Low-Carb “Doughnut” Muffins

These muffins are meant to taste like doughnuts, and I think they do a good job. There’s even a version with buttermilk. This is one of the few recipes for which I use powdered Splenda (for the topping). You don’t end up using much per muffin, but you need enough to dip the tops. Save the rest for cinnamon toast made with flax meal bread.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 1 cup flax meal
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 and 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • Artificial sweetener – 1 cup equivalent – zero carb (such as liquid) preferred
  • 1/2 cup (I stick) butter, melted
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T water
  • .
  • Topping:
  • 1/2 cup equivalent powdered artificial sweetener
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 2 T melted butter


Makes 12 regular-size muffins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; butter muffin pans.

2. Mix dry ingredients well (exclude those used for topping).

3. Add beaten eggs, melted butter, water, and sweetener to the dry mixture. Mix well.

4. Fill muffin cups a bit more than half way with the mixture.

5. Bake for about 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Allow muffins to cool in pan for a few minutes, then remove.

6. Mix the cinnamon and powdered sweetener for the topping in a clean bowl.

7. When the muffins are cool enough to handle, dip the tops in the melted butter you allocated for the topping, followed by the sweetener/cinnamon mixture.

Each muffin has 1.5 gram effective carbohydrate plus 4 grams fiber. (This is assuming half a gram of carb for the topping.)

Buttermilk Version: Switch out 1/2 cup buttermilk for the same amount of water. Substitute 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon baking powder for the baking powder in the regular recipe. This variation adds half a gram of carb to each muffin.

Low-Carb Muffins

These versatile sugar-free and low-carb muffins can be the basis for many variations, including low carb blueberry or apricot muffins. I also use a pan like this (it’s like a deep muffin-top pan) to make rolls that I can split and toast or use for sandwiches.


  • 2 cups almond flour/almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Sweetener to taste — about 1/3 cup usually works well — liquid preferred


1) Preheat oven to 350 F.

2) Butter a muffin tin. You can really do it with any size, but I’m basing the recipe on a 12-muffin tin.

3) Mix dry ingredients together well.

4) Add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly (You don’t want strings of egg white in there and you don’t have to worry about “tunnels” when you are using almond meal).

5) Put in muffin tins (about 1/2 to 2/3 full) and bake for about 15 minutes.

Variations: Add 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries for blueberry muffins. For apricot muffins, take a teaspoon of sugar-free apricot jam on each muffin and push it in slightly (it will sink more during baking).

Nutritional Information: Each of 12 muffins has 1.5 grams effective carbohydrate plus 2 grams fiber, 6 grams protein, and 185 calories.

Low-Carb Biscuits

It took me a lot of fiddling to get these the way I wanted them to be — with a fluffy texture inside. In order to achieve this, they had to be “drop biscuits,” though, not the kind you roll and cut out.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 27 minutes


  • 2 1/4 C almond meal/flour
  • 3 T coconut oil or palm oil (see note below)
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 C powdered egg whites
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 T “sweetening power” from artificial sweetener
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 C other milky liquid – can be unsweetened soy milk, milk, cream, or half and half


***It is very important that you use a fat that is solid at room temperature. Coconut oil (the refined kind that doesn’t taste like coconut) or palm oil (sometimes marketed as “trans-fat free shortening”) are ideal. Butter is OK, but they won’t be quite as fluffy. DO NOT USE ANY OTHER OIL — believe me, it will end in tears if you do. I speak from experience! Preheat oven to 400 F(important, as the water turning to steam is part of what makes them fluffy.)

1. Mix oil and almond meal together with a mixer or pastry blender until it’s like coarse meal.
2. Add the rest of the dry ingredients.
3. If you’re using liquid artifcial sweetener, put it in with the cream.
4. Mix wet and dry together, and let the mixture sit for 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Drop by tablespoons on foil-covered baking sheet. (If they are a little bigger or smaller, no problem.)

Bake for about 10 minutes, depending upon size, until golden brown.

Nutritional Analysis:Makes 12 biscuits, each with 2 grams of carbohydrate plus 2 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein.

Chicken Marsala

An easy-to-follow recipe of a classic Italian favorite.
Usually the meat in Chicken Marsala is pounded flat and floured. You don’t need the flour – although you can sprinkle a bit over the meat if you like, it’s not a big carb count and it will help in browning. Poundingthe meat out helps it cook more quickly or you can use chicken breast tenderloins, less expensive. You can also cut them up for ultra-fast cooking. Be sure to use dry Marsala wine, not sweet, for low-carb cooking.

Ingredients – makes 3 or 4 servings

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 small onion
1 cup mushroom slices
3 T (or so) olive oil
1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
2 tbsp minced Italian (flat leaf) parsley
Chicken broth or “Better than Bouillon”


If desired, pound chicken between two pieces of wax paper or plastic (use a wooden kitchen mallet or small heavy pot).

Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in skillet and add chicken. Cook until done, remove, and cover with foil.

Add onion and mushrooms, cook until soft. Add wine to pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

At this point, judge the amount of liquid for sauce for chicken. If you need more, add a bit of broth. Taste, and adjust seasonings. If it needs more salt, this is a good place to add a little Better Than Bouillon, if you have it, for the chicken flavor and salt.

Pour vegetables and sauce over chicken, and sprinkle with parsley

Nutritional information: 3 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 36 grams protein, and 336 calories

Crustless Quiche





Making a crustless quiche is not much different than making a regular quiche. Actually it’s easier, as there is one less thing to fiddle with. You do need some fat in the recipe to make it easy to remove from the pan, but unless you are making a super-low-fat version (using fat free milk, for example), you don’t need to worry about greasing the pan.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 20 minutes

Here’s How:

  1. Prepare the solid ingredients – sauté and season any raw meats and vegetables. About 1 to 1½ cups of these work well for one quiche – more if there is no or little cheese. About 1½ to 2 cups total solid ingredients for a 9″ pie pan is about right.
  2. Spread meats and vegetables into a deep-dish pie pan.
  3. Spread shredded cheese on top of the other ingredients.
  4. Make the custard, using either a bowl with whisk, or (my favorite) a blender. A standard quiche might use 4 eggs to 1 and 1/2 cups of liquid, and this amount works well for a deep-dish 9″ pie pan. You can use cream, milk, unsweetened soy milk, or a combination. Include seasonings as desired. I usually use salt, pepper, an herb or two if not already in the pan, and perhaps some dried mustard powder.
  5. Pour the custard over the solid ingredients, and put onto center rack of 375 F. oven for 30-45 minutes.
  6. Begin checking at half an hour. You want the outside to be done (a knife inserted comes out clean), but the center will be soft. (It will continue to cook after removing from oven.)
  7. Remove from oven. The center will cook in a few minutes. You can eat it warm, cold, or room temperature.


  1. Make sure all ingredients other than the egg are fully cooked before adding to the pan.
  2. When layering ingredients, heaviest go in first, and cheese last.
  3. If top is browning too fast, cover with foil.
  4. Sprinkling the top with paprika is a nice touch.

What You Need:

  • 9″ pie pan (Pyrex works well, or dark metal. Shiny metal isn’t as good.)
  • Whisk or blender
  • Eggs
  • Other ingredients as desired







Experience the compelling flavor of this traditional southwestern favorite.

Ingredients – makes 5 servings

1.5-2 lbs lean beef or chicken easily cut into strips
1 medium onion, sliced, or 15 medium scallions (green onions) – same amount of carb!
2 large Bell peppers, sliced – two different colors is nice
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tbsp oil


Combine soy sauce, lime juice, chili powder, and oil. If grilling, save a couple of Tablespoons aside to toss with the vegetables.

Slice the meat into about 1/2 inch slices. If using skirt steak, flank steak, or other meat with an obvious grain (lines through the meat), be sure to cut perpendicular to the grain, or you will be chewing a very long time. (Think about it – you want to create a lot of short fibers, not a few long ones.)

If cooking in a skillet, marinate everything together in a bowl or plastic bag (a zip-type works well). If grilling, marinate the meat and veggies separately. Even a few minutes helps, up to 2 hours is great.

If grilling, remove from marinade and grill.

For cooking in a skillet (preferably regular, not nonstick), cook the meat first (it will probably take two batches, depending upon your pan). Add a little oil to the skillet and get it very hot (the oil will shimmer). If you don’t get it hot enough (or crowd too much meat in), the meat will steam instead of browning. When the meat is browned, remove and add veggies. When they begin to soften, return meat to skillet to heat through.

Serve with salsa, fat free sour cream, cilantro (if desired).

Nutritional information: Meat and vegetables, with 1.5 pound skirt steak and green onions, have 4.5 grams of effective carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber, 28 grams of protein, and 307 calories per serving. The marinade could add as much as 1 gram of carb (the whole recipe has 5 grams), but obviously not all of it makes it to the table.

July is Healthy Grilling Month

bbq-150x150A Healthier Way to Grill July 2013 From the Desk of Dr. Cruz

Hopefully many of you will be enjoying the inevitable Fourth of July Bar B Q! Many times we refer to WebMd for weight loss tips and ideas. This month is ” A healthier Way to Grill”. This article highlights general healthy tips for grilling and is a useful guide. You may need to adjust the recipes depending on what phase you are in. Enjoy!

Dr. Cruz

A Healthier Way to Grill 6 ways to avoid the pitfalls of barbecuing WebMD Weight Loss Clinic – Expert Column

What’s the word on grilling: Is it a good thing or a bad thing? After all, one of the golden rules of eating healthy at restaurants is to choose “grilled” foods over “fried” choices. That’s because grilled food is generally a healthier choice — there’s no batter coating or dripping grease.Besides, there’s something about the act of grilling that just makes food look and taste fantastic. Is it the smoky flavor, the fun flavors of marinades, the grill lines that form on the food, or the fresh taste that comes from cooking something over high heat for a short amount of time? Try all of the above!

I hate to burst your “isn’t-grilling-fun?” bubble, but the way I see it, there are two nutritional downsides to grilling.

* Many Americans end up eating very high-fat meats and sausages when they fire up the barbie — pumping yet more calories, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol into their diets. * Then there’s the matter of a couple of potentially cancer-causing compounds: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). PAHs form when fat from the meat drips onto the hot coals or grill element. They’re then deposited on the food courtesy of flame-ups and rising smoke. Unfortunately, that yummy charring that forms on meat can contain PAHs as well. HCAs, meanwhile, are produced when red meat, poultry and fish meet high-heat cooking, like grilling or broiling.

But don’t despair, grill lovers — a new, healthy way to grill is possible!

6 Keys to Healthy Grilling Follow these tips, and you can grill without guilt.

1. Grill Fruits and Vegetables

Grilling fruits and vegetables is a great idea, whether or not you’re grilling meat or fish to go with them. We all need to eat more fruits and vegetables, and this is an appealing way to serve them. I probably don’t need to remind you that eating fruits and vegetables benefits the body in so many ways — reducing your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, obesity, and some types of cancer. But here’s the best part: PAHs and HCAs don’t form on grilled fruits and vegetables. Plus, if you are having grilled meat, it’s a great idea to get antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables in the same meal. Some fruits and vegetables that are great to grill: * Tomatoes * Onions * Bell peppers * Zucchini * Eggplant * Endive * Pineapple * Mango * Apple * Pear

2. Grill Smart, Grill Lean

When you’re grilling meat, limit the amount of fat that drips on the coals by starting with lean cuts trimmed of visible fat and skin. If you put a very lean cut of beef or pork, or skinless chicken, onto the grill, you’re off to a healthy start. (Following Tip No. 3 can help make most lean cuts more tender and tasty, too.)

3. Marinate, Marinate, Marinate

You’ve gotta love the idea of infusing flavor into meats, fruits, and vegetables by soaking them in a tasty marinade. Some favorite marinade ingredients include wines, vinegars, lemon or lime juice, low-sodium soy sauce, honey, garlic, onions, herbs, and spices. Use fat-free or low-fat marinades on your grilled meats, fish, and poultry to limit the fat that drips on the coals. The simple act of marinating before grilling has been shown to reduce the formation of HCAs by as much as 92% to 99% in some studies.

Keep these marinating tips in mind:

* When choosing bottled marinades or making your own, look for products or recipes that contain olive or canola oil (and that only use a little oil). * Refrigerate any foods that are marinating longer than 1/2 hour. * Don’t baste your food during grilling with the liquid the meat was marinating in (this passes raw meat juices to your cooked meat). Before you add the meat, set aside some of your marinade for this purpose. * Meats and poultry should marinate at least 1-2 hours; fish and vegetables generally only need to marinate for an hour.

4. Cut Down on Grilling Time

Grill smaller portions of meat, poultry, and fish so they cook faster and spend less time on the grill. Another trick is to precook the meat, fish, and poultry in the oven or microwave, then finish cooking on the grill.

5. Flip It — Flip It Good

Flipping food frequently may help prevent the formation of HCAs, according to recent research using hamburger patties. To turn meat without piercing it (which releases juices that drip onto the coals), use tongs or spatulas instead of a fork.

6. Skewer It

A fun way to cut down on grilling time is to thread small pieces of meat or fish on a skewer. Scallops and shrimp are naturals for skewers, too. I like to alternate pieces of meat, chicken, or seafood with bell pepper and onion pieces, zucchini slices, cherry tomatoes, and/or small mushrooms. Don’t have skewers? No problemo. I love to use branches of rosemary as my skewers. They infuse a hint of rosemary into the food as it cooks — not to mention the beautiful presentation it makes.

Fire Up the Barbie

Now that you’ve learned some healthy grilling secrets, here are three lightened-up recipes to try.