Since coming back from NY, my low-carb diet flew out the window...And I was making reasonable progress!  :(

I decided the best way to get back into it is to too indulge in a sweet but low-carb friendly cake.  The flourless chocolate cake fits the bill perfectly.  After a bit of research, I settled for the recipe shared by blogger 'A Dash of Sass' which I recently used for my modified clementine cake.  It turned out great and so I'm eager to try another one of her recipes and it'll kickoff my low-carb diet with a bang!

INGREDIENTS:
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/2 C unsalted butter
2/4C sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 tsp fine grind expresso (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Melt butter and chocolate and mix until fully combined.
2. Add sugar slowly, mixing it well. 
3. Scramble the 3 eggs and add slowly to melted mixture. Finally, add the cocoa powder and all other optional ingredients.
4. Pour mixture into an 8-inch cake pan (I use a springfoam pan) and bake for approximatley 30 minutes.  Do a bamboo stick test.  If it comes out clean, then it's done.
5. Let cool but it's delicious served warm with a scoop of your favourite ice cream and fresh fruit.
 
 
I have a sweet tooth.  A terribly big sweet tooth.  Fortunately, I am also reasonbly disciplined with this tooth of mine.  But after a week of this low-carb diet and avoiding wheat, starch and carb, this girl needed cake.  And cake that she can have seconds without guilt or regret. 

A quick search of on the Internet produced two good news.  1.  Flourless Chocolate Cake and 2. Clementine Gluten-Free Cake. 

Munching thoughtfully on some Godiva dark chocolate, I decided to try the Clementine Cake first.  Apparently you need to boil 4-5 clementines for at least 2 hours.  We normally have some poor forgotten clementines at the bottom of our fruit basket.  But as Murphy's Law would have it; the one time you truly need some bruised and battered clementines, it is the one time you don't have any.  So what is a cake-starved girl to do?  Buy fresh ones and kill them in the pot.  I did feel a little bad for the clementines.

This following recipe is taken from 'A Dash of Sass' who modified the cake recipe from one of Nigella's.  I sort of combined the two recipe and ended up with that lovely cake in the photo above.

The cake turned out delicious despite it being made with just a few ingredients.  It was moist, flavourful and had such a vibrant colour.  The nuts added a lovely overall crunch.  Very delish!

INGREDIENTS:
-4-5 clementines
-1/2C honey
-1 1/3 C almond malt (finely ground almond which I bought from Bulk Barns)
-3 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 tsp baking soda

Chocolate Glaze (optional)
-3oz dark chocolate -chopped or grated (I bought the darkest there was at Bulk Barns and it too bitter!  Had to sweeten with 1 1/2tbsp of honey/sugar. Better to mix with some semi-sweet chocolate)
-1 1/2 tbsp butter (this makes it creamier but can be omitted depending how gluten-free you need to be)
-1/2 tsp vanilla
-1 tbsp table cream/milk
-chopped nuts
- icing sugar

DIRECTIONS:
1. Rinse/scrub the clementines.  Place in small pot and cover with water.  Bring to boil and then reduce to medium heat and gently boil for minium 2 hours.  This is to take the bitterness out of the rind.

2. When cool to touch, cut in half and remove seeds.  Place in food processor/blender and puree. 

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

4. In bowl, beat eggs until frothy.  Add almond malt, honey, vanilla and baking soda.  Stir until well mixed.  Mix in the clemetine puree.

5. Grease cake pan or muffin tins depending on how you want your cakes.  For cake, you will need to bake for about 1 hour.  Cover the top of the cake with tin foil after about 20 mins to prevent top from burning.  This is what I made.  In 'A Dash of Sass', mini-cakes or muffins were made and apparently it takes only 30mins.  Will try it this way next time. 

I suggest testing the done-ness of the cake every now and then by sticking a bamboo skewer into the middle of the cake.  If it comes out clean, your cake is done!

6. Glaze: While cake is cooling (we stuck it out in the porch...Toronto in March is still very cold!) Melt chocolate with the butter in a double-boiler.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla and cream. If your chocolate is too bitter, add some honey/sugar.  Stir until well combined.  Spread of cake.  Finish of with chopped nuts and powdered sugar. 

This was a delicious cake; made with just a few ingredients.  The cake was moist,  flavourful and had such a vibrant colour.  The nuts added a lovely overall crunch.  Very delish!
 
 
Tekka Sushi on Urbanspoon
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That's right!  You read the title correctly...Carb-free sushi at Tekka Sushi.  How?  By eleminating the rice!  I was skeptical about it but figured if it's going to help with my low-carb diet, might was well try it.  And I'm glad I did!  

It's a refreshing sushi, more suitable for the warmer months but just as tasty now.  Crab meat, salmon, tuna and avocado rolled up in thin slivers of fresh, crunchy cucumber slices.  Very tasty!

The other dishes ordered were good but didn't really stand out.  We had an order of gyozas...They brought out two accidentally and we just weren't sure if they had split the dish into two portions.  We finally asked and then they took it away.  mm, wouldn't have minded if they just decided to give it to us...There weren't too many other diners at that time anyway.  The deep fried tofu tasted as expected but the  chicken terriyaki was thin and this resulted it being dry. 

The restaurant functions as a buffet but as we were only in a nibbly mood, we opted for the a-la carte.  If we do come back, it'll be to try the buffet or to have more of the no-rice sushi!

 
 
Was out running a banking errand and decided to stop by a store, part of a chain, which was closing down.  There used to be one close to where I live but that must have been when I was still in elementary school.  Over the years, they started closing them down, one by one, especially when Wal-Mart came in.  Now that Target is coming, they just couldn't compete.  Big box stores are great...When it's raining or snowing, there's lots of aisles to wander about...But it's the smaller guys that have their own indpendent character and contribute to the local neighbourhood identity.

Anyway, with everything priced to go, I indulged by buying some games; Game of Life and Battleship in card form.  Hmm, it's been awhile since I played boardgames.  Maybe I should host a games night one day.  Too many kids and adults these days are glued to their electronic gadgets...Sometimes a good ole-fashion boardgame can be even more rewarding.
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After shopping about, decided it was time for a coffee.  It's TIm's Rrroolll Up the Win time!  Saw a newsclip of this guy who one big...Made me feel like I needed a cup of coffee too and see if I'd win anything.  Nope...All I got was 'Please try again'.  How discouraging.

So, Day 2 of my no-carbs diet saw me grating cauliflower as a rice substitute.  Was not bad actually.

Stir-fry Cauliflower Rice with Tofu:
Ingredients:
-cauliflower, red bell pepper, onion, bok choy, ground beef,
-1 tube of smooth tofu
-crushed garlic, black pepper, salt

Instructions:
1.  Roughly cut up a cabbage into several large pieces.  Run each piece through a grater carefully creating small rice-like pieces.  Set aside.
2. Dice the red pepper, onion and bok choy.  Set aside.
3.  Brown the ground beef in a skillet.  Season with some salt, black pepper and chilli flakes as desired.  Set aside.
4. Heat a little olive oil in the skillet.  Add the garlic and brown lightly.  Add the grated cauliflower and stir-fry lightly for about 5 mins, stirring occassionally.
5.  Add the diced vegetables.  When cooked, stir in the cooked ground beef.   Add a dash of salt and black pepper.  Once everything is heated through, dish out in to serving bowl.
6.  Slice up tofu into 1cm think slices.  Heat a little oil in the skillet and brown the tofu on both sides.  Once cooked, layer tofu on the cauliflower rice.
 
TIPS:
**A variety of ingredients can be used such as diced carrots, peas or corn.






 
 
So, first day of no-carbs diet....I LOVE my breads...Crusty, fragrant and with a good bite.  This whole day, I kept feeling something was missing.  Had a handful of home-toasted cashews to have something to chew on.  Thankfully, mom keeps and array of fruits in the house.  There's apples, oranges and a few Asian pears.  What you see in the pictures, for those not familiar with Asian fruits, are dragonfruits (the bright pink skinned one) and longans, which translated means dragons' eyes.  

The dragonfruit was introduced to me when I moved to Hong Kong about 10 years ago.  They're big and hefty and like watermelon, great for quenching thirst.  They're bright pink on the outside with green leaf-like petals. When I was visiting Malaysia, I saw purple dragonfruits. Looked the same on the outside but once you cut it open, there's this shocking bright magenta colour.  But, for all their prettiness, dragonfruits can be a bit bland at times.  I heard that many Asians eat it as part of their diet plans; kind of like how we eat grapefruits here.  I phoned mom to tell her I've discovered where black sesame comes from...From dragonfruits!  Too which she chuckled and said 'No dear'. 

Longans and lycees are similar.  There's a shell on the outside, juicy white meat on the inside with a seed in the middle.  Longans are smaller though, about the size of a cherry.  You need a little patience to eat them but sweet and tasty and well worth the effort. 

So, with all these pretty fruits around me, I hope my carb craving can be abetted somewhat.  And I also have the cashews we made for munching.  
Mom saw raw cashews on sale and decided to toast her own; thereby controlling the amount of salt added to the nuts; saves money too.   For the amount she paid for all these cashews, you would only be able to get one tub of the toasted variety. 
 
 
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So in my attempt to tackle my muffin top and to achieve an overall sense of well-being, I decided to take up zumba with TDSB's Continuing Education program.  Was SO sore after my first class...Could really feel it going up and down the staires.  Thankfully, after my 3rd class tonight, I'm delighted to say I've picked up most of the steps and don't feel as tired now. 

It's a room full of ladies with similar health concerns so we're cheering each of us on...Especially at the halfway mark of each class.  The spring session is up for registration and I wonder how many of us are going to stick to it. 

With thoughts of weight, exercise and health on my mind, I found myself staring at a magazine on the rack next to the cashier at the neighbourhood grocery.  It talked about people who loved eating breads and pasta and having wheat bellies.  I superstitiously eyed my own tum-tum while I waited for my turn to pay and thought "Yup, I've got a wheat belly"  

So, starting tomorrow, I'm going on a 14 day no-carbs diet to see if it will make a difference.  More fresh fruits, veggies and lean meat for me....AND, I figured, since I've written this down here, I have to stick to it. 

I decided to reward myself for making a possible change to my health and diet with a nice croissant.