Sunday, January 27, 2013

Super-Easy Low-Carb Fudge

I've been testing and tweaking chocolate candy recipes lately in search of a healthy and tasty low-carb option. I've discovered that this is, in fact, quite doable, and I've come up with some of my simplest recipes yet! It all hinges on unsweetened baking chocolate, something that almost every grocery store sells in the baking aisle. Unsweetened chocolate is low-carb, full of antioxidants, and actually has some fiber and protein, too! The problem comes in with the sugar and cream added to most chocolate candies. I have 2 different fudge variations that essentially involve making an emulsion with approximately one part melted unsweetened chocolate, one part creamy substance (almond milk or peanut butter), and some Splenda. Whether or not you are low-carb, this might become your go-to dessert!

The first recipe is the simplest--it only has four ingredients and takes only a few minutes to make--and is my personal favorite. Do you know what a gananche is? It's a fancy-sounding French technique that is the dead-simple trick to making fab low cal, low-carb, vegan truffles/fudge. A ganache involves emulsifying chocolate in cream. I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead--it is very low cal and low carb, and the flavor goes great with chocolate. The ratio of liquid to chocolate can be varied to make anything from a chocolate sauce, a glaze for cakes, a frosting, or truffles. The milk-to-chocolate ratio listed below makes a truffle-textured ganache. The traditional way to serve ganache truffles would be to let the ganache cool, roll pieces into inch-sized balls, and roll in the coating of your choice: cocoa powder, chopped nuts, coconut, etc. To make it super easy, I just poured it into a baking dish and let it cool in a block to make "fudge". It is the the richest and most velvety fudge I've ever tasted!

Note that these recipes make a dark chocolate flavored fudge. If you prefer a creamier milk chocolate flavor and are not concerned about fat, you could use half and half or cream instead of one of the milk substitutes below. It will still be low carb.

Ganache Fudge
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (coconut milk would also be fab)
1 3/4 cups granulated Splenda or sweetener of choice
optional: you could also add a teaspoon of instant coffee to make mocha fudge
8 oz Baker's unsweetened chocolate squares
1 t vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, bring milk, Splenda, and coffee, if using, to a slight simmer over medium heat, uncovered. Turn off heat and drop in chocolate squares. I don't even bother with chopping it up like many recipes call for. It will melt anyway. Cover and let steep for five minutes. The residual heat from the milk will melt the chocolate perfectly without scorching. (The pieces will look intact after you steep them, but they will be super soft and will dissolve when you stir them.) Add vanilla and stir until everything is smooth. Pour into square baking dish and refrigerate.

Cut into 32 squares. A serving size is 2 squares. Calories: 73, fat: 7.2 g, protein: 2.1 g, total carbs: 4.1, fiber: 2.1, net carbs: 2.


The second recipe adds peanut butter to the mix, making a deliciously creamy, peanut buttery dark chocolate fudge, my husband's favorite. This recipe is a bit higher in fat and carbs because of the peanut butter, but it is still pretty light.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 3/4 cups granulated Splenda or sweetener of choice
8 oz Baker's unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup peanut butter. You can use crunchy or smooth peanut butter, or any other nut butter of your choice. Almond butter is scrumptious in this.
1 t vanilla

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a large microwave dish. Microwave 1 minute, stir, then microwave in 30 second bursts, followed by stirring, until the chocolate is melted. (I usually have to do this 2 or 3 times. Be careful not to overcook). Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Mixture will be thick at this point. I usually just leave it in the container I microwaved it in--one bowl fudge! Refrigerate.

Cut into 32 squares. A serving size is 2 squares. Calories: 166, fat: 15.2, total carb: 7.2, fiber: 3, net carbs: 4.2.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Veggie-Packed Crustless Quiche

Bacon and Chard Crustless Quiche
My husband is still going strong on his low-carb diet. (He's lost 30 pounds in 2 months!) I have a few more tricks up my sleeve to post about.

One of the hardest things about the diet is what to eat for breakfast. Cereal is out, so are most fruit smoothies (although I do sometimes make a smoothie with low-carb yogurt, almond milk, and a bit of blueberries). That leaves things that generally take some prep work, like eggs and bacon, which won't do for us on work/school days. I've been making different varieties of veggie-packed crustless quiches each weekend, which we can reheat for breakfast each morning. This recipe was inspired by Glutenless Goddess' delicious (and indulgent) Egg Bake recipe, with some modifications to make it healthier.

Unlike a traditional quiche, this recipe substitutes cottage cheese for cream, which gives it more protein, makes it lighter, and more flavorful. And don't worry, once cooked, you can't tell there's cottage cheese in there. The curds melt and add a subtle cheesy, creamy flavor. I've made a ton of variations. The recipe is very flexible, and is a great way to use up random veggies and cheese you have hanging out in your fridge. This recipe is definitely not just for low-carbers, and is nice enough for company. And of course, quiches are not just for breakfast! Serve alongside a salad for a classy and healthy lunch or dinner.

Crustless Quiche (Basic Recipe)
16 oz container Egg Beaters plus 2 eggs (Why do I use Egg Beaters? I wanted to reduce the cholesterol to some extent. Bonus: it's a lot quicker to pour a bunch of Egg Beaters than it is to crack a ton of eggs. The reason I add in a few eggs as well is that the Egg Beaters containers are an awkward size. They have the equivalent of 8 eggs, and I need about 10. You can do whatever you want here: use 10 real eggs instead, maybe remove some of the yolks, buy extra Egg Beaters, or do a combination like I do.)
approximately one pound of veggies (I like to saute kale, spinach, chard, zucchini, or a couple of bell peppers and an onion)
1/3 cup real bacon bits (Bacon bits are made from real lean bacon and are surprisingly low fat; they are an easy way to pack in some extra flavor. You could go to the trouble to saute some sausage or ham, or leave out the meat altogether)
1 1/2 to 2 cups lowfat cottage cheese
approximately 6 oz lowfat cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, parm, or a combination; whatever you think will compliment the veggies of your choice)
1/2 t seasoning salt (I like Tony Chacheres or Konriko Jalapeno Seasoning)
lots of black pepper


Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Grease a large (12 inch) cast iron pan and saute the veggies and meats (if using) of your choice. In a separate bowl, stir together remaining ingredients. Add the contents of the saute pan and stir quickly and thoroughly to prevent the eggs from curdling. Pour the mixture into the cast iron pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until center is set. Serves 8.

Here are a few variations I love:

Bacon and Kale Crustless Quiche
16 oz container Egg Beaters plus 2 eggs
1 bunch (a little less than a pound) kale or chard, tough stems removed and chopped into 1-inch strips
1/3 cup bacon bits
2 cups lowfat cottage cheese
1 cup (4 oz) shredded lowfat mozzarella
1/4 cup (1 oz) grated Parmesan
1/2 t seasoning salt (I like Tony Chacheres or Konriko Jalapeno Seasoning)
1/2 t Italian seasoning
1/4 t garlic powder
sprinkle of nutmeg (goes really well with dark greens)
lots of black pepper

Follow directions in basic recipe above.


Pepper and Onion Crustless Quiche
16 oz container Egg Beaters plus 2 eggs
1 medium onion, diced
1 lb (2 large) bell peppers, diced
1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
1/3 cup bacon bits
1 1/2 cups lowfat cottage cheese
6 oz shredded lowfat cheddar or jack cheese
1/2 t seasoning salt (I like Konriko Jalapeno Seasoning)
1/4 t Italian seasoning
1/4 t garlic powder
lots of black pepper

Follow directions in basic recipe above.


Florentine Quiche
16 oz container Egg Beaters plus 2 eggs
1 lb frozen chopped spinach
2 cups lowfat cottage cheese
1 cup (4 oz) shredded lowfat mozzarella
1/4 cup (1 oz) grated Parmesan
3/4 t seasoning salt (I like Tony Chacheres)
1/2 t Italian seasoning
1/4 t garlic powder
lots of black pepper

Follow directions in basic recipe above.


Broccoli and Cheese Crustless Quiche
16 oz container Egg Beaters plus 2 eggs
1 lb bag frozen broccoli cuts
2 cups lowfat cottage cheese
6 oz shredded lowfat cheddar cheese
3/4 t seasoning salt (I like Tony Chacheres)
1/4 t garlic powder
lots of black pepper

Follow directions in basic recipe above, except, there's no need to saute veggies. Just microwave broccoli until tender and drain any liquid.