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Make it Low Carb by Joan Hedman
I used to be a very picky eater. I grew up eating what I would now call "plain food," good old American standards like meat and potatoes, but also a lot of vegetables and salads. My mom is very big on salads and veggies, and all of her children remain so to this day.

Our meals were all nutritious and freshly prepared, but they weren't highly seasoned; just salt and pepper for the most part, and after my father was diagnosed with an ulcer, even the pepper went out the window. That was OK with us, though, as the good true flavors of the food itself always shone through.

In addition, there were entire classes of foods — peppers, beans, squash — that we simply never ate, because one or both of my parents didn't like them. Eventually we children found ways to bring these items into the house — red peppers showed up on crudit?s platters, for example, or we accepted donations of zucchini from our uncle's garden. But since these "exotic vegetables" were never in the regular rotation for me growing up, they weren't often on my menus as an independent adult, either.

Until one day my dear friend and co-worker Cecilia brought something from home for lunch, and it smelled so absolutely divine that I had to ask her what it was. She didn't quite laugh at me, but she did think it was pretty funny that I didn't know what it was: chili! How could I not know what chili was?

The next day she brought me some to try for myself, and I loved it. Now this was something of a minor miracle, since I wouldn't eat tomato sauce (except on pizza) until I was in high school; I just couldn't stand it. But Cecilia's chili wasn't too spicy, and it wasn't too heavy. It had a nice blend of flavors and textures and, best of all, it was easy to make, because of course Cecilia gave me her recipe.

The original recipe called for canned kidney beans, but those are unacceptably high in carbs. The substitution of canned green beans may seem outrageous, but believe me, they work wonderfully. Another excellent substitute, if you are OK with soy, is Eden Organic's canned black soybeans, which are low in carbs and high in protein. I have used them in the past but now have to limit my soy consumption because of my thyroid condition.

The recipe below makes a good-sized batch, but you can double it easily if you're feeding a big crowd. Note that this is not an adventurous chili. If you're an experienced chili-cook, you may find this recipe a little silly — but for the chili-novices out there, I think this is a fine place to start. If you like things hotter, you can always crank up the heat with Tabasco or another hot sauce at the table, or sprinkle some crushed red pepper into the pot while it's simmering.

Chili is one of those infinitely tweakable recipes; get started now and you'll have your own version perfected just as football season gets really underway.

Starter Chili
8 generous servings

  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 large (or 2 small) yellow onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef (21% fat)
  • 4 T chili powder
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes, no salt added
  • 1 cans green beans, no salt added, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, prepare the vegetables. This recipe will give your food processor a workout if you have one. Dice the onions and peppers; a 1/2 inch dice will leave you with recognizable pieces; aim for much smaller if you'd like the veggies to "disappear" into the chili.

I like to give the green beans a spin in the food processor for a rough chop, to reduce them to the size of kidney beans. I prefer the texture of the smaller pieces, but it's not strictly necessary to chop them further.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced onions and garlic, and cook, stirring, just until softened.

Add the ground beef and raise the heat to high. Sprinkle the chili powder over the meat. Cook, stirring, until the meat is well-browned.

Add the diced peppers, tomatoes, and beans; stir. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low; simmer for about an hour, or until it has reached the consistency you like. Shorter cooking times will help retain the flavor and texture of the vegetables; longer cooking times reduces everything down to a more uniform delicious mass.

APPROXIMATE NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING:
385 calories; 37 g fat; 13 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 22 g protein.

Notes: To reduce the fat in the recipe, I recommend the following changes: brown the meat before adding the chili powder, and when finished, drain off the fat that has accumulated in the bottom of the pain. Then add the chili powder, stir, and cook for a few minutes to let the flavor infuse into the meat. Continue with the rest of the recipe as written.

If you like a more "soupy" chili, you can add a can of low carb beer for less than one additional carb per serving.



School is starting, and before we know it, the holidays will be here. I'm heading back to the kitchen now that it's not too hot to bake. If you have a preference for cookies, breakfast breads, or anything else, please let me know and I'll see what I can do.
                                                

Copyright © September 2006  Joan Hedman and Low Carb Luxury




       

 

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