When I began cooking and baking low carb, I knew that I didn’t want to add 50 carbs to a gravy or soup by using 1/2 cup of white flour to make a roux and thicken soups, stews, and gravies. So I began experimenting with various thickening agents. Since I have some upcoming gravy and cream soup recipes, I thought this would be a good time to share some of my findings with readers. You don’t have to eat specifically low carb to benefit from these tips. They are good ones for any health-conscious cook. So….if you would like to get some new tricks for thickening in less starchy/less carby ways, read on!
You know how you have those recipes that you go to over and over again? Every graduation party. Every baby or wedding shower. Every Christmas Eve appetizer party. Yep? Well, this is one of those. I have two cheese spreads/cheese balls that get rave reviews from everyone and that I have made for over twenty years. They’re that good. The first is my Creamy Delicious Cheese Ball that has one of those little glass jars of “processed cheese” (along with cream cheese, cheddar, and other ingredients). It really is wonderful. And the second is a cheese spread recipe from a friend many years ago (not sure where it originated). One of these has literally been on the serving table at every one of my kids’ seven graduation parties and every Christmas Eve. (Why reinvent the wheel, right?)
At our house, we are all about veggies every night–for two reasons. First of all, we are trying to eat more healthfully in general as we lose weight and seek to eat more nutrient-dense foods and feel great. Secondly, since Ray Baby and I both practice Daily Intermittent Fasting, we only eat in a three to five hour eating window each day. We simply have to be sure that vegetables are a part of that eating window as much as possible.
I’ve raved about some of my favorite ways to make green beans in my 3 Favorite Green Bean Recipes post. We do a lot of oven roasting, air frying, and stir frying. My favorite way to prepare veggies for ease of cooking is oven roasting. You simply prep the veggies, put them on a cookie sheet (or jelly roll pan for a bunch!), and pop them in the oven. I love those easy preps!
Breading meats (and even vegetables) does not have to a taboo for the low carb cook or the low fat cook or the low calorie cook or the family-friendly cook. We have options! With healthy fats to brush over things, we can pop them in the oven with a healthy breading mix and have chicken nuggets the kids will enjoy. With air fryers, we can bread and fry fish or chicken to our heart’s content—and if we use a lower carb breading mix, we have the best of all worlds: low carb, low fat, low calorie!
We went on a grocery fast of $25 per week–so we had to start eating steak every week…..let me explain! The reason for the grocery fast was to try to empty our freezers, refrigerators, cupboards, and pantry of the excess food we had accumulated from gradually becoming empty nesters, but not really knowing how to shop, cook, or live like empty nesters! Part of this process includes using up five years worth of Omaha Steaks that were gifted to our business.
True confession: We have seldom ever cooked steaks. Sure, we made hamburger steaks, Swiss steak, chopped steak smothered with veggies, meatloaf steak, “poor man’s steak” (out of hamburger), and even ham steak. But with seven children on one income for over twenty-five years, meat was more of a “condiment”—in casseroles, soups, stews, and other combination dishes–than it was a “per person” type of meal element.
I don’t remember my mom making a lot of salads when I was growing up. I remember some iceberg lettuce here and there on our plates and potatoes cooling in the fridge for potato salad, but that is about it. I do, however, remember the apple salad. Not because I ate it–it has mayo in it! (Yucky! ha ha) But because it was unusual to have anything other than potato salad and cole slaw in terms of “salads.” I quickly discovered that my high school sweetheart (Ray Baby–now my husband of almost 37 years!) loved salads of any kind, and he really loved my mom’s apple salad. So being the dutiful wife, I learned how to make it.
It isn’t hard, but it is unique. Every time I take it anywhere, people are always surprised by the combination of peanut butter and mayo–but in a good way. People really like this salad!
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