Low-carb breakfast on the run
I found a good recipe here, and so I adapted it more to my taste. It’s basically a frittata, so you can look around at frittata recipes for variations. I’ve updated this below (on 27 Feb 2016) with new information (specifically, this time, on the parchment sheets). Photo of the frittata cooling added 26 Mar 2016.
Sausage & Egg Breakfast Bites
This frittata makes 9 squares, each square containing 1.1 egg.
- 1-2 Tbsp bacon fat (butter, olive oil, and ghee also work well)
- 1 medium to large onion, finely diced
- good pinch of salt
- Lots of freshly ground black pepper (Pepper helps with the turmeric: see this article.)
- 1 bunch kale, red kale, chard, red chard, or spinach—stems minced, leaves chopped fairly small. I mostly use red chard or red kale.
- [Optional: 4-8 garlic cloves, minced—The Wife vetoed this for a breakfast dish.]
- 3/4 lb uncooked bulk sausage or 3/4 lb link sausage
- 1.5 Tbsp ground turmeric.
- 10 eggs (I use jumbo, but extra-large is fine)
- 1-2 Tbsp sour cream (or heavy whipping cream).
- [Optional: 1-2 Tbsp Dijon mustard]
- 1 c. grated cheese: Gruyère, Swiss, cheddar, Monterey jack, or pepper jack. You can use instead crumbled blue or Gorgonzola as well.
- [Optional: several dashes pepper sauce (The Wife doesn’t like spicy, but I would use; I would also use spicy sausage.)]
Preheat the oven to 375ºF and prepare this Wilton 8×8 pan. Preparation has varied, but I’ve settled on the use of parchment paper because every other approach resulted in sticking.
King Arthur Flour sells pre-cut sheets of parchment paper (16 1/2″ x 12 1/4″) in 50-sheet packages ($12.95) and 100-sheet packages ($19.95). The pre-cut sheets are much easier to use than tearing off a piece from a roll of parchment paper: those tend to curl up so you have to fight them.
I fold the sheet at an angle so the edge of the end lines up with the edge of the side to make a triangle shape and cut off the excess, leaving on the triangle. When you open it, you have a square that is 12 1/4″ on a side. I fold it to line the interior of the pan. (After the cooked frittata cooled, it slides easily from the pan onto the cooling rack, and the parchment paper is easily peeled from the frittata.)
You can use a regular onion, but when they’re in season, I use spring onions (both bulb and leaves) and have also used shallots, scallions, and leeks: the idea is to use some variety of allium, and you can choose which one.
Sauté the onion (or other allium) for a few minutes. While the onions cook, chop the greens. I mostly use red chard or red kale, and I use the stems as well as the leaves, chopping the stems small. Add the greens and continue sautéing until the greens wilt.
While the greens cook, cut bulk sausage into strips and then across the strips into little squares; this makes it easier to break up in the pan as you cook it. If you’re using link sausage, just cut in the links into small cross-sections.
After the greens have cooked down somewhat, add the roughly cut sausage and continue to sauté until sausage is cooked.
Add salt and a lot of freshly ground black pepper.
Once the meat is cooked (and any excess water boiled off), add the turmeric and stir it in. Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and it’s a good idea to get 1/2 tsp daily. For 9 breakfast squares, that’s a total of 4.5 tsp = 1.5 Tbsp. Add the tumeric after the sautéing is done since the turmeric tends to stick.
Turn off heat. Let that cool for a while. (I really like how I get a break in making this; generally I let it cool for an hour or two while I go do something else, but 15-20 minutes is plenty.)
Be sure to use pure sour cream, not “lite” or sour cream with cornstarch added: check the ingredients.
Whisk the eggs with the cream (and Dijon mustard, if you’re using that), then whisk in the cheese and (if you’re using them) the parsley and nutmeg. Once that is well mixed, add the sautéed onions, greens, sausage, and turmeric. Mix well. This whisk works particularly well.
Pour then mixture into the 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper folded to fit the pan.
Bake 35 minutes and test. When you give the pan a shake, the middle should remain still, not jiggle at all. With jumbo eggs I bake for 45 minutes before testing, and they’re always done.
Let the frittata sit to cool for 20 minutes or so, then invert the pan onto this 10.5″ round rack, and then stand the rack in this Wilton 9×9 pan, which comes with a snap-on cover—handy for storing the pan in the fridge.
The frittata comes out easily from the pan because of the parchment-paper lining, and the parchment paper is easily peeled off the frittata. Let the frittata cool on the rack, then put it in the 9×9 pan, snap on the cover, and refrigerate it overnight. (If you cut the frittata while it’s hot, it’s crumbly and harder to eat out of one’s hand—on the way to work, for example. Thus, refrigerate before cutting.)
The next morning turn it out onto a cutting board. Cut twice vertically to make 3 columns, turn it 90º and cut twice more to produce 9 squares.
As I figure it: Each square has 275 calories, along with 4.9 g carbs and 1.0 g fiber, so 3.9 g net carbs per square.
What to do with the two leftover eggs
What I do is make mayonnaise, which is ever so much better than store-bought and is very easy if you have this immersion blender with its beaker.
First let the 2 eggs sit on the counter until they are room temperature. This is essential. Once the eggs are at room temperature, put the yolks only in the immersion blender’s beaker. I discard the whites, but you could scramble them.
Add to the beaker holding the two yolks:
heaping 1/2 tsp kosher salt
heaping 1/2 tsp white pepper
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
2 anchovy fillets [optional, but makes for better flavor]
Blend that thoroughly. Then add, a little at a time, 1 cup of olive oil, blending thoroughly after each addition. At first it will seem soupy, but it thickens as the oil is added. When all the oil has been mixed in, pour/scrape into a container, cover, and refrigerate.
I tried using a mix of olive oil and avocado oil, but the more olive oil I used, the better the mayo was, so now I just use pure olive oil, either plain olive oil or lemon olive oil or garlic olive oil or half-and-half lemon and garlic olive oils. (Avocado oil does, however, make a great oil for sautéing because it has a very high smoke point: 520ºF.) I really like these olive oils, though I’ve tried only the “bold” of the regular olive oil. The lemon and garlic are excellent. They do sell their olive oil in gallons on request.
Once you see how easy it is and how tasty the result, you’ll never go back to store-bought (i.e., fake) mayo. I always have a supply of this in the fridge.
More on my LCHF progress
It feels weird to eat low-carb meals like these breakfast bites because I’ve been so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that eating fat will make me fat, a silly idea if your total daily calorie intake is reasonable. Even with the (false) idea that all calories are alike, fat should have been deemed okay to eat. But somehow we had the idea that eating fat will make us fat—as if eating starches made us starchy, or eating sugar made us sweet, or eating greens made us green.
A lot happens to any food—whatever it is—becomes body fat, including digesting it and metabolizing it. And simple carbs—foods using refined flour and/or sugar of one form or another (soft drinks, for example, or candy, bread, pasta, rice, crackers, cookies, cake, white potatoes, potato chips)—trigger a rush of insulin, which protects the stored body fat, preferentially burning the refined carbs.
So once the sugar burns off, having no access to your stored fat, you’re hungry again. So you eat again, and often that meal or snack has a lot of refined carbs… It’s a vicious circle. Thus fat accumulates because you can’t makes use of it if your diet is high in carbs.
One thing that now makes sense: why fat tastes so good. Probably it’s because it was a major source of calories as we evolved. Those who developed a taste for it fared better. And once you start to think of fat as simply another food and source of calories, you diet can achieve a better balance.
UPDATE 2: It occurs to me that modern agronomy and food processing methods have exposed a bug, as it were, in our digestive/metabolic/storage system. Evolution never tested for high fructose corn syrup or refined sugar or white flour or the like. The result is like when a programmer forgets to consider the effect of negative numbers in an input field resulting in program failure. But since evolution doesn’t think, just operates mechanically on the next step, it can hardly be blamed. And in any event, evolution is fixing the bug that right now: people whom the new diet sickens will not be so successful, overall, as those who can handle the new diet (or avoid the new diet), and so that particular metabolic weakness will select out a subgroup, and as favorable mutations randomly occur, the capacity to live well on such foods will fare relatively better. It’s slow, but what’s a few hundred thousand years? (If we last that long, which seems unlikely.)
But our body’s reaction to a high-carb diet is indeed a problem for our ability to function, and thus it does engage the slow-grinding wheels of evolution to begin work toward a solution. What we’re seeing is evolution in action: those less able to find a solution will not succeed so well as the others.
It’s definitely a bug: unexpected input blows the program out of the water.