After a sugar high that’s lasted a month maybe it’s time for a sugar low. It’s not easy to change the way we eat, and giving up comfort foods is especially difficult in the midst of a miserable winter. But since it’s unlikely I’ll get everyone to agree to change the date we make resolutions to July I guess we’re in this together.
I am not a nutritionist so if you’ve signed on for a specific eating plan led by professionals please follow it. The best I can do is suggest recipe updates that cut back on carbohydrates, sugars and fats while still satisfying those cravings for flavor and comfort.
Delicious Lower-Sugar, Lower-Carb Meatloaf
Lean ground meat is blocked with protein. It’s all about what we add to it. This version eliminates breadcrumbs and dairy and relies on egg whites instead of whole eggs. As for the sauce, bypassing store-bought ketchup is the key to cutting back on sugar and you won’t miss it. If you’d rather not use a sugar substitute you can always add a little honey or agave nectar.
If you cut this loaf into 8 slices it’s 4 ounces per serving—satisfying and reasonable. Don’t forget to dish up lots of veggies on the side.
1 medium yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. vegetable or olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can (6 oz.) tomato paste, divided
1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 egg whites
½ cup almond flour (finely ground almonds)
1 lb. lean or extra-lean ground beef
1 lb. lean ground chicken
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp. each ground cloves and allspice
1 tbsp. sugar substitute, suitable for baking
Fry onion in oil until wilted. Add garlic and 2 tbsp. of the tomato paste and cook another couple of minutes, until tomato paste starts to darken and the mixture is quite thick. Add thyme, oregano, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat, cool a few minutes and stir in egg whites and almond flour.
Combine this mixture with ground beef and ground chicken—don’t work it too aggressively or the meat will get gluey and toughen up as it cooks. Press into a loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes before applying the topping.
For the topping, combine remaining tomato paste with vinegar, mustard, salt, cloves, allspice and sugar substitute. Spread evenly on top of the meatloaf then return to the oven for 40 to 45 minutes longer, until loaf is cooked through. Discard any fat in the pan and allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving. It will be easier to slice with a serrated knife.
Better-for-you Pork Stir Fry
Those bottled stir-fry sauces are a real convenience but, unless you study the labels, you probably won’t guess how much sugar they contain. And have you considered that restaurants don’t use nearly as much of those ready-made products as we do at home? The only sugar in this recipe is from the vegetables and maybe the peanut butter, unless you choose a natural variety with no added ingredients.
There are some vegetables higher in carbs than others—corn, for example—but stick with the greenery and you won’t go wrong. If you’re really serious skip the rice altogether or consider a spiralizer to make zucchini “noodles.”
Chicken or beef will also work fine in this recipe, I just like pork the best.
Count on 4 servings from these quantities.
2 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
¾ to 1 lb. lean pork, cut into thin strips
½ tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups green or Chinese cabbage, shredded
1 head broccoli, broken into florets
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 thumb-sized piece fresh gingerroot, grated or minced
3 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. peanut butter
1 tsp. sesame oil
Heat half the oil over high in a large frying pan or Dutch oven. Season pork with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Fry until nicely browned and just cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add remaining oil and bring back up to heat. Add celery and carrot and cook 3 or 4 minutes, until starting to soften. Stir in cabbage, broccoli and red pepper. Continue to cook, stirring, until vegetables are nearly tender.
Add green onion, garlic and ginger and cook another minute. Add water and cover to steam for a minute while you make the sauce.
Whisk together lime juice, soy sauce, peanut butter and sesame oil. It’s easier to mix if you put the ingredients in the microwave for a couple of minutes to loosen up the peanut butter. Stir into pan. Return pork and heat through, stirring, for another minute.
Cynthia Stone is an information manager and writer in St. John’s. E-mail questions to her at email@example.com.