Tag Archives: low carb

Save Time by Microwaving Your Spaghetti Squash

The pale yellow half-squash is cooked. The meaty red sauce is low-carb.

Both of these weighed about 4 pounds (1.8 kg). The pale yellow half-squash is cooked. The meaty red sauce is low-carb.

My wife found this new spaghetti squash cooking method—new to us at least—on a sticker attached to a squash. We tried it and the finished product is the same as if done in the traditional oven baking way. The whole process just takes 15 minutes. Here it is:

Hope you can read it

Hope you can read it

A different squash had a different stuck-on cooking method that involved both microwaving AND oven baking. Why make it so complicated?

It takes no skill at all to make it look like spaghetti pasta

It takes no skill at all to make it look like spaghetti pasta

 

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In the northern hemisphere, the spaghetti squash season is autumn and winter. Purchasing in spring and summer may be iffy. We tried one out of season and it was inedible.

Spaghetti Squash Recipes

Low-Carb Spaghetti Sauce

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Spaghetti Squash Recipes

low-carb diet, spaghetti squash, paleobetic diet, diabetic diet

The yellow spaghetti squash is at the top. It’s related to pumpkins and zucchini.

Many weight-conscious folks are cutting down on carbohydrate consumption. One way to do that is to find lower-carb alternatives to carb-rich items.

An alternative to spaghetti pasta is spaghetti squash. A cup of cooked spaghetti squash has 10 g of carb; a cup of cooked spaghetti has 43 g. The fiber grams are about the same. Numbers are from FitDay.com.

Spaghetti squash is a classic low-carb vegetable. If you’ve never tried it, you should. As vegetables go, it’s one of the largest, heaviest, and most interesting to prepare. Easy, too. The spaghetti squash season is autumn and winter in the northern hemisphere. Purchasing in spring and summer may be iffy.

In my part of the world, supermarket spaghetti squashes weigh between two and five pounds. We cooked a three-pounder (1.4 kg) that yielded five cups; a five-pounder (2.3 kg) gave us 12 cups. A serving size is one, maybe two cups. What you don’t eat immediately stays fresh in the refrigerator for at least several days. Re-heat by microwaving or stir-frying.

Like pasta and potatoes, the squash by itself is bland. It’s a great substrate for sauces or seasonings.

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Raw squash cut in half lengthwise

Here’s how we cook it at the Parker Compound. Preheat the oven to 375º F 0r 190º C. Very carefully slice the squash in half lengthwise. Spoon out and discard the guts (seeds and membranes like a pumpkin; it even smells like a pumpkin). Put the halves flat-side down in a pan, then add a half inch (1.3 cm) of water to the pan. Cover with foil and bake until the outer shell (rind) is fairly easily pierced with a paring knife. This will be about 45 minutes for a two-pound squash (0.9 kg); 90 minutes for a four-plus pounder (2.3+ kg). Then turn them over, re-cover with foil, and cook 15 minutes more, until very tender. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool for a few minutes. Then use a fork to pull the strands away from the rind.

Other cooks simplify the process and just place the squash halves flat-side down on a baking sheet and cook for 30-60 minutes. Some leave the seeds in while cooking and spoon them out just before the stranding step.

Or you can save time and microwave it. We can’t tell the difference in the final product.

Now what?

You got options.

Our first experiment was with l0w-carb spaghetti sauce.

paleobetic diet, low-carb diet, diabetic diet, spaghetti squash

Low-carb spaghetti

Next we took three cups squash (710 ml) and mixed in 2 tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, 2.5 tbsp (37 ml) chopped parsley, 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) minced fresh garlic, 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt, and 1/8 tsp (0.6 ml) black pepper.

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Seasoned with parsley, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper

Finally, we took a cup (240 ml) of the squash and added minced celery (4 inches or 10 cm of stalk), 3 minced black olives, 5/8 oz (18 g) of minced sweet (bell) pepper, 1/2 clove of minced garlic, salt (a dash), and pepper to taste.

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Seasoned with sweet peppers, black olives, garlic, celery, and salt

These last two options I consider side dishes. By the way, they taste good either cold or warm. They would go well with a number of entrees, such as steak or salmon.

I’ve read that this squash is good with pesto, or just with salt and butter.

Nutrition facts from FitDay.com:

One cup of cooked spaghetti squash has 75 calories (I’ve seen 42 elsewhere), 10 g of carbohydrate, 2 g of fiber, 8 g of digestible carb, 4 g of fat (predominantly MUFA), minimal protein, and a fair amount of vitamins A, niacin, B6, and C. Plus 8% of your RDA for manganese.

Steve Parker, M.D.

 

Recipe: Beef Soup, Asparagus, and Blackberries

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Yum!

The entree is a cross between stew and soup. Stoup?

Since I provide the recipe’s carbohydrate grams in the nutritional analysis below, you can fit this into the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet and Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet, as well as the Advanced Mediterranean Diet.

Ingredients:

2 lb (0.9 kg) stew meat, lean, bite-sized chunks (tenderized by the butcher if able)

1 garlic clove, finely minced

6 sprigs cilantro, de-stemmed, whole leaves

2 oz (58 g) sweet onion, diced (1/2 of a small onion)

1/4 of a medium-size green bell pepper, de-seeded, diced (medium bell pepper weighs about 5.5 oz or 155 g)

8 oz (227 g) canned tomato sauce

2.5 cups (590 ml) water

1.25 tsp (6.2 ml) table salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste (1/4 tsp or 1.2 ml?)

16 oz (454 g) fresh raw asparagus, no larger in diameter than your little finger, with any dry or woody stalk cut off and discarded

1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

7.5 oz (213 g) raw blackberries

Instructions:

Stoup first. In a frying pan or electric skillet, place the stew meat, cilantro, garlic, bell pepper, onion, and cook over medium heat (350º F or 177º C) until the meat is done. Then add the tomato sauce, two cups of the water, one tsp of the salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer for two hours, then add a half cup water to replace evaporation loss.

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Cooking stew meat. NOTE: this is double the amount the recipe calls for.

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Meat is done and the “gravy” has magically appeared

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Appearance after addition of the tomato sauce and 2 cups water

Now the asparagus. Preheat oven to 400º F or 204º C. Place asparagus on a cooking sheet covered with foil, brush the asparagus with the olive oil, then lightly salt (1/4 tsp?) and pepper to taste. (If you don’t mind cleaning up, just use a baking dish without the foil.) Roast in oven for 8–15 minutes; thicker asparagus takes longer. It’s hard to tell when it’s done just by looking; if it’s still hard, it’s not done. Click for another post I wrote on cooking asparagus and brussels sprouts.

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Asparagus roasted at 400 degrees F for 12 minutes

Enjoy the berries for desert.

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2.5 oz or 1/2 cup of blackberries

Servings: 3 [one serving is 1.5 cups (355 ml) of soup, a third of the asparagus (5 oz (140 g), and 2.5 oz (70 g) berries]

Advanced Mediterranean Diet boxes: 2 veggies, 2 fats, 1 protein

Nutritional Analysis per Serving:

40 % fat

12 % carbohydrate

48 % protein

590 calories

19 g carbohydrate

8.5 g fiber

10.5 g digestible carb

1,557 mg sodium

1,778 mg potassium

Prominent features: Rich in protein, B6, B12, copper, iron, niacin, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc

low-carb diet, paleobetic diet, diabetic diet

The fresh cilantro is a nice touch

 

 

 

Recipe: Turkey Tomato Bowl + Macadamia Nuts

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This Turkey Tomato Bowl is low-carb

This is what I did with some of our leftover Thanksgiving turkey last Novermber. If you don’t have leftover turkey, I bet leftover chicken or steak would be  fine substitutes. Heck, I’m tempted to try it with salmon or canned tuna or chicken. In addition to the flavor, what I like about this meal is that it’s crazy quick.

Ingredients:

6 oz (170 g) cooked turkey chunks, light meat (or 8 oz (225 g) if you’re starting raw and planning to cook it)

5 oz (140 g) raw tomato (2 small roma tomatoes, for example), cut into chunks

2 tbsp (30 ml) balsamic vinaigrette

black pepper to taste

1 oz (30 g) roasted macadamia nuts

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These roma tomatoes were amazingly flavorful for late Fall in the northern hemisphere. Before cooking, my wife injected the bird with olive oil, massaged periodically over 30 minutes, then popped it in the oven.

Instructions:

Toss the turkey and tomato chunks in a bowl, splash on the vinaigrette, then microwave for 60-80 seconds. Pepper as desired. Drink the leftover juice right out of the bowl. Enjoy with macadamia nuts for dessert and you’ve got a full meal.

Discussion:

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Use commercial dressing if you’re in a rush

I was lazy when I made this so I just used a commercial salad dressing rather than making my own vinaigrette. Wish-Bone Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing “with extra virgin olive oil.” Here are the top ingredients, in order: water, balsamic vinegar, soybean oil and extra virgin olive oil (sic), sugar, salt, spices, etc. So the oil could have been soybean oil with only one drop of olive oil for all I know. Olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acid, so you might be able to calculate how much EVOO was in the dressing if I tell you there were five grams of fat per two tbsp (30 ml) serving, of which 1.5 grams were monounsaturated. That serving also has three grams of carbohydrate (all sugar) and only 60 calories. Right there on the bottle is says gluten-free and “no high fructose corn syrup.” I bet it had HFCS in it three years ago and there would be no mention of the trendy “gluten-free.”

I don’t know any home cooks who add water to vinaigrettes. They are essentially oil and vinegar (in a ratio of 3:1) and spices (or not). The ones I make have quite a bit more than 60 calories per two tbsp (30 ml); more like 220 cals. All of the oils you would use have about 120 calories per tbsp all from fat. If you make this recipe with home-made vinaigrette, add 150 calories to the nutritional analysis below. It won’t affect the carb count.

Note that of the common vinegars, balsamic has the most carbohydrates—some vinegars have zero. If you use typical amounts of balsamic vinaigrette, you shouldn’t need to worry about the carbohydrates unless perhaps you’re on a strict ketogenic diet and limited to 20-30 grams of carb daily.

Servings: 1

Advanced Mediterranean Diet boxes: 1 vegetable, 2 protein, 1 fat

Nutritional Analysis:

58% fat

7% carbohydrate

35% protein

620 calories

11.5 g carbohydrate

3.7 g fiber

8 g digestible carbohydrate

743 mg sodium

877 mg potassium

Prominent features: High in protein, vitamin B6, iron, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.

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Bonus pic! Java, one of the horses at the Parker Compound. He’s an old-style Morgan.

Recipe: Waldorfian Salad

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One cup of Waldorfian salad. I doubled the cinnamon in this batch, so yours will look less brown.

Today’s meal is inspired by the classic Waldorf salad, made famous by New York’s Waldorf Hotel over a century ago. The hotel today is called the Waldorf-Astoria.

The primary ingredients are apples, walnuts, and celery.

The original salad was made with mayonnaise, which I left out this time as an experiment in Old Stone Age eating. Cavemen didn’t have mayonaise or Miracle Whip, after all.

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Good source of omega-3 fatty acids

Instead of mayonnaise, we use a dressing—a vinaigrette—made with walnut oil. Walnut oil is attractive in part because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids: 1.77 grams per tbsp (15 ml). Compared with Paleolithic diets, modern Western diets are too low in omega-3s and too high in omega-6s. You can use your left-over walnut oil the way you’d use olive oil.

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I made my dressing in this BPA-laden plastic container

This recipe makes two large servings of 2 cups (480 ml) each. Small or sedentary folks may well be satisfied with a 1- or 1.5-cup serving.

paleobetic diet, low-carb diet, ketogenic diet

Try different varieties of apple and let me know how it works out.

Ingredients:

2 apples, raw, medium size, skin on, diced (I used Red Delicious; consider Granny Smith, Fuji, or Gala)

3 celery stalks, 8-inches long (20 cm), diced

1 cup (240 ml) walnuts, broken by hand into small chunks (Option for ? more flavor: toast in a skillet over medium-high heat for 7-10 minutes or in oven (350 F or 175 C) on baking sheet for 10 minutes

1/4 tsp (1.2 ml) black pepper, ground

1/4 tsp (1.2 ml) salt

1.5 tbsp (22 ml) walnut oil

1 tbsp (15 ml) cider vinegar

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cinnamon

1/4 tsp (1.2 ml) nutmeg

Instructions:

First make a dressing with the bottom six ingredients. I put mine in a small container with a lid, then shook vigorously. Or you can put them in a small bowl and whisk them.

paleobetic diet, low-carb diet, ketogenic diet

Walnut pieces

Place the walnuts, apples and celery in a bowel, add the dressing and toss thoroughly. You’re done.

Serve as is, or chill first in the refrigerator. Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought it tasted better after it sat on the counter for 10 minutes. Consider serving on a bed of lettuce (1-2 oz), but if you do, increase your digestible carb count by 1-2 grams.

If you want more calories or protein than this recipe provides, chicken or steak should go well with Waldorfian salad and won’t increase your carb grams.

Number of Servings: 2 (2 cups each)

Advanced Mediterranean Diet Boxes Per Serving: 3 fats, 2 fruits

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

73% fat

21% carbohydrate

6% protein

500 calories

27.5 g carbohydrate

7.6 g fiber

20 g digestible carbohydrate

341 mg sodium

529 mg potassium

Prominent features: High in copper and manganese, low in sodium. This is vegetarian (so much for the paleo diet being meat-centric). On a 2,000 calorie diet, this provides only 15% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein, so you’ll want to eat more protein at some point during the day.

Recipe: BLT Avocado Wraps

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Ready to roll up and eat

BLT = bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Mmmmm, bacon!

Like other processed meats, bacon is often criticised as being a threat to our health. Might be linked to cancer, heart disease, premature death. But it’s difficult to prove and scientists will continue to debate it for decades. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy bacon in moderation, once or twice a week. If you want to be cautious with your health, don’t go hog-wild with bacon or other processed meats like hot dogs, bologna, and liverwurst.

Bacon is probably better for you—at least if you have diabetes—than many of our traditional breakfast foods like cereal with milk, pancakes, instant oatmeal, bagels, or donuts. Those could shoot your blood sugar up to the moon.

Avocados come in hundreds of varieties. In the U.S., we mainly have California avocados (aka Hass) and Florida avocados. Californians are by far the market leader. They reign at the Parker Compound.

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California or Hass avocado

paleobetic diet, paleo diet for diabetes

Florida avocado

California avocados are the smaller dark green lumpy-skinned ones. Florida avocados are larger, smoother-skinned, and lighter green. Monica Reinagel has an article comparing the two, with notes on ripening and storage.

Oh, and by the way, avocados are fruits, not vegetables. But you knew that, you smartie.

Ingredients:

1 California (Hass) avocado, raw, medium size (about 4 x 2.5 inches or 10 x 6 cm), peeled and seeded, cut into long strips

6 bacon strips, medium thickness

4 oz (115 g) lettuce (e.g., iceberg, romaine, bibb, or broad-leaf lettuce you prefer)

4 oz (115 g) tomato, raw (this is about one-and-a half roma tomatoes or one medium regular tomato), cut into long strips

1 oz (30 g) pecans (option: substitute your favorite tree nut except for cashews—too many carbs)

Instructions:

Fry your bacon in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Next you’re going to build two wraps. Lay out about two oz (60 g) of lettuce and load it with three bacon strips, half your tomato, and half your avocado. Fold or wrap lettuce edges together and enjoy. Repeat with remaining ingredients. The pecans are for dessert.

paleobetic diet, paleo diet for diabetes

Parker Compound guard dogs waiting for bacon

Number of Servings: 1 (that’s 2 wraps plus nuts)

Nutritional Analysis:

74% fat

12% carbohydrate

14% protein

720 calories

24 g carbohydrate

15 g fiber

9 g digestible carbohydrate

1137 mg sodium

1507 mg potassium

Prominent features: Good source of fiber, sodium, protein, vitamin B6, niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and selenium.

Easily Make Your Own Vinaigrettes and You Won’t Have to Wonder What’s In Them

Our new cruet

Our new $8 cruet

If you’re trying to lose weight or keep from getting fat, salads are helpful. I recommend them in my Advanced Mediterranean Diet, Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet, Paleobetic Diet, and Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.

My favorite salad dressings are vinaigrettes. They can be as simple as olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. The problem with most commercial vinaigrettes is the label says “_____ Vinaigrette with olive oil,”but the first listed ingredient is soybean oil (or some other industrial seed oil) and olive oil is somewhere down the line.

Get around that by making your own. Here’s a recipe and a salad to try it on. Also, if you’re watching your carb consumption, the commercial dressings  may sneak in more than you want. Again, avoid that by making your own.

Cruet label

Cruet label

You can make a vinaigrette in a jar with a lid. Add the ingredients then shake to create an emulsion. Or do it in a bowl with a whisk. My wife found us a cruet at the supermarket that I’m hoping will allow mixing, storing, and pouring all from the same attractive container. I’ll let you know if it doesn’t work out; I’m afraid it will leak when I shake it.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Update January 28: As feared, it leaks when you shake liquid contents. Anyway, it makes an attractive container for olive oil, especially if you buy it by the gallon.