Gado Gado (summer feast!)

Summer is coming, so I think it’s time to post one of my favourite summer meals. We have been eating this one long before we cut sugar and wheat from our diet, but it tastes just as good without sugar in the sauce. It’s mostly cold, so perfect on a hot summer night.

I love this meal for kids (and other fussy eaters) because they get to choose what they want to eat from a variety on the platter. I love this meal for mixed vegetarian/omnivore crowds because you can just put the shrimp in a separate bowl for the meat eaters. I love this meal for guests because it presents so well.

Gado Gado table

Gado Gado is basically a big salad with peanut dressing that you eat with your hands. Maybe that’s why I like it.

What the photo above doesn’t show is that during that particular meal we did 3 variations in individual bowls according to who wanted mild (no chili peppers) and who wanted vegetarian (no fish sauce) and who wanted all of it; that’s why the peanut sauces are individual. Usually we just put a nice bowlful on the table with a spoon.

I apologize to whoever published the book we originally got this recipe from. I believe it was an Australian publication. I don’t have it anymore (I remember buying it in Vancouver at a book fair outside the library just after the new central branch was built, which was in 1995) but the recipe lives on.

A few notes about Gado Gado. It is Indonesian and authentic recipes will likely use roasted peanuts instead of peanut butter. You will find as many different variations out there as you will find different recipes. (Search away and try them all!) You will vary the recipe every time. Really, if you have something in the fridge or the garden that you think would work well, try it. If you don’t have some of the things listed, don’t sweat it. As you can see from the photo below there was no mooli/daikon radish, green beans or sprouts but we added regular radish and carrots. If the potatoes are too carby, leave them out. So, having said that, I give you this recipe as a template, really.

If you’ve been making Gado Gado for years and have a delicious ingredient for the salad that I haven’t mentioned here, please add it in the comments! Or if you have a favourite Gado Gado recipe, comment with the link! I think the only change I made to the original recipe below was removing the sugar (and adding a few suggestions). No dairy, no wheat, no sugar, low carb, can be vegetarian.

Gado Gado for 4

  • (1 or 2 potatoes)
  • salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 ounces green beans topped and tailed
  • 1 head romaine lettuce (or other lettuce good for wraps)
  • 4 tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 4 ounces bean sprouts (bean shoots) or whatever sprouts you have
  • 1/2 cucumber peeled and cut into fingers
  • 5 ounces giant mooli (daikon radish) peeled and julienned or grated
  • OR jicama would work (or I bet celeriac would be great)
  • OR raw cabbage works well, too (or do all 3)
  • 6 ounces firm tofu cut into large dice
  • 12 ounces shrimp large, peeled and cooked (or cooked then peeled)
  • 1 small bunch cilantro

Spicy Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 fresh red chili small, seeded and finely chopped (I’m sure I’ve used chili flakes when in a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk canned or fresh

Spicy Peanut Sauce: Combine sauce ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Boil the potatoes in salted water and simmer 20 minutes. In another pan, bring salted water to a boil and cook eggs and beans together: lower the eggs into the boiling water; after 6 minutes, add the beans and boil for a further 6 minutes. Cool the potatoes, eggs and beans under cold running water.

Wash and spin the salad leaves and use outer leaves to line a large platter. Pile remainder on one side of the platter.

Slice the potatoes. Shell and quarter the eggs. Arrange the potatoes, eggs, beans, and tomatoes in separate piles. Arrange the other salad ingredients in a similar way to cover the platter.

Turn Spicy Peanut Sauce into an attractive bowl and bring to the table with the salad.

How to eat: take a lettuce leaf, put a little spicy peanut sauce on it, fill it with your desired fillings, wrap the leaf around the toppings and eat it. Bon appetit!

gado gado


Camping Trip Preparations

We are going to be heading out on another big camping trip this summer, and I’ve started looking into my notes from the big trip 2 years ago. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ll be making and bringing food-wise for the road.

I’ll be making:

  • Dana’s Snack Mix – from 500 Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender
  • Tamari Almonds – a perennial favourite
  • Grainless Granola – this linked recipe is an adaptation of the original recipe from the Wheat Belly Cookbook – I would eliminate the last 2 ingredients (honey & salt) and, a secret from my mom, I find that coconut chips (the big slivers, not flakes) make this really, really tasty. Also, cook at 300F, stirring a couple of times, for 20 minutes.
  • Sunflower Sesame Crackers – I got the recipe from 500 Low-Carb Recipes, but there’s one that pretty close on this website (just add 1/2 tsp salt to the mix)
  • Cookies
  • Almond Milk 

We’ll bring cheese, summer sausage, cucumbers, carrots, various nuts (that’s picnic lunch there), soda water, I’m going to make chili (actually, I got this great Indian Beef Chili recipe from a book I borrowed from the library called Quick-Fix Indian by Ruta Kahate, so there may be 2 chili types) and keep in mind other 1 pot meals. I might make some breakfast cookies, and there will definitely be bacon and eggs, as well as greek (strained) whole milk yogurt. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

In my search for the above recipes online, I found these grain-free, sugar-free (sweetened with dates but I’d cut them way back and try a few other tricks) chai granola bars, which sound intriguing. I’ll let you know if I try them…

Low-carb at the One of a Kind Show

A few weeks ago I was an artisan in the Etsy section of the Spring One of a Kind Show and Sale in Toronto. Which meant that on top of creating all of my stock, designing my booth/table setup, marketing, and packing up, I also had to prepare food for the 5 day, 11-13 hours/day sale.
This was a bit of a challenge, but I managed to go the 5 days without succumbing to the temptation of the food they sold there, which was slightly better that mall food court fare.

So, the week before the show, I started preparing food. Actually, I had been putting food aside for a while, but then I realized that maybe the Indian beet soup and Butter Chicken I had frozen into individual portions weren’t the best idea, because a) if I spilled them they would stain and b) they might leave me with garlic and onion breath, with which to meet and greet customers. Not so ideal.

Since I was going to be there for 11-13 hours most days starting at 9 or 10am, I had to figure out how I was going to eat. I decided that I’d have a second breakfast around 11 or 11:30am, and one big meal (lunch/supper) at around 3 or 4pm when things slowed down between the day folks and the evening folks. That was when I had friends come in to spell me off for a break. Other than that it would be little snacks on the spot.

For my hot meal, I had Mockeroni Cheese from the The Vegetarian Low-Carb Diet Cookbook, referred to in an earlier post, and my husbands yummy sausage stew. Sorry no photo but here is the recipe:

Sausage and Carrot Stew

  • 4 garlic sausages
  • 150 g chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1.5 tsp oregano
  • .75 tsp cumin
  • 560 ml canned tomato quarters
  • 4 tsp tomato paste
  • Parsley.
  1. Remove sausage casings, cut into rounds or chunks
  2. Fry sausages. Keep the juices, Add onion, fry a bit, add carrot fry some more.
  3. Add tomato, pepper, oregano and cumin. Cook on low heat for a bit. Season.
  4. Serve with parsley.

For snacks, I made Tamari Almonds:

I got the recipe (so my recipe database tells me) from but I can’t find the recipe there anymore (besides, I modified it), so here it is:

  • 5 cups almonds
  • 1/4 cup tamari sauce
  • dash Worchestershire sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 250 F
  2. Mix/toss ingredients in a bowl, spread on a baking sheet with sides. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
  3. Cool completely on pan and transfer to airtight container.

Yep, it’s that easy.

I also made Sunflower Cheddar Crackers, from 500 Low-Carb Recipes:

This person has posted the recipe. I do them on a baking stone, which may be why mine aren’t burnt on the bottom like theirs, or maybe I just didn’t bake them as long. Also I use a rolling pin to flatten them between 2 pieces of parchment.

Speaking of gluten-free crackers, as I was searching for the above recipe, I came across these, which I haven’t tried, but they look pretty tasty. I may have to try them in the future.

I also made myself treats: mini Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Muffins:

On day 1, my mom came with a friend and dropped off some of Wheat Belly Cookbook’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. The recipe is similar to my modified version, but I think she adds coconut chips in there as well. Sorry, no photo!

For my second breakfast, I made Overnight Chocolate Coffee Chia Breakfast Pudding. I chose that since the days were long and I figured I could use the extra boost.

Overnight Chocolate Coffee Chia Breakfast Pudding


The recipe comes from, but I skipped the sweetener (it doesn’t need it). So it’s just:

  • ½ cup brewed coffee (chilled)
  • ½ cup full fat canned coconut milk
  • 1 heaping tablespoon almond butter (or other nut or seed butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  1. Blend all but chia seeds in blender.
  2. Place the blended mixture into a resealable large jar (or 2-3 smaller jars) then add chia seeds. Seal jar(s) and shake.
  3. Place in refrigerator overnight or for at least 3+ hours.

I also brought cheese slices and carrot sticks. And a lot of water. Because it was dry in there. Crazy dry. Thankfully, they had the HTO To Go water refill station there.

And that managed to get me through it without buying any food or carbing up.

As a little bonus to this entry, last weekend I was visiting friends in the country whose family raises free-range chickens for their own use. They saved all the livers and put me to work making 7 lbs of chicken livers into pâté. I took a few photos, and it was my best batch ever.

Those were all combined (along with ground ginger, salt, and cream) to make a huge vat:

vat of chicken liver pate

We divided it into jars and gave a bunch away, took some, froze some, and started eating some right then and there. As we didn’t have crackers made up, we just spread it on cucumbers and celery. Delicious.

Pork Roast, Cheese Sauce & Cookies

I know, I know, it’s been an age since I last posted. I’ve been busy with the holiday season, making and selling hats and cute things from wool for my little business.

But here’s a very quick entry. Apologies for the appalling photography.

gluten free cheese sauce

Pork roast and veggies with gluten-free cheese sauce!

We had a pork roast last night which was delicious (even the kids thought so). I tweaked this Roast Pork with Rutabagas and Apples recipe from Williams-Sonoma by eliminating the sugar/honey, and instead adding a couple of tablespoons of applesauce (since the reviewer said the amount of glaze didn’t cover the roast, I made more). Also, we didn’t have rutabagas, so I used parsnips. It was delicious. Tonight we had the leftovers, and they were just as delicious.

Also, it has come to my attention that you can make cheese sauce without flour. Gluten-free cheese sauce.  In a double boiler, add a little cream (for 3 people tonight I added about 1/4 cup – better to start with too little as you can add more later). Let it heat up, then add a bunch of grated cheese (we use old cheddar). Whisk. Let it melt. Add more cheese if it’s too thin or more cream if it’s too thick. Whisk. Melt. Serve immediately.

Nikki's Healthy Cookies - low carb version

Nikki’s Healthy Cookies – Lynn’s low carb version

Lastly, a friend sent me a link to the recipe for Nikki’s Healthy Cookies and I finally tried it. We didn’t have any oats, and I’d rather not use them, so I used a cup of sliced almonds and a cup of sunflower seeds, whizzed in the food processor to chop them up a little. Everything else I kept the same as the original recipe. They are delicious!

Tonight I didn’t have 3 bananas, so I used 2 and about 1/3 cup of some tart applesauce I’d made from some crabapples we’d picked back in August. They are also delicious. The only tweak I’d make is an attempt to dry them out a bit by adding more almond flour or a tablespoon or two of coconut flour.

Lynn’s Mud Pie (dark chocolate and orange with nut crust)

Lynn's no added sugar gluten-free mud pie slice

© Owen Lewery 2013

Have I mentioned that I love chocolate? We use sweetened chocolate, but it’s generally very dark, and if we use semi-sweet chocolate, then we mix it half and half with unsweetened chocolate to bring down the carb count and bring up the cocoa count.

I used to (in the early 1990s) work in a restaurant in Vancouver that made a delicious mud pie, and I’ve recently been craving it. So I decided I’d try something similar, but without the sugary cookie crust and overly sweet filling. I’ve had a few goes, the first couple of times using Dana Carpender’s hazelnut crust from 500 Low Carb Recipes. That is a delicious crust, but I’ve always found it a bit too crumbly for my liking. Also, I don’t love having to buy specialty ingredients like Vanilla Whey Protein Isolate Powder. Not everyone has that stuff around.

So the last time I made it, I made a change and used vanilla extract, and it actually turned out better! It holds together much better.

Notes/updates are at the bottom about variations. It’s a pretty flexible recipe.

Note: A tart pan (shown below) is best for this recipe, as it’s not a very deep pie, but a pie pan or small springform will work fine if you don’t have one.

Lynn’s Mud Pie

gluten-free sugar-free hazelnut crust

© Owen Lewery 2013

Hazelnut crust

  • 200g / 1.5 cups hazelnuts
  • 56 g / 1/4 cup butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Pulse hazelnuts in food processor until they are ground to medium-fine texture. Add vanilla and melted butter, and pulse to combine.
  3. Grease a tart pan, pie plate, or springform pan, and press mixture firmly and evenly into pan. Build it up the sides a bit, and if you’re using a springform pan, be sure to cover the seam around the bottom. Take a fork and poke a few holes in the bottom.
  4. Place crust in preheated oven on bottom rack and bake 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove and let cool while you make filling.

Dark chocolate orange filling

I have two bowls ready, one that will sit inside the other. Prepare an ice bath by putting some ice and a little water into the bigger bowl. I use the smaller bowl on a pot for my double boiler. If you’re using a double boiler, make sure the inner pot fits in your ice bath, or you’ll just have to pour the melted chocolate into your smaller bowl before whisking.

  • 260 g extra dark (85%) chocolate, broken in pieces
  • 210 ml water
  • peel of 1 orange, finely grated (this is approximately 1 tablespoon. Also,who knew? The USDA nutrient database lists orange peel here! I counted it as 20 g in my nutrition data below, just to be safe)
  1. Melt chocolate and water in a double boiler, stirring frequently, until smooth.

    whisking chocolate

    © Owen Lewery 2013

  2. Move the bowl of chocolate (or the top of double boiler) to your ice bath. Add the orange peel and vanilla and mix well.
  3. Whisk just until you start to see lines in your chocolate (2 minutes or so – see photo right). You can also do this with an electric mixer. It should thicken a bit but you should still be able to pour it.

    pouring chocolate into gluten-free sugar-free hazelnut crust

    © Owen Lewery 2013

  4. Pour into your crust.
  5. Refrigerate at least an hour or 2 before serving.

Why orange peel? Because when I serve this to folks who are used to really sweet desserts, they need something to distract them from the fact that this isn’t overly sweet. And the delicious orange zest does just that. This has been very well-received by my 13 year old nephew, as well as many friends and family, so non-low-carb folks take heart and give this rich low-sugar, gluten-free deliciousness a try!

Nutrition data for 1/10 of the pie:

Calories: 317.69
Protein: 5.47 g
Fat: 28.1 g
Net Carbs: 7.69 g

UPDATE MAY 11, 2013: 

I made the crust with coconut oil last night and it works just as well as with butter. Also, I ran out of hazelnuts and made the crust half hazelnuts and half almonds and it was great.

Chocolate cake

gluten free no added sugar low-carb chocolate cake

So we’ve been doing this low carb thing for around a year now, which means we’ve had a few birthdays. I’ve been trying to perfect the birthday cake and I think I finally got it. We have tried it out on family and friends and the non-low-carbers enjoy it as well.

But before I get to that recipe I’d like to just let you know how it’s going and what we are doing in our diet. Basically, I’m not really counting carbohydrates anymore. I cut out added sugar (and honey and maple syrup – it all hits the bloodstream with the same effect) with the exception of what’s in dark (70% and up) chocolate. We cut out white flour (including pasta, but we love mockeroni cheese from Rose Eliot’s cookbook and pasta-free lasagna). I was never big on rice (but I love riced cauliflower) but the kids still eat it. We eat all veggies (even the carby ones like sweet potatoes, potatoes and squash), and, obviously, fruit. We don’t drink juice, but we haven’t for years (or not since I found out when I had gestational diabetes that fruit juices have as much sugar in them as pop, and no fibre to slow down the absorption like the whole fruit does). Our bread intake is minimal. My husband has tried a few of the low-carb wheat free “breads” but they are really more like cakes. Every once in a while, I crave his pain ordinaire – fresh out of the oven with a good slathering of butter. (Actually, in recent years he changed up that recipe to a live starter and half wheat.) I lost 15 pounds, although it comes back quickly when I go away for the weekend and eat whatever my host is serving for a few days (you forget how much pasta, bread, chips, crackers, and sugary desserts people generally eat). It goes away quickly once I get back home and on track again. My guilty pleasure is buttered popcorn a once or twice a month.

Basically, we don’t eat processed foods (but friends can tell you that we didn’t before either), sugar, or flour. We like our treats, but have managed to tame the sweet tooth we all have, although it took a few months for me (a bar of 80% dark chocolate saved me there when I got sweet cravings. Just a single square was enough.) and longer for my eldest.

So, back to the chocolate cake, which everybody could use every once in a while. It’s not exactly low-carb, but it is lower carb, and it is delicious.

Lynn’s (fruit sweetened, wheat free) Chocolate Cake

  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups almond flour – I use our dehydrated almond flour (by-product of making our own almond milk) but the last time I tried a mix of 2 cups of freshly ground almonds plus 2 tablespoons of coconut flour and it worked out great
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch salt

Beat wet (first five) ingredients.
Mix dry ingredients separately.
Add dry to wet and mix. Pour into a greased cake pan (we use our 9″ cheesecake ring for easy access).
Bake at 325F for 30-45 min or when knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool then glaze with dark chocolate ganache (see below).

Dark chocolate ganache:

  • 2.5 oz (70 g) bittersweet (70% cocoa) chocolate
  • 1/2 oz (14 g) unsweetened chocolate
  • 80-90 ml full cream

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over medium to low heat, then lower the heat (or if it’s at the lowest, remove from heat) and add the cream, whisking until smooth. Glaze cooled cake.

The nutrition info all depends, literally, on how you slice it. We cut pretty small. I’m guessing 14 slices in total but I’ll make note of it next time.

Without ganache – 1/14 of cake:

Calories: 308.9
Protein: 8.7 g
Fat: 26.2 g
Net Carbs: 10 g

With ganache (which I calculated as 80% dark chocolate since I had that in my database and I didn’t have 70% or unsweetened) – 1/14 of cake:

Calories: 366.33
Protein: 9.3 g
Fat: 31.2 g
Net Carbs: 12 g

Update March 20, 2013:

Just a quick note to let you know that this works well when making crazy theme cakes as well. Below is my husband’s race car cake for my son’s most recent birthday. I believe the icing was a cream cheese icing. And we break out the food dye on the boys’ birthdays.

Race car low carb gluten free birthday cake

Race car low carb gluten free birthday cake!

More low carb cookies!

Ever in the search for the perfect lower carb cookies for my kids, I tried the Wheat Belly Cookbook Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. But there is some confusion in there as a note at the bottom refers to omitting coconut flour that isn’t actually listed in the recipe (the wheat belly blog claims this mistake is only in the ebook but they are mistaken. It’s definitely in the paperback version.). The recipe does, however, list peanut flour. As I didn’t have any peanut flour, I used coconut flour instead. Also, I hate stevia aftertaste so I didn’t use the stevia. And they were delicious!

However, we have lots of friends who are allergic to peanuts and/or tree nuts. But none of them are allergic to coconut or almonds. So the next time I made the recipe, I made them Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, and changed several of the ingredients, using the following:
Low carb no added sugar no dairy gluten free Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 200 g almonds, ground
  • 70 g coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 260 g natural almond butter (unsweetened)
  • 3/4 c almond milk (plain, unsweetened)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 170 g bittersweet chocolate chips

(It’s the usual cookie recipe: mix wet and dry separately, then mix all together, bake 15-20 minutes at 350F.)

I also rolled them into balls and flattened them, and they turned out crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. The perfect cookie consistency in a gluten-free, dairy-free (but not egg-free), peanut-free, low-carb cookie! I think the combination of coconut flour, almond butter, and the vanilla makes them naturally taste sweet without the sugar. Next I’ll try with half chocolate chips and half cacao nibs.

Davis lists the original recipe as making 20 cookies, but I easily made double that (apparently I make my cookies very small). If we go with dividing this recipe into 20, the nutrition facts are:

Per serving (1/20 of recipe):

Calories 206.76
Protein 5.9 g
Fat 15.62 g
Net Carbs (carbohydrates less fibre) 8.69 g

I also tried the Gingerbread Cookies recipe in the book, but they weren’t as good. However, I’m working on that myself so I’ll post when that’s ready.