26: The Low-Carb Meatup, Zucchini Overload and More!

Hey gang! Welcome to episode 26 of Dana’s Low-Carb For Life! Today we have feedback from the Low-Carb Meat and Greet on several new varieties of low-carb sodas, some great recipes and tons more great stuff. Thanks for listening!

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The Official Low-Carb Cruise 2012: www.lowcarbcruiseinfo.com
Special thanks, as always, to CarbSmart!

Transcript follows:

Today on Dana’s Low Carb For Life, I fill you in on the low carb meet and greet, tell you what to do with all those darned zucchinis, and more. So stick around!

Hey, gang! Welcome to episode 26 of Dana’s Low Carb For Life, brought to you by CarbSmart.com, your smart choice for a low carb lifestyle. On today’s episode, I’ll fill you in on the Low Carb Meet & Greet that happened in my back yard last weekend. I’ll give you some ideas what to do with all the zucchini that’s flooding the farmer’s markets right now. And we’ll have a mixed bag on Low Carb Voices – a couple of lunch box ideas, a question about how to increase fat in a low carb diet, and a recipe for cold cucumber soup! You’ll want to hear that.

But first, let’s talk about the Meet & Greet.

What did you do last weekend? I had several dozen low carbers in my backyard! The Second Annual Low Carb Meet & Greet was a smashing success, or at least I thought it was. (If you were there and you hated it, please let me know what didn’t work for you, but be kind.)

The genesis of this event is the simple fact that Jimmy Moore’s wife Christine has family in Bedford, Indiana, just a half-hour south of where I live in Bloomington. Jimmy and Christine come to Indiana every summer for a family reunion. When I learned this two years ago, I asked Jimmy and Christine up for lunch, and we had a very nice time. But last year, when I knew they were coming, it occurred to me – why not open the event up to low carbers in the general area? (Letting them decide what constituted the “general area,” with an eye to their own willingness to travel and their gas budget.) So we did, along with fellow low carb blogger Amy Dungan, and got about twenty people. CarbSmart sent food, including RW Garcia tortilla chips and Wingtime Wing Sauce. I bought a bunch of wings, and some other food, I forget what all else, and we had a nice get-together.

I also made use of last year’s Meet & Greet to take advantage of my guests by getting them to write down their impressions of Zevia and Blue Sky Free sodas. This was of great help to me, since I don’t like soda of any kind, and was therefore unsuited to write reviews myself.

This year, with the popularity of low carb once again growing like crazy, and all three of us, me, Jimmy, and Amy, having growing audiences, we were pretty sure we’d get more people, so we had to limit the group to 50 – and that’s about how many folks signed up. I didn’t count people as they arrived, no signing people in or anything – I was too busy running around getting food out and cooking and stuff! But I sure had a backyard full. We also asked a donation of $5 a head this year, to help defray the cost of food, and to help rent a canopy, since there were threats of rain.

We did not get rain! We got lovely, mostly sunny weather in the low 80s all day long; couldn’t have been better if we’d ordered it special for the occasion. And with the $5 per head donation, we were able to serve up some serious food! Let me see if I can remember it all:

* Ribs! I got up early on Saturday, and had spareribs smoking on the propane grill by 8 am. I coated them with the Amazing Rub from my barbecue book, and also used the rub to make a mopping sauce. (A few tablespoons of rub with about a cup of water or broth and a good 1/4 – ½ cup oil make a great mop.) These smoked at 225-250 degrees till about 1 pm, when they were utterly succulent and juicy, if I do say so myself. I’d had the butcher slice each slab lengthwise, so the individual rib bits would be easier to pick up and handle. This turned out to be a good idea; I’d do it again. CarbSmart sent along Nature’s Hollow sugar free barbecue sauce in Hickory Maple and Honey Mustard – the ribs were great as-is, but those who added sauce praised it. The ribs disappeared like ice on an August sidewalk.

* Chicken – Legs and thighs, ‘cause they grill well. I marinated ten pounds of ‘em in Greek Chicken marinade (olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper) and ten pounds in the Korean Grilled Chicken marinade from my barbecue book. We had chicken leftover – not, I think, because people didn’t like it, but because the ribs were ready first, and people had already stuffed themselves.

* Coleslaw – traditional creamy coleslaw, with a mayonnaise-and-sour cream-based dressing, recipe in 500 Low-Carb Recipes.

* Cauliflower, Bacon and Tomato Salad – this drew raves; also from 500 Low-Carb Recipes

* Homemade low carb crackers – Sunflower Cheddar, and Sunflower Parmesan, again from 500 Low-Carb Recipes. (You do have this book, don’t you?) Also Grace Island Cheese Crisps, sent by CarbSmart, the super-yummiest crunchy cheese treats you will ever find, in all the flavors. If you haven’t tried these, you simply must.

* Herbert D. Focken’s Sweetened Jalapeno Bites, from 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, served with pork rinds and whipped cream cheese. If you like hot stuff, you have to try these. Just dump the contents of a 15 or so ounce jar of sliced jalapenos into a mixing bowl, add 2/3 cup Splenda or its equivalent in the sweetener of your choice, stir, and pack back into the jar. Stick ‘em in the fridge for a few days. Then spread whipped cream cheese on a pork rind, top with a couple of jalapeno slices, and stuff in your face. Fabulous!

* Crudites with crab dip

* Mixed imported olives from my favorite gourmet international grocery, Bloomington’s own Sahara Mart.

* Little dill pickles, just ‘cause I like ‘em.

* RW Garcia’s Flax Tortilla Chips, with salsa, again, courtesy of CarbSmart. They really do taste like tortilla chips, folks! They’re high enough in carbs that they’re a splurge for me, but they will absolutely satisfy a tortilla chip jones.

* Sweet-and-Salty Peanuts, from the soon-to-be-released expanded version of my slow cooker book.

* AriZona beverages in Pomegranate Green Tea, Peach Iced Tea, Iced Tea, and Lemonade, thanks to CarbSmart, plus plenty of bottled water to pour the little “stix” into. These are a very convenient form to carry in your purse or pocket.

* Zevia natural sugar-free soda in every possible flavor; this was HUGELY popular. There are a bunch of new flavors, including Grapefruit Citrus – similar to Fresca – Black Cherry, “Mountain Zevia” – like Mountain Dew – and Grape. Also the original flavors – Cola, Ginger Root Beer, Lemon Lime Twist, Orange, Dr. Zevia, Gingerale, and Cream Soda. There was a consensus that Zevia has improved the formula, the flavors are more intense; the soda-lovers were full of praise. Zevia was a sponsor of the event along with CarbSmart, and sent the soda gratis; they have the thanks of many thirsty low carbers! (And, I suspect, their future patronage.)

* La Croix sparkling water in various flavors.

* Plain sun tea, ‘cause I like it.

* Homemade sugar-free, flourless chocolate chip cookies. Good, but not as good as the recipe at CarbSmart – my “almond meal” turned out to be mislabeled pecan meal, and the texture wasn’t as good as the almond meal version. Still didn’t hear any complaints! Made with Nevada Manna chocolate chips, of course!!

* CarbSmart sent Fla-Vor-Ice Light ice pops, too, but in the rush I totally forgot they were in the freezer! My apologies to all. Perhaps I could have some friends over for Labor Day weekend, and we could review the ice pops?

* Attendees brought stuff, too! Lots of fresh, ripe tomatoes, both cherry tomatoes and sliced, were popular. We also had macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, and pistachios. Who could ask for more?

I’d fill you in on activities, but really, we ate and we chatted, you know? Well, and I ran back and forth a lot, you know how it goes. A walk in my woods for those who wanted. Some admiration of our chickens, and much petting of Dexter, the World’s Cutest Pug, who was having a high old time. (Jed the Hero Dog got petting, too, but he’s not the attention hound that Dexter is.) Really, what more do you need? Good food, good company, lots of people who share your passion, and nobody to tell you you’re killing yourself with that crazy diet! I think it’s just great for the community to create friendships, cement ties, and to see that those of us who have made our passion for low carb nutrition our livelihood (or part of it) are just folks like them.

Jimmy and Christine stopped Thursday; Christine had missed the Meet & Greet due to a nasty cold, and wanted to see me before they left town. We agreed that this is now officially a tradition, so expect Low Carb Meet & Greet: The Feast In Dana’s Backyard the 2012 Edition! It’ll be next August; I’ll announce the date when I know. Be there or be square!

In just a few minutes we’ll have another episode of Low Carb Voices, with a couple of lunch box suggestions, a recipe for cucumber soup, and a question about adding fat to a low carb diet. But first, let’s talk about zucchini.

As I record this, it’s the third week in August, and I have realized that in my focus on the Low Carb Meet & Greet, I missed one of the minor holidays: August 8th was Sneak a Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Front Porch Day. The gardeners among you understand and are snickering and nodding now, but those who do not garden may be a tad confused. Let me explain. This time of year people who planted zucchini in the spring are frantically searching for ways to use it up, and those who were so rash as to plant two zucchini seeds are buried! Few things offer such a dramatic return on investment as a single zucchini seed.

If you have a flood of zucchini, and not enough friends to give them to, or if you’re enticed by the shiny green beauties available at every farm stand and grocery store this time of year, I’m happy to tell you that zucchini is an astonishingly low carb vegetable. Indeed, if you’re clever, and go to the local farmer’s market just before closing time, you may well be able to get a real deal, since those zukes aren’t going to keep till next week’s market.

One large zucchini has about 7 grams of usable carb, and just 52 calories! The cute little ones are about 3 grams of usable carb apiece, and 19 calories. So go ahead and eat some zucchini!

* Cut zucchini into chunks, along with an equal quantity of mushrooms and a little onion. Saute in olive oil, with a clove of garlic and a pinch of oregano, for a quick and easy side dish. 1 cup zucchini plus 1 cup mushrooms will “cost” you only 6 grams of usable carbs –– and that’s a big pile of food!

* Need something easy and low carb to put beside a simple grilled steak? Split small zucchinis lengthwise, put them in a zipper-lock bag, and pour your favorite Italian dressing over them –– a half a cup for 6 zucchinis is about right. Seal the bag, pressing out the air as you go, and stash in the fridge for several hours. Then grill over a medium-low fire until softened but not mushy, brushing occasionally with the dressing you marinated them in. Assuming 2 zucchini halves per serving, this will have no more than 5 grams of usable carb per serving.

* If you have some zukes that have grown to unwieldy proportions, they’re perfect for Grilled Zucchini Pizza. Slice them about 1/2″ thick, baste with garlic and olive oil, and grill 3 minutes per side. Now spread a tablespoon of no-sugar-added pizza sauce (Ragu makes a good one) on each one, and top with a tablespoon of shredded mozzarella. Let cook until the sauce is heated and the cheese melted, then serve. Figure these for 1-2 grams of usable carb per slice, with 2 grams of protein and just 40 calories.

* Many soups have rice or pasta in them, and it’s hard to think what to put in them instead. Sliced zucchini is a great addition to any beef or chicken vegetable soup.

* Warning: You may find canned zucchini in your grocery store. This seems convenient for soups, but I’d steer clear. I foolishly bought this without reading the label, only to discover it had enough added sugar to give that low carb zucchini 6 grams of usable carb in just a half-cup!

* Sticks of raw zucchini make a fine addition to a relish tray.

* Shredded zucchini and grated parmesan, plus oregano and garlic, add wonderful flavor and to meat loaf, and keep it wonderfully moist, as well.

* Low carb baked goods can be dry, especially if they’re sweetened only with Splenda. Adding a little shredded zucchini can add moistness without many carbs, and if you keep the quantity modest, without changing the flavor. For instance, in my soon-to-be-released expanded slow cooker book, I have a recipe for a cinnamon chocolate chip cake that didn’t really work out at first – it was too dry. I added a little shredded zucchini, and presto! Moist and yummy. You can also, of course, make low carb zucchini bread, which is a nice change for breakfast.

* If your garden is overrun with zucchini quickly reaching baseball bat proportions, you can run ‘em through the shredding blade of your food processor, put the shreds in zipper-lock bags, and freeze ‘em. They’ll be watery when they thaw, but will still work in baking and meat loaf and such.

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Zucchini Snack Cake

This is not super-low carb, certainly not induction food. On the other hand, each slice has as much protein as 4 eggs, and should keep you full for quite a while. And those 16th of a cake servings are pretty big; you could eat a smaller piece, you know.

It is sad but true that this recipe will only work if you have a slow cooker that will fit a standard-sized Bundt pan. This is just one of the reasons why you should only buy round slow cookers, especially the big ones. I don’t know why they bother to make the oval ones.

2 cups almond meal
½ cup dried egg white powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons guar or xanthan
1 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup erythritol or xylitol
½ cup Splenda (or sweetener of your choice in equivalent quantity; I used Splenda and it was great.)
3 eggs
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini — about 1 small zucchini
1 cup Nevada Manna sugar free chocolate chips, or other sugar-free semi-sweet chocolate chips, or chopped up sugar-free semi-sweet chocolate bars
1/4 cup almond meal

Heavily grease a Bundt pan, and use 1/4 cup of the almond meal to “flour” it.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the other dry ingredients, and stir till they’re evenly distributed.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, melted coconut oil, and yogurt. If you haven’t shredded your zucchini, take care of that little matter now, before you combine the wet ingredients with the dry ones.

Okay, dump the egg/oil/yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients, and whisk them together, making sure you leave no pockets of dry stuff at the bottom. Now whisk in the zucchini, and finally the chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the prepared bundt pan, and place the pan in your slow cooker. Set it for high, and let it cook for 3 hours, or until it’s pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a wooden skewer inserted halfway between the walls of the pan comes out clean. Turn off the slow cooker and leave it uncovered until the pan cools enough for you to handle it. Then turn out on a wire rack to finish cooling.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

16 servings, each with: 328 Calories; 20g Fat; 24g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 9 grams usable carb

Okay, it’s time for Low Carb Voices! Once again, folks have been writing rather than phoning, so I’ll read you their comments. First of all, the nice lady who sent in the recipe for the peanut butter muffin has sent her name: Katie (from CA) So thanks, Katie!

Next we hear from Susan Winkler, who has answered my request for lunch box ideas. Susan writes:

After hearing about the Greek yogurt, it made me think about adding some Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds to it or to vanilla low carb yogurt. Also, I enjoy rolling up thin sliced turkey pastrami with Swiss or pepper jack cheese and a pickle, then have mustard for a dip.

I am sure the meet and greet was a fun time for all. I look forward to making new low carb friends on next years cruise!

Thanks, Susan, for the ideas, and for reminding me to remind all of you to sign up for the Low Carb Cruise! I don’t get kick backs, folks; I won’t make a penny from your signing up, I just love meeting everyone. I promise you, it is the most fun and the most inspiration you will ever get in a single week’s time. We’ll throw the low carb cruise link up on the show page, at Dana’s Low Carb For Life.com. Sign up!

Lisa Jennings writes, re episode 25:

Excellent episode, Dana. I’d like to hear you talk more about this issue of getting enough fat. I have heard that it’s important to limit consumption of both cheeses and nuts from day to day…which is unfortunate, because I find both cheese and natural peanut butter really easy options. So, lest I be forced to sit and drink down straight coconut oil… what are some easy ways to get enough? Not being a cook, I’m looking for simple and quick.

Lisa, the big thing is to choose protein sources that contain plenty of fat. Choose the rib eye steak over the flank, the pork shoulder over the pork loin, the ground chuck over the ground round. Skip the grocery store that trims all of the steaks to within 1/4″, and shop at the store that leaves a decent rim of fat. Buy and cook your chicken with the skin on, and when you’re making a dish that calls for skinless chicken – chicken piccata, perhaps, or a stir fry – save the skin for chicken chips. (How do you make chicken chips, I hear you cry. Simply spread chicken skin and any chunks of fat on your broiler rack, and bake at 350 until they’re golden and crispy. Salt and eat like chips. Fabulous!)

Use butter on your vegetables, or saute or roast them with oil. You will absorb far more antioxidants from vegetables eaten with fat. And don’t forget avocados! Put them in omelets, diced them for salads, or just serve sliced avocados with a squeeze of lime juice as a salad themselves. Guacamole is wonderful, too – you said you don’t cook, so see if you can get fresh guacamole without any noxious additives at a local grocery store. Spread it on a steak, or stuff it into tomatoes.

You’ll fry or scramble your eggs with butter, bacon grease or coconut oil, I hope, but feel free to melt a little more butter over them. You can melt butter on a steak, too. Butter blended with blue cheese and a little garlic is incredible on a steak! So is butter blended with some Dijon or spicy brown mustard and crumbled bacon.

And listener Lisa Jennings writes:

I would like to give a recipe for Cucumber soup to serve chilled ice cold or hot.
Peel and roughly chop some cucumbers.
Soften some white onion or shallots in butter.
add the cucumbers and just cover with water , chicken stock or marigold veg stock not too strong.

Cook about 15 minutes until the cucumbers are completely soft.
Blend till smooth.
You can either freeze it at this stage for later use when you will dilute it, or if you want to serve it now you can add water to the consistency that you like and season with salt and pepper after tasting.

Chill in the fridge until very cold, add a few tablespoons of cream stirred in and a blob in the middle with a sprig of fresh mint for garnish.

This is a delightful first course on a hot night or a lovely lunch when you need to cool down. My guests all love it and it is made in advance so very easy.
It is equally delicious hot .

Uses up that glut of delicious cucumbers and you have some on hand for when the summer is over.

I freeze all my soups while they are too thick to eat. It saves freezer space and gives me more choices later.

Lisa, this sounds phenomenal, thank you! Folks, this recipe is at the show page, so don’t feel like you have to back this up and listen again to write it down. Just go to Dana’s Low Carb For Life.com.

And Lisa, this idea of freezing soups in a concentrated form makes all kinds of sense. I mean, there’s a reason Campbell’s condenses their soups, right? Thanks for the tip.

Once again, our question for Low Carb Voices this week is “What are your best low carb lunch box ideas? “ We’d especially like to know if you have great ideas for healthy low carb lunches to send to school with the kids – stuff that they won’t trade away for Twinkies! Those cocoa roast almonds would be a great choice, by the way. If you’ve got an idea to share, or a question, a recipe, an idea for a low carb treat – really, anything to share with the low carb community, call (412) 385-DANA, that’s (412) 385-3262, and let us know!

If you have any friends you think might like the show, please steer ‘em to the show page at Dana’s Low Carb For Life, and if you like it, how about leaving a review at Itunes? We’d love it.

Don’t forget to check out the blog at Hold the toast.com, and join my facebook fan page at Dana Carpender’s Hold the Toast Press – lots of great folks there; it’s a fun ongoing conversation.

And of course, 300 15 Minute Low Carb Recipes is now available at Amazon.com, or order through CarbSmart.com along with your other stuff. If you’ve already got it and you like it, go review it!

That’s it! Remember, till next week, stay low carb for life!

2 Replies to “26: The Low-Carb Meatup, Zucchini Overload and More!”

  1. Thank you for the zucchini ideas! Our plants are producing so well this year that we’re starting to foist off zukes onto unsuspecting strangers that come to our customer service counters at work (both hubby and I work in civil service)! Our co-workers get nervous when they see us coming with suspicious bags of produce… you get the drift. I hadn’t thought of the zucchini pizza idea – sounds like a winner! Thanks again!

  2. Hmmm… “zukes”… When you mentioned the existence of canned zucchini (of which I was previously unaware), it made me wonder what pickled zukes might be like. Especially since they are about the same low-level of carb as “cukes”.

    …just a thought.

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