"Ursula has worked tirelessly to develop scores of recipes for breads, biscuits, pastries, cookies, pies, cakes, candy, and confections that are not merely low-carb, they're delicious to boot! Her culinary alchemy gives us all a leg up on the learning curve to make luscious . . . treats that, if we use them wisely, will make it that much easier to stick to the . . . plan for life."
--From the Foreword by Dr. Mary Dan Eades, M.D. coauthor of The Low-Carb CookwoRx Cookbook and Staying Power
Do you dream of the warm, satisfying taste of hearty brown bread or the flaky goodness of hot buttermilk biscuits? Do you long for fresh-baked muffins, the sweet chilled delights of peach ice cream, or the yumminess of blueberry pie? Now, thanks to extraordinary chef Ursula Solom, you can once again experience the full, rich flavor and satisfaction of these and all your favorite high-carb treats without compromising on your commitment to carb-conscious eating.
From Sourdough Bread, Cheese Bread Sticks, Banana Coconut Muffins, and Vanilla Cookies to Devil's Food Cake, Butterscotch Cream Pie, Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream, and White Walnut Fudge, The Low-Carb Baking and Dessert Cookbook is filled with more than 200 all-new, easy-to-prepare recipes for savory treats and scrumptious sweets that will satisfy your cravings while helping you slim down, shape up, and realize all the benefits of carb-controlled living--including keeping the pounds off. Each recipe features step-by-step instructions and complete nutrition information. Your whole family will love these recipes--and you'll enjoy eating all the delicious baked goods, desserts, and confections you thought you had to sacrifice for a healthy lifestyle.
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About the Author
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The Low-Carb Baking and Dessert Cookbook
By Ursula Solom
John Wiley & SonsISBN: 0-471-67832-5
Chapter OneThe Low-Carb Kitchen Manual
Grab a cup of coffee and a low-carb cookie or two, and settle down with this chapter, which will make the dos and don'ts of low-carb cooking easy to follow. Come back to it again and again, especially to the section that discusses the sweeteners used in the recipes. Most of what you read here is not repeated elsewhere in the book.
Your goal is to find ways to produce tantalizingly good breads, cookies, muffins, desserts, candy, and more while working around the two big high-carb troublemakers: sugar and flour. Sugar and flour may not seem to be closely related-sugar is sweet, flour is not-but both are cut from the same cloth; they are carbohydrates. Starch-flour is mostly made of it-is sugar in a dormant state and does not show its true colors until digestion begins. Eat it, and the sugar is promptly activated. A single slice of white bread can dump a tablespoon of sugar (glucose) swiftly into your bloodstream; it is no different from eating a small candy bar. What you will find in this book is how to avoid almost all sugar and flour by using foods that when properly combined-the secret is in the combining-will make your new low-carb diet as delightful as your old one. So, what foods will you be using in your low-carb recipes?
Although nuts may be sliced and chopped, they are chiefly used as a finely ground meal. Nuts arenutritious and loaded with minerals, vitamins, and healthy oils. Most nuts are widely available, but prices vary; it pays to shop around for the best deal. Check health food stores, the Internet, and vendors listed under Sources at the end of this book. Buying in bulk helps reduce the cost of nuts. Nuts should be kept cool or refrigerated, except for small amounts that you might want to keep handy in the kitchen for instant use. Be careful, though-all of the nuts listed below can be toxic to people who are allergic to them.
Almonds, especially almond meal, will become a major food staple in your kitchen. You can grind the nuts yourself in a processor or a blender, but commercial almond meal gives you a finer, more even grind and also saves work. Whole almond meal is ground from whole almonds with the skin on; blanched almond meal is ground from nuts with the skin off.
Hazelnuts have a unique, delicious flavor. They are used fairly heavily in the recipes in this book, especially as a meal. Unlike almond meal, which is available from many sources, hazelnut meal is harder to find on the market and is often quite expensive. However, I finally found at least one vendor (Nutty Guys) who sells hazelnut meal in bulk for a reasonable price. You can find the information in the Sources section.
Walnuts, Pecans, and Macadamia Nuts
These appear in recipes, often as a meal but also toasted and coarsely chopped. All three are available as commercial meals. Macadamia nuts are also made into a lightly defatted "flour" (see Sources) that is good but expensive. Occasionally a recipe asks for it, but it is okay to substitute blanched almond meal.
How to Toast Nuts
To toast nuts, preheat the oven to 325ºF or 350ºF. Put the raw nuts in a shallow baking pan. It takes from 20 to 45 minutes to toast nuts, depending on the oven's temperature and the moisture content of the nuts. Nuts should only change color slightly; they should not get too dark.
Nuts tend to darken unevenly. A handful of nuts that are excessively toasted-even without actually getting burned-can spoil the whole lot with a strong, unpleasant taste. Be extra careful and check on them often. It is practical to keep a large supply of toasted nuts on hand. They keep well if they are stored in the fridge. They can also be frozen.
Vital Wheat Gluten
This is the protein fraction that remains after the starch (flour) has been removed from wheat kernels. With rare exceptions, vital wheat gluten is used in this book only in recipes for raised breads. It has a high protein count (23 grams in 1/4 cup), and the carb count is below 6 grams. Most vendors call this product vital wheat gluten. Red Mill (Bob's Red Mill) calls theirs vital wheat gluten flour, which may lead to confusion. Occasionally you may see a high-carb wheat (white) flour with small amounts of vital wheat gluten added to it that is also labeled "vital wheat gluten flour." This is a product to avoid. Check nutrition labels carefully before buying. Additional information about vital wheat gluten is found in chapter 2.
Inulin is a fructooligosaccharide that is harvested from chicory root and many other vegetables and fruits. It is a natural white, tasteless, beneficial, and highly soluble fiber. It is said to increase the activity of good, active cultures in the gut and inhibits those cultures that are hostile. Inulin contains no carbohydrates that need counting. There are claims that inulin may aid in the absorption of calcium by the body. Much is being written about this interesting product; you can look up information about inulin on the Internet. Although it is expensive, prices vary. It is added primarily to recipes meant to have a high fiber load. It is also found in some stevia products (see the section on sweeteners). Four tablespoons of inulin contain 24.2 grams of fiber.
This is a good source of soluble fiber. I use it only occasionally, chiefly because of its high carb count. Four tablespoons contain 5.3 grams of fiber.
Unprocessed Wheat Bran
This fiber, which is fairly low in carbohydrates, is used in many recipes. Four tablespoons supply 6 grams of fiber, chiefly insoluble. For a little extra zing, toast the bran. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Spread the bran in a shallow baking pan and leave it in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Kretchmer's Toasted Wheat Bran is an alternative to toasting it yourself. Untoasted bran also gives excellent results, but if you buy unprocessed bran in bulk, make sure that it has almost no smell. It is best to refrigerate bran or to store it in a cool place.
Whole Psyllium Husks
The psyllium plant is native to Europe and Southern Asia. It contains soluble and insoluble fibers; four tablespoons have 14.8 grams of fiber. Psyllium husks appear in recipes that are specifically intended to provide a high fiber count.
Soy Protein Powder
Also called soy protein isolate or soy isolate, soy protein powder has no carbohydrates and is high in protein. It is part of many commercial soy products, such as vegetarian hamburgers. Some scientists are concerned that toxic substances may be created in the process of extracting the isolate. Although no risk facctors have been established, until more is known, whether to use soy protein powder is a personal decision. I like using soy protein powder, and you will find it in many of my recipes. If you wish, you can substitute equal amounts of either soy powder or soy milk powder in your recipes. There is a relatively small difference in taste and texture, but these ingredients are not carb-free. You will need to adjust the carb counts in the recipes accordingly.
Soy Milk Powder
This is made from lightly toasted, not raw, soybeans. This powder has no smell and no unpleasant taste. You can use soy milk powder in equal amounts as a substitute for soy protein powder. Count 5 grams of carb and 9 grams of protein in 1/4 cup.
This is similar to soy milk powder and created from toasted soybeans, but it does not have as fine a grind. The gram counts are the same. You may find that some stores do not know the difference between soy powder and soy milk powder.
This is made from raw soybeans, unlike soy powder and soy milk powder. Soy flour has a strong taste and smell that many people dislike. It is not used in this book.
These are commercially toasted, cracked soybeans that are used in some recipes to achieve a crunchy texture.
Whey Protein Powder
This concentrated powder, extracted from the watery part of milk, is said to be one of the best usable proteins. You will find it in many recipes in small amounts, principally for its high nutritional value. This powder has a beneficial effect on the immune system. It is a great way to get protein, especially for vegetarians or those who do not care to eat much meat. It comes plain and flavored, the latter usually being fairly high in carbohydrates. In this book, whey protein is used in a natural, unflavored form that is carb-free.
Look for natural, unflavored, zero-carb whey protein when you shop. Mix it with a touch of cream to create a good substitute for milk. You can also mix it with fruit for smoothies. Zero-carb whey protein can be found on the Internet, and it is also available from Vitamin Cottage (see Sources). As always, buying in bulk is more economical.
Seeds are concentrated storehouses of healthy nutrition; they provide a big boost to a low-carb diet, adding texture, fiber, protein, and a variety of interesting and often intense flavors.
These little seeds contain important precursors to omega-3 fatty acids, which the human body transforms into the omega-3 fatty acids we all need. The direct sources for omega-3 fatty acids are certain coldwater fish, chiefly cod, salmon (not the farm-raised kind), mackerel, and sardines. The oils from either flaxseeds or fish are highly polyunsaturated and, thus, subject to turning rancid in a hurry. This is just as true of flaxseed meal (ground flaxseeds), an item used in many recipes. It must be carefully stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Most often, when you add a nutrient to a food primarily for its nutritional value, the best you can hope for is that it will blandly meld into the food without becoming a detriment to the food's flavor. But foods made with flaxseeds and flaxseed meal taste terrific. The seeds come in two colors, dark and golden. Golden seeds cost slightly more; you can use either. Flaxseeds are rich in soluble fiber, folic acid, and magnesium.
You can buy flaxseed meal in sealed bags (Bob's Red Mill is one source) or you can grind the seeds yourself. Grinding is ideal for freshness, but it is a noisy affair that takes several minutes. Luckily, Salton has come out with a small mill dedicated to grinding these tough little seeds exclusively. It grinds up to 4 ounces, a handy quantity, in less than a minute. The mill is easy to clean and costs about $30.
Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, and Sunflower Seeds
Many of the attributes listed for flaxseeds fit these seeds too. These seeds are always used hulled and are often toasted. Though less sensitive to rancidity than flaxseed meal, hulled seeds still need to be refrigerated in order to maintain their freshness.
How to Toast Seeds
You can toast seeds in the oven or in a skillet on the stove. As with nuts, it may be practical to toast larger batches at a time and then refrigerate or freeze them.
Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Spread the seeds in a shallow baking pan and leave them in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. The seeds will change color unevenly. As with nuts, stop the process before any seeds get too dark.
If you prefer, you can toast small amounts in a skillet. Preheat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the seeds and stir constantly until the seeds are lightly toasted. It takes just a few minutes. Remove the seeds instantly from the hot skillet, lest some of them scorch before being transferred to another container.
Not a true nut, the peanut is a legume. Peanuts and peanut butter are used in several recipes for cookies, pies, and candy. Peanut butter has a relatively high carb count, but because of its concentrated flavor, you do not need to use large amounts. It is also high in protein. Buy only natural peanut butter without added sugar. Natural peanut butter usually has a layer of oil on top and must be stirred well prior to each use.
Wheat Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Oat Flour, Rye Flour
Small to moderate amounts of some of these holdovers from the high-carb world (usually oat flour, dark rye flour, and whole wheat flour) are included in some recipes in this book. Unbleached white flour, by far the worst of the bunch from a health perspective, appears only in a few recipes where nothing else would do.
Most recipes are so good you'd swear they contained sugar. This is great-but it can cause problems. The sweet treats in this book might tempt you to eat more of them than you should. Enjoy the sweets, but remind yourself that they are here principally to enable you to follow a healthy low-carb diet for the rest of your life, since you now can add coveted sweets, albeit with sensible restraint.
Because people's tastes for sweeteners vary, you may find you'll want to use less or more sweeteners than I recommend. Remember to adjust carb counts accordingly. The sweeteners used in this book are considered safe, though it is not known with absolute certainty what the result of steady use for many years or even decades may be. Equal (aspartame), hailed as safe when it first appeared, has been found to cause health problems and is not used in this book.
Splenda (sucralose), a recent and welcome addition to the existing sweeteners that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998, is used widely in the recipes in this book, but it is coming under increasing scrutiny. We must wait and see about the effects that Splenda has on our health. Another sweetener is stevia, a sweet substance extracted from the leaves of a South American shrub. While all indications show that it is apparently quite benign, its drawback is that it can leave a bitter aftertaste. In recent years, though, the processing of stevia has been greatly improved. Finally, there are sugar alcohols. These are natural substances that are used commercially in sugar-free chocolates and other food products. They are believed to be indigestible. Each of these sweeteners is discussed individually below.
Splenda (the generic name is sucralose) is made from real sugar but is chemically altered. In the process, it becomes extremely concentrated and sweet. It contains no carbohydrates. Because of its concentration, Splenda requires a carrier like maltodextrin, which does have carbohydrates. Splenda has a pleasant taste; you can bake with it too. Splenda is available in two forms, one is a granular sugar substitute that can be used, spoon for spoon-according to its manufacturer-in place of cane sugar (sucrose); it has 0.5 gram of carb per teaspoon. That translates to 6 grams of carb in 14 cup and 24 grams in 1 cup. Splenda also comes in packets. One packet equals 2 teaspoons of sugar at 1 gram of carb. Both can be used for cooking or baking.
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Table of ContentsForeword by Mary Dan Eades.
1. The Low-Carb Kitchen Manual.
2. Minutes to Raised Breads.
3. Quick Breads, Muffins, Scones, and Coffee Cakes.
4. Cookies and Bars.
5. Cakes and Pies.
6. Puddings, Custards, Ice Creams, Jams, and Sauces.
7. Chocolates and Candies.