103 Low Carb Foods, Number 3 – Chocolate

Note: I’m starting my list with luxury foods because I want to make a point that low carb does not equal hardship. Instead, I believe that enjoyment makes a low carb diet sustainable. I suggest embracing culinary fat and splurging whenever you can on luxury foods.

Chocolate – Low Carb Foods, Luxury, #3


As a unrepentant chocoholic, chocolate is the treat I’d hate most to lose, and guess what? I haven’t. This mystery of the Mayans, the ambrosia of the Aztecs, tantalises and satisfies in a way few other foods do. Its melting point is the same as body temperature, which is perhaps why it is so beguiling in the mouth. If you weren’t a chocolate snob before, it is time to become one, for milk chocolate is full of sugar, and you’d do well to gravitate toward the dark varieties to keep the carbs down. Dark chocolate is low in carbs and high in fat, and a small amount goes a long way.

Choose a square or two of 85% or higher chocolate and pour all your mindfulness into the experience. Cocoa nibs are worth seeking out; they add a nice crunch. Pure cocoa gives tremendous flavour to cream or puddings and in small amounts adds few carbs (make sure you’re not buying cocoa with sugar added). Cocoa butter is a luxurious fat, a guilt-free way of adding chocolate flavour, and by adding vanilla you can make sugar-free white chocolate.  

Valrhona Abinao Chocolate

My favourite brand of eating chocolate is Valrhona – I took a chocolate course in their factory in France and have never forgotten it. Their Abinao is surprisingly fruity for such high cocoa content. It’s so satisfying that I have no trouble eating it in moderation. Their cocoa is also worth the money if you can find it. Artisan chocolate makers will welcome the support you can give them, so seek out any in your area. Since chocolate is a case where quality is more important than quantity, why not set yourself a goal to find your favourite chocolate in the world? I could think of many worse ways to spend time.

Some things I do with chocolate: 

  1. Savour every instant of it.
  2. Eat it dark and sparingly (3gm). 
  3. Add 25g pure, organic cocoa butter to a cup of coffee. Blend.
  4. Grind cocoa nibs with chia.
  5. Add shavings to fresh mint chia.
  6. Make delicious, satisfying mole sauce – no sweeteners, of course. 
  7. Eat a bit with a small handful of raspberries and whipped cream.

Recipe: Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients: 100 ml full fat cream. 30gm 90% chocolate. 15gm butter. 15gm cocoa butter.  

Method: Melt the chocolate, butter, and cocoa butter together. I use a dry coffee mug in a bowl of hot water. Heat the cream just to a simmer. Add to the chocolate in small parts, stirring until it is smooth and glossy. Pour into little glasses. Cool. 

Variations: 1. Add pure vanilla to taste. 2. Add cinnamon. 3. Add a splash of whiskey. 4. Top with cream. 5. Decorate with cocoa nibs or berries.


Why I’m writing a list of 103 Foods: When I changed my diet for health reasons, I spent the first weeks mourning the foods I could no longer eat. What’s the point in being miserable, though? By switching to focusing on the foods I could eat, and savouring every bit of them, I started enjoying food again. I also found hope for the future, especially as the weight fell off and my diabetes reversed. Now, I would love to help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. Finally, there are endless possibilities in terms of what to do with any food. Take that as a challenge, and let me know if you have any suggestions. I wish you happy eating.


103 Low Carb Foods, Number 2 – Caviar

Note: I’m starting my list with luxury foods because I want to make a point that low carb does not equal hardship. Instead, I believe that enjoyment makes a low carb diet sustainable. I suggest embracing culinary fat and splurging whenever you can on luxury foods.

Caviar – Low Carb Foods, Luxury, #2


If you eat caviar every day, it’s difficult to return to sausages. — Arsene Wenger

Next time a friend mentions how abstemious you must be to live on a low carb diet, whip out a jar of caviar. Roe (fish eggs) are among the most expensive foods in the world, and roe of the sturgeon — caviar — are the most costly of all. Russian caviar is considered the best. Other countries, including China, Iran, and the US, produce caviar. It’s important to note that most sturgeon are endangered or critically endangered in the wild, so do not buy wild caviar or caviar that has been poached. Luckily the fish are now farmed and no longer killed to extract the roe.

Caviar is salted, which improves the flavour and helps with preservation — the more salt, the better the preservation but worse the taste. It is perishable and must be refrigerated when opened and consumed quickly. Since caviar is a treat, buy the best you can afford, although other varieties of roe can be quite tasty. These include roe of salmon, trout, and the bright orange lobster roe usually discarded (I love to fry them briefly in butter, which gives them a pleasing crunch).

Seven low carb ways to serve caviar:

  1. On a spoon
  2. On fresh, crunchy cucumbers
  3. On homemade cheese crackers
  4. With sour cream or crème fraiche
  5. On eggs
  6. As caviar butter (gently blend caviar and butter)
  7. As caviar butter sauce. Look it up. It’s a thing

Caviar varieties and terms

  • American Osetra — the white sturgeon. Illegal if poached.
  • Beluga — the beluga sturgeon. It’s considered the highest grade. Do not buy illegal wild varieties. It is farmed, and wild populations are starting to recover.
  • Hackleback — the shovelnose sturgeon in the US.
  • Mallosol — means little salt, so it’s more perishable and considered the best.
  • Ossetra — the ossetra sturgeon is near extinction in the wild. It is second only to the beluga in price.
  • Paddlefish — cousin to the sturgeon. Common in the US.
  • Payusnaya — pressed. It’s caviar that’s not intact as eggs. OK for recipes.
  • Sevruga — also known as the ‘starry sturgeon.’ It’s critically endangered in the wild.
  • Sterlet — Once considered the finest. Now virtually extinct.
  • Vegan — Yes — it is possible to find caviar made from kelp.

Why I’m writing a list of 103 Foods: When I changed my diet for health reasons, I spent the first weeks mourning the foods I could no longer eat. What’s the point in being miserable, though? By switching to focusing on the foods I could eat, and savouring every bit of them, I started enjoying food again. I also found hope for the future, especially as the weight fell off and my diabetes reversed. Now, I would love to help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. Finally, there are endless possibilities in terms of what to do with any food. Take that as a challenge, and let me know if you have any suggestions. I wish you happy eating.


Thanks to Robert Anasch for making the photo available freely on Unsplash.

103 Delicious Low Carb Foods, Number 1 – Butter

Note: I’m starting my list with luxury foods because I want to make a point that low carb does not equal hardship. Instead, I believe that enjoyment makes a low carb diet sustainable. I suggest embracing culinary fat and splurging whenever you can.

A. Luxury Foods

1. Butter

Butter might seem a simple thing to list as a luxury, but it makes almost everything taste better and more luxurious. For example, lobster without butter is good, but lobster with butter is fantastic. The same is true with many foods. Green beans are fine. Green beans drenched in butter, with crunchy, sliced almonds toasted with butter, are exquisite. If you can find real Irish butter, then it will be even more amazing (in my biased opinion).

Before I started a low carb diet, butter played a part in most of my favourite foods — croissants, mashed potatoes, cookies, cake, toast with melted butter and so forth. Sometimes I wonder whether those foods were just an excuse to eat butter, and I can still do just that. When I mash cauliflower with enough butter (and cream), I don’t miss the potatoes too much. It’s like losing the wrapping paper but keeping the present. 


Some things I do with butter: 

  1. Add to coffee
  2. Cook vegetables
  3. Cook fish
  4. Add to sauces
  5. Make ghee – clarified butter
  6. Add to toasted nuts, especially pecans
  7. Spread on low carb psyllium bread
  8. Make garlic butter
  9. Make herb butter
  10. Whip it (see below)

Fat is fabulous

Fat is one of the micronutrients that keep us alive. Without fat, we would not survive. Fat has been unfairly demonised, although it is coming back into fashion now that there is more understanding of the role of sugar in obesity. Fat helps us feel full when we aren’t stuffing ourselves with carbohydrates, and it makes food more luxurious. In case you are worried about your heart, the often-repeated warning that it’s unhealthy doesn’t seem to have any validity. Butter does not make you gain weight, and it does not clog your arteries. So dump the margarine and add butter for more enjoyment in life. 

I definitely suggest making butter yourself. It’s a simple process, and not strenuous if you have an electric mixer. I never tire of witnessing the miraculous transformation of cream into golden goodness. Old, soured cream (as long as it’s not mouldy) can be repurposed as butter – in fact, it will taste better. I like to whip the butter, since whipped butter is not usual here in Ireland. I grew up with it in New York, and I miss it. One of the benefits is that it is a joy to spread, even when cold.

Recipe: Homemade whipped butter

1. Beat full fat (35+%) whipping cream.

2. After it is whipped, it will then begin to clump and turn yellowish.

3. Periodically scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to make sure every bit’s included.

4. When the liquid separates, beware of splashes. Stop the mixer and discard the liquid.

5. Rinse the butter with cold water, then mix to push any fluid out. Discard the liquid. Repeat until the water stays clear.

6. Add salt if you prefer it (2% is usual in Ireland).

7. Whip the butter on high speed until airy and light in colour. 


From ‘Churning Day,’ by Seamus Heaney

…Their short stroke quickened, suddenly
a yellow curd was weighting the churned up white,
heavy and rich, coagulated sunlight
that they fished, dripping, in a wide tin strainer,
heaped up like gilded gravel in the bowl…


Why I’m writing a list of 103 Foods: When I changed my diet for health reasons, I spent the first weeks mourning the foods I could no longer eat. What’s the point in being miserable, though? By switching to focusing on the foods I could eat, and savouring every bit of them, I started enjoying food again. I also found hope for the future, especially as the weight fell off and my diabetes reversed. Now, I would love to help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. Finally, there are endless possibilities in terms of what to do with any food. Take that as a challenge, and let me know if you have any suggestions. I wish you happy eating.


Poem: Goodbye, Honey

A foodie’s poetic lament upon the breakup with carbohydrates for health reasons

~

Goodbye, Honey

by kfionnm

Goodbye, honey, love of mine.
More mysterious than wine. 
Sweet as sin, sticky fingers. 
Even gone, your taste lingers.

Bread, my comfort – glum farewell. 
I get lost inside the smell 
Of your baking – instant lust.
Oh to bite warm crunchy crust.

Wholewheat loaf or French baguette,
Sourdough is better yet.
Warm and fresh or next day’s toast
Magic. Bread, I’ll miss you most.

Ice cream – it seems so unfair.
You and I – a perfect pair –
Spoon in hand, smiling, dreamy
In the mouth, melting, creamy. 

Topped with golden caramel, 
Fragrant fudge’s chocolate smell,
Tart sorbet and crackly cone,
All gone. I feel so alone. 

Sugar: sorry. Can’t be friends.
Pack up, leave, no loose ends.
We have loved in varied ways – 
Best of all – the dessert daze. 

Crème Brûlée and chocolate mousse,
Marmalade, jam, apple juice, 
Porridge bubbling on the heat, 
Corn flakes, muesli dropped – too sweet.

Millet, semolina, rye,
Barley in my soup – goodbye.
Ciao, dear pasta. Rice: so long.
How can good food be so wrong? 

Sad to jilt the curvy spud.
Mashed, you make my heart go thud
Like the first time I was kissed. 
Baked, boiled, fried. You’ll all be missed. 

Couscous and I once were close.
Beans and tacos: adios.
Goodbye, naan and breaded fish,
Pizza, no!!! My favourite dish.

Ramen, udon, any noodle,
Spätzli with an Apfel Strüdel,
Maki sushi, Chinese dumpling,
Hard to stop my legs from crumpling. 

Crepes and croissant, charlotte, choux,
Mille fuille, macarons: adieu. 
Chocolate truffle, cake, and tart
All ensnared me. Broke my heart. 

Cookies, brownies, candy, pies –
Something deep inside me dies
When I know that we are through. 
Sorry, all. It’s me, not you. 

Still I dream of dark honey,
Warmed on toast, turning runny,
Taste that made the world divine.
Goodbye, honey, love of mine.