Carb-free, taste-full.

V is starting to cook a little here and there. And let me tell you, she makes kickass scrambles. Driven by necessity of finding an appetizing and filling carb-free meal to eat when BG is high, she created this beauty. Eggs, cheese, avocado, bell pepper and sprinkles of sriracha. It tastes as good as it looks.

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New Flavors of Arctic Zero

Disclosure: I received free samples for review. All opinions are my own.

I’ve reviewed Arctic Zero frozen treats last year in this post. We like them because they have lots of great-tasting gluten-free flavors and are much lower in carbs than regular ice-cream. In the beginning of this year, the company unveiled new flavors and gave us an opportunity to preview and taste them.

First, I have to give it to Arctic Zero for presentation. It’s so exciting when the box arrives beautifully packaged. IMG_2836

If you don’t live near a store that carries Arctic Zero or does not have flavors you want, you can order online and they will ship it to you, too. Pro tip: don’t touch dry ice. Not even though a bag. Because OMG OUCH!

We sampled the following gluten-free flavors: Cake Batter, Banana Pudding and Poppin’ Pomegranate.

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And we liked them all! As usual, everyone had their favorites. I didn’t think I’d like Cake Batter much but it turned out to be my favorite. V loved Banana Pudding the best. She was reluctant to try Pomegranate but liked it, too! Again, it’s helpful to remember that Arctic Zero treats are not like ice-cream. In their consistency they are more like less sweet sorbet.

Arctic Zero treats taste best when you allow them to warm up and soften for about 15-20 minutes. Also, V made up an easy smoothie/milk shake recipe that works great with either flavor:

Take half a cup of milk, half a cup of Arctic Zero, and half a cup of your fruit of choice, chopped. (We are partial to strawberries in our smoothies.) Blend everythig together in a blender for a couple of minutes and enjoy! You get a glass-full of a treat that is delicious and low in carbs (about 18 g. for the whole thing; compared to over 20 g. of carbs for half a cup of regular ice-cream.)

Cheers!

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Dead to us: burger buns.

Thank you, Celiac! No really, I say this without sarcasm. (Believe it or not, sometimes I am actually capable of saying things without sarcasm.) If it weren’t for V’s Celiac, I don’t know we’d ever try lettuce wraps. I know some people have lettuce wraps to cut down on carbs but we tried them out of necessity, as most burger joints do not have gluten-free buns. It started with a family dinner at In-n-Out, where we tried lettuce-wrapped burgers for the first time out of consideration for V, so that she would not feel bad watching us devour a burger on a bun as she ate hers without a bun. I bit into that lettuce wrap expecting to miss the bread but all of a sudden, BAM! Magic happened. I could taste the meat and the cheese and the sauce and even the fries so much more intensely. It was so, so good, ridiculously good. Drool-worthy good. Finger-licking good. I’d say bolus-worthy good, but in the absence of a bun there was nothing to bolus for! That day my life was changed forever. (OK, I’m using a hyperbole here, but still…) I remember eating a burger with a GF bun at a later time at it just did not taste the same. The bread was too dense, and it was all too much, and got in the way of taste. That was the last time I had burger on a bun and I never looked back. Nowadays, I always choose to get a lettuce wrapped burger, even if V is not around. Interestingly, the entire family came to embrace lettuce wraps for the sake of taste. Yes, even my 7 year old prefers lettuce wraps now. Who knew?

Behold our Memorial Day dinner. Jealous? You should be. You are looking at a lettuce-wrapped grilled cheeseburger, made from scratch and with love by hubs, using hand-massaged ground beef. To satisfy the potato fix, next to the burger is a mix of home-baked sweet potato and regular fries, acquired frozen at Costco and Trader Joe’s, respectively. Peaking from behind the fries are roasted Brussel sprouts, cooked in a sauce of olive oil, salt, Sriracha and a touch of honey. (Note to self: next time add more Sriracha for the optimal burn.) A couple of little pickles on the side tie the whole meal together. Total carb count depends on the amount of fries, with 3 oz  = 22 g. Everything else is zero carbs. Wine is of course for grown-ups only, so we are not counting the carbs for it, thankyouverymuch 🙂 This is our T1D and gluten-free life. Not bad, not bad at all…

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Diabetes Blog Week Friday: Foods

Write a post documenting what you eat in a day!  Feel free to add links to recommended recipes/shops/whatever.  Make it an ideal day or a come-as-you-are day – no judgments either way. 

The last few posts were heavy on deep thoughts. Screw that. Let’s eat!

I took notes and pictures all day Tuesday to document one of our typical days. Without further ado, here is a glimpse into our everyday T1D and gluten-free eating.

On Tuesday V asked for cereal for breakfast. Panda Puffs is currently her favorite, and it’s not too terribly sugary as far as cereals go. She got two servings (1.5 cups total) for 46 g. plus one cup of milk for 11 g., for the total carb count of 57 g.

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By the way, weighing cereal is definitely the way to go. Much easier and more accurate than measuring it.

Her school lunch box is next. It’s often a sandwich with a few different sides/snacks, always including a couple of carb-free options. Here we have a turkey and cheese sandwich with The Essential Baking Company GF bread for 20 g., yogurt for 20 g., and 1/2 cup of strawberries for 5 g. Sting cheese and a handful of almonds are “free”. We always itemize V’s lunch so that she can pick and choose what to eat when.

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Our family meals are always gluten-free. Since both my husband and I work outside of home and kids have a bunch of after-school activities, we rarely have the luxury of having much time to prepare a meal after work. However, eating gluten-free means that we have to cook more and rely less on prepared or processed foods. That’s great for our health but can be stressful and challenging. We have to find recipes that allow us to make quick meals from scratch or from semi-prepared foods. It also really got me into crockpot cooking, because there is nothing better than food cooking itself and a hot meal waiting for you when you get home. That night, we had Sloppy Joe’s on the menu. (Another thing that makes our lives easier is making a menu for lunches and dinners every week, so we shop and prepare ahead.) I used this recipe from Udi’s with a couple of minor modifications. I used ground beef only because that’s what we had, although last time I used a combo of ground beef and pork sausage and it was really good. We do not like the taste of food that’s cooked with fresh onions in the crockpot, so I only used onion powder. I also ran out of chili powder so I used some cajun seasoning instead. And I added a bit of chili sauce for good measure. It turned out finger-licking good!

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Between brown sugar, tomato paste and tomato sauce, the total carb count for the entire crockpot of Sloppy Joe’s was 109 g. Since I used 4 lbs of meat and made a LOT of servings (hurray for leftovers!),  we SWAGed each generous serving at  about 10 g.  Udi’s gluten-free burger bun is 32 g. Not too shabby for a really filling meal! Ideally I try to have a veggie side or a salad, but that particular day we were in a rush to get to BMX racing, so our dinner was exactly as pictured. For the record, no one complained 😉

Last but not least, here are the snacks that I took for V to BMX: Gatorade to keep the lows at bay, Peanut Butter perfect bar for a hearty snack (way easier than making a PB&J sandwich), string cheese for a carb free snack, and Gratify gluten-free pretzels. One neat thing about these pretzels, besides the fact that they taste great, is that a serving size of 23 pretzels is 22 g. of carbs. Quick and easy math tells us that it’s about 1 g. carbs per pretzel.  It makes it so easy to bolus for them – no need to weigh or measure, just count how many you want to eat and bolus.

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In case you are wondering, aside from pretzels that we buy on Amazon, everything else came from either Costco or Trader Joe’s.

Recipe: Gluten-free meatballs

Before V’s Celiac diagnosis, I would occasionally make meatballs, but more often than not we’d reach for pre-made frozen meatballs from Trader Joe’s because of convenience. Now that we have to stick to a gluten-free diet, we can no longer rely on frozen meatballs. Virtually all of them contain bread crumbs or other gluten products. I did find frozen GF meatballs in one store but the price was astronomical.

I just happened to have some time this afternoon to assemble a big batch of gluten-free meaty beauties. I really should make them more often because it was easy and quick. And trust me, when I say something is easy to make, it is easy to make.

Meatballs Ingredients:

  • 2-3 lbs ground beef or turkey (carb-free)
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs ( carbs vary by brand, one I used was 21g.)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (vary by brand, one I used was 12g.)
  • 1/4 cup mayo (carb-free)
  • 1 egg (carb-free)
  • Salt and seasoning to taste (I prefer Italian Seasoning)
  • 1/2 cup water

Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl. I prefer to roll up my sleeves, get my hands dirty and give my ground meat a thorough massage. Happy meat = happy meatballs. Roll meat into meatballs. Choose your size! Make a bunch of little ones, a fair amount of medium ones, or a few giant ones. They will taste the same.

Prepare easy and quick tomato sauce. Pour two cans of 15 oz. tomato sauce and some water (I usually use about 1.5 cans worth of water) into a large stock pot. Add diced carrots, salt and seasoning to taste. Squirt a bit of ketchup if you’d like. Stir everything well. Add meatballs to the sauce. I add them carefully one by one. It’s OK if some of them end up on top of one another. You can spoon some sauce over those top-deckers before you turn on the stove. After the sauce comes to a gentle boil, close the lid, reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour.

Your carb count will vary depending on the amount of meat you use and number of meatballs. Today I used 2.7 lbs of ground beef and made 27 meatballs, so each meatball was less than 2g! Each can of tomato sauce I used was 35g of carbs, so all of the sauce was 70g. Since we won’t eat most of the sauce, I just tack on a few grams of carbs to the total carb count.

Serve with a side dish of your choice and enjoy!

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Recipe review: Gluten Free Meatloaf

I am always on a look out for good and easy crockpot recipes. For me, there is no point in cooking something in the crockpot if I have to brown it, or fuss around it, or add something in the last hour or half-way through. I want to throw things in, turn the crockpot on and be done. I also look for recipes that use real food. No cream of chicken soup please, or any other processed stuff. Lastly, a meal has to be reasonable in carbs.

This recipe for GF meatloaf met all of the criteria and I was eager to give it a try. I was intrigued that the recipe suggested using instant potato flakes instead of bread crumbs. However, since I had neither instant potatoes nor GF bread crumbs, I opted to buy bread crumbs so that I could have them in the pantry. I nearly doubled the amount of ground beef but did not need to increase the amount of any other ingredients. I added a little bit of ketchup to the meatloaf, but next time I will skip the milk and just use more ketchup. I like to have my meatloaf a little sweeter inside. Instead of separate spices I grabbed my trusty Italian Seasoning mix, which has all of the spices listed plus some more, and I used a generous amount without measuring it. Lastly, I generously sprinkled potatoes with salt. I learned the hard way how much potatoes absorb salt and flavor and did not want to have a bland meal.

It took me more than 15 minutes to prep everything, but no more than 30 minutes. It was easily. I had been a little concerned about over-cooking the meatloaf, as I’ve had several experiences of following recommended cooking times and then realizing I should have done one or two hours less. So I cooked  this meatloaf on low for 6 hours. I happened to be at home when it was done and tasted it right away. It was fully cooked but I thought it would be better a little softer, so I added another 30 minutes, after which it sat in the crockpot for about two more hours before we ate it. It was delicious and everyone in the family loved it. Next time I make it, I will cook it for full 7 hours to make it just a touch softer.

Figuring carbohydrates involved a little bit of estimating because it is difficult to cut up the meatloaf into equal servings and I did not measure all of the ketchup I put in. Between sugar, ketchup and bread crumbs, I figured that carbs added up to about 100g. for the entire meatloaf. I cut up the meatloaf into 8 generous servings, so we went with the 12 g. estimate per serving. Since V’s BG reacted normally, it proved to be a fairly accurate estimate. We measured out potatoes separately and, by the way, they tasted really good too. Adding salt to them made a big difference.

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The final product! It’s shaped a little bit like a brain. Perhaps next time I should shape it like a pancreas?