The low carb Christmas party
The feast of the holiday season is usually a low-carb nightmare. Good food and high carbs are married in the spirit of tradition. When you send out the invitations to your holiday bash, don't think that you have to follow the traditional high carb fare. There are alternatives.
Low carb party appetizersLet's start from the top. Appetizers. Shrimp is a tasty beginner for seafood lovers and best of all it's very low in carbs. The succulent seafood dish can be made in several ways and still be low carb.
20 shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 ounce canola oil
8 teaspoons green onions, chopped
2 ounces dry white wine
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
8 ounces salted butter
5 teaspoons green onion, chopped, for garnish
1. Wash shrimp under water; peel shells and discard. Devein shrimp with a paring knife; wash under water. Repeat until all shrimp are done; place on a sheet tray and refrigerate.
2. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add oil; cook shrimp until flesh appears opaque (you may have to cook in batches if you do not have large skillet). Remove shrimp; set aside.
3. Add green onions; cook for 1 minute.
4. Add white wine (any good dry white wine will work); heat thoroughly; reduce volume by half.
5. When wine is reduced, add chopped garlic, Worcestershire, Tabasco, cayenne pepper and paprika. Shake pan well. Cook for 1 minute; reduce heat to low.
6. Cut butter into small chunks; slowly add to pan, shaking fast to melt butter.
7. Continue to add butter until it is all added; shaking pan until butter is melted.
8. Add shrimp back to pan; toss well to coat shrimp with butter and heat thoroughly.
9. To plate, place 5 shrimp on a small serving plate with a deep edge; ladle BBQ butter over the shrimp. Repeat with the other shrimp. Sprinkle each plate with 1 teaspoon of chopped green onions. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Per 5-shrimp and sauce serving: 4.6g carbs, 0.3g fiber, 52g total fat, 167mg cholesterol, 6g protein, 579mg sodium, 531 calories
Note: For chopped garlic, peel fresh garlic cloves and roughly chop with a chef knife. For green onions, wash green onions under water, shake off excess moisture and cut with a chef knife into 1/16" cuts, using green part only.
-- Based on recipe from Ruth Chris Steak House
Low carb Christmas entreeTurkey is the one tradition that is low carb friendly. And for those watching their fat count, the holiday bird is also low in saturated fats, except if you eat the skin! For those not caught up in tradition, try the extraordinary. Ham or beef is a nice alternative to the usual holiday bird.
Grilled Dry Age Sirloin Steak with Roasted Vegetables
12 ounces sirloin steak
1 each medium orange bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2 inch strips
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 each fennel bulb, cut through middle stem and heart
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt, pepper to taste
1. Blanch fennel in boiling water for 3 minutes; drain well.
2. Brush vegetables with olive oil; season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with rosemary.
3. Roast or grill vegetables for 10 minutes until fork-tender.
4. Season steak with salt and pepper.
5. Grill steak to desired doneness; let rest.
6. Divide steak and vegetables into two portions; plate and serve.
Makes 2 (6-ounce) servings.
Per 6-ounce serving: 13.1g carbs, 5.3g fiber, 23g total fat, 87mg cholesterol, 55g protein, 757mg sodium, 478 calories
-- Based on recipe from Restaurant Charlotte and head chef Aleksandra Parada, New York City.
Low carb Christmas sidesAnd now for the rest of the meal. "Think outside of the bread box," suggests executive chef and LowCarb Energy Magazine expert Karen Barnaby. "Find equally delicious but different dishes for celebrating. For example, stuffing doesn't have to be bread nor does it have to be stuffed inside the bird. It can be baked on the side. Stuffing can be cauliflower or zucchini or pork rinds."
Try veggies and forget those forbidden potatoes?"Pureed cauliflower can be used in place of potatoes," says Barnaby, author of The Low Carb Gourmet. "It can also be used to thicken gravy along with a splash of cream or a bit of cream cheese."
Try different side dishes like "grilled or roasted vegetable salads -- like peppers, zucchini and eggplant with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and pesto dressing -- [or a] green bean salad with toasted almonds", says Barnaby.
Aleksandra Parada agrees that eating low carb doesn't mean a meat-only meal. Parada, head chef at Restaurant Charlotte in New York, suggests low carbers load up on the veggies, too.
"Pureed spinach baked in the oven is nice. Blanch the spinach then puree it. Add a little olive oil and a little garlic and saute the mixture then put it in the oven for a short time. When you add garlic, herbs and olive oil (to food), the taste is very nice," says Parada.
Low carb Christmas dessertAnd when it comes to dessert, not all that is sweet is sugar. Sticking with tradition, Christmas Pudding is always a nice ending to a festive meal.
Christmas Pudding with Brandy Cream
This tastes best if it is made a few days in advance and allowed to mellow, well wrapped and refrigerated. It can also be frozen. Thaw first and reheat in the microwave.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons instant coffee
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1/3 cup whey protein isolate
1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
1 cup Splenda
1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups cooked spaghetti squash, well drained and finely chopped
Nonstick cooking spray
1. Spray a 2-quart lidded pudding mold with a center tube with nonstick cooking spray. Choose a pot wider and taller than the pudding mold. Place the mold into the pot and hold it steady. Pour water around the mold to come 3/4 of the way up the side of the mold. Remove the mold and bring the water to a simmer.
2. Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
3. Add the coffee, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla, almond extract, orange and lemon zest.
4. Whisk the almonds, whey protein, wheat gluten, Splenda, cocoa, baking powder, salt and spices together until well combined.
5. Add the almond mixture to the butter mixture and beat for 3 minutes.
6. Add the spaghetti squash and beat well. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Makes 16 (1-slice) servings.
Per 1-slice serving: 5.7g carbs, 1.6g fiber, 13g total fat, 73mg cholesterol, 8g protein, 158mg sodium, 169 calories -- Based on recipe from Karen Barnaby
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups whipping cream, well chilled
1/2 cup granular Splenda
2 tablespoons brandy
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Beat the egg until frothy.
2. In a small pot, melt the butter and bring it to a boil. Slowly pour the butter into the egg, beating constantly. Let cool to room temperature.
3. Combine the cream, Splenda, brandy and vanilla in a large chilled bowl. Beat until the cream forms soft peaks.
4. Fold the cream into the butter mixture. Cover and refrigerate.
Makes 16 (1-tablespoon) servings.
Per 1 tablespoon serving: 1.5g carbs, 0.0g fiber, 14g total fat, 59mg cholesterol, 1g protein, 13mg sodium, 140 calories
-- Recipe courtesy Karen Barnaby
Low carb Christmas beveragesIf it is alcohol you want, you can serve a variety of low carb beers at your holiday Christmas party. You can also offer low carb cocktails and drinks. There are also many lower-carb wines on the market today and many of them are marked as such, if they contain 7g carbs or less per serving.
Don't let your low carb lifestyle hold you back this Christmas season! You can enjoy it just like anyone else, without impacting -- or sabotaging -- your low carb success! And your friends and relatives will enjoy trying something new!