Lots of good eats.

I had a great low carb, high taste day yesterday.  One of the reasons I've been able to stick with a low carb lifestyle for so long is that I don't feel like my choices are limited.  Of course there are things that I miss, but there isn't anything that I miss nearly as much as I missed chicken wings when I was eating a very calorie restrictive diet.

Whenever people tell me that they are thinking about switching to a low carb diet I give them two pieces of advice.  First, you have to think of this as a change in lifestyle, not a diet.  If you lose weight by cutting breads and pasta, you are going to gain it back as soon as you start eating those things again.  I want you to be realistic about whether you can see yourself saying goodbye to bread for life.  Second, don't think of a low carb diet as some kind of miracle quick fix.  It's easy for me because I've been doing it for a long time, I have support at home, and I don't miss the sweets that much.  But if you can't live without Coca Cola, this might not be the right choice for you.

Losing weight and being healthy is not about making yourself suffer.  It's about finding a plan that works for your lifestyle and needs.  Some people don't like the idea of having to say goodbye forever to brownies or french fries, and there are options for those people as well.  Explore all your options before you commit to anything and especially before you spend any money.  There is so much information out there, and there is (without a doubt) an program that will feel like it just fits.

Now, on to the yummies.  I started the day off with 1 piece of bacon, 1 egg scrambled with cheese, and 1 half of a flax pit with a little strawberry cream cheese.  This is a power breakfast because it packs a lot of protein and fiber.

For lunch I had leftovers from my Taco Bake.  I also had some leftover roasted vegetables.  I put them on a plate and microwaved for 2 minutes for a tasty work lunch.

Add a healthy eating magazine and a lot of water for a half hour of bliss.

After work I met a friend for happy hour that turned into dinner at Frisco Tap House and Brewery in Columbia.  I really like this place because there is such a wide breadth of things to choose from on the menu.  It's not often that I have my choice of Chorizo, sauteed artichokes, Ahi tuna, and pulled pork.

I ordered the wings because they are awesome and come with a homemade blue cheese that is phenomenal. I also got a side of sauteed mushrooms that tasted of olive oil and garlic.  I ate all of the mushrooms and ended up taking half of the wings home to enjoy later.

All of this comes back around to my original point.  On a low carb eating plan I am able to enjoy foods that I love like wings, blue cheese dressing, cheese, and eggs.  I rarely feel like I'm being deprived  because I'm able to focus on the things that I can eat instead of the things that I can't.


Veggies and Wine

It's been a tasty day.  For breakfast I had my usual 1 egg and 2 pieces of bacon.  Lunch was more arugula and Steak-umms over pita bread.  I was planning to serve leftovers from my taco bake for dinner but I had to run into the grocery store for some almond milk and I got distracted by these beautiful vegetables.

I picked up a butternut squash, a container of mushrooms, a bunch of asparagus, a pint of cherry tomatoes, and a handful of shallots.  I tossed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

While they were roasting, the awesome boyfriend and I were able to relax with a bottle of wine that we received as a Christmas gift.  I don't drink a lot of Malbecs and I am happy to report that I really enjoyed this one.  I did a little research online and it looks like a glass of Malbec has less than 5 carbs, so it's not a bad choice if you can limit yourself to one or two glasses.

After the veggies were done I pulled them from the oven and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.  I like mine straight off the baking sheet.  The awesome boyfriend likes to sprinkle his with Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper.  I good way to tell if your veggies are done is by checking the mushrooms.  The'll shrink and dry during the cooking process.  If they have browned like these, you're good to go.

In the end I did end up pulling out the taco bake leftovers because according to the awesome boyfriend, "If it doesn't have meat it's just a snack."  I'm not sure about all that, but the taco bake was very tasty and calling our names.  To reheat the taco bake just cut off the portion you want and warm it in the microwave for a minute or so.  Easy week night dinners make me happy.


Greens and Greens

Work lunch is back!  One of my favorite things about my job is that we have a kitchen that gets a lot of use.  I cook an egg almost every morning and I cook all kinds of awesome-ness for lunch most days.  I eat out about twice a month, and my wallet thanks me for this.

I had 1/2 of a bag of of Dole Southwest salad leftover from the weekend so I took it to work.  I sauteed some Steak-umms and mushrooms with olive oil and set aside on a paper towel to drain.  Then I toasted a low carb pita in the toaster oven.  I spread it with a little pizza sauce and added the steak and mushrooms on top of that.  Then I topped the whole thing with several handfuls of arugula.  I meant to eat it like a pizza but everything kept falling off so I cut it up with a knife and fork.

I tend to buy arugula from the grocery store more than other greens.  I love the spicy, bitter flavor.  More importantly, it will keep in your fridge a lot longer than a bag of spring greens.  Whenever I buy baby spinach I feel like it is wilting after 2 days.  The arugula will stay good for 4-5.


Low Carb Taco Bake

This casserole is the perfect amount of spicy and cheesy.  We liked it so much we ate it 5 nights in a row.  It's a little calorie dense, but extremely low in carbs.  It goes great with homemade low carb tortilla chips.  

4 oz cream cheese
8 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
1 packet taco seasoning
1 lb ground beef
1- 4 oz can chopped green chilies
1/4 C tomato sauce
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  
  2. Warm cream cheese in the microwave for 10 seconds.  
  3. Add cream cheese, eggs, and 1/3 packet of taco seasoning to a large bowl and beat until smooth with an electric hand mixer.  
  4. Coat the inside of a glass baking dish with cooking spray.  
  5. Sprinkle shredded Parmesan over the bottom of the baking dish and press down gently with fingertips.  
  6. Pour cream cheese mixture into baking dish over top of Parmesan cheese.  
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cream cheese mixture has browned lightly on top and around edges.  
  8. While crust is baking, heat a large frying pan over medium high and add ground beef.  
  9. Cook beef until no more red is visible then drain.  Return beef to frying pan and reduce heat to low.  
  10. Add remaining 2/3 packet of taco seasoning, chopped green chilies (do not drain), and tomato sauce. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated.  
  11. Remove crust from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before adding ground beef. 
  12. Spread ground beef over cream cheese crust in glass baking dish.  
  13. Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese over ground beef.  
  14. Bake for 20 minutes.  Cheese should be bubbling and lightly toasted when done.  Serve hot. 
  • I used a 2 quart baking dish for this recipe, and it was really full.  I think if you want to use a bigger one that would be fine, but not smaller.  
  • This is good topped with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, or whatever other taco toppings you enjoy.  
  • This recipe makes several servings.  When I make it the awesome boyfriend and I can usually make about 3 meals out of it.  

The Parmesan cheese is going to brown and form a nice crust for your
taco bake.  Don't worry about it being perfect; just press it down the
best you can to make a foundation for the cream cheese mixture.

You can see that the crust has browned around the edges.  

Taco bake and roasted artichoke.  So good I couldn't finish it.  



The awesome boyfriend gave me my Keurig a couple of years ago and it is one of the best gifts I have ever received.  I use it every day.  I love being able to get my one or two cups of coffee at home without having to mess with grounds and filters.  I know that I sound like a commercial right now but it's true!

We were keeping all of our coffee pods in a round spinny thing that took up a lot of space on the counter.  My brother recently gave me this awesome coffee tray that fits under the Keurig.  It holds lots of coffee pods and it is saving me counter space, which is crucial for someone who loves kitchen appliances as much as I do.  I also like that it's spring loaded so the slots are easy to refill and the cups are easy to access.  I think you can find a tray like this at Kohl's, or you can order one on Amazon.

Side Note: That Moonshine Madness that snuck into this picture is a super hot barbecue sauce.  The awesome boyfriend is a hot sauce connoisseur and someone gave him this over Christmas.  It's too hot for me, but he likes to put it on pork chops and chicken breasts.  It's relatively low in carbs so if you're looking for a spicy barbecue sauce it might be a good choice.  You can order it from Amazon for abut $6.00.

New Omega-3 Finds

I was wandering through the grocery store, as I'm apt to do, when I noticed some orange stickers that said NEW on a bread product.  I also noticed the word 'flax' on the package and was intrigued.  I was beyond thrilled to find that these pitas have only 4 net carbs each!

They are packed with fiber and omega-3s and, unlike lots of other low carb bread products, they don't taste like cardboard.  I put a bunch of them in my grocery cart and have been enjoying half of one with cream cheese alongside my eggs most mornings.

Another awesome low carb product that has recently made it's way into regular grocery stores is this Smart Balance peanut butter.  Smart Balance makes several products including cooking oil and a butter substitute.  All of their products will help you get your daily dose of Omega-3 fatty acids which will help you maintain a healthy metabolism.

Of course the best way to get your daily dose of Omega-3s is through fish, fish oil, flax, or algae.  The awesome boyfriend and I both supplement our diets with fish oil capsules that can be purchased at Costco or on Amazon.  


Spicy Smothered Chicken and Strawberry Salad

All right friends and family, it's time for another leftover dump.  The awesome boyfriend calls it guerrilla cooking.  Whatever you want to call it, it's the process of taking random things in your fridge (usually leftovers) and transforming them into something new and delicious.

The awesome boyfriend eats a lot of chicken breasts.  He's always on the go for work and it's easy to grill a bag of them on Sunday and pack one for lunch every day.  I had two precooked chicken breasts in the fridge that I used to start this recipe.  When we cook chicken we usually sprinkle a little Montreal Chicken seasoning on both sides, so if you are starting this recipe from scratch you can add that step.

I cooked some bacon over medium in a frying pan until it was extra crispy.  Then I layered the chicken, bacon, spicy barbecue sauce, and jack cheese in a glass baking dish.  I used about 1 Tbsp of spicy barbecue sauce per breast.  Barbecue sauce is loaded with sugar so make sure that you're checking the carbs and measuring your sauce with a Tablespoon.

My favorite barbecue sauces are Sticky Fingers Habanero Hot and Stubb's.  I wouldn't go as far as to call either of them low carb, but they do tend to be a little bit lower in carbs and sugar than some of the other varieties.  I baked the smothered chicken breasts in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, then finished off with 5 minutes under the broiler.  

You can make the salad with whatever you have around.  For this salad I used arugula, goat cheese, crunchy onion strips, strawberries, and Italian dressing.  I generally have all of these things on hand.  Strawberries have carbs too so make sure that you are counting.  You can get a lot of slices out of three or four strawberries.  

This Italian dressing is one of my favorites.  It's only about $3.00 at the grocery store, and it's super low in carbs.  Like the label says, you can use it on anything, and it goes great with the sweet strawberries.  


Happy Hour Mussels in Hyattsville

I popped out of the womb with a crab leg in my little fist.  Not really, but I do come from a family of seafood snobs.  "Red Lobster" is a dirty word in my parents' house.  We get shrimp straight from the North Carolina coast in big coolers and I have childhood memories of beheading them in the garage with my granddaddy (is that gross?).    

This is all background information to say that I get really excited when I find a seafood dish that is different and exciting.  I've mentioned before that finding the perfect mussel is one of my lifelong quests.  Whenever I'm out at a new place that has mussels on the menu there's a 90% chance I'm gonna order them.

Some work buddies took me to a wonderful restaurant and brewery called Franklin's in Hyattsville, Virginia. The lunch menu has some interesting low carb options like pulled pork, oysters Rockefeller, and a roasted duck salad.  I have a dear friend that works about 6 miles away from Franklin's, so it is a good halfway point for us to meet for wine and gossip.

Last week's happy hour consisted of low carb goodness.  I ordered a vodka with soda water and 2 lime wedges, which comes in at <1 carb.  You'll remember that the juice of one medium sized lime has 1-2 carbs and you should be able to get at least 6 wedges out of a lime.

The main event was the Sizzling Black Skillet Mussels.  The pictures don't do this dish justice- you'll have to make a trip and see for yourself.  I've never eaten mussels from a sizzling skillet before, and they are truly delicious.  You get a heaping plate for $10.  The mussels come with melted butter and are sprinkled with kosher salt.  I've been back to eat this for lunch several times since I first ordered it because mussels are a low carb power food.  They are high in protein and antioxidants, and they make me feel like I'm getting away with something because I get to dip them in butter.

If you're in the Washington DC area, this restaurant is worth a trip.  I haven't tried any of the beer but I'm told by friends and coworkers that it is very good.  Happy hour can be hard to navigate if you're trying to avoid carbs because most of the traditional bar appetizers are either breaded or served on bread.  I love that this place has so many options for me to choose from, although I'm not sure how much it matters since I will keep ordering these awesome mussels every time.  


Low Carb Breakfast on the Run

It's a rare day that I can't get it together to pack breakfast for work.  We have a hot plate at the office so I really only have to get an egg and some bacon or a piece of low carb pita bread into a bag.  I was having one of those rare days today so this is what I ended up with.

This is actually not a bad meal for $3.00.  I drove through McDonald's and asked them for one egg scrambled with cheese and one sausage patty.  There's no way that this is only one egg but I wasn't going to complain.  The sausage patties at McDonald's are big, a little spicy, and really greasy.  This isn't something that I would eat every day, but if you're in a pinch you can get a filling low carb breakfast at the drive though!  


McAlister's Deli: Southwest Cobb

It's hard to go wrong with a Cobb salad.  Some places to try to fancy them up with their own ingredients, but for the most part you're looking at a meat, some cheese, some veggies, and bacon.  This Southwest Cobb from McAlister's Deli did not disappoint.

Everything was fresh and crisp.  The dressing a spicy Chipotle type ranch that I liked so much I ordered extra of.  The salad came with a few tortilla chips as a garnish but I shared them with my friends.  The guacamole provides some additional protein and heart healthy fats.

McAlister's is also famous for serving fresh brewed iced tea in these huge awesome cups.  I met some my friend the Petulant Panda there for lunch when I was last in North Carolina and drank something like 48 ounces of tea.  It would have been embarrassing if it wasn't so delicious.

Work Lunch: Freezer Edition

I wish I could blame a lack of packing lunch on being busy but really I just have a hard time getting up in the mornings.  Usually I can get some eggs and low carb pita bread into a bag at the very minimum but I do have some things stashed in my work freezer for emergencies.  

This morning I was able to get nothing packed because I was running super late but I had everything for this lunch tucked away at my office.  Cranberries are easy to freeze and also easy to cook straight out of the freezer.  Just toss them in a pan with some butter and Splenda and they'll defrost and cook down.  Frozen peas are not my favorite but they'll do in a pinch.  I just heat them up in a pan with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.

These meatballs are amazing.  They are in the freezer section at my grocery store and a box is around 2 dollars.  They have approximately one carb each and 5 is enough to fill me up.  You can take them straight out of the freezer and heat them in the microwave for a couple of minutes and you have a low carb protein for any meal.  I like to top them with a little steak sauce.  

As always, serve with a side of magazines and Crystal Light.  Not eating lunch out has saved me hundreds of dollars in the past 6 months.  I'll still go out for a birthday or maybe on a slow Friday but I would say that I eat out during the work week 2 times a month or less.  My bank account is happy.


Low Carb Turkey Fingers with Mustard Sauce

I have really gotten into cutlets lately.  I don't know what they are feeding the chickens but the chicken breasts that I find in the grocery store are, like, scary big.  I don't even know how you are supposed to cook a piece of meat that is 4 inches thick.  You can't put it on the grill because the outside will be burnt by the time the inside is done.  But I digress...

Turkey cutlets are a little bit more expensive than chicken cutlets but I have found them to be much easier to work with.  They have a low slime factor which means that breading and seasonings stick to them with ease. These turkey cutlets are breaded with almond meal and poultry seasoning and are the closest cousin to the chicken nugget that has come out of my kitchen.

1 pound package of turkey cutlets
1/2 C almond meal
2 Tbsp chicken seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter

1/2 C chicken broth
2 Tbsp deli mustard
1/4 C heavy cream
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp hot sauce


  1. Add almond meal, chicken seasoning, salt, and black pepper to a flat plate.  Stir ingredients together with a fork to combine.  
  2. Press each side of turkey into mix to coat.  
  3. Heat medium sized frying pan over medium high.  
  4. Add olive oil and butter to frying pan and stir with a spoon until butter is completely melted.  
  5. Add turkey cutlets to frying pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side.  
  6. Remove turkey cutlets and set on paper towels to drain.  
  7. Reduce pan heat to medium.  
  8. Add chicken broth and heavy cream to frying pan and stir with a rubber spatula to remove all brown bits from bottom of pan.  
  9. Add deli mustard, flour, and hot sauce to frying pan and whisk until all ingredients are incorporated.  
  10. Continue to whisk for 2 minutes until sauce has reduced by about half.  
  11. Pour sauce over turkey cutlets to serve.  Enjoy!

  • This recipe calls for the mustard sauce to be served over the turkey fingers but you can use it as a dipping sauce as well.  The awesome boyfriend set up a little buffet of dipping sauces to enjoy his turkey fingers.  
  • You can also skip the mustard sauce entirely and just serve the turkey fingers with whatever sauces you would use for regular chicken fingers.  
  • You should be able to find almond meal in your regular grocery store, in the health food section.  
You used to have to go to a health food store for this, but most regular
grocery stores are carrying it now.  

If you run short on this almond meal mix just make some more.  Most
turkey cutlet packages are about a pound but some may have more
or fewer cutlets depending on thickness.  

This Montreal Chicken seasoning is the truth.  I use it almost every time
I cook poultry.  I mixed it with the almond meal for this recipe.  

Turkey cutlets will cook fast because they are so thin.  You'll know that
they are done when they start to brown on the edges.  

Just like chicken fingers, but without all the breading.  

I love this sauce.  Sometimes I make it to go alongside my veggies.  If you
have extra it's worth saving for another day.  

These turkey fingers go great with Roasted Artichokes.  


Garlic Roasted Artichokes

I love artichokes, like, love them.  I could eat them every day.  They're usually 2 for either $4 or $5 so they are more expensive than I like for my produce to be but I can't help myself.  Sometimes when I go to the grocery store they'll all gone so I must not be alone in my artichoke worship.

A whole artichoke has only 4 net carbs!  They're perfect for snacking or adding to a meat dish to make a meal.  Plus they are packed with fiber, which is important to add to a low carb diet.  They also have lots of other health benefits like being high in antioxidants and good for reducing cholesterol.

1 large artichoke
3 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
  2. With a sharp knife, cut the top 2 inches off of the artichoke and discard.  This part has thorns and is not edible.  
  3. Cut the stem off the bottom of the artichoke and discard.  
  4. Drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil over large sheet of aluminum foil.  
  5. Place artichoke on foil and use fingers to separate and spread out leaves.  
  6. Peel garlic cloves and insert in between artichoke leaves.  If garlic clove is very large you may want to cut it in half.  
  7. Drizzle remaining olive oil over the top of artichoke.  
  8. Sprinkle salt and pepper over top of artichoke.  
  9. Wrap foil tightly around artichoke, to seal in steam.  
  10. Place artichoke on baking sheet and cook in oven for 40 minutes.  
  11. Remove artichoke from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before unwrapping foil.  
  12. Remove artichoke from foil and serve with melted butter.  
  13. Eat artichoke by removing leaves one at a time and scraping your teeth along the length of the leave to remove the flesh.  
  14. After you've eaten all the leaves remove hairs by scraping with a spoon to reveal the artichoke heart (the best part).  This part can be dipped in butter or just eaten with a fork.  Enjoy!  
  • You can easily double or triple this recipe for a crowd, although it's kind of messy to eat so I like to save them for summer meals on the back deck.  
  • I like to serve with butter but some people also like to serve with lemon juice, mayonnaise, hot sauce, or garlic and olive oil.  
  • Eating an artichoke is a little confusing and weird.  I've attached a video to better explain the process. 

So pretty.  This is what your artichokes will look like after you
cut off the top.  Try to cut the stem in a way that will allow the
artichoke to sit up without falling over.

I love this lemon flavored olive oil.  I also have a sun dried tomato
flavor that I found at TJ Maxx that I use sometimes.  

Ready to go into the oven.  

Yum.  Get in my tummy.