Monday, September 30, 2013

Recipe Review: Baked Eggs in a Portabella Cap

Baked Eggs in a portabella cap
Andover Diet Center has a great listing of recipes for those following the Ideal Protein plan or a low-carb diet in general.  Here is one of my favorites:  Baked Eggs in a Portabella Cap (photo above from the site). I reproduce the recipe below for convenience and add my notes which provide some additional techniques or details to make the recipe as good as it can possibly be.

Reminder the portion of eggs for a Phase 1-3 dieters is 2 whole eggs plus 2 egg whites.
So you could actually have two mushroom caps, with 1 egg plus 1 egg white in each cap.
portobello mushroom caps
black pepper
fresh parsley or thyme
a little olive oil
Clean the portobello mushroom caps with a damp cloth, remove the stem and scrape out the gills so you have a well deep enough for the egg.  LCHD NOTE:  Use a spoon to remove the gills--set them aside for use later.  Use care to keep from cracking or slicing through the edge of the cap--otherwise you'll leak the egg onto the baking pan.
Rub a little bit of olive oil on the outside of the mushroom to help it cook and keep it from sticking to the pan. Arrange the caps on a baking sheet.  LCHD NOTE:  Depending on how flat the caps are you may need to balance them on something--I use ramekins on the pan in the case where the cap is severely tilted.
Crack each egg into a small bowl and then carefully slide it onto a mushroom cap
Sprinkle with black pepper and fresh herbs of choice รข I used parsley but thyme would be great as well.  LCHD NOTE:  Saute the gills with some soy sauce and drop them back into the cap before you fill it with the egg.  For more protein add sauteed ground beef/turkey or even broken up bits of bacon.
CAREFULLY place the baking pan into the pre-heated 375 degree F oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. The amount of time required depends on how thick your mushrooms are and how done you like your eggs.

Review: Quest Cravings Peanut Butter Cups--No Such Thing as Santa Claus

"Amazing snack", "unbelievably delicious" are not how I'd describe these peanut butter cups.  Also, anyone who writes that these taste like the "real thing" (presumably Reese's Peanut Butter Cups) should be tested for intoxicating substances.  While not BAD per se, they are NOT a guilt-free version of their candy namesake.  I think I'm so disappointed because my expectations were so high (see Backstory).  The chocolate is waxy and bittersweet and the peanut butter filling dry and powdery.  On the positive side, they are filling and do not appear to spike my blood sugar and create carb cravings afterward.

Meh.  While not bad in and of themselves, they are NOT a replacement treat for peanut butter cups.  This motivates me to make my own and see if I can come up with something better.

After 11 weeks of strict low-carb dieting it was time for a treat...  What better treat than a peanut butter cup!  You see the Quest Cravings Peanut Butter Cups advertised all over the place (like here, at Jimmy Moore's blog).  Reviews on web-sites like Netrition, Vitacost, and Amazon border on the fanatical.  And hey, if I can give these to my young defenseman after practice or a game--all the better, right?  Filling protein and fiber and few carbs to avoid making a perpetually hungry boy perpetually hungrier by spiking his blood sugar.

Here's some artwork and nutrition information to get you started:

Quest Cravings Protein Peanut Butter Cups

I ordered a case (12 twin-packs) for $27.99 from Vitacost and last Friday made the presentation to the family after dinner.  Look at the artwork--doesn't the creamy peanut butter and light brown chocolate look absolutely fabulous?!

We broke into our treats--my wife and son #2 abstained as neither are big peanut butter fans--all the more for me, I thought (how I'd rue those words).

Shown below is what the peanut butter cups actually look like.  The chocolate looks more like the waxy chocolate in semi-sweet or unsweetened chocolate and the peanut butter definitely AIN'T oozing.

Biting into these confirmed my worst fears:  the chocolate is hard, waxy, and somewhat grainy.  Not surprising considering that there is no sugar in these and they are sweetened only with erythritol and a little sucralose.  The peanut butter filling is POWDERY--cough!  Be sure to have something to drink on hand as it will stick to your tongue, roof of your mouth, and throat.  Taste of the chocolate is similar to semi-sweet chocolate with only a little aftertaste.  The peanut butter filling is reminiscent of the powdered peanut butters you can find online or at health-food stores and does not appear to have much if any moisture in it.

Son #1 (inveterate sweet tooth) stopped after one cup saying (in his best politically-correct tone), "Here, Dad, you can have my other one."  I think that about says it all.  If you are looking for a low-carb TREAT, these are probably not going to fill the bill.  If you are looking for an alternative to a protein shake or bar after a workout, these will do as well as any of those (though I'd argue some of the Atkins and other bars out there taste better as well--I'll cover those in a future review).  So there ISN'T a Santa Claus--no guilt-free treat that tastes just like it's high-carb namesake.  And my plans for using these as a post-practice/post-game treat for my defenseman have crashed and burned as well.

So there you go, the DEFINITIVE peanut butter cup review complete with unboxing!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A New Season

With this season, my son's 5th year as a youth hockey player, I come in 45 pounds lighter than last year--lighter than I've been in my 18 years of marriage.  And with a new season both for hockey and for my health, my head is filled with all the promises and fears that comes with new beginnings:

  • Will my son play well?
  • Will I maintain my weight loss?
  • Will his team be successful (last year wasn't a great year win-loss wise)?
  • Will my family adapt with me to my low carb lifestyle or will they freak out and call for the head of the cook?

I guess at this point all I can do is hope and count on the things that have been learned:

  • My son has at least started to understand the value of work ("Hey, if I work hard, I play better and the coaches notice, too").
  • I've learned how powerful diet is to losing weight.
  • We've all learned (especially, the parents!) that the value in sports and hockey is not simply games won or goals scored, but how skills are developed and honed and making/renewing friendships and the sharing of good times.
I've said that this diet will be the last diet I'm ever on.  I hope I can keep that promise.  This blog will share my steps on that journey even as I juggle late night practices and early morning games, and struggle to eat the way I should even while on the road at the next tournament.  To everyone starting their own new season I wish you good luck!