going to make you fat! Coconut and pure MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oils actually increase the metabolism and love to burn fat. Adding them to your diet induces your body to burn it as energy, and then to delve into the body’s stores of fat as well. Everyone who switches their calorie ratio percentages from the recommended 10% from fat daily to 50% from fat daily – loses weight (unless they are also eating sugar – then all bets are off and the fat accumulates as fat and the energy burned is only from the sugar and carbohydrates).

Another problem with eating “too much” protein is that excess protein essentially acts as glucose. That’s not to say that it is converted to glucose, because it isn’t. However excess protein will stop fat-burning the same way that consuming carbohydrates will (say more than 50 – 100g of carbohydrates/day will arrest fat-burning potential). Excess protein is converted into metabolites that will enter the KREBS cycle and displace ketones. More on this later.

I consider it a really lean day if I am only eating 50% of my calories from fat. That usually indicates to me that I’ve been hitting the bottle, or else got a little crazy with the fruit and dairy, and also found my way to the dessert trolley. I prefer to keep my calories from fat at about 65% – 80%. Am I breaking your brain?

So just go ahead and absorb this and then change absolutely everything you’ve been doing.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Banana 1 Egg

This is a crazy simple breakfast. Let’s say you’re insane enough not to eat grains or refined sugar, but you can’t live without pancakes. This will solve all your problems.

Pancakes Bubbling

Directions: mash 1 ripe banana, blend in 1 egg. Fry the resulting batter in small batches (diameter of an apple?), and flip very gingerly (I use a non-stick pan and a fish spatula). Because there is no gluten, the pancakes are not as resilient as a grain pancake. But they look great, and taste great! The banana adds so much sweetness that you really don’t need any maple syrup on top. I like to top with some whole fat kefir or yoghurt.

FLAVOR VARIATIONS

I’m going to blow your mind here, but stay tuned. Grate in some lemon zest. Add vanilla. Delicious. Or go another way and add cinnamon. No matter what, add a little sea salt. Maybe melt in some grass-fed butter or coconut oil. Add wild blueberries. Go piña colada style and add grated coconut. Or go monkey-style and spread with peanut or nut butter, and roll up like a crepe.

TOO MUCH SUGAR?

I agree. 1 BANANA 1 EGG has 31g of carbohydrate, 17g of sugar, 4g of fiber, 8g of protein and 8g of fat = 214 calories. Serves 2 essentially.

Why not stretch the recipe a little further and try 1 BANANA 2 EGGS! This variation yields the same 32g carbohydrate, the same 17g of sugar, 4g of fiber, but increases protein to 14 g and fat to 15 g = 308 calories. But now it serves 3.

I’m not afraid of increasing fat, especially if it’s in the form of whole, naturally raised, small flock eggs. The individual serving count on the enhanced recipe is roughly: 10 g carbohydrate (5 g sugar, 1 g fiber), 5 g protein and 5 g fat.

Pancake StackFor a pancake treat, this is pretty good.

It’s also a terrific way to get my daughter to eat eggs for breakfast (she’s in a no-eggs phase).

If you are doubling or tripling the recipe for a crowd (I don’t know where you are going to find a crowd of people who don’t eat grain or refined sugar, but it could happen) try mixing the ingredients in your blender or Vitamix, because then you can pour the batter directly from the blender.

You can experiment with adding any kind of nut flour and milk, but I think the thrill of this recipe is its simplicity.

ONE LAST THOUGHT

Let’s say you want to really supercharge these pancakes with protein, but you don’t like protein powder (I don’t: too processed, rancid, denatured etc). So take the 1 banana, 2 eggs, add 1tbs nut butter and 3 tbs cottage cheese right into the batter. Let’s add 1 tbs of coconut oil while we are at it. Blend it all up! Now it serves 3 more heartily, and each serving has about: 7.2 g protein, 8.3 g fat and 11 g carbohydrate (5.8 g sugar, 1 g fiber). I can’t get the ratios much better than this. They are pancakes, after all.

AND BEST OF ALL…

Delicious.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,