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Archive for Low-Carb

TIP OF THE DAY: Bunless Burgers

Most store-bought burger rolls are pretty blah: a form of white bread used to hold the burger.

Earlier, we suggested 25+ alternatives to the burger bun, from baguette to brioche to pretzel roll.

Even when the roll is special, it begs the question: Does the bread serve any purpose other than enabling utensil-free eating?

We love good bread: At a top restaurant, we’d rather have the bread than the meat. But over the years we’ve found that it doesn’t add to the burger experience. Even the best bread gets soggy with all the condiments and burger juice.

Drumroll: Today, we suggest burgers without the bun—at least, without a bread bun.

The original hamburger steak served in the U.S., essentially the Hamburg steak from Hamburg, Germany, was served on a plate with a fork and knife: no bun (here’s the hamburger history).

So how about going bunless—or rather, breadless?
 
 
NON-BREAD BUN ALTERNATIVES

Whether gluten-free, low-carb or paleo, we’ve seen every burger bun substitute imaginable, from homemade cauliflower buns to potato pancakes.

Alternatives To The Burger Bun

Look to different vegetables:

  • Lettuce leaves (photos #1 and #2), along with tomato and onion
  • Grilled pineapple (photo #3)
  • Grilled portabella mushrooms (photo #4)
  • Other grilled vegetables (photo #5)
  •  
    For the “other grilled vegetables,” look for the widest eggplant, potato or zucchini. You may be able to find one that can be sliced to hold an average burger.

    Otherwise, you may end up with sliders.

    TIP: While bread buns keep your fingers clean, the lettuce leaves do the same (at best a bit of water residue). If you don’t want to touch the oil-brushed grilled veggies, the solution is simple: an open-face burger with a knife and fork.
     
     
    TASTY TOPPINGS

    We enjoy trying new burger toppings. These work whether you serve conventional buns or the “vegetable buns” above.

    You can start with your favorite condiments (ours are curried ketchup*, sriracha mayo* and sweet and savory pickles).

  • Caramelized onions
  • Cheese
  • Chili
  • Grilled fruit (pineapple, peaches)
  • Guacamole
  • Hummus
  • Salsa
  • Slaw
  •  
    SLAW ALTERNATIVES

    If you call yourself a foodie, bypass the commercial cabbage slaw with a few flecks of carrot, dripping with diluted mayonnaise. Instead, go for a homemade slaw. If you don’t have time to make it, assign one or two recipes to someone else.

  • Apple Ginger Cole Slaw
  • Blue Cheese Slaw (add crumbled blue cheese to any classic cole slaw recipe)
  • BLT Slaw
  • Broccoli Slaw (substitute store-bought shredded broccoli for the cabbage in any cole slaw recipe)
  • Crunchy Asian Slaw
  • Lime-Cumin Cabbage Slaw
  • Pepper Jelly Slaw
  • Vanilla Slaw
  • Vietnamese Cabbage Slaw
  • Two-Color “Mexican” Cabbage Slaw
  •  

     

    Burger In A Lettuce Bun

    Bunless Burger

    Pineapple Burger

    Burger On Portobello Bun

    Burger On Grilled Eggplant

    [1] Trade the bread for lettuce leaves (photo courtesy Burger Fi). [2] For onion lovers, a double-onion burger with raw and caramelized onions. [3] A tropical burger. Use two slices of grilled pineapple instead of the bread. Here’s the recipe from Fit Views. [4] Spell it portabella or portobello, it’s a delicious bread substitute. Here’s the recipe from Sew Lets Cook. [5] Grilled eggplant as a bun (photo courtesy Our Four Forks).

     
    BUNS, ROLLS AND BISCUITS: THE DIFFERENCE

    Are the halved breads that surround hot dogs and hamburgers properly called rolls or buns?

    There is no official difference, meaning that there are no specific USDA standards. Both rolls and buns are single-serve breads, and the USDA only stipulates that buns and rolls weigh less than one-half pound. (Loaves of bread, on the other hand, must weigh one pound or more).

    Manufacturers and retailers use whichever term they want. However, the American Institute of Baking uses this distinction

  • Rolls is the term generally used for individual breads that hold a filling—either pre-filled like cinnamon rolls or sandwich bread like Kaiser rolls. The notable exception is hot cross buns, which are filled with currants or raisins and thus should be hot cross rolls. However, the first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” appears in 1733, when there was no distinction.
  • Buns typically do not contain a filling, but can be eaten plain, with a spread (butter, jam), or used as a sop, i.e., to wipe up a liquid food: gravy, sauce, soup, stews.
  • Bunne was the word used in Middle English. The use of roll to describe a small bread came much later. The oldest reference we could find is to Parker House rolls, in 1873.
  • Biscuits use a different leavening. Biscuits use baking powder to rise; buns and rolls use yeast.
  • Texture: Rolls can be hard (crusty) or soft, buns are soft, and biscuits are pillowy soft (from the baking powder).
  •  
    It is true that “burger bun” rolls off the tongue more easily than “burger roll.” But the more accurate term is roll.

    Just for the record.

    ________________

    *Just mix the seasoning into regular ketchup or mayonnaise to your desired intensity.

      

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    PASSOVER: Delicious Nut Flours You Can Eat

    almond-flour-bobs2-230

    Gluten-free almond flour. Photo courtesy
    Bob’s Red Mill.

     

    Gluten free pioneer and whole grains leader, Bob’s Red Mill, offers delicious recipes for Passover using the company’s gluten-free Natural Almond Meal and Natural Coconut Flour.

    Nut flours have long been a gluten-free salvation as well as a Passover alternative, and these organic flours will also be welcomed by those looking for lower-carb or Paleo Diet alternatives.

    ALMOND MEAL/ALMOND FLOUR

    Almond meal is ground from whole, blanched sweet almonds. The nuts are also very low in carbohydrates and very nutritious. Bob’s suggests that you harness the nutrition by replacing 25% of the flour in your conventional baking recipes with almond meal. It will add wonderful texture and flavor while reducing the total carbohydrates. Here’s more information.

    COCONUT FLOUR

    Coconut flour is another delicious, healthful alternative to wheat and other grain flours. Ground from dried, defatted coconut meat, the unsweetened flour is high in fiber and low in digestible carbohydrates.

     
    The light coconut flavor blends seamlessly into sweet or savory baked goods. Use it instead of cornmeal to coat chicken, fish or other proteins. Here’s more information.

    Check out Bob’s organic nut flours, including hazelnut flour, at BobsRedMill.com. All are produced in a gluten-free facility. (Note that they are not certified kosher for Passover.)

    RECIPE: GLUTEN-FREE ALMOND PANCAKES

    Ingredients For 10 Pancakes

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (from approximately 2 medium bananas)
  • 3 eggs
  • Garnish: maple syrup, sliced bananas
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT a skillet to medium heat (350°F). In a small bowl, combine almond meal, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.

    2. WHISK together the mashed bananas and eggs in a separate large bowl, until thoroughly combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

    3. LADLE 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake onto the preheated skillet. Cook for about 4 minutes and then flip, cooking an additional 4-5 minutes until no longer wet in the center. Serve immediately with maple syrup and sliced bananas.

     

    RECIPE: GLUTEN-FREE ALMOND CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

    Ingredients For 25-30 Cookies

  • 3 cups almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda/li>
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup voconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds*
  •  

    coconut-flour-bobsredmill-230

    Gluten-free coconut flour. Photo courtesy Bob’s Red Mill.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the almond meal, baking soda and salt and set aside.

    2. MIX the coconut oil and maple syrup in a mixer or by hand until creamy but not fully incorporated, about 5 minutes. Add the whole egg, egg whites and extracts and mix for 2 additional minutes. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix briefly.

    3. ADD the chocolate chips and toasted almonds and mix until well combined. Place large rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Flatten slightly, to approximately 1-inch thickness. Bake until set and golden, about 15 minutes.
     
    *To toast the almonds, spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Toast in a 375°F oven for 7-10 minutes, stirring at least twice during baking for even browning.

     
    DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALMOND FLOUR & ALMOND MEAL

    Ground almonds—also known as almond meal or almond flour, are commonly used in baked goods and in breading of proteins, in place of, or in addition to, bread crumbs. Sometimes “almond meal” is called for, sometimes “almond flour.” What’s the difference?

    Both consist of finely ground almonds, and there is no official difference between them. The terms are used interchangeably.

    However, be aware of these differences, depending on the manufacturer:

  • Almond flour is often much more finely ground than almond meal; the flour also has a more uniform consistency.
  • Almond meal can be blanched (skins removed) or unblanched, while most products labeled almond flour are blanched.
  •  
    For most recipes you can use either. However, some recipes, such as French macarons, require the finest almond flour to get the smoothest finish on the cookies. For breading, almond meal provides a bit more texture.
      

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    RECIPE: Fish Ceviche (Consider Trout!)

    Trout ceviche. Photo courtesy
    ILoveBlueSea.com

     

    Ceviche, raw fish or shellfish cured by acidic citrus juice, has been popular in Latin America for many centuries. In the early 1500s, the Spanish conquistadors wrote of an Inca dish of raw fish marinated in chicha, a fermented maize beer that dates back some 2,000 years.

    The concept evolved into ceviche (pronounced say-VEE-chay) (here’s the history of ceviche). There is something about fresh, homemade ceviche that is refreshing and satisfying, as well as low in calories and healthful (here’s why ceviche is so good for you).

    We love the tangy twist of lime, the briny hit of fish or seafood, the sprightly cilantro and creamy avocado.

    Throughout South America, the mix of fish or seafood changes depending on the local catch and regional preferences.

     

    This recipe can be used with any fish or seafood. It is courtesy of chef Giovanna Garcia and I Love Blue Sea, an e-tailer of premier seafood, where the team enjoys their ceviche with raw tuna or trout.

    The recipe is so easy to make, you’ve just got to try it. Warning: You may become a ceviche addict.

     

    TROUT CEVICHE/FISH CEVICHE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh rainbow trout
  • 6 limes, juiced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  •  

    MacFarland Springs Trout. Photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea.

     

    Preparation

    1. CUT trout into pieces and place in a glass dish or bowl. Cover trout with lime juice and let sit in refrigerator for at least an hour. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.

    2. DRAIN the lime juice from the fish and add to the bowl. Toss to combine.

    3. TASTE and season with sea salt and pepper.

    4. SERVE with crackers or tortilla chips, in a lettuce cup or with mixed greens.

    Here’s THE NIBBLE’s ceviche recipe for mixing and matching your favorite ingredients into your dream ceviche.

    Find more of our favorite fish recipes.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Low Carb Pizza Alternative: Zucchini Pizza

    Zucchini “canoes” substitute for pizza crusts. Photo courtesy Lucero Olive Oil.

     

    It’s not the toppings that are the problem with eating pizza frequently. The crust is where the ne’er-do-well carbs reside.

    The late, lamented Goldberg’s Pizza in Manhattan offered a diet pizza by heaping the toppings into an aluminum pie plate instead of onto a carb-laden crust.

    All of the vegetable toppings (bell peppers, broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, onions—whatever you like) were added to the pie plate, covered with sauce and cheese and baked in the oven.

    It was a way for dieters (of whom proprietor Larry Goldberg was one) to enjoy the flavors of pizza without the empty carbs.

    Zucchini pizza is a modern take on the idea. In this recipe from Lucero Olive Oil, halves of zucchini serve as the base for the cheese, tomatoes and other toppings.

    Zucchini pizza is not only more nutritious; it’s a way to get family members to eat more vegetables, more often.

     

    ZUCCHINI CANOES, A PIZZA ALTERNATIVE

    Ingredients:

  • 3 zucchini (one is a zucchino)
  • 1 box grape tomatoes
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, diced
  • Fresh Basil (1 bunch)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Basil olive oil (we used Lucero’s)
  • Salt and pepper or crushed chili flakes to taste
  • Optional: pepperoni or other favorite meat topping, chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Trim as necessary so they fit into a glass baking dish.

    2. SCOOP. Using a teaspoon, grapefruit spoon or melon baller, scoop out the center core where the seeds are to create a shallow trench. Do not scoop all the way to the bottom. (You can save the zucchini you’ve scooped out and add it to scrambled eggs.)

    3. COMBINE. Combine the crushed garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper/chili flakes. Brush the surface of the zucchini with mixture.

    4. BAKE. Halve the grape tomatoes and arrange them inside the trench with the optional pepperoni. Bake in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes.

    5. ADD. Remove the zucchini from the oven and place diced mozzarella in the trench between the tomatoes.

    6. BROIL. Place the baking dish under the broiler until golden and bubbling.

    7. GARNISH. Remove and drizzle the zucchini lightly with basil olive oil. Top with fresh basil and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.
     

    Find gourmet pizza recipes—with the crust.

      

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    FOOD VIDEO: How To Choose Healthy Snacks

     

    If you’re one of the millions of people who have just made a New Year’s resolution to pursue better food choices, here’s an “inspirational” video. It shows some simple, portion-controlled snack ideas that let you treat yourself without going overboard.

    Whether you have a sweet tooth or prefer savory flavors—and there’s no reason you can’t have both—pick up some tips to maintain your 2011 eating plan.


    Some of our favorites:

  • Quality lower-calorie, fat-free and no-sugar-added ice cream is as close as your local supermarket. If your goal is to have more ice cream more often, trade away the superpremium brands for those with half the calories, fat and carbs. It’s not plain vanilla: Edy’s, Dreyer’s and Breyer’s, among others, make exciting flavors.
  • Check out different sugar-free preserves. You can’t tell the difference with the best ones, imported from Europe made sweetened with maltitol. Or check out the organic Fiordifrutta line, sweetened with apple juice instead of sugar and available in an orchard of flavors: Apricot, Blackberry, Cherry, Cranberry, Lemon, Peach, Plum, Orange, Raspberry, Strawberry, Wild Berries and Wild Blueberry.
  • No Sugar Added preserves also make good low calorie dessert toppings for ice cream and yogurt, as well as pancake toppings.
  • Salsa is low in calories but bursting with flavor and nutrition. Salsa and baby carrots are a ready-to-eat, healthy snack. Check out some of our favorite salsas and salsa recipes.
  • And speaking of veggies, treat yourself to pickled vegetables. Our two favorite brands are Rick’s Picks and Tillen Farms. Asparagus, okra, red pepper strips, string beans and other veggies never tasted so good!

    Find more healthy ideas in our Cooking Videos Section.

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