Today, is a new day. Today I will not spend hours in the kitchen cooking, no! Today I will have a hot meal that is healthy and easy. Today I will have that meal waiting for me when I get home from work. Today I will utilize my slow-cooker. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, my new low-carb slow cooker cookbook has arrived. Dana Carpender wrote this recipe book “200 low-carb slow cooker recipes” and so far we have liked what I’ve made. I won’t say yet that this is the best cookbook ever but it appears to be a decent cookbook. I’ll review it in-depth later after I’ve made more than 2 things out of it!
One new ingredient I used here that I haven’t used in the past is guar gum. Almost every single recipe in the book calls for guar or xanthan gum, with no direction at all on how much to use. Guar is a plant native to India and Pakistan and is also grown in the US. Through extracting fiber from its seeds, a powder is made that is similar to corn starch in that it is a stable thickener. Guar is found in a LOT of products with many different uses, in cooking it is very useful for thickening things that are cool but will withstand heat. Guar is being studied for its uses in lowering blood sugar and cholesterol and possibly for weight loss since it expands in the intestine’s and creates a sense of fullness. As it naturally draws water with it, it can cause gastric upset in large doses but in normal use can aid as a gentle laxative or help with constipation. Be careful using too much guar in combination with extended release medications or medications intended for absorption in the intestine! Guar can interfere with the effectiveness of some medications so talk to your doctor or ARNP if you are concerned about using guar. Chances are you are already using guar though – read your labels! You can find guar gum at most health-food stores and regular grocery stores, I found mine at (gasp) the local grocery here in my little tiny town – I was shocked! Another alternative that I did not use is xanthan gum. You can use either one you prefer but in my initial scan of uses it seems xanthan is about as common as guar, but was more expensive by 75% than the guar. Also, it is derived from a bacteria (ummm nothanks) and the bacteria can be grown from wheat and soy sometimes. It is important to note that if you are allergic to those types of things, it is also advertised in “gluten-free” items often, be careful of your sources! Otherwise, for all intents and purposes it seems the same as guar with the exception that I think it may work better in higher temperatures. I may buy some to try at some point but well, not right now.
Let’s get to it!
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut up into chunks
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 tsp grated ginger root
- 1 tsp five spice powder (no idea what that was, just put in cayenne…2 tsp)
- 1/2 TBS salt
- 1 TBS lemon juice
- 2 tsp hot sauce
- 28 oz chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 – 1 1/2 tsp guar gum
- 6 TBS sliced scallions
- 6 TBS chopped fresh cilantro
- I added mushrooms – about 8 oz to the slow cooker
Mix the chicken broth and hot sauce together, to evenly distribute the hot sauce then put the first 10 things into the pot, chicken first. Cover your cooker and set it to low, let it go 6 hours. This step you can do either before you set the cooker or just before you’re ready to eat – you’re going to shred the raw cauliflower head with your food processor’s shredder blade, or a cheese grater by hand. I don’t have a big food processor or a shredding blade on my small one so we did it by hand. This took about 10 minutes to do, but basically, the idea is to replace rice with cauliflower. Once it’s all shredded, put it in a microwaveable bowl, sprinkle it with a few TBS of water and nuke it for 6 minutes. I did it less, more like 3 minutes to leave the cauliflower more crunchy. It was ok, there is no mistaking it for rice but it filled the meal out and was fast. Anyway, after your slow-cooker is done, add in the guar to thicken it up a bit. It will thicken more on standing and cooling so don’t keep adding! That thing about the “gastric upset” is legit. Trust me. What worked for us was that I put together the slow cooker meal, let it cool and added the guar and then put it all away in Tupperware for our at work meals. Then I made dinner. Eating it right away will just mean a thinner sauce unless you have the time to let it cool and thicken before serving. Your choice. Serve topped with the scallions and cilantro. A nice thing about her cookbook is she breaks down the basic nutrient facts. According to the book, this should make 6 servings of 138 calories each, 4g fat, 20g protein and 4g carbs. This dish wasn’t bad, needed a little salt and cayenne after the fact but otherwise is 100% Dukan Diet Worthy Cruise Phase and higher!