Sunday, October 4, 2009

Erythritol


Erythritol is a wonderful sweetener for diabetics and others who follow a low carb lifestyle.  It can be used in many recipes from drinks to desserts like puddings, candies, cakes, crunches, and cookies. 

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, but it has different characteristics than most sugar alcohols.  It doesn't have nasty side effects (like "gastric upset") and has very little, if any, effect on BGLs (Blood Glucose Levels).  I count it as 0 net carbs in my recipes and my glucose meter agrees.   

Unlike man-made sweeteners, erythritol is natural.  It is made by fermenting foods which contain natural sugars.  It only has 0.2 calories per gram, so it adds almost 0 calories as well as net carbs.  It also has an FDA-approved "does not promote tooth decay" health claim.

There are different forms of erythritol.  I use both granulated and powdered in my recipes.  The granulated form helps to keep things crunchy, like the Cinnamunch Pizzelle pictured above and my various crunches.  You can find many of my desserts using erythritol in the Coconut Flour Recipes category at DARdreams.

Powdered erythritol works great in chocolates.  You can find my chocolates recipes in the Cookie and Candy Recipes category at DARdreams along with other recipes using erythritol. 

I like to combine erythritol with a little Fiberfit (liquid sucralose) to counteract its slightly "cool" taste.  But I also use it straight like for the powdered sugar-like coating of my Low Carb Russian Teacakes.

You can find a list of all my recipes and articles using erythritol at Living Low Carb with Erythritol.


Amazon also carries several brands of granular erythritol: 




Amazon also carries erythritol in handy portable packets:


As always, check around for the best prices, including shipping.  You can run granular erythritol through a blender yourself to make it finer, but I prefer ordering it already powdered as well as granular.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Almond Meal


Almond meal or flour is a delicious addition to a low carb menu.  It has fiber and nutrients, but very few carbs.  The carb count varies depending on your source, but I have seen it range between 1 and 3 net carbs per 1/4 cup.  It doesn't contain gluten, so it is great for those who are gluten intolerant.

There may be a slight difference between almond meal and almond flour according to some sources (with the flour more finely ground), but the terms are commonly used interchangeably.  Either one works great in my recipes, including the LC Garlic Herb Crackers pictured above.  I also use it for breading, cookies, and mini cakes.

You can find my recipe for the LC Garlic Herb Crackers and other low carb recipes containing almond meal at my DARdreams website. 

My Living Low Carb with Almond Meal lists all my recipes using almond meal.


Amazon sells a variety of almond meals/flours:






Amazon also sells almond meal/flour in larger amounts:





You can also use hazelnut meal/flour for a slightly different flavor.

Netrition sells Bob's Red Mill Hazelnut Meal/Flour.

Amazon also sells hazelnut meals/flours:




As usual, check around for the best prices, including shipping costs. Then roll up your sleeves and play!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

DARdreams Designs

I love dreaming up new recipes, but they aren't the only things I dream up.  I have been creating in many different ways since I was a child.  Knitting, crocheting, embroidery, painting, woodwork, photography, sewing, etc, etc...

I recently started a Zazzle store to sell some of my creations called DARdreams Designs.  This will be another ongoing work in progress, so I hope you will keep checking back to see what else I'm dreaming up.

I started with a wonderful photo my husband took of two sea lions swimming blissfully together and created a line of wedding items with it.  Then I expanded the line to include non-wedding items.  These include shirts, hats, cards, stickers, mugs, aprons, mouse pads, etc.  The variety is nearly endless!  Here are some examples:



At the bottom of the page here on DARdreams2, you'll find a display with some of my recent creations.  If you have an idea or request for more creations, please send me a message.  Thanks for checking it out!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Flaxmeal

Flaxmeal can be a welcome addition to your low carb lifestyle. It has an almost nutty taste and is reminiscent of whole grain flour without the gluten and carbs. It can be used as a flour sub in recipes like these Orange Spice Flax Cookies.

For step-by-step directions, see How to Make Low Carb Orange Spice Flax Cookies. You can also find more of my cookies and other recipes at DARdreams.

Flaxmeal is very sensitive, so care has to be taken with it. It can go rancid in as little as a week at room temp, so it is wise to store it in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to use it.

Whole flax seeds are pretty stable, but their valuable nutrition isn't available until they are ground, so it is a good idea to grind your own flaxmeal. It's easy to grind your own flax seeds with a coffee grinder, blender, or food processor.

You can find more info at Living Low Carb with Flaxmeal and Laura Dolson has an excellent article about Flax Seed Health Benefits and Safety Issues.

Flax seeds and flaxmeal are pretty easy to find in stores, especially those with a health food section. You can also order them online.

Netrition carries both flax seeds and flaxmeal.

Amazon also carries a variety of flax seeds and flaxmeal, including in large amounts.








Remember to check prices, including package sizes and shipping charges (if any). If you find your flaxmeal to be bitter, it has gone rancid and should be thrown out. When fresh, it should have a pleasant taste and smell.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour isn't just ground up unsweetened coconut; it is dried and defatted before grinding. (Though some people have tried grinding their own and have said it works okay.) It is high in fiber and protein, yet low in carbs. It doesn't contain gluten, so it is great for those who are gluten intolerant or need/want to avoid grains for other reasons.

I like to use coconut flour in my low carb recipes. Because it doesn't contain gluten, it behaves differently than flours made from grains. Some coconut flour recipes contain a lot of eggs for leavening, but I also use it without eggs successfully. It is very versatile.

I have found some coconut flour recipes online, but most of them have too many carbs for me, so I dream up my own. You can find my very low carb coconut flour recipes at my DARdreams website. I have recipes there for coconut flour waffles, crunches, cakes, pies, pizza crusts, etc, including the Rich Waffle pictured above.

You can also find my step-by-step directions and pictures for making the Low Carb Rich Waffle with Coconut Flour and my webpage focusing on coconut flour at Living Low Carb with Coconut flour.

Netrition carries Bob's Red Mill Coconut Flour.

Amazon also sells a variety of coconut flours:




Amazon also sells "Cooking With Coconut Flour:"

Most of the recipes in this book contain too many carbs for me, but with substitutions, some of them can be decarbed effectively. Even without using the recipes, it's worth buying the book for the info it contains about coconut flour and its benefits.

As usual, you should check around for the best prices. I usually get my coconut flour from Netrition, but there are some larger packages available at Amazon that might be a better deal:




Coconut flour is a wonderful addition to your low carb lifestyle. Try it! 8+)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Glucomannan Powder

This Super Simple Milk Chocolate Mousse is thickened with glucomannan powder.

Glucommanan powder is made by grinding konjac root. It is a soluble fiber and has no calories, carbs, or taste. It is also gluten-free. Shirataki noodles are made from glucomannan powder.

Glucomannan powder can be taken as a fiber supplement, but I would caution against taking it in pill form. Since it swells when mixed with fluids, you don't want that happening in your throat; it would be a choking hazard. You can, however, mix it in water or another fluid and drink it.

I use glucomannan powder as a thickener in my recipes. Unlike cornstarch, it thickens even without heating. It has about 10x the thickening power of cornstarch. All you have to do is add it to liquids very gradually and whisk briskly to avoid lumps. 1 teaspoon of powder will turn a cup of thin liquid, like water, to a gel. I find it takes about 2 teaspoons of powder to set up a cup of thick liquid, like a pudding.

You can find my pudding recipes, many of which use glucomannan powder, in the Pudding Recipes category at DARdreams. It is also used in Pie and Cake Recipes as well as Coconut Flour Recipes and recipes in other categories which use it at DARdreams.

You can find step-by-step directions with pictures for How to Make a Super Simple Low Carb Milk Chocolate Mousse.  My webpage focusing on glucomannan powder is Living Low Carb with Glucomannan Powder.

Glucomannan powder may seem expensive at first, but there are 100 (1 teaspoon) servings in one 500g bag of glucomannan powder. That goes a long way! And it lasts for months stored at room temp.

Amazon sells glucomannan powder:


You can also buy glucomannan powder from Konjac Foods. (Tip: They will ship 2 bags of powder in 1 shipping envelope, so you only pay 1 shipping charge for both bags.)

Miracle Noodle also sells glucomannan powder. They call it "Konjac Flour."

As with other items, check for the best prices and availability. Sometimes glucomannan powder isn't available from a specific source for awhile, but it eventually becomes available again. When it does, I usually buy 2 packages at once to make sure I don't run out.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shirataki Noodles

I have found shirataki noodles in some local stores, but the only ones I've found there contain tofu. Since I can't eat soy, I can't eat them.

If you have an Asian store near you, you may be able to find tofu-free noodles in person. I haven't found such a store near me.

I order my shirataki noodles from:

Konjac Foods

My favorite shape is Orzo. It's like long grain rice and blends well into casseroles and crockpot meals as well as stir-fries.

I also like Angel Hair. (Konjac Foods used to carry a short angel hair; it may be what they now call Tiny Pasta.) I snip the angel hair with scissors to make the strands shorter and more manageable.

If you haven't tried shirataki noodles before, it is usually best to start out with smaller shapes to get used to the somewhat rubbery texture. You can also order the original variety pack or new shapes variety pack to try many different shapes to see what you like. (If you don't like a particular shape, run it through your blender or food processor to pulverize it and use it like the orzo shape.)

The noodles come packed in water, so you need to rinse them in a wire colander under running water to remove the packing liquid. They have what some call a "fishy" smell, but it rinses away.

You do not need to cook the noodles; just add them to your recipe. They have no flavor of their own; they pick up the flavors of the other foods in the recipe.

Shirataki noodles have no carbs or calories and are very filling. They are a wonderful addition to a low carb lifestyle. My BGL and weight both do well with them.

You can find my shirataki noodle recipes at DARdreams. You can use them like regular pasta by topping them with a sauce, but I prefer mixing them into a recipe. Check out my step-by-step directions and pictures for How to Make a Low Carb Beefy Noodle Bake with Shirataki Noodles, which is pictured above, to see how easy it is.

You can also find my lens focusing on shirataki noodles at Living Low Carb with Shirataki Noodles.

Miracle Noodle also sells a variety of shirataki noodles.  Netrition also sells Miracle Noodle angel hair pasta.

Amazon also sells shirataki noodles.


Check the prices, including shipping and package size for the best deal. Once you know you like the noodles, it's usually cheaper to buy them by the box. The noodles without tofu are room temp stable for months, so you don't need to store them in your frig.

However you decide to use the noodles, I hope you will check them out.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are very nutritious and versatile. I have a lot of fun dreaming up recipes using them.

This is my Low Carb Mini Raspberry Pie made with chia seeds.

Check out Pie and Cake Recipes for more pie recipes.

You can find more Chia Seed Recipes at DARdreams and my webpage focusing on chia seeds at Living Low Carb with Chia Seeds.

You can buy chia seeds at Amazon.com:





Netrition also sells chia seeds:

NOW Foods Blanco Salvia White Chia Seeds

Hidalgo Foods carries chia seeds, too. They have black, white, whole, and cold-milled in many different amounts. I watch for their sales and stock up.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A New Addition to DARdreams

Hi! I have started this website to complement my DARdreams website. I plan to use DARdreams2 to add more details about resources I recommend and use myself. I hope you will find this helpful in your low carb lifestyle.

Welcome to DARdreams2!

If you haven't seen the original DARdreams, please check it out.

You can also find more info and recipes at DARdreams.com