Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Low Carb Sausage Balls

While I love eggs for breakfast, I am getting a little tired of having them every day. These guys are a great quick breakfast! Grab a few on the way out the door, and you're good to go!

1 lb mild pork sausage
4 oz cream cheese
1 large handful of shredded cheddar
1 c crushed pork rinds (I like hot and spicy)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400. Combine all ingredients. Form into slightly-smaller-than-a-golf-ball sized balls. Bake for 20 minutes. 

These will be much greasier than regular sausage balls because there is no flour or bisquick to sop it up. Let the oil absorb into a paper towel before serving. They will also be much softer than the other kind. They pretty much melt in your mouth! And so filling; three of these and I was full. 

I love taking old recipes and transforming them into low carb! Makes sticking to this diet much easier :)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Double Dose of Chicken Soup

I don't know about you guys, but I am so ready for winter to be over! I'm tired of being cold.  I'm tired of my daughter catching every single bug that's been going around.  I'm ready for spring and warm weather.

But, alas, my wishing is for not.  It looks like Alabama will be getting another batch of winter weather later this week.  With cold temperatures approaching and germs on the war path, I know just what my family needs: chicken soup.

What kind of chicken soup was going to be the issue.  I was craving something with a kick to battle this congestion I've had.  My husband doesn't really do spicy (unless it's a buffalo wing!!), so that wouldn't work for him.  He loves chicken noodle soup, but I'm on a low carb diet, so that wouldn't work for me.  My solution: I made both.

Both of these soups started with the exact same base: chicken and broth.  I put two huge chicken breasts (that I got for $1.77/lb at Aldi!!) into the crockpot with 8 cups of chicken broth seasoned with extra garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.  I cooked the chicken on high for 5 hours.  If you don't want to use the crockpot, you can easily do this on the stove by allowing the chicken to simmer for 20 minutes or so. I just prefer the ease of the crockpot; plus it makes my whole house smells good!

Once the chicken was finished cooking, I removed the breasts from the broth and divided the broth between two pots.  The first soup I made was the chicken noodle.

4 cups chicken broth
spiral noodles
1/2 can veg-all 
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
salt and pepper

Bring chicken broth to a boil.  Add noodles.  Cook al dente.  Add  veggies.  Allow to simmer until the noodles finish cooking and the veggies are hot and flavorful.  Stir in the chicken.  Simmer until chicken is hot.  Season to taste. Serve.

That could not be any simpler.  It took all of fifteen minutes because the chicken was good beforehand.  My husband was thrilled to have some home-cooked chicken noodle soup to warm up with!

Now for my soup!

I saw an idea for this soup on Instagram.  Chicken, avacado, lime... It immediately called my name! I spiced it up a bit with some jalapenos to give it some kick and make it my own.  It came together with almost as little effort as the chicken noodle.

4 cups chicken broth
Garlic powder
Onion powder

1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
Olive oil
1/2 tsp taco seasoning
1 lime
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/2 avocado (per serving)
 Sour cream (optional)

Bring chicken broth to a boil.  While the broth is heating, sautee the jalapeno in olive oil with a sprinkling of garlic powder and onion powder.  Once the broth is boiling, add the jalapeno and taco seasoning.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  Add the juice of one lime into the pot.  Add in the chicken.  Simmer until flavors combine and the chicken is hot.  Ladle into soup bowls.  Cube the avocado half and place it in the soup.  Top with a dollop of sour cream if you want.  Serve.

Let me just tell you, I make soup probably once a week.  This one is a definite favorite! The spicy jalapeno, the citrus of the lime, the creamy texture of the avocado... Absolute perfection.  And, of course, it's low carb.  

I dare the germs to try to invade us after we loaded up on these soups! And while I am still most assuredly sick of the winter, I guess still having a reason to make soup makes it a little more bearable!

Stay warm, friends!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Affordable Decorating Ideas for a Relaxing Home- Guest Post by Amelie William

I am thrilled to bring you this great article by very talented writer Amelie William.  She has some fantastic ideas that I know I will be using as I redecorate my home, and hopefully you will, too!

Affordable Decorating Ideas for a Relaxing Home

Your home is an obvious place for relaxation and to forget all about a hard day’s work. If you are considering visiting a spa for relaxation, consider transforming your abode into a calming space so you get to relax the spa style - right at your home. You sure can enhance the aesthetic feel of your home with these affordable home décor ideas and create a relaxing home.

1.     Declutter Space
The first and foremost tip is almost free. A clean and clear space goes a long way in relaxing your mind after a hard day’s work. You sure don’t like stepping into an unorganized home where you cannot walk freely without banging into something or the other. That obviously sounds stressful. Move unwanted and seldom-used things into storage or recycle to create a clutter-free space.

Photo credit: dadka.net

2.     Personalize Your Space
A space to call your own should be surrounded with all the stuff that makes you happy and peps up your spirit. It could be family pictures on the wall or even your handicrafts and DIY projects stacked in your rack. A personalized space creates a relaxing home for sure. Pile up prized possessions and create a relaxing home that is very decorative as well.

Photo credit: homedesign-idea.com

3.     Soothe Your Feet
Relaxation is not just a state of mind; physical comfort goes a long way in soothing your mind. Treat your feet to sheer comfort by adding authentic hand-woven rugs to your floor. With an array of beautiful whole sale rugs available online, you are sure to find amazing online deals on genuine hand-woven rugs; that not only add grandeur to your interiors but can increase the comfort of your home.

Photo credit: docxie.com

4.     Plainspoken Furniture
It is natural for us to get carried away with fast-paced trend and we naturally end up choosing extremely fashionable furniture that is a feast to your eyes alone. Comfortable furniture is very important to create a warm ambience to your interiors; always choose furniture that is carefree and is a go-ahead-and-sit-with-your-feet-up kind of furniture in which you can relax without a worry.

Photo credit: frincor.com

5.     Calming Wall Colours
Light-colored walls are associated with relaxing one’s mind; however colour choices are extremely personal and entirely depends on your colour preference. Choose a wall colour that makes you happy and relaxed. If a bright blue interior puts your mind at ease, don’t worry about the outlook of it as long as you find it relaxing.

Photo credit: hgouqi.com

6.     Billowy Curtains
Whether you live near the beach or not, sheer white curtains are a sure way to bring about a calming effect to your home. The very sight of billowing curtains is a soothing sight to witness; to make the best out of this phenomenon, install sheer curtains to your doors and windows and bestow a carefree look for your home. A sheer drape also lets natural light come flooding into your home.

Photo credit: gordongallery.com

7.     Fresh Breath of Air
Indoor plants are one of cheapest means of adding a soothing effect to your interiors. When placed indoors, plants not only provide fresh air to breathe, they also have a calming effect on your mind. A thick foliage in your home can transform your home into a spa of your choice.

Photo credit: joycespreschool.com

8.     Control Lighting
Bright lights have a revving effect on your mind just like when you are having a stressful time at a well-lit casino. Instead of lighting up the entire space with bright lights, consider lighting your space with soft lights since dim lights have a relaxing effect on your mind. Brightness-control lighting fixtures are a worthy investment for sure.

Photo credit: interiorgallerydesign.com

9.     Soothing Chandelier
Chandeliers placed in certain places can have a very soothing effect on your mind. For example, besides placing real furniture and floor rug in your bathroom, add a meandering chandelier above your bathtub to create a sense of luxury that your mind and body can savor

Photo credit: chicgeekdesigns.com

So I don't know about you guys, but just looking at these pictures makes me feel more relaxed! I cannot wait to incorporate some of these ideas into my own home!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fried Green Beans with Coconut Flour- Low Carb

Ruby Tuesday has an amazing fried green bean appetizer that I love but can't have on a low carb diet. Time to make my own!

Fresh green beans
1 large egg
2 tbsp almond milk
2 tbsp coconut flour
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying

Heat the oil in the skillet on medium heat. In one bowl, combine milk and egg. In a second bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Coat a green bean in the egg/milk, then the seasoned flour, and then the egg/milk again. Fry in hot oil until golden on all sides. 

These made a perfect afternoon snack!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Difference Between Healthy and Skinny

When I first announced that I was going to try a low carb diet, I was met with this line more often than anything else: "But you're ALREADY skinny! Why do you need to be on a diet?"

Here's the thing.

There is a definite difference between being "skinny" and being "healthy."  And really I wasn't either of those two things.

Granted, I wasn't significantly overweight, but I weighed more than I ever had before.  I just knew how to hide it well with a tall frame (I'm 5' 10"), flowy shirts, and cardigans.  But the fact that my stomach was a little... let's say... more jiggly than I'd like, was not my reason for going low carb.

I was always tired.  I felt like I needed a nap after work every day.  That's not a good feeling when you have a super active toddler running around!

I was also sick... a lot! My stomach always seemed to be churning or bloated, and I just felt gross. 

Not only that, but I happen to have a starch allergy. Potatoes, breads, pastas... they make me cough and get really congested.

So there's me: tired and bloated and congested... still think I don't need to change how I eat since I'm "already skinny"?

I promised myself that after New Year's, I was going to make a change.  Now, I don't actually like the term "diet" in that I'm "dieting."  I use the term to describe what I eat.  My diet consists of lots of veggies and protein. No bread. No potatoes. No pasta.

A friend is on a paleo diet, and one thing that diet stresses is "non-scale victories:" what successes have you had since you started eating better that have nothing to do with weight-loss? 

See, dieting just for weight-loss was not my goal.  Yes, I wanted to lose some weight, but more than that, I wanted to be healthy.  Since I've started eating low carb, my energy is up.  I'm not sick or bloated all the time.  I can stay up with my husband and run around after my daughter.  My skin is clearer, and my hair is thicker and more shiny. And, yeah, I've lost some weight and dropped two pants sizes.  I'm back into my pre-pregnancy clothes for the most part, which feels awesome.  But more importantly, I feel awesome! And it has nothing to do with the scale.

"Dieting" would be using artificial sweetener. It would be buying those 100 calorie snack packs of Oreo cookies or whatever. It would be nuking a Lean Cuisine every day for lunch. I'm doing none of those things. Instead, I am eating breakfast. I am sautéing veggies. I'm using honey instead of processed sugars to sweeten foods.  I'm eating the same amounts, just of different and better things. 

So no, I don't need to be on a "diet" in that sense of the word.  But I do need to better myself.  I do need to eat healthy foods.  I do need to be healthy.  And that's far more important than anything the scale can do for me.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Frittata in a Mug

I whipped this up last night to have for lunch at work today. It reheated very well, and would have been even better fresh. 

The options for ingredients for this dish are virtually endless. For mine, I used bacon, cheddar, mushrooms, and green bell peppers. 

I got my oven-safe mug at Publix. I love it because it also came with a lid (not oven-safe) that makes it perfect to carry to work. I greased the mug and scrambled two eggs directly in it. To the eggs, I stirred in my meat,  cheese, and veggies. I used a lot of veggies in this  the egg pretty much acted like a glue to hold them together. 

I baked the mixture at 375 for 25 minutes. It came out fluffy and light. 

To reheat it for lunch today, I put it in the microwave for one minute. It was so easy and fast and the students didn't have to wait on me for my lunch to cook. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Parmesan Steak and Shrimp with Roasted Zucchini

We had our first small group meeting of the new year tonight at church.  It started at 6:30, so at 4:00, I knew I needed to get started on dinner so we could be there on time.  Y'all, this dish was so quick and easy, I could have waited so much longer.  Literally twenty minutes, start to finish.  For steak.  And shrimp.  And it was so good!

4 tbs butter, separated
4 thinly sliced steaks
16-20 small shrimp
1 c almond milk
1/2 c grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

1 whole zucchini, sliced into wedges
olive oil
garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 450. Arrange zucchini on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan and garlic powder.  

In a skillet, heat two tablespoons of butter until bubbling.  Salt and pepper both sides of the steak. Place steak in hot butter.  Cook on one side for 5 minutes.  Flip steak over and cook a couple minutes more. Remove from heat.  

By now, the oven should be heated.  Roast the zucchini for 15 minutes.  

Remove the steak from the skillet.  Add the shrimp and two more tablespoons of butter, salt, and pepper.  Allow the skillet to return to temperature.  Once the butter is sizzling, add almond milk and parmesan. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.  Cook until shrimp is white and opaque.  Remove from heat. Sauce will thicken as it stands.  

Once the zucchini is finished, plate the veggies in a row, place a steak on top, and top that with the shrimp and parmesan sauce.  A restaurant-quality dish in very little time.  Sure beats running out to get fast food!